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Soccer: why 4 defenders needed?


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Is it just because managers prefer the security of having a higher ratio of defenders-to-attackers so as to keep things under control, basically meaning they prioritise defence first, then concerntrate on attack.

-Are more defenders neccessary against skillful, pacey attacking players who 1-on-1 can jink inside, outside & generally run defenders ragged? - basically meaning that defenders double up so if a tricky player beats one player the defending team will have a 2nd line of defence to bail them out.

-Is it also helpful because it allows defenders (who perhaps are not as gifted as midfield players in terms of skill & passing ability) to have more time/space on the ball in their own third and hence allows a team to build from the back- as opposed to losing the ball straight away????

I think if every team played 3-4-3 (meaning an exact equality of players in all three 3rds of the pitch) the goal ratio in matches would rise significantly BUT at the end of the day it would take a brave manager to do this and managers (whether the fans like it or not) prefer the security of lower scoring games. What is/are the main reason(s) why Football has developed this way. Is it a mixture of the aforementioned points or are there more which i have missed out.

DEBATE fellow students of the great game!!

Edited by fat richard
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If every team played 3-4-3, touchdowns would be through the roof. Thats why teams play 3-4-4...11 players on the field. Gotta make sure you have the maximum number of players on the field at all times.

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Well to be honest, as the saying goes the first line of attack is the defence. If every team played actual 3-4-3 (and not the 3-1-5-1 or 3-1-3-2-1 variant of that) then we would see many more goals in football, but is any manager going to take the risk of simply outscoring how many goals you would conceed if you played it? If you watch football these days much of the play starts up from the back, take your typical Rio Ferdinand type defender and watch the way he plays, he takes the ball forward and links up play with the midfield extremely well. A central defender can only essentially do one of three things when he has the ball, play a long ball forward, play a short pass forward or take it forward himself.

As for your normal four defenders at the back, it is common to have two central defenders a right back and a left back, the right back and left back help stop the opposition players wingers from having practically unlimited space in that area, and if only three defenders played at the back then this would surely draw one of them out, leaving even more space around the box for attackers. The full backs also act as a form of attack and you will quite often see them going forward during the match, so they are act as basically deeper wingers which is why many full backs can also double as wingers.

So basically, I would say that have to build a successful team from the back. There is proof of this as well, take Liverpool for instance, we have not conceded a goal in the league for six or seven games now, and have one most of them. Even last season, we never conceded a goal for twelve games, and won all of those twelve games. Take a look at the 5-3-2 formation which has three central defenders, two wing backs, three central midfielders and two strikers, as I find that to be quite interesting :).

If every team played 3-4-3, touchdowns would be through the roof. Thats why teams play 3-4-4...11 players on the field. Gotta make sure you have the maximum number of players on the field at all times.

Ha ha, I think FatRichard is on about real Football, or Soccer as you Americans call it.

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I think Martyn hit the nail on the head.

Having 4 defence is common pratice and gives a balence in the team.

But teams will start out with a say 4 4 2 but the way they play with be differnt. For instance as Martyn said your full backs will act as wingers to strech the play.

They do this by getting the real winger in abit with an overlaping run from the full back. This is a good idea as it you can force the oppistion to come to you, which results in gaps in the defence which the midfield has to help sort out. If you play it quick enough you can catch them out with big gaps in defence.

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They've changed the name of the thread to "Soccer: why 4 defenders needed". although this title peturbs me as an Englishman i suppose it was neccessary to avoid confusion or the "humourous" responses our american companions may add. Lets not get iknto that argument though. LOL!

I've conducted this on another thread and i think the basic conclusion is that managers obviously prefer low-scoring games because it sorta allows them to keep things under control (to a degree). In contrats if the aim of the game was too simply outscore the other team then goals would be flying all over the place & to managers this would be viewed as near chaos (for what of a better word) and they would not be comftable with this. basically then attitude is consolidate defensively first and then focus on attacking the other side.

-also one might theorise that all teams having 3-4-3 might theoretically negate superior quality and encourage teams to play the long ball more often as the luck of the bounce would favour attacking teams more often than say the 4-4-2 system, if you get what i mean.

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