On 7 November 2012, Celtic set a new Champions League record – their victory over Barcelona was achieved despite having just 16.36% of the possession. That’s the lowest amount ever for the winning side in a Champions League game.
The victory was made possible by Celtic’s set-up which allowed them to soak up pressure and strike quickly and decisively when the opportunity arose.
Barcelona are widely regarded as the best club side in the world at the moment and perhaps the best ever. Celtic manager Neil Lennon recognised that to win this game he would have to drill his side to be ready to strike on the counter-attack.
“In our victory against Barcelona in this season’s Champions League, our second goal came directly from a breakdown in a Barcelona attack.
It is crucial to be ready and prepared to break quickly when opposition attacks end.” Neil Lennon, manager, Celtic
Be ready, strike decisively
It might be easy to look at the possession stats from that night at Celtic Park and declare it a freak result. But it was nothing of the sort – it was the result of good preparation. It proved again that even world-beaters can be brought down to earth by good coaching.
It is not the only time it has happened to Barcelona either. Since 2009, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Rubin Kazan have all beaten them in Champions League fixtures with less than 30% possession.
These teams all realised that by being organised out of possession and playing on the counter-attack, Barcelona can be beaten.
When Neil Lennon coaches counter-attacking, he is schooling players in what is expected of them when the opposition is attacking. That means when the attack breaks down they are ready to break quickly and capitalise on opposing players being out of position.
Neil Lennon’s counter-attacking session features in the March 2013 issue of Elite Soccer.
Elite Soccer is the only magazine that publishes coaching sessions first-hand from the biggest names in world soccer because it is published in partnership with the League Managers Association (LMA).
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