So here I am bored as usual, we are doing pretty well in the league, a point behind the leaders and 12 games in, almost sewn up the Champs league group phases, so I usually start getting itchy at around this time, and I mess with tactics. This time I decided to just put together a 343 diamond, or at least what I think a 343 diamond should look like.
It was hastily thrown together, we basically kept the attacking thrust, no changes were made, to the trio and the only thing different is the backline. Instead of flying fullbacks we will use defensive wingers. I wanted to use a libero in defense, but I couldn’t get him to move past the invisible wall that SI erected so we will use a Deep Lying Playmaker instead, this role will probably go through some changes. What I plan to do is observe how it lines up on the 2D screen, control of space is important so this will need to be snapshotted a few times.
Quick transition from attack to defense, we are tracking back quickly after losing the ball, so I am going to look at how my wingers and my 3 man defense lines up and how it controls space. If I had gone for a 3 man straight defense and 2 WBs they would drop back into defense and form a straight line. I think thats too conservative for me, I need something that controls the space further up.
What am I looking for?
If I play at the back with wingbacks and a straight 3, when the ball is in my own half I get a straight line of 5 defending. While thats ok in some circumstances, I don’t want to wait till its too late to close people down. I need them to do the work around the halfway line. So I have opted to play with an ML/MR combo and a DLP combo. this ensures that I have coverage in those areas. The danger now lies down the flanks. Anytime a ball is played down the flanks or some player decides to switch ball from one flank to the next esp when they are in my third will be a problem.
This is what it looks like when I play a straight 3, so i tweak it slightly in the game.
Now when I play them as a DLP and ML/MR combination, I get the DLP being a lot more forward, we have good control of the flanks, naturally there are weaknesses in the system. The whole goal is to create an overload in the opponents area.
Which we have done based on the last screenshot.
Here’s another game. First think I look for is when we have the ball in attack here. The ball is being played along my defensive third, yet my players in the M & S strata are well placed for easy passing.
Here is a screenshot where I am looking at our positioning when defending
This is when we don’t have the ball and are defending in the middle third, its probably the one aspect of my system I spend the most time on. Its an area which I prioritize for defending. Its important to see how your players are lined up when they are challenging for a ball in the middle of the park.
Here the only thing I am focusing on is control of space, Do I have the right players in the right zones. I do know that my flanks are my weak spots. A lot depends on the ML/MR doing their job well. Anytime they lose concentration, we have the potential of being undone. Just ask Alberto Moreno when he let Juan Mata ghost in behind him for United’s first goal at Anfield on the 22nd of March 2015.
Spatial control boils down to how your players look when they have the ball in various phases of play, and how they look when they don’t have the ball. Once you know which areas of the pitch you are going to be weak at, you can assign players there. In this case I know that both my DCs have to be absolute class. If the MR/ML can’t tackle, anticipate, mark, run then they shouldn’t be playing. These are my systems weak areas. So controlling space is all about managing the right players in your weakest areas of the pitch.