Positional Structures

Positional structures are tactical structures formed by a team’s tactical shape, before the effects of player movement.

An analysis of a team’s positional structures is particularly useful for assessing whether the team retains compactness effectively in the defensive phases and during attacking transition.

Positional structures can be analysed in a fairly straightforward manner per positional area.

Positional structures in each positional area can be analysed in terms of the number of players included and the relative positioning of those players.

Detailed below for different positional areas are:

  • Minimum players – The minimum number of players that is typically considered necessary in a team’s positional structure in the positional area. Meeting or exceeding these minimums should enable a team to retain compactness effectively in the positional area.
  • Maximum players – The maximum number of players that is typically considered appropriate in a team’s positional structure in the positional area. Exceeding this maximum is likely to prevent a team from retaining compactness effectively in one or more other positional areas.
  • Positional structures – The main types of positional structure that meet the conditions for minimum and maximum players and also have relative positioning that enables a team to retain compactness effectively in the positional area. Players should be sufficiently close together to retain player compactness and sufficiently spread out to retain spatial compactness.

For the purpose of this analysis, the number of players in a positional structure, for each positional area, is considered to be equal to the sum of:

  • The number of players who are assigned a playing position in the positional area and

Central Defence

Number of Players

  • Minimum players: 2.0 – including two players who are assigned a central defender playing position.
  • Maximum players: 3.5 – a maximum of one player who is assigned the sweeper playing position and three players who are assigned centre back playing positions.

Positional Structures

Positional structures in central defence include:

  • Central defence partnerships
  • Three-man central defences

Central Defence Partnerships

Central defence partnerships are positional structures in central defence comprised of two players who are assigned central defender playing positions.

Types of central defence partnership include:

  • The centre back partnership – The players are off-centre centre backs on opposite sides.

Three-Man Central Defences

Three-man central defences are positional structures in central defence comprised of three players who are assigned central defender playing positions.

Types of three-man central defence include:

  • The flat three-man central defence – Two players are wide and off-centre centre backs on opposite sides and the other player is a central centre back.
  • The sweeper central defence – Two players are wide and off-centre centre backs on opposite sides and the other player is a sweeper.

Central Midfield

Number of Players

  • Minimum players: 2.0 – including one player who is assigned a central midfielder playing position.
  • Maximum players: 4.0 – a maximum of two players who are assigned defensive midfielder playing positions and three players who are assigned centre midfielder playing positions.

Positional Structures

Positional structures in central midfield include:

  • Lone central midfielders
  • Central midfield partnerships
  • Three-man central midfields
  • Four-man central midfields

Lone Central Midfielders

Lone central midfielders is a positional structure in central midfield comprised of one player who is assigned a central midfielder playing position.

To meet the minimum players condition two players who are assigned a positional auxiliary playing position in central midfield are also needed.

Types of lone central midfielder include:

  • The lone defensive midfielder – The player is a central defensive midfielder. Two narrow wide midfielders (any combination of narrow wing backs and narrow wing midfielders), with one on each flank, should be used as auxiliary wide and off-centre central midfielders.
  • The lone centre midfielder – The player is a central centre midfielder. Two narrow wide midfielders (any combination of narrow wing backs and narrow wing midfielders), with one on each flank, should be used as auxiliary wide and off-centre central midfielders.

Central Midfield Partnerships

Central midfield partnerships are positional structures in central midfield comprised of two players who are assigned central midfielder playing positions.

Types of central midfield partnership include:

  • The centre midfield partnership – The players are off-centre centre midfielders on opposite sides.
  • The defensive midfield partnership – The players are off-centre defensive midfielders on opposite sides.
  • The staggered central midfield partnership – One player is a central defensive midfielder and the other player is a central centre midfielder. Two narrow wide midfielders (any combination of narrow wing backs and narrow wing midfielders), with one on each flank, should be used as auxiliary wide and off-centre central midfielders.
  • The asymmetric staggered central midfield partnership – One player is an off-centre defensive midfielder and the other player is an off-centre centre midfielder on the opposite side.

Three-Man Central Midfields

Three-man central midfields are positional structures in central midfield comprised of three players who are assigned central midfielder playing positions.

Types of three-man central midfield include:

  • The three-man centre midfield – Two players are wide and off-centre centre midfielders on opposite sides and the other player is a central centre midfielder.
  • The reverse triangle central midfield – Two players are off-centre centre midfielders on opposite sides and the other player is a central defensive midfielder.
  • The forward triangle central midfield – Two players are off-centre defensive midfielders on opposite sides and the other player is a central centre midfielder.

