Pressing in a 3-2-4-1

By Matt Carroll

The 3-2-4-1 is unique for its M shaped defensive covering system in the back that doesn’t sacrifice forward attacking options as much as the 4-2-3-1 does. It also provides more firepower for pressing. This article will discuss some tactical concepts for pressing with this formation.

Just as in the 4-2-3-1 the press always starts with the forward pressuring the opposition buildout. They should be told to draw a line between the ball, their stomach, and the kickoff spot. Their pressure should look to trap the opposition into playing as many possible passes in the back, therefore increasing the chances they will make a mistake.

What makes the formation different from the 4-2-3-1 is that there are two forwards playing 8/10s so instead of simply supplying cover on one side, the forward can force the ball either left or right and still have an opportunity to win the ball. In this example the ball is on the right side of the field, the one 10 can pick up the midfield support run, the 7 picks up the outside back, and the other 10 can sit in the middle and try to pick up anything dangerous coming back through the middle.

Next, since the the 10s have moved forward and have left space in the middle of the field, the 11 can slide over to make the field more compact and one of the 6s then slides forward filling any gaps left in the middle.

The one weakness to look out for is that since there are three at the back the wide areas can be left open to direct balls into the corners, but properly applied, the pressure on the opposition should be so great that this option can be denied.

By Matt Carroll

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