Tag Archives for " 4-2-3-1 "

Build Up with Attacking Movements

By George Kee Area Size: Half Field Players: 12-18 Time: 25-30 minutes Objectives To develop attacking combinations in order to create space To develop timing of runs to exploit space To understand movements of center forward and the attacking midfielder To understand movements of center forward and winger Set up This is for teams that play

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Attacking Shape and Build up in 1-4-2-3-1

By Chris Kouns USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Women’s Soccer Coach – Georgia Gwinnett College Enable players within the 1-4-2-3-1 formation to link the different lines within the formation and build into the attack. Part 1 Set-Up In an area roughly

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Defending Shape and Execution for 1-4-2-3-1 Part 1

By Chris Kouns USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Women’s Soccer Coach – Georgia Gwinnett College Assisting players in the coordinated movements and shape of their defensive unit in the 1-4-2-3-1. 4 v 2 Transition Set-Up Each grid will be divided into

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Variation of the 4-2-3-1 Formation

By Alex Trukan

Argentinian coach, Marcelo Bielsa, that has recently led Athletic Bilbao and Chilean national team is known for attacking and dynamic style of play with high energy and pace. His teams can be distinguished by extreme work rate, vertical passes, quick possession as well as attacking through the wings. In the meantime, his ideas are driving the project of bringing Olympique Marseille back to the top football. Despite quite visible and unorthodox style of play, Bielsa has employed numerous formations over the last seasons including: 4-2-3-1, 3-3-3-1, 3-3-1-3 or 4-3-3. One of his major formations working in OM was 4-2-3-1 which was often employed against weaker teams.

Basic Shape in Possession

When in possession of the ball, Bielsa has used four defenders who were usually positioned asymmetrically (one full back forming back three, second one higher up the field), two defensive midfielders (one playing higher, one dropping into defensive midfielder role), number 10 playing off striker’s shoulder and supporting on the flanks, two wingers playing wide and central striker who moves across and

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Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1

One of the biggest challenges when coaching young players is getting them to stay in position. Time and again, you see them charging for the ball, before huddling around it in a clumsy effort to get a kick. Even senior players can succumb to over enthusiasm, creating huge gaps for the opposition to exploit and break through on goal.

Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 provides a grid based training system that solves this problem. Firstly, it introduces your players to the key principles of keeping team shape before providing a progressive series of drills that improve their

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Defending Against the 4-2-3-1

More and more teams at every level of the game are playing with a 4-2-3-1 so it makes sense to work with your team on how to defend against it. Using a 4-3-3 formation to counter a 4-2-3-1 can be an effective tactic. Teaching your back four and defensive center midfielder to deal with the striker and three midfielders of the 4-2-3-1 is a good place to start.


This session is taken from our book, 'Beating the 4-2-3-1' by Stevie Grieve. The book includes main real examples from games at the highest level and training sessions to teach the concepts to your team.

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Attacking in the 4-2-3-1 Blog

This is part of the first chapter of our new book, Attacking in the 4-2-3-1, by Stevie Grieve

When we are trying to make training sessions for the 4-2-3-1, we must be mindful of which areas we can take more risks in to try and score a goal.

Att T.S for 4-2-3-1 Phases of possession

Build Up Phase
When close to your own goal, you should try to build safe possession and ensure that the ball can be brought forward into the Consolidation phase. Players should look to keep the ball moving across longer distances across the defensive line and if possible, into the

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New Tactics For the Number 10

By Kieran Smith - UEFA 'A' License Coach

This rise of team’s formations like 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1, and more specifically using a defensive midfield to sit in front of the defense and screen, has led to a bit of a dark period for the traditional Number 10 position; but has that led to the creation of a new position? The Central Winger.

The number 10 traditionally stayed centrally and played off of the CF but with the rise of the likes of players like Makelele and Busquets, has led to space in the central area becoming scarce at the top level. The central winger takes up the same position on the pitch as the traditional number 10 but as they play unfolds, they cover a lot more of the field than before.

This picture shows the traditional movement of the No 10 which you can see is the same area defensive midfielders cover showing how difficult it can be to find space in attack.

Traditional No 10 movement

In picture two you can see an example of how the umber 10 can find the

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Developing a Style of Play

There are three thinks that I think contribute to the formation and system that coaches choose to play with. The qualities and personalities of the players on the team is most important. If you have a lot of attacking personalities then a system like the 4-3-3 makes sense. If you have a forward who holds the ball well and can play with their back to goal then you could use a 4-5-1 effectively. But each system can be played with a different style; possession, direct attacking, counter attack, etc.

