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  • Defending 4-1-4-1

    BayernZone - Blog

    Defending 4-1-4-1
    by Badger on August 16th, 2013

    My articles are somewhat like buses: none at all come by for a long time and then two come in close succession. This latest article is a fairly technical analysis of key aspects of the 4-1-4-1 formation. It is possibly not of much interest to some; if technical analyses aren’t their thing, this article won’t be any exception. I wrote it as a collection of the observations I had on Bayern’s development with the 4-1-4-1 formation: what was working, what wasn’t working and – most of all – what was needed to master it. I wanted to share these things now, rather than wait for a couple of months to witness the outcome; I suppose that I thought that one or two readers might join me in looking a little deeper than “4-1-4-1 doesn’t work”, and in watching out for a few subtle tactical details in forthcoming Bayern games. At any rate, I hope that some will find a little bit of food for thought in it. Thanks, everyone, for taking time to read it.

    Continue reading:
    Defending 4-1-4-1 | BayernZone - FC Bayern München blog

    Feel free to comment and/or discuss!

  • #2
    Many excellent points and very well written (as always), kudos to you good sir

    Comment


    • #3
      Thank you Badger for yet another very informative blog post. Well written as always.

      However, there is one argument I find a little hard to follow all the way:

      The main principle to note – and it is a very very important one – is that the only significant weakness in 4-1-4-1 is when the opponents score from a fast counterattack where attackers outnumber defenders. If, on the one hand, the counterattack is a slow build-up, allowing defenders and midfielders to drop back and help out, then any goals which are scored are not specifically the fault of 4-1-4-1. If, on the other hand, the counterattack is in equal numbers of attackers and defenders – 3 against 3, 2 against 2, etc – then any goals scored are the fault of individual errors and not specifically the fault of 4-1-4-1.
      Couldn't one argue that some particular cases with the 3 against 3, 2 against 2, etc in the 4-1-4-1 would perhaps be 4 against 3, 3 against 2, etc (in Bayern's favor) in many other formations, eg. the 4-2-3-1, thereby making the 4-1-4-1 weaker in these particular cases?

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks Springbok and Ditlivia for reading the article and commenting on it.

        Yes, Ditlivia, your point is certainly not wrong. Other formations – say, 4-2-3-1 – may help the defence to outnumber the attack. I was referring to what might be called the “tipping point”, the point at which things become significant, and I regarded that to be only when attackers outnumber defenders. If, in any defensive situation, in any defensive formation, two defenders have two attackers to contain, or three defenders have three attackers to contain, it can be reasonably expected that they cope with this. If they can’t, they normally get blamed for individual error – the attacker was better than the defender. Moreover, 4-1-4-1 should almost always be able to provide at least three against three – the two central defenders and the defensive midfielder – and they have a goalkeeper behind them as well. Only when the attackers reach four against three is the defence significantly threatened. The Gladbach game, with all its counterattacks, highlighted a number of flaws in Bayern’s defence of 4-1-4-1, but that does not prove that 4-1-4-1 itself is fundamentally flawed. If it is defended intelligently, 4-1-4-1 is actually quite difficult to exploit.

        Comment


        • #5
          Great work Badger! I always enjoy your writing. As someone who still feels new to the nuances of football tactics I walked away with a much better understanding of what Pep is attempting to do and the benefits of this approach.

          Comment


          • #6
            Yet another fantastic article, Badger. It really makes the entire situation much clearer. I have to thank you for introducing the nuances of the game to someone like me who is relatively new to football. I hope there will be more of these.
            I have a little question though. Wouldn't positioning a attacker between the defensive midfielder and the defensive line open up the defense? That's what I thought happened in the Dortmund game, where Gundogan managed to easily get past Thiago and then feed passes to Reus. Is this correct? And if so, how would you go about remedying it?

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks Timust3 and BayernCurry. If my articles add to your insight and enjoyment of the game, I’ll be genuinely delighted.

              That situation could be described as a “lurking playmaker”, and that’s a very good and very interesting question, BayernCurry. Almost always, in any formation, the playmaker is the responsibility of the defensive midfielder rather than the central defender. If the defensive midfielder lets the playmaker play freely in that space behind him, it is like giving him a headstart or an unchallenged advantage on goal. Gundogan played a clever game, making things difficult for Alcantara and capitalising on the team’s general inexperience in defending 4-1-4-1. As defensive midfielder, Alcantara’s duties were primarily defensive. Yes, he is himself a gifted creative player, and he could have grabbed the odd opportunity to help build an attack, but all that needed to be abandoned in the Dortmund game, in order to cope with the heavy defensive demands placed on him. Gundogan slipped round behind him and played off his shoulder at times, and Alcantara needed to get back immediately onto goal-side of Gundogan anytime Dortmund had possession. As we saw, his awareness of Gundogan, his positioning and his reaction to Dortmund getting possession weren’t adequate. He also didn’t seem to realise that defence was really all that mattered for him in such a game. I certainly wouldn’t single him out for criticism. His performance wasn’t that bad. The Dortmund game simply came along too soon for the Bayern defence.

