The Two-Touch Dribble - Michael Laudrup, Andres Iniesta
Hang on a second; is the two-touch dribble really that spectacular?
While the step over is flashy and the elastico fluid, the two-touch dribble is rather spectacular for the way it combines technical simplicity and effectiveness on the pitch. Involving nothing more than knocking the ball with the instep of one foot to that of the other, and kicking it forward past the on-rushing defender, it seems almost too easy for defenders to anticipate, but in truth, it is one of the most essential tricks that footballers must have up their sleeve.
When cornered in a tight spot on the pitch, the two-touch dribble offers a fool-proof way of squeezing a way through defenders, and the quick movement of the ball across the body makes it almost impossible for defenders to make a clean tackle. Another advantage of the dribble is that the ball gets knocked forward, allowing the player in possession to accelerate away from defenders and getting their body in between the ball and defenders.
While the elastico is probably at the very top of the most difficult techniques to implement in the heat of the moment on a football pitch, and the step-over is sometime utilized without much effect, the two-touch dribble would be the first subject of any credible football skills Class 101 session.
Seeing as the dribble is pretty basic in technique, it has been utilized in several different forms over the years by some of the greatest dribblers of the game, but when it comes to the best at executing the two-touch dribble, there can be only one candidate: Michael Laudrup.
An astonishingly under-rated player (which is saying something, since he has been officially named the best Foreign Player in Spanish football between 1974 and 1999) and arguably the greatest play-maker of all time, Laudrup was known for his omniscient vision and passing ability on the pitch, and his superb dribbling skills. One of the most technically proficient players of his time, Laudrup excelled at the two-touch dribble, and used it time and again to ghost past the hasty tackles of desperate defenders nipping at his heels.
If Laudrup ever got into a one-on-one situation with a defender, there was usually only one outcome; he'd show just about enough of the ball to entice the defender into lunging into a tackle, before dropping a shoulder and nicking the ball past the defender, leaving him no chance.
The video will take you through a ten-minute masterclass of the two-touch dribble by Michael Laudrup. Containing snippets from the Danish midfielder's glorious career, it focuses on his ethereal dribbling ability, and highlights the simplicity of his dribbling technique; he rarely used more than two touches to caress the ball past a defender, and is rightly considered the master of the two-touch dribble and its cousins.
Of the great dribblers of today, many players have attained differing levels of mastery of the two-touch dribble, but arguably the best at it is the man considered to be the closest thing to Laudrup: Barcelona's Andres Iniesta. A self-professed fan of Laudrup, the diminutive Spaniard is considered by many to be the best dribbler in the world today, and can be seen shuffling his way past defenders using his heroes tricks and dummies on a regular basis.
To watch some of the best highlights of Iniesta's dribbling feats over the last few years, watch this video; be sure to pay especially close attention at the 1:17 mark of the video, when Iniesta uses the two-touch dribble to spectacular effect to leave Chelsea's Gary Cahill in no man's land during the first leg of the Champions League semi-final encounter between Chelsea and Barcelona in the 2011-2012 season. Textbook perfection.