What formation?

Discussion in 'Coach' started by phoenixhazard, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. phoenixhazard

    phoenixhazard Member+

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    Which formation do you guys recommend with the following?

    2 very solid forwards, one is an excellent dribbler and calm on the ball, the other is very fast and a great finisher (neither are big or physical)
    a very good holding midfielder, calm on possession, solid passer, not that much of a runner though.
    a smart but slow center back and another one that is fast and aggressive but not the most knowledge of the game...
    The right mid is an excellent crosser, but not the fastest or best at dribbling and the left mid is very fast and has an eye for goal but tends to hold the ball too long


  2. mhoffert9

    mhoffert9 New Member

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    I suggest 4-1-3-2. Holding mid would be allowed to keep lots of possession and protect your center backs. Sounds like your RMF could play Right Back and get up and down the flanks. I usually like tucked-in midis, for easy defensive transition, but you could also spread them out to allow this dribbler to take on players on the wing as a midfielder.
  3. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    You haven't provided the most important information. I can figure out that the sport is soccer and you are not asking about a professional team, but--

    • Is this a developmental team?
    • What age, gender, and level of play?
    • Are the players match fit?
    • How much training time do you have available to introduce a system?
    • What systems are you currently using?
    • What are the rules of competition (including field sizes)?
    • How does your team's level of play compare to your opponents?
    • How good is your keeper?
  4. phoenixhazard

    phoenixhazard Member+

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    This a men's "sunday league" team but at the 2nd highest level of competition. Players are in their 20s, most are match fit save a few. We train once a week, not much time to really introduce a drastic system change. We have been very successful with a 4-4-2 but definitely there is room to improve, mainly the LM never coming to defend and our fullbacks doing risky things deep in our half and giving up possession in dangerous places. Rules are all FIFA standard, full size pitches. Our team is 2nd in our division now out of 15 so we are doing well. And our keeper should probably have played in the pros, yes he is that good.


  5. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Some suggestions--
    • Stick with the 442, just work on changes to the organization or changes in the lineup to adjust to your opponent or improve your team's effectiveness. You can alter the midfield and you can alter your defensive organization as well as the line of confrontation (how high up the field you begin to press the other team). Spend your practice time working on building from the back to better link up the midfield and fullbacks. (How much of the problem of the fullbacks losing possession is their fault versus caused by your LM being out of supporting position making your opponent's defensive job so much easier?
    • If you are interested in the 4132 suggested above, you can do that with the 442 by going to a diamond midfield but using a CM (box to box) instead of CAM.
    • You can simulate a 451 (4231) by using a 4411 with 2 holding midfielders, freeing the flanking players (mids and backs) to move more aggressively up the field--which in turn will tend to keep your opponents flank players pinned back having to make their attacking runs from much farther back, making it easier to defend the flanks.
    • An outside mid on either side never coming back to defend is an absolute no no, but especially on the left side. If your opponents are typical and this can change from match to match, their strongest attacks will come down the right side, meaning typically you place your wide mid who is the better defender on your own left side to counter their right mid. If the opponent's strongest attackers are on your right flank, you swap the outside mids around to counter. What I suggest is that you move Mr. LM out of the midfield. It sounds like he is already playing like a second striker (and the problem is you already have two strikers). That suggests to me swapping your fast forward for Mr. LM. If Mr. LM can finish and the fast forward can dribble, you might have an improvement their. If you keep Mr. LM in the midfield put him on the flank that sees the least attack. I also suggest you go with 2 holding midfielders and that will give you a stronger position against a counterattack.
  6. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Here is a radically different approach. Due to your LM's failure to defend, you are already playing a 433 by default, it is just most of the team probably doesn't know it. If you don't want to replace the LM--after all your broken 442 by default 433 was good enough to beat most of the teams in your league--then redefine your system as a 433. Now the problem is that even in a 433 at your level to be more successful you need to defend in your own half with 2 lines of 4 behind the ball. That is a classic way to organize the 433's defense going back to Brazil's national team 50 years ago. The system differences lie in which of the forwards drops into the midfield to defend. Brazil originally used the LW, ironically for your situation.

