Why is the 4-3-3 effective? Is it effective for every team?

The 4-3-3

The 4-3-3

Formations are essential to winning football matches and is important when selecting the appropriate formation to consider what is best for the squad of players at your disposal and what philosophy your are planning to play. Different formations give you different options but all have their advantages and disadvantages to attempting to win a football match.

Many successful sides have used the 4-3-3 regularly to get the best affect of their players,such as FC Barcelona and Chelsea F.C. This formation has been argued to be very similar to a 4-5-1 as the top three may look like a striker with two more forward wingers such as Chelsea used under Jose Mourinho when the Portugese manager played Didier Drogba in between Arjen Robben and Damian Duff which turned ou to be very successful. However, FC Barcelona in recent times used three forwards to make forward play more effective as this gave the full-backs more space to push forward allowing more players dominating in the final forward to pin the opposition back. FC Barcelona was very successful when the front three was Thierry Henry, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Imbrahimovic. These three offered different types of forward players but gave Barcelona something different from each individual and for this formation to work it is important for the movement and flexbility of the midfield and front free to give the team the best chance of winning the game.

The midfield three are the most essential part of this formation as these can dictact play with the flexibility and transition of movement through positions. However, a vial part of the midfield threesome is the deeper midfield player known as the Claude Makelele role, as this player will provide cover and protect the back four allowing two further forward midfielders to have freedom in movement. It is important for these three to keep the triangulation through transitions of play (attacking or defensively), as doing this will allow more freedom to other players such as the full backs but also defensively will make the pitch more compact attempting to prevent the forward pass. The best two opinionated midfielders to play in the forward role currently are Xavi and Iniesta at FC Barcelona as there creativity, vision and simple movement through transitions of play aid there teams performances and gives constant supply to the free-scoring Lionel Messi.

The defence needs to work on supporting the midfield three as more times than most, the threesome in midfied will be out-numbered. Problems will occur from this formation when gaps between any of the lines appear allowing players to recieve the ball to get in behind which means its important for each group of individuals to understand their defensive as well as their attacking role in this formation. The 4-3-3 formation will allow the full-backs to get forward more when the team is attacking. However, the downside to this is countering this formation when the opposition will play 4 in midfield allowing the wide player to sit on the full-back’s toes forcing him not to get forward, restricting width in the 4-3-3. Although, if the midfield three transit across to support the full-back when the ball is that side this should restrict space and condense play forcing the next pass to go backwards or sideways.

This formation will never be effective for every side as many sides may not have the players to have the quality or suit this formation for it to be effective. However, in recent times this formation has become more popular through its proven success and played in the right way can give attractive and exciting performances as the flexibility of the formation allows frequent transition of movement and the football. An example of this was Tottenham Hotspurs under Harry Redknapp used very effective to get the best out of their individuals in the squad.

To conclude, the 4-3-3 is very effective and is one of the most attacking formations which can be very attractive and exciting used in the right way. It is essential to select the right players for each position and for each player to understand their roles and resposibility in the formation. The midfield three are the most vital section of this formation as this triangulation will dictact play with and without the ball as well as allowing flexibility, transition and creativity through them and through out their team mates.


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