Important information: 

1) The logic of football functionality can best be described via formations (ex. Triangular play, diamond play, square/right angle play, etc.)

2) Football based on style as starting point = formation football (Dr. Ferenc Kovács: Formation or system, 1945)

3) Objective while attacking:

– the build up and breakdown of the formational network = ATTACK CREATION (CONSTRUCTION)

4) What is the principle of play organization based on formation?

– formation build up – breakdown

5) What is the objective of the formation function?

– Establishing a decisive advantage at a decisive moment, at a decisive place! (Gyula Szűcs: Attacking play in football, 1961)

6) The player positions himself with respect to the ball, and NOT to the position/post assigned by the system of play.


 „3:3 play is a a component of teamwork which contains almost all of the opportunities in teamwork. Within the framework of a given action, essentially, at the most, THREE players participate:

1) the one who possesses the ball, ie. who passes the ball, (named: A1 ie. primary attacker)

2) the one who receives the ball, (named: A2 ie. secondary attacker)

3) the one who will receive the ball. (named: A3 ie. third attacker)

The „roles” do change and the situation does not change, even if a new player gets involved in this circle, for until that time he was not involved.” (János Páder: Playing Basketball, 1981)

obs: the thought process above is valid also for defenders ie. In other words

  • D1: primary defender
  • D2: secondary defender
  • D3: third defender

The previous thought process in detail:

In Brazil, during the course of play, the players are taught three role scenarios.

– Primary attacker’s role (Symbol: A1): who possesses the ball.

– Secondary attacker’s role (Symbol: A2): he who is closest to A1. This could be more than one player too.

– Third attacker’s role (Symbol: A3): he who is closest to A2.

The designated players (A1, A2, A3) position themselves diagonally with respect to each other !!

Because of the Brazilian concept of play, and for the purpose of better understanding, we introduce here the concept of „role of fourth attacker” (Symbol: A4).

Who is A4?

  • The player who is responsible for breaking through the defense on the wing, and initiates the attack from deep back. This is usually the left or right back. („B” passing)
  • Or, the player who outside of the formation, drives into, or moves back from a deep position. („A” passing)

According to the Brazilian concept, the player, while attacking, must know three roles, the A1, A2 and the A3 role or function. We expanded this by including the A4 role scenario.

Designations with respect to A1:

How does the formation build up and breakdown play work?

The player passing the ball (A1), after making the pass, immediately positions to DIAGONALLY attacking mode. The others players move to a pass receiving or pass giving position.

The Brazilians organize their defense on the same circulating/rotating principle. That is, they use three kinds of defenders while defending:

– Primary defender’s role (Symbol: D1): the player closest to the ball carrying opponent, ie. A1.

– Secondary defender’s role (Symbol: D2): the player closest to D1.

– Third defender’s role (Symbol: D3): the player closest to D2.

In Brazil, the players and coaches think in terms of formations, that is, functional roles (A1, A2, A3, A4 or D1, D2, D3), which create the formations. 

This thought process simplifies the learning of creative football; because the players must master three/four roles.

It is not a coincidence that futsal is the foundation of Brazilian football, because here too, there are no fixed positions; the players learn, by the time they are 12 years old, this type of „positioning to the ball” play, which is essential to the mastering of the „Brazilian style”.

From this approach, the continuous circulation of the ball forces the players also to circulate, for, they have to place themselves always in relation to the position of the ball.

According to the Brazilian school of thought, the most important thing is to master playing without the ball!!!  Because, the route/course of the ball is always determined by the players without the ball!!!!!


A 1

Who is A1?

  • The passing player, the player possessing the ball

A1’s functions:

– involving A2/A3 into play

– starting feint after making pass

– preparing to become A2/A3 from A1

– responsible for breaking the formation (ie. after making the pass, immediately moving to diagonally attacking position)

– after making pass, SPRINTING to diagonally attacking play!

– maintaining the speed of the ball

– bringing the ball down (controlling) to the ground

– after pass…

1) positions to teamwork/interplay, or

2) positions to diagonally attacking play, or

3) penetrates and creates space for teammate

– with back to the side (pitch), objective play

– when receiving, switching (changing) the attacking direction.  „With the ball, turn in the opposite direction from which you received the ball!”

