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Poland of Promise (part 2) – assemble a nation

Just a few weeks remain until the inaugural launch of the UEFA Nations League. I’ve been busy assembling my squad in preparation for our first competitive venture in the brand new international competition, starting with a warm-up friendly against Cameroon.

Poland 4-1-2-3 DM Asymmetrical AM(L) formation

Preparing the right formation

I’m a manager with preferred formations and I try to mould a team to those over time through transfers and training, but early on in a new job (and always for national teams) I try to utilize and adapt systems to match-up with the current crop of players. I’m not a fan of playing players out of position for the sake of sticking to a favoured formation, it doesn’t work.

Having highlighted the best players and top prospects available I began to put together my first formation for the Polish national side. I decided to throw the best players on to my tactics board first, in their natural positions, and see where that took us. I ended up with my first ever asymmetrical formation. Truth be told I’ve never really been a fan of them, they’ve always looked overly flamboyant and ostentatious to me, designed for fashion over function, but I’ve reversed that opinion – I think I get it now.

As long as you’ve got the balance right it might actually get the best out of your players. For example, I’ve got Rybus high up on the left wing in his preferred role, but by having Skrzypczak support him in his favoured wing back role, and by deploying Krychowiak (my defensive ball winner) slightly left there’s always someone close-by to pass to and someone to plug the gap defensively. On the flip side if I played Blaszczykowski (my right winger) parallel to Rybus he’d be playing in a less natural position, but with Olkowski overlapping as an attacking wing back, and with Janicki roaming towards the right side of the pitch, he can remain around the halfway-line and the same balance is achieved.

Only time will tell us if this formation gets the thumbs up or not, but it got us off to a good start with a 1-0 win over Cameroon in a friendly match, a game that was predicted to be a close affair with a draw the most likely outcome. My first goal as Poland manager came from a Rybus tap-in after some good play down the left wing (the flank we looked to exploit throughout the game):

What’s your view on asymmetrical formations? Do you use them? Why? / Why not?

Let me know in the comments below!