3-4-3 Formation – An Attacking Avalanche Or a Defensive Mess?


The 3-4-3 is well known on the continent but less so in England, for example. What is so special about it that makes it different to orthodox formations? Find out more in this article.

The 3-4-3 formation is barely known at all in English soccer. But, used correctly, it can make for great possession and devastating attacking. Let's take a closer look.


This formation features three in defence, defenders who typically have centre back characteristics and need not be able to play well down the wing. But in reality, this defence is complimented by another two players.

This is because the four man midfield features two wingers whose duties are also to track back and protect the defence. So, effectively you have a three and a five man defense. You could say that it is equivalent to having a four man defense on average!


The four midfield at first resembles something that you might see in a standard 4-4-2 formation. But there is a large difference here.

First of all, the central midfielders actually are quite similar to any other central midfield pairing. Either both are defensive minded or one is an attacking minded and the other defensive minded. Very rarely will you get two attack minded central midfielders who do not know how to tackle or else the team will simply leak goals!

But the big difference is in the left and right midfielders. Many people do not even call these players wingers because they are more defensive minded than attacking minded. They need to provide cover for the defense but also pass the ball around the midfield and to the attacking players further up the field. Good wingbacks who can pass the ball well and have lots of stamina are very important for this position.


Here is where this formation starts to look very different from any other. This formation features a lone central striker supported by two attacking wingers.

Unlike other formations, the wingers here do not really have any defensive duties at all. They must be more attacking minded than the typical orthodox winger and they must also have an eye for goal.


This formation needs a lot of discipline to perform the correct role and it also demands players who are suitably skilled and good enough.

But when all this comes together you have a fordable midfield that will control possession, a disciplined defence that will not leak goals and a devastating, potent and unpredictable attacking force that other teams will not be able to contain.

Famous teams that have used this formation are the all conquering Barcelona team of the early 90s managed by Johan Cruyff and the legendary Ajax team that won the Champions League in 1995.


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