The Biggest Weaknesses of Playing a 4-4-2 Formation
If your team decides to setup in a traditional 4-4-2 formation, or you face another team that plays this way, there are some key fundamentals to this lineup that your team needs to address and understand.
Learning to identify the strengths, but perhaps more importantly, the weaknesses, of a given formation will help you when you select your team sheet and can be critical for formulating a tactical plan for cutting your opponents' system to shreds.
Where to Begin
Start by deciphering what the 4-4-2 looks like on the pitch, what spaces to players occupy/vacate, how do they defend or attack in numbers, etc.
A good place to start is by looking at the heart of midfield, as one of the biggest weaknesses of playing this formation is that it can leave teams light in the center of the park.
If you come up against a team that is playing two holding-midfielders, in a 4-2-3-1 for example, it is quite often the case that the team playing with only two central midfielders, in a 4-4-2, can be overrun and lose the possession battle.
It's very important to consider this when you weigh the pros and cons of implementing this 4-4-2 system, and unless you have players that can cover a ton of ground, this might be a risky way to set your team up.
Knowing Your Strengths and Weaknesses
You must also carefully consider the strengths of your outside-backs when playing this system, typically in a 4-4-2 your No. 7 and No. 11 wide players are asked to be pure, out-and-out wingers.
This means that your No. 2 and No. 3 defenders may not always get the cover and tracking-back that they require to keep the opponents at bay.
It's critical to measure this carefully, otherwise your defenders could be come victims of brutal overloads throughout a match, and your center-backs can get pulled out of position.
The Counter Attack
Another big topic of discussion when it comes to the 4-4-2 system is that your team is quite often susceptible to being hung out to dry on a counter attack, because teams playing this system don't have strong numbers in midfield, and many times they will concede goals on the break during the transition from attacking to defending.
It is therefore critical to assess if your team has the ability to transition from attacking to defending quickly and efficiently, otherwise, this system may not be the one for you.
Not surprisingly, another big weakness of this formation is that it can leave your center-backs exposed against crafty dribblers and technicians due to the lack of protection a lighter midfield offers.
If you have tall, strong, lumbering center-backs that are good in the air and winning physical challenges, but not so mobile or good at defending against take-ons, make sure you have a plan in place to shield these players, otherwise your defense will get discombobulated and pulled out of position all too easily.