Gérard Houllier was the Coach of Big European Clubs like Liverpool, Paris SG and Lyon.

In this article we show one of his favorite practice present in UEFA Magazine – The Technician.

Videos and images created by sports software TacticalPad.



– To develop constructive build-up play.

– To encourage the fast break.


Two teams – 8 v 8 plus goalkeepers.


Full pitch, with four zones.


Build-up versus Counter - Gerard Houllier


– One team is identified as the build-up team, but it must conform to the restrictions on passing (i.e. maximum of 4 in the deep defending zone, 3 in the next zone, 2 in the next, and 1 in the attacking area. In order to score, the whole team must be in the opponent’s half of the field (this creates space behind the defense for the possible counter).

– The counter team tries to win the ball back, and initiates a fast break (a maximum of 5 passes can be imposed, before a shot on goal).


– Duration – 26 minutes (2x12m, plus 2 minutes rest).

– The teams change roles at half-time – the build-up team becomes the countering team, and vice versa. (Intensity 90%).


Each team can use both approaches (i.e. they build-up or counter, depending on the situation). But they must conform to the rules for each type of attack (i.e. if it is a counter, they only have 5 passes).


– The countering team can press the ball and counter in the opponent’s half; or retreat, try to intercept the ball, and initiate a fast break from a deep starting position.

– The build-up team are encouraged to play composed possession football in their own half, and then to penetrate quickly with dribbling movements or fast combinations.

– Concentration, turnover speed and effective forward movement are key elements in the practice.

– Enjoy.


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