You know it when you see it, a style of play that truly draws you into the game. For me, it was watching Micah Richards streak down the field from his right-back position, bullying people out of the way so that he could be involved in the attack.
There’s just something about the style of play that keeps you hooked, keeping you invested in a team rather than just individual players.
Why else would we be so keen to support a club rather than immediately change allegiances as soon as our favorite player left?
Best formation style for your team
Of course, the players have to be able to implement a style of play effectively, but ultimately it comes down to a team’s manager picking a formation that makes their players shine, flaunting strengths and hiding weaknesses.
Whether the team is slow or fast, strong offensively or strong defensively, there’s a formation for that.
Systems are largely dependent on the style of the play that the manager is trying to execute as well as the skill sets of the players in those roles.
A midfield with N’Golo Kanté and Jorginho as the focal points is going to be much different than a midfield with Kevin De Bruyne and İlkay Gündoğan even if the formation on paper is technically the same.
Even when teams claim to play a specific formation, often the players and their positions are more fluid than the team sheet would suggest. As a result, many people refer to formations with various numbering systems that seem a bit more confusing than they actually are. So don’t get disheartened! It’s simpler than it looks.
Best soccer formation for a slow team
Because not every team is equipped with players with the speed of Alphonso Davies or Adama Traoré, they have to opt for a slower style of play.
If the attackers on your team aren’t quick, there’s little chance of catching a team on the counterattack. On the flip side, if your defenders are slow, you might be caught out.
So, how best to approach this? Optimistically, your team would like to hold possession of the ball for longer, breaking teams down with ball movement rather than individual effort running up the field.
The typical tiki-taka style of FC Barcelona demonstrates this.
However, FC Barcelona is a bit difficult for the normal team to replicate. For the mere mortals, in order to avoid consistently giving up goals it would be best to set up a solid defense.
As a result, winning the midfield battle may be the best hope. This could involve formations such as a 4-5-1, providing sufficient coverage on the defensive end, but also winning the midfield battle.
The goal of your formation would be to provide enough defensive cover as not to get counterattacked, but also allow your team to move forward as a whole.
Best soccer formation for a weak team
Classifying your team as weak might be the result of a few things. It could be that your team is physically weak or that your team as a whole lacks the player talent of the opponent.
In order to win with a physically weak team, it would require your team to set up conservatively and more defensively. Having numbers defensively would allow your team to collapse on the attacker once the ball reached them, avoiding leaving the defenders in one versus one position.
For an overall weak team in regards to player quality, there is unfortunately not a one size fits all approach. It requires the formation to be flexible for each opponent and exploit the weaknesses in them.
While this approach may not get many plaudits due to abandoning a particular style of play, it allows a greater chance of a positive result at the end of a match.
The best approach would be to have as many players in the areas that are needed – a solid 5-3-2 creates a strong foundation for your team. When using this system, you need to have energetic players out wide.
Best soccer formation for a weak defense
No team is ever happy to bleed goals. But sometimes, the best option for a weak defense is a strong offense. By pushing the line of defense as high up the field as possible. Have more than one defensive midfielder in front of the defense to give it security.
This allows for the opponent to make mistakes, hopefully allowing goals to pile in. While this style is a high risk, it can also be a high reward. The typical formation seen with this issue is a 4-3-3, a 3-5-2, or the more technical 4-2-3-1.
Due to poor defenders, the target becomes defending in packs rather than relying on individual defensive efforts. This can be seen with present-day teams like Leeds and Liverpool.
Best soccer formation for a weak midfield
The mystery of the weak midfield. A weak midfield usually is a bit problematic for any team’s success as the midfield can be the stop gap before the defense or be the gateway to the attack. Depending on where the strongest part of the team is usually dictates how a team will set up.
If a team has a strong defense, the midfield will be used as extra bodies to help stop any oncoming attack. If the offense is the strongest part of the team, the midfield players may just be used to clog the middle of the field so the other team can’t play there and use the wings to attack.
Best soccer formation for a weak offense
Teams with a weak offense leave the casual viewer complaining about how boring soccer is. Weak offensive teams tend to shell up, deciding to prevent giving up goals rather than scoring them.
While many teams that play in this manner are accused of playing for a tie, they’re actually hoping to exploit their opponent on the counterattack. To set up, these teams usually start in a formation like a 4-5-1.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers may not typically play in a 4-5-1 formation, they have displayed the power of the counterattack over the past few years.
This displays the versatility of a team that may appear on its heels but is ready to strike when it matters. (Wolves v Bournemouth) (Wolves v Manchester City)
Best soccer formation for a bad team
You never want to be in the situation of having to set up a formation for a bad team, but sometimes it happens. So, for team morale, it’s usually better to tie or lose 1-0 rather than lose 8-0.
As a result, this tends to lead to a heavily defensive setup, usually a 4-5-1, and hope that an individual can produce something out of nothing.
No team is perfect. Every team has its faults and weaknesses. By picking a formation to start a game, you must remain open to be flexible as the game unfolds.
Managers are unwilling to change either their formation or style of play using their available resources (Maybe you José Mourinho), which usually leads to anger and frustration from managers, players, and supporters alike.
So, the next time you watch a match you’ll be a little bit more aware of what each manager’s objective maybe by how they choose to line up their team.
I’ve played soccer across the U.S.A, Europe and I’ve coached many teams. Soccer is life for me, and with my experience in the game, I want to share my insights into the beautiful game with you.
Joel Powel – Soccer Blade