The 5 Biggest Strengths of the 4-4-2 Formation
For nearly 4 decades, many coaches across the globe stuck with one tried and true formation: The 4-4-2, which offered them a solid back-four of defenders, two central midfielders and two outside players to give width and provide service to the two strikers at the top of the formation.
The 4-4-2 lineup has been implemented by some of the most important teams ever to take the field, and was the standard barer for many, many championship teams.
Here are 5 of the biggest strengths of lining up in a 4-4-2 formation.
1. Desire to Play in the Attacking Third
Coaches that choose to play in a 4-4-2, thereby removing a man from midfield, and adding a second striker up top, are stating a clear desire to engage in creative football in the attacking-third.
The wide players in the midfield spend most of their energies providing service from the outside channels, taking people on 1v1, or creating off the dribble as they look to combine with the target players.
And knowing that there are at least two players inside or close to the penalty area helps create a unique fluidity in attack where the opponent's 18-yard box is under constant bombardment.
2. Two Strikers for More Goals
If you set your team in a 4-4-2, your intentions are clear, you want to get more goals by starting with tandem strikers up top. One of the biggest strengths and tactical reasons to setup this way is to combine skill sets of your players that dovetail to cause defenders all sorts of trouble.
Many teams will employ a big target striker, good at winning ariel challenges and holding the ball up back to goal, and a smaller player with a low-center of gravity that is good at beating players 1v1 and shifting the ball quickly to create space for a shot.
3. Create Excellent Width
Playing the 4-4-2 system puts a lot of emphasis on the wide wing players in your midfield, the no. 7 and no. 11 players in this formation are instructed to make the field as big as possible in possession, get down the channels with pace and power, and deliver quality service to the two strikers in the box.
Typically, one of the central-midfielders will get forward in the middle of the park, and you'll create many goalmouth chances for scoring.
4. Design Overloads
The 4-4-2 system is great for creating numerical advantages, overloads, in possession of the ball around the penalty area and in the attacking-third in general.
One of the strikers can pull wide to combine with the wing players, while one striker can stay central, initiating 2v1 or 3v1 opportunities that generate crosses, shots, fouls, and overall positive take-ons in dangerous areas of the pitch.
5. Unsettle Your Opponents
When you commit to the 4-4-2 system, and by doing so develop constant overloads during a match, you're going to unsettle the back-four of the teams you're playing against.
Defenders won't know whether to track one of the strikers pulling into the wide channels, or stay with the player buzzing around the penalty area, and pandemonium will ensure.
So start reading up on your tactics, and consider the strengths of a 4-4-2 when you draw up the next team sheet for match day.