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The 3-4-1-2 by Elio Gustinetti

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3412-GustinettiI propose again the work of Elio Gustinetti - Final thesis of the 1997-1998 Master Course for the qualification of a first-class professional trainer. - Thesis granted by the Technical Department of Coverciano and published in our newspaper nr.1 / December 2004
Its development "mixed" and area - Organization and defensive mechanisms - Tasks characteristics of the departments - Pressing, counterattacking, possession of the ball - Processing of the offensive phase - Advantages and disadvantages
Each coach has a favorite game system with which he has his team in the field.
A game system to which it has come through its own experience as a player, from that assimilated by the coaches he had, but above all from his past experience in the field as a coach, confronting himself with the daily difficulties in training.
The game of football evolves continuously both under the physical aspect (speed, strength, resistance) and the technical-tactical one.

It follows that athletic training is of extreme importance, but equally important is the individual technique of the player, his tactical sense and in particular his personality. One of the reasons I adopted the 3-4-1-2 is because this game system, in my opinion, has a good balance both in possession and non-possession. It is also rational because it also takes into account the characteristics of the individual player.
It is a module that gives players a lot of responsibility, makes them participate in the game and makes them feel important and aware of their qualities. Quality that must be expressed in the field
through some factors:
- competitiveness;
- having an uninterrupted continuity independent of the result;
- positivity;
- help and simplify the task of the companions, not playing for himself but for the team;
-the responsability;
- be determined in important games, take the risks of the choices in the two phases of play; resist frustrations dependent on situations;
-controlling one's own emotionality;
- aggressive charge;
- the inspiration and the imagination;
- reactivity
- understand immediately the game situations in the two phases. I like this game system in a particular way because it is very elastic, with small movements and tricks to adapt
ato each opponent as it is important not to remain too bound to a module, as the race requires changes in its development either to obtain a positive result or to overturn it or maintain it. Beyond all the main goal is the victory that must be achieved possibly thanks to a well-organized, fun and spectacular team play.
THE "3-4-L-2" This system foresees the disposition in the field of three central defenders, four midfielders, a playmaker and two strikers. (figure A) and, however, offers the possibility of being developed in two ways: * mixed; * to zone.
The 3-4-l-2 mixed system has the privilege of unifying the advantages of man-marking with the space occupancy capability of that zone.
Two fixed central markers are used on the opposing points and one free, in addition two external midfielders who, if necessary, defend the side lanes to the zone.

