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Inside forwards 4-2-3-1

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Reading a few of the 4-2-3-1 posts (I’m mostly talking about you, SFraser) makes me want to give it a try. I think it’s an interesting, well-balanced tactic and actually has more attacking players than most tactics. The only positions I’m unsure of are the wide attacking players. I know I would want to make both mine inside forwards but I have some questions.

1) Is it preferable to have them on their opposite foot? I assume yes but I’ve been well-respected managers put left footers on the left before.

2) I’ve also seen people put skillful strikers (like Aguero) out wide. Can players like that be effective out there immediately or do they need to be trained first?

3) What attributes are the most key for these 2 guys?

My Chelsea team will be ending season 3 soon and I have been playing a more rigid 4-3-1-2 and I’d like to migrate to a more fluid 4-2-3-1 for season 4. I’m wondering how I’m going to fit these attacking players into the new system:

Dzeko, Aguero, Babacar, Sturridge, Pastore, Hazard, Hamsik, Lampard, Defour, Rakitic.

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1) It depends on what exactly you want them to do. If you want them to be played in behind the defense or dribble through the defense cutting inside the opposite foot is preferable as the player wants to have the ball inbetween him and the defender so cutting inside is natural. If you want a more narrow winger or link up man then it is not so preferable, because cut inside will still make the player want to come inside his man but he will also sometimes go outside. He makes runs inside the fullback and also runs with the ball on either side. If set up correctly he can be a dangerous player dragging the CB and FB towards him creating space for the clinical finisher at AML.

2) Most of the time fast clinical strikers are played on the wing so they cut inside and match up against the less strong, poorer defensive full back. This mis-match is an advantage since they be presented with and forge more chances. Also clinical strikers are put out wide so when they are given the chance, you would put your money on them to score. A developed Alberto Paloschi would be excellent for this kind of role.

The advantage of a skillful striker out wide is that he is less one-dimensional than the above description, he can create chances for the striker, AM and right winger as well as being pretty good at finishing off chances himself. Think more of an Adam Johnson or a Ribery or a Robben

The final type of striker used out wide is the combination of the above. He can create and score equally well, and attracts a lot of attention by the opposition defense creating lots of space for your ST, AMC and AMR as well as your FB (if used at AML). This is where players like Aguero, Pedro, Messi, Villa, Ronaldo fall in for me.

These players can be effective immediately and training will only make them play better. The player will play well given the chances (not run around like a headless chicken or act stupidly) but may be caught out of position or in a col de sac more often due to a reduced knowledge of how to play the position. For example I play at CM for my school but at times during games I am moved to AM or RM or even RB. I still know what I am supposed to do from my general knowledge of football but due to not playing there a lot I'm not completely comfortable with it and am sometimes not in the right position to attack the box or play too deep etc... I don't do a bad job.

3) For a creating inside forward you want acceleration, agility, teamwork, work rate, determination, anticipation, creativity, flair, dribbling, passing, possibly crossing, technique. Think Hazard or Nasri.

For a scoring inside forward you want acceleration, agility, pace, determination, anticipation, off the ball, dribbling, finishing, composure, technique. Think Paloschi, or David Villa.

If it were me I would line up:

GK defend

DR wing back attack

DL wing back support

DC defend

DC defend

MCr deep lying playmaker support/defend - Defour

MCl deep lying playmaker support - Hamsik

AMC advanced playmaker attack - Pastore/Lampard

AMR - inside forward support - Hazard

AML - inside forward attack - Aguero

ST - complete forward attack/support - Babacar/Dzeko

I would tweak the individual instructions to suit what you want to do so (eg reduce long shots).

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Amazing response. Thank you. This helps me better decide who should go where and what attributes to look for in potential signings. I don’t have any really good left footed attacking players so maybe I’ll make signing one my priority in the summer.

By the way I only listed my attacking players. I also have Essien, Sissoko, Mikel, Rodwell & Ramires for the 2 more defensive midfield positions. I don’t really care about Lampard (he’s getting on a bit), Defour or Sturridge but the guy I can’t really figure out a spot for is Hamsik. But I’ll try him deep and then maybe in the AMC spot too and see how he does.

So I'd plan to go with something like this:

G Cech/Delac

DR Ivanovic/Santon

DL Cole/Coentrao

DC Terry/Alex

DC Jones/Rami

MC Essien/Mikel

MC Sissoko/Rodwell

AMC Pastore/Hamsik

AML Hazard

AMR Aguero

FC Dzeko/Babacar

Maybe buy a new left footed player for AMR and more attacking RB.