    Now here is the radical part. If your LM (really LW) won't drop back to join the defense, bring the defense to him. Switch to a high pressure defense in a 433 shape with everyone behind the ball presuring as high up the field as possible. If you can't win the ball, the team line of confrontation drops back slowly to the center circle where the team shape can change to 442 with just 2 lines of 4 behind the ball, allowing Mr. LM to join the midfield line without having to make a recovery run :)

    I don't suggest this approach, but it would be interesting to try out against your weakest opponents to see what happens.
  7. phoenixhazard

    phoenixhazard Member+

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    Its pretty interesting, we have an easy opponent coming up so perhaps I will try it, thanks!
  8. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not big on formation. To me it's about execution of the individual and team responsibilities that is vital. Be clear on what the team and individual does in each phase of the game.

    I've regularly been on successful men's teams for about 15 years now and the common thread to success is consistent attendance by the group and knowing what we do as a whole. It's been different teams too and we don't really sit down and discuss a strategy per se, we just make sure to "sign" guys that know how to play.

    To me it's more important, based on your examples, whether the forwards want the ball played to feet or something they can run onto, are they comfortable taking it out of the air, should the winger cross in the air, near or far post? What are his defensive duties? Cross early or late?

    Define more of what they do rather than what they are (left midfield or winger).
  9. Rover_Dave

    Rover_Dave Member

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    Sticking with formations, the team i play for (amatuer/pub level) has recently brought in a guy to help with coaching/managing of the team. First thing he did was to drop our 4-4-2 formation in favour of a 3-2-2-3. I have never come across this before, it had it its plus points but a few problems, mainly stemming from the fact no one really knew what they were doing.

    Has anyone come across this before? It was set up like this:

    ---------------GK
    ---Def--------Def-------Def
    --------Mid--------Mid
    --------Mid--------Mid
    Fwd---------Fwd--------Fwd

    The front 3 were basically told not to defend with the wide players becoming an outlet. I was expecting the 2 outside defenders to pull wide to cover the attacking wingers with the mid's dropping into the backline to cover but this did not seem to be the plan the manager had. Which caused chaos, needless to say, we got beat.
  10. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    If you were as ancient as I am you would recognize this as the WM popular in the 1950's and 60's. It was derived from the 235 ("centre-half" drops back from midfield to centerback). Some people still refer to attacking midfielders as inside forwards too! In turn the WM was replaced by the 433 and 442. In the US the 343 is still popular with women's teams (usually with a flat midfield instead of box). Anson Dorrance, coach at UNC, is a big proponent.

    The fact that your team didn't understand the system is not a problem with the system, but rather a coaching problem that can be cured.

    From a coaching viewpoint to make your teams transistion from 442 to 343 easier, I would start by playing a flat midfield. Have them defend like a typical 442 with two lines of 4, except that you have a line of 3 behind a line of 4. For the flanks--conceptually the 3 backs are all centerbacks with the outside midfielders being responsible for defending the flank near the touchline. This creates a lot of work for the wide midfielders, but they don't have to run into a winger position while in possession. So it is no more work for them than a 442 system, although both require more running than any other position.

    Functionally you can also think of what I am suggesting as a 523 with wingbacks attacking on the flanks. I would not explain it that way to the team, however, as it is liable to cause more confusion than it cures.

    Once they get comfortable playing with a flat midfield, then you can change to a box midfield if you still want to.

    PS: the typical WM used a man-to-man defense so there was no confusion about defensive responsibilities. I am not suggesting you do that today. There is a reason teams switched to a pressing zone.
  11. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    Not that I'm a big proponent of 3-2-2-3/WM but have you ever asked yourself WHY you guys chose to play 442?
  12. phoenixhazard

    phoenixhazard Member+

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    4-4-2 is the simplest and easiest formation to have people follow
  13. snolly g

    snolly g Member

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    it's one of the reasons i don't like the WM. it makes it look like the outside backs should drift wide.

    i'm not saying they shouldn't drift wide, but i think you should always want your defenders moving together, in a block, with as little daylight between them as possible. (that's an exaggeration.) you want them just far enough apart that they're not covering the same space.

    so, first, picture the back line: LB-----------CB------------RB

    now, imagine (because i can't draw it here) a rectangle around LB-----------CB------------RB.

    the idea is that inside this box is supposed to be space where the ball can't penetrate--because 1. the defenders are close enough to intercept anything that gets inside the box, and 2. the defenders are close enough to their marks that there's immediate pressure (2 on 1) on any opponents inside that imaginary box.

