Finding the Right Target Striker to Play in a 4-2-3-1 Formation
The 4-2-3-1 tactical formation is the preferred method of many of the top Club's around the world, utilizing a back-four, two holding-midfielders, three attackers, and a target striker this system allows you to overload the midfield and dominate possession.
Playing with one striker, however, does mean that you have to carefully engineer your attack, and take care in who you select to play the no. 9 role. Here are some things to look for when you try to find the right striker to play in this formation.
Good with Back to Goal
It's critical in the 4-2-3-1 system that your lone striker is good at holding up the ball and playing with their back to goal, your target doesn't have to necessarily be the biggest or the strongest player on the pitch to successfully play the target role, but they do need to have the balance, agility, and technical ability to hold the ball up and wait for supporting midfielders or wing players to get forward and join the attack.
So make sure you chose a player that is comfortable under high pressure from opposing center-backs, is prepared to get hacked from behind and have their shirt pulled in those moments before help arrives.
Looks to Combine
Playing with one striker means that a lot of your play in and around the box will center around combining with the target and making runs off that player with their back to goal, this means that you need to identify a striker that is technical enough to recognize opportunities for 1-2 touch play, wall passes, flicks, and through-balls to late arriving midfielders.
When you sift through the potential strikers at your disposal, and want to implement a 4-2-3-1 formation, make sure to prioritize a player that is good enough on the ball to act as the hub for your attack in and around the penalty area.
Feel for Goal
Unearthing the right target striker to lead the line of your 4-2-3-1 formation is all about finding a player who can feel the goal behind them, they need to have that instinctive ability to receive, turn, and fire a laser beam past opposition goalkeepers in the blink of an eye.
It's not always easy to find that striker with sixth-sense ability, but look for players that are natural finishers and seem to have the proverbial eyes in the back of their head perception in and around the area.
Good in the Air
As previously mentioned, not all target strikers have to be lumbering giants that are only good in the air, however, if you chose to setup your team in a 4-2-3-1 formation, your going to run across situations where you find your players in the wide channels looking to make crosses into the box, only to look up and see your lone striker ominously outnumbered by defenders.
This can occur when you only commit to one striker and one attacking midfielder, so it is important to find the right no. 9 that can pose a threat in the box from service.
It doesn't have to be six-foot-four behemoth, but you do need to identify a player that has a good spring that can leap and challenge for the crosses that are served into the box.