A1’s position:

– diagonally positioning to the ball

– in basic stance, legs positioned offset to each other (diagonally)

– lifting the leg that is facing the ball

– knees bent, hands up

A 2

Who is A2?

  • The player closest to the one possessing the ball (A1)

A2’s functions:

– starting feint when asking for the ball

– player supporting A1

– compensates for a faulty action by A1, re-positioning

– preparing for changing role (A2 becomes A1)

– sharing attention of D1

– moving out of viewing range

– positioning to A3’s defensive diagonal

A2’s position:

– positioning diagonally with relation to A1, such that he becomes playable and ready to receive

A 3

Who is A3?

  • Player closest to A2

A3’s functions:

– positions to deep play with respect to A1. (obs. Usually, in this case, has his back to the side/play)

– A2’s compensating player

– supporting player to A2

– prepare for switching roles. Transitioning from A3 to A2 or A1

– Sharing attention of (D1/D2) defenders

– positions to attacking A2 or diagonally defending stance

A3’s position:

– diagonally to A2, such that he becomes playable and ready to receive

A 4

Who is A4?

  • Player who is either outside the formation, at a distance from the formation, and entering into play from deep or stepping back deep from the play.

The Brazilian concept of play does not describe the concept of fourth attacker. (Symbol: A4).  Nevertheless, due to the wider area and for a better understanding of the Brazilian concept of play, it is worth introducing the concept of the A4 (fourth attacker).


– because A4 is coming from back deep, or stepping back deep and is an attacker outside of the formation. It is he that from the concept of play, breeches the defensive line, in most cases, along the wings.

– in case of creating an attack, A4 can be the originating point of the new formation

A4’s functions:

– run up from deep, enter play from back deep

– switching angle of attack with long cross-balls

– he is originating point of the new formation

– responsible for breaking through the defensive line along the wings

– responsible for the deepest penetration along the wings

– responsible for making possible the concept of play

– responsible for initiating the circulation of the ball

– responsible for the originating point of the new formation (when stepping back to deep position)


D 1

Who is D1?

  • The player closest to the attacking opponent (A1)

D1’s functions:

– Resisting or slowing down attackers, then putting pressure on the ball!

– Primary purpose is to defend the territory, ie. prevent A1 from getting behind the defender! Secondary purpose is capture the ball!

– Preventing the ball from being passed forward

– Forcing A1 to look down at the ball!

– Defending feint! Not committing a foul!

– Preparing for defending circulation!

D1’s correct position:

– Taking a position between the ball and own goal!

– Eye on the ball! Wait before ball movement!

– Raised arms for better balance!

– Pressing along diagonal or to sides!

D 2

Who is D2?

  • Player closest to D1

D2’s functions:

– D1’s „supporting player”

– Watchful of passing; capturing the ball

– If A1 goes by D1, then stopping him! If necessary, commit tactical foul!

– When positioned in a chain (line defending), closing down of deep pass; in diamond positioning, capturing A1’s pass

– Preparing for defensive circulation

D2’s correct position:

– balance, ie. control of the territory with D1

D 3

Who is D3?

  • Defending player closest to D2

D3’s functions:

– „Securing player” for D1 and D2

– When positioned in diamond formation, the capturing of deep pass

– Preparing for defensive circulation

– With diagonal organization, watchful of A3’s movements

D3’s correct position:

– maintaining balanced defense with D1 and D2


The player receiving the ball, as a result of the logic of the organization of play, looks up from the ball in a determined sequence.

Direction of first „looking up”:

  • In attacking diagonal (in direction of A2)

Direction of second „looking up”:

  • Deep, forward (in direction of A3)

Direction of third „looking up”:

  • To the sides, towards the starting point of the new formation (in direction of A4)

Direction of fourth „looking up”:

  • On a defensive diagonal (in direction of A2)

In the diagram below, we demonstrate the order (sequence) of looking up!

For the standpoint of accelerating the play, the following is  very important:

  1. Does the player possessing the ball (A1) know whereto his surroundings position?
  2. Does the player without the ball (A2, A3, A4) know how the possessing player (A1) thinks; in which direction and in what order he looks for the solution to the existing situation of play?
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