By Darren Smith

Darren is a UEFA A License qualified coach, and has spent the last 11 years working for Nike and coaching within the Nike Academy. He has been running a community football club since 2001, which currently has 28 players in the professional environment including Liverpool defender Joe Gomez.

World United

On the eve of the biggest cup competition the world has to offer, for me it means so much more than 64 games of football.

Personally for me it highlights that no matter where you come from, your background, your religion or gender it’s a time where we all can come together and celebrate. Seeing all the different national flags and kits with the vibrant colours just makes me smile.

When England steps on the pitch for their first match on Monday 18th June, you know the whole country will come to a standstill, with family and friends gathered round a TV or at the pub. Football can truly bring people together.

One thing I’m looking forward to is seeing how the different nations set up at this competition, in terms of their formations. With England looking to adopt an unfamiliar set up of 1-3-5-2 at a major competition.

At the last World Cup in 2014, England went into their first game playing a 1-4-2-3-1 formation against Italy, eventually losing 2-1. The winners of that tournament were Germany who in the final lined up also in a 1-4-2-3-1 against Argentina who played a 1-4-3-3.

Previously in the South Africa World Cup 2010, England’s first game they played 1-4-4-2 against USA playing the same way, with the game ending 1-1. In that tournament Spain won the competition with a very fluid 1-4-3-3 system.

So how significant is the formation linked to success in an international tournament? Are there any trends linked to the respective national leagues? I am really looking forward to the tournament in Russia, seeing all the different styles of play and tactics, and ultimately which one will come out ontop.

The big question is, as coaches do we shape/squeeze our players into our preferred formation or do we come up with a formation to fit the players available to us?