Watching Soccer to Learn


Watching Soccer to Learn

A weekly at-home project for players to develop a deeper understanding of the game!

Developed by Connor Talbot and Kyle McDonald


When we can’t be on the field, we should always look to build on our love for the game by watching soccer whenever possible. By doing so, players develop a deeper understanding of the game by analyzing the world’s best players/teams, and their decisions and application both on and off the ball. The goal of this assignment is to help you develop a deeper understanding of the game and inspire you to implement your ideas into your own development.


With the purpose of this assignment in mind, we are focusing on moments of the game (Attack, Transition to Defense, Transition to Attack, and Defense). You should watch the games listed below, select a focus team, and analyze and break down the game from both an individual and team perspective. You should also examine how groups of players interact to execute the above moments of the game. Using the reflection and focus prompts, write a summary for the game listed below.


Visit (scroll to Game Development & Management) for more information on moments of the game.


Game 1: 2017 Liverpool vs Barcelona Leg 2

Reflection Quote: “Hard work will always overcome natural talent when natural talent does not work hard enough” - Sir Alex Ferguson


Game 2: 2019 U17 Lonestar  DA Girls vs FC Dallas

Reflection Quote: “I am constantly being asked about individuals. The only way to win is as a team. Football is not about one or two or three star players.” – Pele


Game 3: 2017 RB Leipzig vs Bayern München

Reflection Quote: “At this level almost everyone has the physical tools to be the best. It comes down to a few things: how bad you want it, what you do when things get hard, and whether you are able to stay focused amid turmoil, challenge, chaos and demands. It's all in your head and in your heart.”- Michelle Akers 


Game 4: 1997 Italy vs Brazil 

Reflection Quote: “True champions aren’t always the ones that win, but those with the most guts.”- Mia Hamm 


Game 5: 2017 U12 Benefica vs Atletico Madrid 

Reflection Quote: “Fear is not a word in my football dictionary” - Jose Mourinho 


Game 6: 2020 USA WNT vs JAPAN 


Reflection Quote: “What it comes down to is intense desire. To get this winning edge, you need an indomitable will. This means you must be relentless; you must never give up.” - Anson Dorrance



Individual Focus Prompts 

  • Pick a player in your favorite position and concentrate on them in particular during the game. What do they do and when do they do it? When do they run forward or recover back? How often is their head up scanning the field? How many touches do they take and when? How close are they to teammates, or opponents, around them? What is their body shape when striking, or receiving, the ball? How often is the player moving and how fast?


  • How did they react to adversity or success? After impactful moments, how did your player react? Did they move on quickly and bounce back? Did they get slower after success? Did they react poorly to failure? Why?


  • What actions did individuals take in the lead up to goals/good chances? Did a player make a hard run to get the ball, or make space for a teammate? Was there an error by a defender, or a bad pass, that led to the chance? Was it off of a set-piece, what runs were made? What kind of run and pass lead to the chance and when did the passer see the run? Etc.


  • What area of the field are key plays listed above occurring in? Focus teams attacking third (closest third to the goal they are attacking), middle third, or defensive third (third closest to the goal they are defending). How would you describe the team’s shape?


  • What other players were involved in the play? Following the number chart at the link below, what players from the focus group were involved in the build or breakdown leading to goals and key chances? Was there a run off the ball that was not played but had an impact on the game?


Team Focus Prompts 

  • What are teams starting formations? Do their formations change in attack/defense? What types of shapes do you see in possession? What types of lines, movement, and communication do you notice in defense? What shape do groups of 3-4 players attack/defend in? Look for Triangles, diamonds, and lines. What is the spacing between those shapes? How quickly do they move together and when? What combinations (overlap/underlap, one-two, three-man combos) are used to get through the defense? Can you find the backline/midfielders/forwards? What formations are they playing and does it look like that on the field or does it change throughout the game? 


  • What positional groupings are strengths/weaknesses of the focus team? For example; Strong central midfield triangle, weak backline, fast right-side of field etc.


  • How did they react to adversity or success? After impactful moments, how did your team react? Did they move on quickly and bounce back? Did they get slower after success? Did they react poorly to failure? Why?



  • What was the score? When and how were the goals scored? 
  • What key moments and trends you noticed in the game?
  • What most excited you during the game? 
  • How can you try these thoughts going forward?

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