How to play the 4-5-1 soccer formation

How to play the 4-5-1 soccer formation

When it comes to choosing the right formation for your team, there are many different variables that you will need to take into account before you set a certain formation in stone. It is often a good idea to stick with one or two formations for any given team when they are not at an elite level, as it can become confusing juggling between different formations and will not allow the team to become acclimatised and competent at any given one.

Instead of choosing the latest flavour of the month for your formation, you should choose one that suits the strengths of your team and accentuates them rather than leaning too much on your weaknesses. The right formation can transform even a subpar team into a competitive one, so make sure that you decide carefully which one you are going to go with.

When it comes to doing consistently well over a long period of time, you need to have a tight defensive structure that you are able to build your team on. Defence wins championships as the saying goes.

Utilising the 4-5-1 formation

two players chase a soccer ballSome people may think that this formation is very conservative and defensive. While there is only one single attacking threat when you look at the formation on paper, you shouldn’t jump to a conclusion solely based on this.

While the defence structure will largely remain the same no matter the phase of the game, when you are on the attack, this formation very often transforms into a 4-3-3 formation.

This is thanks to the flanks flying by with width on the wings and the midfielders in the centre pushing up in support of the main attacker. The key is being disciplined when on the ball and working the ball up the pitch as a team with a lot of support from the cast of midfielders.

What is the pivotal position when it comes to this formation?

a soccer gameWhile each and every position has its own unique set of challenges that the players must face, the midfielders on the outside and the lone striker will have to put in a lot of work for the formation to be pulled off effectively.

The striker is the lone target man that is given the task of creating depth in the attack and being able to split defenders, allowing the attackers coming through more space and time on the ball.

They are to always be an outlet when the ball is coming out of defence and there is always a lot being asked of the player that is playing in this position.

The two outside midfielders will have to have great engines on them due to the fact that they will be constantly working up and down the field, lending support to the defence and adding an extra dimension and some pace into the attack.

Many of these runs need to be made selflessly and may not get them involved in the play directly, instead they will be making runs that pull the opposition out of positon and create gaps for teammates to run into and exploit. They must be selfless players who are able to run up and down for the duration of the game.

The role of the defenders

a keeper saves from an oncoming strikerThe defenders in this formation need to remain well-structured throughout the game and make sure that their teammates are covered well at all times.

The outside defenders add an extra level of protection for the midfielders that have gone forward into an attack, while the defensive midfielder is positioned right in front of the two central defenders, meaning that they can focus a bit more on their man to man marking of the opposition danger men, rather than having to worry a lot about the space that is in front of them.

The main goal of the central defenders is to be solid and be able to break up attacks, no matter where they are coming from.

The outside backs should be given the license to attack now and then, providing a link to the midfielders from defence into attack.

Pros of this formation

  • The defenders give a strong level of protection and structure to the defence
  • Two of the holding midfielders give an extra layer of protection to the team
  • The wide midfielders can create a lot of width in attack, creating space
  • Midfielders have the numbers to play possession and work the play into good positions

Cons of this formation

  • The striker can often be isolated and lose possession
  • The midfield can become too crowded if the ball is not moved effectively

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