Are Diamonds Your Best Friend?
Systems, systems, systems – they dominate the Post match analysis by pundits across the land. Three at the back, four at the back; holding midfielders, pivot players, attacking wingbacks etc etc. So lets have a look at some of the formations that are on view in many professional teams across the globe. We begin by looking at the Diamond.
The ‘Diamond’ could be expressed as a number of different numerical formations; 4-1-2-1-2, 4-3-1-2, 4-Diamond-2 and so on. The balance of the diamond can be either to facilitate a strong defensive pivot or alternatively a strong attacking pivot player. Of course it can accommodate both of these. It has also been employed to allow the head coach to perhaps utilise four strong central midfield players. Whatever the choice of their head coach in selecting this formation, he should be aware that within its strengths are also it’s greatest weaknesses.
As mentioned previously, utilise in the right way the diving offers many advantages to the attacking team. As they will often play inside an opposition formation, players are closely bunched together allowing intricate passing and combination play. There is also a great possibility for rotation of players through the four points on the Diamond.
From the defender’s point of view they are always in close proximity to the deeper lying or defensive pivot player. Especially when playing out from the back, full backs or centre backs will be able to link with the defensive player quickly. If the middle pair of players in the the diamond are relatively narrow, fullbacks can then move upfield to receive the ball in a more advanced position. At this point the defensive pivot should have five forward passing options immediately available, not including the forwards/attackers.
If left unmarked, the advanced pivot player (False 9, ’10’ or Hole Player) can drop in to receive the ball. This poses great problems for defenders when trying to keep a shape while also marking the advanced players. For the midfielders they are often now heavily outnumbered in central areas. The central power of players in the diamond can now also move forward to support the attackers. This also clears is passing lines to the overlapping fullbacks. Now the attacking players can peel into dangerous positions to receive the ball and attack the goal.
Cracking the Diamond is relatively simple once you are aware of where its strengths lie and counteract these. Where are the diamond has strength in numbers in central positions, the greatest weakness is on the outside, down the flanks. Especially when employing a fast counter attacking system domination can be achieved quite easily against a diamond formation.
Unless the forward players are willing to track into wide positions of the diamond, it will remain very compact as it progresses down the pitch. Sometimes the defending team, with relatively few defenders, as long as they stay compact, the diamond can almost be forced to self destruct.
Playing at the back against the diamond can also prove successful. Forward players are often unwilling to track out into wider areas to start defending from the front. So as a fallback progress is down the page it will force some of the central players out into their less comfortable positions. If the rest of the time in the midfield has not worked hard to get back into shape the defensive pivot can easily be picked off.
Against the Diamond, when in possession, get wide early in order to draw the central players out from their relative positions. When defending, get narrow quickly and force the ball wide where the diamond is nullified. Stay compact between defenders and midfielders.