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Historic Formations in FMM - Brazil's 4-2-4


Historic Formations in FMM – Brazil’s 4-2-4

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We all know Brazil as the greatest football nation on earth. No country has won more World Cups or produced more talented footballers. I once read a stat that said every major and a fair few minor top divisions in the world had at least one Brazilian playing in them such is the number of professional footballers produced in Brazil.

This wasn’t always the case. Go back to the 1950s and Brazil was just another country competing at World Cups. They did make the final on home soil in 1950 but were embarrassed by Uruguay losing 2-1 in the final. This was about to change as a combination of great players and new tactics would help Brazil win the 1958 World Cup and bring the beautiful game to the attention of the world.

The 4-2-4 was first being developed in the early 50s in both Hungary and Brazil. It was devised as the first real attempt to balance attack and defence it also marks the beginning of using a flat back 4 that we are so familiar with today. The extra man was put into the back line to close the gap between the defenders that was seen in the ‘WM’ and 3-3-4 formations that were the formations of choice for most teams at the time. The defenders were expected to do more than win the ball back and had to contribute with the ball as well by initiating attacks through clever passes or dribbles. Every player in the team was expected to be comfortable on the ball and this suited the Brazilian players mindset perfectly.

With only 2 men in midfield a huge amount of work was expected of these players both in defence and in attack. It was expected that there would always be 6 men defending when out of possession but also 6 men in every attack so both midfielders had to perform both roles within the team. This relied on the fitness of the players but also their tactical nous to be able to read the game and know when to push forward and when to defend.

This being Brazil of course the stars of the team were up front. The 1958 World Cup saw the debut of a 17 year old Pele in the 3rd group game. He would announce his arrival on the world scene with 6 goals in the tournament and made a formidable partner to Vava who would get 5 tournament goals. On the wings you had Zagallo on the left and Garrincha on the right. Zagallo was able to combine both attacking and defensive duties on the left wing and would play deeper than the other 3 forwards. The undoubted star of the team though was Garrincha. The story of Garrincha is one of triumph and tragedy but let’s focus on the positive. Despite being born with a right leg that turned inwards and a left leg that turned outwards he was a genius with a football and is considered one of the best dribblers with the ball ever. In 1999 he was voted the 7th best player of the 20th Century. In the Quarter finals Brazil played Wales and won 1-0. The man responsible for marking Garrincha was Mel Hopkins and after the game he said this "a phenomenon, capable of sheer magic. It was difficult to know which way he was going to go because of his legs and because he was as comfortable on his left foot as his right, so he could cut inside or go down the line and he had a ferocious shot too. Garrincha was more of a danger than Pelé I believe at the time, a phenomenon, capable of sheer magic."

In the final Brazil went behind to hosts Sweden but it was Garrincha with his dribbling and crossing ability that set up two goals for Vava to make it 2-1 at half time and path the way to a 5-2 victory for Brazil. At full time Garrincha who wasn’t interested in the details of football, was confused by the celebrations of his teammates as he hadn’t realised it was a one off final and had assumed the tournament was played as a league!

4-2-4 in FMM

This is how Brazil lined up in the final against Sweden and this is what I want to try and recreate in FMM.

 

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I could have gone about this in a couple of ways but I wanted it to resemble a 4-2-4 as much it could. I wanted to try and recreate something close to how the Brazilians played so I had to get more creative than just a simple attacking 4-4-2 or a 4-2-4 with IFs in attack. In the end I went with this asymmetric formation.

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Defence

The Brazilian attitude has always been ‘you score 2 we will score 5’. The defence is there as much to be a platform to launch attacks as it is to stop goals going in. I have tried to reflect this with having WBs that will bomb forward and join the attack in the Brazilian tradition. I have also gone for two BPD as from all I have read this is what the coach Vicente Feola expected from his defenders. His attitude was that attack is the best from of defence.

Midfield

Using two BBM is very ambitious but I am trying to recreate an historic tactic and this seems to be how the midfield performed. The midfielders were the key to the tactic as because of the lack of numbers in midfield they could be overrun easily. Just like the BBM role in the game they were expected to contribute on both defence and attack and the coach demanded at least 6 players involved in every attack and when defending. This requires a huge level of fitness as well as an ability to read the game. If I get ripped apart in my test match I expect it to be because the midfield two can’t handle the work load.