I was tempted to start again but I guess looking at it, I have a lot of players that can fit into this new system pretty well.

So just out of interest, why do you suggest staggering the attack/support mentalities for the wide players (DR/DL/MR/ML) and not just having them be symmetrical? I see people do this a lot but was just wondering about the thinking behind it.

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By having the team slightly assymmetric, you can encourage build up play to occur on this flank and then a good cross field ball allows your team to perhaps catch the opposition off guard on the opposite side of the pitch. It can help to increase pass percentage and possession by slightly cramping one side. Think Spain, they cramp the right side with Ramos WBR, Xavi CM, Iniesta AMR, Xabi Alonso DMR, Torres, and possibly even the Busquets at DMl. This drags play and defenders to this side so the AML Villa is unmarked and can be played through.

Another advantage to having one FB and winger more attacking is that the FB attacks the wing and can drill a cross to the attacking winger on the other side to tap in.

With the players you have I suggest inverting the roles I suggested to the DL is more attacking and the AMR Aguero is inside forward attack. This would suit your players better. Hazard is a beast at AML or AMR or even AMC so he is versatile. I'm unsure about Aguero on the right but it would suit the team better if the finisher is on the right wing. He is wasted if forced out wide to you really have to work hard to create space to force him to come inside and attack the box not the wing.

Have Essien/Mikel covering for the attacking DL by playing him with a defend duty.

I hope that helps.

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Makes perfect sense, thank you. I'll try this in a few days when my season ends.

So where would you play Hamsik? AMC or deeper? Or would you just sell him? I'm not sure he's hard-working enough to play a defensive role and I'm not sure he's explosive enough (like Pastore/Harzard) for AMC.

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Definitely deep lying playmaker support with Pastore at AMC. When Pastore is tired or injured play Hamsik at AMC.

The advantage of two creative players on the field roaming around is very difficult to defend against. Think of it like Pastore is your playmaker and Hamsik is your hidden playmaker much the same way with Fabregas and Ramsey in Arsenal's 4231.

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1) It depends on what exactly you want them to do. If you want them to be played in behind the defense or dribble through the defense cutting inside the opposite foot is preferable as the player wants to have the ball inbetween him and the defender so cutting inside is natural. If you want a more narrow winger or link up man then it is not so preferable, because cut inside will still make the player want to come inside his man but he will also sometimes go outside. He makes runs inside the fullback and also runs with the ball on either side. If set up correctly he can be a dangerous player dragging the CB and FB towards him creating space for the clinical finisher at AML.

2) Most of the time fast clinical strikers are played on the wing so they cut inside and match up against the less strong, poorer defensive full back. This mis-match is an advantage since they be presented with and forge more chances. Also clinical strikers are put out wide so when they are given the chance, you would put your money on them to score. A developed Alberto Paloschi would be excellent for this kind of role.

The advantage of a skillful striker out wide is that he is less one-dimensional than the above description, he can create chances for the striker, AM and right winger as well as being pretty good at finishing off chances himself. Think more of an Adam Johnson or a Ribery or a Robben

The final type of striker used out wide is the combination of the above. He can create and score equally well, and attracts a lot of attention by the opposition defense creating lots of space for your ST, AMC and AMR as well as your FB (if used at AML). This is where players like Aguero, Pedro, Messi, Villa, Ronaldo fall in for me.

These players can be effective immediately and training will only make them play better. The player will play well given the chances (not run around like a headless chicken or act stupidly) but may be caught out of position or in a col de sac more often due to a reduced knowledge of how to play the position. For example I play at CM for my school but at times during games I am moved to AM or RM or even RB. I still know what I am supposed to do from my general knowledge of football but due to not playing there a lot I'm not completely comfortable with it and am sometimes not in the right position to attack the box or play too deep etc... I don't do a bad job.

3) For a creating inside forward you want acceleration, agility, teamwork, work rate, determination, anticipation, creativity, flair, dribbling, passing, possibly crossing, technique. Think Hazard or Nasri.

For a scoring inside forward you want acceleration, agility, pace, determination, anticipation, off the ball, dribbling, finishing, composure, technique. Think Paloschi, or David Villa.

