Flat Midfield or Diamond Midfield in 4 - 4 - 2
What You Will Learn:
The debate has three aspects: attacking, defensive, best use of players in the midfield and the effect on others.
The key issue is the space and hence the time that each system uses when attacking or denies when defending. Both Flat midfield and diamond take on a zonal nature when defending. The extent to which the diamond remains in this shape when defending depends on decisions made by the players/coach as to if they can stop the switch, or deal with the switch. Porto, in the Champions League, were very good at denying space around the ball by forming their players into a tight diamond around the ball.
The success depends, to a large extent, on the decisions made by the players.
The defensive use of a diamond allows space to be compressed well. It can stop teams switching, but relies on excellent fitness. It can mean the full back does not get the usual support from the wide player to, for example, double up on the opposition's wide player or forward who comes across into the space.
The attacking use of the diamond. The current 2004 England side has this issue. Four good midfielders with the issue of who goes wide. The excellent Paul Scholes is better equipped to play in the hole. Eriksson claims he can do this by coming in to support the forwards. The space on the left needs to be covered when possession is lost and the freedom of the full back to get forward may be limited. Erickson did point out that to play wide you do not need to be a natural winger like Ryan Giggs.
A flat midfield offers good defensive cover but is not best for pressurising the ball. It allows for good width but you have to have the players to utilise this.
First of all you have to pick the right 11 and once you have done that you have to see what is the best organization. -Eriksson (Guardian, Saturday June 5th)
The flat midfield, without a player pushing on as in a diamond has the advantage of leaving "the hole" for the forwards and allowing the two central midfield players to be deeper when they run, hence, they are not marked and are able to rotate who goes forward, so making it less predictable for the opposition.