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3 De Zerbi Possession Exercises

Updated: Jan 6

A topic of conversation in a recent MSC Podcast with Liviu Bird was how to create clarity in the Game Model and the importance of connecting training sessions to the tactical idea. Although we do not have the luxury of observing Roberto De Zerbi's daily sessions, we can see some of his exercises that have circulated online and see how specific they are to the game plan of Brighton. In the MSC Breakdown this week we take a look at three possession exercises and see how the organization can potentially bring out the principles on a match day. You can watch the full breakdown below and if you enjoy the content, please subscribe to our YouTube page.

If you would like the organization and the details of the exercises, you can find them below.

Exercise 1: 6v3 Possession Game

Number of Players: 9

Dimensions: 2x20 yard area, split into four zones


- Possession team are set-up with two target players on the outside and one player occupying each zone on the inside.

- Players on the inside must stay in their zones.

- The objective of the exercise is for the possession team to transfer the ball from one target player across to the other, using the overload in the middle, for one point.

- The defensive players (in red) are looking to win the ball back immediately and can more freely in the zones.

- If the defensive team win the ball back, they can score one point for three successive passes in the transition.

Exercise 2: 11v9 Tactical Game

Number of Players: 20

Dimensions: 25x45 yards (split into 3 horizontal zones)


- The possession team of eleven players are organized in their shape (4-2-3-1 above) with the ball starting with the center backs.

- Players are free to move freely throughout the area.

- The defensive team of nine players are set-up in a 3v3v3 pressing shape.

- The objective of the game is for the possession team to progress the ball through the thirds and then score in one of the mini-goals.

- If the defensive team wins possession, they are looking to pass the ball through one of the 'gates' on the outside for one point.

Exercise 3: 6v6+2 and GKs

Number of Players: 14

Dimensions: 30x30 yard area with 5-yard end-zone for goalkeepers


- Possession team (in blue) is set-up with a back four and two central attackers (9 & 10).

- Defensive tram (in red) are set-up with a midfield four and two central attackers.

- One goalkeeper is used in each end zone.

- The two neutrals in the middle (in yellow) act as midfield players to help overload the central areas.

- The objective of the game is for the possession team to transfer the ball from one end to the other

- If the defensive team wins the ball, the game continues with the teams switching roles with regards to utilizing the overloads.

This article was written by Gary Curneen. Click here to check out MSC eBooks and webinar resources!!

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