I live in a country where there's a lot of 4-3-3 played week in week out and here's what I think:
- central midfield is very exposed leaving huge patches of empty space for the opponents, the answer to this IMO is having the wingers drop whenever the opposing team attacks, allowing the 3 midfielders to play in the centre, basically using a 4-5-1.
- to deploy a 4-3-3 in correct fashion you need real wingers, quick players who can get to the touchline, which basically means pass their marker and put in a decent cross. Nowadays there aren't too many of these players left. Much more attacking/defensive minded midfielders and a few that are 2-way midfielders so were talking about a dying breed.
- the striker in the 4-3-3 obviously has to be an excellent finisher, both on the ground and in the air. Special dribbling skills are not a priority IMO as Kezman seems to prove in the Dutch league, an eye for the goal definitely is.
- central midfield should mainly be used for regaining possesion and for keeping the play dynamic, no long runs but effective passes through the middle from the AM and prefferably 2 DM's who battle it out and keep the wings fed.
So IMO not every topteam can deploy the 4-3-3 and get good results with it, you need specific kinds of players.
Ïf it is played in the correct way, it is probably the best system out their.... but you need to have forwards and midfielders that can count on each other.... and a very good manager
For an average team i prefer a 442.....
I think 4-3-3 the way Milan play is the best system nowadays... of course Milan isnt a straight 4-3-3 its more a 4-3-2-1
1 upfront who can do everything (Shevchenko)... header, fast, shot, pass... is what you need then have 2-3 behind with great creation (Seedorf, Costa, Kaka and even Pirlo) then with 2-3 in the midfield which work hard (Pirlo, Seedorf and Gattuso)
If the mdifield plays like this then you usually win the midifeld and at the same time, with 4 midfielders who can all pass, you keep the ball well in midfield.
The only problem is you may need good attacking full backs which Cafu is, Kaladze and Pancaro less so but they can be effective and are solid... the defence of Milan is very stable!!!!
That is why 4-3-2-1 is my fave formation and why Milan use it so well (esp. with Inzaghi injured)