The most fundamental root to success in any team sport especially involving an opponent is the tactical organisation of the team. This is also true in football, as this tactical organisation is famously referred to as formation. There exist so many types of formation in the soccer world, and there had been transition from one formation to another over the years.
For example, football according to wikipedia was believed to have started with a formation that involved majority of the players playing forward i.e always attacking, this was depicted in the first international game between Scotland and England on 30 November 1872 when England played with 8 forwards in a 1-1-8 formation, while Scotland played six forwards in a 2-2-6 formation. As funny as it sounds, it was believed that the one defender will always get loose balls while the one or two midfielders will kick the ball up-field for other players to chase. Decades after that saw different types of formation in football, but one that seems very successful and stood the test of time was the traditional 4-4-2 formation. This formation was so popular that a notable magazine was named after it. But recently, it seems the formation is getting outdated as we have very few teams imbibing this formation. As beautiful as it is, what has happened to it?
I called this 4-4-2 formation a beautiful one maybe because that was the formation en-vogue while I was growing up as a young football lover or maybe that was the formation I discovered had been most successful over the years. In anyway, this formation required the midfielder to work hard to support both the attackers and the defender. One midfielder (No 10 role) stays up-field to support the strikers and the other is required to help the defender, typically known as the blocking 4 role. The two flank midfielders help the attackers and shield the defenders when under attack. The 4-4-2 formation had been successful over the years as Inter Milan under coach Fabio Capello achieved three European cups, 3 UEFA super cups and two intercontinental cup within the period of seven years. But now it seems modern day football has resurfaced and phased out this traditional formation. Infact the 4-4-2 formation was regarded to as an “increasingly outdated” formation when Fabio Capello was criticised for the exit of England in the 2010 world cup by Germany who played a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Modern day football now uses formations such as the 4-1-2-3, 4-2-3-1(Mourihno’s favourite in Chelsea), 4-5-1 e.t.c. To me the main logic now in most teams is playing just a single striker up front, who will be supported by the wingers. This adopted formations requires strikers that are physically strong and built sometimes tall, like Zlatan Ibrahimovich. The 4-2-3-1 formation adopted by Mourinho in Chelsea transformed Drogba into a strong and very dangerous striker in his days at Chelsea. Antonio Conte and Italy is showcasing another formation to the world now, the 3-4-3 system, a formation that saw italy to the Semifinal of the EURO 2016, a formation that had seen Chelsea on a 12 match winning streak. This formation requires a three-man defense which I belief automatically change to five if the team is under pressure. The main men in the formation is the flank midfielders, as they are believed to change the three forward players into five when attacking and to change the three-man defense into five when defending. Obviously,the flank midfielders work more than any other position on the field, the position requires fast and resilient players. But the fact bothering my mind is if this new 3-4-3- formation will stand the test of time and achievement as the 4-4-2 had done.