Content of the article: "41212(2) – D1 guide"
Some of you may remember me as the guy that posted formation guides and gameplay tutorials through the years; though most of you likely won't. My posts have gathered tens of thousands of upvotes, and proved extremely popular, and I'd like to think, brought some fun to FIFA.
Little bit about me: I am a 41 year old Boomer, who regularly achieved Elite 1, and even once T100. I'm no expert, far from it, but I do alright. If I can make T100 (once, but let me brag), with the reflexes of a sloth, you young shit-bags certainly can. I took a year off of FIFA last year to focus on study, and, well, because the El Tornado/La Croqueta spam in 19' frustrated me to the point I honestly lost faith in 20'. Saying that, FIFA is like an unhealthy drug – and here I am, back again, to throw out some content for the FIFA fiends to feast upon.
I don't follow meta, (fuck I hate that word), tactics – rather, I look to exploit people who blindly follow others. My guides are never what you would call normal.
I do not play the same as others, and my guides typically reflect that. I play aggressive attacking football, (think Keven Keegan's Newcastle, old timers), aiming to out-gun my opponents. If you prefer to hold on to the ball all game, passing pointlessly trying to pad irrelevant possession % numbers, well, maybe this guide might not be for you. I couldn't think of anything worse than to play a video game like that. But hey, to each their own.
I'm starting this year off with my second most favourite and reliable formation, (behind my 4222, which a guide is to come shortly…), and that's the 41212 narrow. I've thrown 100 or so games into it already in D1, and it's proven very successful for me; even against those boring players that have 70% possession and 2 shots on goal, (2x sweats across the face of goal), over the course of 90 minutes.
I will be posting a series of tutorials, starting firstly with the formations, then moving on to gameplay guides; such as manual defending, attacking patterns, and effective skill moves. I'm holding off on gameplay guides, as I need to get a handle on things and a better understanding of 21's mechanics first. The formations I will most likely be posting a guide on, (depending on their viability for me), will be: 41212(2), 4222, 3421, and lastly 433(5). I mean, I could post 4231 and 442, (though I rarely use those, and frankly, find them a bit boring). There's plenty of guides out there for those, anyway. Yawn.
Right, enough bullshit dribble from me, let's get to the guide and explanations behind my decisions:
** By the way, my formatting sucks and always has done on Reddit. But hopefully it's legible enough.
This guide will be broken down into Four sections with an explanation for each section. The Four sections will be: Playstyle, Custom Tactics, Player Instructions, and Player Types.
I play this formation very aggressively, with a very high tempo, and attempt to win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible to relentlessly throw an attacking onslaught at my opponent. I like to force my opponents into making mistakes and out of their comfort zone. Possession players hate me, as they piss around for 30 minutes creating naff all, and when I get a hold of the ball – Bam, goal. This game's a bit messed up in the way that the longer you hold on to the ball, the more your AI decides to push your team up, opening you up to a counter. It's always been like this; regardless of instructions and tactics. I look to exploit this by soaking up pressure and keeping my shape, then counter attacking with speed. I won't lie, typically, I finish with something like 40-45% of the ball – but that's fine, as I also typically have 2-3x my opponents attempts on goal. I'll take that any day of the week.
Defensive style: Press after Possession Loss
Depth: 6-7 depending on pace of your CB's.
I play press after possession loss, as like I mentioned earlier, I like to play hyper aggressively aiming to win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible to relentlessly attack my opponents. I feel that press after possession loss, this year, barely affects your players stamina; and since we're playing a narrow formation with players fairly close to each other, it doesn't drag your players into weird spaces leaving open areas – as you usually have another player close by to cover.
I have width at 6, for reasons you will see later, when I go into player instructions.
I have depth at 6-7, also, for reasons you will see later when I go into player instructions.
Offensive style: Fast Build Up
Players in Box: 6
Corners: Personal Preference. I use 2.
Free Kicks: Personal Preference. I use 1.
Fast build up, for me, is the key to 41212(2). As you will see when you get to my player instructions, I set up my team to counter attack with pace and to exploit high possession players or players parking the bus. Remember what I said about how if people hold on to the ball for an eternity their players AI naturally brings their players forward? This is how you exploit those park the bus gimps or high possession players. You could also try Long Ball. But I prefer Fast Build Up for narrow formations, and Long Ball for wide formations, as I feel like you need wide players to best utilise Long Ball.
I use width of 5, as, well, whatever. I don't notice much difference in this formation when I mess around with it, unless I go to extreme width which kinda defeats the purpose of this formation.
I set players in the box to 6, as I feel like it involves my CAM and attacking CM more in the attack when my full backs push on. You will see what I mean when I discuss instructions for the CM's. There is an argument for lowering this, though, and I do need to test that a little more. Reasoning behind potentially lowering it, is that blocked shots seem super prevalent in 21'. By not having so many players in the box, your opponents AI won't track your players runs into the box, and as such, won't crowd the area.
Corners and free kicks, do whatever you want on this. I don't score too much from corners, as I don't have the personnel for it, so I set it low to try to stop my opponents counters. I usually play it short, also, as I find my opponents score more from my own corners than I do.
This is where it gets fun and my 41212(2) differs from the other 41212(2)'s!
**If no instruction is stated, it is because I am using default.
— Balanced, Overlap, Conservative Interceptions.
