Defending is a difficult part of soccer. Although much is emphasized for great attacking soccer, keeping a defensive shape is difficult. The movement of players, great passes from opposing players, and lack of communication can easily tear through a team's defense. Many teams are known for their great defense: the 2006 World Cup winning Italian National Team had a well-structured defense.
The 2004 European Championship winners Greece won surprisingly because of their stellar defense speed and their ability to close down attackers quickly. The entire Italian soccer league, the Serie A, is known for their defensive style approach to soccer. Defending is about patience, timing, and anticipation.
The following drill creates a hard situation for defenders, one they will most likely be in during a game. Although it's hard to teach the "right" thing to do in this drill for defenders (or even attackers), practicing these situations will give both sides some awareness for when they are in a game situation.
You will need a goal, at least ten players, the more the better, and some soccer balls. Also, a goalkeeper is good to have, but not necessary. Have a line of defenders line up on one of the goalposts with all the balls. Have your attackers line up in two line 20 or 30 yards from the goal. Place each attacking line about 5 to 10 yards apart.
The drill is started by the defender, who plays a long ball out to either attacking line. He then sprints out to defend the attackers. The player with the ball attacks toward goal, while a player from the other line comes with them. This drill will always put two attackers against one defender, and technically create an "easy" scoring opportunity for the attackers.
Once the attackers score the defender wins the ball, the next defender passes a ball at, and the drill starts again.
Starting this drill, your attackers should be scoring every time against the defender. The attackers can pass to their partner or go one on one with the defender. Technically, the offense should at least get a shot on goal every time.
But once the defense does this drill enough times, they should begin to anticipate or at least recognize what the attacker with the ball will do.
The keys for success for defenders in this drill are closing down the attacker fast. Closing the attacker with the ball down will reduce his amount of options. Also, shield the attacker with the ball outside and make him shoot. Obviously winning the ball is the best option in this drill, but the second best is cutting off the pass and forcing the attacker to shoot from an obscure angle.