The Art of The 4-4-2 Diamond Part Two

In this second article we look at some analysis from the first few game I’ve played and see if we can see any potential or current issues that need addressing. As well as seeing that the tactic plays the way I had visioned in my head.

Due to playing in Brazil, at the start of a season I have to play in the State Championships, so there’s a fair few teams that I should be easily beating. The start of this season I had easy games so they’re winnable even if I play badly. So these are ideal games to learn how my set up is working or isn’t working. So let’s dive straight in.

Rio Claro 0 Santos 3

These are the player stats for my side;

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So before anything else I’ll try and use these stats to see if anything particular stands out.

  • Keepers distribution is really poor.
  • Both centrebacks have low distribution too.
  • The two strikers didn’t seem to be very involved based on actual passes

Those are the main three things that stand out. It might turn out it’s not actually an issue but when viewing the game this is something I will be looking at to see exactly why pass completion is low and that seemingly the strikers aren’t involved much.

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Those are the game stats and without any real context are meaningless, so I’ll not be focusing on these but still thought I’d show them just in case anyone wanted to see them.

The Match

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Early on we can see the defensive shape of the formation taking place. It emphasis just how narrow and compact we are, which in turns presents us with issues that I spoke about in the very first post. You can all see  the space we give up that the opposition can use and try to exploit.

In fact this mock-up image shows you both formation used and the issues we might have. Fortunately for us, the opposition are also using a narrow formation in the 4-2-2-2 box formation.

Santos-Rio-Cara-formation-tactics

The overview above shows you where the space we give up is and highlights where the space we have to use are. Both shapes are really narrow and I have to break through two central midfielders and two defensive midfielders. Without taking the roles that I use into consideration then this looks problematic because space for the attacking midfielder is limited and he’s out numbered. Also my deep-lying playmaker might also have to defend much more than I’d like, if this happens then it could take something away from the attacking side of his game.

He could find himself hassled and forced to rush play more due to having two opposition strikers near him. It could also pull him out of position, which means he isn’t in the areas he should be when we regain the ball and this would have a huge knock on effect for how the tactic functions because he is the catalyst that starts all out attacks (hopefully). This is all theory though and not taking anything into account other than the shapes both teams line up with.

What I’m going to do now though is concentrate on the roles I’ve used and see if the players are doing the jobs I hope they would and more importantly, that I need them to do.

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This image shows how the midfield is working together and that the ball winning midfielder is the more aggressive one out of the four. He’s the one pushing wider to deal with the danger down the flanks. But the image also shows something else, that my defensive line is probably much deeper than it needs to be. It would be better if it was higher and positioned more like the dotted line. This would also take some of the defensive burden away from the midfielders as the defenders could take on more responsibilities and not be troubled by the slightly extra work load. I just feel the defenders are deeper than the rest of the side and this will make little gaps appear between defence and midfield. So any striker dropping off the front will be in clear space and unmarked. Or even if one of the defenders follow him to mark him, this then breaks the defensive unit and splits them up which is a bad thing from my point of view. I like them to defend as a unit.

Now I know that at times the defensive line and the defensive unit will be broken but this is something I can try to limit. I want my defenders to be the last line of defence and not stepping up to be the first line, which is what will happen if an opposition striker drops off the front.

So the first real note is;

  • Possibly a higher defensive line is needed.

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This image actually shows what I was discussing above. The ball is played from the oppositions midfielder and my left back steps up to cut out the pass and intercept the ball. Against strong opposition or sides using a different formation this could be a potential massive issue as it relies on the fullback winning the ball every single time which is a bit unrealistic. While the left back did the right thing, he is vulnerable to being exposed. Another reason why the defensive line should be higher to bring the midfield closer so both the defence and midfield can work in tandem with each other.

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Here we have the Trequartista who has drifted wide and is running towards the touch-line meaning his options are limited. I’ve seen similar moves to this from the player already in the opening five minutes. So it’s becoming a concern as he is the focus of the team and who the tactic is built around, he is the fulcrum of the team. His only real option here is to play the ball along the yellow arrow for Gabigol, the advanced forward, to run onto. However I think it would be better if Lucas Lima was the central player spreading the ball around the pitch and having the striker be the ones making wide runs. This will open space and give me more options because it would open up both sides of the pitch. I said in the first article that a Trequartista might not be ideal due to his movement and it appears true from what I’ve seen so far. So now my options are;

  • Advanced playmaker support
  • Enganche

I think both of these roles could be more suited to what I’m wanting so these are roles I’ll look at over the next few games to see which plays more like I expect.

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Here we have Lucas Lima, the Trequartista, again far too deep. This means that when the strikers get the ball line in the screenshot, then they become isolated. The Trequartista is the one who is supposed to feed the strikers the ball, if not, it all falls apart. The striker has nowhere to go and has no options.

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If I used an Enganche or Advanced playmaker then he’d be able to spray the ball around and dictate play more like how I want. It’s possible that he plays striker in who could run towards goal or into the channels. If the strikers went into the channels then the attacking midfielder (called him that because don’t know what role I’ll set on yet between AP and Enganche) would be able to offer support and the roles would then be reversed. He also has the options of playing the full backs in or supporting central midfielders. It just gives me a lot more options overall if my (current) Trequartista was more central and focused on supplying the ball rather than roaming around finding it. After all, if he doesn’t supply the strikers the ball then I’ll struggle to score against good organised sides because they’ll get isolated.

I think that’s enough analysis for now and I have more food for thought. In the next article I’ll be talking solely about the cons of using this system and highlighting its vulnerabilities.

3 thoughts on “The Art of The 4-4-2 Diamond Part Two”

  1. Good stuff Cleon. You talk a lot about changing the role to a AP or Enganche. Is your player able to fit into one of those roles are would you have to train him in the new role. I think I read before that you said as long as the player has the attributes for the role you don’t pay attention to the stars on how suitable they are to the role. Is this still the case?

    1. Yeah the star ratings don’t mean anything. Any player can play any role, he will just interpret it differently based on his attributes. Just because someone doesn’t have a rating for a specific role doesn’t mean he can’t fulfill it.

      1. Ok great thanks. I was always reluctant to do it because my assist manager kept saying I was playing them out of position and saying they were unhappy. Will give it a go with my save. Cheers.

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