Tactical review of 2013: Strike partners in crime are bad news for defenders

“The return of the strike partnership. For a decade or so, it seemed inconceivable that a top team could play with a pair of forwards and still prosper. Operate with two forwards, the logic ran, and you surrender control of the midfield. International football always lags behind club football when it comes to innovation, but even there, by Euro 2008, 4-2-3-1 had become the default. Yet this season, front pairings seem to have returned to fashion. When Manchester City pair Álvaro Negredo and Sergio Agüero, that is a strike duo: it’s true that they may not play exactly alongside each other at all times, but neither can it be argued that one is operating in an attacking midfield role, as would be required legitimately to describe the formation as 4-2-3-1. Liverpool, similarly, have used Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge to great effect. At Atlético Madrid, Diego Costa and David Villa have thrived, while the Paris Saint-Germain pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez are working well as a pairing for Juventus – although in a system that uses a back three rather than a back four.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

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