Space coverage is a defensive tactic in team sports. In contrast to man marking , which assigns a direct opponent to a player, the pass routes are delivered when the area is covered.
In soccer , modern game systems are based on the principle of space coverage. Because the direct assignment is canceled, the tasks of the defensive players can also be seen in the build-up of the game , the tasks of the strikers and midfielders also in defending against opposing attacks. Through a ball-oriented shift of positions - which requires constant observation of the game - the defense work is distributed to the entire team and defensive players are also included in the structure of the game. The aim of the move is above all to create an outnumbered situation near the ball in order to either put pressure on the opponent in charge of the ball or, if possible, to create several pass stations when in possession of the ball.
Spatial coverage requires a high level of tactical skill from players. The positions of the man markers and those of the libero are converted into those of the central defenders and full-backs . By defining the positions, it is easier to quickly switch from defense to attack compared to man marking.
The first to introduce spatial coverage in Germany at the end of the 1970s were Ernst Happel at Hamburger SV and Gyula Lóránt, initially as a coach at Eintracht Frankfurt , then at FC Bayern Munich . Lorant's assistant, Pál Csernai , who succeeded him as Bayern's head coach, brought about an upswing for the club thanks to the new defense strategy.
In Germany, however, the area coverage prevailed rather hesitantly - most clubs as well as the national team (change only under Rudi Völler ) played with Libero and man coverage for a long time.
Furthermore, there are differences in the spatial coverage in the respective orientation, which results in different variants. In technical jargon, a distinction is made between man-oriented, position-oriented, space-oriented and option-oriented space coverage.