All you need to know about the 4-3-3 formation in football

Posted by

As a football fan, you have noticed without a doubt that the patterns in both attacks an defence change from team to team even when they use the same 4-3-3 formation

Fc Barcelona uses Tiki-Taka, Real Madrid uses Speed counters and Liverpool presses high and Firmino has a role of assisting the wingers. So you can see that this formation has multiple uses and multiple forms and that’s why it is used by most coaches in modern football

Of course there are many other systems that you can check in this article about formations and systems in football but we are going to focus on the 4-3-3 formation for the rest of the article

The Essentials

All-Round Midfielders

There are two players flanking the defensive midfielder whose duty is to :

  • Defend and help get the ball back as soon as possible
  • Construct the attack patterns once they receive the ball from the defenders
  • Attack and get in the opposition box to finish the chances created by the winger

For these roles to be carried out well, such players need to have superb passing abilities.

All-Defensive Midfielder

The defensive midfielder is the pillar of this formation as he must break-up the opposition attacks. Also, he must have the technical ability to release the ball to his teammates in the best possible position to start the attack.

When the team trusts the defensive midfielder they can attack with more freedom knowing that he has got their backs and we can name many excellent players at this role for example : Casemiro , Busquets , Veratti, ….


Offensive midfielders on either side of the striker are instructed to use their pace to get at fullbacks and cross the ball in for the central striker and advancing midfielders. It is important that these wide players have the skill and technique needed to beat opposing defenders.

Often you will see these types of players cut inside and run at the central defenders, regularly playing quick passing exchanges with teammates before getting into the penalty area and releasing a shot.

While it is the central striker’s job to score goals, these players are also expected to weigh in.

The Central Striker

The formation relies on a striker to play in the Center of the front three, capable of holding the ball up and bringing the two players on either side of him into the play.

Strengths of the formation

  • Strength through the middle – With three central midfielders you can protect the defence, control the centre of the pitch, and force the opposition to play out wide.
  • lots of passing options and angles for the player on the ball – Due to the focus on movement and space, the player on the ball should always have a number of options available to them and this in turn helps the team to dominate possession.
  • Tactical flexibility to change to other formations – From 4-3-3 formation, the coach can manage the game and counteract the opposition by changing the shape of the team relatively easily.
  • Overwhelm the opposition – With a potential seven players rushing forward, the 4-3-3 can be mayhem for the defending team as a stream of people push up the field towards them.

Weaknesses of the formation

  • Opposition can take advantage of the space on the wings – In the 4-3-3 formation, the team can be overloaded out wide if one of the central midfielders or wide forwards doesn’t help out the fullback.
  • Vulnerable to cross field passes – As the midfielders shift as a unit to close down danger on one side of the pitch, the opposition can play a cross field ball and start building up play on the opposite flank.
  • Vulnerable to the counterattack – When the team pushes up to the halfway line, there is a lot of space left behind the defence. This leaves the team open to the counterattack and the keeper must act as a sweeper to minimise the risk.
  • The midfielders can get in each other’s way – With three players playing centrally, there is a risk that the midfielders occupy the same space and get in each other’s way.


Attacking at heart, the 4-3-3 formation is a great choice depending on your personnel. Reliant on hard-working players and athletic fullbacks, the formation also requires tricky wide forwards who can create a lot of goal scoring opportunities.

What is certain, though, is that you will have a lot of fun playing this formation


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s