Pressing Traps in 3-1-3-3 Formation
Pressing is a crucial part of modern football and has become an integral part of many teams’ tactical play, utilizing pressing traps to take advantage of the opponent’s potential vulnerabilities in the build-up and hit on the counter. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at the use of pressing traps in a 3-1-3-3 formation. The 3-1-3-3 formation is a dynamic and flexible system that allows for quick transitions from defense to offense. It can be used in a variety of ways, depending on the strengths of the team and the opponent.
One of the key elements of this formation is the use of pressing traps, which are designed to win back the ball and create scoring opportunities. Pressing is a collective effort that involves all players, not just the forwards. The objective is to force the opposing team into making a mistake, such as losing possession of the ball or playing a bad pass, which can then be exploited. There are many different types of pressing traps, but the 3-1-3-3 formation is particularly suited to the use of man-oriented pressing traps.
Man-oriented pressing traps are designed to put pressure on the opponent’s players in a specific area of the field. This is achieved by having one or more players closely mark their opponent, while the rest of the team provides cover and support. When the opposing player receives the ball, the player marking him will immediately close down the space and attempt to win back the ball.
In the 3-1-3-3 formation, the central defender acts as the conductor and stays back while the three forwards and three midfielders push up to press the opponent. The central defender must be strong, quick and imposing in the air, as he will be the last line of defense in the event that the pressing trap fails. The left centre-back’s primary role is to cover the left side of the pitch, which includes the opposition’s right-winger and right full-back.
When setting up pressing traps, the left centre-back needs to be positioned in a way that closes down passing lanes and forces the opposition to play the ball down the wing or into a central area where the press can be initiated and possession regained. Additionally, the left centre-back needs to be able to communicate effectively with their defensive partners and coordinate with the midfielders to ensure that pressing is carried in the right areas of the pitch.
On his part, the right centre-back is tasked with covering the right side of the pitch, which includes the opposition’s left-winger and left full-back. Similar to the left center back, the right center back needs to be positioned in a way that closes down passing lanes and forces the opposition to play the ball down the wing or into a central area where we can press and regain possession. The right centre-back also needs to be able to communicate effectively with their defensive partners and coordinate with the midfielders to ensure that they are pressing in the right areas of the pitch.
Pressing Traps on the Wings
One of the key aspects of the 3-1-3-3 formation is the ability to press effectively on the wings. This is done by positioning the three forwards (or striker and two wingbacks)to cover the opponent’s full-backs, while the three midfielders cover the center of the pitch. When the opponent is forced to play the ball out wide, the forwards can immediately press, limiting their options and creating an opportunity to win back possession.
An example of this can be seen in the 2020-2021 Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund match. Bayern used their 3-1-3-3 formation to effectively press Dortmund’s full-backs, forcing them to play the ball out wide. This allowed Bayern to win back the ball and launch quick counter-attacks, ultimately securing a victory.
One of the ways pressing traps can help is the deliberate opening of passing lanes. To leave passing lanes open deliberately, you could focus on directing the opposition to play the ball into specific areas of the pitch, where you are better positioned to win back possession. For example, you could aim to force the opposition to play the ball down the flanks or into the corners, where your wingers and fullbacks can more easily press and win the ball back.
How Argentina Defeated France to Win Their First World Cup in 36 Years
Alternatively, you could focus on leaving passing lanes open in central areas, but only under certain conditions. For example, you might allow the opposition to play the ball into the central midfield area, but only if they are facing away from goal and under pressure from your midfielders. In this scenario, you can use the pressing trap to quickly close down the opposition and win the ball back in a dangerous area of the pitch.
Ultimately, the specific passing lanes that you leave open will depend on the strengths and weaknesses of your team and the opposition, as well as the tactical objectives that you are trying to achieve. It’s important to work on these pressing traps in training and to communicate your instructions clearly to your players so that they can execute them effectively during games.
In a 3-1-3-3 formation, one potential pressing trap could involve the two wingers and center forward pressing the opposition fullbacks, while the three midfielders press the opposition midfielders. The remaining defender and holding midfielder should be positioned to cut off any potential long balls over the top.
When pressing on the wings, the central midfielder should focus on marking the opposition central midfielder who drops deep to receive the ball from the defenders. This helps to cut off the supply line to the wings and force the opposition to play long balls, which can be won by the center backs.
The attacking midfielder is responsible for pressing the opposition fullback on the side of the pitch where the ball is located. The goal is to prevent the fullback from playing the ball forward and force either a pass backward or loss of possession. The attacking midfielder should position himself in such a way that cut off any passing lanes between the fullback and the opposition central midfielder.
The defensive midfielder is tasked with covering the space behind the midfield line and intercepting any loose balls or long passes that bypass the midfield. In the context of pressing on the wings, the defensive midfielder should focus on cutting off any diagonal balls that may be played towards the wing, as well as providing support to the centre-backs should the press be bypassed.
The two central midfielders in the 3-1-3-3 formation have similar roles when pressing on the wings. They are responsible for marking the opposition wingers and preventing them from receiving the ball in dangerous positions. The aim is to force the opposition to either play backwards or towards the centre of the pitch, where they can be closed down by the other midfielders.
