Formation (association football)
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Formations are typically described by three or four numbers, which denote how many players are in each row of the formation from the most defensive to the most forward. For example, the popular "4–5–1" formation has four
The choice of formation is typically made by a team's
In the early days of football, most team members would play in attacking roles, whereas modern formations almost always have more defenders than forwards.
Formations are described by categorising the players (not including the
Traditionally, those within the same category (for example the four midfielders in a 4–4–2) would generally play as a fairly flat line across the pitch, with those out wide often playing in a slightly more advanced position. In many modern formations, this is not the case, which has led to some analysts splitting the categories in two separate bands, leading to four- or even five-numbered formations. A common example is 4–2–1–3, where the midfielders are split into two defensive and one offensive player; as such, this formation can be considered a type of 4–3–3. An example of a five-numbered formation would be 4–1–2–1–2, where the midfield consists of a defensive midfielder, two central midfielders and an offensive midfielder; this is sometimes considered to be a kind of 4–4–2 (specifically a 4–4–2 diamond, referring to the lozenge shape formed by the four midfielders).
The numbering system was not present until the 4–2–4 system was developed in the 1950s.