The reason you so often hear the words “speed kills” in the sports universe is because it is true. Speed is ageless. In soccer, speed is one of those assets that can make a player very valuable and very dangerous. Just ask the reigning European champions Inter Milan if speed kills.
In the group stage of the UEFA European Champions League, Inter Milan met Tottenham both home (Match day 3 – Oct 20, 2010) and away (Match day 4 – Nov 2, 2010). In the first meeting, Inter Milan dominated. They were up 4-0 with just under 40 minutes to play…then something incredible happened. Gareth Bale of Tottenham single handily took the game over and scored 3 goals in 40 minutes. When I say single handily, I mean single handily. For those of you unfamiliar with Bale, he is Tottenham’s left winger. I would suggest you do your research on this gentleman because he is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous left footed wingers in the world. Why? Because his speed kills. Read here as Goalden’s Phil talks about the up-and-coming star.
Watch the highlights of the first encounter between these two teams. After watching Inter’s early domination, take a look at Bale as he carries the ball from his own end, sprints all the way up the field and scores on more than one occasion.
Alright, alright, so he had a good game and it was luck. Think again. Watch here as the two teams meet for a second time on Match Day 4 – Nov 2, 2010, and Gareth Bale, once again, absolutely mangles the Inter defenders and wonderfully sets up the second and third goals. His speed was one of the deciding factors in the defeat of Inter Milan with a final score of 3-1 in Tottenham’s favor:
There’s a few things to be taken away from this. What the Tottenham coach, Harry Redknapp, realized in the first encounter is that he has a weapon in Bale that Inter cannot contain. No matter who they put on the wing to defend him, he is faster. So what did he do? He tailored the game to Bale. Majority of the balls went up his side and it worked. As a result, he pulled out a victory. Coaches, if you have a player who is very quick, make an intelligent decision as to where you are going to put him/her on the field and create a game plan to use this asset.
Also, if you are a player who has excessive speed, take a few notes from Bale. When you have open territory in front of you, do not begin to do moves and fake out the defender. Instead, push the ball 10-15 yards ahead and beat the defender in a foot race. There is no right way to beat a defender, there are just ways that work; speed is one way that works, so use it!