Here is a great slide show on the future of Football/Soccer and where it has come in the world game. This was produced after the 2008 Euros to analyze the english game and where it has to go to become a world force again.
Future_of_the_Game by Dick Bate, English FA
It shows clearly that the game needs to adapt to the modern game. The 2012 Euros was a perfect example of how far behind we still are in the game tactically and technically. In the quarter final versus Italy, England were completely out played. England played flat 4-4-2 (defensively turned into a 4-4-1-1) and got completely overran in midfield. Andrea Pirlo was the complete play maker for italy, accept for the final versus Spain. Spain got their tactics right as Xavi was tight to Pirlo when Italy had the ball, which didn’t allow him time to dictate. For England this was not the case due to the lack of tactical know how and old fashion 4-4-2 style. Italy played the modern 4-4-2 diamond and had joy versus Germany’s strict 4-3-3. Their tactics were excellent. They forced them inside to their numbers in midfield to allow Pirlo again to dictate. However in the Final Spain (playing 4-3-3) Dictated the game due to the high pressing game.
Here are possession stats over 120 mins (extra time) – Eng Vs Italy
Here is a video of Roy Hodgson before Euro 2012 talking about the pros and cons of 4-4-2 and and his not so positive opinion on the 4-3-3.
Roy Hodson on the 4-4-2 and 4-3-3
How Roy Hodgson & England will adapt its style due to the experience of the Euro 2012:
England in their latest friendly against Italy played 4-2-3-1 (4-3-3). This for me is only a positive. Here are reasons why 4-3-3 is being used across the world and why it is so affective
• For a zonal back 4 defence, one mobile central striker can be more of a problem to handle than two.
• “Early” and “high” width can be established on gaining possession.
• Movement, inter-change and positioning “between” opponents causes marking difficulties for zonal defences.
• If opponents mark on a man for man basis then more “individual” working space is available.
• Three MF often outnumber opponents for attacking build ups and defensive responsibilities.
• The shape of the three MF players can be changed / inverted to provide marking problems for opponents.
• Three MF players offers defensive numbers and compactness in central MF areas and reduces pass routes to opponents central forwards in the defending half and around the penalty area.
• Two of the three MF have the freedom to attack leaving “security” behind.
• A zonal back 4 covers the width of the field more economically and quickly, and defenders are generally in closer proximity to each other to provide support if necessary.
It is clear to see that 4-3-3 and now 4-4-2 diamond is being used more on the international stage and in club football. For me England and Roy Hodgson adapting in their first friendly back is a step in the right direction.
Understanding that football at International level is a results driven business however if you want to adapt with other nations with the same thinking then it seems 4-3-3 is the style and way forward to be successful. The Spanish national team obviously have excellent technical players that have been using 4-3-3 for years, and recently have used the silent number 9 but thats another subject…
If anyone is interested in a 4-3-3 playbook by Dick Bate. Please contact me on Twitter @JHarvCoach