The 4-2-3-1 is a very flexible strategy that can adapt its shape to fit a specific match situation. Depending on the situation, the formation can switch between a 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1, 4-3-3 and/or 4-5-1. Today, I analyse an FM21 tactic created by Victor Hugo. To analyse and find out why it was a successful system, we'll use a basic tactical principles guide by Russell Pope. He's kindly allowed me to use his tactical principle guide. He's a Director of Analytics, head of academy performance analysis at Sutton United and an analyst at breaking the lines, so make you give him a follow on Twitter for amazing content!
This FM21 tactic (created by VictorHugo) is a very offensive 4-2-3-1 system where we see the wing-backs constantly get up and down the flanks. The wingers tuck inside when on the ball to attack central areas and with the original tactic, the two central midfielders are a box-to-box and a deep-lying playmaker. Offering both protecting in front of the back four along with the responsibility to support the attacking players. I've tweaked those two roles slightly. The deep-lying playmaker now has the defend duty (from support) to give the back four the extra security, and the box-to-box is no longer. I've swapped that role with a ball-winning midfielder because this tactic attacks centrally, and if we lose the ball in central areas, I wanted a player looking to win the ball back aggressively.
Typically in a 4-2-3-1, the number 10 is the link from deeper midfielders to the forwards. Still, this system uses a Shadow Striker instead, often giving this shape more of a 4-4-2 to feel to it as the attacking midfielder looks to push forward aggressively but will also help with the press by closing down and when the opponents are building up from the back, we get that 4-4-2 shape again making it tough for the opponents to build from the back. The Inside Forwards in this system are vital in the attack. They are, of course, a source for goals and creativity, but they are also used in an attempt to create overloads the opponent's half-space. This is helped by the runs forward from the wing-back. But also the Shadow Striker, as he looks to move into the channels in between the opponent's full-backs. But due to this system very narrow attacking shape, when the ball is worked forward in central areas, they will need to look for space to be an option to receive the ball. Once they receive the ball, they are direct in their attacking approach by either running directly at defenders, playing a through ball or key pass and also cross the ball from wide if the route centrally is blocked. The central defenders play a key role in the build and are ball-playing defenders. They play with risk on the ball by either bring the ball out from the defence with their feet looking for a pass, or they'll look to play a more direct and risky ball looking to initiate a counter-attack. Due to the very narrow shape, they're likely to play many more vertical passes rather than short and horizontal. Up top is the advance forward and will be the main-goalscorer. There's not much to say on this role, but he will look to score goals, stretch the opponent's defence by making runs in behind and in the channels whilst also chasing any loose or bad passes. In defence, the tactic will use a standard defence line and a more urgent press but not too intense. Because of the more positive mentality, naturally, the team will look to be on the front foot and think positive, so though the tactic uses a standard defence line, that line will still be a little higher than what would be used in a mid-block. The line of engagement will be much higher. This is a bid to stop teams from being able to play out from the back but also to get the defenders to defend less and the attackers to defend more. This can provide a nice balance as the wing-backs, who are primarily defenders, will be attacking more, lifting some weight of the attackers. But that wraps up this FM21 tactic. Huge shout out to the creator Victor Hugo and Russell Pope, for allowing me to use his tactic principle guide, which we will cover more formations in later videos. It's time now for the results!