Zonal marking


Active Member
Feb 23, 2004
Thread starter #1
Watching the City United game tonight, I couldn't help but laugh at all the unfair stick given to Chris Smalling. Most of us here will have played football, and know how difficult it can be to stop an opposing player running at full speed. When you defend man to man, this is basically the situation that is created. You are running towards your own goal, usually after having to turn, and have to a) stop your man from getting the ball and b) stop yourself from smashing it into your own net.

Ultimately, that is impossible, and with any set piece when attacking against a man marking system, a player will have a great chance if he puts the right run on the end of the right ball. Do that, and for the reasons above, it is nigh-on impossible that the man marking you can stop you, as was shown tonight with the Kompany goal.

With Zonal however, and yes, I appreciate that it takes a lot of work to perfect, tonight's goal would not have happened. Let's say, for argument's sake, that you line up with a man on each post and two lines of 3, one across the 6 yard line and one directly in line with them but 12 yards out. In front of you, there is a 6 by 6 yard box created, that is 'your' zone; if the ball ends up in that area, it is your responsibility to win it.

In general, this must be an easier way to stop the opposition from scoring, as all you have to worry about is the ball, and from the time the cross comes in, there is no reason to turn, or sprint towards your own goal, as your box to defend will be in front of you. Of course, if the perfect cross it met by the perfect run, it is still going to be extremely difficult to stop, that's just the way it goes, but you have a far better chance of beating the opposition player to the air if you also have a running start at speed.

As far as I can tell, the only reason we like man marking here is that it gives you someone to blame when you concede a goal, as with Smalling tonight. Kompany scored, it's his man, so it must be his fault. That is such an archaic way of looking at things, and yes, whilst zonal marking may take a lot more work to perfect, these guys have enough time on the training ground every day to make it work. Sadly, the idea that 'a zone can't score a goal,' is so ingrained in our mentality here that it is potentially hindering clubs from defending better.