    to keep that block shape, if the outside back drifts wide, then the center back has to follow, and the other outside back has to follow the center back.

    so, everyone central:
    ----------------------------LB-----------CB------------RB-----------------------------

    if LB drifts wide, everyone follows:
    ---LB-----------CB------------RB------------------------------------------------------

    if RB drifts wide, everyone follows:
    -------------------------------------------------LB-----------CB------------RB--------

    you want to avoid:
    ----------------------------LB-----------CB-----------------------------------RB------
    because now RB is by himself without cover, and there's a gap for opponents to pass into or pass through.

    your solution was to have a CM drop in to cover. but he's moving from the wrong direction and in the wrong direction. effectively, he's chasing to get to that gap. and he's probably winded from the attempted attack. until he gets there, the gap remains. and the ball will beat him to the gap more often than not.

    the only way for your team to beat the ball to the gap is for someone else to get there. who? the CB. if the defenders to stay together as a block, the gap never opens up in the first place.

    (you notice the open fields above? on the right when the backs drift left to take on the ball coming down the left? on the left when the backs swing right to take on the ball coming down the right? that's where you let the middies fill in. it takes a longer time for the ball to travel from one side of the field all the way to the other side. since it takes longer for middies to track back, it makes more sense to let them fill into the weak side. and you don't need both middies to fill in the weak side. the other should drop into the space above the "block". now you have an upside-down T-shaped block, and attacker's option is to play the ball backwards.)
  14. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    I disagree with that. The system requires abstract and creative thinking to work. Because it has no dedicated wings, midfielders and fullbacks have to interchange between lines in order to have functional wingers. Essentially the flank players must be capable of playing as forward, midfielder and fullback, and make repeated 40-60 yard runs during the match. Winghalf and wingback are very demanding positions fitness-wise and require speed on the ball and crossing skills to be effective.

    If they are not effective attacking and defending due to lack of skill or fitness your team is going to have a glaring weakness on the flanks. Your opponents can cheat into the center on defense and force your own flank players to defend deep in your own half.
  15. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Snolly: This organization may work for kids and women, but it won't work for men. The back line is too narrow for powerful players. The opponents will defeat the shift with a long diagonal ball to the open space on the weakside. When Anson Dorrance discusses his 343 system at UNC he points out that it won't work for men. In fact he says it won't work for women either at the international level.
  16. phoenixhazard

    phoenixhazard Member+

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    Yea good points. So what is the easiest formation/system to implement?
  17. Rover_Dave

    Rover_Dave Member

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    Firstly, thanks for the responses.

    rca2 - It makes sense that this formation was widely utilised back in the day as the guy who has come to our club and brought the 3-2-2-3 formation is an older chap (to be nice)
    It was the first time that we had used it and as you say, with more coaching the formation might work. Your suggestion of a flat midfield in a more 3-4-3 formation is a good starting point and would make the transition alot easier. I think the team, with the players we have, would take to that alot better to start with and then go to the box midfield if needed.

    elessar78 - I think we went with 4-4-2, or slight variations of, because it is what the team knew and everyone knew what their roles were.

    Snolly - Thanks for the explanation. Looking at it, thats what he was after. The back 3 moving as 1 and a midfielder moving in to cover. The first reason it failed is because the back 3 moved, and the midfielders thought they would be dropping into the back line in the middle, which left the opposing winger free to run in at the back post.

    rca2 (again :)) - If Snolly's formation works well for kids and not adults, do you think the 3-2-2-3 formation isn't really suitable for our team? And that maybe reverting into a more 3-4-3 instead would be the better solution?
  18. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    I ask because a lot of times team just default to playing 442, even if they don't have 442 personnel/mindset/skillset/fitness. Also at times, coaches over think formations by being different just to be different.

    For me, getting the details of the formation right is much more important than how many defenders/midfielders/forwards you deploy. How do we play out of the back, do the center mids come to receive the ball or do the outside mids, how do strikers play, are we looking to create crosses or play through the middle? What are the defensive responsibilities?
    rca2 repped this.
  19. Rover_Dave

    Rover_Dave Member

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    And you are right elessar78, a lot of teams in our league, with it being a low level do just default to a 4-4-2 regardless or the players they have.
    Again you are right to focus on the details as well. Something we don't do so much of in fairness.
  20. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    And this will answer pheonixhazard's question too: "So what is the easiest formation/system to implement?"

