As we all know, no matter how good someone is at what they do, there’s almost always a bigger fish. This applies to soccer too. Even if your team is excellent, you might sometimes encounter teams that have previously performed better than you team, so how do you deal with them?
However, having to face a better team does not mean that you’re going to lose the soccer match. With the right tactics and the right mindset, your team can beat the better opponent.
The following are some tips that can help you win a soccer game against a better team.
1- Pick a suitable soccer formation for your team.
Choosing the right soccer formation is super important if you want to raise your team’s chances of winning against a better team.
In order to pick the perfect formation against your strong opponent, you’ll need to study your opponent’s style on the field.
If you opponents rely on quick and short passes to approach your net like many excellent soccer teams around the world do, then the 4-4-2 formation might be the answer.
A narrow and condense 4-4-2 formation is excellent against short passes since it forces your opponents to spread across wider areas which makes it harder for them to make short and quick passes even if they’re a much better team than your team is.
About 8 to 9 players from your team will be condensed in an area that’s close to your team’s net and the opponents will have to spread around the whole area and make longer passes to be able to reach the net, which is not what they’re used to normally do.
As long as your opponents are outside the area that your team is concentrated inside, then let them pass the ball to each other as much as they want, because it won’t get them anywhere.
If they attempt to kick the ball from outside of the condensed area, then the ball is more likely to get deflected by a defender due to the amount of defenders in the way, and if the ball somehow manages to reach the net, your team’s goalkeeper will have a lot of time to react since the kick was taken from far away.
If your opponent attempts to penetrate the area that your team is concentrated in, then they’ll also face some hard time because there are too many of your team members for them to be able to make short passes comfortably.
The 4-4-2 formation is excellent for counterattacks too, which you should be heavily relying on. When you’re playing against a better team, counter attacks are your best bet in case you want to score and win the game.
Make sure that your best striker is always close to your opponent’s net. Whenever any of the players concentrated near your team’s net get the ball from your opponent, they should attempt to kick the ball towards the striker and hope that the striker scores a goal.
There are many other soccer formations that work well against better teams. For example, If your opponent depends on long passes, headers, and crossing the ball from one side of the field to the other, then you might need to use the 5-4-1 formation or any other formation that prevents your opponent’s wingers from having too much freedom on the sides of the field during the game.
So the main take away from this tip is to make sure that you study your opponent’s style of play and use the best defensive soccer formation against them.
2- Shift your team’s mentality from scoring goals to preventing goals to be scored
One of the reasons why we don’t see a lot of goals scored during a soccer match is the fact that many professional soccer teams prioritize defending their own net instead of attempting to score a lot of goals.
If you want a chance to win against a strong team, then you better adopt that same mentality too.
If you are playing against a team that’s better than yours, then actively attempting to score against your opponent will require that you move many of your team’s players away from the team’s net. This leaves the net extremely vulnerable and you don’t want that to happen at all.
Making your team spread forward for a chance to score a goal is not worth the risks. All of what your opponent needs is one easy chance to score against you and if they get that chance and score a goal, it’ll be hard for your team to come back and win the game since the opponent is better.
So it’s wiser to be patient during the match, and focus on protecting your team’s net instead of leaving it vulnerable for a slight chance to score a goal.
This does not mean that your team shouldn’t attempt to score any goals. It just means that you should only attack when it’s the right moment, and that’s when your opponent loses the ball while most of their players are on your own side of the field. So in other words, counter attacks are the way to go.
3- Keep an eye on your opponent’s best performing players.
There are many soccer teams out there that rely on a very few number of players to win games. If your opponent is one of these teams, then isolating their best players from the rest of their team might increase your chances of winning.
If your opponent’s top performing player is a great dribbler, then make sure that they’re always surrounded by at least 3 players whenever they get the ball from their teammates. If your opponent’s top performing player can perform great headers, then make sure that they can never reach the ball during corner kicks and so on. You get the point.
I have been watching professional soccer teams play for more than 10 years, and what I have noticed is that usually the best player on the field is almost always accompanied with 2~3 players from the opponent team just to prevent the best player from moving freely.
4- Keep the ball with you as much as possible
Even if your opponents are much better than you, if you have the ball on the field, then they can’t score, can they?
Since your primary objective is to not allow your opponent to score goals as we have mentioned in a previous tip, then keeping the ball with your team as much as possible is a great strategy against strong teams.
Whenever your team has the ball, try to keep passing the ball among your team’s players.
You need to be 100% careful when you do this though. Any mistake can leave your net vulnerable. For example, if your opponent was able to take the ball from your last defenders while they were passing it to each other, then you’ll most probably concede a goal.
So make sure that you keep the ball with your team as much as possible but be careful not to lose it in dangerous areas.
5- Work on your team’s mental toughness
This is by far one of the most important tips in this article. If your team players are determined to win, then they’ll have a better chance of winning even against much better teams.
Mental toughness is extremely important in sports in general and there have been a lot of studies surrounding its definition and its importance.
How many times have you heard the term “Believe that you can, and you’re halfway there”? This perfectly applies to a soccer match too.
Believe that you can win, and you’re more than halfway there. Over the history of soccer, there have been many weak soccer teams that were able to defeat much better soccer teams just because of the way the weak team’s players fought during the game.
Use your team’s weakness to your advantage. If your opponents know that they are the better team, then they might not prepare themselves mentally to give their all during the game because they think it’s an easy win.
So, if your team members work on their mental strength and convince themselves that they can win the match, the opponent team will be caught off guard.
In other words, if your team has enough chemistry and enough mental toughness before the game starts, then they’ll raise their chances of winning by a lot.
6- Do not lose hope if you concede a goal.
One last tip that I would love to share here is to never lose the momentum even if your team concedes a goal or even 2 goals.
I know that it’s hard for your team to comeback if they have conceded goals, especially if you’re playing against a better team, but the moment your team loses their motivation, the only outcome is that they’ll concede more and more goals.
If your team concedes a goal, your opponents might lower their aggressive attacks because they might believe that the game is secured and that they have most probably already won.
However, if your team manages to keep their motivation and strike the opponent with a goal, then they’ll even gain a huge confidence boost and might be able to overwhelm the opponents who thought they have already won the match.
So in other words, do not give up your hopes on winning even if your team is falling behind.
There are many tips and tricks that you and your team can follow in order to increase your chances of winning against better teams. However, always keep in mind that soccer is a fun game and that even if you lose the match, you have at least enjoyed your time while playing it.