4-3-3 formation explained

4-3-3 Formation: The Tactical Analysis, Pros And Cons

In modern football, the 4-3-3 formation is one of the most popular. It is therefore important to analyze the tactical pros and cons of the formation.

In this piece, you’ll get to understand almost every single detail about the formation and all related questions will be answered.

Let’s begin with an explanation of how the formation works.

How does the 4-3-3 Formation Work?

The 433 formation is a tactical setup of 4 defenders, 3 midfielders and 3 Attackers.

Unlike the 4-4-2 formation, the 4-3-3 setup has a good balance of all roles – defense, midfield and attack.

The 3 attackers in a 4-3-3 is made up of a Center Striker paired by two Inverted Forwards or Wingers on either flank.

Usually, the 3 Midfielders in 4-3-3 consists of a Defensive Midfielder being paired on either side by a Central or Attacking midfielders.

The 4 defenders in a 433, include two center backs and two full-backs or Wingbacks on either side of the center backs.

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4-3-3 Style of Play

Managers like Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp setup the 4-3-3 formation to suffocate opposition.

The two Inverted Forwards move from wide positions into the box, thereby giving space on the wing for the two wingbacks cause damage.

In midfield, the Holding Midfielder assumes the dual role of deep-lying play making and breaking up opposition attack.

In some situations, the right-sided Central Midfielder operates at the edge of the box, very close to the right wing-back to whip in some crosses.

On the left-sided Central Midfielder, on the other hand, stays close to the Holding Midfielder to create chances. Or sometimes, move into the box to support attackers.

The two Center backs are expected to keep a highline of defense, close to the center of the pitch.

Both players are expected to have a strong communication to be on the same line in order to make it easy for opposition attackers to fall into the set offside trap.

In summary, the 4-3-3 setup is designed to dominate and attack.

How To Defend With 4-3-3

One of the best ways to defend with a 433 set up is to press opposition.

Again, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool is a good reference of how to Press opposition.

Pressing in football, in a layman’s understanding, means not giving your opposition breathing space.

Furthermore, it means close-marking the player with the ball and the closest teammates around him that he can potentially pass to.

To get a better understanding of how to defend with the formation, watch the video below.

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Why Is 4-3-3 Formation so popular?

The 4-3-3 is very popular because it has a perfect balance of Defense, Midfield and Attack.

In the 4-5-1 formation for example, there is more power in midfield. The two central midfielders in a 4-4-2 formation can be easily overrun by 3 midfielders.

Almost every other formation has a shift in power for a particular role than another, except the 433 that seems to have a perfect balance across all roles on the pitch.

When Did 4-3-3 Become Popular?

In the early 90s to early 2000s, the 4-4-2 formation was the most popular.

However, since the mid-2000s, the 4-3-3 formation began to gain a lot of popularity in football.

Barcelona, especially typified the formation back then.

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Learn More: MSN Stats For Barcelona Using 433 Formation

What is The Best Formation To Counter 4-3-3?

First, it is only logical that the 4-3-3 formation is a good match for an opponent playing with the same set up. Why?

how to beat a 4-3-3 formation

You can match your opponent’s positioning and threat.

However, one of the best formation to counter 4-3-3 is the 3-5-2 formation.

With the 3-5-2, there is a match in Midfield with the 4-3-3 setup. Plus, an extra man in defense to nullify the threat of the opposing attackers.

PSG buildup goal against Liverpool

Tactical Pros of 4-3-3

For so many reasons, the 433 setup is a good formation. Consider some of them…

  • Unlike a one-man or 2-man attack, the 3 attackers in a 4-3-3 offer more threat to any opposition.
  • It is flexible, as you can play with either traditional wingers or inverted forwards or a mix of both.
  • A center midfield trio offers better creativity and stability than any other formation with a 2-man center midfield.
  • Depending on the type of 433 setup, a team can play with two wingbacks and still have little or nothing to worry about in defense.
  • The formation is one of the best formations for counter attacks. While others can sit back, launching the ball forward for 3 attackers during a counterattack can be very difficult to defend against.

Tactical Cons of 4-3-3

Of course, just like every other soccer formation, the 4-3-3 has its weaknesses. Consider some of them…

  • The full backs in a 433 may sometimes not get the adequate cover in defense because the two orthodox wingers or Inverted Forwards may not fall back.
  • If the Midfielders are doing the job of covering for the fullbacks, it creates spaces in midfield which opponents can pounce on.
  • A 4-man defense, especially with two Wingbacks, can be suspectible to falling short when counterattacked by pacey opponents.

4-3-3 FAQ Answered

Is 433 a good formation?

Most definitely, the 4-3-3 is a good formation. It is one of the most balanced formation in football.

Is 433 an attacking formation?

Yes, 433 is an attacking formation. Although there are many variants of the 433, most coaches setout their team in this formation to attack their opponent.

Why is the 4-3-3 formation so popular?

The 433 formation is so popular because it offers the perfect balance in defense and attack.

When did the 4-3-3 formation get popular

The 433 formation got popular in the mid 2000s. Barcelona and Ajax are two clubs who have been consistently identified with this formation since the mid 2000s.

Conclusion

The 4-3-3 is one of the most popular soccer formations in modern football.

And the reason why the formation is popular is that it offers a perfect balance for defense and attack.

Having considered the pros and cons of the formation, we can say that 4-3-3 is the most suitable and commonest tactical set up in modern football.

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