In principle, the mixed system was adopted by those coaches who wanted to place their teams in defense and who wanted to include in their football concept the zone play in midfield. In the 3-4-l-2 zone system the principles of zone play are strongly applied with the difference of using only three defenders in line instead of the traditional four. The renunciation of the fourth defender allows to use a player with strong offensive propensities (with inspiration and fantasy) that acts close to the points, thus giving a great support during the attack phase, balance to the midfield during the coverage phase when the team does not he is in possession of the ball and is in difficulty.
The 3-4-1-2 system has a greater number of midfielders and peaks than the defenders and compares it with the 4-4-2 and the 5-3-2 is more offensive. However, it is inferred that in the non-possession phase of ball the system can be transformed into a 3-5-2 as the midfielders are helped in coverage by the playmaker who reassembles the team by making the fifth midfielder. Example (figure B): the 10 midfielder returns to midfield in the left half-center zone; the 8 withdraws in a central position as the only Methodist in front of the defense; the forward movement in the right-hand mid-angle role of the 4 is synchronized. The re-entry stroke of the 6 and 7 is very important and they are placed in perfect position of staggering.
The organization of the 3-4-1-2 in the defensive phase is focused on the three central defenders and on the coverage guaranteed by the midfielders and the doubling capacity of the same. In the mixed system, in fact, there are no particularly complicated mechanisms, because the opposing points are marked by the two defenders and their shoulders act the free that takes care of the space in depth and intervenes when the defenders are overcome by attackers. On the lateral lanes, in their area of ​​competence, the help of the external midfielders comes in both marking and if necessary doubling.
a) these principles in general, it will then go on to enter more specifically with:
b) the defensive diagonal from attacks on the wings;
c) the defensive climb in the central attacks;
so, if one of the defenders is passed, the free intervenes in closing and the defender himself will climb behind him to rebuild the defensive cover. In the mixed system, therefore, it is very important, perhaps more than the organization of the department, the work on the principles of individual defensive tactics:
* stance;
* man-made marking and the use of the advance;
* contrast;
* defense of the door.
In the "position" we must take a direction of return to our door. The "mark" is a zone for midfielders and a man for defenders. In the case of zone markings, all the principles that provide for the responsibility of the assigned field area according to the ball, the opponents and their teammates are valid; while in man-marking you must assume a position between the goal and the opponent, trying to see the ball and the man and, in the case of the opponent's demarcation, follow him.
The "contrast" that must be performed must be direct (front - lateral - from behind) or indirect (advance - interception), which puts the opponent in the shadow area.
In the "defense of the door" you have to try to protect with your body the mirror of the same (to help the goalkeeper) exercising not to turn around as you risk being jumped from the opponent's dribbling.
In this system we highlight all the concepts of the area aware that, playing with only three defenders, these have a wider field area in amplitude to be guarded and their movements are a function of the ball, of the companions and of the opponents and they move only when the ball is played. The four sides of the midfielders play an important role. The two power plants in front of the defense have above all the interdiction and reconquest of the ball, while the two external ones, besides these tasks, must be very good in the race (having to manage a long portion of the field) both in thrust and containment phases. have a strong tactical sense in the defensive diagonals and doubling marks when the ball will gravitate in their area of ​​expertise. It is on the shoulders of these four players the weight of the balance of the game in that nerve zone which is the midfield that will be supported, in the moment of extreme difficulty, also by the playmaker. With this game system the work of defensive organization It must be carefully taken care of. An appropriate retarding action (primary defense target) is extremely important for the narrowing of the spaces, both between the defenders and their shoulders, giving them time to mark or cover when closer to the door.

The defensive concentration is the logical consequence of the delaying action: the narrowing of the spaces prevents the opponents the conclusion in goal, makes the passage difficult and, not secondly, ineffective individual action in dribbling. All in consideration that playing in the area creates a great defensive balance through the occupation of spaces and the narrowing of the same, acting as a response to the movements of attacking opponents. It is clear that the more the opposing action approaches the door, the more the two objectives, the marking of the opponents and the coverage of the spaces will tend to identify themselves. The control and limitation in the defensive phase are two principles of fundamental importance in the application of the 3-4-1-2 zone. The Zonist defender must know how to evaluate and elaborate the game situations where, to exert an appropriate defensive action, he must take into account the ball, the position of the teammates and the position of the opponents. It is therefore always urged at any time to provide psycho-motor responses deriving from the development of the game, as opposed to the man-made brand where there is direct control of the assigned opponent and the reduced visual space.


The defensive organization of the 3-4-1-2 zone system is based on the principles examined in advance, but it is clear that it is necessary to harmonize and coordinate the movements of the three defenders with appropriate mechanisms. Being often in situations of 1: 1 must be created a great defensive organization among the three central defenders, namely:
- when the opponent makes movements this is managed by the three
defenders with elasticity and mutual coverage. If the opponent's movement is horizontally the defenders2 they scale the mark (figure l), if the opponent's movement takes place in depth the zone defender absorbs the insertion (Figure 2).

-When the opponent cuts the field from the outside inside, running diagonally, his marching is climbed and the central of the three defenders is detached to intervene in the casoche the opponent's attacker is launched deep (figure 3). If this does not happen, return to the line, leaving the attacker offside (figure 4).

3-When the opponent cuts the Indians from inside the field to the outside behind the defenders the zone central follows him and absorbs the movement to the back line and waits for the doubling of the outside midfielder (figure 5). Finally, if an opponent proposes himself with a backward movement, he is followed by the competent centers not to allow him space to turn around and make use of the neutral zone (in green) between the defensive line
and that of the midfielders. In this regard the work of the three defenders with the4couple of the two Methodist mid-Methodists. These must play short and compact with the line of defenders not to allow the opponents space in the aforementioned neutral zone which is very dangerous (figure 6). EXERCISES
The exercises to perfect automatisms and attacks
the ball carrier will generally start from elementary teaching.

