Thursday, March 13, 2008

Football formations and tactics

Every player has his position on the pitch which is set by the coach and it’s based on the player’s abilities, team experience, opponent skills, lineups etc.
Today most common football formation is 4-4-2 with its variations (4-4-1-1, 4-2-2-2, 1-3-1-2-1-2). It’s most played in England but also all over the world. Formation 4-4-2 means that four of the players are in the defense, other four in the midfield, and two of them are strikers (forwards). They all can be dragged across the field which will result in 4-4-2 variations. The defenders can play in a line or one of them can be pulled back and this will result having a sweeper (SW) and defensive line noted as 1-3. If one of the central defenders is pushed forward he will become anchor, noted 3-1.
It’s a similar situation with the midfield. You can have 4 of them in a line (RM-CM-CM-LM) or central midfielders being moved forward and backward (DM-RM-LM-AM) etc.

But in the early days of the game there were no formations or tactics. Five guys were appointed to score goals and other 5 to defend. The first “so called” formation was 2-3-5. England and English teams used to play it at the beginning of the XX century and it was played in the “30, “34 and “38 World Cup.

WM (3-2-2-3)
The first root change was made in Arsenal in “20’s under Herbert Chapman. It was called WM formation. Inner forwards were pulled back to strengthen the midfield and centre half moved to the defense line as a respond to the new offside rules. Arsenal won many matches and become famous about that “new style of football”.
The football positions terminology was created at the same time as this formation, using the words fullback, halfback, inside forward, center forward and winger.
It still exists, but transformed, most often as 3-4-3 (for offensive lineups) and 5-4-1 (defensive)

This formation was used in Hungary and Brazil in early 50’s. Strong attack and solid defense were major characteristic of this kind of lineup. This is extremely offensive tactic with weak midfield having only 2 players to create the play, therefore teams with fantastic individuals and skillful forwards were able to use it. Teams using this formation were described as teams which play with 6 defenders and 6 forwards at the same time because of these two midfielders performing the both tasks – in the defense and in the attack.
This formation will become noted in the football history to be the first graphically written formation, published in the Brazilian sport magazine “O Cruseiro”.
Brazil won “58 WC playing with Garrincha, Vává, Pelé and Zagallo in the attack and 12 years later in 1970 with Jairzinho, Pelé, Tostão and Rivelino.

Modern formations

This formation was first invented in 1962 by the Brazilian national team and still has it’s usage in the modern football. The Brazilian team was the first to pull back one striker into the midfield which transformed 4-2-4 into 4-3-3. At the time this formation was criticized for being too “defensive” but it showed that it was the right decision because the midfield was strengthen very much and it was the key place in the build-up play.
Teams playing this formation usually get ball possession and create a lot of chances. So, the expectations of the 3 central midfielders are to guarantee ball possession and major task of the wingers is crossing. There is only one central forward who is charged to score goals.
In the past, a lot of teams used this formation and were pretty successful. As we mentioned before Brazilian NT was using it and later it was quickly adopted in Argentina and Uruguay. Very soon it was adopted in Europe too, and it was used by Netherlands national team and almost every club in Netherlands in the 70’s. Many Spanish and English teams were using it while winning in many competitions.
Years later this formation got new dimension. Wingers got moved inside field and became supporting strikers – SS (defensive forward or “trequartista”). These players became paramount in connecting midfield and attack. So this formation having 2 defensive forwards instead of 2 wingers was renamed to 4-3-2-1 or “Christmas Tree”.
Today, 4-3-3 lineup is still popular.
In 2006 WC Netherlands and Spain played this formation and also Barcelona, Lyon and Chelsea in the recent seasons.

