The 4-3-3 formation is the coaches favourite football system in the recent years since it focuses on dominating the opponent and attacking all the time
To implement the system, the coach need to be aware of the requirements, the strengths and the weaknesses of the formation and luckily he can have a taste at them in this post about the 4-3-3 formation
Without any delays let’s dive right into the action and get to know the duties of the players in this masterpiece of a football formation
In the 4-3-3 formation, having the 4 defenders and one midfielder in front of the goalkeeper means in theory the goals are well protected.
But as the game drags, gaps open up in the formation. In these situation the goalkeeper role is not as simple as defending the goal and stopping attackers.
The goalkeeper should be the captain of his defence. he should communicate with them at all time and guide them so they don”t lose their positions, he should warn them about any irregularities in the system since he has a good view of the pitch from where he stands
In today’s games, the role of a goalkeeper is evolving and the requirements for a world class one are high since he is now bound to be as good with his feets as the rest of the team. In Guardiola’s system the goalkeeper is the start of every attack and he insists on having goalkeepers with great footwork abilities. They are called sweeper keepers.
The central defenders
The true warriors of this formation and the protectors of the team
In an attack minded system like the 4-3-3 formation those two are responsible in defending the goalkeeper and keeping the attackers away
They should be more into anticipating and reading the ball trajectories than tackling. Their first priority is to get to the ball before the striker
In case the striker gets the ball before them they should hold him for as long as they can giving time to their teammates to reposition themselves or they can clear the ball away
Also they should make the strict minimum of fouls as they operate in an area close to the goals and free-kicks can be dangerous in those positions
The centre back has a role of defending the area in front of the keeper he is basically the fighter of the two while the libero is more of a versatile one who intervenes if a striker manages to breach the defences of the team and he is not tasked with man marking
In this attacking formation, both defenders are needed to have pinpoint pass accuracy whether long or short balls forward
They are the initiators of every attack and they need to have a good sense of the game.
Extremely fit fullbacks are needed in this formation as they are tasked to provide support in defence and in offence
In the defensive roles they should at all time stay goal-side of the oppositions winger and prevent crosses into the danger area
They also should be attentive in the offside application and communicate well with the central backs and the defensive midfielder.
When the team gets the ball they should widen the field by moving forward down the line and overlapping with the winger
Doing so, they either deliver crosses to the striker in the box when the ball gets to them or they simply create 2v1 situations and help the winger penetrate to the box as a decoy
By moving forward they also give more space to the midfielders to manoeuvre and get the all out of the dangerous areas.
They should have great sense of the game so that they can chose accurately when they should attack and when they should maintain their positions .
In the recent years and due to the attacking roles bestowed upon them we witnessed the art of too many fullbacks that are as good with the ball as wingers.To name a few : Carvajal, Marcelo, Alba , Alaba , Maicon and the greatest of them all Dani Alves.
The central midfielders
In my opinion and I might be wrong the success and the stability of the formation depends on how good the holding midfielder is
Due to the attacking nature of the system, gaps tend to open up when attacking with full force. So the holding midfielder should be able to sniff the danger and neutralize it before it gets to the dangerous areas.
He is tasked with covering for his teammates when they move forward to support the attacks, especially the full backs since they do that a lot.
As with all midfielder no need to mention that he has to be good with the ball and at directing g the plays depending on his teammates and the opposition movements.
As for the other two midfielders,they are more like the artists that are tasked with creating danger.
One of them is the carrier of the ball, he should be competent with the ball, able to dribble past defenders and has a good eye for key passes.
He shouldn’t be shy to advance and place himself between the lines of the opposition to drag them out of shape.
The attacking midfielder has more creative responsibility than the others and should have a high level of technical skills as well as good close ball control as they often operate in small spaces which requires quick decision-making.
The attacking midfielder helps to alleviate the creative responsibility of the team’s wide forwards and fullbacks by contributing to attacking play through the centre.
A well-balanced midfield is essential to the 4-3-3 formation’s success and they must work well together to ensure they fulfil all their responsibilities.
Depending on the players available, many options are presented to the coach playing with the 4-3-3 formation in the placement of the attacking trio.
They may decide on a flat three, two up front and one behind, a false 9, or one central striker with two number 10s behind them.
The beauty of football is in the infinite possibilities of play that exists
The main focus of the system is to attack, so the front 3 should put consistent pressure on the defence of the opposition.
Without the ball the front 3 are supposed to be the first line of the defence.
The wide forwards should always press forward and put pressure and the fullbacks by always coming at them and never running away.
With two options in mind, the first being dribbling outside and getting a good cross to their teammates in the box and the second by cutting inside and moving toward the goal
They should all the time contribute to the goals scored by the team by assisting and scoring them themselves
When defending they should always track back to help their respective fullbacks from getting trapped in a 2v1 situation, Failing to do so is a deal breaker for the balance of the system.
As a team playing 4-3-3 will often dominate possession and be playing in the opposition’s half of the pitch, the striker will be surrounded by the opponent’s players and consequently have little time or space in which to operate.
Therefore, their one touch passing must be accurate and their runs in behind the defence are crucial for increasing the space that their team mates can play in.
By holding up the ball, they can bring their team mates into play and help the team move up the pitch.
I hope I covered the main point of very player role in the 4-3-3 formation in this post, so I can get to the real deal in the next post about how to attack and defend in the 4-3-3 formation
In the meantime if you are interested in finding how great coaches approach their training sessions.I will leave an amazon link to this great book entitled : Coaching Transition Play – Full Sessions from the Tactics of Simeone, Guardiola, Klopp, Mourinho & Ranieri If you purchase this book I’ll get a commission from amazon affiliate program to be honest with you all. Anyway the link to the book is here
See ya soon folks !!
And Stay home Stay safe 😉