Seven a side (7v7) in soccer is a great way of honing skills and understanding the basics of soccer!
That is because smaller pitches offer more involvement to players, and forces them to focus on techniques, such as dribbling ability, ball control, and the ability to pass accurately.
Tactical formations are a necessary part of this development, some of which are more biased towards offence, some defence, whilst others try and offer the best of both worlds.
This article provides the best 7v7 soccer formations that you may want to consider with the pros & cons of each one of them!
This is the most commonly used formation in seven a side soccer, consisting of two defenders, three midfielders and a central striker.
It offers balance, with the three midfielders able to help at the back, whilst, at the same time, offering support to the lone striker.
This needs defenders and a striker who can reliably maintain their position on the pitch. The onus is on the three midfielders who have multiple responsibilities both offensively and defensively.
- This is a very balanced formation with players spread all over the pitch.
- It is easy to understand because everybody’s role is clearly defined. This means that it is especially suited to young players;
- With this formation, a team should be able to control possession, pose a threat up front, and yet be solid at the back.
- Three in midfield can become congested and there is a danger they can get in the way of each other;
- The midfield three have a lot of running to do because they have a job to do at both ends of the pitch;
- The defenders can be pulled out to the flanks leaving a gap in the middle.
This is essentially a variant on 2 -1 -2 -1, although it is more narrowly defined, in that the three midfielders have clear responsibilities.
The deeply lying of the three will focus primarily on defence, whilst the other two are expected to remain higher up the pitch, closer to the lone striker.
Although this is easy to understand tactically, there needs to be an understanding that the midfielders have both defensive and offensive responsibilities. Otherwise there is a risk of them becoming a back and forward three, with a disconnect between the two parts of the pitch.
- It is obvious to a player whether their duties are primarily offensive or defensive;
- The formation offers both solidity at the bank and the chance of scoring a lot of goals at the same time;
- The front three have a lot of freedom in which to work.
- There is a risk that a side can almost become divided into two mini-teams, one concentrating on defence, and the other on offence;
- Too much space can develop between the players in the attacking and defensive thirds of the pitch;
- It is reliant on a defensive-minded player who is prepared to sit at the base of midfield and not get caught out of position.
This consists of three defenders, a midfielder and two strikers.
The central of the three defenders needs to be comfortable on the ball, and ready to step into the midfield when their side has the ball.
- Difficult to score against with three defenders and two midfielders covering ahead of them;
- It offers the possibility of getting a lot of possession in the middle of the pitch;
- There is not the same emphasis as individual skill as other formations.
- There is a risk that the striker can become too isolated;
- The formation can become too narrow if the two midfielders play too close to each other;
- The role of the central defender who is expected to step into midfield is difficult to learn for novices.
This consists of three defenders, a defensive midfield, a more offensive midfielder, and a striker.
It needs players able to play the system, such as full-backs willing to push forward, a solid defensive midfielder, and an attacking midfielder prepared to roam.
- Offers plenty of cover at the back;
- With the right personnel, it offers a lot of flexibility on the pitch;
- Both the striker and the attacking midfielder provide a goal threat
- Can be very narrow especially if the full backs do not get forward;
- Possession can be difficult to get in midfield where the team can be outnumbered;
- There is a lot of responsibility on the striker and attacking midfielder to form an effective partnership together.
This system consists of three defenders, one midfielder and two strikers.
For this to be successful, a team needs both good defenders and strikers, plus a very hard-working and dynamic midfielder.
- The three defenders plus the cover provided by the midfielder makes the side hard to score against;
- Teams that play this formation will have a lot of possession and dominance in the middle of the pitch;
- There is not the same premium on speed as some other tactical formations.
- It is primarily a defensive formation, and the striker can become isolated if there is not enough support to him;
- The formation can become very narrow if the midfielders play too close together
- It is not as easy to understand as some other formations as the central defender is often expected to play the libero role, stepping forward into midfield.
As the name suggests, this consists of two defenders, two midfielders and to strikers. Although a logical formation on paper, because of the balance it provides, in practice it is rarely adopted.
This needs players who are flexible, provide plenty of movement, and are comfortable on the ball.
- The team is well-balanced with support in every position;
- It is very clear what a player’s role on the pitch is, and therefore suitable for younger players;
- Logical partnerships can be formed all over the pitch.
- The formation is inherently narrow, and a team can get outflanked on the wings;
- This means that there can be a lack of passing options, meaning more turnovers;
- Both the midfielders and strikers need to pull wide to create width and passing angles, and that can lead to gaps in central areas.
This consists of one defender, one defensive midfielder, three more offensive midfielders and an attacker
As this is such an offensive strategy, teams that adopt this formation are heavily dependent on both the defender and the defensive midfielder, both of whom must be of a very high quality and it also needs other midfielders who are prepared to track back.
- It suits teams that like to attack and score goals;
- Provided that the more advanced midfielders are dynamic and can cover the ground, the formation can be very flexible;
- The defensive midfielder’s role is to support the defender, leaving the other three midfielders to concentrate their energies further forward on the pitch.
- Finding both the defender and the defensive midfielder good enough to play in such a system can be quite a task;
- The team can get outnumbered and overrun at the back unless some of the other players track back to help;
- The three more advanced midfielders can get in each other’s way.
This consists of one defender, four midfielders and one striker.
There needs to be agreement beforehand as to the responsibilities of the individual midfielders – who is responsible for supporting the attack, and who will drop back into the defensive line.
- Teams with this formation should enjoy lots of possession in the centre of the pitch;
- Provided that the balance of the team is right, there should be support in both defence and attack;
- Midfielders do not need to run as much as with some other formations
- It can become very crowded in midfield, especially on a reduced size pitch;
- There is a danger that roles can become duplicated and too many players will become committed to attack, or to defence at the other end;
- If the midfield should become breach, the lone defender will potentially be outnumbered.
This is the most defensive of all seven a side formation, consisting of four defenders, a midfield player, and a striker.
For this to work, at least two of the defenders must operate as wing backs, shuffling up and down the flanks. They will have a lot of work to do, so will require a high degree of fitness.
- This offers tremendous defensive stability, and it is very difficult to score against;
- It can become a very flexible formation if the two full-backs play as wing-backs and are encouraged to get forward;
- There is not the same premium on athleticism amongst the defenders as there is plenty of cover.
- It is a very defensive formation so chances may be hard to create and take;
- The midfielder and striker need to be very fit as they will be required to run and cover lot of ground;
- If the wing backs do not get forward, then this formation will invite pressure on them from the opposition.
This is an offensive formation consisting of two defenders, one midfielder and three strikers.
The three strikers need to be flexible and at least two of them must be ready to drop back when out of possession.
- An offensive formation that should produce a lot of goals;
- Provided that one or two of the strikers are ready to drop back, then this formation is flexible and can become 2-2-2 or 2-3-1 out of possession.
Width is provided on both flanks.
- If the strikers do not track back, then the midfield and defence can be overrun;
- Three strikers can get in each other’s way or a narrow pitch;
- The on designated midfielder has a lot of work to do at both ends of the pitch.
Final Thought …
I’ve included all possible formations in this article to give you a clear idea on what you should expect in 7v7 soccer! Many of these formations could be easily merged as well as played in the same match …
… So, don’t stick to just one, try to mix it up depending on the situation you are facing!
Finally, if you are intereted to learn about other formations, then I really encourage you to check: