The 4-4-2 Formation
The 4-4-2 is a favored formation for many of the top teams in the world today. The 4-4-2 provides for a well-balanced attack as well as defense. It usually consists of four defenders strung along the back line, four midfielders (right, left, two central) and twin center forwards. Diagram (a) below illustrates the line-up in a standard 4-4-2 formation. The formation allows a team to defend with a block of eight players yet at the moment of gaining possession allows for any of the four midfielders as well as defenders to join the attack.
Several variations exist within the 4-4-2 formation. Teams may opt to tuck their wide midfielders inside to overload the middle area. Other teams may opt to use a man marker and a sweeper instead of a flat-back four. Part of the success of the 4-4-2 formation is the fact that it can be tweaked and varied yet still maintains its integrity as a solid formation both in attack and defense.
Diagram (b) illustrates a slight variation on the standard 4-4-2 formation. In this example the team has opted to play with four central midfield players to allow them to clog the middle while defending, and on attack, bring their fullbacks forward.