As I mentioned before, 4-4-2 is today’s most used formation in the football world.
With 4 defenders the teams get firm defense and with 2 classical forwards they get steady attack. Midfielders are used to create chances, help the defense and reinforce attack. This formation is easy transformable for both defensive and offensive style of playing.
In England it’s sometimes called “Flat-back 4” and the most successful teams playing this formation also came from England: Manchester United (won every possible title in “98-“99 campaign) and Arsenal (2003-04 – the unbeaten season). Both of the teams were playing symmetrical lineup with line positioned players (RB -CD-CD-LB; RM-CM-CM-LM; FW-FW)

4-3-1-2 (Diamond)
English national team was one of the first successful teams playing this formation. In 1966 England won the WC trophy playing 4-4-2 and they were described as “Wingless Wonders”. No one before used this tactic. England actually was playing a 4-4-2 variation with 1 defensive and 1 offensive midfielder instead of playing 2 central midfielders. Better description of their lineup is 4-1-2-1-2. This formation became very popular in Europe later and was called “4-4-2 Diamond”. Its major characteristic is having no wingers actually. The attacking midfield has somewhat free role and is positioned between attack and midfield. The defensive midfielder has much stronger contribution to the defense, but still has a role in midfield.
Some of the most successful teams in history were using “diamond”. Argentina’s national team has long history of using diamond, beginning in the 80’s with the Maradona era. Maradona played as AM behind two forwards. In 2006 WC Argentina and Germany played “diamond” too.
Some of the most successful club also used diamond: Real Madrid won the ninth CL trophy in 2002 while playing diamond; A.C. Milan 2003-2007 titles; Porto won CL in 2004 with Mourinho with diamond; Boca Juniors 2000-2007 and many others.

4-4-2 has also other variations like 4-4-1-1 (Italy 2006 - World Champion; Juventus 2001-03, Manchester United in 2006-2007…)
This is little more defensive than other 4-4-2’s but its easy transformable too. Major characteristic role is “trequartista” or “hole” striker placed behind Target man – classic forward. These typical kinds of players are Del Piero, Totti, Kaka, Zidane etc.

Extremely offensive formations are those with minimum number of defenders (only 3) and maximum number of forwards (3). So, 3-4-3 is one of them. This formation was played most often in the “90’s by Barcelona under Cruyff who won 1992 CL; Ajax under Van Gaal winning 1995 CL; or Milan under Zaccheroni.

This is one of the offensive formations but with stronger midfield instead of attack. It appeared to be functional when Croatia reached 4th place in 1998 WC. It has more variations too.

Very defensive lineup but sometimes it resulted with a lot of goals scored. This is because the teams that played this lineup used Sweeper (SW) and had much freedom along defensive line. He was sometimes pushed forward to strengthen the midfield. With offensive wingbacks it was much more opened than it appears to be. Pure example is 2000 CL title of Real Madrid when Helguera was SW and Roberto Carlos and Salgado had many offensive tasks playing as wingbacks.
Playing counter-attack whit 5-3-2 comes very useful sometimes.

It is a defensive formation. Teams play it when they are aiming to draw, maybe 0-0. But it’s transformable, too, if you throw the side midfielders into wing position. This kind of playing requires having playmaker in the center of the midfield.
Liverpool in 2005 CL used this formation with Gerard playing as playmaker. Next season Arsenal appeared to be very successful with this tactic too, and Fabregas was the one to play as playmaker.

Fabio Capello used variation of this tactic when leading Real Madrid to their 30th Primera title in 2007, but instead of having playmaker behind the whole midfield line, AM was positioned to be a lonely striker. Last 2 men of the midfield (Emerson and Diarra) had more defensive roles and were mainly used to crush opponent’s attacks.

Catenaccio (5-4-1)
This is the most defensive formation ever used in football. Invented from Italian teams in the 60’s this was most the crushing style of playing with minimum goals scored and totally unattractive matches to watch. Therefore critics, it showed off as a very successful tactic and lineup. Milan and Inter won many matches and titles with “Catenaccio” in the 60’s.
Nowadays Catenaccio has usage too: Cameroon won the opening 1990 WC game against Argentina with it; Italy in Euro 2000 under Dino Zoff; Greece won Euro 2004 with extremely defensive play and using counter-attacks; etc.

