A future concept? the 4


The biggest effect Ange Postecoglou has had on the Socceroos is to change the mentality of the side. With “never take a backwards step” as their motto, he has coached the side lớn play an aggressive sầu, proactive sầu style of football, encouraging this approach against stronger opponents & in major international tournaments.

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With a clear mix of key principles, Postecoglou has constantly pushed the tactical boundaries of his team, whilst adapting lớn the various strengths và weaknesses of players available to hlặng. He has evolved the side from a 4-2-1-3 lớn a 4-3-3 that was very successful at the 2015 Asian Cup, to lớn a 4-4-2 kim cương & more recently, a controversial 3-2-4-1 formation. While the formation explicitly allows for the principles lớn come khổng lồ life (for example, creating a midfield overload with a box of two 6s & two 10s) it has been criticised that it creates significant vulnerability at the baông xã, particularly against counter-attacks.


The merits of the formation itself are highly debatable, however, a key point for both sides of the argument is that the 3-2-4-1 exemplifies Postecoglou’s attacking approach: exactly as you should expect of hyên ổn, say people in favour of the formation, & exactly what the problem is, says the opposition.

However, a formation in itself does not make a coach more or less attacking. Instead, it is the movement và positioning of players within the formation that characterises its intent. In this regard, Postecoglou is actually more defensive than either side of the 3-2-4-1 argument has admitted. This was particularly evident in the World Cup qualifying play-off against Syria.

In this game, in hot temperatures và on a poor pitch, Postecoglou made small tweaks lớn his usual approach, presumably based upon opposition analysis, but also in response to the fact this was the away leg of a two-legged play-off. Firstly, Australia had a clear gameplan in the final third lớn try and play early forward passes in behind the Syrian last line. This suited the qualities of Matthew Leckie & Robbie Kruse, selected as the dual 10s, as attackers capable of making forward runs from deeper starting positions. The secondary benefit was that by playing longer passes from deeper positions (as Mooy và Milligan, as dual 6s, were the players primarily making the forward passes), it meant Australia did not have sầu lớn commit as many players forward into the final third. In doing so, they could keep their wing-backs in slightly deeper positions than we have sầu come to expect. This, in theory, gave the back three more tư vấn in the moment where the ball was turned over.

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The area of the pitch where Milligan & Mooy were receiving forward passes was also an indicator of Postecoglou’s defensive tweaks. Syria’s wing-backs tracked Josh Risdon and Aziz Behich closely, allowing the Socceroos wing-backs khổng lồ pin them inlớn deeper positions by moving high up the pitch. They also only pressed with two players in the first pressing line, with the midfield focusing on blocking forward passes into lớn the 10s or 9. Against this defensive sầu structure, Milligan và Mooy positioned themselves on the blindside of the first pressing line.

However, with little pressure on the ball, there were opportunities for them to position higher, between the next line – which, in theory, could have created more opportunities to lớn push Syria’s defensive block deeper, created the opportunity for the baông xã three to lớn bring the ball forward, and play penetrating passes khổng lồ players between the lines.

Instead, Milligan & Mooy moved cthua to lớn the back three, received short passes lớn feet where they could turn on the ball in time và space. In games where Postecoglou is more aggressive sầu, he will ask his midfielders khổng lồ stay higher between the lines – such as in the Asian Cup – but we are increasingly seeing this movement towards the ball from the 6s in tighter, more cagey games, such as a qualifier against Japan.

This, in turn, affected the positioning of the 10s. Kruse, in particular, sometimes dropped from his advanced positioning to try and receive sầu balls in front of the Syrian midfield line. By moving players from advanced positions between the lines khổng lồ deeper positions in front of the line, you reduce the risk of attempting a forward pass where if the ball is turned over, there are too many players positioned ahead of the ball to lớn protect against a counter-attachồng.

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There was also evidence of this in the way the bachồng three built up from the baông xã. With minimal pressure on the ball from the 9+10 in Syria’s first pressing line, there were many opportunities for the Australian back three lớn switch the play across the defence and create the moment for a centre-baông chồng khổng lồ inject forward into vacant space. However, Matt Jurman and Milos Degenek focused on playing passes into the wing-backs or lớn the feet of the 6s, staying in a position where they could defend against any Syrian counter-attack through their front two. It was significant that the Australian goal came in a moment where Degenek brought the ball forward, as this drew a player out of the Syrian midfield line and created a pocket of space to lớn play forward into the feet of Leckie inside the box.