Learning the ins and outs of 4-3-1-2 Formation
OK, so 4-3-1-2 formation lines up with 4 defenders, 3 midfielder players, 2 forwards and then a player in between the midfield players and the forwards.
Defending in 4-3-1-2 Formation
At the back the defenders will play a typical flat back four with a right full back, a left full back and two central defenders. The full backs will join the three midfield players when possible in attacking play, often providing an overlap run to get crosses into the penalty area. The full backs will drift into the middle to cover the two central defenders when the ball is being advanced down their opposite wing. One of the positives of playing four at the back is that it is very common and the players involved in the four positions at the back will likely have played in flat back fours many times, so they should be very experienced in this formation. It really is the standard defensive formation around the world.
Holding the midfield in 4-3-1-2 Formation
In front of the four defenders sit three midfield players, a center midfielder together with a right midfielder and a left midfielder. These three players are responsible for both defensive and attacking duties and need to work together as a compact unit. A disadvantage of only having three midfield players is that it is unlikely that the opposition will only have three in midfield so unless the other players in the team are available to support these three midfield players they will often be outnumbered and there is a danger that they will be over run by the opposition.
Attacking with 4-3-1-2 Formation
In between the three midfield players and the two attackers sits an attacking midfield player. This player links between the midfield and the forward and the aim is to be available to receive the ball in space, turn and then join the two forwards. This player is also there to drag the central defenders out of position or if the opposition is playing with a defensive midfielder, again this player is there to drag that player away from sitting in front of the defense. One of the negatives of this kind of player can arise if the player does not carry out sufficient defensive duties, i.e. tracking back and supporting the three midfield players in pressuring the ball and plugging in holes in midfield. A big advantage of this type of player if they do work on defense is that they can really close down the defensive midfielder who is often involved in distributing the ball when the team has possession. If the player can stifle the attacking moves from the opposition’s two central defenders and the defensive midfield player, this can prove very effective. Up top you have two forwards who will link up in play with the attacking midfielder and the rest of the team when appropriate. It is important that these players play well together, play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses and spread the defense apart to create space for the midfield players and full backs joining in attacking play.