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I've just done a quick search to see if this question has been asked before, but I couldn't see anything.

I like my Wing Backs to provide my team with width when attacking but at the same time I am concerned about the oppositions wide attackers when playing against the 4-1-3-1. I'm hesitant to have my WB's put into a defensive duty to try and reduce the risk, as then I am going to lose my width when attacking.

Does anyone have any throught here?

I player a 4-3-3 (DM) with the Wing Backs providing my width. I play Control / Flexible with a high line, closing down often instruction.

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I use 4-4-2 counter against 4-2-3-1 or against any offensive looking formation. Use play out of defense, be expressive, pass into space. There is a recent thread in this section discussing counter tactics. I have been very successful so far.

I seem to always lose the possession and shot on goal battle when playing against 4-2-3-1 with my main formation 4-1-2-3 DM wide.

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I use 4-4-2 counter against 4-2-3-1 or against any offensive looking formation. Use play out of defense, be expressive, pass into space. There is a recent thread in this section discussing counter tactics. I have been very successful so far.

I seem to always lose the possession and shot on goal battle when playing against 4-2-3-1 with my main formation 4-1-2-3 DM wide.

Thanks for the tip Terrance. I'll give it a go.

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Hey there, it's been a year since I last posted this elsewhere so some of it might be outdated, but the general principles should still hold. Hopefully it might give you some ideas in your own games to adapt.

It depends, as ever with tactics, because the same formation may not play in the same way depending on how they are setup.

For example, you can have the old classic 4-4-2 with a static back 4, 2 B2B CMs and Wingers who aim to create chances down the flanks. Or you can have the SA style using the Wide Midfielders as Interiores, creating an overload in the middle and using attacking, overlapping Wing Backs to provide the width.

Or you can compare two different 4-2-3-1 systems, 4-4-1-1 vs a 4-2-1-3 where the attack comes from different places.

So you really have to watch games to see how they are playing. But there are still some general pointers you can use when facing a shape.

Whenever you are trying to react to an opponent, you need to be able to first identify what they are doing, and then react to it appropriately with the tools you have at your disposal.

First ask yourself how are they attacking? If it's through the middle you may want to Play Narrower and Push Higher Up to compress the space their Midfielders have to play in. If it's down the Wings you can try and show them inside to an area where you have a numerical advantage.

Where are your strengths? If they attack down the Wings there are two ways of dealing with it.

You have fast pacey Fullbacks. Play Wider, close down their Winger and try to block the cross.

You have strong, tall Centrebacks. Play Narrower, crowd the box and try to win the ball from the cross.

What are their weaknesses? Let's take two playmakers. One is fast the other is not. You want to tight mark the slow one to prevent balls coming into his feet in the first place. However if you do that when he is fast he can have balls played in front of him to which he will run onto. So for him you don't want to Tight Mark, but you do want to Close Him Down quickly.

And the most important part: Where is the space? This ties into both attack and defence. Say you are controlling the game, pushing high up and closing down. The space is behind your defence, so you are weak on the counter. This means there is no space in the middle, and playing a short passing game becomes difficult unless you have very technical players. Since each man will have less time on the ball, you are also forced to play at a higher tempo.

Another example: the usual theory to attack against a 4-4-2 with two banks of 4 is to put players in the channels between the banks to draw their defenders out, creating space for your attackers to run into. If they aren't drawn out, then that man has lots of time and space to create chances himself. However, if you push high up you are compressing the banks and killing this space. So if you want to play this way then you need to stretch out the pitch vertically as much as you can.

Against a 4-2-3-1. Where is the space? Basically, they need to commit their Wingers to attack so there will be lots of space between their Fullback and Winger. You want to attack down this area. If they push the Fullback up to play closer to the Winger then that is even better for you as you now have a ton of space to run into behind their Fullback. If they send a Midfielder to help their Fullback, you've now drawn a player out of shape and space has opened up in the middle for your Winger to pass/cross to.

Now against a 4-3-3. The modern version aims to supplement the 3 Midfielders with either the Wings playing narrow or the Forward coming deep. You squeeze the middle to prevent this happening. The opposition then has to push up their Fullbacks to provide the width in attack. You then hit them in the space they have vacated.

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