The greatest challenge for a manager is to find tactics suitable to the players for his team, the types of players, their technical abilities and if those tactics can wield results or not. Today we will discuss one of the most defensively stable and popular formations, the 4-5-1 formation. We will discuss the different aspect of the 4-5-1 formation and how to execute it. So let us dive into the facts.
Requirements of the 4-5-1 Formation
The 4-5-1 formation requires a particular set of footballers specialized in certain qualities. The two centre backs are defensively solid with great game reading and anticipation quality. The Left and Right full-backs need to be defensively very much apt in much of the cases they have to sit back along with the centre backs and participate in the defensive work. They may possess overlapping skills which may be used as an attacking variation. The midfield consists of a variety of midfielders, There is a central defensive midfielder whose main job will be to break the opponent’s play and pass the ball to the passing options to initiate the attacking transition. Then there are two technically brilliant and balanced central midfielders who can actively participate in both attacking and defensive duty. The two wide midfielders or the wingers need to be pacy this is one of the most essential components for the execution of this formation’s attacking transition. The lone forward must be hardworking and needs to be hardworking and has to be able to put double shift of holding up the play to give the time for his teammates to come and join the attacking play and also needs to show the skill of making most of the chances he gets during the game.
Tactical Description of the 4-5-1 Formation
The 4-5-1 is mostly a defensive pressure oriented formation. This formation is pretty much suitable for the teams who want to play a defence-oriented counter-attacking game. The main principle of this formation is to outnumber the opposition in midfield with 5 midfielders at the centre of the park resulting in the controlling the midfield and with a good central defensive midfielder try to win back the ball in the middle with help of numerical superiority and begin the swift counter-attacking process.
But due to 5 midfielders present in the centre in case of a 4-5-1 flat formation, there is no opportunity for the team to press the defensive players of the opponent. Due to the tightly-packed wide and central areas and with virtually 9 men protecting the ball there is very little or no chance for the opponent to build up any play in the team’s half with no space in between the lines to act upon. Another important aspect of this formation is to determine where to start the press, with the help of two wingers and the forward follows the principle where the line of confrontation begins at the top of the centre circle and in some cases some team follows the centre line as the line of confrontation or pressing. Due to such a compact and tight-knit formation, the opponents don’t have many options other than playing the long balls and try to cross the defensive line with the forwards and wingers making the line breaking run, so most of the times the centre backs clear the dangers but the goalkeeper must also remain alert and try to sweep the areas behind the goalkeeper and fullbacks.
The centre backs and the fullbacks have to be positionally aware and also needs to anticipate the angles in which the balls can be played by the opponent. In the attacking phase of the 4-5-1 formation, the team can easily make passing triangles in the midfield areas which is the best way of playing the passing game and try to play the way out against the opponent’s midfield press. The central 3 of the midfield including the two central midfielders and the defensive midfielder is very important for the sustainability of this system.
The no.6 that is the central defensive midfielder playing in between the lines is much like the key of the midfield. The no.6 may have to shift to the fullback’s position if he participates in the attacking play with his overlapping run, he will also have to win the ball in the midfield region and be the initiator of the passing sequence leading to the attacking play, he is the player to whom there is a large number of passing options in the midfield is available he has to pick the most advantageously placed player. He also has the important duty of controlling the pace of the game according to his team’s need, As the no.9 is alone up top the wide midfielders or wingers joins him in the attacking play to give support, also in some cases the wide midfielders do not leave their position but the two central midfielders join the attacking play with the no.9. Sometimes a single full-back also moves up to give another extra option in the attacking play. Role of Controller and Mezzala in 4-5-1 formation Mezzala’s will have a very important role to play in this formation if the team possesses on in case of this formation.
