DarylllandI am the manager of a Top Sunday League division side. We gained promotion from Div 2 last season and also picked up a cup. This year as we will be facing the toughest opposition in our clubs history I have come up with a 4-1-3-2 formation that will allow us to attack whilst always having the defensive cover of a defensive midfielder to help the defence when either fullback makes a run up the pitch.

As we are now in Div 1 and the key to survival and maybe even challenging for honours will be in conceding as few goals as possible I have opted to always have 4 in defence, which means that when either fullback moves up the pitch, it will be the DMF's job to fill in at the back to make a back 4.

The problem someone has pointed out to me is that with 4 defenders holding back, the fullback will have one less option in the midfield to pass to. My reasoning is that the fullback will have the winger in front of him, the attacking midfielder inside and the support striker to help with the attacking move.

It has been pointed out to though that the AMF could be marked by up to two opposing center mids so I was wondering what the thoughts are on this idea?

Opinions appreciated :)



nvrIf I were you I'd go more defensive at my first season with the big boys. Start with a 4-3-2-1 to be on the safe side. Set pieces and counter attacks should be your attacking strategy. Once you feel more comfortable in your new league you can start experimenting with more attacking formations.


adinoosmI used United as an example here...

I feel like the front is too packed for any flexibility or the fullbacks to make any runs, though when a team does have a single holder it adds to the fluidity of the side. As you can see have a single holder instead of 2, or 3, makes for a lot more passing lanes, and helps for possession. with two strikers up top and two wingers/wide midfielders that's 4 players on the front line with a creative player in behind, it doesn't allow much room for fullback runs. I also put flags in areas of concern, as you can see only having two central midfielders (center attacking, and center defensive) doesn't allow for many options for passing in the center of the field, somewhere you would want to dominate, and when you are getting attacked, there is a lot of space there for the opposing team to create inside. especially with inverted wingers coming into those gaps.

in my opinion this is the best formation..

In this formation, with a creative forward (using Barca as an example) that can drop deep can make this a very flexible team. The fullbacks can make runs and the winger in front of them can drift inside a bit and the center forward can drop a bit deeper and form a diamond of 4 in the center with 3 forwards (in possesion) with the DMF (Busquets in this occasion) can still be infront of the back 3 and drop into the back 3 when need to defend. Also when there is 4 defenders and the center feels a bit congested the DMF can drop between the two center backs and the two center backs can move wider and the fullbacks can push up and wider, this will spread the field and the opposing team, which will give space for your central players! The DMF can still have all those roles in a 4-3-3, and its a more flexible team! and when you're pressing the front 3 can close all the gaps, the center forward (the gap between the two center backs) and the wingers (the gaps between the center back and the right/left fullback) so it cuts off all the passing lanes with just 3 players and is very effective pressing, and also one of the two CMs can come help press two while the DMF and the other CM stay behind the front pressing line covering the midfielders! along with a high line from the defense. So you can press the easiest and most effective, but also keep possession the best, and also attack the most. Remember, a type of formation doesn't the determine if a team is attacking or defensive, people hear 4-3-3 and think it lacks defensively if you can't press, but its the attitude of the team that determines that! Chelsea used a 4-3-3 vs. Barcelona and defended very deep and effectively, and Barca use 4-3-3 but obviously more offensively! So that formation can work both defensively and attacking! its what i recommend!

Twitter: @adinoosm


adinoosmAlso if you are going to try and use 4-3-3, i want to mention something!

When you are facing a team with two forwards, (two strikers, or a striker and a creative attacking player that plays very high up) it would be more advantageous for you to defend with 3 backs and the DMF just infront of them! With one of the fullbacks constantly forward, acting as a winger, and the winger inside with the center forward dropped deep! (like a 3-diamond-3) Because all you need to defend is a spare man. you have 3 defenders vs his two forwards, it will still be in your advantage, when you play with 4 backs, it will be his two forwards vs your two center backs, its a bit more difficult, plus it takes an option away from the attack! When the opponent uses 3 forwards, you should use 4 backs, with both fullbacks being a bit more defensive, so its 4v3 in your advantage, and youre still playing a 4-3-3! the DMF is a very important part of this type of team! If you want a perfect example of a team that changes from 4-3-3 to 3-diamond-3 effectively look at Marcelo Bielsa's teams! the Chile national team does it excellently! and also, Athletic Bilbao, his club team in Spain, They do it very well with a high pressing, possession, and man marking system! It works very well! They dominated united in the Europa League last year! Good luck!

Twitter: @adinoosm


adinoosmOne last thing! haha!
Also, when the other team is playing with 3 forwards like i said, there is a scenario where both fullbacks don't have to be very defensive. One of them can still move up and form the same 3-diamond-3, but the DMF would have to be very quick and smart to know when he should quickly transition into the back 3 to form a back 4 vs their 3 forwards! The DMF must also be able to read the game and cut out a lot of passes! When he does, he will have a lot of players around him too! (the DMF has the most passing lanes available to him, so he is the pivot and fulcrum of the team, very important player!)
So you dont need 2 very defensive fullbacks, but a quick transitioning DMF if you want to do it like that too! Barcelona actually do this vs. Real Madrid all the time and it works perfectly! watch their 3-1 game that Barca won last season! Perfect example. But in the 2-1 win for Madrid last season vs. Barca you cans ee Ronaldo's goal happened because Ozil (the center attacking playmaker that plays high up) drifted to the wing and Busquets didnt mark him and stayed in the center, but was too slow to transition into the back 3 to form a back four and Ozil's pass to Ronaldo (who scored) exposed the moment where busquets was too slow in transition! thats the last post i promise! hahaha!

Twitter: @adinoosm