Looking around the web, there seem to be three ideas for the Formation of the Future. These all hinge on current formations: 4-2-3-1 is the most commonly used, but most successful teams run a version of 4-3-3. The most successful teams are in Spain. The national team and Real Madrid tend to start with 4-2-3-1 formations, switching to a 4-3-3 if something goes wrong. Barcelona does the opposite.
The interesting thing about Barcelona’s variant is how deep Busquets and Messi play; the formation is really a 4-1-2-1-2 with wide forwards.
If you map the average position of the Barcelona players, several other things become apparent: the attacking play of the full backs, and the interchangeability of Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets. The three are all very close to the center, with Xavi playing slightly higher up the pitch, and Busquets the farthest back.
So, the most successful soccer team of the day plays, surprisingly, in the ancient 2-3-2-3 formation (center-backs; full-backs and defensive midfield; midfielders; forwards).
They also play without a center-forward, continuing soccer’s trend of playing less and less forwards. In the early days of football, teams used 1-2-7, and 2-2-6 formations.
Another successful variant of the 4-3-3 also used no center-forwards: Manchester United, when they had Ronaldo and Tevez instead of Chicharito, played a 4-3-2-1, with Rooney dropping back to give the other two space. So, the logical formation of the future may be a 4-6-0, which has already been tested out by teams ranging from Real Madrid to Scotland.
But most teams aren’t as good as Barcelona and Manchester United. These teams also have a slow development: from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-1-2 (in Italy and Argentina) or a 4-2-3-1 (almost everywhere else).
What could makes sense is to reduce the pressure on the key player, the “1”, by dropping him behind the wingers, giving him more space and options. So, a 4-2-1-3 or 4-2-1-2-1 is the final possibility.