Lions 4-1-4-1 Formation
4-1-4-1 Formation Setup
This formation can be very strong on both attack and defense. It is set up to often "flood the midfield" where we will make it very difficult for the other team to play through. By winning the ball back early in the midfield, we can transition quickly to attack and create goal scoring chances.
The team sets up with a back four in front of the goalkeeper.
You have the two center backs (#4 and #5) and two wingbacks out wide (#2 and #3). The CB's are expected to win every battle and take charge of the defense. The WB's should defend their channel and also push up to help out and overlap with the wide midfielders on the attack.
In front of the back four is the holding midfielder, or center defensive mid (#6). The #6 CDM protects the defense and sometimes acts as a deep-lying playmaker.
In central midfield we have a traditional box to box center midfielder (#8) and a center attacking midfielder (#10) who serves as a playmaker. Both the CM and the CAM are not restricted to play on one side or the other. They are free to roam side to side and cover each other. Combined with the #6 CDM, the #8 CM and the #10 CAM are essentially the engine room of the team. They will control much of the tempo and flow of the game when we have possession. On the attack, they should always be looking to support each other by positioning themselves to create passing triangles.
On either side of them we have two wide attacking midfielders, RAM and LAM (#7 and #11). These players should help out the wingbacks behind them, and also need to get up and down their channels to support the attack. They need to be quick and disciplined, and will often end up in 1v1 situations out wide.
Up top is a single striker (#9). He is a "target man" who's primary job is to score or assist goals. He is often the first line of defense when the opponent has possession in their half and should work hard to apply pressure.
#4 and #5 Center Backs
The CB's need to be alert and have good leadership and communication skills. They often direct the WB's and work with the CDM to make sure all attacks are stopped. Ideally we want one CB to be large and physically very strong, and the other to be technically very good on the ball so he can play out of tight, dangerous situations. Both should be aggressive and brave, as they will be putting their bodies on the line often by stopping crosses, blocking shots, and making defensive headers. The CB's should cover each other in the center of the pitch in front of goal, and should rarely push up beyond the midfield line. They generally will do the least amount of running, and will often play the entire match without being subbed off.
#2 and #3 Wing Backs
Like the CB's, the WB's also need to be good communicators, as they will work with the CB's and the CDM to stop any attacks. They will work hard to defend their channels and stop any winger from playing a cross or from trying to get into our box. They will often be involved 1v1's out wide and need to know how to decide between stepping to the ball and making a tackle, or containing and slowing the opponent's attack until help arrives.
When we have possession, the WB's should move far out wide and stretch the pitch. They should be calm and patient on the ball, and be willing to make overlapping runs all the way down to the other end of the pitch. From there they will often play crosses into the box, or even get a shot off on goal.
When we lose possession, it's critical that the WB's immediately transition back and help defend. Because there can be a lot of ground to cover, these positions can often be very physically demanding.
#6 Center Defensive Midfielder
The CDM sits in between the defense and midfield and shuts down any of the opponent's attacks. This means that he has to have a very good sense of positioning and be able to drop into any gaps that open up when the opponent is attacking.
The CDM should also be able to read the game very well and make a lot of interceptions. He should screen the defense and block off any passing angles in behind them. He needs to be mobile and be willing to cover a lot of ground.
Usually it will be the CDM who picks the ball up off of the CB's in a crowded part of the pitch and then sprays it forward to the other midfielders. Because of this, he should have good passing abilities, very good footwork, and be able to keep possession and remain calm in tight spaces when under pressure.
#8 Center Midfielder
The CM is a traditional, hard-working box-to-box midfielder. He is aggressive, and good on the ball. He plays both offensively and then works hard to get back behind the ball when out of possession and help out defensively.
As the midfield is often pretty crowded, he needs to work well in tight spaces and have great footwork to get out of trouble when necessary.
He should be able to work well in a midfield partnership with the CAM, and also as part of a trio with the CAM and the CDM in behind them. This means that he needs a good sense of positioning and needs to be able to communicate well.
He should be an excellent passer, and good at finishing as he will often be taking shots on goal.
#10 Center Attacking Midfielder (Playmaker)
The CAM is a creative, unselfish attacking player and is responsible for creating team scoring opportunities. He needs to have very good awareness, footwork, and passing abilities.
The CAM can cover a lot of ground, popping up in different places around the pitch and helping to create overloads by partnering with another player when attacking.
He is patient, good at finding open passing lanes, and can play good balls in behind the opponent's defense for the striker or the other midfielders to run onto.
The CAM should also be tricky and be able to cary the ball through tight spaces while under a lot of pressure. He is good at finishing and generally will score often, as well as create assists for other players.
When we lose possession, the CAM helps to cut off passing angles and shut down any attacks in the midfield, pressing any nearby opponent who has the ball.
#7 and #11 Left and Right Attacking Midfielders
LAM and RAM are attack-minded players and should have good technique and solid footwork so that they can not only dribble around players, but pass, cross and shoot accurately.
They should stretch out wide when we are in possession and move up the pitch quickly to support the attack. When we lose the ball, they should track back immediately to get compact and help defend by putting in tackles and challenges whenever necessary. They have to be disciplined and hard-working and have good pace and stamina to get up and down the pitch in time.
The striker needs to have good finishing abilities, decent speed, great off-the-ball movement, be physically strong, and have the ability to make very fast decisions.
At times, the #9 will be asked to play off of the shoulder of the last defender, and make speedy runs in on goal.
He will sometimes be asked to play as a "false #9." As a false #9, he will often drop in deeper in between the opponent's defense and midfield lines to receive passes with his back facing goal. In this role, he needs to be very good at protecting the ball and laying it off for others to run onto.
The #9 should not just stay central, but should constantly be moving side to side, keeping the opponent's defense busy scanning.
When we lose possession, the #9 is often the first defender and should press the opponent with the ball in their half, either to win it back or to force a mistake.
The #9 has to be mentally and physically strong as he will often be "hacked" at by the opponent's defense and end up with a lot of bruises, cuts, scrapes, etc!