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Best 7-A-Side Formations: Ultimate Guide

You don’t want your team to lose this Sunday. Whether you’re a player or a coach managing a bunch of young lads, we’ve got you covered with some of the best 7-A-Side formations for your football team. Remember, it is essential to keep the right strategies in mind while playing football or coaching a soccer team.

As Johan Cruyff said:

You play football with your head, and your legs are there to help you

Don’t worry, we will help you understand the tactical and mental aspect of the beautiful game. Now, you may have a different point of view regarding the best 7-A-SIDE formations in football and you’re welcome to discuss it in the comment section but, we would like to eliminate the cliché formations and talk about the best and emerging ones.


There are a few important points to go through before we jump into the discussion of the 7-A-SIDE formations. Here are the things to keep in mind while selecting the best formations for your team:

  • DISCIPLINE:  Football cannot be played with a ball only, it is also played with discipline. Organizing your players in the right footballing discipline is very crucial. That’s where the formations come in.
  • BALANCE: A right formation always has 3 basic areas covered in it; Defense, Midfield, and Attack. This might sound very obvious and basic to you, but it’s important to bring it into light. Not all of your players can be Attackers and similarly not all of them can be defenders. Make sure your formation covers all of these three basic areas.
  • IDENTIFYING YOUR STRENGTHS: If a certain formation works for some other team, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for your team. Understand that every team is made up of different individuals with different quality sets. Keeping in mind those individual quality sets, you have to identify the strengths of your team and then select a formation complementing those strengths. Your formation must be the right one, not the best one.

That being said, let’s dig deeper into our preferred ones to understand how they work and what are their pros and con.


2-3-1 formation; best 7-a-side

It is one of the most commonly used 7-A-SIDE formations and also a successful one. The increased depth in the midfield allows the team to be offensively and defensively efficient at the same time. If you have fast-paced wingers, then this one is for you.

Its effective distribution in the midfield makes it a more dynamic and balanced formation. As the emphasis is more on the midfield, the defence and offense shouldn’t go unnoticed. The central midfielder has to act as Trequartista or you can say NO.10, contributing his creative skills in attack and helping the lone striker out.

The right and left midfielders will act as both right and left backs respectively, and also as wingers, contributing both in defence and attack. Well, this puts a lot of pressure on midfield and this is one of the disadvantages of this formation.

Concluding this 7-A-SIDE formation with the Pros and Cons:          


  • The blend of attack and defence in midfield makes it one of the most balanced formations. Moreover, the left and right midfielders provide width which is vital in an attack-oriented mindset.
  • The presence of No.10 or No.6 alongside an intense midfield makes this formation a creative one, as each role is clearly defined for the respective players.
  • Due to the midfield’s contribution in defence, it makes the team less prone to conceding goals and at the same time strengthens the defence.


  • There’s only one disadvantage of this formation in our point of view, which is; the over-reliance on the midfield. If there are errors in midfield, it affects both the attack and the defence. So, you need fast, energetic, and mobile midfielders who are hardworking and creative runners.


3-2-1 formation; best 7-a-side

You’re not a believer in the dynamic and balanced approach of a team? Do you want a defensive or versatile strategy? Well, you’re in the right place.

It’s an emerging formation, but coaches are convinced that it’s a great one and soon it might be one of the most used formations. Its versatility and defensive strength make it different and better. This 7-A-SIDE formation is usually used for a more defensive approach. If you want to build the play from the defence and keep possession of the ball, then this formation is what you require.

The presence of three defenders makes it difficult for the opposition to score goals. Talking about the versatility of this formation, it’s not entirely defensive, it can be effective in attack too by making the full-backs participate in the attack and providing the necessary width in the build-up of the play.

Or, you can make your centre-back operate in the higher region of the pitch and create attacking threats for the opposing teams. As we say, there is a huge potential in this set-up of play and if you get all the ingredients right, your team can produce some excellent results and put up a great show.


  • A superb strategy for a defensive style of play and approach, making it less likely for the opposing teams to get past your defence.
  • A possession-based strategy to provide a solid base to build the play on. Also, if your team is having less technical quality, this 7-A-SIDE formation will help you to tackle the more technically creative teams.
  • Its versatility in defensive options to contribute to the attack distinguish it from other formations.


  • This formation, being a defensive one, might herald the team’s offensive play and the strikers might face assistive problems since the concentration here is on defence.
  • There is not much width provided here and if there is, it might disturb the full-backs’ positioning sense.
  • In attacking build-up, the burden on central defenders to move up on the pitch might create defensive problems for the team and make it more prone to conceding a goal.

The 2-1-2-1

2-1-2-1 formation; best 7-a-side

Having talked about balanced and defensive formations, it’s time to discuss a more offensive 7-A-SIDE formation. As evident in the illustration above, the 2-1-2-1 is an attack-oriented formation. It’s very similar to the 2-3-1 formation, but with the more attacking mindset as discussed earlier.

By moving the central midfielder towards the defence, the presence of a defensive midfielder also supports the backline. Similarly, the presence of two offensive midfielders with a striker boosts the attack significantly. With a very well-defined position of every player, it’s a very simple form with a clear attacking force and a balanced defence.


  • A well-oriented formation with the roles of each player clearly define.
  • Attacking midfielders provide the necessary width during the attack.
  • While being an attacking formation, the defence isn’t left alone. The presence of a Defensive midfielder makes the defence more solid.
  • The striker isn’t left alone like in 2-3-1 and has more support from the attacking midfielders in this formation.


  • There’s huge tactical responsibility on the defensive midfielder to cover the large gap between AMs. Also, he needs to be a very good distributor of the ball, otherwise, the balance of the team might be disturbed due to huge gaps between the attack and the defence.

 2-2-2, THE TRAIN

2-2-2 formation; best 7-a-side

Another great and balanced formation with bright results, it’s not very commonly practiced yet but several experts see it as a future of 7-A-SIDE formations.

As shown in the diagram above, this formation has a very balanced distribution between the lines. But of course, there are both strengths and weaknesses of it. Each players’ roles are well defined, but in this formation, there is a need for great positioning sense. While the midfielders will provide the necessary width in the attack to assist the attackers, who need not to stay very apart from each.

At the same time, when necessary, the midfielders will also have to compensate the defence by occupying the deeper areas of the pitch. That place quite a burden on midfielders. The equal numbers of players in all areas of the field make it a very dynamic 7-A-SIDE formation.


  • The team is well distributed and organized in the three key areas of the pitch.
  • This formation provides a solid attack as well as defence.
  • The midfielders provide the needed width in the attack to make crosses and key passes.


  • This 7-A-SIDE formation might have defensive loops in it if the opposing team initiate the counter-attack, due to the engagement of midfielders in the higher areas of the pitch.
  • There is an excellent understanding needed between the attacking pair about their certain responsibility, otherwise, it may disorganize the attack.
  • Midfielders need to avoid making errors in positioning and alternative roles, as a lot is depending on them in attack and also in defence.


Congratulations, you made it till the end. These four 7-A-SIDE formations might not be the most popular ones, but there is huge potential in them which makes them the best among the others. We hope you understood all the tactical and technical aspects of these formations to improve your team. Do you have any other formation which you think is better? Discuss with us in the comments, we love the ideas of our readers.

See you the next time. Till then, Peace.


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