[E2 / 25-4 ] 4-3-1-2 10 Depth Review!

  • Team:

Mid Yashin, FF Adama, FFS Guimaraes, IF Walker, Red SIF Cancelo; LP Neves, Moments Tonali, KdB, FB El Shaarawy; Base Cruyff, Neymar. All untradeable except the last two.

  • Defensive:

Press on heavy touch, 5 width, 10 depth.

  • Offensive:

Balanced, 5 width, 4 players in box, 1 set pieces.

  • Instructions:

Strikers on stay central. CAM on come back on defence. One CM on cover wing get forward, one on cover centre balanced. CDM on stay back cover centre. GK on come for crosses, sweeper keeper. Will go into depth about my reasoning for these in the post.

  • Intro:

With the basics out of the way, hi, everyone. Been a while since I've done one of these, but had so much fun with the formation this weekend that I've decided to do another.

I've mentioned in previous posts that every week I do a sort of "formation spin", where I will close my eyes and cycle through the formations, and whichever I land on, I'll play. This weekend I landed on the 4-3-1-2, which seems to be becoming a bit of a META offensive alternative, so I excitedly gave it a go, and can immediately see why.

  • Offensive Tactics Breakdown:

I'll start this off by saying if you're a player who likes to play narrow, intricate football, and dominate the ball, then you'll probably enjoy this formation. I'm someone who never really liked the 4222, and can never get on with the 442 despite how good it's claimed to be, because I get such little use out of my wide players, as they seem far too shy on the play. Those formations don't give me the central overloads I like to dominate the game, building up with everyone instead of having passengers.

This formation is the best I've used for quick (as quick as the server allows) one/two touch incisive build up, whilst also giving constant outlets to recycle possession when a forward option isn't available. The midfield should be flooded with technically proficient players, rather than workhorses and water carriers for this exact reason. I always think you can defend with any player if you're good enough with how you manually switch and position, but technical ability cannot be conjured from nowhere. The middle CM needs to be well rounded, whilst the other three midfielders can be more offensive in instinct.

With both CMs let off the leash so to speak, and a CAM who isn't fixed to a central offensive position, it feels like the movement is far more fluid than in more static formations like listed above. Fullbacks who overlap, whilst not going and standing on the last line, are always an outball and overload opportunity if used correctly.

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Cruyff used to say the fullbacks should not be used in the build up, and we should build through the centre, as by going out to one side cuts off the other half of the pitch. This is never more the case than in a narrow formation such as this one. They are there for when all passing options are cut (especially useful against opponents who press high when chasing the game, as the man-to-man constant pressure system often leaves them unopposed). In this occasion, the ball then goes back into the midfield to build up again. Under any other circumstances, the fullback doesn't get involved until the final third when overlapping. In general build up, his passing options are just too few.

As with every formation, I think the CBs and STs are key. We all know what we need in these positions in FIFA, but never more so than in this formation. In a narrow system, I feel both strikers need to be agile and good in tight spaces, pace and 5* skills are a huge bonus. The CBs need to be good on the ball as they will be on it more than usual with how you recycle the ball with your fullbacks up the pitch, but they will also be a 2 sat on the halfway line a lot of the time, with little protection. No matter how good your switching and manual press, counter attack opportunities will arise, and CBs who are quick, agile, and strong 1v1 are a must (shock, FBs as CBs are great for this on FIFA 21 as that is their profile nailed). Being able to manually switch to your CB when you anticipate a long through ball, and just drop 5 yards to cut it out is as key as any personnel you can get, though.

  • Defensive Tactics Breakdown:

As I said earlier in the post, I'd go through why I have my player instructions as they are, and they are mostly for defensive reasons. First and foremost, I've said on Reddit before that I don't like too many instructions, as I feel like it confuses the already limited AI. Ever since I saw a CoD pro go 30-0 and say "I don't bother with instructions", I started keeping it as simple as possible, whilst also trying to perfect a system. It's a fine balance, imo.


I think firstly, it's important to note that in FIFA, lots of formations will try and default to a 442 defensive shape. Why? Who knows. And although it's not as stupid as it was last year, and some formations are "fixed", this is not one of them. You can try and fight it by leaving your CAM on stay forward, but again, I don't like confusing the already poor AI.

The middle CM, and the "balanced" CM will become your midfield two pairing. Your CAM, who is on come back on defence, and your CM on "get forward", will now become a LM/RM duo, depending on which side you have your "get forward" CM on. I find just accepting the AI wants to defend in this 442 shape is the most solid way to go, whilst also being able to transition into something completely different very quickly when you have the ball. The STs are on stay central so they don't go chasing fullbacks when we press, leaving the CAM/CMs wanting to stay in the position of the ST. We want them to engage the opposition CBs only.

Depth and pressure is somewhat preference based, and I would not suggest doing anything outside your comfort zone. Firstly depth, I know personally, I want to be as compact as possible, with my defence as close to my midfield as they can be, and that means 10 depth and spamming "offside trap" when the ball is played backwards and sideways from the opposition (do not spam it when the opponent is facing forward and has time on the ball, this is football suicide!). The GK on "sweeper keeper" will automatically come for any ball in behind that he can reach in that vast space to somewhat cover for the through ball spam if you don't always anticipate the pass. If you're happy to let your opponent have the ball, and you're more comfortable defending passively and biding your time, then lower depth might be for you.

Pressure is best coupled with high depth, imo. With the two second timer coming onto "team press", I feel like POHT is the way to go. I get impatient when I'm passive, and want to jump on every mistake, and force them if possible. Another alternative I've tried is putting two identical formations next to each other on the d-pad, with one being balanced, and the other constant pressure, and flicking onto the latter when in a position to go. POPL is a big "no" from me, as there are too many instances where we're not in a compact enough shape to press after the breakdown of possession, and the team goes hunting anyway. This is a counter attack waiting to happen, imo.

  • Conclusion:
Read more:  Suggestion/Rant

Again, another E1 choke from me. It feels more than attainable, but I spend too many games being guilty of playing to the level of my opponent and not giving every game the focus I should. I will match pros when I go up against them, but then sleepwalk through games against lesser players and get bitten because of it.

I will definitely be using this formation for the upcoming swap grind, as it was genuinely the most fun I've had playing FIFA for several weeks now. Perhaps my put a hold onto my formation spin this weekend and run it again too. I don't think I really got comfortable with it straight away, so it might take a few games for you too.

Hope this helps at least someone see some improvement or have some fun this coming weekend or during swaps.



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