Football formation: 4 2 3 1

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The 4–2–3–1 is one of the toughest shapes to break through as it covers almost all the key areas with a near-perfect vertical và horizontal staggering & there is very little space left open for the team in possession lớn take advantage of. However, there are ways khổng lồ break down every defensive-shape or structure with the main objective being lớn pull players out of position, create space, moving the ball inlớn that space và progressing further up-field. So when it comes to breaking down the 4–2–3–1, how vì we go about doing it? While there could be many ways of going about it, we are going to be focusing on the use of a 3–4–2–1 to break down the 4–2–3–1

Setting the Tempo: When a team is in possession, it is of utmost importance for them khổng lồ underst& at what tempo they need to lớn maintain in possession. However, it is not as effective sầu when decided by the team in possession without taking into lớn account their opponent’s approach. The tempo, ideally should depend on whether the opponent wants to lớn press or sit-back và if they want khổng lồ press then how high is the pressure. A simple reason why this is important is because the answers to lớn the above questions will tell us if there is going to be space, if there is then where is the space and if that can be utilized to pull the opponent’s defensive structure out of shape. Each approach from the opponent calls for a different approach from our own team in possession. Let’s say for example that the opponent is willing lớn pressure our team high in our own-third và prevent us playing out from the baông xã. This means that for every pass we make, every time we move the ball, there is going to lớn be a chain reaction from the opponent players in their pressing movement. Now, it is important for us to lớn remember that space is created and will always be created only when the opponent’s defensive sầu structure is in motion. This holds true for a team’s defensive structure in any phase of the pitch. Without atleast 1 opponent player in movement, there cannot be any space created in their defensive sầu shape.

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So to lớn contextualize this principle to the current scenario, all we need to know is if space is going to lớn be created by itself from the opponent’s press or should we lure the opponent inkhổng lồ pressing and in turn, create space? When the opponent is already on a high-pressure mode, then we don’t have to lớn channel any effort into space creation but simply play at a quick tempo to take advantage of the small pockets which will keep coming up between the lines. This is because, the opponents will be in constant motion following along our players’ tightly. So the focus needs lớn be on how lớn be accurate, sharp and swift in ball-circulation with as few touches on the ball as possible, while playing out from the baông chồng. If the opponent is happy to lớn sit back and maintain his shape, this is a completely different scenario as the opponent is going to wait for us to come at them. Here, it may be wiser khổng lồ lower the tempo & be patient until the right moment arises. This will be a game of patience wherein the team with the better composure usually gets the better of the other. But when we speak of the right moment for the team in possession, how exactly vày we define it? It is simply that point when we successfully pull an opponent player out of his position by baiting hyên ổn into pressure và create a gap or pocket of space to lớn progress the ball. If the team in possession is staggered in right horizontal and vertical lines, the opponent’s defensive sầu structure can be pulled out of position regularly, making ball progression smooth và seamless!

So we will be looking at breaking down the 4–2–3–1 with a 3–4–2–1 và progressing from one-third of the pitch to another, taking into lớn tài khoản both approaches from the opponent:

a) When the opponent uses high-pressureb) When the opponent sits back to absorb pressureNow let us begin with the first-third of the pitch

Goal-Kiông chồng Strategies

a) Switch to a Back-Four

In a back-three setup, one of the biggest advantages in possession is the extra width from the extra centre-back while playing out from the bachồng. However, when it comes to a goal-kiông chồng situation, three centre-backs in the same line across the width of the pitch may make it easier for the opponent to cthua down the GK’s passing options. Let us see an illustration on why such is the case:


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The image above is an example of what could happen when the three centre-backs are lined up across the width of the pitch in front of the GK. With the CB in the middle on the same line as the GK, it makes it easy for the opponent striker to cthảm bại down if he puts himself also on the same line. Let’s say the CB is inside the box until the pass is made. Even in that case, the opponent striker’s trajectory of pressure is just one straight line khổng lồ cthua kém down both the CB & the GK. In other words, it will eventually force the GK or the CB khổng lồ a misplaced long-pass in an attempt to evade pressure. Misplaced long-passes forced out of pressure will only stifle the team in possession from building play from the bachồng. There needs lớn be a thiết lập which will stretch the opponent’s first line of pressure, allowing the GK enough passing options khổng lồ progress the ball. So how vì we position the three centre-backs khổng lồ achieve that?

