What is 4 2 4

Football system 4-4-2

Modern football system including a back four

In the 1980s, the back four became more and more popular as a tactical football system, which meant that the 3-5-2 was superseded. In 4-4-2 you always play with four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards. The heart of this is the line of defense.

Football system 4-4-2

The system is very compact, but also offers many tactical variants and includes:


The goalkeeper is never mentioned in the names, because it should actually be 1-4-4-2, but the fact that the goalkeeper is used is not an issue, it is a matter of course.


The first four stands for four defenders, which are divided into two full-backs and two center-backs. The tasks are very different. One of the central defenders is the head of defense, as was the Libero in the 3-5-2. He has to get along well with the second central defender and be able to communicate blindly and also pay attention to the full-backs in order to be able to set up the offside trap.

The full-backs, in turn, represent the defense for the opponent's wing attacks, but at the same time they can also advance into the attack, which gives the team a preponderance on the offensive. The risk is of course that you run into a counterattack and the defender is missing in the defense.


The second foursome represents four midfielders. These are usually used like a diamond, i.e. an offensive, central player for building up the game and long shots, a defensive midfielder behind to reinforce the defensive and two players in the outer positions.


Two real strikers are used in the attack, as has already been done with the 3-5-2. But that is not the case that often anymore, which is why you prefer to play with 4-4-1-1, i.e. a hanging tip and a real penalty striker who is supposed to score the goals.


The 4-4-2 is the classic system of modern football. Many other variants such as the 4-1-4-1 or 4-4-1-1 and similar tactical options show that it does not always bring the desired solution.