If it were me I would line up:

GK defend

DR wing back attack

DL wing back support

DC defend

DC defend

MCr deep lying playmaker support/defend - Defour

MCl deep lying playmaker support - Hamsik

AMC advanced playmaker attack - Pastore/Lampard

AMR - inside forward support - Hazard

AML - inside forward attack - Aguero

ST - complete forward attack/support - Babacar/Dzeko

I would tweak the individual instructions to suit what you want to do so (eg reduce long shots).

Lucatonix what mentality settings, closing down and passing instructions do you have your defenders, full backs central midfielders, inside forwards and strikers. I was reading your psot on the Arsenal Triple Pivot and wanted to know if you where using the same mentality, closing down and passing for your above tactic. I keep getting dominated in the midfield area with Arsenal. I have Song and Wilshere DLP defend and DLP support. If you could offer me some help with this area that would be great

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I no longer use that tactic anymore. In my current 4231 (which is similar to the roles I posted)I use the default closing down settings . If we are struggling to win the ball back I might make our team more attacking and/or increase closing down and/or increase hardness of tackling.

I think to overcome getting dominated in the midfield it could be a number of problems. It could be due to unable to keep the ball, which means you don't have enough passing options from your full backs and wingers. It could be that your midfielders are struggling to win the ball back. Perhaps they are chasing the ball but not in an organised way so the opposition just pass the ball around you. Perhaps they aren't closing down enough but sitting back, so your opposition play infront of your midfield. Perhaps it's your wingers that aren't tracking back enough so the opposition camp out on the wings. Or maybe your midfield is just on a run of bad form so are losing the midfield battle.

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1) Is it preferable to have them on their opposite foot? I assume yes but I’ve been well-respected managers put left footers on the left before.

For genuine Inside Forwards, yes. For goalscoring wingers, not so much so long as they have effective goalscoring/delivery abilities.

The footedness question has a lot to do with what the rest of your team is doing. A right footed winger on the right wing might be a lethal goalscorer receiving throughballs, but if your forwards are poor in the air and the defence is sitting deep and numerous then his crosses will have to be perfect. However on the counter-attack he can be devestating even with poor crossing.

What's more dangerous on the counter attack? A player skinning a fullback and sprinting up field to deliver a cross to three players running into the box against three defenders, or cutting inside against the opponents DM?

The ideal "correct footed" Winger in a creative, playmaking, possession based attacking system is someone that can score goals but whose primary strength is delivery. Beckham for example. The lower the quality of his delivery, the more powerful your targets have to be in the box. And at the higher levels of the game it's incredibly hard to overpower Centrebacks.

2) I’ve also seen people put skillful strikers (like Aguero) out wide. Can players like that be effective out there immediately or do they need to be trained first?

Instantly and easily. Backed up by sufficient playmakers a genuine striker pulling off a fullback is utterly lethal.

Consider the mess a lone striker has to plough through. A team playing an aggressive continental formation will play two Centrebacks and a DM. A conservative continental formation is 2 Centrebacks and 2 DM's. Your lone striker has to find space, and your playmaker has to find passing gaps, to create a goalscoring opportunity.

A wide striker simply has to attack behind the "modern attacking fullback". Make a run behind a player that tends to be not the greatest defender ever and also tends to get upfield, and he is inside the box with no marker. And if he is "wrong footed" then he is instantly in an ideal position to hit a great shot from a slightly awkward angle.

But here is the real kicker. Against an "aggressive continental" formation of 2 Centrebacks and 1 DM, the natural passing angle for your midfield playmaker is on the outside of that triangle that leads straight to your inside forward. The awesome central defensive structure absolutely begs for passes on the outside of the DM, on the outside of the CB and on the inside of the FB.

If you don't mind and you have the patience, let me indulge in a bit of tactical theory.

The Front Two Is Not Dead

It's just no longer directly infront of the goal.

The perfect examples of modern attacking solutions to defensive problems come, rather obviously, from the worlds best teams. All of the best teams, the most exciting teams, the team that make the biggest impact on football and on peoples minds are quite obviously those that make the biggest scoreline impact against their opponents.

The recent World Cup just passed was noted for it's defensiveness, it's staleness, it's lack of excitement, and yet a team that is legendary for it's lack of flamboyancy and it's commitment to rigid, robust tactical principles made the best matches to watch.

The Germans were the most exciting team to watch in the World Cup. The Germans...

