One of the oldest and most effective soccer formations to date is the 4-4-2 formation (a.k.a diamond formation soccer / flat midfield). It is a balanced formation provides a blueprint for defending that can quickly turn into an attack. The 4-4-2 formation is widely used by professional teams and by teams at the collegiate level. The 4-4-2 formation gets its name because you have 4 defenders, 4 players in the midfield and 2 attacking players playing in the forward position.
Understanding the defense
The defense makeup consists of a left back, 2 central defenders and a right back. While, the main goal of the defense is to defend, the left back and right back players will often times move forward in attack under certain situations.
The left and right back players will usually stay on their sides unless instructed by the coach to alternate when man covering players. The center defenders will sometimes play vertically to each other but most of the time they are horizontal to each other.
The central defenders have the freedom to alternate between each other and when ones moves out of position, the other will usually fill the void left.
Understanding the Midfield (Flat / Diamond Formation Soccer)
In a 4-4-2 formation, the midfield will generally consist of a left midfielder, 2 central midfielders and a right midfielder.
Much like the left and right back, a left / right midfielder do not switch sides unless instructed to. They will however, drop back to cover the left/right back when they have moved forward or are out of position. Left and right midfielders have the job of opening the field up and making it wide. This gives the offense as much space as possible to try and move the ball freely.
Much like the center backs, central midfielders can also play vertically or horizontally. This will impact play much more than when the central backs switch orientation. That is because, when they play vertically, one of the midfielders becomes a CAM or central attacking midfield; while the other one becomes a CDM or central defensive midfield. This positioning is commonly known as diamond formation soccer (the diamond formation for soccer).
The CAM is responsible for distribution of the ball. There is nothing more satisfying than finding the open player and slicing up the defense with a killer pass. The CDM will rarely move up. Usually tasked with being the first line of defense in front of the defense. The CDM usually does the dirty work. By that, I mean that the CDM will try and disrupt the opposition’s play before it gets to the defense.
During horizontal formation play (flat formation), both central midfielders are tasked with ball retention and distribution. They will alternate sides as they see fit. One will cover for the other when the other is out of position.
Understanding the Forwards
The two forwards or strikers as called in Europe, are tasked with the most important thing needed for winning a game. Together, the link up play among themselves and any other attacking player. They will alternate among each other and in some cases hold the ball up while attacking players come in support. Di
The two strikers do not have a set positioning unless defending. A striker needs to give chase when they lose the ball. While some strikers never defend, a good striker must act as the first line of defense when they lose the ball. It goes without say, but the main job of a striker is to put the ball in the back of the net. Players playing the striker role, rarely get remembered when they track back to win a ball, its all about scoring goals.
There are many other positions you can employ with your teams but none will bring the balance that a 4-4-2 formation does. It is one of the easiest to learn and is adaptable to any situation in the game. Tactics in soccer are often overlooked. However, they should be apart of any soccer training regiment. Learning formations and actively practicing them will place you on a soccer mental acuity of a pro.
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