Formations in football are the backbone to how the game will tactically line up. Often commentators talk about teams being more attacking or defensively minded, but what does that mean? Firstly, formations will list the number of defenders, midfielders, or forwards are in play at any given time. For example, 4-4-2 is one of the most common playing formations, as it allows 4 defenders (2 wing backs & 2 centre backs), 4 midfielders (left, right, & 2 central defenders), and 2 strikers to help set each other up for goals. The winger usually help press forward before allowing the strikers to take over the attacking play. In a 4-2-3-1, the standard 4 defenders are complimented by 2 midfielders, one who usually plays as a ball winning midfielder on the defensive, and the other who plays "box-to-box" to help the fluidity of both attacking & defending play. Then there are 3 forwards, 2 on the win and one in the centre, who play behind the lone striker. This allows the 3 forwards to interchange and allow the lone striker more space as his threat towards goal must be equally attended to as the 3 other attacking forwards. In a 4-3-2-1, or Christmas Tree formation, only 3 forwards are utilized to help keep the emphasis on a more solid defensive play by clogging the midfield with players. This formation, while not as common, can help underdog teams as seen in last year when Aston Villa defeated Chelsea. In general, formations will help you get an idea of how play is going to go. Two teams utilizing a 4-4-2 will be more than likely headed towards a low to mid scoring game with a focus on defensive solidarity and possession of the ball. On the flip side, two teams in the 4-2-3-1 formation will be looking to attack each other and you can expect a more open game.