The German reputation is for rigorous adherance to tactical principle, immense workrate and team ethic, and abhorance for what could be called "The Madrid style". While Brazil might have the reputation for carnival football, the Germans have the reputation for anything but. Yet it was the Germans that did what Brazil could not, annihilate the majority of their opponents on the football pitch. Produce the most exciting attacking football seen in the last World Cup.

That the free scoring Germans were eventually knocked out by perhaps the most un-exciting winners of a World Cup there has ever been speaks volumes. The Germans were beaten by a team that almost completely refused to attack, refused to give the ball away, refused to take risks. But most interestingly the Germans were beaten by a team that played the same fundamental system they did, but played with a completely different philosophy.

What made the Germans exciting to watch was their goals, and they scored many goals. And all the goals that Germany scored were premised upon the brutal German tactical efficiency. The highest scorers of the last World Cup was a team that didn't care a hoot about philosophy and free flowing football, that cared only about tactical mastery of the opponent.

That tells you EXACTLY where football is today. It's Catennacio versus Total Football MKII. See this is what the World Cup offers us. Where was Messi? For all it's staleness and lack of excitement, the World Cup always offers us an insight into football where money doesn't matter and years of playing together is irrelevant. The World Cup is always the tactical employment of the luck of the draw. And that's why it will always be the greatest footballing show on Earth.

The German system was simple, play a defensive system, a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 and let the opponent try to get past your central wall. Then when they fail and give the ball away attack with absolutely huge numbers down one flank at immense pace while the rest of the team shuffles over into the middle, and play a goalscorer on the opposite flank to the vast flood of players down the other flank.

The tactical weakness of modern defensive formations is not the centre with its 1 DM, 2 DM, 3 potatoe, four. The tactical weakness of modern defensive formations is the attacking fullback, the players that simply must get forward to build an attacking threat in a team that is defending the ball off the middle.

Jonathan Wilson tells us that the Attacking Fullback is the key to modern football, because the middle is so well defended and the second striker is dropped into midfield, liberating the fullbacks and requiring the fullbacks to join the attack. Well it's the key to modern football for another reason because when the middle is packed and the flanks are attacking you don't attack the middle anymore. You plough through the flanks, completely avoid the middle, and if you can't create a goalscoring opportunity by making Maicon hallucinate thanks to the pressure he is under by half the team attacking him, then you look for your mate at the far post.

Germany destroyed teams that didn't realise that attacking fullbacks might actually be a weakness, which seems to have been most teams Germany faced. They attacked one flank at pace with huge numbers of players, and if that didn't completely ruin the "amazing central defensive system" outright, then when all these central players rushing over to try and deal with Klose, Ozil, Lahm, Khedira, and Mueller demolishing the left back left Podolski is left in a rather choice position on the other side of the pitch.

I would go into more depth and explain how Manchester United with Ronaldo, Spain with Villa and Iniesta, Barcelona with Messi, Barcelona with Villa, Holland with Robben, Inter with Eto'o, Arsenal with Van Persie, Liverpool with Kuyt, even Chelsea with Anelka and Torres etc. etc. fall into the same fold, but I'm drinking a few beers and not really up for an essay right now.

Make no mistake though. Germany's World Cup football, as it always is, was tactically brilliant. Just this time they humiliated a lot of teams. And that says everything about football today IMO.

3) What attributes are the most key for these 2 guys?

Anticipation, Off The Ball, Teamwork, Determination. The last attribute applies to all players.

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I no longer use that tactic anymore. In my current 4231 (which is similar to the roles I posted)I use the default closing down settings . If we are struggling to win the ball back I might make our team more attacking and/or increase closing down and/or increase hardness of tackling.

I think to overcome getting dominated in the midfield it could be a number of problems. It could be due to unable to keep the ball, which means you don't have enough passing options from your full backs and wingers. It could be that your midfielders are struggling to win the ball back. Perhaps they are chasing the ball but not in an organised way so the opposition just pass the ball around you. Perhaps they aren't closing down enough but sitting back, so your opposition play infront of your midfield. Perhaps it's your wingers that aren't tracking back enough so the opposition camp out on the wings. Or maybe your midfield is just on a run of bad form so are losing the midfield battle.

Lucotonix thanks for your feedback. I would just like to ask if you would recoomend having my Striker, AMR/L and Wing Back on the same mentality. I was thinking of having the mentality set between 11. I would then have my AMC slighty deeper with a mentality of 9 and MCs mentality 7 even less and the Centre Backs on 5

I was thinking of using the default closing down settings from the tactic creator and set the team instructioons to press more. I am also going to be using a balance control with zonal marking and my creative freedom set to default and shorter passing.

