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Thursday, 18 February 2016 13:51

Is there life left in the 4-4-2?

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The 4-4-2. The most commonly used formation in the world. The bread and butter of English football for many years, but is the very formation that helped United win the terrible back in 1999 slowly becoming extinct?
 
Across Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga we have seen teams use different systems for years with much greater success than England both with club and country. So is it time England adapted? Is the 4-4-2 really that outdated?
 
The 4-4-2 is made up of two banks of four to supplement two all-out strikers. The formation allows teams to be offensive when they have the ball whilst defensive when they don’t. It’s all about team work, it puts a lot of accountability on the wide men to track back and defend for the team as well as going forward to help great and score goals. The full backs also play an important role both in attack and defence. The midfield generally consists of a defensive minded player whose primary job is to screen the defence, the extra man, the insurance policy and the player who breaks play up when the opposition is attacking and his team is on the back foot. The second midfielder still has defensive duties but is more attack minded and links with the two wide men and the strikers. In this formation every player has a defined role.
 
 
So on paper the 4-4-2 doesn’t sound all that bad, so why has it yielded very little results over the years and why are teams slowly ditching this formation? The simple answer is 4-3-3.   
 
The 4-3-3 is fluid and has a lot a variation, it promotes and encourages freedom and creativity. So you would imagine the rigid nature of the 4-4-2 would hold up against a 4-3-3. In theory YES but in practice NO.
 
With a 4-3-3, you can choose to play on the counter, dominate possession, work the ball through the middle or ask the full backs to overlap the wingers. The 4-4-2 restricts attacking freedom, It makes players easier to mark.  Why wouldn’t managers use this formation? Look at all the success that Pep Guardiolas old Barcelona has achieved.
 
The very attacking nature of the 4-3-3 overwhelms teams using the 4-4-2. It piles the pressure on defence, makes the opposition midfield play more defensive due to the onslaught which then isolates them from the strikers.
 
However one manager is still clinging onto ancient ways like an old samurai. Badbrownbear recently took over a poorly preforming internacional side. He’s been tinkering with all sorts of formations in friendly and league games with very little success until recently. His current transfer market activity and current players listed on the transfer market suggest he’s in the business to bring 4-4-2 back into fashion like its 1999.  Like Mike Basset said “ladies and gentlemen Internacional will be playing 4-4-f**king-2.
 
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