Centre-Back’s Alternate Positions during Goal-Kicks There are two options that can be carried out in order khổng lồ stretch the opponent’s first-line of pressure and find pockets of space to lớn play out from the baông chồng. It will be necessary to lớn push one of the CBs into lớn another area of the pitch for an easier progression. As a result of the same, the GK along with the remaining 2 centre-backs takes the onus of a width across the pitch in the first-line of attack

Pushing one centre-bachồng into Midfield:


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Let us look at the scenario in which one of the centre-backs is pushed into lớn midfield along with the other two central-midfielders to lớn form almost what is like a 4–3–3. A major reason why this would offer an advantage lớn the team in possession is that it ensures there are enough numbers in midfield, which can be used to progress the ball if the opponent’s first-line of pressure is baited into pressing. In other words, overloading the gap between the opponent’s first-line và second-line of pressure is the priority for an easy ball-progression. The success of this methodology depends largely on whether the GK along with the 2 centre-backs will be able khổng lồ attract the opponent’s first-line inkhổng lồ pressing them. Hence, the first couple of passes might have sầu khổng lồ be between the GK & the centre-backs in the same line as hyên until one of the opponent attackers step out. Once the opponent attacker decides lớn charge into lớn pressure, that’s when the team in possession brings the wing-backs also into play in order to use more width & get past the first-line. Once past the first-line of pressure, there can be focus on bringing the ball into lớn an area from where the team in possession can be more threatening. So, the wing-baông chồng can look for options in the middle to combine & progress forward. If the pressing is high, it is of utmost importance to lớn have fewer touches, quiông xã release và off-the-ball movement from the passing options lớn ensure they are always available lớn receive.


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Let us look at the scenario in which one of the centre-backs goes out-wide while the GK and the remaining 2 centre-backs are responsible for utilizing the width across the pitch forming the first-line of attaông chồng. Yet again the key is khổng lồ bait the first-line of opponent’s attaông chồng into pressing the GK and the two centre-backs. But what happens after that will be different. Here, the major advantage would be the overload on one flank of the pitch lượt thích show in the image above. (Overload of right-flank with one centre-back moving wide) With one centre-back moving to the flank, it gives freedom for the wing-back lớn push even higher up field. With the near-side central-midfielder & the attacking-midfielder also there for support, the team in possession have 5 players on one flank whom they can use for ball-progression. The only way the opponents can avoid being out-numbered is by committing more players lớn that flank, which would lead to lớn tilting of their defensive sầu structure to lớn one side.


Assuming that the opponents don’t get attracted to lớn one flank and are simply using passive pressure lớn try and stop the build-up, then progression can happen in the strong-sided flank using the numerical superiority. The important point to remember here would be for the attacking-midfielder to lớn keep the opponent’s full-back pinned khổng lồ hyên as drawing hlặng out of position would create space for the wing-bachồng to run inkhổng lồ. Of course, there is a requirement for some bit of courageous và accurate passing in order to lớn pull this off but against any kind of pressure, a surprise vertical pass is the weapon that can slice through them.

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Scenario 2: Luring Pressure on to one-flank và hitting from blind-side


In case the opponents decide to lớn stop progression on the strong-sided flank, they will have to push their team towards that flank khổng lồ cthảm bại down gaps & fight numerical superiority. This automatically leads to opening of space on the far side of the pitch. That is when the role of the wing-baông xã on the far side would be key as a perfectly-timed run coupled with a perfectly-weighted through ball can give the wing-bachồng acres of không tính tiền space to lớn run into.

