Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A Look at Soccer's 3-3-1-3 Formation

Andrew Khoury is working toward a degree in kinesiology at Charleston Southern University in North Charleston, South Carolina. A setup manager for the Charleston Battery, a professional soccer team in South Carolina, Andrew Khoury enjoys playing soccer and following international play.

In the sport of soccer, teams coordinate defensive assignments and offensive strategies based on a chosen formation, also known as a set, which are named after their structures. For example, the common 4-4-2 formation features four defenders, four midfielders, and two forwards, plus the goalkeeper. In some cases, teams may implement rare or unusual formations in order to take advantage of a specific skill set or to surprise opponents.

One of the more notable examples of a less common formation being put to good use occurred during the 1994-5 AFC Ajax season, over the course of which head coach Louis van Gaal’s team, also called Ajax, utilized the rarely used 3-3-1-3 set. In this formation, the goalkeeper is bolstered by three defenders, who are further supported by a trio of staggered midfield players. On the opposite end of the field, three forwards press a strong offensive attack. What makes the formation truly unique is the single player between the midfield and attack zone, who assumes a free role.

The 3-3-1-3 set not only captured the attention of the soccer world, but helped Ajax capture the Champions League title. Ajax also went undefeated in winning the Dutch league championship using the innovative tactic.