Creating an Attacking & Defensive Game Model
A formation is simply a structure or general framework, that gives players and the team reference points, which to operate within. The game model is the playing philosophy or style of play that the coach and club believes in. A team can employ many different formations and still use the same game model. An example would be FC Barcelona, they embrace a ball possession game model, regardless what formation they may be playing, FC Barcelona’s game model rarely if ever changes. However, there are many teams that elect to change their game model, depending on the circumstances they are facing. It is very important when choosing a formation to implement a game model with it, because the formation doesn’t dictate the way a team plays.
Defensive Game Model
There are a number of things a coach should consider when creating a defensive game model. Does the coach want the team to press high up the field, like Barcelona or Red Bull, trying to win the ball back within 6 seconds or less? Maybe the coach is more comfortable sitting the team back deeper, letting the opponent come to them, as the counter attack becomes a viable option? Maybe the defensive game model changes depending on the circumstances of the game that week, in the end it is up to the coach to define and teach the game model. Chelsea won the English Premier League in 2016 by pressing high for the opening 15-20 minutes of each half, and then dropping back into a low defensive block for the rest of the half. This method of using two separate defensive approaches in the same game, turned out very well them. Chelsea’s approach was a large contrast to the 2015 Premier League Champions Leicester City, who sat deep for the entire season, keeping one defensive game model in place, regardless of the game. Leicester’s defensive shape was a low block 5-3-1-1, as they used the counter attack to defeat everyone and become champions.
My advice is to evaluate your players technical, physical, tactical and psychological level, getting a feeling for what they are capable of; from there you can decide what game model may fit them best. The formation should fit the game model, not the other way around. Formations don’t really win games, its the way players carry out the game model that makes the difference.