Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

The responsibility of a goalkeeper and defender when blocking a shot

Iceland’s goal against England was an example of the responsibility placed on the goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale, and defender, John Stones, when the defender goes to block a shot. Stones blocks the far post, and Ramsdale is responsible for the near post.

Figure 1.1 - John Stones fails to force Jon Thorsteinsson outside.
Figure 1.2 - Jon Thorsteinsson shoots to the near post between John Stones' legs.

This is something that is discussed before the game. The shot between the legs is difficult for the goalkeeper because they can’t see the ball carrier take the shot. Ramsdale can’t get a clear view.

When Stones commits to blocking the shot to the far side, Ramsdale should then be almost fully committed to blocking the shot to the near post. He can’t fully commit 100 percent because what if Stones doesn’t get a solid block on the ball?

Figure 1.3 - The shot sneaks under Aaron Ramsdale's hand.

When the ball goes through Stones’ outstretched legs, Ramsdale isn’t prepared for the shot, and he dives late. It slips by him for the goal.

You would have to assume this is a lack of communication between Stones and Ramsdale. Ramsdale should never be beat this easily to his near post if he knows Stones has the far post covered off.

Figure 2.1 - Bent knee to block off the shot to the far post and not allow the ball to pass between the defender's legs. Image credit to Unisport

In the example image in Figure 2.1 the defender is performing the other technique to block a shot, to cover the far post. If John Stones wanted to cover off the shot to the near post, he could block the shot like this.

Bend his trailing leg; don’t allow the shot to go through his legs, which would allow Ramsdale to fully commit to the far post. If the ball hits Stones, it will have a higher likelihood of getting deflected away from goal, out of bounds.

Match: England 0-1 Iceland, 7 June 2024

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