Today’s blog is part of a series in which we will explain various coaching styles and training sessions with inspiration from some of the Premier League’s top managers. This first of the series will explore the formation of Thomas Tuchel and help understand how to implement elements of his system into your team’s game.

Tuchel primarily sets up in a 3-4-2-1 formation with 2 narrow wingers supporting a central striker. Tuchel has implemented this system at elite clubs across Europe such as Chelsea, PSG, and Dortmund. He also had huge success with the system at Mainz, where he achieved a win percentage of 39.5%.

How it works


Tuchel’s back 3 works as a traditional back 3 system. When in possession the back 3 spreads across the backline to allow for passes across the back line. When the keeper is in possession, the spread of the backline also creates passing lanes to allow for a midfield player to collect the ball in the holes. When defending, the 3 centre halves narrow allowing the wing backs to join the defence and create a back 5. The two narrow wingers then drop to fill the space left by the wing backs to change the system to a 5-4-1 when under-pressure. This creates a sturdier system with more bodies behind the ball, reducing the odds of the opposition breaking the team down.

Chelsea operates with a zonal marking a defensive structure ensuring the shape is kept when defending. This allows the team to operate with a gegenpressing style, because players are correctly positioned to block passing lanes and win the ball higher up the pitch. Gegenpressing works as a system in which the team wins the ball higher up the pitch, so they are theoretically one pass away from an opportunity. This means it is imperative for the team to move as a unit up the field and narrow the playing area to increase the opportunity for a steal. The press forces teams into go back to their keeper or a long ball over the centre halves to allow the team to rebuild from the defence.


When in possession, Goalkeepers, Centre Halves and Centre Midfielders recycle possession in order to move the opposition around the pitch to create gaps and passing lanes to exploit. The general pattern of play used would be wing-back into midfielder into a wide forward. The Wingbacks will progress up the pitch to create overloads down the sides of the pitch. This then allows a square ball into the two forwards making runs into the box. The central forward will slip between defenders to move the defensive line and create space with their movement.

How to train

Follow the links below to find sessions Tuchel uses in order to prepare his players to implement his style and check out other posts of the Coaching Master Class concerning other world class managers.

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