Formations In International Football Friendlies

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 06: Ryan Giggs of Manchester United get tackled by Jason Koumas of Wigan Athletic during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford on October 06, 2007 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)International football friendlies often offer the managerial teams the chance to experiment with new formations. What if the staid 4-4-2 formation has not brought the results in recent qualification games or a key player is out and a 4-5-1 formation is needed?

Popular Formations

The standard and most commonly used formation is the 4-4-2, comprising of four defenders, two central midfielders, two wingers and two centre forwards. This formation offers the best of all worlds; a solid defense, a formidable midfield and enough of a presence upfront to upset the opposition’s defense. The treble-winning Manchester United team of the late Nineties employed this formation with Ryan Giggs and David Beckham on the wings and Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke upfront.

The 4-5-1 formation is gaining in popularity and is often employed by teams who are playing away from home. The thinking is that a five-man midfield will congest play in the middle of the park and repel the attacks of the home team, but at the same time, allowing the away team to have enough players available to support the lone striker when a breakaway or counter attack occurs.

The more attack-minded cousin of the 4-5-1, the 3-5-2 formation in international football friendlies takes into account the fact that of the five midfielders deployed, one of them is a more defense-minded player (think Claude Makelele for Chelsea or Owen Hargreaves for Manchester United). This formation allows the defensive stability of the 4-5-1 formation, but allows for more players to join the attack. Having two strikers playing in tandem is sure to create more opportunities, and the wide men could also be employed as wingbacks.

For teams with a strong emphasis on attack, the 4-3-3 formation allows for the defense to be protected by three central midfielders, with possibly one of them a defensive midfielder, yet still having an extremely strong attack. The three forwards are usually made up of one central striker and two wide men on either side who anchor the midfield when needed, but are free to join in on all attacks. Chelsea often employ this formation with Florent Malouda and Joe Cole the wide men supporting Didier Drogba.