The Death Of The Box-To-Box Midfielder.

In English football, some of the most celebrated players in recent history have been the dynamic box-to-box midfielders. Typified by Lampard and Gerrard in...
Toby Podmore
I live in Finland, I'm 26, and I enjoy writing, football and cooking. Also music. And dogs!

Latest Posts

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

A look at Nigel Pearson’s tactics at Watford

4/12/2019, Leicester City Stadium. Watford suffers yet another defeat, and the ominous bells of relegation are echoing louder at Vicarage Road. The board had...

Great Squads From History – Bayer Leverkusen 2001-2002

The 2001-02 great Bayer Leverkusen side is infamous for their incredible choke job in the last stretch of the season, losing out on three...

How will Arthur fit in Juventus’s midfield: Sarri’s thrilling 4-3-1-2 formation

Sky Sports News has confirmed that Juventus and Barcelona have agreed upon a £72.5m fee for the signing of midfielder Arthur. The Brazilian midfielder...

The Man of Ten Thousand Voices

A young man graciously welcomes me into a room radiated with TV screens, computers, control panels, and flashing LEDs.  A small group of men...

A Tactical Look at how Marseille qualified for the Champions League

After a 7 year exile from Europe’s elite competition, the club from the south of France has finally restored their Champions League status by...

Football Books

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

5 Books every Soccer fan needs to read before the FIFA World Cup 2018

The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and it's the perfect time to brush up your history and facts about the World...

Best Soccer Coaching Books

We have compiled a list of the best soccer coaching books which every soccer coach must have in his/her bookshelf. No matter whether you...

Football Tactics For Beginners- The 4-4-2 Diamond Formation

antonio conte diamond formation

The 4-4-2 Diamond formation.

Introduction.

Whilst the traditional 4-4-2 formation has become less common in recent years, the diamond variation is alive and well. The differences between the two formations may appear to be small, but actually have a number of wide-ranging consequences which mean the two styles of playing are much further apart than would first seem. The diamond formation has a large number of strengths, most of which do not exist in the ‘classic’ formation. That said, in football, there is always a trade-off; no formation is perfect, and the diamond is no exception. In this article, we’ll look at the upsides to playing a diamond as well as the problems which are often encountered by teams who set up in this fashion.

Advantages.

One of the main problems with a typical, flat 4-4-2 formation is the numerical inferiority in the middle of the park. In the era of the three-man midfield (two of the most used formations in modern football being the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3) a traditional 4-4-2 is often outgunned in the centre. Manchester City’s travails in the Champions’ League are a testament to this; whilst they have often been able to overcome their opponents in domestic competition due to the fact they have better players, when these players are amongst opponents of equal ability in Europe, the problems of playing a 2v3 become readily apparent. In the diamond formation, however, this deficiency is reversed, and even overturned, leading to a 4v3 advantage in the midfield. This superiority in numbers means that the team who set up with a diamond often find themselves in control of the middle of the pitch.

The diamond is also extremely good as an attacking formation. Not only do the two box-to-box midfielders allow for quick transitions, each one of the four man midfield has an attacking role to play, from the orthodox number 10 at the ‘tip’ of the diamond to the deep-lying playmaker at the base. A fine example of the attacking potential of this system would be the Liverpool side of 2013-14; with Steven Gerrard as the deepest midfielder, the team were able to switch from defence to attack very rapidly due to his passing range and the speed on the counter of players such as Henderson, Coutinho and Sterling. Likewise, the 2005 Milan team profited hugely from having Andrea Pirlo directing their attacks from deep and a formidable combination of Gattuso, Seedorf and Kaka ahead of him.

Of course, it is not only in the midfield area that the diamond formation could be considered to be an attacking structure. The fact that it allows for two strikers is a not insignificant advantage as it usually leaves opponents with the choice of leaving their centre-backs in a 1v1 match-up against the forward, or pulling some of their other defenders back to cover. With the two strikers, the number 10, the box-to-box midfielders and attacking fullbacks on each flank, the diamond formation can have up to seven players in advanced attacking positions at any one time whilst retaining sufficient cover in the case of a loss of possession.

Disadvantages.

There are a couple of main weaknesses to the diamond formation. Firstly, if the two central midfielders are narrow, it lacks a lot of width and concedes dangerous overlap opportunities on the flanks. However, should one of the central midfielders pull wide to cover the full-back, large spaces can appear in the middle of the pitch. This means that the formation can be extremely vulnerable defensively. Using Liverpool as an example again, it could be argued that a less cavalier formation might well have been the key to winning the title; using the diamond, the team were counter-attacked ruthlessly at both Chelsea and Crystal Palace, both games proving extremely costly.

