“4-2-3-1, 3-4-5-1 … That’s a phone number,” he said. Menotti in an interview in ‘El País’ when they asked him about formations on a pitch. What does it matter if the important thing is how you move and what you propose when you have the ball. For the Argentine, the tactical provisions only serve in front of a paper, simple numbers that have little or nothing to do with what happens on the green.
But whether Menotti likes it or not, this European Championship has served to put some numbers in order and confirm an upward trend in European football in recent years: the defense of three (or five, call it what you want) has come to stay. Neat ball delivery, well structured back after loss, crowded center of the field and depth of the wings are some of the factors that have both seduced some teams and Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium in this Euro.
Regardless of who it weighs and receives the criticism it receives. As it has been. In the ‘team‘Löw was attacked and in what way for using one of the best pivots of the moment like Kimmich as a right winger and, in the’ Oranje ‘, De Boer also had to deal with authorized voices such as the myth Van Basten for using a system ‘away’ from the Cruyffista style book.
In the end, and for the moment, there is no one who moves that system because the results and the sensations are coming. Other more ‘smaller’ teams such as Switzerland, Wales or Austria also enter this group, which will be in the eighth. Even the surprising and attractive Italy has also turned to the three behind during some sections of their matches.
The lanes, fashionable
If anyone has been favored with this trend towards the formation of three centrals, it has been the lanes, figures who after years of ostracism have recovered, if possible, more prominence than in the past. More concerned with attacking than defending in the most powerful combined, players like Thorgan Hazard, Dumfries o Gosens they are being some of the proper names of what we carry from the Eurocup.
The Dutchman has been a dagger in the right-hand flank of the Netherlands and has caught the attention of the biggest teams for his round trip and for his good skills with the ball at his feet. Two goals in three games for a winger is also a good cover letter.
It has surprised, although perhaps not as much as the case of Gosens. The track has been followed more this season with Atalanta in the Champions League, but the level shown in Germany at 26 years old has been tremendous. To frame the game he played against Portugal, with assistance and goal included. That, perhaps, was the laners’ game by definition. Kimmich and Gosens embroidered it. The lanes have gained prominence as long as the three-back scheme has also done so. More field to travel, but greater offensive contribution and less concern to recover.
A question also of clubs
It is no coincidence that now many teams have decided to bet on training with long lanes. Something similar has also happened in the clubs, with all the nuances of the world according to the book of style of each coach.
Tuchel’s Chelsea has been Champions of the Champions this year with that disposition, Conte’s Inter have regained the throne of Italy after more than a decade of tyranny ‘bianconera‘, Koeman’s Barça has evolved towards that approach … Even Zidane, in his last games on the white bench, has played with a three-back line. The 3-4-3 and 3-5-2, whether they are just numbers or not, like Menotti or notThey are here to stay.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.