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System 1: 1-4-3-3
System 1: The structure of this system is based on 4 defenders, 3 midfielders and 3 strikers.
The back 4 defenders can be played with 2 full backs and two outside backs. The two outside backs mark the outside strikers and the two central defenders work on a pivot formation by dividing the field down the middle. It is important that one of the two central defenders marks the Centre striker of the opposition; depending on what side of the field the CS is on. This can be difficult at times and may become a problem if the opposition is playing with a high hanging CS or strikers who rotate continually. It is sometimes difficult for players to hand over another player that they are marking and this in turn may create a situation where this CS is unmarked.
The other and probably the more utilized way of organizing 4 defenders is to play with one sweeper and 3 across the back. The 3 defenders are then markers and they are responsible for the 3 strikers. The sweeper, being the free player, can then choose to sweep ahead of the 3 defenders that are marking, which is slightly more attacking as the sweeper is looking to pick up loose ball ahead of the 3 marking defenders, OR the sweeper can sweep behind the 3 defenders playing slightly deeper which creates a safety net for loose balls that are played deep and also assists if the opposition are good at counter attacking as there will always be a defender deep.
When playing with a sweeper the central defender is now the primary marker of the CS, this can be a very important defending principle because it prevents the opposition targeting a free player and makes the CS receive the ball under pressure.
Covering defense requires that the outside defenders must swivel depending on what side of the field the ball is on. If we are defending and the opposition has the ball in attack on their left hand side this means that the right defender is stepping up and marking the LS. The left defender must now move into the middle of the field into a COVERING position but making sure that the oppositions right striker does not get in behind them unmarked. The same applies on the opposite side of the field when the ball is being played by the right hand side attack of the opposition then the left defender must step up and mark and the right defender must move into a covering position into the middle of the field.
The 3 midfielders. Left mid, centre mid and right mid. The positioning of the midfielders can be one of two options in system 1.
Firstly you can play with the centre midfielder deeper in which case the ‘V’ shape is being created by the midfielders. Alternatively you can play with the centre midfielder slightly higher than the left and right midfielder, this creates and inverted ‘V’ shape like this, ^, and is more attacking and will then push the central striker slightly higher so that the two players do not play on top of each other. If you choose to play this way then there is also a pocket of space directly behind the centre midfield which means in attack you can push the central back slightly higher, or if this central back player is going to solely mark the CS then it would definitely be advisable to play the sweeper in front of the back 3 in this situation.
The 3 strikers. Left Striker, centre striker and right striker. The positioning of the strikers can be one of two oppositions.
The coach can choose to play the CS higher than the outside two strikers which will force the opposition to have a deeper defender. It may create one on one situations in attack; an important point to remember is if you are playing with a ‘V’ formation in the midfield and you have chosen to push the CS high there will be an empty pocket of space behind the CS. If the opposition start to utilize this space you will either have to invert the ‘V’ in your midfield, OR you would have to drop the CS deeper than the 2 outside strikers (this is the other formation that can be used). When dropping the CS into the pocket ahead of the midfielders it would be advisable to push the outside strikers slightly higher when you win the ball and then to encourage your team to attack through the outside channels. If you are wary of pushing both the outside strikers high at the same time due to the opposition having attacking outside defenders then you can also choose to push the outside strikers high using an alternative rotation. An example of how this works will be when the ball gets into the right channel and is played to the RS the LS will now lead high and move slightly into the midfield channel which should cause their defender go with them. This will stretch the opposition defense and will also create more space in the outside channels for the midfield to attack through. The same applies on the opposite side of the field.
ADVANTAGES of System 1:
- There are 3 strikers that are always relatively high and can therefore make leads in deep areas of the field putting the defenders under pressure.
- With 3 strikers you will have the ability to put the back 4 defenders under max pressure in particular at 16-yard free hits. If you can defend this area well it can cause panic in the other team and you will benefit from a lot from turn over ball.
- By playing with the 3 strikes higher there is more space for the midfield to carry the ball and eliminate players and then link up with the strikers.
- Defenders are able to target the higher strikers from their zone rather than always trying to work the ball out the back.