Learn Popular Formations With Our Illustrated Guide
There are many formations and it's probably impossible to list them all, but in this part I will present some of the most common that have been used in soccer, from Brazil World Cup winners to Nederland's total soccer...
A formation describes how the players in a soccer team are positioned on the field. Different formations may be used depending on the skill of your opponents but also if your team wants to play more attacking or defensive soccer.
For example the 4-4-2, is a formation with 4 defenders, 4 midfielders and two forwards, and is the most widely used formation in soccer today. There is no optimal formation that your team can use for every match.
Instead, the election will depend on how your opponents are playing. You may have heard that choice of a formation varies from one squad to another and that the best formation is the one which most suits your team.
Well, this is true, but if you want to become good at soccer you must be able to play in all possible formations. The best and most sought after players are the ones that remain as versatile as they possibly can.
Your team cannot either rely on one single formation; instead, the tactic must be adapted to the opponent's. For example, let's say that your opponents are playing 4-3-3.
Then, your team may have to give up their standard formation (for ex: 3-4-3) because playing with only 3 defenders, especially against opponents with 3 forwards (for ex 4-3-3), will not bring good results if both your and the opposing team are on the same level.
A formation can be altered during a soccer match, (if your team wants to defend or attack more) but it will require fast adaptations from you and your teammates.
A good way to get more comfortable with various formations is to work them in during the soccer drills of your team's practice.
Some formations lend themselves to dynamically change during a match. The ultra offensive 4-3-3 formation can be switched to a more defensive 4-5-1 during a game.
In a formation the only unchangeable position is the soccer goalie. Regardless of your team's formation choice, there must always be a goalkeeper.
It is also the only player that has permission to grip the ball. This is a reason for why all formations seem to be based on 10 outfield players since the goalkeeper is seen as a compulsory player.
This is the most used formation in soccer today. The main strength of the 4-4-2 formation is true balance. Offensive attacks are combined with solid defense. The weakness is the two center players who must be supported by the midfield. The 4-4-2 is probably the first formation you will encounter as you start to play regular games.
The 4-3-3 Flat is Synonyn for Total Soccer
A classic formation that was adapted by the 1970's great teams. It was with the 4-3-3 that West Germany won the World Cup of 1974. This formation is typical for the total soccer system that was played by The Netherlands and West Germany. The mighty F.C Barcelona of Spain has adapted this formation successfully in their games!
The 3-4-3 Flat is Highly Offensive
The 3-4-3 is an offensive formation with little defensive thinking and most focus is put on attacking. It is pretty unusual because it makes your team vulnerable to counter attacks. You will not see many coaches using it today. However if you still want to test it make sure to give clear instructions to midfielders!
The 3-6-1 Requires Hard Work
The 3-6-1 formation is often adapted by German teams. But, it can be catastrophic if the players are not prepared to put enough work in it. One example is the US national team that adapted it during the 98 World Cup and failed miserably.
The 3-4-2-1 is Ideal for Pressure
You will not see many teams playing with the 3-4-2-1 formation in today's soccer. This formation is great when you want to put pressure on your opponents' midfield. However, you will also need to put big effort in defense because your team will only have 3 defenders. In other words, your team will be highly vulnerable!
The 4-5-1 is a Highly Defensive Formation
A formation with big defensive thinking that is usually adapted when you know the opposing team is the big favorite to win the match. It is criticized by many because it is so boring to watch; you should not expect any Brazil samba soccer when playing in this formation.
The 5-2-2-1 is Another Defensive Formation
The 5-2-2-1 formation is a defensive mix of 3-4-2-1 formation. The formation has five defenders, two defensive midfielders, two offensive midfielders (that may also act as strikers) and one clean striker.
The 4-3-3 Triangular Midfield is Used by Italy
The 4-3-3 with a triangular midfield puts a holding central midfielder above the four defenders with two offensive midfielders behind the center forward and two wingers. The wingers are the workhorses of this formation as it flexes between a 4-3-3 on attack and 4-5-1 on defense.
The 3-5-2 is Also Know as The Modern Formation
The 3-5-2 is one of the modern formations in soccer today and is primarily associated with German soccer. The formation had its biggest popularity boost during the world cup in Italy (1990) where Germany won the whole competition. The system was also practiced successfully during the European Cup (1996) by Germans.