The wingbacks should focus on closing down the opposition fullback on the side of the pitch where the ball is located. They should position themselves in such a way that they cut off any passing lanes between the fullback and the opposition central midfielder, and force the fullback to either play backwards or towards the center of the pitch.
Pressing Traps in Half-Spaces
Another pressing trap that can be employed in a 3-1-3-3 formation is in the half-spaces. By positioning the three forwards to block passing lanes to the center of the pitch, while the three midfielders close down the space in the half spaces, the opponent is forced to play the ball out wide. This creates an opportunity for the forwards to press, as they did in the previous example.
An example of this can be seen in the 2020-2021 Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid match. Atletico used their 3-1-3-3 formation to effectively press Real Madrid in the half spaces, forcing them to play the ball out wide. This allowed Atletico to win back the ball and launch quick counter-attacks, securing a hard-fought draw against their fierce rivals.
The aim is to force the opposition into making mistakes by closing down the available space and making it difficult for them to play out from the back. The pressing starts with the striker who leads the press and is supported by the midfielders and wingbacks. The pivot sits in front of the defense and acts as a shield, covering the space behind the pressing players and ensuring that the opposition cannot play through the middle.
The defensive midfielder is responsible for disrupting the opposition’s play in the central areas of the pitch. In a man-oriented pressing trap, he would mark the opposition’s attacking midfielder or any central midfielder who drops deep to receive the ball. Therefore, he needs to be able to read the game well and anticipate the opposition’s movements to cut off passing lanes and force the opponent into making mistakes.
Depending on his skill set, he would utilise aggressive tackling or interceptions (or both)to win back possession quickly. The two central midfielders in a 3-1-3-3 formation are responsible for closing down the opposition’s passing lanes and preventing them from playing through the center of the pitch. One central midfielder would mark the opposition’s defensive midfielder, while the other would mark the opposition’s attacking midfielder.
The central midfielders need to work in tandem with the defensive midfielder to ensure that they are always applying pressure on the opposition and cutting off passing lanes. The attacking midfielder is responsible for disrupting the opposition’s play in the final third of the pitch. He would mark the opposition’s central defenders or fullbacks who push forward to support the attack; while the wingbacks would tie themselves to the wingers of the opposition.
Pressing from the Goalkeeper
The 3-1-3-3 formation also allows teams to press the opposition’s goalkeeper, limiting their options and forcing them to play the ball long. The three forwards can press the goalkeeper, while the three midfielders cover the center of the pitch, preventing any potential long balls from reaching the opposition’s forwards.
Ademola Lookman: The Journeyman Who Has Found His Home in Atalanta
An example of this can be seen in the 2020-2021 Liverpool vs. Manchester City match. Liverpool used their 3-1-3-3 formation to effectively press Manchester City’s goalkeeper, forcing him to play the ball long. This allowed Liverpool to win back the ball and launch quick counter-attacks, securing a crucial victory in their race for the title.
Building Pressing Traps When Transitioning into a Defensive Structure
When the pressing traps fail, it is important for teams to have a plan in place to regain control of the game. In a 3-1-3-3 formation, this can be done by building pressing traps when transitioning into a defensive structure. This allows the team to continue to apply pressure and limit their opponent’s options, even when they are no longer in possession of the ball. role of each midfielder will depend on the specific situation, but generally speaking, their primary objective is to help regain possession and prevent the opposing team from advancing the ball.
The defensive midfielder, in particular, plays a critical role in this phase of the game. Their primary responsibility is to protect the backline and shield the defenders by tracking back to cover open spaces and cut off passing lanes. They should be positioned in front of the back three, allowing them to intercept any passes that get through the pressing traps.
The two central midfielders should also drop back to support the defensive midfielder and help protect the backline. They should stay compact and maintain their shape to limit the opposing team’s opportunities to play through the middle of the field. The attacking midfielder should track back to apply pressure on the opposing team’s midfielders and prevent them from advancing the ball. He should look to cut off passing lanes and force turnovers in order to regain possession.
The wingbacks should also drop back to support the midfielders and defenders to create a back-five and defend the width of the field; alert to the movement of opposition wingers and full-backs- and quickly transition between attacking and defensive roles.
An example of this can be seen in the 2020-2021 Paris Saint-Germain vs. Barcelona match. PSG attempted to press Barcelona’s full-backs, but the Catalan team was able to play through the press and create chances. PSG was forced to drop back into a more compact defensive shape, but they continued to build pressing traps, allowing them to limit Barcelona’s options and secure a 4-1 win via a hat-trick from Kylian Mbappe, with PSG drawing the next match 1-1 to progress to the Champions League quarterfinals.
In conclusion, the implementation of pressing traps in the 3-1-3-3 formation can be a highly effective strategy to disrupt the opposition’s play and gain possession in key areas of the pitch. However, it is important to remember that this is just one piece of the puzzle and that success in football is never guaranteed. As coaches, it is our responsibility to communicate our philosophy and expectations to our players, while also motivating and encouraging them to continually improve.
We must recognize that there will be moments of failure and setbacks, but it is our ability to pick ourselves up and learn from these experiences that ultimately sets us apart. Whether you are a coach, a tactics-obsessed fan, or a football lover of any kind, when next you watch a football game, enjoy beautiful moments with your team and look out for those pressing traps.
By: Tobi Peter / @Keepit_tactical
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / NurPhoto