The 4-5-1 Formation: The Tactical Pros And Cons

The 4-5-1 formation

Last Updated on September 10, 2021

One of the Most common football formations is the 4-5-1 setup. Old and modern-day football coaches use this formation, however in different ways. And the Formation has evolved over the years. Here, we’ll take a look at the general overview, pros, and cons of the 4-5-1 formation in football.

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As Lawrence Freedman writes in Strategy: A History,

“Without a strategy, facing up to any problem or striving for any objective would be considered negligent.”

Lawrence Freedman

Similarly, in Football, a good strategy has to be implemented by football coaches in order to win a game. More so, the choice of formation is one of the key things to consider when choosing a strategy.

The formation helps to determine the kind of player he needs on the pitch with respect to their strengths.

Consider Reading: Champions League Winners as Players & Managers

General Overview of The 4-5-1 Formation

The 4-5-1 formation is one of the formations that great coaches (e.g José Mourinho) all through history have tried.

The formation originally operates with 2 Center Backs and 2 Full Backs for standard defense. However, the coach can tweak the midfield can be defensively or offensively depending on what he wants. 

For the defensive aspect, the wingers can drop low, remaining in the midfield, and can also run forward for a counterattack. While the Defensive Midfielder is supported with two Attacking Midfielders.

Read Also: The Emergence and Decline of the No. 10 Role in Football

The Pros of the 4-5-1 Formation

So the formation can play out as 4-2-3-1 (as Chelsea) or 4-4-1-1 (as Burnley) or 4-1-4-1 (as  Leicester or Leads) or as commonly known 4-3-3. All this shows the flexibility of the 4-5-1. So, flexibility is the number one advantage of the 4-5-1 formation.

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Another advantage is that it gives little or no room for the opponent to catch you off guard. It also makes it difficult for them to create clear-cut chances as every player is in position throughout the game except during counter or corner kicks. However, this depends on other tactical instructions given by the coach.

Other pros of the 4-5-1 formation are:

  • It helps create more clear cut chances in comparison to a flat 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 as there’s counter is one key way to attack 
  • It helps dictate the game as the midfield which is the engine room is choked with your  players with almost all having unique instructions 
  • It’s a compact team. Which makes it easy for players to cover up for each other.

Consider Reading: Ranked: The Best Right-Backs Ever in Football

The Cons Of The 4-5-1 Formation

In all the advantages of the 4-5-1, there are so noticeable disadvantages.  

  • It is quite difficult to maintain the formation. Due to its high flexibility, the opponent may take advantage and make you adapt to a formation they are comfortable with.
  • When you have a group of players not used to tinkering their roles (during attack and when out of possesion), it’ll be difficult to take full advantage of the flexibilty of the 4-5-1 formation.
  • In most cases, the 4-5-1 formation helps a team to take control of ball possession. This could make the team vulnurable on the counter.

Consider Reading: 5 Reasons Why African Teams Fail At The World Cup

Final Thought

It is important to note that there’s no certainty of a team succeeding over another as other factors or tactics aside from formation are employed in winning a match.

However, history has proven that the 4-5-1 formation has been a success to many top coaches now and in the past.

Further Reading:

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