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The 5-4-1 adds to a 4 men flat back a sweeper, which makes this lineup is highly defensive. It is used as a starting lineup for teams that are playing a team with a faster midfield than one's own. As in the 4-5-1, the forward (F1) will have to run a lot, so that a substitution will be necessary.
Here are some details about the positions:
Sweeper(SW) The sweeper
should be supporting the midfield, since the defense ought to be able to stop or slow down
an attack without the sweeper.
Stopper (ST) The stopper is responsible for marking the centerforward or centermidfielder of the other team. He also has an important offensive part of distributing the ball to the midfielders.
Left/Right Backs (LB/RB) Mark the opponent's forwards and are the only real defenders.
Left/Right Defenders (LD/RD) Cover the outsides of the field. If successful, opponents' offensive game is shut down severely. Since the entire 5-4-1 concentrates on defense, these players should not be expected to support the offense.
Left/Right Midfielders(LM/RM) When playing 5-4-1, outside midfielders need to take charge and demand the ball more than usual. With only one forward, offensive plays have to be played over the outsides, since a 5 men midfield can hardly push up fast enough to support the single forward.
Center Midfielders (LC/CM/RC) Fast center midfielders with a good ball control are essential for counterattacks, usually the only way to score with the 5-4-1. It is also necessary for the midfielders to hold their positions and not to fall back too much, because that would crowd the space in front of the own goal to such an extent that getting rid of the ball becomes possible only by clearing the ball: a certain way of losing possession.
Forward (F1) The single forward will have to cope with a game with few chances to score, for this formation is usually used to hold the ball and win time where offense is ranked only second. The forward will also have to fight for every ball in the offense and do a tremendous amount of running. A substitute should be brought into the game should the 4-5-1 be performed over a longer period of time.