UEFA Futsal Champions League 2021 - Zadar

UEFA Futsal Champions League 2021 - 1v1 Trends

In this blog Pete Vallance, FA Futsal Coach Mentor and Worcester Futsal Club Head Coach, reflects on the 1v1 trends in the final stages of the UEFA Futsal Champions League. 

1v1 trends 

During the recent UEFA Futsal Champions League Playoff Finals in Zadar there were many noticeable trends from many of the teams particularly in the area of playing 1v1’s. There is a common perception that 1v1 is just beating someone with a piece of skill and it involves just technical execution, however, within a high-level futsal context, there is more going on than meets the eye. 

Most teams usually have a 1v1 specialist. For Sporting Lisbon it was Merlim. He could often be seen fronting up his defender on the left-hand side of the court while his other three teammates occupied attacking positions purposefully on the opposite side, allowing Merlim to exploit and execute a 1v1 situation against his opposing defender. This tactic is used on many occasions for various tactical outcomes including: 

  1. To beat the defender down the line and cause a temporary overload.  
  2. To beat the defender inside to shoot recognising when there is space and a lack of defensive cover.  
  3. To create space to play centrally to the pivot with a view for the pivot to turn and shoot or to receive a set his teammates to shoot.  
  4. To play a diagonal pass to the pivot who is waiting near the far post.  

Depending on how the other team defend, it can also be used to draw over another defender to allow a switch to a teammate in more space. 

My advice to coaches if they have a gifted 1v1 player is to maximise these court supremacy situations by creating ultimate space and total width for the 1v1, and helping the whole team be aware of each other’s super strengths on the court. Identifying players who have the capabilities, confidence and effectiveness to exploit 1v1 situations is one element. But developing the awareness of that player to see other forms of 1v1 and secondary gains is another deeper level of thinking. 

Merlim was particularly effective in these games because he could play off both sides. We often saw him cutting inside to exploit the space his teammates have left him with a view to shoot or pass to the opposite winger or pivot by the far post. This would be off his right foot. However, if this became blocked he would then fake the pass or shot and move the ball onto his left foot committing the defender and drawing him out of the game. He was then able to shoot or pass with his left foot just as effectively. This made him very difficult to defend against. 

There are many technical and tactical aspects to playing 1v1 particularly in the before, during & after phases. 


  • Scanning and thinking ahead to become more aware of the opportunity to play 1v1 (front up).  
  • Players need to identify space, time and the positional structure of the opposition so they are best positioned to receive to face and play forwards. 
  • They might need to move off the ball to create space away from their direct defender. 


  • Players need to understand why facing forward allows them to have at least four options – take it down the line, take it inside, play a forward pass, or play safe (sideways or backwards). 
  • Recognise the position of the opponents – how close the immediate opponent is, how balanced they are and where the surrounding players are. 
  • Make a good decision about which option to choose – whether to hold it for longer or make an action. 
  • Possessing the control to change speed (start and stop) and possibly direction/feint (with sole or ‘oriented’ control) to dominate the opponent. 


  • Identifying a secondary opportunity to play 1v1 again. 
  • Second phase movements (e.g. combination play with a pivot). 

The challenges we face...

  • Players have a preconceived perception of what a 1v1 is (eg. to go past a player). 
  • Players are technically not able to ‘show’ the ball to an opponent so lose the ability to control their individual space. 
  • For those not in possession to understand the mechanics of the 1v1 and their role within it.  

Concluding thoughts 

The three areas below are some of the ways we as coaches can have an impact on educating players and coaches on this topic. 

  1. Micro level – begin to support individual players with the technical & tactical detail to master such a situation. 
  2. Meso level – wider group education through considering practice design and creating positive environments that promote and reinforce important behaviours and tactical actions(plus the player experience). 
  3. Macro level – develop a set of core messages that help to reinforce a collective viewpoint on 1v1 play to help the behaviour change process in our young players and the way coaches support them. 

I would love to hear about how you help your players or if you have any comments about my blog. Let me know in the comments section below. 

Credit - David Ramos UEFA Contributor