Apr 6, 2009
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Defensive Line-

This formation’s back-line is similar to the back-line of many other formations that use a flat back 4. It consists of 2 center-backs, who sit deep and are completely devoted to defense with no real attacking assignments. The center-backs need great stamina, the ability to organize the defensive line, and great defensive skills. There are 2 fullbacks, one on each side of the center-backs, and they are responsible for defending the area wide of the center-backs. But, unlike the center-backs, they also have attacking tasks. When the team has prolonged periods of possession, the fullbacks are tasked with getting forward to support the wingers, helping to control possession and move the ball laterally, while also making overlapping runs past the wingers to overload the opposing defense.


The midfield is anchored by 2 box-to-box (B2B) midfielders in the middle, whose jobs range from shielding and defending in front of the center-back pairing to getting forward on the attack to provide late runs into the penalty area. Their responsibilities are split 50/50 between attacking and defending. Most teams that use the 4-4-2 have matched a good passing central midfielder with a more physical ball-winning central midfielder. The tackler is responsible for winning the ball back and having more of a defensive focus while the passing central midfielder takes more responsibility for contributing to the offensive build-up. However, unlike other formations, both of these central midfielders are responsible for putting in good effort and work on both sides of the ball. The central midfielders need to have tactical intelligence, to help organize the teams attacking phase. They need to be strong and confident with the ball, able to make short passes to move the ball laterally to the wingers and ahead to the two strikers. They must also be defensively proficient, able to deal with strong midfielders and not afraid to put in a strong tackle to break up a building attack. They also need to be positionally proficient, which tends to lead to a high number of interceptions. The central midfielders are also often responsible for organize the defensive pressing.

On each side of the center midfielders are 2 traditional wingers, both of whom have the offensive objectives of providing attacking width and accurate crosses into the box. They get forward down the touchline to run at the oppositions fullbacks, meaning they must have good pace, acceleration, decent dribbling ability and the confidence to run at the fullbacks. They should also have good crossing ability, able to put in strong and accurate crosses into the box from near the byline, for the 2 forwards to attack. Defensively, their job is to quickly track back and assist the fullbacks in dealing with the opponent’s wingers; they also are responsible for keeping an eye on the opponent’s fullbacks when they try to get forward.


Cole & Yorke - Pefect Strike Partners

Unlike most current formations which depend on a lone striker, the 4-4-2 has 2 strikers leading the line. Often, a 4-4-2 is built on a great striker partnership, such as Dwight Yorke and Andrew Cole. But there are several different options for the 2 strikers. Some teams play with a tall target man, playing besides a smaller, agile striker. Other teams will play with one striker that is constantly trying to get behind the defensive line while the other striker will play deeper. The 2 strikers are responsible for converting the team’s possession into goals. Often, one of the strikers needs to be a good header of the ball who can get on the end of the crosses that the wingers will put into the box. Additionally, one of them needs to be good with the ball at his feet, able to create spaces and a decent shooter from distance. On defense, the 2 strikers need to pressure the opposition’s defensive line when they have the ball. The strikers need to ensure that the opponent’s center-backs don’t have too much time on the ball, preventing any dangerous passes from the opponent’s back line.

4-4-2 Tactics & Strategy-

There are certain tactical requirements necessary for 4-4-2 to function well. One key to the 4-4-2 is to ensure the space between the backline and the front line stays short, often within 30-40 yards. This restricts the space between the lines for the opposition to operate in. While playing close together, it makes it easier for the defense to regain possession. The short space also allows the team to transition quickly to the attack, and makes short passes easier.

4-4-2 on the Attack

When playing against a team with a back line of 4, the 2 strikers will line up against 2 center-backs. This 2v2 means that the defense has no back-up if one of the center-backs makes a mistake. Most formations with a lone striker will allow the defense to always have a free man in the back-line to cover any players that get away from their marker.

This formation has good width, with the wingers and fullbacks used to stretch the opposing defense from touchline to touchline. When the fullbacks come forward to assist the wingers, you get chances for overload (2v1) chances out wide. The central midfielders often get forward to contribute on the attack. One of the central midfielders will often stay deep, while the other will often make late runs into the box in hopes of getting through unmarked. These late runs into the box can be dangerous goal scoring opportunities.

4-4-2 defending

Defensively, the main component of this formation is two banks of 4 defenders. This means that the team will often have 8 outfield players in the final third of the pitch, leaving little open space for the opposition to operate in. The backline will consist of the center-backs and the fullbacks, with all 4 often standing inside their own penalty area. The center-backs are responsible for zonal marking the area in front of the net, often covering the opponent’s strikers. The full-backs mark the areas out wide of the center-backs, often covering the opponent’s wide players. The second bank of 4 will be the 2 central midfielders and both wingers. The wingers often drop back to assist the fullbacks in dealing with the oppositions wide players. They also will cover the opposition’s fullbacks if they come forward. The central midfielders act as a screen in front of their own center-backs, trying to shut down the space between the lines. The two strikers are needed to pressure the opposition’s defensive line when they have the ball, pressing them to hurry their passes.

