5 Tactical Trends to Watch for in World Football in 2014
World football is an ever-evolving game, and with the turning of the calendar from 2013 to 2014, a few tactical trends will begin to gain momentum.
In the past few years, we have seen the success of a three-man defense by Juventus and the 4-2-3-1 become a popular formation, but what will the trademark of 2014 be?
Continue reading for five tactical trends that could take flight in the new year.
The Wayne Rooney
The first tactical trend open for examination here has a working title of "The Wayne Rooney."
In recent matches for Manchester United, Rooney has been positioned further back in the midfield to help create more chances for the Red Devils attack.
By dropping back into the attacking midfield trio of the 4-2-3-1 employed by David Moyes, Rooney has seen a spike in production with nine goals and eight assists in the role, per WhoScored.
Usually, the central attacking player in the midfield trio is a creative midfielder, but with Rooney having success in this role, do not be surprised if other prolific goalscorers attempt this in the near future.
Will the Tiki-Taka Reign Supreme Again?
The tactical phenomenon known as the "tiki-taka" style of play has taken the world by storm over the past decade due to the overwhelming success of Spain and Barcelona.
But as was mentioned earlier, football is an evolving game and managers must adjust to a newer, better style of play if need be.
Vicente del Bosque's Spain definitely have the personnel to still run an effective tiki-taka system, but whether or not it can still win them another World Cup remains to be seen.
Barcelona have some of the same personnel that Spain possess, but with the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta aging a bit, it may be time for both sides to bring in a more pacy style of play that will benefit them in the long run.
Luckily for both sides, they have plenty of depth and talent to adjust to a new system on the fly if need be.
World football's equivalent of basketball's full-court press is still a work in progress that has not been seen much.
The United States had plenty of success with this strategy generated by manager Jurgen Klinsmann, and it would not hurt teams at the club level to utilize it as well.
The most effective use of the press by Klinsmann's side in 2013 came in a friendly against Germany in June that will be remembered for a howler committed by German keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Granted the pressure did come against the German "B" side, but it was still used in an efficient manner by the Americans.
One factor that must be taken into account with this tactic is that it requires players to be in tip-top shape, which is something that Klinsmann preaches in his national team camps.
Jose Mourinho's Chelsea
One of the most intriguing lineup selection processes this season has come from Stamford Bridge as Jose Mourinho continues to mold his Chelsea team to his liking.
Just like in his first reign at Chelsea, the Portuguese manager is not afraid to have his team sit back and defend and then score a late winner on the counter-attack.
For example, in the Blues' recent clash with Arsenal, Mourinho's men defended well and nullified the threat of the Gunners for most of the match as the two sides played to a goalless draw.
Tactics like that in the big games during the English Premier League stretch run will help crown Chelsea as champions once again under "The Special One."
Defensive Midfielders Evolving into Playmakers
As the 4-2-3-1 continues its tactical takeover, the players who fit into the system become more adept in their roles and can do more things on the pitch.
That is exactly what is going on at the defensive midfield position, especially at Manchester City with Fernandinho and Yaya Toure.
The defensive partnership of the 4-2-3-1 is usually tasked with being the backbone of team and setting up the attack with passes, not surging forward and scoring goals.
However, with Toure, and now, Fernandinho, City have been able to make their lineup more flexible and turn those two players into playmakers in different formations like the 4-3-3.
Another player who has turned into a goalscoring specialist this season in England has been Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, who has scored nine goals from the defensive midfield position.
With players like Ramsey, Toure and Fernandinho having success in this role, do not be surprised if other managers across the globe figure this out too and more so-called defensive players turn into strong attackers because of their versatility.
Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.