Four-Man Central Midfields

Four-man central midfields are positional structures in central midfield comprised of four players who are assigned central midfielder playing positions.

Types of four-man central midfield include:

  • The diamond central midfield – Two players are wide and off-centre centre midfielders on opposite sides, another player is a central centre midfielder and the other player is a central defensive midfielder.
  • The box central midfield – Two players are off-centre defensive midfielders on opposite sides and the other two players are off-centre centre midfielders on opposite sides.
  • The asymmetric box central midfield – One player is a central defensive midfielder, another player is a wide and off-centre defensive midfielder, another player is a wide and off-centre centre midfielder on the opposite side and the other player is a central centre midfielder.

The Flanks

Number of Players

  • Minimum players: 1.5 on each flank (the deep wing halves – 1.0 on each flank / the advanced wing halves – 0.5 on each flank) – including one player who is assigned a deep wide playing position on each flank.
  • Maximum players: 2.5 on each flank (the deep wing halves – 1.5 on each flank / the advanced wing halves – 1.5 on each flank) – a maximum of one player who is assigned a deep wide playing position and one player who is assigned an advanced wide playing position on each flank.

Positional Structures

Positional structures on the flanks include:

  • Lone wide players
  • Wide partnerships

Lone Wide Players

Lone wide players are positional structures on either flank comprised of one player who is assigned a wide player playing position.

To meet the minimum players condition one player who is assigned a positional auxiliary playing position on the flank is also needed.

Types of lone wide player include:

  • The lone full back – The player is a full back. A wide and off-centre centre midfielder or attacking midfielder should be used as an auxiliary narrow wing midfielder or wing forward on the same flank.
  • The lone wing back – The player is a wing back. A wide and off-centre centre midfielder or attacking midfielder should be used as an auxiliary narrow wing midfielder or wing forward on the same flank.

Wide Partnerships

Wide partnerships are positional structures on either flank comprised of two players who are assigned wide player playing positions.

Types of wide partnership include:

  • The full-back-wing-midfielder partnership – One player is a full back and the other player is a wing midfielder.
  • The full-back-wing-forward partnership – One player is a full back and the other player is a wing forward.
  • The wing-back-wing-forward partnership – One player is a wing back and the other player is a wing forward.

Central Attack

Number of Players

  • Minimum players: 1.0 – including one player who is assigned a centre forward playing position.
  • Maximum players: 4.0 – a maximum of three players who are assigned attacking midfielder playing positions and two players who are assigned centre forward playing positions.

Positional Structures

Positional structures in central attack include:

  • Lone central attackers
  • Central attack partnerships
  • Three-man central attacks
  • Four-man central attacks

Lone Central Attackers

Lone central attackers are positional structures in central attack comprised of one player who is assigned a central attacker playing position.

Types of lone central attacker include:

  • The lone centre forward – The player is a central centre forward.

Central Attack Partnerships

Central attack partnerships are positional structures in central attack comprised of two players who are assigned central attacker playing positions.

Types of central attack partnership include:

  • The centre forward partnership – The players are off-centre centre forwards on opposite sides.
  • The staggered central attack partnership – One player is a central attacking midfielder and the other player is a central centre forward.
  • The asymmetric staggered central attack partnership – One player is an off-centre attacking midfielder and the other player is an off-centre centre forward on the opposite side.

Three-Man Central Attacks

Three-man central attacks are positional structures in central attack comprised of three players who are assigned central attacker playing positions.

Types of three-man central attack include:

  • The forward triangle central attack – Two players are off-centre attacking midfielders on opposite sides and the other player is a central centre forward.
  • The reverse triangle central attack – Two players are off-centre centre forwards on opposite sides and the other player is a central attacking midfielder.

Four-Man Central Attacks

Four-man central attacks are positional structures in central attack comprised of four players who are assigned central attacker playing positions.

Types of four-man central attack include:

  • The diamond central attack – Two players are wide and off-centre attacking midfielders on opposite sides, another player is a central attacking midfielder and the other player is a central centre forward.
  • The box central attack – Two players are off-centre attacking midfielders on opposite sides and the other two players are off-centre centre forwards on opposite sides.
  • The asymmetric box central attack – One player is a central attacking midfielder, another player is a wide and off-centre attacking midfielder, another player is a wide and off-centre centre forward on the opposite side and the other player is a central centre forward.

Defence

Number of Players

  • Minimum players: 3.0
  • Maximum players: 4.0.

Midfield

Number of Players

  • Minimum players: 2.0.
  • Maximum players: 5.0.

Attack

Number of Players

  • Minimum players: 1.0.
  • Maximum players: 4.0.