6v6 is one of the soccer compositions I’ve played the most recently! And to be honest, I’ve enjoyed it a lot because here is where the individual player skills show up …
… Indeed, teams that have the most skilled players are those who usually win the game!
However, this doesn’t mean that you should sleep on the tactical aspect. In other words, there are so many 6v6 formations that has proven to be highly effective, and that you should know about.
In this article I breakdown the best 6v6 soccer formations where I also include the pros and cons of each one of them!
2-2-1 (My favorite to play)
This is arguably the most common six a side formation, because it offers the most balance in terms of defense and building attacks from the back.
It does require a lot of position changes, so needs players who are dynamic and are ready to do both their offensive and defensive duties.
It consists of two defenders, two midfielders and one striker.
For this formation to work it requires discipline, especially from the defenders, who must stay in position, but also from the midfield duo, who may take it in turns to support the striker.
The forward also needs to be fit and prepared to run a lot, because they will be required to undertake a lot of running during the match.
It is best suited to a striker who is strong on both feet!
- This is one of the most secure formations defensively, because there are two men at the back providing a solid foundation and a base from which to mount attacks going forward
- The midfielders are able to both support the defense and also help out with the attack further forward
- It suits players who are dynamic and are prepared to interchange rapidly on the pitch
- It requires the two midfielders to be very disciplined and not to over commit going forward, otherwise the defense can be left exposed
- The play can become too narrow if the two midfielders are not prepared to drift wide from time to time. At the same time, both of them should not play wide, as they will leave a gap in the middle for their opponents to exploit
- At the same time, it does mean they need to get forward as well – if they are pinned back too much the striker can become isolated
- If a striker is one-footed, the attack can become too orientated to one side of the pitch or the other.
2-1-2 (My favorite to watch)
This is the most attacking of all the formations because it features two strikers, one midfield player and two defenders.
It is ideally suited for sides that have two gifted attacking forwards but it can leave the rest of the team struggling to perform their defensive duties.
This formation relies on having two very good strikers, but it also places a premium on the other three players in the formation, especially the one midfielder, who will be required to do a lot of work, supporting the attack one minute, and providing cover at the back the next minute.
- This formation allows teams with two excellent forwards to play them both at the same time, and to develop an understanding together
- Allows for a lot of end to end play which is exciting to watch
- Ideal combination if a side has a right and left footed striker and defender
- It suits a team that is able to pass the ball quickly and move, because it is so fluid.
- There is a risk that the two forwards concentrate on attack only, leaving the rest of the team with too much work to do defensively
- There is a lot of emphasis placed on the one midfielder, who needs to do his share of defensive and offensive work. Whoever plays in that position needs to have a great deal of tactical awareness and stamina
- If one or other of the attackers does not drop back when out of possession, a team can find themselves outnumbered in the midfield
- If the movement is not fast enough, it is easy for opposing teams to break-up the interplay between the various positions.
3-1-1 (Secure defensively)
This is most defensive of all the formations with three designated defenders, one midfielder ahead of them, and a solitary striker. It is really designed for counter-attacking teams … Especially if you’ve got fast players upfront!
This formation only works in a tight match. If a side goes behind playing this formation then they will need to change it because otherwise they will not have enough attacking options.
It needs at least one player from the back and preferably two, who can push forward from the back and drop into midfield, making it a 1 -3-1 formation when on the attack.
The attacker needs to be very fit and efficient – they will not get many chances, so they need to covert as many of those that come their way as possible.
- This provides plenty of defensive cover, with the three defenders and the midfielder also acting as a shield
- It suits teams who like to play on the counter-attack, and can break quickly
- It is flexible and, if applied correctly, can become a 1 -3 -1 formation when in possession.
- It requires a high degree of fitness from the two wing backs who will be required to get forward whenever possible
- Speed is of the essence for the wing-backs. If they are too slow they can get caught too far up the pitch
- There is a danger that this formation becomes so defensive that the striker is starved of opportunities and the ball
- It needs a lot of coordination between all the players, deciding who is going to move into midfield.
1-3-1 (Favors Ball Possession)
The essence of this formation is that a spine is provided by the three central players, and they are supplemented by the two wide men, whose job it is to get up and down the pitch and involve themselves in all aspects of play.
It requires the one man in the middle of midfield to maintain positional discipline, whilst the two additional players either side of them need a lot of stamina to cope with the extra running they will be required to do.
- Depending on the circumstances of the match, this can be either an offensive or defensive formation, with the three midfielders either sitting deep or positioning themselves further up the field;
- It can easily become a 2-2-1 formation with one of the midfielders playing as an auxiliary striker and the other as an added defender;
- It offers plenty of width and space to attack the full-back.
- There needs to be constant communication between the players, especially the three midfielders. The central one will need to sit, whilst the other two must agree who supports the attack and who helps the defense.
- If for any reason the midfield gets by-passed, the sole defender can get out-numbered by the other side’s attackers;
- The midfielders may be too deep, meaning the gap between them and the lone striker is too great.
1-2-2 (Rewarding but Risky)
This formation consists of one central defender, two midfield players, and two central strikers, although, as a variant, another midfielder can be added instead of one of the forwards.
Whilst some consider this a highly effective formation, it is dependent upon having a strong defender at the back who may, at times find themselves out-numbered.
It is reliant on a strong defender at the back who is comfortable on either side. In addition, it needs for one of the midfielders to drop back when necessary to support them. This either needs to be decided in advance, or one player needs to be responsible for communicating to the others who is responsible for what.
A side may also need a good goalkeeper in this formation because they are likely to have a lot of work to do with just the one designated defender in front of them.
- This is primarily an offensive formation and best suits teams who like to attack and score goals
- It is a fluid formation, particularly with regard to the midfielders, one of whom may be offensive minded and the other more defensive (or they could take it in turns). This means it can become either a 2-2-1, or 2-1-2
- Teams who play this formation will score lots of goals (although the corresponding risk is that they may concede a fair number of goals at the other end).
- If one or both midfielders are not prepared to do their share of defensive duties, teams can get overwhelmed at the back
- At the same time, if both midfielders are forced back, big gaps can develop between the defense and the attack
- There is a tendency for teams to become too narrow if one player does not assume responsibility for going wide.
Final Thoughts …
Hope you’ve enjoyed checking this article as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together! Indeed, getting through all these 6v6 soccer formations and breaking them down was really fun …
… One more thing I want to add, is that your team shouldn’t commit to one unique formation! In other words, in the same match you can try two, three or even four different formations at the same time depending on the situation until you find the one that fits you and works for you the most!