    I don't like using the word "formation" to describe a system of play. "Formation" implies you are talking about shape on the field, which is only one consideration and the tactical shape should vary depending on the current circumstances in a match. Systems of play are generally categorized by the the numbers of backs, mids, and forwards--but for instance a 433 can be organized in many different ways. At a high level, teams may be using the same number of backs, mids, and forwards in every match--even use the same players--but change the way the team is organized based on the opponents and playing conditions.

    Often players will get the impression that the way they are used to playing a system--442 for instance--is the only way to play a 442.

    It was the way Snolly was organizing the defense that won't work. Making the 3 backs responsible for the flanks without anyone coming back to help with their width is the problem with facing powerful opponents who can make the long diagonal passes to take advantage of the open space on the weak side. The easiest solution which most teams use is to go to a 4-back system. But it is not the only solution.

    The problem with the 4-back system today is that most teams use 1-2 forwards bringing everyone else back behind the ball to defend. To challenge the defense you need to get more numbers into the attack. You can't afford to have 4 backs hanging back. So the popular solution today is a 4-back system with attacking fullbacks. But a 3-back system with midfielders adding width to the back line when out of possession should work too, unless your players matchup poorly with your opponents, especially speedwise.

    The best system and organization for a team depends on the players. The system has to fit the players, not the other way around (unless you are scouting). If no one on your team is in shape, using a system with a winghalf position is a problem. You may be able to sub every 10 minutes, but it is hard to get an attacking rhythm going with frequent subs.

    The easist system to use is a system that your players have used before. It is far easier to tweak an existing system than teach a new one. That is why I mentioned that what I was suggesting for the 343 will play like a 523, but you shouldn't explain it to the players that way.

    You can usually get to the same objective tactically in any system. For instance a 442 can attack like a 433 if you use a second striker (4411) and have the wing halfs attack aggressively. Or a 442 can attack like a 4231 by using a second striker and a box midfield. And the different possiblilites for defensive organization are many--man marking, zone, or combinations of both. The most common thing that varies--even during a match--is the number of field players defending goalside of the ball. Late in the match protecting a lead, it may be all 10.
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  21. Rover_Dave

    Rover_Dave Member

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    Great post rca2, thanks.

    I suppose i am looking at it in a more rigid fashion and looking at formations as set formations, which is the wrong way to go.

    The problem i have is that i have no say in the coaching/formation/tactics etc. I don't actually think that using this type of set up is the way to go. We are setting the formation and trying to get the players to fit, which means putting square pegs into round holes.

    The posts you and the others have made are really helpful though and hopefully i can get some of the points across to the manager and improve the team.

    In the last game we played, the first time we changed to a back 3, the first thing that was noticable as an error was the fact that the opposing winger was basically given a free run down the right flank, no one knew who should be picking him up and found himself unmarked running towards the back post.

    Personally i prefer your 3-4-3 system, i think we would have the players for the formation, not only fitness wise but we would all have the footballing brain to play it.
  22. snolly g

    snolly g Member

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    i fully agree. i wasn't actually suggesting the back line should confront on the wings. as the opposition gets better (teams that can switch the field easily and quickly), you'll need one more defender across the back. that's why 4 backs are most common at top tier.

    i was just explaining part of what the coach was expecting from the 3 backs.

    and yes, the other possibility is for the back line to stay home/central. (making it the midfield's responsibility to confront on the wings.) letting the opponent make the run to the corner flag isn't so terrible if your defenders are able to lock up the middle.
    rca2 repped this.
  23. snolly g

    snolly g Member

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    well, it's possible to allow him a run down the flank, unopposed, for some time. but it depends... and no matter what, it doesn't mean the back line just watches him go to goal.

    http://soccer.sharetheplay.com/?playersKey=2ACC8G13C29F9D5A8
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  24. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    As I was saying, any formation can work as long as everyone is clear on the responsibilities. It takes time too to make these reactions automatic. Admittedly knowing very little about the situation. I might not have switched the formation but instead refined te functioning of the 442.

    But that ship has sailed and now the objective is to learn the intricacies of the new formation. Just remember that it's all about creating and destroying space and working together in small groups of 2-5 (so what does the overall formation really matter?)
    rca2 repped this.
  25. Rover_Dave

    Rover_Dave Member

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    I see what you're getting at Snolly. Also great tool for showing plays, cheers!

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