It’s all about implementing the team’s style into the game.
The best formations in the 21st century include Barcelona’s current team, a very attacking 4-3-3, which sees fullbacks race up and down the flanks throughout entire matches and another example of a fantastic contemporary team setup would be Real Madrid during their dominant period of 2001-04. They played with what essentially was a 4-1-2-1-2.
But the most common modern day formation would have to be the 4-4-2. The best team who have played with the 4-4-2 would probably be Spain, whom have deployed this formation from the EURO 2008 to the FIFA World Cup 2010 competitions with great effect, winning both tournaments in succession.
It is all about balance here. It might even mean that a very attacking team would have to sacrifice one of their better attacking players for one of their weaker defensive players, simply because this would achieve balance in the team, to protect their goal in times of need, along with to create that link between the defence and attack.
It’s all about ensuring that the team have as much attacking firepower as possible, whilst providing enough cover at the back, along with to ensure that the team has as much width as possible, to stretch opponent’s defences. Well, so a look at the 4-2-3-1 formation and it does provide with all of that.
The 4 at the back is pretty common amongst contemporary teams, with 2 centerbacks there to do the basic defensive duties and the fullbacks racing up and down the pitch to provide alternatives during the attacks, so that is pretty common. This provides both defensive cover and defensive security, knowing that when one man is caught out of position, there will be other player there for cover.
The “2″ in the 4-2-3-1 formation refers to defensive midfielders, midfielders that stay back to help the defence whilst spreading the ball out further up the pitch. Excellent examples of defensive midfielders being deployed include Sergio Busquets and Patrick Viera being great at this position. I would personally go for Lucas and Charlie Adam in this position, because it plays to the team’s strengths and there’s balance with two defensive midfielders there to stop play.
I would deploy 3 attacking midfielders/forwards in the team with the resources we’ve got. 2 would play as wide men whom can cut in whenever there is space and this would allow for the lone striker up front to have more space, with the defenders moving a bit further up the pitch to mark the trio. This means less defenders in the center of the pitch, which means that there is more time and space for the striker to get his shot off.
The 3 that I would play in the attacking midfielder berth would be Luis Suarez on the left, Steven Gerrard in the center and Stewart Downing on the right. I recognize that Downing is naturally a left winger, but I’ve also seen him being played on the right flank during pre-season and he plays there to great effect.
As to Suarez playing on the right, I believe that Luis Suarez is most devastating on the left. He turns very well (as seen against Manchester United) and offers nightmares to rightbacks and centerbacks with his amazing ball control and dribbling.
The lone striker up front is no other than Andy Carroll. The 35 million pound man ain’t going to have any more excuses, with Stewart Downing brought in specifically to suit his game. I personally think that he will have a great season, now that we have an “out and out” winger like Downing whom is great at executing crosses.
Kenny Dalglish has absolutely kicked out the Fulham “kick it away and stay defensive” tactic and he has reintroduced the “pass and move” back to the team. The team play with more flair like this and the team are looking more energetic, moving to find space and to help to move the team forward.
Liverpool FC looked like much more of an attacking threat nearly immediately after Dalglish took over and it is something to be very optimistic about.
Another thing that Dalglish has reintroduced into the team is expression. Midfielders were given more license to go up and attack, Raul Meireles perhaps the best example of this. He was allowed to take more shots, and he was allowed to strut his stuff more, with some tricks added to his game last season.
Defensively, I’ve seen Dalglish implement man-marking at the back. That’s what I’ve noticed in pre-season games, such as the game against Galatasaray, although Christian Poulsen absolutely messed it up. He gave man-marking a new meaning when he kept his eyes on his man and none on the ball, allowing the attacker to score and offering Dalglish another reason as to why he should go.
With a 4-2-3-1 formation, the width will be there, whilst the defensive duties won’t be compromised too much with there being 2 central defensive midfielders placed to prevent any quick counter-attacks from happening following losing the ball in an attack. Stewart Downing will more than provide this, dragging fullbacks out wide and then delivering crosses in for Carroll to finish.
Suarez on the left will provide with a livewire, where pretty much anything will happen. He’s good at crossing the ball, he’s fantastic with a long shot and is more than certainly capable of waltzing his way into the box with the dribbling ability of his. He’s fast and he will make pretty much anything happen.
Steven Gerrard in the center will provide with that extra defence splitting pass or even that late run into the box for a header. He’s good at timing his runs and that rocket shot of his will mean that a goal can be possible from about 20 yards out. If he stays injury-free for the majority of next season, don’t be surprised to see him shoot 15 goals this upcoming season.