As football evolves and different tactics come in and out of fashion within the game, so does the formations that are deployed on the pitch. Be it a traditional 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or something more expansive, that in vogue formation of the time can be seen the world over.
Two out and out strikers seem to be a thing of the past, as teams look for more players to drop deep and play between the lines of attack and midfield. 2 or 3 men playing off a main striker, while 2 midfielders hold for them is very well represented in the modern game. This 4-2-3-1 effort can be seen in many leagues and has a lovely balance that can adapt to many styles. Yes that’s right you can play different styles within the same formation. They are stretched and tinkered with so as to fit the personnel at your disposal.
If you have quick nippy forward players, you can play quick incisive football, that looks to feed balls in behind for the quick strikers. Alternatively you can use a strong powerful target man up front on his own. He would hold up more direct passing and use the three men in behind him to make surging runs beyond that he can play in.
You may have a creative number 10 who likes to drop deep and become more part of the midfield 2 than the attacking midfield 3. It all lends itself to lots of possibilities, and the versatility of this particular formation is what we think has made it so popular. Seeing as all of this inescapable while playing within the same 4-2-3-1 formation.
It also does not take a lot of changing to switch the formation. You could easily drop your attacking wingers deeper, or your creative number 10. Giving you a more solid looking 4-5-1, or 4-4-1-1. Equally if needed you can push all those forward players on giving you a 4-2-1-3 if you are trying to chase the game, and grab more goals.
Formations are only as good as the personal you put in the,. The numbers on a page mean nothing if they are not utilised in the correct way, and your players have the correct attributes to make the most of your style.
As having three at the back moves more into prominence, we will see teams needing defenders that are quick, that can pass, and wing backs that offer great ball retention mixed with defensive awareness.
Dissecting the way a team plays can be great fun, and also crucial for opposition managers if they want to win games. Be sure to look out for how a team lines up and plays next time your watching.