5(figure 7). Within the field are placed six flags of different color that simulate the position of the ball that is held by the opponents. When the coach calls the color the team moves respecting the distances and the geometries so as to form the right compactness.
It then continues with the introduction of specific exercises with the presence of one or more opponents, in order to recreate race situations such as 1: 1, 2: 2, 3: 3. All this in order to assimilate the retarding action, the use of the diagonal and the covering.67
EXERCISE l: l (figure 8). Defender 2 kicks the ball
8from the baseline to the striker 9 and, in the race, he moves in his direction of travel, in order to close the space towards the door manned by the 1 door. We try to exalt all the concepts expressed previously in the 1: 1. In the 1: 1 tutorial it is important to shorten the distance from the opponent, slow down the race, make a sideways move to him, always watch the ball, accompany it and do not jump.
The correct support of the feet is of fundamental importance, which must be in search of balance that allows rapid movement in every direction.

The defender must keep his feet apart making sure that the opponent's line of approach with the ball coincides with his backward foot, forcing the latter to head towards his strong side.
EXERCISING 2: 2 (figure 9): in a rectangle of 10 meters for 20, two attackers, the 6 and 8, exchange the ball. At the whistle of the coach the two defenders face the ball holder (in the figure the 8). The closest, in this case the 3, faces it, while the second goes instead to the center of the rectangle, placing itself diagonally to him and the player in possession of the ball.9
It is necessary that the two defenders leave at the same time the ball leaves, removing the attackers time and space. EXERCISING 3: 3 (figure l0): The purpose of the tutorial is the same as 2: 2. In this case the attack on the ball carrier in the central area is considered. The ball 10is in possession of the 9, the 5 deals with limiting time and space, therefore the 2 and 3 perform a double cover, that is, make the diagonal, forming a pyramid structure. The last
phase will focus on the search for more difficult situations in numerical inferiority in order to have adequate answers to oppose the maneuver
opposing offensive. These situations are: 7: 5, 10: 8. EXERCISING 7: 5 (figure ll): three defenders and two midfielders against seven opponents (three points and four midfielders) defend themselves looking for compactness, coordination in the climb, using the defensive diagonal and offside, keeping the opposing team as far away as possible, implementing pressing, doubling and aid. Purely defensive action.11
EXERCISE l0: 8 (figure l2):
all the criteria of the 7: 5 exercise are valid with, in this case, the possibility to also search for the conquest of the spaces in depth, with the addition of the playmaker and the outsiders of the midfield. A delimitation on the opposing trocar is the reference for the reconquest of space, trying with 12combined actions to win the numerical superiority of the opponents. Defensive action associated with the search for spaces.
The three defenders in the 3-4-1-2 system must have all the required features
for an effective application of the zone defensive form and must combine, from an athletic point of view, strength and speed, in fact the elevation and the contrast must take on considerable importance when one must defend one's own door, while speed is indispensable in recoveries and to cancel the movements of the opponents in the last meters of field.
From the technical point of view the three central defenders will have to be skilled in the air game but also in the disengagement because they have to participate actively and constructively in the game.

Tactically they will have to be able to evaluate game situations and behave appropriately. They must know the criteria of reciprocal, dynamic and elastic coverage, typical of the zone module, in order to apply the diagonal, the pyramid and to correctly scale the marking.

