8 World Football Tactical Terms You Need to Know in 2012
World football is set for another tumultuous year.
Tactical revolutions remain just as important as ever, but it also seems managers have been browsing the history books for inspiration too.
This article will outline the tactical terminology you need to be equipped with for this season, be it a formation and its strengths and weaknesses or the explanation of a specific player role.
Enjoy the slideshow!
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"Shuttler" is a role which is becoming increasingly important in modern football.
As more teams move toward a three-man midfield at the expense of the 4-4-2, the shuttler, in most cases, has become the unsung hero.
The player literally "shuttles" up and down the pitch inside the midfield channels, works hard and provides a true link between defence and attack.
In Marcelo Bielsa's 3-3-1-3 with Chile, the Argentine utilised two midfield shuttlers alongside a holding midfielder.
Italy's Euro 2012 exploits saw Claudio Marchisio shuttle effectively, while Juventus use Mauricio Isla and Arturo Vidal to good effect in this fashion.
One of Brazil's best players at the Olympics was Romulo of Spartak Moscow, a true shuttler, but no one really noticed his effect on the game.
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More of a reiteration than an enlightening, the "channels" on a football pitch are becoming important again.
Channel one is straight through the middle of the pitch on the attack, but it's channels two and three which are becoming increasingly essential in modern football.
Channels two and three are located on either side of the central channel one and, to put it into perspective, can sometimes go straight through the gap between an advanced full-back and a central defender.
Antonio Di Natale is a master of the channels, as are Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent.
Italy's goal against Spain in the Euro 2012 group stage is a wonderful example of running the channels successfully.
Full-backs are becoming more and more attacking again, with the likes of Rafael and Alvaro Arbeloa showing us exactly how far they are prepared to wander forward.
Hitting the channels early is one of the best way to break down the popular 4-2-3-1 formation.
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Barcelona and Lionel Messi have made the false-nine position famous over the past two seasons, and this article tells you why.
The tactic shot to prominence in Euro 2012, where Spain utilised it with Cesc Fabregas in Messi's role, and since then several clubs have considered the possibility of using it.
Tito Vilanova has broadly applied the same template at la Blaugrana as Pep Guardiola, so the Argentinian wizard is still featuring in this role.
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The "central winger" is now a common position used worldwide. It refers to the two players wide of the playmaker in a 4-2-3-1 who are not true widemen, but cut inside at almost every opportunity.
With the 4-2-3-1 the de facto best formation in football right now, central wingers are incredibly important and the top ones are some of the most sought-after players.
Manchester City's David Silva and Samir Nasri, Chelsea's Oscar and Juan Manuel Mata and Arsenal's Santi Cazorla are prime examples of top-tier central wingers.
No. 10 Role
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The role of the playmaker is making a certifiable return to world football, and it comes in two forms.
The first is the No. 10 role, the traditional playmaking role with a modern twist. Gone are the days (for now) where Kaka and Juan Roman Riquelme run the show from an almost-standstill position behind the striker.
The new-age No. 10 is all action. The likes of Eden Hazard, Mario Gotze, Shinji Kagawa and Oscar all share the same work ethic, mobility and grafting qualities.
Modern football requires increased all-round skill in every position, but it's arguable that the role of the playmaker has undergone borderline surgical changes over the past few years.
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The second variation of the playmaker is the "regista" role that is now synonymous with Andrea Pirlo. He has played the same role for the entirety of his glittering career, standing the test of time at the very highest level.
Fans and pundits alike waxed lyrical about the Italians performances in this role during Euro 2012, and the Azzurri look to have a ready-made replacement for him in Marco Verratti.
Other teams will start trying it. Pirlo helped Juventus to the Scudetto last season, proving it's a winning role, and Roy Hodgson appeared to dabble with it against Ukraine by seating Steven Gerrard in an incredibly deep position.
The position is traditionally Italian, but it could go global soon.
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In truth, there is no official name for this role is, but I'm having my stab at it by labelling it the "suffoco."
It's born directly from the existence of the regista, and it's been cropping up quietly in Europe. How do you stop the regista dictating? You stick a man on him to nullify his influence.
With a regista typically so deep he's within whispering distance of the central defender, the only man you deploy to irritate him is the No. 10.
So the No. 10's role changes, it is to stifle, not create. Andrea Pirlo's influence during Italy vs. Croatia in Euro 2012 was severely limited due to Mario Mandzukic's dogged pressure.
Marouane Fellaini has been an absolute revelation in this role over the past few weeks, nullifying Manchester United's Michael Carrick both offensive and defensively.
It's essentially a midfield destroyer (ie. Gennaro Gattuso's role,) but higher up the pitch. The term suffoco was thought up in conversation with Zonal Marking's Michael Cox.
Three at the Back
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Three at the back is back, according Jonathan Wilson of The Guardian.
It's pretty old school, and it can come in a variety of different formations, but the trend of playing three centre-backs is catching on.
Wigan utilise a 3-4-3, Manchester City have been toying with a 3-5-2 and Juventus achieved considerable success in Serie A last season with a Giorgio Chiellini-Andrea Barzagli-Leonardo Bonucci back line.
The experiment starts with Pep Guardiola, whose unorthodox actions saw Javier Mascherano converted into a centre-back alongside Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol, but the Spaniard states Marcelo Bielsa was his true inspiration.
The Argentine's curious 3-3-1-3 formation, demonstrated to the world in 2010 with Chile, turned a fair few heads with regard to its solidity and fluency.