I would like to hear your feedback on what you think about my mentality settings and if you would make any changes

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You can have the striker and the AMR/L on the same mentality. However, for the wing back, his should be slightly lower. Preferably on the same mentality as your MC (mine is set to the same as my defensive MC).

For an AMR, a good option would be Alexis Sanchez, and he's absolutely amazing. He's right-footed and as SFraser explained, he's more a goal-scoring winger and even deadlier on the counter. His only hinder is his poor crossing but that hasn't been much of a problem, and makes up or it with pace and dribbling.

For attacking right backs, looking no further than Philipp Lahm. Another option would be Daniel Schwaab.

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A very useful thread this. I've been struggling with a 4-2-3-1 formation in my first season in the premiership. Worked very well in League One and the Championship, but problems I've had throughout in terms of strikers not scoring much have reared their head again. This thread and others lead me to believe I just have the wrong idea on how it should work.

At the moment I have IF(A) on both wings and both my fullbacks are FB(A). Seems like I am missing the assymetry needed, and also need to change my thinking from striker as main goal scorer to the IF on the opposite flank to the one with the FB(A) on. Also sounds like having both MC on DLP is better, though my squad does not have many players suited to that role. Could a Ball Winning Midfielder be played on the flank of the IF(A) to help keep some defensive strength, and is a Advanced Playmaker the best role for the AMC?

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Lucotonix thanks for your feedback. I would just like to ask if you would recoomend having my Striker, AMR/L and Wing Back on the same mentality. I was thinking of having the mentality set between 11. I would then have my AMC slighty deeper with a mentality of 9 and MCs mentality 7 even less and the Centre Backs on 5

I was thinking of using the default closing down settings from the tactic creator and set the team instructioons to press more. I am also going to be using a balance control with zonal marking and my creative freedom set to default and shorter passing.

I would like to hear your feedback on what you think about my mentality settings and if you would make any changes

It's been a long time since I have manually set up mentality (not since FM09). They look ok but it may be abit conservative with CBs on 5. Try it out and if the players aren't taking enough risks then step up the mentality.

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A very useful thread this. I've been struggling with a 4-2-3-1 formation in my first season in the premiership. Worked very well in League One and the Championship, but problems I've had throughout in terms of strikers not scoring much have reared their head again. This thread and others lead me to believe I just have the wrong idea on how it should work.

At the moment I have IF(A) on both wings and both my fullbacks are FB(A). Seems like I am missing the assymetry needed, and also need to change my thinking from striker as main goal scorer to the IF on the opposite flank to the one with the FB(A) on. Also sounds like having both MC on DLP is better, though my squad does not have many players suited to that role. Could a Ball Winning Midfielder be played on the flank of the IF(A) to help keep some defensive strength, and is a Advanced Playmaker the best role for the AMC?

I would not use a ball winning midfielder but deep lying playmaker or central midfielder on defend duty. This should stop the midfielder from being dragged away from the area he should be covering in an attempt to win back the ball. Then again, it depends on the overall pressing of the team. If your team presses alot then a ball winning midfielder could work quite well.

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I would not use a ball winning midfielder but deep lying playmaker or central midfielder on defend duty. This should stop the midfielder from being dragged away from the area he should be covering in an attempt to win back the ball. Then again, it depends on the overall pressing of the team. If your team presses alot then a ball winning midfielder could work quite well.

Lcuotonix what pressing instructions would you use for a team with a ball winning midfielder. For example would you increase the closing down on all your players and if so what closing down do you use

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Yeah! Ball Winning Defender is very effective with a high pressing team. I play my MCL as one and he does well to break up opposition attacks. My MCR is set to box-to-box midfielder and it works well for me.

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For genuine Inside Forwards, yes. For goalscoring wingers, not so much so long as they have effective goalscoring/delivery abilities.

The footedness question has a lot to do with what the rest of your team is doing. A right footed winger on the right wing might be a lethal goalscorer receiving throughballs, but if your forwards are poor in the air and the defence is sitting deep and numerous then his crosses will have to be perfect. However on the counter-attack he can be devestating even with poor crossing.

What's more dangerous on the counter attack? A player skinning a fullback and sprinting up field to deliver a cross to three players running into the box against three defenders, or cutting inside against the opponents DM?

