An approach to soccer defence philosophy is that it is preferable to be in possession of the ball as that will allow us to dictate what happens in the game. Obviously, if your team is in the possession of the ball the opposing team cannot score. It is therefore logical that when a team loses possession of the ball the object is to get it back as quickly as possible.
This doesn’t mean that the ball must always be high up the field and close to the opposing team’s goal mouth. However, it does mean that defense should be done in an intelligent manner, finding the best way to win taking into consideration each unique situation.
It becomes apparent that the priority for most teams is to transition quickly into defensive positions. At the same time, their intention is to put pressure on the ball carrier with the hope of a change of possession. This will make it possible to engage in collective high pressing, based not only on pressuring the ball carrier, but bringing into play additional players to cut off the short-passing options. In this way, a team is able to restrict the game within small areas, with the players on the far side pushing towards the ball to complete effective back-to-front and side-to-side squeezing operation.
This ability to high press is closely linked to an attacking philosophy: teams who are prepared to push a larger number of players forward to join in the attack are the ones who had players in place to immediately exert high pressure and win the ball back quickly. Teams with more ‘direct play’ approaches using long passes from back third to front third, are less able to utilize a high-pressing game.
There is also a trend towards ‘early pressing’. A link has been suggested between this quick pressure and the ability of opponents to counterattack and that a ‘retreat defence‘ could be a tool used. In other words, the worlds top teams do not seem to react to loss of possession by ignoring the ball carrier or retreating immediately to defensive positions deep in their own half to wait for their opponents
A proactive style of defence is often matched with top level game trends promoting competitiveness and a mind set to win.