A 4-1-4-1 formation in soccer is four backs, one midfielder pivot, four top midfielders and one striker. This play is a deviation from the 4-4-2 formation and is evenly balanced between offensive and defensive players.
The four backs operate as a typical defensive unit. The two center defenders should be on top of their defensive game because there is only one center midfielder. They should be ready to step in and assist with defense if the pall gets fast the center midfielder.
The holding midfielder is a pivotal position for this formation, because this player has to literally pivot between offensive and defensive roles. This may be a challenging position to play because you might be the only defensive midfielder at times if the four midfielders in front of you are in possession of the ball working toward a shot on goal.
The four midfielders rotate between offensive and defensive positions, depending on the game's situation. These are usually some of the strongest and quickest players on the team, because midfielders are constantly moving and readjusting.
The one striker may be deemed the leader of the offense for this particular formation, but once again, the striker relies heavily on its midfielders for backup. The center striker should put himself in positions on the field to be open for a long cross pass or to take a shot on goal from a few yards out.