Future formations

In the future it’s almost clear that there will not be these classic symmetrical formations. Teams will be playing with winger on the left and defensive forward right of the central forward, for example. Maybe the defensive line will be reorganized. Ex. If opponent team has no player on the right side of the attack, there will not be necessity of left back. He can be pushed forward to help creating chances for the team. Features of this kind of formations are viewable even now. One of these “one-armed” teams was Argentina in the Copa Libertadores in 2007 with Riquelme playing on the left.

Here are some formations and lineups made from my friends:

Marinic – Serie A analyst

GK Iker Casillas
RB Javier Zanetti
CD Philippe Mexès
CD Nemanja Vidić
LB Cristian Chivu
DM Steven Gerrard
RM Cristiano Ronaldo
AM Franck Ribéry
LM Robinho
SS Wayne Rooney
CF Luca Toni

Sasho – Zver (football fan)

GK Iker Casillas
RB Sergio Ramos
CD John Terry
CD Alessandro Nesta
LB Ashley Cole
CM Cesc Fàbregas
RM Cristiano Ronaldo
LM Wesley Sneijder
AM Kaka
FW Wayne Rooney
FW Lionel Messi

Globus – Betting advisor

GK Petr Čech
D Marco Materazzi
D John Terry
D Nemanja Vidić
D Ricardo Carvalho
CM Kaka
CM Wesley Sneijder
RW Cristiano Ronaldo
AM Ronaldinho
FW Goran Pandev
FW Thierry Henry

Goran - Betting advisor

GK Petr Čech
RB Daniel Alves
CD Rio Ferdinand
CD John Terry
LB Patrice Evra
DM Gennaro Gattuso
CM Cesc Fàbregas
RW Cristiano Ronaldo
AM Franck Ribéry
FW Fernando Torres
FW Karim Benzema

Zlatko – football analyst

GK Iker Casillas
CD Rio Ferdinand
CD John Terry
CD Kolo Touré
RWB Sergio Ramos
LWB Patrice Evra
DM Cesc Fàbregas
DM Steven Gerrard
RW Cristiano Ronaldo
SS Wayne Rooney
CF Ruud van Nistelrooy

And finally – My favorite lineup:

GK Iker Casillas
RB Sergio Ramos
CD Carlos Puyol
CD John Terry
LB Ashley Cole
CM Cesc Fàbregas
CM Steven Gerrard
CM Xavi
SS Lionel Messi
SS Robinho
CF Ruud van Nistelrooy


So, I hope you liked this post, and feel free to put some comments about your best formation and lineup


voyoo said...

great POST bro, there are many things to learn here... i vote for Globus but without Marco Materazzi.... Ferdinand rulZzz ;) Vidic-Ferdinand mmmmmmmmm ;) keep posting good things like this one in future ... best regards...

Anonymous said...

man this is a biiiiig post :)))
but it's really great

Anonymous said...

If you want to have 10 player's in you're team , take MATERAZZI hahah
Nice story at all.

Anonymous said...

What is this, everybody pick Iker for there team

Anonymous said...

As I can see 4 picked Iker and 2 Cech. Casillas is the best. Maybe there is place for Bufon. No one else

Anonymous said...

Глобус стаел 4 CD. кој ќе игра лев и десен бек не ми е јасно. Tаке да лоша постава одбрал , според мене. Мариниќ има најдобра , браво за него. Поз убав блог

Coldwar said...

Da sum ko ti odma go tuzam dzole za krazba na avtorski prava i mu go odzemam noviot komp so go nabavil:)

rivaldo said...

great post man, but im really supprised that no picked Gael Glichy as their full back and Ronaldinho is is one of the best players if played behind the two strikers, Van Persie great in that position aswel

Anonymous said...

I found this site using [url=][/url] And i want to thank you for your work. You have done really very good site. Great work, great site! Thank you!

Sorry for offtopic