Happy Monday all!

I've been seeing a lot of hype for 3back/5back formations lately, namely the 352, and I wanted to highlight the potential in using the 3421 formation – a formation I've used for over 800 games at this point.

I would preface this in saying that i feel this formation is very very specialist – it's not one that you can just pick up and use. I took a long grind for me to understand what im trying to do with this formation (using a meta team), let alone use this formation using sub-par players as well in certain areas (obviously helps using a 1.7mill striker).

Note: tried using some of the silver scottish cb's and and david marshall as my keeper and they were beyond woeful…. whilst i like to give myself a disadvantage, conceding 25 yard finesses which I could do little about due to my keeper was a bit beyond my limits….

The team is shown below;



St – Stay Central, Get in Behind

Lf – Stay Central, Get in Behind

RF – Stay Central, False 9

Lm/RM – Come back , Get in behind, Get into box

Cm's – Stay back

Cb's – Default

Tactics shown below;




Overloading the wings are the main form of offense and will be your bread and butter. Your lm and rm is probably your biggest playmakers in this formation, therefore it is important to get players who can play the ball, cross but also win a tackle. Any high tier full back should fit the bill, but I especially like those with high dribbling and agility.

In transition/ counter attacking, this is normally how you'll find your team after a few seconds of play;

What is important to note is the RF playing false 9 and picking up the ball. He is quite vital to the team in creating layers within the team – which is important is providing a multi-dimensional attack. It is either him or one of the cms in which i would use to carry the ball forward.

Also from the image above, you'll begin to see the overloads that begin to happen with the RM/RF and LM/LF. This is the key thing from the formation; the opposition cbs will be forced to decide on who to mark which will inevitably leave spaces. This is shown in two key scenarios below;



In scenario A, the opponents left full back gets dragged to combat the four attackers created by the LM,LF,CF and RF which then leaves a gap for the RM to burst into the box. This can also happen on the other side as well.

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In scenario B, the opponent full back tries to match the on-rushing RM and gets dragged whilst the RF is in possesion of the ball. This will result in the opposing cb have to meet the RF on the ball, which will momentarily leave a gap which the CF can exploit with a through ball.

Failing that however, you'll end up with a situation which most with be familiar with;

Opposition in full defense.

What imporant here is to use your'e two Cm's to contiunously pass and receive the ball, which will drag opposition defenses around. Obviously here is where having King Kenny helps in being really agile and an excellent finisher; he can receive in the box, quick shimmy and shoot.


You have to be somewhat clinically insane to play this formation, and my motto to playing this formation is to get the ball back asap. Rushing and slide tackling is necessary to stop your opponent playing out. There generally are three phases to defending in this formation and it's important to use specialists for each task.


So the scenario is that you've lost the ball in the opponents box and he's on the break. Generally your attacking players are too deep in the opposition box to do anything, which means it's down to the Scottish Kante to clean up. I usually have one more attacking cm in the box and a defensive cdm; but most importantly it has to be someone with pace and can press quickly. Callum Mcgregor fits this role for me; he's agile, quick and can get in your face.

With the meta nowadays, there generally is a gap in between the opponents defensive structure and their strikers, which mean that your opponent has to play a non -impeded ball if he wants to break quickly. This is allows for the potential of mcgregor to intercept the clearance or pass before it reaches the striker and reengage the attack.


Failing phase 1, the next task is up to your central cb and it's his job to really take one for the team. For my playstyle, I use McTominay; who has ridiculous reach, high strength and decent mobility and stamina. This is my favourite phase as it really sets the tone for the game – to lure opponents into think they can mount an attack before you smack down their striker with mcsauce. Given that generally the opponents wide players will be forced into marking your wide mids, the two strikers will be the only players forward which means they have to be the first outball to relieve my pressure; which also means that any passes towards them will generally be counted as a long pass. What this means is that in the time taken for the pass to come into the strikers, my central cb will be allowed the time to push into the receiving strikers back, meaning he won't have any time on the ball. With Mct's strength and slide tackle, very rarely can an opponent hold up against him and play a safe ball. If the ball does get played into the wings, the LCB/RCB will also act accordingly.



If you're lucky enough to fail the first two phases but not have your opponent through on goal, then you'll be resorted to the last phase which is simply to defend as a 5 back with two screening cm's.


– Sounds counter intuitive but its quite important to use pressure to win the ball high up in the field rather than dropping back; this saves the stamina on your lm/rm from having to run back and forth constantly.

– RF or LF has to be a Cam type player with good passing but also shooting.

– One of your Cm's needs to be attacking – the extra man going forward really helps with pullng cb's out of position and giving you goal scoring opps.

– I'd probably go against playing a small cb and your middle cb as he needs the strength to outmuscle strikers with their back against them.

– You could opt for a tall striker as CF but be wary of using crosses as this may result in giving away possession unnecessarily.

– Your lm, rm shouldn't really be cutting in – positional play is important and keeping them wide is what allows for gaps. Cutting in only slows the play down and forces them to occupy the same space as the rf/lf who can cut in. Keep them wide and use them to cross or get in the box to cut back or shoot.

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My idea for this tactic was to really try and play something completely different that is rarely seen but also something that is effective tactically with minimal reliance on meta players or even good players.

I'm not a student of real life football, but I always admire coaches that require specific personel to do a specific job in a specific formation that doesn't overly rely on individual brilliance. Cliched, but Bielsa's Leeds is a good example. Old Mourinho is also an inspiration having read books on his time at Porto and the way he utilised certain players to do a specific job during a game.

This team has really invigorated my love for fifa and using these hell mary tactics really make each game exciting. Obviously there are limitations but seeing the opponents scramble as they see your wide mid players overload the sides is too enjoyable to pass. I emplore people to give this a try – or at least something different a try compared to conventional formations.

In a time when 'Who's the best player for x' or ' what is the best formation' kind of questions are rife, I hope that this post offers something a little different and shows you can play with whatever players you want, have fun but also reach an ok standard without being overly reliant on Neymar.

Thanks again for reading (for those who has made it this far down) and feel free to ask questions.


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