The 4-3-3 system is played by many professional teams in the Champions League and international leagues. It is probably the most common playing system at the moment. Borussia Dortmund, FC Bayern München, Real Madrid, Manchester City, FC Liverpool and Paris Saint Germain, among others, often play in this system.
The playing system is harmoniously divided into width and depth. Behind the three-man forward line, which can cover the entire width of the field, a more center-oriented midfield block plays in variable depth. The outside backs of the back four work with the outside forwards to ensure that the back line is double-teamed.
Defensive: Pressing Types and Variants
Defensively, the system can be used very well for different types of pressing and variants, although it is nominally very offensive. The three strikers can effectively disrupt the opponent's buildup of play. For example, they can run directly at the outside defenders from their basic position and disrupt them in possession (direct man-oriented pressing). If you play directed midfield pressing in a 4-3-3, an effective variant can be to direct the opponent's buildup of play to the center. This means that the outfielders block or isolate the opponent's outfield defenders, so that the center back is likely to play into the center. Here, the three central midfielders (supported by one of the strikers if necessary) can then win the ball. Here it can even be a means to let the own fullback act very high to narrow the space in the half field. The other three defenders move to the center. It is also possible, but it depends very much on the quality of the fullbacks, to open up the outer lane for the opponent so that he can play along the line to the wing. If the full-back is then close to his opponent, the latter will have a hard time getting forward and a good link-up move becomes unlikely. If one of the central midfielders moves to the outside, he can support his full-back.If the forward line does not play too wide in attack and the players behind it permanently narrow the space, good positions for counter-pressing arise in a 4-3-3. To do this, the central midfield and the fullbacks must move up wide (at least near the ball). However, if this position is overplayed, there is a high risk of goals being scored.
Offense: Typical Plays
The offensive play can be very variable in the 4-3-3 system. Moves are possible through the center as well as through the double-played wing. Many top teams rely on their outfield strikers to get into promising 1-on-1 situations against opposing defenders and use them successfully. Since the strikers often operate very high, the main burden of the buildup of play lies on the back four and the central midfield. Here you need excellent individual players who work well together as a trio. They have to bring movement into their own game with variable position changes, so that the back four also has a permanent place to play in the center. One variation in the build-up play is that one of the midfielders is tipped off to the side while the outside defender pushes up along the line. The outside forward will make a little space for the outside defender by moving out to the inside. This creates new combination possibilities: Space for the outside defender on the wing, a face-off station for the inside defender in the side half-space, without having to play a long (risky) pass. This interplay - outside defender moves up, outside forward drops back into the half-space - is a typical variation in the 4-3-3 system. It is based on the wide gaps that provide free spaces when the opponent does not defend extremely compactly.
Special Considerations for Position Groups
To play the 4-3-3 system effectively, you need "real" outfield players. Germany, for example, has a major shortage here. Only Leroy Sané and Marco Reus stand out here. They have exceptional technical skills, can control the ball at top speed, and assert themselves in 1-on-1 situations.
In addition, they have good timing when running deep.Internationally, some world-class players can be found at the outside forward positions: Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappé, Neymar, Christiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and multiple world footballer Lionel Messi. Arjen Robben, trained according to the Dutch winger school, and Frenchman Frank Ribéry could also make their mark in this position. They all excel at absolutely perfect ball handling at the highest speed and in the tightest of spaces. In addition, all of these players are able to assert themselves on the dribble against one or more opponents. And they all have a flair for the right cross or back pass in and around the opponent's penalty area, so that they can record many assists as well as many goals of their own. If you play a 4-3-3 system offensively as a coach, you rely on the individual strength of the forward line and not so much on the importance of team play. This doesn't mean that the strikers don't have to take on tactical tasks as well. In order to be able to use the outfield strikers or the offensive line, you need an extremely well-organized central midfield. In addition to providing stability in the buildup, the eighth or eights must support the outfielders in the half positions so that they are not isolated on the wing. Barcelona, for example, runs such a midfield with Rakitic, Busquets and Arthur (alternatively Arturo Vidal). All players are able to link up the forward line at all times with intelligent positional play and well-timed runs deep and wide.
May 12, 2021
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Defensive Compactness through the 4-3-2-1 System
The 4-3-2-1 formation, also known as the “Christmas tree,” provides maximum compactness in the center of the pitch and is used by teams that want to force their opponents to play on the wings.