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Formation Talk: 4-1-2-1-2

Discussion in 'Tradition Soccer' started by Go Devils, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. Go Devils

    Go Devils Agnostic Pastafarian

    Jun 21, 2011
    Below is a guide that will in theory show how the 4-1-2-1-2 runs in FIFA 14 and give a thorough description to those still up in the air on what formation to use and if this is the right one for them. Remember, as in previous versions of FIFA, no formation is perfect and much is dependent on the skill of the user and if he is willing to use each member of its alignment to the way it was intended. Much of this depends on you and how you play. If you abuse the AI, or don’t believe in strategy, you may want to move on to the next thread. I should also point out much of this is paraphrased if not copied directly from guides on futhead.com. **Lots of good FAQs and help posts in their forum. So for those of you real geniuses, you may want to head over there for further reading (thanks for the images BTW!).

    Last time we discussed the 4-2-3-1 and how balanced it was of a formation. The 4-1-2-1-2 is a totally different animal from my point of view. For me, this formation comes down to your style of play and how you effectively use your LM/RM/CAM in unison with the rest of your outfield players. There's just so many ways you can play depending on your personnel and we'll discuss that later down the line.

    If the 4-2-3-1 is the most balanced formation in FIFA, I think this formation slots in at number two.

    I didn’t run this formation out right away once I got the game back in September, but over the past few weeks (thanks in part to the good job MiaFLSurf did convincing) I’ve started using this formation with more than half of the teams I roll out either in TFS, Seasons, FUT, or CM.

    There is a lot of symmetry and balance to this formation. And if you are the type of person that is looking for a bit more offensive firepower while still using a four-man back, having used the 4-2-3-1, than this formation is right up your alley at the sacrifice of a CDM. This is much more secure than say that of the 4-3-3 variety.

    You still get coverage of your back four from your CDM, as well as your CAM that provides link play to not one, but two strikers. Your wide midfield players provide plenty of width (especially in the 4-1-2-1-2 wide) and the ability of service two those two aforementioned attackers up front.

    As always, patience is the name of the game early on with this formation. Learn the work rates of your players and how they fit in to this formation. See how the CDM and CAM work in unity together towards moving the ball out of your end. It may not come to you right away, but once your grasp link-up play with this formation, the offensive firepower really should shine through for your team.


    This year, I took a turn from previous versions of the game in my Quick Tactics and began to play more Possession (albeit a custom tactic) and Counter Attack based on how games were coming together and how I judged the temperature.

    But when looking at the formation, it becomes obvious that the key to life is your four midfielders and how you can maximize their effectiveness individually.

    This layer of the formation will see the majority of the ball during a match, so getting them in sync to move the ball around the forward 2/3 of the field is critical. So then it’s a given that if you can control these four players effectively you will put yourself in great position to dominate play.

    Benefits of the formation

    Versatility: This formation is extremely versatile allowing you to adapt on the go against your opponents style of play, formation and personel. Since the formation is set-up for enough defensive cover and enough attacking prowess, you can alternate between different play-styles throughout the game as well. By not limiting yourself with how you play with this formation, it is probably one of the most unpredictable formations in the game. Your opponent will have nightmares trying to contain you if you set-up the team correctly and utilize the formation to its maximum potential at times. The versatility of the formations, also allows the formation to be incredibly fun to use. As many in TFS know, I have used my fair share of formations in my 10+ seasons in the league, and this is one along with the 4-2-3-1 that I keep coming back to.

    Do you have balance from your attacking players down to your defenders in front of goal? Then this formation is a great start for your team.

    Dominating the possession/passing game: Since this formation has a CDM and a CAM, it is great for keeping possession. As stated earlier, your CDM (if you possess a man on your squad with a good short passing rating) will shield the back 4 with his passing superbly at times. The 4-1-2-1-2 is also a great formation for 1-2 passes. LM/RM to CAM, back to LM/RM. CAM to striker, and back to CAM. CDM to CAM, back to CDM. RM/LM to striker, back to striker and so on. Be careful with the 1-2 passes to not over-do them as well. Remember, that unpredictability is key. Of course striker to striker can work as well, but if you do that the entire game, then you are cheating yourself and not utilizing the formation to its full potential. This formation does a great job of creating gaps in your opponent’s defense from 1-2 passes.

