Tactical Analysis: The 4-1-2-1-2 Formation
Profiling one of the most commonly used set ups in football.
The 4-1-2-1-2 formation, a variation of the traditional 4-4-2 formation, sacrifices having two central midfielders in order to push one up into a more offensive role (The number 10), and allows one to drop back into a more defensive role (The number 6). This formation can also be altered to what is often referred to as the 'diamond' (With #10 being the tip and #6 being the base) allowing the two wide midfielders to tuck in and become central midfielders, giving the fullbacks more freedom to maraud along the wings and instigate wide attacks.
Strengths of the wide 4-1-2-1-2 formation are that it allows fluidity in wide areas for attacks to be instigated and for lots of crosses to be made to the strikers. Less bodies in midfield also allow the #10 freedom to create attacks or to make attempts at goal themselves. The narrow 4-1-2-1-2 gives the team the ability to overload the middle of the park and control large shares of possession, the extended amounts of possession allow for the fullbacks to join in attacks. This allows for variation in attack as not only do the midfielders pose a threat from central areas, the fullbacks compensate for the loss of the wide midfielders.
Weaknesses of the wide 4-1-2-1-2 are that the less bodies in midfield allows for the opposition side to pressure the #6 and allow for the opposition to exploit the gap between the two central defenders, a gap that would normally be plugged by the #6 when necessary whilst under attack. Whilst the narrow 4-1-2-1-2 is prone to counter attacks along the wing, with the fullbacks relinquishing their defensive duty in order to provide an extra attacking outlet. A quick counter attack could leave the fullback stranded and another player would have to fill in their spot, causing gaps elsewhere in the field.
Liverpool's (White) team of the 2013/14 season are a team who often used of the 4-1-2-1-2 formation. Here is their match against Crystal Palace (Red & Blue), which shows the strengths and weaknesses of this formation in action.