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Tactical Shapes for 9v9 Games

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

Although there is no one 'special' tactical shape that will lead to success in every 9v9 game, it can be extremely beneficial for coaches to provide their players with experience in playing with different styles and systems. Being deliberate with your 9v9 shapes can also help with player development and the ability for young players to experience different situations tactically from a young age.

Below is a YouTube breakdown detailing four different shapes and we explain the advantages in-possession of each one. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe to our MSC YouTube page.

If you would like to look at each system a little closer, you can check them out below.


There are a number of advantages that this system presents to a possession-based coach tactically. With just one holding midfielder and two center backs, this is a good system to introduce the concept of creating a back three with a holding midfielder dropping in between center backs. This gives you different pictures in the build and, with the front three occupying central spaces, there is plenty of room for the wide players to join in the attack and create a potential 'front 5' in the final third.


If you are a fan of Roberto DeZerbi's build-up with two 'sixes', you may be interested in experimenting with this shape. With so many options centrally in the build, it is extremely effective against a high press and opens up some key spaces higher up the pitch. This shape also gives teams the opportunity to unbalance teams and open up wide spaces for players to drop into and create isolation in the opponent's half.


This is another shape that allows coaches and players to experiment in different ways during the build. The midfield three offers a rotation option and, with wide spaces open, the midfielders can drop in-between or alongside center backs to provide those overloads that can be so effective when building an attack. Another strength of this system lies in the two center forwards pulling out wide to create isolation opportunities and/or space for central players to join in the attack.


This shape may provide the best balance of wide and central overloads of all the systems covered. By playing with a traditional back four, it allows options for a team to not only change the point of attack, but also get the weak side defender as high as possible. If possession is lost, there is a good structure underneath to protect against quick counter-attacks. Another twist to this position is the option to invert the full-backs when the center backs drop deeper in the build. We explain that here in the video.

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