Tactics Tuesday: The 4-3-3

Valerio Pennicino - Getty Images

Once again we delve into the depths of Football's Classic Formation.

So a few years back, in a time I prefer not to remeber, Milan fans had the pleasure of witnessing Leonardo's majestic 4-3-3. The thing about that was it wasn't very majestic, and the penchant for conceding, often minutes after scoring, was the downfall of this system. In Leo's 4-3-3, the team often looked more like a 4-2-4 and strikers like KJH, Pato, and Ronaldino did little to nothing on the defensive side of the ball. Devoting three players to the attack is difficult enough, devoting four!? That was the beginning of the end. The problem is Milan's Management never learns, instead of buying useful defenders and midfielders, they keep on buying attackers and with the current glut: Pato, Robinho, El Sharaawy, Pazzini, Bojan, and Niang. Playing more attackers seems to be the only way forward, even if it wreaks havoc on balance.

It's no secret, I don't like the 4-3-3 as an everyday formation, sure if you are chasing a match, with a few minutes to go you can chance it. But as a Coach presented with an opposition in the 4-3-3 I often salivated at the prospect of tearing apart the space left in the midfield. General school of thought says matches are won in the midfield and most teams deploy four if not five players in that role, so starting with three presents an immediate numerical advantage for your opponent. This can often be overcome with industrious workhorse type midfielders and wide attackers who are not afraid to get their "hands dirty" but Leo's formation did not have these sort of players. Allegri on the other hand has always seemed to get players to do a bit more defending, if not they are shown a place on the bench. With this said the 4-3-3 of the last three weeks seems to have made some progress.

The important function has been the inclusion of busy body Urby in the attacking line and DeJong in front of the defense as an defensive anchor. While this formation requires extensive time and understanding to achieve success, brief flashes have been seen in the last 270 minutes of football, but this is still a work a progress. Another successful point to note has been the willingness of the wide attackers, who are not truly "wingers" in the classical sense, to drop in and contract and congest space when not in possession. This was a detriment to Leo's deployment, as the statue of Ronaldinho stayed high and wide on the left and the traffic cone KJH or Pato, stuck high wide on the right. A shining example of this done correctly was Inter's Treble season when players like Eto and Pandev worked their tails off to fill in space making the team look like a 4-3-3 in attack and 4-5-1 on defense.

As I stated earlier this isn't for me, but on a striker heavy roster, with relatively young players not necessarily stuck in their ways or steeped in lazy habits, what other choice does a Coach have? He won't get credit for this transition, his detractors have already dug his grave, but take a minute and consider the level of effort required to teach, learn, deploy and function in a new formation, if you think it's easy you may want to step away from the video games for a bit.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join The AC Milan Offside

You must be a member of The AC Milan Offside to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The AC Milan Offside. You should read them.

Join The AC Milan Offside

You must be a member of The AC Milan Offside to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The AC Milan Offside. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker