INSPIRATION | CONFIDENCE | SUCCESS

A formidable formation

Having a formation that your players know will give your team good organisation. If players can use the shape to help when defending and attacking, this simple 4-3-3 set-up can be used to great effect.

What this session is about

  1.  The 4-3-3 formation.
  2.  Developing a defensive cohesion in the set-up.
  3.  Taking advantage of the team shape to attack.

What to think about

The 4-3-3 formation (goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards) is used by some of the world’s most famous clubs and national teams.

Barcelona use this formation from the junior academy through to the senior first team after being introduced to this format by Dutch manager Rinus Michels and Dutch player Johan Cruyff in the 1970s.

Both Michels and Cruyff learnt this formation with the Holland national team and Ajax of Amsterdam.

The formation is used because it covers the pitch well and allows the team to use both the width and length of the field when attacking.

Set-up

Warm upSessionDevelopmentsGame SituationWarm Down
10 minutes15 minutes20 minutes10 minutes5 minutes

What you get your players to do

To train defensive qualities in a 4-3-3, use half a pitch. Use a goalkeeper, four defenders and one defensive/holding midfielder as part of the 4-3-3 formation, which must defend against four midfielders and two forwards.

Defenders try to regain the ball and make a pass over the halfway line. This forward pass, on the ground, would replicate a pass to a team mate in a game. Meanwhile, the team of four midfielders and two forwards tries to score a goal.

The keeper, four defenders (D) and a defensive/ holding midfielder (H) work on the 4-3-3 defending principles.

The keeper, four defenders (D) and a defensive/ holding midfielder (H) work on the 4-3-3 defending principles.


Development

Now work on the attacking principles of a 4-3-3.

The holding midfielder (H), two attacking midfielders (M) and three forwards (F) try to build up and score against a keeper, four defenders and two midfielders.

If the opponent regains the ball, it can score by passing or dribbling through the wide flag gates. This rule carries on from the previous practice of forcing the opponent wide.

Encourage:

  •  Attacking midfielders to go beyond the opponent and open their shoulders to see both goals.
  •  The holding midfielder to always be behind the ball and looking to be the playmaker.
  •  The two wide forwards to constantly be on the move to receive a pass then attack in a 1v1.
  •  The middle forward to be constantly on the move to run behind or in front of the defence to receive a pass or pull the defenders out of position.
Three midfielders and three forwards attack in the 4-3-3 formation. Defenders can pass or dribble out through the flags/poles.

Three midfielders and three forwards attack in the 4-3-3 formation. Defenders can pass or dribble out through the flags/poles.


Game situation

Now play an 11v8 overload game. One team works in a 4-3-3 formation, while the other has a keeper, four defenders, two midfielders and one forward.

The aim of this game is for the 11 players to get used to the formation by keeping position and moving the ball around the field. This team can only shoot at goal after making seven passes. This rule ensures it is using the whole field and playing possession football in a tight, small pitch.

The other team must defend and quickly counter attack with no restrictions. Use the offside rule.

Swap roles, even though you may need to keep some of the players on the 4-3-3 team because of uneven numbers. The team that scores most goals on aggregate wins.

Players learn to use the 4-3-3 formation in an overload small-sided game.

Players learn to use the 4-3-3 formation in an overload small-sided game.


What to call out

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