BSC Young Boys and 3-4-3


The Champions League play off draw was finally made and Spurs drew BSC Young Boys from Bern in Switzerland. While the draw seems the easiest on paper having missed the likes of Sampdoria and Auxerre; BSC pose a problem which could really hamper Spurs and the problem is called 3-4-3.

Against Fenerbache BSC Young Boys were up against a 4-2-3-1 formation in both legs. In the first leg, at home, BSC YB set up in a 4-1-4-1 formation probably with the idea that with Fenerbache having a forward four they would have an extra man to provide cover with and oncoming fullbacks would be picked up by the wingers, also as Fenerbache only played with a lone striker three centre backs, while defensively sound it is slightly overkill and leaves the team lacking in another area . The game ended 2-2 with BSC Young Boys having a vast majority of the game with 24 shots (11 on target) to Fenerbache’s 4 (2 on target). In the second leg BSC Young Boys switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation to match the Fenerbache side, scoring in the 40th minute then playing against 10 men after Stoch got sent off in the second half for Fenerbache they found themselves into the next round.

I’ve covered those two games to highlight that BSC Young Boys are prepared to change their formation dependent on the opposition and I strongly believe it is the 4-2-3-1 formation that was the reason for YB to change from their normal 3-4-3 shape. Looking over the games they have played recently it does seem to be the case, playing three centre backs against teams who play with two up front. With Spurs tending to play 4-4-2 I expect YB to revert back to the 3-4-3 that has brought them the most success.

The 3-4-3 combats a 4-4-2 well. The diagram below sets out how they would line up and makes it clearer to see the benefits of 3-4-3 against 4-4-2 from a defensive point of view.

As you can see from the diagram the 2 forwards of a 4-4-2 are up against 3 central defenders, 2 of the centre backs will man mark an opposing striker while the spare centre back is used to cover. In midfield the 4 midfielders are matched equally so cancel each other out.

In the YB interpretation of 3-4-3 the two wide midfielders are fullbacks, usually Sutter on the right and Spycher on the left which gives them a more defensive shape with these players picking up the opposition wingers and the YB wingers expected to pick up the opposing full backs if they come forward.

How Spurs beat the 3-4-3

Spurs will need to have a lot of movement to create the space they need. It is easier to pull a back three around than a back four especially by switching play between the two flanks quickly which is where a player like Huddlestone will come into his own. With Lennon expected to hug the right touchline Spurs will create a lot of width in their play and a lot of space will be found on the flanks.

It may be better to have either Modric or Kranjcaer (Modric over Kranjcaer if fit) on the left coming inside to create more space for an oncoming left back who will have plenty of room on the left. If this happens and with the abilities of either Assou-Ekotto or more likely Bale at left back it will create a 5 in midfield while attacking and a central threat of three for Young Boys to worry about. The front line setup for Young Boys has varied from a standard three across the pitch (LW ST RW) to a player behind 2 strikers and how they setup will depend on how much the Spurs midfield will need to adapt their shape with one having to drop deep if there is a player ‘in the hole’. If they go for the standard three across the pitch then the back line should be comfortable as the right back (Corluka or Kaboul in recent games) rarely goes beyond the right wing player and both are comfortable playing narrow as three centre backs.

4 Responses to “BSC Young Boys and 3-4-3”

  1. 1 who framed ruel fox?

    Hello. I’ve been really enjoying your posts of late- completely different to anything that’s out there. Your analysis of tactics and whatnot is superb. Do you mind me asking if you were/are a coach? Anyway, I run the WFRF? blog across the way- and if you no objections I’m sticking you on my favourites list.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. 2 tottenhamthinktank

    Cheers, no I’m not, maybe I’ll take a FA badge in the future, I just read a lot. I don’t claim to be clever or know everything in fact I encourage people to pick apart what I say as mostly it’s opinion, educated or otherwise. I think also, because I have a basic understanding it shows more compared to your typical football fan, sky tv viewer or sun reader 😉

    I’ll check out your blog

  3. Really good read, I will be back!

  4. 4 Giz

    Good stuff mate. Can’t see Harry changing from a 4-4-2 but I have to say if they go with the 3-4-3 above I think they’ll need to be fit. Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale will be rubbing their hands if they line up like that. Get round the midfielder and push on. With our pace, you could find Lennon, Bale, Pav and Defoe up against three defenders. Defensively Huddlestone will very important. I would guess when defending their two wide men will be full backs to make up a 5 and then the two wide forwards would make up a midfield four, so I think a 5-4-1 is more likely.

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