Why do Teams play with Three Defenders At the back?

In this world, everything is subject to change and the same rule also applies to the game of football. There is no doubt that over the years, the game has evolved through various stages in different aspects altogether to make sure that football remains the greatest sport alive.

Today we dive into the more tactical aspects of the game as we discuss how and why teams play with three central defenders in the modern era of the game.

B-B-C of Juventus.

So, start with, a three at the back formation can easily be turned into a four or five at the back formation during the games, hence it would be a mistake to think that the formation on paper is the only way a team can cope up during the game. During defending with this kind of a formation, the defensive line becomes a five at the back with the wide players dropping back. In these scenarios, the fullbacks and wide players need to understand their role in the best manner possible while being effective in both the attacking and defensive phases of the game.

One of the best examples over the past years has been Juventus under Max Allegri, the Italian giants made the most out of the chemistry between Chiellini, Bonnuci, and Barzagli as they were employed together in a three-man defense while the likes of Evra, Alves, and other fullbacks served their time in wider areas. Juventus managed to reach the Finals of the Champions League twice with this system and the partnership of Chiellini, Bonnuci and Barzagli became more iconic and came to be known as the BBC.

Playing with three defenders at the back helps the team to create overloads in different phases of the game, as the fullbacks push up and down the field, they can support midfielders and attackers depending upon in which phase of the field is the game being played. If the team plans to win the ball early in midfield, then they can help the holding midfielders in over-loading the wider areas which allows the forwards to move inside and play more centrally and between the lines, hence creating more direct attacking threats all around the pitch.

These three at the back systems help with teams playing more compact football, which helps them in keeping the tight defensive lines all over the pitch, limiting the attacking outputs of their opponent teams.

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