Of great importance is the figure of the central of the three defenders that has the task of guiding and coordinating all the defensive movements and must be equipped with skill in setting the game, with precise steps even in depth.
As an individual tactic they must be able to avoid being dribbled in the 1: 1.
From the psychological point of view they are required a great capacity for concentration, they must then be strongly accountable and must understand that often are crucial for the success of the interpretation of the tactical module.
They must know how to be aggressive, not to allow spaces and, if necessary, good in anticipation, aware that their smearing becomes extremely dangerous.
The achievement of the reconquest of the ball is the crowning of the defensive action e
on this occasion the defenders must highlight their great determination. EXERCISE (figure 13)13
3 central defenders against 3 strikers plus 2 wide external on the bands that, free from offside, can move freely. The 3 goes to cover, from the cross from the bottom of the opponent 7, a slice of space on the first post. The other two defenders, the 5 and the 2, mark the attackers in the penalty area.
This exercise is important and must be repeated with insistence to accustom the three central defenders, who play in the area, to mark a man inside the penalty area with cross coming from the bottom.
It consists of four players who must have different characteristics and functions.
The two side must be midfielders with great run and temperament because, if necessary, will act as a fourth defender, clever in the defensive diagonal and doubles and good at attacking the spaces if the maneuver requires it.
In practice they have at their disposal the whole range of expertise in which to "run around". The two central Methodist midfielders play a particularly important role as they form the backbone of the team (wall in front of the defense). We assume the
responsibility both for the setting of the game and for the interdiction phase to protect the field's neuralgic zone. Their other qualities must be the speed of execution combined with the game vision (at least one of the two). With their high technical qualities they must know how to build the game in both the short and long and know how to dictate the times and rhythms of the action.
In the defensive phase they must form a "dam" in front of the defense, their interdiction action must act as a protective shield thus giving great balance between the departments.
From the point of view of athletic strength of contrast and discrete race is required, especially in the short term, as their range of action is not remarkable. They do not require great progression because they are hardly asked to insert them. They must therefore be quick, coordinated and strong in the contrast.
In the 3-4-1-2 this role is of fundamental importance as it is the element that must give the team inspiration and fantasy during the attack phase and the right amount of coverage when it is required in phase of non-possession. He must provide the attackers with a greater number of opportunities for realization (assist-man) and must assume responsibility to concretize the action himself, if the tips are to put him in a position to finalize it.

With his dribbling he must know how to skip man and create numerical superiority.
It is the player that when the team enters possession of the ball must be sought with insistence as they must exalt its marked offensive qualities. In the defensive phase, however, is the man who, together with the other attackers, begins to create the conditions for the reconquest of the ball, effectively countering the development of the opposing action. ATTACKERS
Their most important skill is mobility, that is the ability to break down and create spaces for the insertion of the companions, thanks to sudden diagonal runs and detours.
The diagonal race to the inside (cut) represents the winning weapon of the attackers as it allows them to reach the conclusion in goal. Since with this system (3-4-1-2) most of the cuts are done from the inside out, the attacker must prove to be skilled in the running shot also diverging from the goal. Under construction must know how to conclude on any cross from the bottom highlighting skills and timing in air play and acrobatics.It must know how to be proficient in the pro -ect the ball to pick up the team and must have dexterity to talk in tight spaces with his teammates (especially with the trequartista), looking for the exchange on the wall (shore) and must know how to make the bait, the block and the veil. However, it is desirable that the two attackers, while being compatible from a technical-tactical point of view, possess different characteristics that integrate well to maximize the offensive potential of the team. This game system can not be separated from a requirement of absolute importance that is pressing. PRESSING
Before arriving at the pressing you must inculcate the players an individual concept, ie the pressure that is precisely the individual action that delimits time and space to the ball carrier. It is not a coordinated action of several men or ward, but it is to attack the ball carrier individually. Pressing means precisely putting the opponent under pressure, collectively, in order to regain possession of the ball and quickly turn the defensive action into an offensive action. This goal is not necessarily achieved by subtracting the ball directly from the opponent, but above all forcing him to make a quick and therefore inaccurate play that allows us to intercept him. However, to achieve this we need to execute a coordinated action by all the players on the team or at least part of the team.
In order to effectively apply the pressing it is necessary to carefully evaluate some aspects that go from when to implement it (it must be done only in certain situations); who must implement it (must be executed with the coordinated action of all the players); how to implement it (accurate organization and precise mechanisms in the technical execution of pressing); where to implement it (it must be done only in certain areas of the field).
A team that decides to implement an organized tactic of pressing does not want to suffer the opponent's initiative and on the contrary actively proposes to interrupt it in the shortest possible time and then counterattack. The team must have the right aggressive mentality and must always be motivated even when not in possession of the ball. It must therefore keep the degree of concentration high. The players must enter the field motivated and strong of the belief of being able to condition with the pressing the opponent's game. It is therefore necessary to provide the players with the technical-tactical tools useful for the pressing to be performed successfully and without large expenditure of energy. In this regard, the player must be trained to assess the game situation and understand the opponent's moment of difficulty to force him into error.
The situations most favorable to pressing are when the ball carrier has his back turned, in the case of an air ball, following a wrong stop and during an inaccurate or too long passage. In the 3-4-1-2 system it is possible to carry out an ultra-offensive or offensive press-off as it is important to put the opposing team under pressure with two strikers plus a playmaker.