The diamond formation also demands a huge workload. On the full-backs, who are given the sole responsibility for an entire wing of the pitch; on the box-to-box players, who have to make a huge effort in both defence and attack; and finally, on the deep-lying playmaker. In this system, the deepest midfielder is the start point of the attacks, but often also has to act as the last line of defence – an auxiliary third centre-back. Once more, we can look at Liverpool (for the last time, I promise) and Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip to see how costly a mistake in this position can be.

Conclusion.

The diamond formation is almost definitely an upgrade on its traditional cousin. Although a classic 4-4-2 can offer defensive merits (a Hodgson-esque “two banks of four” springs to mind) or attacking play, such as with City under Pellegrini, it is rarely successful at providing both. The diamond, however, retains all of the attacking benefits of two strikers and two box-to-box midfielders, in addition to the further boost of a deep-lying playmaker. Perhaps most crucially, this formation avoids the pitfalls of being outnumbered in central midfield. There is no doubt that there are frailties to the system; it requires an astonishing level of fitness in a number of different positions and can be vulnerable when used in a cavalier manner, but overall it is an exciting and flexible formation which we are sure to see more of in the future.

- Advertisement -
Toby Podmore
I live in Finland, I'm 26, and I enjoy writing, football and cooking. Also music. And dogs!

Related

Football Tactics for Beginners: The Low Block

What is the low block? The low block is generally referred to a football team's defensive shape without the ball. Generally the low block consists...

Football Tactics for Beginners: Defending Corner Kicks

We are all afraid of it. It is the 90th minute, your team is up by one goal and the opposition is about to...

Football Tactics for Beginners- The Sweeper Keeper: From Lev Yashin to Manuel Neuer

Germany’s Manuel Neuer has been widely credited as one of the finest goal-keepers of his generation, and quite rightly too. The Bayern Munich shot-stopper...

The Diminishing role of the Stopper Center Back in the Premier League

Defending and its place in the modern game has spawned a quagmire of critical debate. Back in 2014, when Gary Neville’s article in the...

The art of the long throw and how to counter it

Since the dawn of time, mankind has yearned to to throw stuff really far. Rocks, spears, shapes in the night club, to be human...

Football Tactics For Beginners-The Christmas Tree Formation

  Football is a result oriented business. Whatever succeeds, earns fame for itself and for its conceiver. And if it captures the imagination of spectators...

Football Tactics for Beginners: Tactical Periodization

What is Tactical Periodization? Tactical Periodization is a coaching methodology which is used to train football players with respect to the tactical context of the...

Football Tactics for Beginners-Compactness

If you have the ball you must make the field as big as possible, and if you don’t have the ball you must make...

Latest Posts

Jürgen Klopp Pressing system

Jürgen Klopp is regarded by many as one of the best managers in the world. He started his managerial career with a German Club...

Man City 3:0 Arsenal Tactical Analysis- The Master vs The Apprentice

When Mikel Arteta was an assistant of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, they not only dominated England but were one of the best teams...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Don't Miss

English Football and its “Get Stuck-In” Mentality

It was a glum group of players and supporters who filed out of Matlock Town’s Causeway Lane ground in 1982. Hyde United had lost...

How to beat Pep’s Barcelona, with helpful advice from Bruce Lee, Samuel Johnson, and others.

Barcelona have started to dominate European football to such an extent that the drawing of group stages was inconsequential to them being pronounced favourites...

Hungary – The Golden Team that never quite made it.

When you look back at the history of past World Cup winners and European Championship winners the usual names by in large stand out....

FC Start and The Death Match

“Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we must not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived.” – John...

What if Pep’s Barcelona played against Sacchi’s AC Milan?

Pep Guardiola has re-invented football so much in the past decade that one wonders if the game is still the same that was played...

Transfers

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Where will Kai Havertz play for Chelsea? A look at Lampard’s exciting 4-2-3-1 formation for next season

There have been several rumours surrounding Kai Havertz's transfer to Chelsea and Havertz's current boss, Peter Bosz has indicated that the winger might not...

Man United expected lineup against Sheffield United: Pogba & Bruno to start together for first time

Manchester United salvaged a draw against Tottenham in their first game post the lockdown. Their performance improved after the substitutions of Paul Pogba and...

How will Arthur fit in Juventus’s midfield: Sarri’s thrilling 4-3-1-2 formation

Sky Sports News has confirmed that Juventus and Barcelona have agreed upon a £72.5m fee for the signing of midfielder Arthur. The Brazilian midfielder...