 

Attack

I wasn’t 100% sure how to set up here. I went with an AF and T combination up front in the end although I could have gone for a CF instead of the T. I wanted a player that could create and would drop deeper to get the ball. It seems Pele might have played this kind of role early in his career and Vava was more the out and out striker in the 1958 team. On the left we have a winger to mirror how Zaggalo played. He was a hard working player who contributed to both defence and attack. I could really have played him even further back which may have mirrored his real life role more but then it wouldn’t really be a 4-2-4. On the right I went with an IF in the Garrincha role. As we saw in the comments above Garrincha was a versatile player who would get crosses in as well as cut inside and go for shoots. He wasn’t famous for his defensive work so I felt he needed to be in the forward line. Reports from the time often say how the Brazil formation would sometimes resemble a 4-3-3 as Zagallo would drop back into midfield but Garrincha always stayed forward so IF seemed a decent option as winger isn’t available in the wide forward positions.

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This was how I set up the TIs.

·        Attacking was an obvious choice. This is Brazil it’s how they play.

·        Passing. I went with short as that’s the Brazilian style fast, short passes that cut teams apart. I kept with mixed focus to ensure the team is as unpredictable as you would expect from a Brazil team. GK distribution is short as well so we can play out from the back with our BPDs.

·        I went with pressing. This wasn’t a term used back in the 50s but I’m sure the Brazil players were keen to always to win the ball back as quickly as possible and get back on the attack.

Match

The match I choose to test this formation in was against Brazils huge rivals Argentina. I have to admit I was nervous going into the game, the formation is very open and with attacking and pressing as well we could have been carved open by a talented Argentina team.

In the end the game finished 2-2. Argentina played with a defensive 4-4-2 for most of the game and we came out in the first half and blew Argentina away with a goal each for Gabriel Jesus and Neymar with shoots from inside the area following good passing moves. In the 2nd half we started to run out of steam but except for a couple of substitutions I didn’t change the tactic. It was two set pieces which got Argentina the draw. The first a header from a corner and then a freekick to make it 2-2 at full time.

As always I have some screenshots which show how the formation played in the game. Argentina rarely troubled us except from set pieces so most of these screenshots are of us on the attack.

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Early into the game and we are already pushing forward. We have all 10 outfield players in the Argentina half and I have circled in black our left CB who is playing almost as a DMC. This is because we have so many men committed forwards and Argentina are bring almost everyone back to cover. The danger here would be if Casemiro lost the ball as one long ball over the top for Higuaín could put him one on one with the ‘keeper. I would strongly recommend that you have fast CBs if you plan to play this way. In the white ring you can see we have the required 6 players in the attack. Neymar (no10) and Anderson (no9) are to close really and that was my fear with having Anderson as an IF. As the game went on though they didn’t trip over each other that often and also interchanged positions on occasions which made them hard to mark.

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This screenshot shows what I just said about Neymar and Anderson swapping positions. I have circled them and you can see Neymar is the wider of the two. They have 3 players marking them which is creating space for other players. It also shows that we were often playing a 2-4-4 in attack as the BBM didn’t always join the attack in a mad rush but instead sat a little deeper to provide a passing option or to attack the box late.

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  This was such a good position that was wasted because of a poor pass by Danilo to Anderson. We have spread the Argentinian back line and you can see the gaps that our boys can attack represented by the arrows. If Danilo had found Anderson with the pass he had a great gap to burst through with his pace as did Neymar between the 2 CBs. Needless to say I was very unhappy when he over hit the pass. I have put a ring around the two BBMs to show how Casemiro on the left side is sitting deeper to mark the CM of Argentina but Ferandinho is unmarked and is moving forward to join the attack. You can also see that Marcelo has tucked in from LB to create a 3 at the back to cover the 3 attacking players that Argentina have left forward. This let Danilo push forwards in the first place as he knew he had that protection behind him.

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This was the best screenshot I could get of Argentina on the attack. We have over committed going forward looking for a last minute winner. If Fernandez had been more accurate with his clearance and it had found Dybala instead of Thiago Silva then Argentina would have had a two on two situation. With players like Dybala and Higuaín this would have stood a good chance of resulting in a winner. 