The ideal "correct footed" Winger in a creative, playmaking, possession based attacking system is someone that can score goals but whose primary strength is delivery. Beckham for example. The lower the quality of his delivery, the more powerful your targets have to be in the box. And at the higher levels of the game it's incredibly hard to overpower Centrebacks.

Instantly and easily. Backed up by sufficient playmakers a genuine striker pulling off a fullback is utterly lethal.

Consider the mess a lone striker has to plough through. A team playing an aggressive continental formation will play two Centrebacks and a DM. A conservative continental formation is 2 Centrebacks and 2 DM's. Your lone striker has to find space, and your playmaker has to find passing gaps, to create a goalscoring opportunity.

A wide striker simply has to attack behind the "modern attacking fullback". Make a run behind a player that tends to be not the greatest defender ever and also tends to get upfield, and he is inside the box with no marker. And if he is "wrong footed" then he is instantly in an ideal position to hit a great shot from a slightly awkward angle.

But here is the real kicker. Against an "aggressive continental" formation of 2 Centrebacks and 1 DM, the natural passing angle for your midfield playmaker is on the outside of that triangle that leads straight to your inside forward. The awesome central defensive structure absolutely begs for passes on the outside of the DM, on the outside of the CB and on the inside of the FB.

If you don't mind and you have the patience, let me indulge in a bit of tactical theory.

The Front Two Is Not Dead

It's just no longer directly infront of the goal.

The perfect examples of modern attacking solutions to defensive problems come, rather obviously, from the worlds best teams. All of the best teams, the most exciting teams, the team that make the biggest impact on football and on peoples minds are quite obviously those that make the biggest scoreline impact against their opponents.

The recent World Cup just passed was noted for it's defensiveness, it's staleness, it's lack of excitement, and yet a team that is legendary for it's lack of flamboyancy and it's commitment to rigid, robust tactical principles made the best matches to watch.

The Germans were the most exciting team to watch in the World Cup. The Germans...

The German reputation is for rigorous adherance to tactical principle, immense workrate and team ethic, and abhorance for what could be called "The Madrid style". While Brazil might have the reputation for carnival football, the Germans have the reputation for anything but. Yet it was the Germans that did what Brazil could not, annihilate the majority of their opponents on the football pitch. Produce the most exciting attacking football seen in the last World Cup.

That the free scoring Germans were eventually knocked out by perhaps the most un-exciting winners of a World Cup there has ever been speaks volumes. The Germans were beaten by a team that almost completely refused to attack, refused to give the ball away, refused to take risks. But most interestingly the Germans were beaten by a team that played the same fundamental system they did, but played with a completely different philosophy.

What made the Germans exciting to watch was their goals, and they scored many goals. And all the goals that Germany scored were premised upon the brutal German tactical efficiency. The highest scorers of the last World Cup was a team that didn't care a hoot about philosophy and free flowing football, that cared only about tactical mastery of the opponent.

That tells you EXACTLY where football is today. It's Catennacio versus Total Football MKII. See this is what the World Cup offers us. Where was Messi? For all it's staleness and lack of excitement, the World Cup always offers us an insight into football where money doesn't matter and years of playing together is irrelevant. The World Cup is always the tactical employment of the luck of the draw. And that's why it will always be the greatest footballing show on Earth.

The German system was simple, play a defensive system, a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 and let the opponent try to get past your central wall. Then when they fail and give the ball away attack with absolutely huge numbers down one flank at immense pace while the rest of the team shuffles over into the middle, and play a goalscorer on the opposite flank to the vast flood of players down the other flank.

The tactical weakness of modern defensive formations is not the centre with its 1 DM, 2 DM, 3 potatoe, four. The tactical weakness of modern defensive formations is the attacking fullback, the players that simply must get forward to build an attacking threat in a team that is defending the ball off the middle.

Jonathan Wilson tells us that the Attacking Fullback is the key to modern football, because the middle is so well defended and the second striker is dropped into midfield, liberating the fullbacks and requiring the fullbacks to join the attack. Well it's the key to modern football for another reason because when the middle is packed and the flanks are attacking you don't attack the middle anymore. You plough through the flanks, completely avoid the middle, and if you can't create a goalscoring opportunity by making Maicon hallucinate thanks to the pressure he is under by half the team attacking him, then you look for your mate at the far post.

