Superiorities-Based Training for Possession Dominant Teams - 2023 Advent Calendar Series

Celebrate Advent with excerpts from Scott Martin's top articles on Total Football Analysis. Head to or Scott's LinkedIn profile each day through December 24th for the next installment. 

Today's featured excerpt comes from the April 2021 magazine. It's called, "Superiorities-Based Training for Possession Dominant Teams."

We all want more intelligent players

But are we giving them the developmental support they need?

For possession-dominant teams, creating time and space to conduct attacks is often countered by defensively compact opponents. In order to create more time and space on the ball, teams look to create superiorities across the pitch.

Depending on your influence, you'll either argue there are four or five superiorities in football. In this thread, we will assume the four superiorities put forth by Professor Francisco Seirul·lo.

What are the 4 superiorities?

-Numeric (we have more numbers than them)

-Qualitative (we have more quality than them)

-Positional (we are better positioned for X sequence than them)

-Socio-Effective (we have a better understanding of each other than they do)

The parentheses are included because they offer the clearest means of communicating superiorities to our players, especially in the youth game.

We want to create situations for superiorities, then identify the experiences with clear language. In simple language, a superiority is an advantage held over the opponent. That advantage creates better attacking or defensive conditions. We're either better positioned to attack our opponents or better positioned to defend against their threat.

It's not a matter of having one superiority or another. Superiorities are tightly connected. You could realistically have all four in place at any given time.

Let's move on to implementation ideas.

Starting with numeric, the idea is to train players to move in a way that improves connections. In this Bayern Munich example, access with the 1st attacker is maintained, but the connection with the 3rd attacker is prioritized, resulting in a 2v1 in a dangerous position.

Training idea: Build out to create numeric superiorities higher up the pitch.

Main area: 8v5 (can add blues)

End Zone: 3v2

Play forwards to set into low goals (1pt)

Play forwards to set mids, then score in high goals (2pts)

Blue goals=3pts

Key points

- Correct body orientation to connect actions

- Overload in one area of the pitch to unbalance the opposition

- Once opponents are unbalanced, find outlets and play out of press

-Up and back pattern in the first option, up, back and through in the second

A qualitative superiority means our players in X area are better than their group of players.

Here, City is 4v5, so advantage them. They want to enter the box through the half space and are comfortable with their odds of success.

Time to make their move.

Training Idea: 4v4 in main area, 2v2+GK in finishing zone

Blues' attack the crossing zone, Reds play long pass into the counterattack goal (sims playing to #11).

If Reds sit back to protect the crossing zone, give Blue a point for 5 passes completed.

Optional point for getting to the Crossing Zone.

Key Points

- Limited touches and quick combos in the main playing area

- Runs need to attack space or pull a defender away from the area you want to attack

- FWs awaiting crosses must coordinate runs. Have a plan.

- Time runs. Don’t go too soon. Often, late runs are best.

Socio-effective superiorities use player relationships as the advantage.

In this example, a numeric superiority is in place too, but it's the coordinated runs of Ronaldo and Benzema that we're highlighting.

Benz goes near to pull the defender, Ronaldo responds far. Goal CR7.

Training Idea: Simple set up, 40xWidth of Box. 6v6+2 wide neutrals (who can be pressured).

The setup is simple because your focus is on developing the relational understanding of the connected players.

Form teams by maintaining player groups. This is all about relationships.

Key Points

- Correct body orientation to connect actions

- Have at least two players up top and work on coordinating runs

- Discuss bio-mechanics to predict the trajectory and endpoint of the cross

- Timing of the runs into the box is key

Finally, there's the positional superiority.

To get that exercise, as well as the full tactical conversation, head to Total Football Analysis (I have to leave some reason to read the full article).

Here's the link to the article.

Read and share with someone who would find this analysis interesting.

Come back tomorrow, either on or my LinkedIn profile for the next installment of the Advent calendar.

Day 1 - Tactical Theory: The intelligent movements of elite attackers

Day 2 - Tactical Theory: The intelligent movements of elite midfielders

Day 3 - Tactical Theory: The intelligent movements of elite defenders

Day 4 - Tactical Theory: The intelligent movements of elite goalkeeper

Day 5 - Superiorities-based training for possession dominant teams