Key-Pointers khổng lồ Rethành viên during Build-Up against High-Pressure:

· One pass/ dribble to lớn lure pressure and then go for verticality to penetrate into lớn space created

· One or Two-cảm biến football, preferably touches lớn be as few as possible

· Use of Pre-determined combinations và patterns khổng lồ avoid thinking when on the ball

· Objective sầu is to lớn move the ball between each line of pressure quickly

Build-Up against Low-Press

Progress quickly khổng lồ the middle-third in order to lớn build an attachồng that would offer an advantageous position to lớn our team while entering the final-third

Progressing from the Middle-Third inkhổng lồ the Final-Third

While I would lượt thích lớn believe that, the previous section would have given you a fair-idea about how lớn play out from the bachồng against a 4–2–3–1 shape without having khổng lồ hoof it over, let’s move sầu on lớn the next section which is arguably the most important of them all: The Middle-Third We will be looking at this section assuming that the team in possession has reached up-field till the middle-third và the defending team with the 4–2–3–1 shape has retreated inlớn a mid-bloc press. This has been the trover in top-flight football in recent times as it allows the defending team khổng lồ protect the central area & force the team in possession to lớn go wide. Hence, a defending team with a solid defensive sầu plan would generally alặng to lớn achieve the following in the middle-third

· Prevent conceding in the middle by remaining compact

· As a trade-off, give the CBs time on the ball but cover dangerous passing options và not get sliced through

· Force opposition inlớn the wider areas as closing down the player in possession against the touchline is a smarter way lớn create pressure

So, in order khổng lồ giảm giá khuyến mãi with this scenario, let us first have a look at the shape for the team in possession against mid-bloc pressure & analyse:

Against Mid-Bloc Pressure


Luring the Opponent-Winger:

As you can see in the image above sầu, as the team in possession enters the middle-third, the central CB is on the ball with the striker trying khổng lồ close down space. The immediate passing options are of course, to the right CB & the left CB. This is the pass which the team in possession would hope lures pressure from the opponent winger. If the opponent winger is successfully lured inlớn pressure, then there is a không tính tiền pass inkhổng lồ the wing-bachồng who is hugging the touchline, after which there is acres of space for him khổng lồ run down and connect with the Left Attacking Midfielder or Right Attacking Midfielder. 2v1 for DMs against opponent’s number 10: There is also the availability of the 2 Defensive-Midfielders who have sầu been highlighted along with the opponent’s number 10, who is in between them. However, there would be much more use to lớn them if they actually don’t receive a pass directly from the central CB for a simple reason. Let us take the scenario of one of the DMs receiving a pass and see what could happen:


The DM has received a pass directly from the central CB & he may not be under any direct pressure for a second. But look at the opponents positioning around him without the opponents having lớn move sầu. There is a natural shadow-cover for the opponents who can just cthảm bại down the DM in possession while also covering his nearby passing options. This can result in a turnover of possession right outside zone-14 for the opponent, who can then just reach the penalty area in a matter of seconds và create a chance. To avoid this risk, there can be the use of diagonal passes in order khổng lồ enter the middle-third & progress further upfield. When we speak of diagonal passes in this context, there are 2 main ones which can be utilized:

· Left Centre-Baông xã to DM

· Right Centre-bachồng lớn DM

This is when the 2v1 created by the DMs against the opponent’s number-10 comes inlớn play as a key differentiator. When the Left/Right Centre-Baông chồng is in possession, then it is the job of the nearside DM khổng lồ go closer, asking for a pass. This will be a bait khổng lồ lure the opponent number-10 inlớn pressing the DM & leaving the other DM không lấy phí khổng lồ receive.

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As you can see, the opponent’s number-10 gets lured into lớn pressing the nearside DM, leaving the other DM miễn phí. Now the DM who is miễn phí, needs khổng lồ make an appropriate movement to lớn position himself for a pass from the centre-bachồng. The advantage of this pass is that, it allows the DM lớn receive sầu the pass on the half-turn with his body ready to face the attacking-half and phối himself up perfectly. From thereon, he can decide to either carry the ball or release it to a player giving a run; depending on the situation, the reaction of the opponents and teammates.


Chuyên mục: Tin Tức