    Since the 4-1-2-1-2 has good fluidity, the possession and passing you can achieve with this formation is amazing. The formation never gets disjointed and allows you to keep possession. Since the LM/RM at times do tuck in depending on their awareness and vision ratings, they help with this as well. If you’ve got attacking full-backs, then they’ll provide the width needed at times. Having 2 strikers also help. The 2 strikers can always link-up nicely and they do help with possession, because they keep your opponent’s CB’s busy. This frees up space for the rest of your team. There is always an option to pass to, and it’s key to analyze which pass will let you keep possession easier. The beauty of TFS, unless you are playing a guy who doesn’t respect the rules, is that for the most part you can keep as much possession as you want in your final 3rd. However, to keep it safe, It’s best to do so in the midfield, and in your opponent’s final 3rd.

    Solid against high pressure: This formation can spread itself out really nicely at times and if tweaked a bit with custom tactics, can really help with dealing with high pressure. Now since it’s harder to build from the back rather than scooping/crossing/long-balling down field, you still have to be careful. So you have to assess if it’s safe to pass to the CDM and start your attacks there, or if you have to start your attacks from the wings. Switching play to the other flank is also helpful, since high pressure tends to be congested into 1 area. Use your radar and check the other flank where you will have your full back and wide midfielder with space to go on the attack.

    It is important to avoid over-playing at the back and try to seek quick 1-time passes to escape from the high pressure. Be smart and analyze which pass will best set you up for the attack. 1-time passes are key for countering high pressure at times. Getting used to the timing of passes and player movement in in the game will help with this. The CDM and CAM help with countering high pressure. You have to be careful with your CB’s whilst getting pressured. Try to avoid turning with them and look for which pass will best create gaps from your opponent’s high pressure. It is not easy to counter high pressure, but with time and practice, it is doable.

    The formation stays very compact in defense and rarely loses shape. Having two strikers helps a lot with high pressure. Even the CAM at times pushes up and man-marks your opponent’s CDM and your opponent’s deepest CM. But simply do the math, for the most part you’ll always have three attacking players in your opponents third against two center backs.

    Fork in the road

    Patience is everything with this formation in FIFA 14 and if you want to counter and fly up field bombing the ball up top or firing down the wing with through balls and short lobs this is not the formation for you. If you want to move the ball like a steady Italian or Premier League squad, up the middle, looking to threaten voids in an opponent’s defense, then you’ve come to the right place.

    Selecting your Starting XI

    Now what good is a formation guide without looking at who to select in your lineup. Remember this is totally subjective, and you’ll want to pick what works best for you.

    GK– Probably the guy who best stops shots eh? Not much to this one as is the case in any formation.

    LB/RB– A lot at this spot depends on who you are using at CDM and how dominant your LM/RM are. If you are pushing deep into your opponents third and tucking your wide mids, then having fullbacks who can press down field, use dribbling skill, and cross balls are critical. But if you have speedy wide players, then I would suggest having good tackling fullbacks as they are going to be in lots of one-on-one ball-winning situations in your third of the pitch. When using the 41212 it's important to have RB/LB with high attacking work rates. They combine and link-up nicely with your LM/RM.

    Be careful with your LB/RB and when you use 1-2 passes. The LB/RB are a good outlet for countering high pressure in your half. Try and switch flank where the LB/RB should be open and you’ll be on the attack. Of course, you can use med/high LB/RB if you want for even more defensive cover. I would recommend high/med the most though. They don’t venture forward like they did last UT, so you do get defensive cover.

    CBs – These guys have to be bulls. Passing and offensive ability is not needed. You want two players who are good with last ditch challenges and steady defending the counter attack. These guys will be left to dry a few times a game if you aren’t playing the possession game.

