The 4-3-2-1 formation in soccer consists of four defenders, three defensive midfielders, two forwards and one striker. This formation is very common and often referred to as the Christmas tree structure due to its formation.
The four defenders make up the largest part of the formation's structure and operate as the backbone of the team. They are the last players that their opponents have to pass before getting an opportunity to shoot on goal. However, they have some assistance.
This is where the three defensive midfielders come into play. Like we've already learned, the defensive midfielders tend to play more defensively. This means that they can transition from an offensive role to a defensive role in just seconds.
Coaches should look for defensive midfielders that know both offensive and defensive soccer strategies very well, like recovering from a change of possession and switching from an offensive midfielder to assisting on defense.
The forwards are also known as the wingers. The wingers are often scorers and work directly with the center striker. Wingers should have strong kicks and endurance because oftentimes, wingers score on breakaways or on 2-on-1 situations.
Lastly, the striker is like the leader of the offensive line. The striker should have great footwork and speed to keep up with the wingers. The wingers typically cross the ball in so the center striker can finish off the shot on goal.
With this kind of formation, quick passes are a must because you will always be near a teammate. There are a lot of passing and scoring opportunities between the center striker and the wingers.
Because the formation gets smaller and smaller as you move upfield, it can be a little crowded near the midfield line. This could result in getting too crammed up and not examining your passing options across the field. Make sure to spread out as much as you can to open up the field.
Another disadvantage includes finding an open player on goal kicks. Since the offensive wingers and striker are so far down the field, it can be difficult for the goalie to find an open player to punt the ball to.