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I was surprised to finish the game with more possession as we were outnumbered in midfield. We certainly created the chances in the game though with far more shots and 4 CCCs. I was very disappointed to give away the two goals near the end and we did seem to run out of steam which is to be expected with such a high tempo, all-out attack set of tactics.

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We took a lot of positives out of the game despite the end result.Screenshot_20170923-182452.thumb.png.9ccff15412ebb11dec6b0bd9b3f89026.png

I wasn’t too concerned by any of these negatives. The top two just tell me the winger had a poor game (he was our only attacking midfielder) and that can happen to anyone in a one off game. We had Neymar and Gabriel Jesus up front so not the kind of strikers who are going to win many headers so really that negative was to be expected.

I would call this a specialist tactic that would require a very good team with just the right attributes to make it work. The Brazil national team would use this tactic with slight variations to win the 1958,1962 and 1970 World Cups and it soon spread around the world as well. Celtic won the European Cup in 1967 playing a 4-2-4 and the formation is regarded as the first modern football formation.

The Brazil team of 1958 go down in history as one of the great national sides and it was this formation that helped cement Brazil as the world’s best exponents of the beautiful game. The tactics that came before this were very rigid but Brazil changed everything with their individual flair and free flowing attacking football. As with every innovation it has positives and negatives and this formation also marks the beginning of cynical, defensive and downright nasty football  but that is a story for another day. 

Thank you for reading.

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Solid and enjoyable article! Really got alot to learn from you about writing! Love the details you have managed to go into!

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Sounds like football was really fun and full of goals back in the day :) enjoyable read!

I think your formation and tactics to mirror 1958's Brasil is spot on. And to tweak it into a "safer" FMM version I'd go with a solid defensive back 4 that does nothing but defend since it's such an attack-minded formation already. 2 FBs + 2 CDs/LDs alternatively one operating as a BPD. I actually quite like the 4-2-4 especially since IFs on the flanks are deadly this year.

Keep 'em coming ;)

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1 hour ago, salohcin said:

Solid and enjoyable article! Really got alot to learn from you about writing! Love the details you have managed to go into!

Thank you I'm glad you enjoyed it. The secret is research once you have done that it writes itself.

 

29 minutes ago, BatiGoal said:

Sounds like football was really fun and full of goals back in the day :) enjoyable read!

I think your formation and tactics to mirror 1958's Brasil is spot on. And to tweak it into a "safer" FMM version I'd go with a solid defensive back 4 that does nothing but defend since it's such an attack-minded formation already. 2 FBs + 2 CDs/LDs alternatively one operating as a BPD. I actually quite like the 4-2-4 especially since IFs on the flanks are deadly this year.

Keep 'em coming ;)

Glad you enjoyed it.

Where would be the fun in a safer version 😂

I have more of these planned for FMM18.

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Well done but from the initial picture, that formation looks like the "442 attacking" in the tactic preset (aka 4222).

And depending on how deep Pele dropped, you could try playing him as a DLF instead of T.

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8 hours ago, veerus said:

Well done but from the initial picture, that formation looks like the "442 attacking" in the tactic preset (aka 4222).

And depending on how deep Pele dropped, you could try playing him as a DLF instead of T.

I had a couple of formation pictures I could have used the other being this.

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I simply preferred the other picture to this one.

The roles I chose where based on my research and not the picture. I spent along time agonising over the Pele role and agree that DLF would be a good choice as well and I also considered CF. I went with a T as I hoped it would be both creative and out and out attacking which seemed to fit with his role in the team best.

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Very interesting read.Looks like a formation you could try with the likes of Barcelona, Real madrid. Also I love how you analyse the formation with your screenshots, makes me want to look at my own games in more detail. Great work. 

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On 13/10/2017 at 20:18, Niall C said:

Very interesting read.Looks like a formation you could try with the likes of Barcelona, Real madrid. Also I love how you analyse the formation with your screenshots, makes me want to look at my own games in more detail. Great work. 

 

20 minutes ago, RealHaks said:

Very interesting read. What a way to welcome me back into my account 😀

Thanks guys😃. Means a lot that people enjoy what I write it really makes the effort worth while😃

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