    It is helpful that both are good at heading. They will deal with lobbed through balls easier and high aggression on your CB’s will help even more with lobbed through balls. You have to be careful with your CBs with how you build up from the back. Al work-rates can work. I think trying out different combos and figuring out which is the best for you is helpful. I would say that med/med, med/high and high/med are the best.

    CDM – Not only does he shield the back four, but if he is a good passer he will help to provide link-up play to both your CAM, who he works in tandem with 20 yards downfield, as well as your two wide players. His passing ability is critical to you owning the possession game. And he’s a good plug if your looking to flex your muscles defensively up the middle as this player will act like a 3rd CB from time to time. If you have a veteran stud back here who can combine great passing ability with tackling ability, you should serve yourself a cold one buddy because he will fit in like a prince here. This is the most importantly player to this formation as the position protects the back four behind a very offensive minded set of five players in front of him.

    Two minds of thought are, using a solid player who can tackle and win balls to start up field after winning the ball and giving it up to your LM/RM or CAM. And stay back behind the play. Your other option is to have a dee-lying trequartista in the Pirlo-role to pull the strings if you really trust your back four and want a guy to spray balls up-field and start the attack.

    LM / RM– This is where this formation truly excels. Wingers are narrow, which is fantastic because it’s all about attacking channels here. They can move as discussed above between CAM/CDM.

    With game-changing LM/RM that can dominate play and either send in balls to the middle or cut inside for a goal. Do either of your wide midfielders have a good weak foot? You can always go Christian Bale or Arjen Robben on them faking the cross and drifting inside and firing for the far side corner of the goal.

    CAM– Has to be good on the ball. Doesn’t have to be fast, but can pass/shoot with good dribbling skills, you are set. A good CAM is still beneficial in this formation, but not necessarily THE key as is the case in say the 4-2-3-1 for instance. The CAM acts as a link-up for everything. He plays your strikers through on goal, and your LM/RM through on goal from counter attacks. A good CAM changes everything and gives the formation nice fluidity. Want to have a lot more fun? Tweak your custom tactics to allow freeform chance creation to give your guy here more influence on how your passing game takes suit.

    Strikers– This to me is really how you make a decision to either use or not use this formation. Two strikers up front definitely give you more attacking options, but if you don’t have multiple impact strikers in your squad, you may want to move on from this formation. No sense in having a mediocre player here as he will not impact the game as much as say another CDM in a different formation.

    Strengths of the 4-1-2-1-2

    If you can’t be patient and you want to just blow the ball up field, perhaps this formation isn’t for you. If you love playing the ball through the middle though patiently, the formation can dominate. You’ll also be very strong defensively up the middle.

    This is also a great counter-attacking formation. If you want to be adventurous with your fullbacks you can run them wild down the wings with support from three up-top attackers.

    Weaknesses of the 4-1-2-1-2

    Vulnerability to the counter attack. The ying and the yang of the formation. With five players so dedicated to attacking, you’ll be left vulnerable on multiple occasions each game. This is where you want to play with Counter Attack, playing defensive as far as your game style. This will help off-set this issue.

    It is a narrow formation that becomes predictable from time-to-time. Especially if you don’t allow your fullbacks to overlap with your LM/RM.

    What are your thoughts on this formation? What works and doesn’t work for you? How do you compare it to other popular formations? I open up to you the experts. Keep it positive and let's build something here.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
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  2. I Peench

    I Peench Caught in the hustle

    Jul 1, 2010
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  3. Drifterbub

    Drifterbub Help me hide a body?

    Feb 10, 2009
    Featured Threads:
    Promoted to first page and tweeted.

    Nice work!
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  4. Randiesel75

    Randiesel75 Walk On

    Aug 11, 2010
    Go Devils

    Excellent write-up.

    As a Liverpool supporter, this has me excited as this is precisely the formation Rodgers has been setting since our amazing run at the title.

    As for the game, you mentioned playing possession tactic, albeit custom. Could you share your settings with the possession tactic, I am keen to see the delta between your personal tweaks versus how EA sets this.


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  5. Go Devils

    Go Devils Agnostic Pastafarian

    Jun 21, 2011
    Glad you liked it.....busy weekend... but I can share a few things with you when I have a moment.

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