Express Yourself

Football – the global sport. A game which breaks barriers of race, religion and in most cases brings a halt in war torn zones of the world. Football is a simple game. I mean, all you need is a ball, and the aim of the sport is to put it in the opposition’s net. It is also known as the “beautiful game”. The glorious touches, flicks, fakes – the list is endless. But if you really see the greats play, why do they play, so fluidly, plays looking so smart, positions that are owned by the players? Well, it’s simple; they function as ONE UNIT in a formation. There are a number of tactical switches that happen during the game, but I will concentrate on the most fluid, multi-functional system used by Europe’s top teams i.e. “3-4-3 formation”.

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The 3-4-3 Formation

This formation is completely ultra-offensive with a team producing 85% of an attacking threat and converting 8/11 chances. The 3-4-3 formation allows the team to have 6 players in attacking positions with four quick players on the wings to provide width to the strikers in the centre of the D. Players in this system need to be extremely fit, and should average about 9-12 kms for the entire game. In this system, the players need to make the ball do the running for them, rather than running for a long distances in a straight line with it. Ajax uses this system to great effect, press from the top and retrieves the ball quickly when defending, by closing the gaps.

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[The red line —— indicates the defensive duties of the player, while the black line —- indicates to the attack threat of a player in the 3-4-3 formation. ST – Striker, RF – Right Forward, LF – Left Forward, LWB – Left wing back, RWB – Right wing back, ACM – Attacking Central Midfielder, DCM – Defensive Central Midfielder, CB – Centre Back, MF – Midfielder, GK – Goalkeeper]

THE PLUS POINTS

  • In this system, you need good ball players who need to be mobile throughout the game.
  • This system demands each player to fit in at least two positions, since you have a lot of gaps in attack.
  • More width and creativity provided with 4 wingers (2 wingers & 2 wing backs) as options.
  • Exploit spaces in between a more defensively set up team.
  • Defensively, with 3 at the back, there is always an option to pass forward or when in a tight spot, the person with the ball has more space and time.
  • With a high press defense, the goalkeeper becomes active, who can act as a sweeper keeper.
  • Positive thinking and confidence are the main ingredients when employing this system.

THE MINUS POINTS

  • With a narrow defense and the central defender moving higher on the pitch, space is created. This can be exploited easily, if you have a keeper who loses his focus.
  • A packed midfield – say in the 4-5-1 formation, the central midfielders will need to have a watchful eye on when to break a counter attack and when to sit back and help the defence.
  • Slow wingers and less physical players will be a burden in your system.
  • Because the team is spread out, gaps can be easily exploited. The bulk of the workload falls on the two midfielders who are box-to-box runners.
I believe this system offers the team an attacking a threat when they are in the final third. You will always find two options; one who is good aerially and one who is good with the feet.One needs to employ a team filled with fit and lean players to suit this style. If employed well, it looks so attractive to the eye. Football is a game of skill and attack more than anything else. Many coaches, in the world love a strong defensive set up but lack the knowledge and know-how of attack.

As the dean of my college keeps telling us, “You need to EXPRESS YOURSELF. Show the world who you are and what you’re capable of. The rest will fall into place with time.”

The second aspect of this system, you need all channels of communication to be open. Sometimes, the players drift out of position and lose their focus. Therefore, commanding your territory is vital.Imagine a rose blooming during a season, you have a central bud in the centre, and the petals around it to function in unison as they open up and let the sunlight in.The football system of 3-4-3 is similar. You have a number 10 role in the centre and the petals act like players as they function in various positions.This system is fun, flexible and football friendly. If you have this blue print engraved into the players mind, you are guaranteed a lot of goals, capture worthy tackles and a great amount of passion worn on the sleeves of every player.
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