At­trac­tive set-up has its lim­i­ta­tions

World Soccer - - World Cup 2018 | Belgium -

Roberto Martinez be­gan the qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign with a 4-3-3 for­ma­tion in Cyprus, then switched to 3-4-2-1 against Bos­nia and stuck with it for the rest of the cam­paign.

This set-up leads to an at­trac­tive style of foot­ball, with the wing-backs get­ting for­ward at every op­por­tu­nity, and it saw Bel­gium score 43 times in qual­i­fy­ing – al­beit against rel­a­tively weak op­po­si­tion.

How­ever, prob­lems oc­cur when the op­po­si­tion has a ma­jor­ity of the pos­ses­sion. That hap­pened in a friendly with Mex­ico and led to crit­i­cism from Kevin De Bruyne. He ar­gued that, as the wing-backs were forced back, there were no links between de­fence and at­tack. De Bruyne, and oth­ers, fear that this could hap­pen again in Rus­sia.

Martinez does have the op­tion of beef­ing up mid­field by bring­ing in an ex­tra body – ei­ther Radja Naing­golan or Mousa Dem­bele, or even both – and switch­ing to ei­ther a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 for­ma­tion. Play­ing with two strik­ers has been tried briefly with Michy Bat­shuayi op­er­at­ing along­side Romelu Lukaku.

The ul­ti­mate Plan B is, of course, the in­tro­duc­tion of Marouane Fel­laini – an op­tion cho­sen by many man­agers in the past few years.

Op­tion... Mousa Dem­bele

Twin strik­ers.. Michy Bat­shuayi

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