The best attacking system

This week at training I told my players we were going to play Total Football – I got some strange looks!

Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Marcello Bielsa are managers who all play a version of the Total Football that Holland played back in the 1970s with the wonderful Johan Cruyff that is still such a fantastic attacking system.

Back then observers spoke of playing 10 players plus a goalkeeper where everyone could change position and everyone especially could attack. With Cruyff pulling the strings anything was possible.

I like this idea but the formation could easily be called the 4-3-3 rather than the more romantic idea that there was no formation at all and everyone slipped with ease into the holes left by players moving forwards.

The 4-3-3 is a great system to study if you are looking for a system of play for your team. No matter the age or the numbers of players involved the principles are the same. Good width, good support play, and fantastic attacking moves. It needs a coach who can accept that mistakes will be made and sometimes the team will get caught out at the back.

But it is such a great system to play in and to watch. Study the sessions below and try the system with your team.

The 4-3-3 tactic is a great attacking formation with a strong traditional back four. The three man midfield can play in different tactical styles with attacking and defending players. Three strikers usually form a potent front line with the centre forward stretching the opponents’ defensive line.

Work the back four is a defending tactics session in which you can structure the back four against opposing attacks with different formations. It is an excellent session when preparing for playing 4-3-3 on match day.

Midfielders have a number of roles to play in 4-3-3. Use Develop a three-man midfield to develop a three-player midfield both in attack and defence. This is a fantastic way to work your players with and without the ball which includes pressing, covering, supporting, switching play, fast passing and shooting

Up front you need your three strikers to work together to create goals. Attacking as a front three trains strikers to create and combine in overload situations, giving them help in recognising goalscoring opportunities, shooting early, or passing to team mates in better positions

Tactics tips This session puts the formation 4-3-3 into a match situation using it to break down the 3-5-2 system being used by many teams. It is about applying immediate pressure to the opposition when they have the ball. To win the ball back as quickly as possible and then punish them on the counter attack.

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