It is important to ensure that the opponent, as we have only three defenders, can not freely and immediately stand upright, as it could create a defensive imbalance. Moreover, in the moment of difficulty created by the opponent, in the blind zones, created behind the defenders, only predictable balls arrive for them. However, it is important to remember that the three defenders must move according to the ball, the opponents and the teammates, but only when the ball moves in its area of ​​competence. Through specific exercises you will have to train the player to perform the attack on the ball carrier and the supports while the ball is traveling and not after it has already been checked by the opponent. The action of pressing is to be combined with the doubling of the mark, which consists of that defensive tactical movement that has as its objective the immediate conquest of the ball or the interception of the opponent's pass and occurs when the defender, who is marking the opponent in possession of the ball, the opposition of a teammate is added. After regaining the ball, we move on to the next offensive development that is the counterattack.
The counterattack is therefore closely linked to the tactics of pressing with the aim of immediate transformation of the defensive offensive action, taking advantage of the moment of disorientation and disorganization of the opponents.
The counterattack action in the 3-4-1-2 must be lightning because having three players, the two points and the playmaker, in an offensive position must immediately put them in a position to finish the action.
14The exercises proposed to refine the execution of the counterattack are represented by situations in which the errors of the opponents are simulated and then develop a maneuver that seeks the synchronization of the times of the passage and the execution of the insertions without the ball. Example. First phase (figure l4): the player who conquers the ball, in this case the 6, must verticalize it on the tip that first, after the demarcation, goes towards him. The 11 tip passes the ball to the 10 trequartista and the 6 continues the race in depth. Example. Second phase (figure 15): 15the 10 trequartista has various play possibilities, including: 1) the personal solution (shooting or individual action): 2) filtering pass for the points; 3) the opening on the side bands where you insert the exteriors, 6 or 7, of midfield.
The purpose of the defensive action is to recover possession of the ball. The possession of the ball is an important tactical aspect if you want to build an effective offensive action and should be performed with a rapid movement of the ball, with the aim of creating spaces to be used with insertions of other players. This happens because any team is attracted to the area where the ball is located and inevitably leaves free spaces both in depth and in opposing field sectors. At the ball possession stage, both the defenders, the midfielders and the attackers must actively participate. In fact, in order for the maneuver to be effective and harmonious, it is essential to respect the principle of amplitude and staggering.
In the 3-4-1-2 system the amplitude is guaranteed both by the two external defenders and by the external midfielders who, as soon as the team gains possession of the ball, widens to the side line and tries to gain space even in depth. .

