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Jurgen Klinsmann Calls All Formation Talk "Useless"

When Jurgen Klinsmann unveiled a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond midfield in April, it looked as though the U.S. attack benefited instantly. But the coach says that formation talk is all a waste of time.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 07, 2014
12:39 PM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—Much has been made during this Send-Off Series about what type of formation Klinsmann will have the United States national team play. So far, there has been talk of the diamond midfield, the flat four midfield, and even if the team would revert to the 4-2-3-1 it used during much of 2013.

Klinsmann on Friday said that the discussion misses the point entirely. He stressed that the formation does not equal the style of play by insisting that if the team is comfortable with each other, it should not matter.

“I think there are pros and cons with every system but it doesn't really matter what shape we have or what system we have,” Klinsmann said. “It matters how we kind of connect with one another on the field. “

“We defend as a whole unit and we move forward and keep it compact no matter what shape it has in that instance,” he added. “We can easily adjust to a 4-4-2 diamond. We can go from a diamond into a flat midfield four. We can go into a 4-2-3-1 which becomes a 4-3-3.”

As for when that changed, Klinsmann cites that it changed over the past decade when elite teams interchanged their systems seamlessly thereby confusing the opponents due to the nature of unpredictability.

His favorite example was Spain's rise to dominance, as it took advantage of the versatility and chemistry of the players in its “Golden Generation.” By shifting formations quickly, the squad became nearly impossible to defend.

“All these discussions about different systems are actually not up to speed anymore,” Klinsmann said. “The systems are not the key anymore. It was maybe 10-15 years ago. It changed with the best teams in the world lead by Spain. They made every system look stupid because they came up with a 4-6-0 in the last European Championship."

"Everybody said, 'How can you do that? Not even Torres is out there.'Well, they beat everybody in a 5-6-0 because three or four midfielders became strikers. Then they go back and the other ones become strikers. It confused everybody.”

As for the United States, Klinsmann insists that he wants to see the creativity come from many different places on the field. Currently, Michael Bradley is the creative force in the midfield. But for the team to succeed others will have to make things happen, whether it's Graham Zusi, Brad Davis, Jermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, or even the forwards or defenders.

It is not yet known what the U.S. team’s preferred formation will be at the World Cup but Klinsmann said it's irrelevant.

“I think the trend is definitely you're going to away from a systems discussion,” Klinsmann said. “It doesn't lead you anywhere. And you have a whole team that knows how to support each other and create stuff going forward. Years ago it was all down to the No.10 to make things happen. Now maybe the No.6 makes things happen, or the fullbacks make things happen."

"It all changed over the last [few] years. It sounds always cool when you talk about 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 or 4-4-2 diamond but it's actually useless.”

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