Inverted wingers, false 9s and now trequartistas are dominating the modern make up of the game. The rotation of central players has become king to success, with few operating on the flanks as traditional wide attackers. It’s a pass and move game, with quick five yard passes and one or two touches. The creativity in a team can be stretched across a number of positions in the starting XI, but central players are the likely suitors to the role of puppet masters.
The trequartista operates in the advanced role up the pitch, ruling out players like Xavi and Xabi Alonso. Cesc Fabregas is an interesting one: does he fall into a deep-lying category like his earlier days at Arsenal, or is he now an established advanced player? If it’s the latter, then surely he takes up a role as a false 9, thus ruling him out of this list as well. Although, with Fabregas it’s definitely one for debate.
But importantly, the real emergence of these roles in a team has forced the need for a 4-2-3-1 system. Barcelona and Spain do not necessarily play strictly to that formation, but then Barcelona do not strictly adhere to any formation or tactics for a great length in any game. Alexis Sanchez may be found as the most advanced and central player on the pitch, while Lionel Messi is just as likely to take up that position in the next phase of play.
But it’s a formation and a desire to play in this manner that has been adopted by many across Europe and has played a part in the capturing of league titles for a few others. England, Spain, Germany and France all crowned champions who play with the trequartista behind the lone striker, and it’s a formation that looks to be a mainstay in the game.
It encourages a passing game in the centre of the pitch, while those who opt for a more traditional 4-4-2 are seen as living in an age that has no relevance to modern football.