The 4-2-4 is in fashion this season. Managers like Guardiola, De Zerbi or Luis Enrique are using it. A formation that has its origins in the 50s in Brazil and Hungary, with Palmeiras and Santos being the most succesful teams in its beginnings. The 1970 World Cup victory by Brazil boosted the popularity of this formation.
The 4-2-4 is based on having 4 players in the front line, with 2 forwards playing centrally close to each other, and 2 wingers high up. The middle of the field is left unprotected, requiring the double pivot to have a lot of energy and tactical awareness.
Antonio Conte was one of the few coaches who had used this formation in several of his teams, such as Bari, Siena and Chelsea. With the trend of having teams that increasingly seek to have more possession but remain vertical, the 4-2-4 is becoming more important.
Split the opponents block in 2 and avoid high press, leaving 4v4 situations in the opponents half. In addition to trying to force the defensive block to retreat into his own box, having possession and control of the game.
We are seeing some tactical evolutions of this shape with full-backs inverting in possession, switching to a 3-3-4.
The 4-2-4 offers creative freedom to the attacking players. With fewer defensive responsibilities, the forwards can focus on creating chances. This formation provides width to the team’s attacking play. With the wingers positioned on the flanks of the field, they can stretch the opposing team’s defense and create space for the center-forwards to attack.
Out of possession is excellent for high pressing, with 6 players applying pressure, forcing turnovers.The 4-2-4 is well-suited for counter-attacking football. With the attacking players positioned high up the field, the team can quickly transition from defense to attack and catch the opposing team off-guard.
When the opposition attacks, they will often bring their full-backs forward out of their natural starting position, leaving the two wide forwards unmarked. Creating overloads in advanced areas that can cause repeated goal threats.
After 70 years, the 4-2-4 is once again one of the most used formations by some of the best teams in the world.