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With Marseille’s new coach opting to use an unusual 5-1-3-1 formation at the weekend, I wondered to myself about the variety of formations around the French leagues. Helpfully, France Football publish that kind of information as we go, so my questions were answered for Ligue 1, Ligue 2 and the National. I was heartily surprised at the range of line-ups I found, and the different way players were used; there’s no shortage of thinking outside the box in France, clearly.

So here’s the overview – an obvious popularity for some of the better known formations – 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 – but its also worth noting the variety within Ligue 1, where almost every team is trying something different.

That point is particularly hammered home with the graph of different formations within each division – the more inventive coaches in charge of the better teams, or facing better teams and trying to negate their play, perhaps. There’s no way to know from just one week – I might keep tabs on it, and we’ll see in due course.

I’m sure (maybe you’re not) you’re wondering about which teams used the unique formations. Well, here’s a little graphic to demonstrate.

This variety went some of the way to ensuring that there was few teams facing each other lining up in the same way. Only, in fact in…

4-3-3; Montpellier 0-1 Bordeaux
4-3-3; Reims 2-2 Paris SG
4-2-3-1; Troyes 1-0 Tours
4-4-2; Colomiers 1-3 Strasbourg
4-4-2; Amiens 3-1 Red Star Paris.

As I say, all the information came from France Football. The only game of this cohort I actually saw was Marseille at Bastia – and I would have had OM as 3-3-1-3, so it’s all up for debate.

As I saw written recently. Formations describe positions, rather than the other way round – your wingback might be my midfielder.
So there you go.