Germany destroyed teams that didn't realise that attacking fullbacks might actually be a weakness, which seems to have been most teams Germany faced. They attacked one flank at pace with huge numbers of players, and if that didn't completely ruin the "amazing central defensive system" outright, then when all these central players rushing over to try and deal with Klose, Ozil, Lahm, Khedira, and Mueller demolishing the left back left Podolski is left in a rather choice position on the other side of the pitch.

I would go into more depth and explain how Manchester United with Ronaldo, Spain with Villa and Iniesta, Barcelona with Messi, Barcelona with Villa, Holland with Robben, Inter with Eto'o, Arsenal with Van Persie, Liverpool with Kuyt, even Chelsea with Anelka and Torres etc. etc. fall into the same fold, but I'm drinking a few beers and not really up for an essay right now.

Make no mistake though. Germany's World Cup football, as it always is, was tactically brilliant. Just this time they humiliated a lot of teams. And that says everything about football today IMO.

Anticipation, Off The Ball, Teamwork, Determination. The last attribute applies to all players.

Just to add to what SFraser said in another thread.

http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/259848-Analysing-the-4-2-3-1-Why-Your-Playmaker-Should-Be-Upfront.

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I would not use a ball winning midfielder but deep lying playmaker or central midfielder on defend duty. This should stop the midfielder from being dragged away from the area he should be covering in an attempt to win back the ball. Then again, it depends on the overall pressing of the team. If your team presses alot then a ball winning midfielder could work quite well.

My team does tend to press more as I have some very good BWM, I do not have enough midfielders good enough at BWM to play 2 at all times.

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SFraser

Thank you ever so much for your impressive, detailed responses to my questions.

A lot of the reason I went with this formation/system in the first place was after reading your posts. A while back I had this vision of creating something like Barca’s system but swapping the DM role for a trequartista. So a 4-2-1-3. It seemed ridiculously attacking and fun but I thought it would not be strong enough defensively so I never went with it. When I was looking at the 4-2-3-1 (and the way you employ it) it dawned on me that if you use inside forwards then it basically is very similar to the 4-2-1-3 I’d thought about before.

So, to be true to my vision I had to go with the inside forwards and the explanations on here have helped me decide I really do want my wide players to cut in and therefore I need them to be on their opposite foot. And I also want them to be the skillful striker type rather than true wingers. So to migrate to this system I bought two left-footed attacking players in the summer in the form of Giuseppe Rossi & Sergio Canales.

Moving into 2013/2014, my squad/roles now look like this:

G Defend Cech/Delac

DR WB/Support Ivanovic/Santon

DL WB/Attack Coentrao/Cole

DC Defend Terry/Alex

DC Defend Jones/Rami

MCL DLP/Defend Essien/Mikel

MCR DLP/Support Sissoko/Rodwell

AMC AdvP/Attack Pastore/Hamsik*

AML IF/Attack Aguero/Hazard

AMR IF/Attack Rossi/Canales

SC CF/Support Dzeko/Babacar

*Per Luca’s advice, I will be trying Marek out deeper. I did so in a friendly and he was very effective. I’ll swap around more attacking players in the MCR role and see how that works out.

It’s starting to dawn on me just how important wing backs are to this system so at some point I will invest in a couple that are more attacking than Ivanovic/Cole.

Initially the IF’s were too wide but when I made the formation narrower they really started to come into their own.

I wasn’t sure whether to put Dzeko as attacking or support. I chose support and I’m very happy with the outcome.

You can’t tell too much from friendlies but this is how my first 4 games have gone:

Ross County (A) Won 9-0

Blackpool (A) Won 3-0

Ipswich (A) Won 5-0

Sheff Utd (A) Won 9-1 (Jones OG!)

So pretty spectacular so far. Dzeko has 10 goals in those 4 games even though he didn’t play more than 45-60 minutes in any game. Against Sheff Utd he got 5 in the first half!

I am watching games in full which I haven’t done before and in the third game things really started to click and we started playing beautiful football. I continue to tweak things as and when. I am hoping my IF’s chip in with their fair share of goals. Only time will tell.

That was all probably way more information than anyone wanted but anyway…thanks for the assistance in what is turning out to be a good 4-2-3-1 thread.

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Well now I’ve started the season we’re struggling. Drawing lots of games and often only getting around 45% possession in most games. I might start a new game as there’s lots of things I’d like to do differently (like get my backroom staff set up more effectively, sign more English players etc). I’m not sure I like my central midfielders being DLP’s. Maybe I’ll change them to BWM & B2B and see if they can dominate midfield a bit more.

Back to the grindstone!

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