Player Pairing in the middle

A strategic plus with this formation is the rigid pairing in the “spine” of the formation, with the players supporting each other. The center-backs are paired together, supporting each other. Ahead of the center-backs, the central midfielders are paired together. They support each other, but also support the center-backs behind them and the strikers who are paired ahead of them. Defensively, this means that should a player have problems they will have somebody nearby to assist him to shut down the threat. Offensively, there is always a passing option close by, to go with other passing options further afield.

For all the advantages that the 4-4-2 can afford your team, there are several problems that can arise from it. When trying to control possession, there are some problems that this formation can cause. One of the main problems is that the three separate lines will often play straight across, and this makes it difficult to form the passing triangles that are needed to control possession and beat a compact defense. This formation can work well against a team defending deep, that is willing to concede possession, but against a team that is pressing high up the field, you will struggle to control possession.

Another major problem can happen if the lines start to get too far apart. If the distance between the back and front line get more than 40 yards, gaps and spaces will start to open up between the lines. Defensively, with 3 lines fairly straight across, when gaps open between the lines there are no defenders to cover the space. That leads to attackers in dangerous positions with no defender nearby to pick them up. Offensively, this formation works well to stretch a defense out laterally, but the need for the three lines to stay close together means that it doesn’t work well to stretch out a defense length-wise.

However, the biggest problem is when confronting an opponent who plays a formation with 3 central midfielders, such as 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1. The opponent will have 3 players in the central midfield, against 2 in this formation. This will cause problems on offense and defense. With 3 central midfielders against 2, the opposition will have no problem shutting down attacks through the middle of the pitch due to an extra man in that area. After regaining possession, they have an easier time controlling possession with that extra man. The only solution to this problem is to pull one of the strikers back to help in the midfield, but this pulls him away from the goal and reduces his effectiveness.

4-4-2 Advantages & Disadvantages-


+Defensively, each player often has a nearby player helping in their assignment

+Short distance between the back-line and the front line leaves little space for the opposition to operate in.

+The short distance makes it easy to regain possession

+Frequent short passes are easy

+2 Strikers makes quick counter-attacks easier

+Often 2 strikers against 2 center-backs in the penalty area.

+Attacking width and quality crossing chances


+The 3 lines often line up straight, making it difficult to form passing triangles.

+With 2 central midfielders, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the central midfield.

+If the lines get too spread out, it’s easy for the opponent to operate between the lines.

+Easy to get caught on the counter attack when fullbacks press forward.
mate, i have 1 Q. I think kagawa shinji isn't best player for box-to-box because of his low marking, tackling ability. but in your screenshot, kagawa seemes to play very well. what makes him to do that ?? because of his high workrate ?? thx anyway
I test your tactics in Tottenham . I give results soon :)
mate, i have 1 Q. I think kagawa shinji isn't best player for box-to-box because of his low marking, tackling ability. but in your screenshot, kagawa seemes to play very well. what makes him to do that ?? because of his high workrate ?? thx anyway

to me I don't think it matters what roles players have in this games. the idea for me was I wanted the central midfielders to defend together and attack together. As you can see in my screenshots I very rarely concede. My defense line is so high that as soon as the opposition receives the ball there in **** street
in the first match I played against Arsenal at home and won 2-1 I was 4 CCC, goal defender lost by mistake. Not bad :)

in the second match i played away against Stoke and draw 1:1 I was 2 CCC
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in the first match I played against Arsenal at home and won 2-1 I was 4 CCC, goal defender lost by mistake. Not bad :)

in the second match i played away against Stoke and draw 1:1 I was 2 CCC

not bad mate, stoke are a tough team though. Give tactic at least 10 games
I'll tell you the results when I have half of the season :)
Not bad :) last 3 games I won 4:0 (Swansea) , 4:0 (Newcastle - 3 goals from corners (H) ) and 2:0 (Stuttgart) all this match at home :)
Giving it a go with Tipton Town after my first 2 promotions, first game using it, 4-0 win over Bedworth Unted (same tier) that sees me qualify for the first round of the FA Cup!
Been trying to find a good 4-4-2 tactic for my Norwich one, I'm alright scoring but I concede too many, will give this a try when I get home, will it work with holt as tm instead of cf?
First game won 4-0 had 19 chances, 11 on target and 5 clear cut, 57% possession and opposition had 6 chances with none on target, I'm impressed!