1-1-3-3-3(1-4-3-3) vs 1-4-4-2 (1-1-3-4-2)
For easy discussion the first system will be called system 1, and the second system will be called system 2.
Before discussing the systems differences in depth it is important to consider the various external reasons as to why a coach chooses a certain system.
External reason may be:
How to defend a 1-1-3-3-3 system when you are playing with a 1-1-3-4-2 system (system 2).
The sweeper is the free player in your system 2, so the other 3 defenders identify with the 3 strikers of the opposition. So the LD marks the RS, the CB marks the CS and the RD marks the LS. This is pretty simple but can become complicated when players rotate or lead in different areas. As a rule of thumb it is advisable to stay with your players man to man in your defensive 25yard zone. Higher in the field when strikers rotate there is enough space to hand over players to another defender as long as you identify with the other striker. There should never be a defender who does not have a player to mark.
The organization of the players is mainly in the midfield and there are different ways to approach this.
When System 2 midfield are in a ‘diamond formation’ you would mark the 3 midfielders by having the LM mark the oppositions RM, the deep CM will mark the CM, the RM will mark the LM and the high CM will sweep behind the 2 strikers and will identify with the CB of the opposition if they start to push through in attack. The 2 strikers will now have a role of making the ball move to the outside channels. Once the ball has moved into these channels the ball side striker is directly responsible for their opposite defender, i.e. RS marks LD and LS marks RD. The sweeper is still the free player.
When System 2 midfield are in a ‘zigzag formation’ then the outside midfielder that is on the ball side will always step up and put pressure on the outside defender, the other 3 midfielders will then slot across and mark the 3 midfielders of the opposition. So an example of this would be if the ball is in the right hand channel of the opposition and the RD has the ball moving forward. The OLM will step up to this player, the ILM will mark the RM, the IRM will mark the CM and the ORM will mark the LM. This will create a situation whereby the two strikers will therefore only have 3 defenders to worry about rather than 4. BUT in this situation of the outside midfielder stepping up we are basically encouraging the 2 strikers to cut the field in half by 1 of the strikers cutting off the ball to the CB and the other striker ensuring that they are cutting off the space for any switch ball.
How to defend a 1-1-3-4-2 system when you are playing a 1-1-3-3-3 system (system 1).
Once again the sweeper is you free player but as there are now only 2 strikers you must decide how to maximize the use of your players. The simplest way of looking at this is to
If the formation of their midfield is the ‘diamond formation’ then this means they will be overloading in the center midfield zone of the field. I would suggest in this situation that you play with the CB of your team slightly higher the normal and use this player to mark the oppositions high CM. This will in turn free up the 2 outside defenders to mark the 2 strikers. The two defenders may find themselves playing slightly deeper and more infield than normal but to overcome this they could front mark their opposition trying to intercept the ball higher in the field. In this situation of playing the CD higher the Sweeper may have to be a bit more cautious than normal.
If the opposition are playing in a “zig zag” midfield formation then the ball side defender will step through the line of the defense and assist the 3 midfielders by marking the ball side, wide midfield. So example is if the ball is on our left then the left defender will step up to the ORM, the LM will mark the IRM, CM will mark the ILM and the RM will mark the OLM.
If you are weary of pushing the outside defender that high into the line and would rather be more static in defense then the midfielders could shift across the field to the ball side and leave the midfield furtherest away from the play free. This would only be done higher in the field but once the play is closer to the circle then this player will become the outside defenders responsibility to mark. This works well if the outside defender is always aware of the player, can read the game, had good one on one skills and is quick enough to adjust to a break away ball that manages to be played to this free player by and overhead or a target ball.