Although Roberto De Zerbi‘s Brighton stick to a 1-4-2-3-1 formation, the key to their success is not the shape but the way they press. Their pressing is always team-based, intense, with lines of pressure encouraging rivals to play between them. The asymmetrical and non-linear way in which the defensive midfielders are positioned (always at an angle to the defenders) means that the space behind them allows the defensive line to remain rotated always in the direction of the defence against potential direct passes from rivals.
Brighton usually defend in a shape that is a consequence of their starting formation shifting gradually between 1-4-2-3-1 and 1-4-4-2. A common manoeuvre is to give one of the central midfielders (Caicedo) exclusively defensive tasks including tight marking.
In attack, they like to go from a starting 3+2 to pass under the rivals’ goal with the wingers positioned wide and the wing-backs narrowing (Estupinian, Lamptey) adopting a 2-4-4-4 shape in the rivals’ half. Always one of the offensive midfielders (March, Gross) goes deeper to receive the ball while remaining in contact with the centre, but the target variant in the offensive third is to overload the chosen attacking direction and the variant of 5-6 players playing the ball in a very small space. The combination of quick short passes not only gives a chance for progression, but pulls the pressure of the rivals, which in turn frees up space in another zone which often benefits the players entering there (Mitoma).
An often-used trap is to create the impression of pressure on the centre, through wide players coming down into the half-spaces, but at the same time the side defenders and wingers from the other wing come out very high combining on the free space thus created.
The left side (Estupinian, Mitoma) is an area of their particularly intense runs and individual tries and overloads, which leads, either to unexpected progression or to free up space for partners.