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The 4-2-3-1


This formation is widely used by Spanish and French sides. While it seems defensive to the eye, it is quite a flexible formation, as both the wide players and the fullbacks join the attack. In defense, this formation is similar to either the 4𤂿 or 4𣯓1. It is used to maintain possession of the ball and stopping opponent attacks by controlling the midfield area of the field. The lone striker may be very tall and strong to hold the ball up as his midfielders and fullbacks join him in attack. The striker could also be very fast. In these cases, the opponent's defense will be forced to fall back early, thereby leaving space for the offensive central midfielder. This formation is used especially when a playmaker is to be highlighted.

On the international level, this formation is used by the Spanish national team, the Dutch national team and the German national team in an asymmetric shape, and often with strikers as wide midfielders or inverted wingers. The formation is also currently used by Brazil as an alternative to the 4𣇾 formation of late 1950s to 1970. Implemented similarly to how original 4𣇾 was used back then, use of this formation in this manner is very offensive, creating a six-man attack and a six-man defence tactical layout. The front four attackers are composed as wide forwards and playmaker forward in support of a target striker in front.

M醨io Zagallo also considers the Brazil 1970 football team he coached as pioneers of 4𣇽1.

In recent years with fullbacks having ever more increasing attacking roles, the wide players (be they deep lying forwards, inverted wingers, attacking wide midfielders) have been tasked with the defensive responsibility to track and pin down the opposition fullbacks.

In the 2010 World Cup, this formation was successfully used by multiple sides such as Germany, Spain and Ghana.

It has become increasingly more common in England and was popularized by Liverpool and their manager Rafa Benitez in 2008. It has also been used at Stockport County with Jim Gannon and at another lower league side by Paul Dickov at Oldham.

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