When it comes to soccer, your formation on the pitch is vital to the style of game you play and to the strategy that you’re playing. In a single-player or offline multiplayer match, you’re given a snapshot of the formation that your opponent is using, and it’s usually fairly easy to see what kind of approach they are taking.
Commit too many players to the front line of your attack and you leave yourself open to counter attacks. At the same time, playing three at the back without the adequate cover on the wings is begging for your opponents to spearhead their attack down each side.
When it comes to the formation, there is no one size fits all — but there are some formations that will work best depending on your playstyle. Just make sure that you can adapt depending on what style of play your opponent is producing. Here are the best formations in FIFA 21.
The Ultimate tactic for playing against a team full of pressing and pace, this formation plays with the standard four at the back, two CDMs, a CM, wingers, and a lone striker.
Playing with two defensive midfielders is a fantastic way to neutralize one of the most common tactics in the game, often involving very fast wingers pressing very high up the pitch, and using their pace to overwhelm a defense, or playing a ball through the backline that leaves a one-on-one with the keeper. To exploit this further, players taking this approach typically don’t shoot from distance either and will try to pass the ball to players in space around the box for an easy rounding of the keeper.
Using the custom tactics screen, you can order your defensive line to sit deeper, meaning that the attacker has less space behind your defense to exploit. As long as you stay on your feet, they will have fewer ways to make inroads into your area. Also, having the two deep midfielders, preferably with a high defending work rate, packs your box with players, making space more limited for easy tap-ins.
This is a much less aggressive tactic compared to what you see typically, but with a good playmaker in the central midfield position, you should still be able to bring the ball forward with effect knowing that the team is rock solid behind you.
Similar to the previous tactic, this formation uses the same line up as the 4231, but with one of the CDMs pushed forward to CM.
With more potent forward momentum, this will satisfy those that are looking for more protection for their defenders than a standard flat-four but will want to have more of an engine going forward. It will still provide extra cover at the back, but it’s more effective against players who use dribbling and skill moves to make their way into the box through the middle.
This is also an effective tactic for anyone looking to play a more possession style, as the extra numbers in the middle of the park mean plenty of passing options. It can still be susceptible to hard-pressing players, but the numbers will give you a better chance of successfully passing it around your team.
Most of the players that you come across prefer to play very quickly, so this is especially effective at frustrating your opponent who may look to commit more players forward to collect the ball. It’s at this point that gaps should begin to open and your two central midfielders can pass into that space, hopefully creating chances for you to score. This requires a lot of patience though, so if you’re someone who prefers to move through the gears quickly, consider the next formation instead.
With a packed front line, the 4-2-4 layout is almost identical to a traditional 4-4-2, but with the two wide midfielders pushing to the more advanced winger positions.
If you are able to acquire two central midfielders with high work rates in both attack and defense, and good quality full-backs to cover the more advanced wide players, the attacking potential of this tactic can be devastating.
The tactic is not too much different from a standard 4-4-2, but with the wingers further forward, the game will have them make darting runs forward more often. With smart players, they can be very effective at exploiting space. If you have at least a medium defensive work rate for your winger, they should also make more effort to get back and help their defenders out of possession.
Not only this, but there will be two strikers waiting in the middle for you. The striker position is one of the most stacked in the game for talent, with fantastic choices from just about every league available. This means that picking two strikers who complement each other, such as a deep-lying forward with a fast poacher playing off him, will provide you with the best outlet for scoring goals to go with your wingers.
In a more dynamic set up, this formation uses three CBs, two wing-backs, two CMs, a CAM, and two strikers.
This is one of the more uncommon formations, but with the right players, this system’s all-round capabilities are incredible. A three-man center back set up means more bodies against counterplay and wing-backs that can help at the back when needed. They can still cruise down the wing to provide support going forward, while the attacking midfielder provides the hook between the two central midfielders and the two at the top of the pitch.
The two central players would ideally need high work rates in both attack and defense to assist at both ends of the pitch. They don’t need to be the best passers, as the player in the CAM position will provide the most of the forward momentum. The better their box-to-box skills, the more effective they will be.
Finally, the defensive three should be able to hold off most attacks by limiting the space through the middle, forcing opponents to rely on wing play, and force a decision to either take a risk by cutting inside or go for a cross. While headers are quite powerful in this year’s match engine, having three good center backs should be enough to quell the majority of crosses coming in when your wing-back can’t.