It’s been on my mind for a while now. I never wanted to read anything into it because I always felt that decisions are decisions, and my role is to simply accept and understand why it occurs. I’m not a coach but…seriously…I know there are better ways to explain tactics than to show off your dance moves on the training pitch (yes…Tony Adams…I’m talking about you).
Lol…No, that’s not what I want to talk about, but you have to admit that his approach is amusing (can’t imagine how hard it must be for those players to NOT laugh at each session). Besides, I had to just touch on it since I’ll be looking at some tactics today. As my title suggests, it’s about the growing use of the 3-4-3 formation.
I was watching Liverpool play against Stoke using that formation and it hit me: in the top 7 teams in the league at the moment, only Arsenal hasn’t tried that formation (I’m sure one prick has already suggested that’s the reason they’re bottom of that pile).
It got me thinking about how good the formation is and how much success it has recorded over the years. With a bit of research, I found out that it was the trademark of the Ajax and Dutch national teams of the 1970s before Barcelona bought it along with Johan Cruyff. The trophies amassed by those teams is enough proof that the system is efficient at best. Perhaps that’s why more teams are adopting it, more than 30 years later.
Conte has used the formation to win back-to-back Serie A titles, and he looks set to win the EPL with the same formation. Juventus still use that formation as they make their way towards another Serie A title, Mourinho employed it as part of his unbeaten run in the Man United’s league campaign and Van Gaal’s Holland enjoyed a good World Cup outing in 2014, with the same formation. Now, more teams are turning to it because…well…it’s efficient.
What I’ve noticed about the formation is that it requires 3 defenders who are great at 1-v-1 situations, good in the air and can communicate well with each other. The wing-backs need to have loads of stamina because they will be doing a lot of running up and down the wings. One of the central midfielders has to be defensive-minded and help provide cover when any of the central defenders are pulled out of position by the opposition attackers. The attacking players are to apply pressure on the opposition defenders by pressing from the front.
A downside to this is that if it’s not well-practiced, the results could be disastrous (Just ask Barcelona how that worked out). For the formation to work, a level of discipline is required and teams that do not set up with much discipline in their play (erm…well…Arsenal) will suffer when the opposition gets really aggressive.
I also think that using this formation can teach a team to be disciplined. Many teams have turned to this formation in an attempt to arrest a poor run of form (Chelsea for instance). Players can learn to stay in games (score-wise) without being blown off the park.
A very flexible formation (which can easily turn into a 4-3-3 during a game), it could deliver more trophies this season. I won’t be surprised if more teams begin to try it out come pre-season of 2017/2018.