              As an aside, Dortmund’s tactics to facilitate the lurking playmaker were interesting. Bayern created a lot of pressure at times – so much that the Dortmund playmaker, Gundogan, might have been expected to get back to help out defend against the worst of it. Otherwise the Dortmund midfield would be outnumbered and overrun, thus conceding too much control of the game. In order to allow Gundogan to stay forward, the wingers, particularly Reus, came back to help out instead. This wasn’t the pattern all the time – Klopp believes in variation too – but it was evident a number of times. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! :-)

              Comment


              • #8
                Great article. This is actually more a 4-3-3 than a straight 4-1-4-1.. But great emphasis on the holding midfielder and the link up with the shuttle midfielder.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Great work Badger,

                  Just my reflection ....
                  It is surely interesting analyze the systems (4-4-1, 4-2-3-1, etc..), but, we will never reach a final conclusion about them. All systems can work, and all of them should work. I like to think that football is a game about space. Defend is the game to fill free spaces. Attack is the game to take advantage of the free spaces. The ball is only a way to force the other team to free spaces. The team that make this two things better as a lot more chances to be the winner.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I will ask again why should Bayern play the 4-1-4-1 formation. wasn't the 4-2-3-1 formation a better fit. Doesn't the 2 DM provide better cover for the back line when your FB press the attack. All i know is after winning the treble last year Bayern doesn't need to change. Pep Guardiola should change. I know some here are Pep Guardiola fans and Barca fans but what worked for Barca doesn't mean it will work for Bayern. I feel Martinez was the added piece of the puzzle Bayern needed to get over the top and now Gaurdiola wants to make him play CD. Why? so he can prove his system is better? To me you play the formation that fits the players on the team. Not the other way around.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KevinX View Post
                      I will ask again why should Bayern play the 4-1-4-1 formation. wasn't the 4-2-3-1 formation a better fit. Doesn't the 2 DM provide better cover for the back line when your FB press the attack. All i know is after winning the treble last year Bayern doesn't need to change. Pep Guardiola should change. I know some here are Pep Guardiola fans and Barca fans but what worked for Barca doesn't mean it will work for Bayern. I feel Martinez was the added piece of the puzzle Bayern needed to get over the top and now Gaurdiola wants to make him play CD. Why? so he can prove his system is better? To me you play the formation that fits the players on the team. Not the other way around.
                      Pep didn't use 4-1-4-1 in Barca until his last season.

                      Also this is the last time you call the others Barca fans. Stop provoking people or else you will get a ban. If they are Barca fans it's none of your business.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Great article Badger.

                        I think Bayern should change to a 4-3-3 when defending, even in a 4-1-4-1 formation when attacking.

                        Like this (4-3-3):

                        Neuer
                        Lahm-Boateng-Dante-Alaba
                        Martinez
                        Kroos-Schweinsteiger
                        Robben-Müller-Ribéry

                        This same formation can be used as a 4-1-4-1 when attacking:

                        Neuer
                        Lahm-Boateng-Dante-Alaba
                        Martinez
                        Robben-Kroos-Schweinsteiger-Ribéry
                        Müller

                        And so on. The alternatives are a lot. I think that what can help a lot into our current formation is to use a proper defensive midfielder though. With Kirchhoff on the pitch for example, Bayern looked more organized and calmed. And he isn't a real DM. Imagine that now with Javi Martinez. I think that's the balance and Guardiola will eventualy find out that Schweinsteiger isn't the proper DM.

                        As I recall, HSK said that van Gaal made the same mistake as well with Schweinsteiger.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Sorry Badger,
                          but i guess KevinX is doing some mind games here , and I must help him understand better my point off view.
                          "I will ask again why should Bayern play the 4-1-4-1 formation. wasn't the 4-2-3-1 formation a better fit." - I really don't care about the type off formation

                          "Doesn't the 2 DM provide better cover for the back line when your FB press the attack." - Theoretically, yes, but ther's nothing guaranteed. It worked last year, ok, ther's other ways to do the same, sure ther is.
                          "All i know is after winning the treble last year Bayern doesn't need to change. Pep Guardiola should change." - I hope not, I wanna see the kinda football that i like
                          "I know some here are Pep Guardiola fans and Barca fans ..." - I'm a fan off Pep and Barça style. If they lose that style i will stop being a fan.
                          "but what worked for Barca doesn't mean it will work for Bayern." Good football works for all the teams
                          "I feel Martinez was the added piece of the puzzle Bayern needed to get over the top and now Gaurdiola wants to make him play CD." - Don't care where Martinez play i want that he plays well, just that
                          "Why? so he can prove his system is better?" - Systems to Guardiola are just phone numbers
                          To me you play the formation that fits the players on the team. Not the other way around. - To me also, and so to Guardiola, finally something in common
                          Last edited by Garci; 16-08-2013, 20:18. Reason: Using blue font

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            amazing work Badger as usual , I really won't comment since I have no other words

                            and by the way

                            Spoiler
                            Originally posted by Wavy View Post
                            Also this is the last time you call the others Barca fans. Stop provoking people or else you will get a ban. If they are Barca fans it's none of your business.
                            thanks wavy

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ruievan, I edited your post. Please don't use blue font, it's reserved for staff members to make official statements like Wavy did above. I changed all of the instances of blue to bold as to diminish confusion.

                              Badger, once again brilliant work. You're spoiling us with this sort of analysis. While I myself am no big fan of 4-1-4-1, but I do agree with you that Bayern certainly is a team which has the possibility to pull off the system's best aspects while being solid enough to counter its weaknesses. Whether we use that possibility or not remains to be seen, but I will agree that I'm thrilled to see this ever-changing yet constantly dangerous Bayern.

                              Our style of play isn't bound to a certain formation, especially with the transitions between attack and defence and the switcheroos between our players, but the base for the link up play is there. I thought I'd seen more of a 4-3-3 last time around, but the differences with 4-1-4-1 are minimal within our playing style, so I'm going to roll with the points raised by your article and keep a keener eye on tomorrow's match. Congratulations once again on yet another excellent article

                              Comment

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