Based on limited research that I've done recently, it seems that the triangle formation is an attacking formation used primarily by midfielders to advance the ball by forming a rotating triangle pattern on the field and exploiting the many passing lanes that it can create in the defense. Is this understanding correct?

What kinds of things are important when trying to execute the triangle? (good passing, good dribbling, fast, disciplined, etc...)

What formations or techniques do coaches and players use to stop teams that rely heavily on the triangle?

2 Answers 2


Chelsea under Mourinho used a defensive triangle anchored by Claude Makelele, the advantages of which are described here by the coach himself.

Look, if I have a triangle in midfield – Claude Makelele behind and two others just in front – I will always have an advantage against a pure 4-4-2 where the central midfielders are side by side. That’s because I will always have an extra man. It starts with Makelele, who is between the lines. If nobody comes to him he can see the whole pitch and has time. If he gets closed down it means one of the two other central midfielders is open. If they are closed down and the other team’s wingers come inside to help, it means there is space now for us on the flank, either for our own wingers or for our full-backs. There is nothing a pure 4-4-2 can do to stop things.


Your understanding to a large extent is correct. The skills you have mentioned are also essential for apopting this kind of play. Another advantage is that the anchoring midfielder can be quite useful as an extra defender when handling counter attacks from the opposition.

One thing to keep in mind is that this style of play helps in attacking down the centre while traditional 4-4-2 concentrates a little more on wings.

A pure 4-4-2 will find it difficult to contain this formation but allowing some flexibility to the wing midfielders to taking a more centralized role while defending should hold out this attacking approach.

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