This is my first time doing any kind of review, so any feedback would be welcome.
The review is of the 5-1-2-1-2 formation, and please before sharpening your pitchforks, downvoting me to oblivion and calling me out for being the rat I have become, read on.
As a Fut founder (kinda, RIP Lost Xbox account), I have always spent my years (hating) playing Fifa nobly sporting various 4 at the back formations – mostly 4-1-2-1-2. During this time, I, like all true Fifa chads, played honourable games against fellow 4 at the back enthusiasts, looking down from high upon the occasional heathen who dared to use such cowardly 5 at the back formations. Tipping my hat at the rare mad lad who used 3 at the back.
After around a 2-year break from FUT (due to several broken controllers and no doubt high blood pressure), I caved and came back in around a month or so ago. I’ve always been a probably above average player, usually division 1 and Gold 1/Elite 3 weekend league finishes consistently.
This year, playing 41212 (2), I was stuck for 2-3 weeks at around 1300-1400 skill level. My first 2 weekend league finishes I decided to stop at Gold 3, mostly due to the fact I lost the other 15-16 games
Enter some streamers, and a fair number of matches of me running into 5 at the back peasants. Mostly 5-3-2, that seems to be one of the new META formations in this year’s iteration. Due to me trying different formations and nothing really clicking, I knew that I had to do the unthinkable and I decided I would give the 5 at the back a go.
Anyways, to cut a long story short, I tried the 5-3-2 and as much as it was good defensively, that was in itself, its biggest flaw (for me). It was so defensive, I felt had very little outlets and created very little, therefore leading to more attacks on me, and ultimately conceding just as many goals. That was until I switched to the 5-2-1-2.
My team – (starts in 451 for chem)
GK – Lloris (Gold)
RWB – Ricardo Periera (What if)
RCB – Fofana (Objective)
CCB – Ruben Neves (Objective)
LCB – Varane (Gold)
LWB – Mendy (Gold)
RCM – Essien (Prime)
LCM – Bruno Fernandes (Gold)
CAM – Cucrella (Objective)
LS – Cristiano Ronaldo (Gold)
RS – Salah (Gold)
So, onto the tactics and player instructions.
GK – Default
Full backs/Wing backs – Join the attack, normal interceptions, overlap.
I would of course recommend very pacey wing backs, with a LOT of stamina. Ideally H/H work rates and 4* skills (only Mendy does for me)
Centre Backs – Default everything
Not much to say, other than I only ever used M/H work rates, pace is of course king, 80+ where possible with shadows.
Centre Midfielders – Stay back, stay central, everything else default
I have again H/H work rates for both of mine, perhaps due to the high work rates, they will sometimes push up and get involved for attacks, chipping in with the odd goal or assist.
Centre Attacking Mid – Stay forward, everything else default
Pretty basic here, but have him stay forward, ready to link up with the strikers, triggering runs and tiki-taka passing is king here. Would recommend minimum 4*/4*, good pace, shooting, dribbling, and a good finesse shot from range
Strikers – Stay Central, Get in behind, default, default
When using this formation originally, I had the strikers on stay forward, but the change to balanced here is noticeable, the strikers and the CAM link up infinitely better, whenever I’m on defence, those 3 are stood ready and eager in a nice little triangle.
Defensive style – Balanced
Width – 4
Depth – 4/5 (depending how i’m feeling)
Offensive style – balanaced
Width – 5
Players in the box – 7
Corners – 3
Freekicks – 2
The instructions used are essential for the formation to work. Tactics maybe not so much, and I do play around with width/depth/players in the box now and again.
The full backs – these HAVE to be on ‘Join the attack’, if not the formation falls flat, there’s nowhere near as many options going forward. I have tried them on balanced to see the difference, and for me, the difference is huge. On Join the Attack, Pereira & Mendy absolutely bomb forward, spread the play and most importantly give options. They don’t score too many goals but do occasionally catch opponents out who are expecting a pass across from a full back, giving me space to run on for an effort on goal. They do instead contribute to a lot of assists, often I will take it to the line and pass across or whip in a low cross for an easy tap in. As a side note, I have always like full backs with H/H work rates, (I know not everyone believes in them, but I am a big believer), these guys put a shift in going forwards and back, if you use H/M work rates, the formation may not feel as solid defensively (cannot confirm or deny).
The 3 CBs – not much to say, everything is default on them. And the 3 defenders staying back when everyone else is forward, is super noticeable. (Side note here, it’s super important to NOT use RBs and LBs at CB in this formation! It's just a scummy thing to do).
