Here is a diagram of the 4-3-3 (4-1-2-3) and its passing options. There are many teams that use this formation across the world. FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal just to name a few. Each team has a Defensive Midfielder which is vital for the team to function. In this case, the Defensive Midfielder is the number 6.
The Role of the Defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 (4-1-2-3) is vital. They are the catalyst of of the speed of the play either slow (retaining possession) or fast (to penetrate). Their awareness of pressure and to play out of tight spaces is vital to keep the ball to manipulate the play. Their range of passing needs to be excellent and their distance and angles of support are important. They need to have the ability to run with the ball to penetrate the play. They are the link between the back four and the 2 central (attacking) midfielders in front of them. To play the role effectively, they need to be technically efficient.
Here is a diagram of the defensive midfielders passing options in a 4-3-3:
Defensively the need to be able to read the game to break the opponent down. Forcing opposing players towards pressure are out of play is vital. There energy levels need to be managed effectively to produce this kind of pressure on opponents all game. They have to maintain their positioning and sacrifice themselves for the team. They need to be a leader and communicate throughout.
The physical attributes a Defensive Midfielder needs to have are:
1/ Very Athletic (quick over 5-20 yds)
2/ Strong – Individual battles and To hold players off the ball to protect.
3/ Aerial ability – Powerful in the air
4/ Agile- To react to the game
Two of the best Defensive Midfielders: Sergio Busquets & Alex Song
Sergio Busquets is regarded as one of the Spanish greats. His vision, technical ability, awareness is phenomenal, however, what Sergio does not have Alex Song does. Alex Song, in my opinion, has been very underrated for what he has done in the 3 years at Arsenal. His awareness, vision, technical ability is up their with the best.
To compare Busquets to Song, technically Busquets would win, however, Song is not that far behind. What makes Alex Song stand out is his ability physically to dominate opponents. He is quick, agile, strong in the tackle, and can read the game. Busquets reads the game very well, however, he is not quick. Barcelona have lately struggled with pace at the back and in the Defensive Central Midfield Role against Madrid. Song could be that player. Song is good enough technically to be able to posses and penetrate the Barcelona style of play. Barcelona already have Xavi and Iniesta or Fabregas to orchestrate the play and maybe they need that bit of physical dominance and speed to support the team defensively?
You cannot take away the brilliance of Busquets and his footballing mind though. He has been one of the main reasons behind Barcelona’s success. Maybe Song will be his cover when Busquets is injured but I believe Song has all the attributes to fill the position and maybe give Barca another option. Both players are versatile (and can play Central Defender) and can fit into Barcelona’s 4-3-3 style of play very easily. Alex song was a great purchase by Barcelona as I feel they need a little more pace when defending against teams like Madrid on the counter attack.
Conditioned Passing Games
Jamie Harvey is a UEFA and USSF qualified coach. He is the Director of Boys Coaching at LA Premier FC. Visit his website, Youthtoprosoccer.com for more information on Coaching Sessions, Game Analysis, and Coaching Interviews.