A Lesson In Playing With A Front Three

Not every team can boast a front three like Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez at Barcelona or Gareth Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid – but we can take a lesson or two from how they play.

Barcelona have been playing brilliantly – with Suarez making a lot of lateral runs dragging defenders out of position to create space for Messi and Neymar. This has allowed Messi to shine in his old right-sided position.

Although he became renowned as a centre-forward, arguably Messi no longer has the acceleration to get away from markers in the way he did during his peak years. That has also impacted his ability to simultaneously play as a false nine and a proper nine, getting into goalscoring positions to score poacher’s efforts.

On the right he’s afforded more space, is easier to locate and, unlike a couple of years ago, Barca are not depending solely upon him for goalscoring, with Neymar and Suarez also in the side.

Messi and Neymar can cut inside from their wide positions – the movement of the teammates to create space for each other is team work at its best.

You could even say it’s the best forward line ever seen.

In Elite Soccer this month newly appointed Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson looks at working with a front three creating 1v1s and shows players how to deal with the ball in tight areas with emphasis on creativity in the final third.

The second part of his session FORWARD PLAY IN 3-4-3 is featured below. To get the rest of his session sign up to Elite Soccer.

Forward Play in 3-4-3

Forward Play in 3-4-3

How do I progress the session?

You can make the two midfielders play against each other so they can’t always just turn and pass into the next box unopposed. They must work on angles and receiving skills and may have to go back to the original box while under pressure from the other midfielder.

Whichever one wins the ball plays it through into the other box. Again, this battle in a tight space helps the three strikers work on movement in tight areas and develops their link up play.

You can also lift the pass restriction before the ball is transferred to the next box in order to encourage better decision making about when to play forward and away from the press.