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The Rise of the Hybrid Formation

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Fluidity and momentum go hand in hand in modern day football. Penning the opposition into their own half and keeping hold of the ball is key to emerging victorious particularly at the very top end of the game these days, which is why in the past decade teams have begun to move away from the rigid 4-4-2, and towards formations with more positional and tactical interchangeability.

tactics The Rise of the Hybrid Formation

With the emergence of Barcelona as a dominant force in world football, we have seen teams right down the footballing ladder from Manchester United to Mansfield Town fiddle around with their formation, yet nobody seems to be able to quite replicate the success achieved during the Guardiola era. So why is that?

iniesta The Rise of the Hybrid Formation

Barcelona have no standard formation. When you watch them play, you can go from seeing 4-3-3, to 4-2-3-1, to 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 all in the space of 90 minutes. Similarly, who is to say that Manchester City played  a 4-2-2-2 last season? David Silva and Yaya Toure would often occupy the same areas of the pitch, whilst Nigel De Jong or Gareth Barry would provide cover for the pair.

This is not to say there is no room in the modern game for a well regimented side. The likes of West Brom, Everton, even Liverpool under Rafa Benitez play with a style that requires players to do very specific jobs in very specific areas of the pitch.

manchester city The Rise of the Hybrid Formation

The word ‘discipline’ in football has changed. No longer are players required to work tirelessly to cover their own areas of the pitch, they are more focused on tracking runs all over the back and midfield third.

The hybrid formation has really brought this feature of offensive play to the fore; the best teams have no defined formation. This, my friends, this lack of being able to put football into simple black and white, is what earns it the title of ‘The Beautiful Game’.

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Comments (2)

  1. Great statement, however, do the players dictate the system or does the system dictate the player? Don’t get carried away with passionate arguments about 4-4-2 vs 4-3-3 vs 3- 4-3 ???, this is a smoke and mirrors statement about money, jobs, and whatever else can keep me or my team in the news. Please justify all your statements. The game is about will and technique and players committed to the cause; that’s it. obviously, you never played the game. Good luck getting qualified folks to read this.

  2. I have to disagree with you there cg. Will and desire to win are one thing, particularly in the lower leagues. However. At the too end of the game (which it appears Jono was focusing on) where athletes are all cut no trimmed to the highest level, tactics really do lay a big part in the modern game. What Jono is saying is that barcelonas tactic IS to allow creativity to dominate over discipline.