The staggering of the three central defending players, the midfielders, the trequartista and the points will determine the formation of many triangles favoring the circulation of the ball (which does not
16it must never be transmitted with lateral passages), with a series of steps forward and backward in order to find a deep space or numerical superiority in another field of the field (figure l6). All players must actively participate in the construction phase of the game and to get a good ball possession phase they must be equipped with good technical qualities, in order to never be apprehensive in playing the ball. For this purpose, in our training sessions it is essential to reserve a training aimed at improving the individual technique and the demarcation to transmit and provide support to the teammates. Example (figure l7):17 for an effective ball possession you have to put the 2 player, who in this example has the ball, in the condition of having more possibilities of easy passage (never in
lateral). The companions must be good in their movements in support or removal, looking for free spaces to propose an action in depth. Some transition possibilities are: 1) backwards to the 5 which has come off for scrolling; 2) in
ahead of the 7 that has expanded on the band; 3) forward to the 4 meeting him; 4) forward to the 10 that can either meet him, or continue in the vertical race; 5) forward to the 9 that fakes the movement in depth and meets it; 6) forward to the 11 which, after a movement towards the ball, goes deep.
Every team that tries to reach the goal in a casual way must know and exploit the principles of offensive play and must exploit the penetration, the amplitude, the mobility, the improvisation, the unpredictability and the staggering. By staggering we mean placing on multiple lines of field, so that players form game triangles never in line. Penetration means the ability to move the ball through the opposing defense with the
greater precision and speed possible. Wideness means the ability of a team, in possession of the ball, to exploit the full width of the field, in order to expand the opposing defensive concentration and to find the spaces to operate in depth. Mobility means a change in the positions of attackers in order to disorient the opponent's defensive organization. Improvisation is the ability to overcome opposing defenses, more and more organized, through the inspiration of individual players. For unpredictability we mean the need not to always repeat the same maneuver movements in a stereotyped way. In the 3-4-1-2 system having the opportunity to have the playmaker,
after developing the game, we will try to reach this player in an organized way but in the shortest possible time, making this touch as many balls as possible and determine, in offensive phase with the other two attackers, more opportunities for realizations. l8):18 this exercise summarizes various purposes: possession, the use of space with the possibility of serving the goalkeeper. A goal is awarded to the 15 team with consecutive touches. Naturally the opposing team must try with the pressing to win back the ball. The exercise alternates between two different types of games over time of 2-3 minutes each. 1 Match: it is played with the big doors for the verticalization and the search for goals through penetration and mobility.

2 Match: it is played in defense of small doors for sliding and covering spaces and attackers must seek amplitude with rapid changes of play.
-to face situations of2: 2, both offensive and defensive;
- to quickly pass from the offensive to the defensive phase;
- to promote and stimulate the competitiveness, collaboration and responsiveness. Figure 19:19 in a field of 50 meters for 40 they are faced alternatively, in situations of game 2: 2, with two doors defended by the respective goalkeepers, a number of players ranging from 14 to 18 units. The A1-A2 pair attacks, while B1 and B2 defend, making an 2: 2. When:
1) the ball exceeds the back line,
2) a network is marked,
3) the goalkeeper intercepts a possible shot on goal,
4) B1-B2 win the ball
the A1-A2 pair immediately switches to the defensive phase.
Meanwhile, in the 1, 2, 3 cases, the goalkeeper quickly passes the ball to the pair B3-B4, which waits at the sides of the field, in the established zones, to begin, in turn, the offensive action. B1 and B2 exit at the sides.
In the 4 case, instead, when B1 and B2 win the ball, they must try to pass it to the B3-B4 teammates, hindered by A1-A2.
In the event that A1 and A2 recapture the ball before half
field, they can attack again. In practice, each couple must take an offensive and a defensive action before resting.
The system has all the advantages of the classic zone game in which the player is psychologically brought to do something more than the opponent, feeling more active.
It has the possibility to divide physical work more evenly and therefore consume less energy, due to being more numerous around the ball and to take more initiatives. Having then the short team, the distances between the departments are lower, so it is easier to apply the pressing, especially the offensive and to have consequently, after having reconquered the ball, more men to re-propose to the final stage. Since the spaces are reduced among the players there is a greater chance of passing, a fair distribution among the men in the field, a greater possibility of finding support and, not less, the ease of possession of the ball.
All this goes together with the unpredictability in the play of a footballer (trequartista) with great creativity and imagination that can make the difference at any time of the race.
This system, like all those in the area, has disadvantages due to the difficulty in passing the man in marking from one area to another.
There are fewer contacts with the opponent, sometimes it is dealt with when it is already in possession of the ball and therefore we must have more organization of play and always great attention. Having the short team in the possession phase moves forward more slowly and in the phase of non-possession you can create spaces, especially for the defense to three, both behind the defensive line and on the wings.
The sidebands, if there is no organization, can become a danger with the 1: 1 or a throw for the outside of the opponent's band when the center is attracted towards the center of the field. Moreover, in some circumstances the three defenders can find a certain difficulty in scaling the mark, especially if the mechanisms are not perfectly synchronized.

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Walter Pettinati
Author: Walter PettinatiWebsite: www.pettinati.comEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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