It’s All 4-4-2 – Part 4

This is the fourth instalment of the ‘It’s All 4-4-2’ series. For Part 1 click here. For Part 2 click here. For Part 3 click here.

4-4-2 to 4-3-3/4-5-1

Another grassroots favourite is the 4-3-3 (or 4-5-1 dependant on how you see it). This can be done in a couple of ways depending on how you want your team to play. To start, I’ll propose the idea simply, with 3 central forwards and 3 midfielders.


In this image, the most obvious change is telling one of your midfielders to play as a forward as often as possible (a little like the first example with the ‘Diamond). This midfielder (MC) will join in with every attack and will be left with a decision to make on whether or not they track back as they would playing in their ‘normal’ midfield role. You could set this role as marking one of the opposing defenders so that they stay high at all times.

The only other change, similar to the previous formation is the narrowing of the wide midfielders (MR/ML) asking them to support the centre midfield where they can.


  • MC – How many passes can you make in/around the opponents box?
  • MC – How many chances can you create?
  • MC – Can you join every attack?
  • MC – Can you stop the opposing defenders from playing?
  • ML/MR – Can you help the centre midfield to defend and create?
  • ML/MR – Can you make space for your full back to move into?

With those ‘Role Changes’ and ‘Challenges’ you would essentially be playing like this:


Alternatively, you could go for this style of 4-3-3/4-5-1 that we will call 4-2-3-1:


In this method, you will come out with ‘wide forwards’ as opposed to the previous 3 centre forwards. This one can be seen quite prominently at Barcelona where Messi spearheads the attack with Neymar and Suarez acting as ‘wide forwards’, although they regularly alternate.

Here, the wide midfielders would be asked to get forward as much as possible, as shown in the image whilst a forward would be asked to come deeper and help to start a move, whilst their partner would move a little more centrally to get on the end of any crosses and wing-play from the newly advanced midfielders. In practice it would look like this:



  • FC 1 – How far forward and central can you stay at all times?
  • FC 2 – How can you connect midfield and attack?
  • FC 2 – How many chances can you create?
  • ML/MR – Can you play high and cause trouble for the defence?
  • ML/MR – Can you play higher than you normally would?

A brand new ‘formation’ where only 4 players think you’re doing anything differently. You can see from this line-up how it could be called 4231 or 451, it’s merely down to classification of roles.

Our fifth and final post will be a conclusion of the previous four

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5.

Don’t Stop Here

More To Explore

Serialised Dissertation Pt. 8 – Discussion

Here’s Part 8 of my dissertation breakdown, which begins to review what we’ve looked at so far. Be sure to check back next week for the final instalment! DISCUSSION TRAITS AND CHARACTERISTICS In interesting element within these strategies is to