Our full backs are a key part of our attacking play. They provide the necessary width to drag our opponents defenders and CDM's out wide, and force our opponent to manually defend to track runs, which is exactly what we want. We don't want our opponent packing the box and just running around with his CDM while his AI does all the work. That shit's too easy for him.
I put them on Balanced, rather than Join The Attack, as I feel that JTA makes them play like wingers and they are way too far forward. We still want them to actually defend when our opponent is attacking, yet, we want them to assist us when we go forward and address this formations main weakness – width.
I use Overlap as I want them to pretty much hug the side-lines as much as possible. Inverted gets them into shooting positions, and frankly, full backs are generally pretty terrible at putting the ball in the net.
I use conservative interceptions to help to preserve as much STA as possible, and also for them to retain their shape.
— Don't touch these. Default across the board.
— Stay back while attacking, Cover Center.
Not much to stay here. We don't want him going forward.
2 sets of instructions here. One for your most attacking, and one for your CM that acts as a center back. You will see what I mean in a second.
— Get Forward, get in to the box for crosses, Cover Wing
You obviously want a CM that attacks well here, or a Striker/Cam with decent STA in this role. He is going to be bombing forward and making late runs in to the box. In many instances, he ends up having the most shots in your team, and quite frequently bangs the most goals. Very dangerous player, as he often isn't tracked by the AI very well.
— Drop Between Defenders, Cover Center
When we are attacking, our full backs will be pushing forward. What this dude does when you're attacking, is move into a CB role while your CB shifts over and covers your full backs position. It turns into a 3-5 ATB formations, rather than leaving two exposed CB's while your fullbacks are causing havoc up the other end. Also, for some reason in FIFA 21, your defenders are awful at tracking fast through balls on counters. They literally part like the red sea. Having a third CB makes this infinitely harder for your opponent to do that as he clogs the middle up between your natural CB's.
You want a CM here that defends well, and is quite pacey if possible. Keep in mind, that when your opponent is attacking for a sustained period, he will move out of a CB position and back into midfield. He only drops back between the defenders when you are attacking. We are effectively playing with a normal CDM, and a super deep CDM just sitting on top of the defenders. I use my actual CDM in this role, and my defensive minded CM in the proper CDM role.
Confusing, I know.
As an example, say you have Fabinho and Wijnaldum. I'd put Fabinho into the CM role with "Drop Between Defenders", and Wijnaldum as the CDM. This means, when attacking, Fabinho becomes your 3rd CB and Winjnaldum chills as the CDM on stay back instructions; providing you additional defensive support while your other CM bombs forward. I hope that makes sense.
— Stay Forward
I just use Stay Forward here, as you want him as an outlet when winning the ball back for counter attacking. If he drops back defending, you will struggle to counter attack effectively. Also, supposedly, Stay Forward negates the bug where your CAM swaps positions with your midfielder randomly. I dunno about that one. I don't get it too often.
— Get in Behind
I just use get in behind here, to abuse the fact that through balls are so deadly in 21. I don't use stay forward as I need them as passing options when coming back up the pitch as one of my CM is told to drop between defenders, making me a bit lighter in the middle of the pitch.
There's obviously tons more than I suggest, but you will get the idea from the archetypes I suggest.
The dream – Mendy, Robertson, Alexander Arnold.
Alternatively – Any full back with decent Pace and STA. Good passing is also quite important.
Best you can afford/link up with
The dream – Kante, Allan, Nainggolan
Alternatively – Any little bastard that can run around really fast and harry your opponents. You don't want a man-mountain type here, you want that player in the CM role that acts as a CB.
The Dream – Bruno Fernandes, KDB, Griezmann
Alternatively – Any decent striker or CAM with ok'ish defensive stats, but high STA and good finishing/attack positioning.
The Dream – Fabinho, Casemiro, Zakaria
Alternatively – Any big fucker that can also act as a CB. Try to grab one as mobile as possible as he's gonna be doing some running.
Good passing and shooting is a must, here. Best WF you can afford. Pace not so much, as he feeds the ball to your strikers and releases them anyway. It's nice to have, but not absolutely necessary.
The Dream – KDB, Messi, Havertz.
Alternatively – Best you can afford that fits the archetype I described above.
Typically, I always went one big striker and a smaller, more agile one to feed off. This year, with through balls being as good as they are, I use two rapid strikers that can cause havoc with pace.
The Dream – Werner, 7 chem Mane, Dybala
Alternatively – Rodrigo, Inaki Williams, etc. There's tons of this type floating around.
As I said earlier, this is the first of many guides that I will post throughout the life of 21.
I've found this formation very strong this year, as 2 striker formations seem to work well because the AI CB's are acting like mongs.
If you're looking for a base-line as you've just got the game, I hope you give this a go and it brings you some joy. I will be answering questions in comments, but please refrain from do you think player X works here, as I've outlined that in the player types, and I've not had a chance to try nearly all of the players yet.
If you do try the formation, let me know how it works for you, and any adjustments you might have made. I don't profess it to be perfect – it's still very much a work in progress – and will evolve as the game gets patched, and the players released become better.
- Custom Tactics Guide – Fifa 21!
- Tired of all those persons with 100% possesion system meta tactics? A Guide from a high press player.
- A Tactics Guide to the 4231 from an Elite 3 and D1 Player
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