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Today Spain plays Croatia in the UEFA Nations League. This is a great matchup between two possession based sides. Spain and Croatia both play very similarly and have similar footballing philosophies. These are 2 top teams. The game will come down to tactics. Whichever team attacks most efficiently will win. In the battle of formations it is Spain's 4-3-3 against Croatia's 4-2-3-1. 4-2-3-1 is an inferior formation because it uses role specialization, developing players for specialized roles, and does not place the wingers in the formation in a position where they can be most efficient. The wingers in 4-2-3-1 are in the defensive band below the center forward not even with the center forward so the default position the wingers start from when they receive the ball is too far away from the center forward. They have to make up too much ground by dribbling or passing the ball to be efficient. The center forward also has no support. They are alone on an island surrounded by 3, 4, or 5 defenders and have low odds of successfully holding up the ball and bringing their teammates into the game. This means that the team that plays 4-2-3-1 has placed themselves under unnecessary pressure because their center forward will have a hard time holding the ball in the attacking third and bringing the midfielders and fullbacks into the play. This means that more often than not the team playing 4-2-3-1 will be forced onto the backdoor, forced to cede ground and possession, and the game will be played in their half of the field. This makes them less likely to score a goal and more likely to concede.
Spain will likely play 4-3-3 and here their wingers are in the same defensive band as the center forward, are even with the center forward positionally high up the pitch, and in an optimal position to receive the ball and attack efficiently. This makes Spain more likely to win. I predict that Spain will win this game due to the strength of their attacking tactics. This will be an interesting case study on the efficiency of 4-3-3 against 4-2-3-1.
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