Into the early hours of dawn on a Saturday morning, the city of Istanbul dwelled in silence. The pigeons fluttered down the alleys around the Grand Bazaar district as the sunlight began to slowly embrace the city from the Asian side in the East to the European in the West. Istanbul sat at the border of two vast continents since the time it was still called Constantinople. Since then, the Byzantines ruled over these lands and then came the great Ottoman Empire. A beacon of the Silk Road, and a melting pot of ancient cultures, this beautiful city had seen…


If you have taken an intrigue in football formations, the pyramid is a recognizable geometric shape. Over the years in football, tactically, we have seen the pyramid structure in formations invert, return back to the upright ‘Christmas tree’, and invert yet again. The basis for the evolution are the quality of the players in the formation, principles of play in each phase and in general, perhaps even the ongoing tactical trend.

Pep Guardiola, however, with his unique approach to positional play tends to break the established structure of a textbook formation. His systems bring in fluidity and adapt to the…


The clock beside his bed turned 4:00. The silence invaded the floor and the ceiling. The only sound was that of the rustling wind outside. He was lying in his bed, his eyes firmly shut. He wasn’t asleep. He was desperately trying to deafen out the silence. Two hours had passed.

The silence had infected people’s lives more than the virus. They called it a pandemic, ten years ago, sounding like an exciting plot twist to their lives. Now it had become a reality. Nobody seemed surprised by lockdowns, quarantines and curfews anymore. Initially, nobody paid attention to the silence…


For anyone diving into football tactics, getting a grip of the 3–3–1–3 is a temptation that is hard to avoid. After all, it was popularised by an unorthodox Argentine nicknamed El Loco who, many top managers like Guardiola, Sampaoli and Pochettino, regard as their mentor and the greatest coach of the game ever.

Marcelo “El Loco” Bielsa — The coach who popularised the 3–3–1–3

It’s a hipster tactic. It screams in the face of conventional formations in modern football. When teams pick a safe strategy with which they can park the bus, the 3–3–1–3 looks like a jet plane. You rarely find guidelines to play a 3–3–1–3 during your coaching pathway…


Expansive football has drawn a lot of attention in the last two decades for its aesthetic expression of the game, tactical prowess and technical superiority. The reason is simple. Teams that dominate possession and are able to successfully maintain an attacking phase, look dominant, create more chances to score, and win more often than teams that don’t. Although there are numerous ways in which teams achieve an expansive football structure in their attacking phase, I attempt to simplify them in this article by categorizing them as low expansive or high expansive.

Fig. 1 Categorization of expansive football models — low expansive versus high expansive

Most football formations depict how a team defends without…

Roshan Rao

The beautiful game is a microcosm of our complex human society. Sunday storyteller, Time traveller, Football fiend. At other times I practice Medicine.

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