When I ask you; “would you rather have a 2-1 or a 1-0 lead, what would be your answer? With the advantage in your favour it might not seem to matter that much, it is a one goal advantage either way.......but there is a difference!
The difference lies mainly in when the goals are scored or maybe even in what circumstances?
Let us say that Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing a match at Santiago Barnabeu and Cristiano Ronaldo scores in the 12th minute to put Real Madrid in a 1-0 lead. If they keep that lead to half-time, they would go to the dressing-room feeling good. But, if in the 35th minute, Higuain doubles the lead for Real Madrid to lead 2-0, they would feel even happier and quite comfortable. However, let’s say, in the 40th minute Barcelona get a goal back from Messi, and five minutes later the referee blows for half-time. Then it would be the Barcelona team going in the happier, feeling that the momentum is with them and they are only one goal behind, away from home and that they are in the ascendency. Real Madrid will feel disappointed they conceded and are a little vulnerable, letting a clear two goal lead slip, and giving Barcelona a real chance of getting a spoil of the points.
These circumstances will undoubtedly affect the mind-set (psychological state) of the players on both sides entering the dressing-room. Some will feel elated, positive, motivated and encouraged, whilst the others may be disappointed, negative, but possibly motivated in a different way.
These perspectives will also be present as the teams return to the pitch for the second half.
A strange and interesting phenomenon, and it is totally understandable that coaches’ feelings and perspectives will parallel those of the players. Yet as a coach it is important to make sure the players are not negative or disappointed when they leave the dressing-room for the second half. In the given example, it is important to ensure that the players of Real Madrid see it as a (positive) 2-1 lead, but to deal with the effects of conceding a goal to reduce the lead in the correct way, possibly to seek to extend or reinstate the two goal advantage as a positive strategy. Dealing with situations like this is one of the great things about the football coaching profession, and possibly one that can easily be over-looked.