Soccer Formations For Dummies

Everyone who follows football might have come across the following jargon:

“We played with a 4-4-2 but were being outnumbered in the middle so we changed back to 4-2-3-1 to pack the midfield”.

Ever wondered what’s up with these numbers and what’s it got to do with those players on the field. Well, these are called Formations. The formation decides which player plays in what position on the field. The first digit in a formation indicates the number of players playing in defence. The second one indicates the number of players playing in midfield and the third digit indicates the number of forwards. So a 4-4-2 indicates that the team played with 4 defenders, 4 midfielders and 2 forwards. This is a basic explanation of what a formation is and there are a lot of nuances with each one of them. Let’s take a look…

1.) 4-4-2

4-4-2 is a classic formation used by a number of teams across the globes. The most basic of formations, it involves playing 2 central defenders, 2 full backs, 2 central midfielders, 2 wingers and 2 forwards. Here’s what it looks like:

This formation relies heavily on wing play. The wingers and overlapping full backs make it a point to put crosses in the box for the forwards to attack them. The central midfield pairing usually involves a defensive midfielder and a box-to-box midfielder, to break up play and spread the passes to team mates, respectively. On the defensive side, it is important for the wingers to cover for their supporting fullbacks because the system is prone to counter attacks.

A little tweaking in 4-4-2 can change it to a 4-4-1-1 where one of the two forwards takes up the role of a support striker and sits a little deeper than the other to link up play between midfield and attack.

Teams Using 4-4-2: Tottenham, Manchester United

2.) 4-5-1

The safety first formation. The formation basically involves packing the midfield with 3 central midfielders and 2 wingers. The idea is to keep possession in the middle of the park and nullify any threat from the opposing full backs or wingers. While attacking, the lone forward holds up the ball until support arrives from the midfield. Defensively, it is a strong formation because there are banks of 5 and 4 players for the opposition team to pass through.

 This formation is widely used by managers when playing away in European competitions, because of the Away goals rule.

Teams Using 4-5-1: Chelsea(Mourinho era)

3.) 4-3-3

4-3-3 is an attack minded formation that is the rage these days. The midfield usually consists of one defensive midfielder with two box-to-box midfielders. The forward line consists of three attacking players- left, right and centre. The left and right attackers can be traditional or inverted wingers so there are multiple options in attack. The success of a 4-3-3 depends on quick passing between the front three and midfield and an urge to keep possession in the tightest of situations. Due to the emphasis on attack, the defence is prone to counter attacks or balls played over the top.

4-3-3 is guaranteed to bring goals but can be carried out by very few teams because of the quality of players required to play it.

Teams Using 4-3-3: Spain, Barcelona, Arsenal

4.) 4-2-3-1/4-2-1-3

A rather modern formation which is capable of morphing into many others while in play. The system basically involves using 2 midfield anchormen who break up play and support the other 4 attack-minded players. The central attacking midfielder acts as the link between the midfield and forward line. If the right players are involved, this can be one of the most dynamic of formations capable of turning into a 4-5-1 while defending to a 4-3-3 while attacking.

The central attacking midfielder is the most important link in this formation who can be capable of dictating play because of his position. However the whole attacking threat can be nullified by tightly marking the CAM.

Teams Using 4-2-3-1/4-2-1-3: Real Madrid, Manchester City

5.) 3-5-2/3-4-3

The most radical formation of all. The system involves playing 3 central defenders who act as sweepers. The 2 wide men in midfield are required to track back while defending to act as wing-backs. Counter attacks can be carried out very lethally with this formation because there are always a number of options to pass the ball upfront.

Teams Using 3-5-2/3-4-3: Napoli

6.) 4-1-2-1-2

Also known as the Diamond. The midfield is arranged in the form of the diamond where the central attacking midfielder plays at the tip of the diamond and the base is occupied by a defensive midfielder or a deep lying playmaker. The remaining two midfielders can either act like wingers or central midfielders depending upon the situation. If employed effectively, this formation can act as a lot of trouble for the opposition because of the movement and interchange that can happen in between the diamond.

The formation suffers from a lack of width and is easy to attack against if there are speedy wingers and full backs in your team.

Teams Using 4-1-2-1-2: AC Milan, Paris St. German


Why Jose Mourinho Hasn’t And Will Not Achieve Greatness At Real Madrid

The Real Madrid crowd have been booing recently. And surprisingly, the boos are directed towards two of the most important men in the team – Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho. Their frustration with Cristiano Ronaldo is understandable to an extent, as he is the best player that Real Madrid could have had yet he is consistently outscored and outshone by their rival’s best player, Lionel Messi. However their frustration with Mourinho has deeper rooted reasons.

Never in the history of the club has any single person been bigger than the club itself. On the other hand, Mourinho is the type of personality who is strong and likes nothing standing in its way. In simpler words, Mourinho and Real Madrid are the complete opposites of each other. But it is a problem that could not have been thought before Mourinho’s appointment at the club. At first, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Real Madrid’s superstar egos needed to be controlled by someone who has managed it before. Mourinho’s success at Chelsea and Inter in achieving that sort of results suggests that he was more than capable of handling the pressure at Real Madrid. But at the moment, it seems like it is getting harder, even for the Special One himself.

One of the obvious reasons why Mourinho is unpopular with the Madridistas has to be the fact that he has not managed to unlock the code required to defeat Barcelona. His one off fluke success with Inter against Barcelona in the Champion’s League has been given far more importance than it actually deserved. It was felt at that moment that only Mourinho was the person capable of defeating the Catalans. Since being appointed as Real Madrid manager, he has defeated them only once. Agreed that it was in the finals of the Copa Del Rey, but when your arch rivals are busy lifting the Champions League trophy, it is hard to digest a cup victory.

Another reason for Mourinho’s unpopularity with the crowd is his outlandish and too an extent, classless behaviour (the Tito Vilanova incident). He has blamed everyone except his own players. He hasn’t spared the referees, the linesmen, the ball boys and not even UEFA, claiming that it was a conspiracy from their part to eliminate Real from last year’s Champions League. Even in the theatrical showdowns that the El Classicos have become, where it is now expected that both the teams will provide at least three players for the top acting honours, he has gone on to crucify Sergio Busquets, Pedro and Dani Alves, without even glinting an eye over his own crop of actors: Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Angel Di Maria. The Madrid fans would surely have appreciated if Mourinho came out and scolded Pepe for playacting in their Copa Del Rey second round match against Barca.

Real Madrid are a club like no other in world football. They have had exceptional talents gracefully exhibiting their skills on the pitch and conducting themselves admirably, off it too. An egoistic and brash manager with limited success (with Real Madrid, of course) is not what the Madrid faithful are used to. With Barcelona now seven points behind, Real Madrid can possibly win the La Liga title this year, without them having to beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou, and Mourinho, having completely lost the plot, has come out and said that it would be even better if they could do it that way. If Mourinho just somehow managed to feel what a normal Madrid faithful would, he would have known, that the deal would be sweeter if they included Barcelona in the mix.