The case is the mezzala will according to the need of the team in the attacking phase will either drift to the sides to give the attacking support while in the transition phase. In an alternative way in case of the teams which does not allow their wide players to progress further will make the mezzala playing in the central midfield position to use the half-spaces in the opponent’s half to provide the slight amount of creativity in the attack. In that case, the deeper central midfielder will cover the position left by the mezzala who is moving forward to the half-spaces.In case of the controllers which are rarely seen in a 4-5-1 flat formation.
He can act as an asset for the team, with the ability to control the game he can turn the result of the match upside down to initiate the passing sequence in the midfield. In case if there is no passing option in the midfield he will protect the ball until he doesn’t get the opportunity to pass it, he will remain close to the ball in the small packets of spaces, as a result, there is a constant passing option in the midfield with a spare man who has the creative ability to launch the quick counter-attack. He will also possess the basic defending skills to participate in the defensive blockade if needed. Variations of the 4-5-1 Formation. Apart from the flat 4-5-1 formation, there are different variations that arose with time, according to the needs of the team the tweaking of the formation took place.
Variations of 4-5-1 Formation
In this shape there are two midfielders in the deep central region, one is a central defensive midfielder another is a deep-lying playmaker. There is pretty much no place in the zone.14 for the opponents to play with, there is a midfield 3 consisting of the central attacking midfielder and two wingers on both sides, this is the most stable formation. One of the most popular formations of our times, teams try to follow this formation to maintain the perfect balance between the attack and defence. For more details please visit the previous article on this topic from our page.
This shape is more of a defensive-oriented shape, Tony Pulis used this formation to perfection, in this formation, there are two blocks of 4 midfielders and defenders like the 4-4-2 formation, in between them lies the defensive midfielder. The two central midfielders, in this case, are balanced of sort and the no.6 provides the man advantage in the midfield. In this formation, the attacking triangle formation can be easily formed in these formations. The team can easily pass their way into the wider regions. This is mostly used by the lower mid-table clubs to give them the edge in midfield against the technically superior upper league tables team.
This is another defensive formation, Sean Dyche uses this formation quite regularly at Burnley making them a team difficult to score against. With the flat 4 in the midfield and the strong defence, one can easily shut down all the passing lanes for the opposition. The long ball method targeting the physically strong forward is widely used in this case, there is an attacking midfielder to assist the no.9 in the attacking play. The wide mids also joins the play to give more attacking options.
When to use the 4-5-1 Formation
4-5-1 formations are generally preferred by teams with pacy wide players and in transition takes the shape of 4-3-3 Formation. This formation gives strong defensive security to play counter-attacking football with the motive of controlling the play in the centre of the pitch.4-5-1 is a good formation to play against the widely used 4-3-3 formation which is widely used in today’s football. With the man advantage in midfield, one tries to win the ball against the 4-3-3 formations and try to hit them on the counters with aggressive and pacy counter-attacks.
Advantages of the 4-5-1 Formation
This is the best formation to counter the 4-3-3 formation.2. In case of the matches which needs high defensive stability or deals with holding onto a lead, it is the best formation to go with. With 9 men behind the ball breaking this formation might prove to be a tough nut to crack for a lot of teams.3. Against a technically superior opponent, this formation is perfect, as there is very little space to create play and on the other hand the formation deals with mostly spirited defending which might cover for the technicality deficiency of the lower table clubs against strong opponents.
Disadvantages of the 4-5-1 Formation
The passing options become very predictable in the midfield and opponents can build upon that as they can put a heavy pressing mechanism in the midfield. Though this formation provides defensive stability the attacking threat of the team gets neutralized for a large extent. The midfielders and the forward have to be on the top of his game throughout the 90 minutes which is almost impossible to maintain such a high level of intensity throughout the game. This is not particularly a good formation when the team is trailing as the attacking threat is low for this formation.
Thus we can say that the 4-5-1 formation is a very good formation for a team who wants to build their game on the strength of their defence. But it’s on the manager to choose what formation he will want to play in. But nevertheless, the 4-5-1 formation has been a time tested jewel among the formations.
Have you liked our article on the 4-5-1 Formation Analysis? Let us know in the comment section below.