Soccer has a number of formations, but, unlike basketball, teams only play one or two each game.  Currently, the most common formations are 4-4-2 and 4-3-3.   The numbers represent, from left to right, the amount of defenders, midfielders, and forwards.  Notice that the numbers only add up to ten.  The goalkeeper need not be included because it’s understood that there will always be a keeper.

All formations can be played with an emphasis on offense or defense. Below are diagrams and descriptions of some of the most used formations.









5 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Sgc says:

    You don’t have the ‘diamond’ 4-4-2, which a fairly high number of teams play. It gets lumped in with the one you’re showing, but the role of the two midfielders is very different.

    In your ‘orthodox’ 4-4-2 above, usually the two central mids are box-to-box types, both expected to do a lot of attacking and defending, and they typically operate on the ‘pulley system’ (when I go forward, you go back and cover).

    In the ‘diamond’, we generally know which CM is generally the attacker and which is the defender, and they don’t switch much. It seems these days the diamond is even a little more common than the orthodox 4-4-2.

    The New York Red Bulls currently seem to be using the diamond, with Dwayne DeRosario as the ACM, and Teemu Tainio as the DCM. Real Salt Lake does as well, with Morales as ACM and Beckerman as DCM.

  2. Ian Hancock says:

    would you be willing to do a write-up on the 3-4-3??

  3. So much for the 4-4-2. It’s antiquated and does not work. So don’t defend it. I hate it myself. The 2 mids in the middle, don’t recuperate balls. It’s stupid. Go back to 1970. Only countries that’s can’t play football like Venezuela or USA.

    • Stop says:

      That’s funny the 4-4-2 is how the US beat Spain in 2009, that’s how badly it doesn’t work.

    • celticfan says:

      The 4-4-2 is a bit outdated but England did use it at the 2012 Euros and made the quarter finals. With that being said they used the same formation in 1966.

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