In this blog Football/Soccer Numbers & Positions Explained, we’ll delve into the roles and responsibilities of various positions in a 4-3-3 formation. It’s important to note that while these are general guidelines, they can be adapted based on your team’s playing philosophy and the formation you play. Make sure you check out some more of our formation analysis content here.

Positions & Numbers Explained

  • Goalkeeper (#1)
  • Full Backs (#2 & #3)
  • Centre Backs (#4 & #5)
  • Central Midfielders (#6 & #8)
  • Wide Players (#7 & #11)
  • Centre Forward (#9)

Goalkeeper (#1)

In Possession:
1. Distribute effectively to teammates using various techniques such as playing Over, Onto, or Into.
2. Be an option for outfielders to pass back to when necessary.
3. Provide clear and concise communication to support outfielders during possession.
4. Position oneself to support players while the team has the ball, such as outside of the posts.
5. Initiate attacks from saved shots or crosses.

Out of Possession:
1. Maintain a starting position ready to intercept and stop attacks.
2. Provide cover as the team moves up the pitch, protecting space behind the defenders.
3. Stop and save shots to protect the goal.
4. Communicate effectively while the team is defending, including pressing and marking instructions.
5. Play a pivotal role in organising the defence and covering spaces left by teammates.

Full Backs (#2 & #3)

In Possession:
1. Support the team in building from the back.
2. Provide cover for teammates when the team is attacking and decide when to press or drop.
3. Offer width and depth, making supporting runs to progress through the thirds.
4. Search for opportunities to combine, cross, and join the attack.
5. Make overlapping runs when the wide players come inside.

Out of Possession
1. Stop and block crosses from opponents when isolated 1 v 1 with wide players high up the pitch.
2. Provide compactness in defence to prevent opponents from playing through in between centre back and full back.
3. Communicate with wide players to position them to stop passes into the opposition wide player.
4. Protect the box by intercepting and making clearances from the back post against opposition wingers.
5. Maintain defensive shape and provide cover for central defenders when they are pulled out wide.

Centre Backs (#4 & #5)

In Possession:
1. Support the team in building from the back, being ready to receive from the goalkeeper high and wide level with opposition wide player.
2. Look for opportunities to play forward passes into midfielders or break lines especially #8 & #10.
3. Provide supporting angles with depth when the ball is in full back areas to switch play.
4. Maintain compactness and cover the central area of the pitch to prepare for counterattacks.
5. Communicate with midfielders to protect central areas and maintain defensive organisation.

Out of Possession:
1. Defend the goal and protect the middle of the pitch and box.
2. Provide pressure and cover to their other central defender when marking.
3. Cover for fullbacks and protect space behind when they push forward.
4. Intercept and attack the ball when crosses enter the box.
5. Organise the defensive line and communicate with midfielders to protect central areas and maintain shape.

Central Midfielders (#6)

In Possession
1. Receive the ball from the back line to help retain possession and build from the back.
2. Look for opportunities to break lines with passes or dribbles.
3. Support attacking players and provide options for passing.
4. Drop into spaces vacated by fullbacks or centre backs to offer passing lanes and draw pressure.
5. Move the ball quickly and efficiently to keep possession and create attacking opportunities.

Out of Possession:
1. Cover space if fullbacks push forward, providing support and protection.
2. Shield the defence and cover passing lanes to prevent opponents from playing through.
3. Support other midfielders in pressing, intercepting passes, and blocking runs.
4. Screen forward passes into opposition forwards and apply pressure from the front.
5. Track and mark runners, providing defensive support and preventing scoring opportunities.

Attacking Midfielder (#8 & #10)

In Possession:
1. Make forward runs and look for opportunities to receive and play the ball into attacking areas.
2. Connect with forward and wide players to maintain possession and create scoring chances.
3. Identify space between the lines and position oneself to receive and play through balls.
4. Enter the box with forward runs and be ready to score from scoring positions.
5. Provide support for forward players and contribute to attacking build-up play.

Out of Possession:
1. Be prepared to counter-press and regain possession quickly.
2. Support forward players in pressing opponents and disrupting their build-up play.
3. Break up opposition attacks and stop counterattacks with timely interceptions and tackles.
4. Apply pressure to opposition midfielders and prevent them from dictating play.
5. Track back and contribute defensively to protect the midfield and defensive lines.

Wide Players (#7 & #11)

In Possession:
1. Stay high and wide to stretch the opposition defence and create space for teammates.
2. Make runs behind or outside fullbacks to exploit gaps in the defence.
3. Identify opportunities to receive between the lines and cut inside to create overloads.
4. Beat defenders in 1 v 1 situations, combine with teammates, and deliver crosses.
5. Get into scoring positions in the box and be ready to finish chances from crosses.

Out of Possession:
1. Press opposition fullbacks and prevent them from building attacks.
2. Screen and block passing lanes to force turnovers and regain possession.
3. Recover and support full backs in defensive duties, providing cover and support.
4. Defend centrally and maintain compactness to prevent opponents from playing through.
5. Track back and contribute defensively to protect the midfield and defensive lines.

Centre Forward (#9)

In Possession:
1. Act as a focal point for the team’s attacks, providing a target for passes and crosses.
2. Receive and connect with other attacking players, holding up the ball and involving teammates.
3. Look for opportunities to score goals by making runs and getting into scoring positions.
4. Exploit spaces between defenders and occupy central areas to create goal-scoring chances.
5. Be ready to finish attacks with accurate shots and well-timed runs inside the box.

Out of Possession:
1. Decide whether to press or drop based on the team’s defensive strategy and opposition tactics.
2. Set traps and force opponents to play into specific areas of the pitch.
3. Prevent switches of play and limit the opposition’s passing options.
4. Apply pressure to opposition defenders and midfielders to force turnovers.
5. Cut passing lanes and prevent opponents from playing through the defensive lines.

If your team play the 4-3-3 formation you might also like this session.