The second contributing factor is the coaches preference. Most coaches

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Beating the 4-2-3-1

More and more teams at every level from youth to professional are playing with a 4-2-3-1 system. The first stage in the process has coaches trying to figure out how to play with formation and how to teach it to their players. The second stage is for coaches to break down its strengths and weaknesses so they can decide how to defend it.

This latest book from Stevie Grieve breaks down the 4-2-3-1 in all

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The Triangle Midfield

The two most popular systems of play in the world at the moment are the 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1. Both are predicated on creating a connection between a group of three midfielders. Getting these players to understand their roles and work together are the key factors that will contribute to the success or failure of the team.


Our latest book, Triangle Midfield tells you everything you need to know about

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Defending on the Sides in the 4-2-3-1

One of the factors that always kept me from moving away from the 4-4-2 was a concern for how to cover the wide areas using a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. Once I understood how to teach my players to recognize cues and cover for each other I saw how the systems could be used to teach players more about the game. Requiring them to make decisions is the best way for them to learn rather than just putting them in a formation that has strictly defined roles where they just, 'do their job'.


Stevie Grieve's latest book, Coaching the 4-2-3-1 Advanced Tactics, does a great job

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Why the 4-2-3-1 Is the Formation of Choice

Discover How to Harness the Exciting 4-2-3-1 Formation and Replicate the Devastating Attacking Power of the World’s Most Successful Teams   If you've been looking for a way to coach your team how to play the 4-2-3-1, you've just found it. Coaching the 4-2-3-1 is a special 12-part video series which provides a comprehensive tactical and training guide to this exciting

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Switching to a 4-2-3-1

There is no one formation that will work for all teams. Most coaches understand and accept this. But I also believe that no one formation is always best for a team.

Prior to the start of the season my U16 girls team experimented with a number of different formations: 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2. The 4-4-2 formation proved to be the best fit for us given the talents and qualities of our players.

The team had a fairly successful fall season. They finished second in their league and competed well in tournaments. In the winter league we were placed in a division with teams that were simply more talented. The girls played hard and to the best of their ability but we were simply out classed.

The last game of the season we played a team that was a three time State Champion and Regional Runner up. The girls and I both knew that it would be a difficult game. To give us the best

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Advanced Tactics for the 4-2-3-1

The 4-2-3-1 formation has become the system of choice for many of the worlds top professional and national teams like Real Madrid, Manchester United and Brazil. As coaches at every level have watched these top teams play they have looked for ways to implement the system with their college, high school and youth teams.


The first step in introducing a new way of playing s to break the system down and identify the most important components. The was done very well by

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Is the 4-3-3 Making a Comeback?

This blog post from Vasco Mota Pereira of 'Combination Play' got my attention recently. It contends that the 4-3-3 formation may come back into vogue despite the popularity of the 4-2-3-1. It's an interested point of view that I thought you would enjoy. 

Football, like most (all?) things in life, has its trends. Not that many years ago, playing anything other than a plain 4-3-3 would be sacrilegious (let's leave England alone, for now). In fact, when 4x2x3x1 started rearing its head, with Quique Flores its main champion, it was a bit criticized (including here) for numerous reasons. On the other hand, just like the two-man midfield, a three-man defense looked all but dead, some reminiscence from the Beckenbauer times. As this text is getting to you, it seems impossible to get away from either 4-2-3-1 (or 4-4-1-1, which is basically the same thing) or some version of a three-man defense (especially in Italy), nowadays - and there is hardly any team playing a true version of a 4-3-3.

433Blog1A typical 4-2-3-1 formation

It is often said (with good reason) that games are not won on paper, sincethere is no one given tactical system that is

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A Variation of the 4-3-3

No formation will fit every group of players. A coach that plays the exact same formation with every team will be frustrated by certain players inability to, 'fit the formation'. For years my teams always played 4-4-2. There are some variations you can used depending on how you play your forwards and your central midfielders but that's pretty much it. Sure, you could play sweeper/stopper with the center backs but very few teams play with a sweeper in the modern game. You can change every
formation to a small degree but I feel that the 4-3-3 is the most customizable of all of the popular formations.

There are so many ways to vary the 4-3-3. You can play with the midfielders spread across the field with a right, left and center. They can be in a

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