The 2 CMs – I have these on stay back and cover centre. And, as anyone who has played this game knows, when on stay back CMs like to ignore the gaffer and bomb forward when his back is turned, this however works fine as another outlet. Often, one of them will actually stay back and cover, while one pushes a bit further up.
The CAM – Stay forward, everything else default. I find this works best for me. He does exactly what the gaffer says, and stays right up there with the strikers, hungry for those counters.
The STs – Balanced positioning, stay central, get in behind. I have always ALWAYS had strikers on stay forward until I saw a pro this year (can’t remember who), have theirs on balanced, and I don’t think I could ever go back. Sometimes I felt like STs were too far forward and too disconnected from the rest of the team – especially their partner in crime at CAM. The balanced positioning solves that, all 3 stay together, ready to play some nice quick triangles between each other and triggering runs.
So, how does the formation play? Not defensively, I’ll say that right off the bat.
I’ll start with the best bit, the attacking. For anyone who has used 2 striker formations, especially 4-1-2-1-2 or 4-3-1-2, the final 3rd will feel natural to you. Since I’ve harped on about the full backs for the longest time, you may have guessed I consider them highly important to the formation. The way this formation plays is not some defensive rat cheese tactics where I just counter on people, the extra CB allows me to be the most attacking and expansive I have probably ever been in a game of FIFA, with the assurance that when I lose the ball, I will get bodies back to defend.
Building up the attacks. Due to the narrow 2-1-2 nature of the midfield/attack, and having the wing backs kicking on, I don’t HAVE to funnel the ball a certain way to get attacks going (something I think some formations suffer from). I have always got options.
If I win the ball back in the middle, I can either tiki-taka my way forward, or if the middle of the park is packed, one of my wing backs will generally be free, I can get it wide and bomb on from there. If I win the ball on the wings, I can go wide or pass inside, depending on the situation.
Having Ruben Neves at centre CB was originally only for chemistry and I wasn’t 100% sure at having a CM/CDM in the middle of the defence, but he also gives me another option at times. Due to his good (for a centre back) dribbling and passing & 4*/4*, I will sometimes get up the field with him (slightly) to start an attack if required.
In the midfield, there’s plenty of options to retain possession, the wing backs spread the play, if someone is super narrow, I can expose that and go wide, if someone is wide, I can expose that and tiki-taka round the midfield.
In attack, the front 3 all act like strikers and give and goes can create space for each other, if I’m out of options one of the wing backs will usually be free to pass out too.
Defensively, as mentioned, this could be due to the H/H work rates on both the midfielders and the wing backs, but everyone gets back well. I’d say I’m a decent defender anyway, not incredible, but after years of being the ANY in pro clubs, you naturally become a capable defender when handling those donkeys (sorry De Man and De Ritter).
I am generally aggressive in my interceptions and tackling, man marking who I expect my enemy to pass to, or cutting passing lanes manually, the extra CB really gives me that extra bit of security when I inevitably do get a tackle wrong or push forward at the wrong time etc.
This is perhaps where most people have the most distain for 5 atb formations, if I am getting overwhelmed or if the opponent is especially good at skills and passing, I will sometimes drag my CMs back manually to help out (another sin, forgive me). Often this many men back will just suffocate even the best opponents and I will often just have so many men back, that the auto blocks are almost impossible to break down and score past.
To summarise then, this formation is not played in a ‘rat’ way and allows for the perhaps the best and most attacking style of Fifa I think i’ve ever played, offensively I can play expansive, do skills, retain possession and be hyper aggressive, defensively, the formation is ridiculously solid.
This weekend I finished on 14 wins (by choice, 6 games remaining), and am now hovering around 1750 skill level. I hope you enjoyed my light-hearted review and give it a go for yourself!
TL:DR: Quit Fifa, came back, became a 5 atb rat and loving it.
- A non-Elite guide to 4-3-2-1, an ultra attacking formation that forces you to become a better defender.
- 3142 Tactics I used to climb 3 ranks in a month
- Heres a guide for people who don’t know what formation to play in, based on your play-style, from a high D1 player
More about FIFA 20Post: "Formation Review (5-2-1-2)" specifically for the game FIFA 20. Other useful information about this game:
- My take on an alternative 4-2-3-1 that disables the drop back
- It’s sad what FIFA has become nowadays
- Have we finally reached the point where zero footballing/tactical knowledge is required to be successful at Fifa?
- WL recap 15-8 + player reviews
- TEAM USA WEEKEND LEAGUE RECAP RETURNS WITH NEW FRIENDS
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