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The Coaches Notepad

Playing Out With a 5-Box-1

by admin 05 Nov 2020 0 Comments
Over the last 5 years, the use of a box midfield has become more and more popular in recent years. It was famously used to success in the European Championships by Wales, and used successfully by Bayern Laverkusen in Germany. It was originally used by the great Brazil teams, with the more famous 1-4-2-2-2.

However, it is rare to see the formation used effectively and efficiently. Often teams fail to take advantage of the 4v3 overload you can create in central areas when playing against more popular 1-4-3-3. The overload is more prevalent when playing against a midfield 4.

Through the next few paragraphs we are going to focus on how a box midfield within a 1-5-4-1, can provide additional playing lines, and positional overloads to prevent the opponent pressing, and winning possession against us when playing out from the goalkeeper. We will show examples of two different 1-4-3-3 models. One model where the team out of possession look to press tight to the back three, and force us to play through additional lines, further up the pitch.

The first image here, shows how the reds might setup shape wise against an opponent who decide to mark space, and not press touch tight to players.

For example in this image, you can see how the front three have positioned themselves between players, this is to try and create positional dominance. In this image, we can see how the two widest players, take position between the red outside centre backs and the wing-backs, this is in hope they can travel to either player as the ball is moved by the goalkeeper.

In this shape the deeper members of the box midfield are picked up by the two holding midfield players, whilst the two 10's find themselves in the half-space with the opponents full-backs. In this example the opponent 10 has pushed forward, preventing us from being able to build up from a central area.

As you can see, this does still allow us to have some positional dominance because of the 4v3 diamond we create in both the wide area. The goalkeeper has three clear passing lanes, Centre-Back, Full-Back or 10. Either these three players, will find themselves under pressure, but will be able to play to the spare player within the 4v3 diamond created in the wide area.

At this point we must recognize the detail that is important, in dominating the space. It is important that the centre back drops deep, this increases the space between the second line (Screen and Wing-back) and makes the job of the yellow more difficult, and gives the player who receives possession more time on the ball.

It is also very important that the 10 stays high, forcing the opponents full-backs to stay high, and this will prevent them from becoming effective out of possession. Though it is even more important that the central players stay outside of the half-space, and stay inside the pitch providing the outside diamond we have created, can offer a meaningful shape out of possession.

As the move progresses, we can then practice positional patterns that can help open space up behind the opponent. In this pattern we are looking to follow a very simple trigger to release space behind the opponent. As the wing-back receives possession, the 10 is going to look to run in behind, taking the full-back with them. As this happens, the nine, will make a run ball side of the closest centre back, opening a game between the two centre-backs, as this happens, can we look to slide the ball in between the two centre-backs and in to the opposite 10. The 10 is deliberately making and out to in run from the half-space in to the central space.

As you can see in our example, this won't always work perfectly, and won't always looks exact, but the principle must be the same. The advantage to the box is we still have numerical advantage behind the ball with five defensive players who are able to defend the central space with confidence and knowledge.

Tight Marking front Three.

As we all know as coaches, it can be much harder to play out from the back, when a team presses higher, harder and more deliberately. Changing their focus from preventing you from play out, too wanting to win the ball. In the below example, we can now see that the opponents front three, are pushed very high and touch tight to our back three. This makes it extremely difficult for us to play in to the first line, it is possible but highly risky.

In the next section we will look at how we can use the midfield line (third line) to break out and play through the thirds effectively and efficiently. As we can see, because the opponent has pushed high and our shape uses the width and the depth of the pitch we are able to stretch the opponent and create gaps, creating a 4v3 in this area. We can now challenge our goalkeeper to play in to one of those four players, dependent on the picture.

Again like in previous comments, we can see how our shape has allowed us to create an outside diamond, the diamond plays homage to use being able to stay in possession of the ball with a positional dominance. the central positioning of our centre back allows us to free up the shoulder space for us to receive and play through. This 4v3 still exists effectively in the wide area and is the key element in us being able to play through the opponent quickly.

Even when play goes to the wide player, we are always looking to create little angles with clever body movement and effective runs, to take advantage of the overload and create the passing options to get the spare man in possession. As the below example shows, when the ball is wide with the wing-back, and pressure is applied. The midfield player is still able to receive of the shoulder. As long as the space is effectively opened up by the use of the run In behind. The run in behind is very important as it stretches the play and forces the opponent full-back to make a run away from the Ball and release space and pressure for our 10 to play in.

The midfield line, isn't the only option for the goalkeeper when building from the back, at times we will need to mix it up as the opponent might look to apply pressure to the second and third line and make build-up play very difficult. In the below image we can see how the goalkeeper has played in to the 10, who is then setting play in to the midfield player. This is a more difficult animation of play, and one more popular in older players, due to the passing range of the goalkeeper.

Once this animation of play takes place. The opportuniteis are still high, the ball can be set inside to the spare player, this makes the most sense as we have now isolated a player in a 2v1 situation. The ball can be flicked on behind for the nine to run on to and attack the space behind. Or it can be thread in to the wide area for the wing-back to run on to.

However from this it should be evident that centrally the opportunity to overload the opponent is apparent when a team uses a back three with a box midfield, it is naturally difficult for the 1-4-3-3 to adjust and pick up the spare player. Coaches also find it difficult to allow a centre back to step forward a line and match the shape up. This can create opportunities in and out of possession for the 1-5-box-1

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