When is it okay to be defensive?

The basic 4-1-4-1 formation and how to play it

The 4-1-4-1 For some experts, this is a further development of the 4-2-3-1. The public first took notice of this system in 2008 when the Spanish national coach Luis Aragon├ęs set up his team in qualifying for the European Championship. The four midfielders were very offensive, and by changing positions they offered great attack variability. A defensive midfielder was able to secure the offensive, as the team acted very safe on the ball.

In this article, we introduce the 4-1-4-1 system in more detail and we also want to show that this system is also very good defensive qualities owns. We show as in the 4-1-4-1 one Game setup can look like a Pressing can be played and how to Standard situations defended. The last point is not linked to the 4-1-4-1 system, but since more and more goals are being scored directly or indirectly after a corner kick or free kick in modern football, we will go into this topic again.

The Advantages of the 4-1-4-1 system are of different nature. The basic formation sees two back four in front, in between a 6 and a storm tip in front. With two chains of four you can play against the ball very compactly. In this way, you can always set up a close-knit network with mutual protection and a lot of breadth. Those two clean lines make for one good orientation the player. This is particularly the case with collective acts, such as B. the shifting noticeable. There is also an almost ideal room layout. Many areas of the playing field are covered by the four vertical and four horizontal lines. The four horizontal lines in particular lead to advantages when conquering the second ball and to many pass options when winning the ball.

Because of the compact width against the ball, which can be built up with two back-four, you have it all over the field quick access on the opponent in charge of the ball. In 4-1-4-1, too, the principle of modern football is consistently followed that the player closest to the ball is constantly Pressure on the ball exercises. This rule is paramount. The players then act as usual as Defense triangle or Defense sickle, just like we described it on the Golden Rules of Back Four page. The 6 acts in between.

A special role in 4-1-4-1 becomes the 6 series granted. Its task is on the one hand to pass the opponent through its presence between the lines (Red Zone) to prevent making sure that the 4 chain of defense as long as possible on one line can stay in order to seldom create spaces behind the advanced central defender and, if necessary, to move into the defense chain Chain of five let develop. With the outside ball position, this can be practiced to secure the full-back. In top-level football, the central defenders almost always have the requirement to stay in the center and not push through.


The Pressing The 4-1-4-1 can be practiced at any height of the field. But the trend in modern football is heading in the right direction attack early. The 4-1-4-1 is often a mixture of vertical and horizontal pressing played. This means that the striker walks towards the central defender in charge of the ball (from inside to outside) in order to control the game and to shift the game, but the remaining players only run straight (horizontally) towards the opponent in possession of the ball. It is important that the storm tip attacks the IV with the arc and also pursues it if it tries to break through.

Particular attention is paid in the 4-1-4-1 den Full-backs demanded. When the opponent is building up the game, the full-back pushes on the side close to the ball up to the level of the 6 to close gaps behind the midfield chain. The remaining three defenders form one behind Chain of three and push it slightly towards the ball side. The defenders always remain compact behind midfield.

The Storm top initially acts from the depths when the opponent has possession of the ball in order to provoke a build-up of the game via the central defenders. But then it acts almost exclusively between the IVin order to systematically prevent game shifts. If the opposing defensive midfield intervenes in the build-up of the game by picking up the ball from the IV, the striker behaves towards the 6s, like the central defenders.

Game setup:

At the Game setup the two central defenders are almost on the width of the penalty area. The full-backs move up, but not beyond the center line. The midfield outside (MA) stagger very broad, almost to the outside line. The 6, the two central midfielders and the striker form together a diamond. The first ball of the game opening ideally goes from the central defenders or the goalkeeper flat to a midfield outside. The second option is an allusion to an AV or the 6. The central midfielders should mainly take care of serving as a pass station in the center for the full-back being played. They do not need to offer themselves for the first pass when setting up the game.

It is favorable the game in 4-1-4-1 build on the outsidebecause you are double occupied here by the full-backs and the midfielders. The central midfielders are always centrally located between AV and MA. As soon as the AV receives the ball, they can be in Triangle game carry the ball forward. The chances of success are great as you mostly do this in excess can accomplish. Because the opposing defensive midfield is rarely pushed to the outside to double, as it is bound by the two central midfielders in the center.

At the Game setup it would also make sense 6s to playbut in practice this will seldom be the case. Alone in defensive midfield he has a difficult position, but still tries to be ready to play centrally in order to tie the opponent here too. If the 6 can then be played, it turns up depending on the situation or plays one-two with the central defender. He lets the ball clap slightly outwards. The IV can now dribble past the opposing striker, push forward and then play the ball down. In this case, the 6 series provides protection.

Standard situations:

The Corner kick will be in Defends space. Most dangerous is the area from where the opponent can score a goal and not the place from where the opponent starts into the dangerous area. the goal is forward into the ball to be able to go and ideally in excess. To do this, the two posts are occupied. Four players stand along the goal-area line and two players stand a few meters in front of it. Will the Corner played briefly, the two players closest to the ball start immediately towards the ball.

At the Free kick of Outside the goalkeeper posts a two-man wall. Five players stand along the goal-area line. Starting from the penalty spot, three players position themselves as a triangle. It is actively started in the flank and the goalkeeper tries to secure all balls in the goal area.

At the Free kick from a dangerous central position the goalkeeper can put up a four-man wall. For every opposing player who can start into the penalty area, a defender is positioned. Ideally, two teammates stay in the backcourt in order to get a defended ball earlier than the opponent. Right away after the free kick The defenders orient themselves towards the goal in order to clear a ball that the goalkeeper has hit.