Why the 4-3-3 has made football formations redundant

Much is made of formations in the modern world of football, with each and every top team attempting to innovative and reinvent the beautiful game. One of the most popular formations throughout history is the 4-3-3 formation. Those who view the game with a simplistic mindset would tell you it involves four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers. That certainly appears to be the case on the face of it, but is that how it works in reality? Or is 4-3-3 an amalgamation of several different tactics, effectively killing off the concept of a starting formation?

Frank Lampard – Chelsea – Tactical Analysis (Post-Sacking)

Frank Lampard enjoyed a successful first season with Chelsea F.C., despite no new summer signings coming through the door. The Blues hovered around 4th for the majority of the season in behind Leicester City, and eventually secured 4th behind Manchester United. Lampard relied heavily on young talent in 2019-20 and the club were rewarded with fantastic performances from the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James. In preparation for the 2020-21 season, Chelsea then went on to spend millions, securing the signatures of players like Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy, plus Thiago Silva on a free. For a short period of time, it worked. With nine games in, Chelsea were showing great signs of promise, sat second in the table, and were well in the hunt for a Premier League title chase. Frank Lampard himself was making some astute tactical changes, and appeared to be coping well with the dilemma of how to show faith in his youth, while integrating all the new signings. But as the season wore on, Chelsea failed to make an impact. At the time of his sacking, the Blues sit in ninth, with many nearby teams holding games in hand. Losses to Leicester, Manchester City and Arsenal likely handed Lampard a premature managerial sacking; along with the fact that Thomas Tuchel was out of a job, waiting at the door-step for a call. So a day after a 3-1 FA Cup win against Luton Town, Frank Lampard was sacked as manager. Here is our Tactical Analysis of Frank Lampard's Chelsea in both of his seasons in charge, and an accompanying analysis of where he might land next. 

How To Play Against the 3-4-1 (9v9)

9v9 is one of the most exciting stages in the development of young players as it’s the first time they are truly able to understand tactics, positioning, formations and how to play to the strengths of their teammates. With so many different formations to choose from, 9v9 offers just as much flexibility and creativity for coaches as 11v11. But all 9v9 formations have limitations, gaps and disadvantages that can be exploited when played against correctly. In the next few weeks, TheMastermindSite will be taking a look at how to stop every single major 9v9 formation. First, we discuss how to beat the 3-2-3.

Frank Lampard – Chelsea – Tactical Analysis (2020-21 Edition)

Frank Lampard enjoyed a successful first season with Chelsea F.C., despite no new summer signings coming through the door. The Blues hovered around 4th for the majority of the season in behind Leicester City, and eventually secured 4th behind Manchester United. Lampard relied heavily on young talent in 2019-20 and the club were rewarded with fantastic performances from the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James. However, this past summer, Chelsea spent millions to secure the signatures of some of the best players around the world. It has taken a bit of time for some of their new signings to gel together, but nine games in, Chelsea are showing great signs of promise as they currently sit 2nd in the table. Along the way, Frank Lampard has made some low-key, subtle changes that have helped to propel Chelsea back toward the top of the table. Here is our Tactical Analysis of Frank Lampard's Chelsea after nine games in the 2020-21 Premier League season.

How To Play Against the 3-2-3 (9v9)

9v9 is one of the most exciting stages in the development of young players as it’s the first time they are truly able to understand tactics, positioning, formations and how to play to the strengths of their teammates. With so many different formations to choose from, 9v9 offers just as much flexibility and creativity for coaches as 11v11. But all 9v9 formations have limitations, gaps and disadvantages that can be exploited when played against correctly. In the next few weeks, TheMastermindSite will be taking a look at how to stop every single major 9v9 formation. First, we discuss how to beat the 3-2-3.

Unai Emery – Villarreal – Tactical Analysis

After a brief, relatively unsuccessful spell at Arsenal, Unai Emery is back in Spain and back in the big time, leading Villarreal's charge toward the top of La Liga. The Spanish giants currently sit second in the table, while playing some fantastic football along the way. Under Unai Emery, The Yellow Submarine also have a coach who won the Europa League three times with Sevilla, and made it to the final once with Arsenal. Given what he's achieved in the game and the very decent record his team actually had at Arsenal, the Spaniard has become something of an underrated manager since his Sevilla days and is now building his reputation back up as one of the best managers in world football. Here is a Tactical Analysis of Unai Emery's Villarreal.

3 Ways To Play 3-5-2

After years and years of back-four systems being the dominating dogma in world football, back-three systems are now starting to take over. The growing popularity of formations like 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 has been matched by the variety of tactical nuisances that managers around the world have used to innovate these system of plays. 3-5-2, for example, has many distinct variations and teams operating within this formation can feel comfortable knowing that they can easily adapt their midfield structure to match what they want to achieve out of any game.  Here are 3 Ways To Play 3-5-2.  

Antonio Conte – Inter Milan – Tactical Analysis (2019-20 Edition)

Since Antonio Conte's arrival at Inter Milan, the Italian giants have completely transformed into the most effective side in all of Serie A. Conte's start to life at San Siro has gotten off without a hitch and I Nerazzurri have won all six of their matches to the start off the league campaign. In that time, Conte's men have scored 13 goals and conceded only 2, maintaining the second highest passing accuracy and fifth highest amount of possession per game in the league. Players like Romelu Lukaku and Kwadwo Asamoah have been able to turn their careers around again, while the likes of Marcelo Brozovic and Stefano Sensi are practically developing into the best in the world at their positions. This is The Mastermind's Tactical Analysis of Inter Milan so far in 2019-20.

4-3-3 vs. 4-1-4-1: Tactical Flexibility

In the post 4-4-2 era, teams all over the world play a variety of different formations. These formations change game by game or even within games, so it is becomingly increasingly difficult to nail professional teams down to just one single formation. That being said, two of the most popular formations in the world right now are the tactically flexible 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1, both of which have been used heavily by Pep Guardiola throughout his career. Ultimately the formation has to suit the players that you have and their developmental, psychological and physiological characteristics. But the 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1 are two very similar formations. The 4-1-4-1 is perhaps a little more physically demanding and tactically complex, while the 4-3-3 is perhaps more rooted in wing-play and the collaboration of the midfield triangle. Although these formations are very similar, they can offer a team a completely different dynamic, depending on how a manger or coach wants to implement them. 

The Rise of the 3-1-4-2

In terms of formations and tactics, one of the major surprises of the 2018-19 season in Europe has been the rise of the 3-1-4-2. Although the formation is only a very minor spin on the popular 3-5-2, seemingly a host of teams around Europe have implemented this formation, and not just in Italy where back-three … Continue reading The Rise of the 3-1-4-2