Soccer Formations: 3-4-3

3-4-3, soccer formations, soccer tactics, formation based soccer training, soccer training tips

Got that 3-4-3 soccer brain? You must be brazilian? Offensive minded are we? Hey if you got the players to jump out of the gates looking for that early and often goal then you've lined up just right. It takes the ability to keep the ball, great 1v1 defenders in the back, team speed and that attacking mind set to have success with this formation.

Below is what is expected out of each player in this formation and different things to think about when lining up this way. Although each position has fundamental responsibilities that do not change no matter what formation is being palyed. There are some things that need to be emphasized when set up this particular way.

Strengths/Weaknesses of the 3-4-3


A clear strength of this formation is your options going forward. Having four midfielders with three different strikers buzzing around up top can cause havoc for opposing defences. Always knowing that a goal is within your reach lining up this way gives you that extra confidence that you're never out of a game.

The ability to overwhelm a team with players forward may make them rethink what they are doing. Catching a team on their heels early can set the tone for the match. A teams strength in this formation is to successfully make the other team uncomfortable and allow doubt to creep into their mind.


Obviously with every opportunity there is threat. The threat in this case is getting hit on the counter or not having enough defenders to cover attackers. The three in the back have to be extra careful with distribution when they have the ball and not bein over eager when defending. This will open up different holes and avenues for opponents to build off of.

No matter who you have in the back playing with three is always a risk. Not to say it can't work or you don't have players capable of playing with only three in the back, it just leaves the opportunity to get broken down.

Defenders Positioning

The Defensive line can play:

-Flat back 3 (don't try and reinvent the game that's the way you play a back line of 3.

Defenders Responsibilities

As a unit the back three should:

-Have pace to cover all areas in the back

-Strong technically to keep possession with three in the back line

-Ability to win big tackles in the open field

Center Back:

-Ability to win tackles and be neat and tidy in the back, no room for error

-Great organizer of team shape

Outside Backs:

-Stay at home, give width to the formation by exploiting wide areas to maintain possession

-Plenty committed forward therefore playing it more on the safe side

Midfielders Positioning

The Midfield line can play:

-Flat 4 across the middle

-Diamond, 1 deep, 2 wide, 1 high

-1 defensive holding, 3 in front flat

-3 flat, 1 attacking in front

Midfielders Responsibilities

As a unit the middle four should:

-Take complete control of the middle of the park

-Have an attacking mindset due to the number of players committed forward

-Have the ability to link forward and be dangerous on the ball

-Be able to control the game with a possession oriented mindset

-Freedom to take players on

Center Midfielders:

-Lots of service forward (through balls and balls into isolating 1v1 wide areas

-Keep the ball and build forward

-High work rate in the middle

-Join the attack in the final third of the field

Outside Midfielders:

-Take players on 1v1

-Lots of service (early balls, crosses and through balls)

-Work to get back to support outside back if necessary

Strikers Positioning

The Forward line can play:

-Triangle, 1 behind, 2 up top

-Triangle inverted, 2 behind, 1 up top

-Flat 3 across

Strikers Responsibilities

-Be creative taking players on

-Find space in behind players to exploit

-High pressure on the defensive line as they build out of the back

-Stetch the opponents back line into areas of the field where they aren't comofortable

-Give the fans what they paid to see in the 3-4-3, make the mesh shake.

As you can tell each position has unique characteristics but each have a common ground where they need each other to be successful. It's a delicate process getting the right types of players and people to truly get the best out of a 3-4-3.

There is no right or wrong answer here with this formation, it's all philisophical. Some say you're left too thin in the back, other say if we attack all game and keep the ball the other team doesn't get the chance to exploit us. It really could go either way, both are right, you just need to make sure you understand both sides of the ball. Realize what you are getting and giving up and then decide what's for you. The 3-4-3 can be a beautiful thing or a disaster, you choose.

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