Formation Talk: 4-2-3-1

Discussion in 'Tradition Soccer' started by Go Devils, Jan 5, 2014.

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  1. Go Devils

    Go Devils Agnostic Pastafarian

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    Below is a guide that will in theory show how the 4-2-3-1 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!).

    Summary
    We can all agree that goals are more prevalent in this year’s version of the game, and it’s what makes this formation much more pleasing to those looking for their attacking players to make increased attacking runs. No more is this evident in the 4-2-3-1 than with the central attacking mid. Those with the ability to slot in a playmaking midfielder in this position will be much happier. And if you like playing wide and using the wings, once again you’ll find this to be a very pleasing formation.

    Gameplay
    The reason I have used the 4-2-3-1 over the years with this game is the balance it allows you at all times of the match. For my style of play, flexibility is key. Whether you are a possession guy, or constantly trying to hit your opponent on the break this formation really lends itself to multiple styles of play. Long ball, crossing, or short passing, it gives you multiple options.

    [​IMG]

    This year, I took a turn from previous versions of the game in my Quick Tactics and began to play more Possession and Counter Attack based on the flow of the game and how situations presented themselves.

    But when looking at the formation, it becomes obvious that the key to life is your five midfielders and how effective you are at using each of them. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize the fact there are more of them than any other position on the pitch, not to mention the fact that they will see the majority of the ball during the contest, so getting them in sync to move the ball around the main space of the field is critical. Simply put, if you can command these five guys properly, you’ll command the game.

    The beauty of owners in the TFS not being able to create custom formations is that it allows us to look at how players in this formation form attacking runs (see illustration below).

    [​IMG]

    The first thing that should be apparent is the bevy of options of runs to potentially be made by the five in the midfield. These five players once again will be the ones moving the most, therefore they will be the ones expending the most energy. Keep this in mind when you fill your substitute’s bench.

    So with the midfield containing the most players in the formation, and the group also being the ones running the most, then it would then be key to understand the most effective way to move the ball around utilizing the group properly. With owners not being allowed to press your 18-yard box, you have the freedom of setting up interplay with from the wings with your fullbacks, CDMs, and CAM in this formation. Your success at doing this will dictate your success at maintaining possession against your opponent.

    In the following illustration we can see for example how you could potential move the ball starting from the back with your right back.

    [​IMG]

    Short passes between these four players should allow you to keep possession as one player will usually be open for the pass. If you like to go down the line and cross, rely on the RCAM (RCAM in this case) or the RB (overlapping runs). If you are being pressured and bombarded on this side of the pitch, switch the play by doing one of the following:

    1. RCDM lays off to LCDM then LB, or directly to LCAM with long ball (usually works if opponent has no RM)
    2. CAM switches play with simple pass to LCAM or initiate run with LCAM and lob through ball (if you time it right the LCAM will bend the run inwards and could be through on goal or in great position to score/pass)

    Fork in the road

    At this point, you might have already noticed, the striker not really being in much of the discussion at all. I usually play my striker (and this is an area of personal analysis that I need to improve on) as a target-man or poacher. I usually don’t have a dynamic guy with tons of athletic ability and speed, so here’s where you may want to take a different route (I will punt to guys like shiftee to talk in more detail on how he uses speed at this position to his benefit). But for the sake of this discussion our striker is not going to be heavily involved in link up play but will more likely hold up the ball, sometimes with his back to the goal, and wait for support, using his strength against CDMs and CBs to wait for the rest of his midfielders to catch up and then lay the ball off to what his options are. The striker’s main objective in this formation is to be in the box waiting to pounce on a cross or drawing defenders away from on-rushing midfielders.

    I don’t often try to lay the ball through to my striker for a run on goal unless he’s got a clear path with minimal obstruction, as he’ll likely be isolated and often outnumbered by the opposing defenders as he is the only forward in the formation. Those looking for more options should probably look at the 4-4-2 of some variety or the 4-3-3.


    Defending in the midfield and bracing for the counter

    When bracing for the counter attack, or just merely setting up in your own end, your central midfielders are going to be key. 4-2-3-1 will press quite high up the pitch, and it is very likely that you may win the ball at the half line or just into yours to start a counter-attack.

    When the opponent has the ball around the center circle, take control of your wide or central CAM to track back and cover passing lanes, while calling closest other CAM to jockey/contain the player with the ball. Once the opponent makes their way further into your half, take control of one CDM and jockey with the other. Same method. If the ball goes out wide than it would be the CDM and fullback. The pass-off is key here.

    Let’s look at each positioning in detail and what I like in each position.


    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.

    LB/RB– I like taller and stronger fullbacks that can muscle a smaller wing off the ball both offensively and defensively. Pace is obviously a plus but I’d take a stronger defender with pace in the mid-70s. High attacking work-rate is also not a problem, even preferable for me. If the fullback doesn’t make supporting runs, the wide CAM will be isolated without much help. A good crossing attribute is nice to have if that is your cup of tea. It’s always nice to have options. The full back will interchange with the wide CAM on the flanks at times, so if you have a pacey guy, it truly is a dream.

    CBs - No high attacking work-rates here please, it just keeps you out of trouble unless you are a fan of the David Luiz school of float all over and get burned a lot on the counter. With the fullbacks & CDMs bombing forward already we need the CBs to stay back, especially against those teams that love to exploit the overhead lob pass to the striker up the middle. Pace at least in the 60s is highly preferable for tracking back against faster attackers.

    We all love strong and tall defenders who can head the ball well. Not only will they be extremely useful in scoring some goals off set pieces for you (sadly where I score 70% of my goals), but they will also be able to rise up and head away and lobbed through balls from the opponent, lowering the instances of having to sprint back to cover the on-rushing attackers. And we know how much folks love to cross in FIFA 14.

    CDMs– At least one should have a defensive focus (tall, strong, high defensive work-rate). Med/High is good. The other may be more of a box to box player (High/High). However, I’ve had great success with two High/High CDMs. This can of course be dangerous & susceptible when your opponent counters, but I find that High/High players are more useful this year (it was more of a drawback last year). One thing to note about this formation is the CDMs areNOTgoing to sit back even if they have high defensive work rate. TheyWILLrun up and support the attack (both on the flanks and through the center). As such, an all-round player who can dribble & is agile enough to maneuver across the pitch is very useful. Pace in the 70s is sufficient, but higher would obviously not hurt, especially as they have to track back and help defend after supporting attack. Personally, I like them slower as they tend to get in less trouble up-field, but at the same time struggle to get back. Again, there is no perfect formation. J

    Wide CAMs– They play as semi-wide midfielders (almost like RM/LM) so this is the one position where pace is crucial, and it is a drawback as there aren’t many CAMs who are fast in the game. You may end up having to convert CFs and strikers to CAM. Pace at least in the 80s is preferable. Great thing is, unlike RMs/LMs these guys will sometimes bend their runs (as we see in the illustration above) inward and can get into great goal scoring positions. Dribbling is also key & this is the area to put your skill-move guys. If you can beat opposing players off the dribble, you NEED to insert those guys here. Work-rates are not so much of an issue as long as attack is higher than defense. I like left footed players on the right (and vice versa) if they are going to be your inside forwards (think of the goals Bale and Robben score). If you like to cross more than have the right footed player on the right works well (think how Spurs played this for the last 3 or 4 years with Bale on the left and Lennon on the right).

    Central CAM– This is your lynchpin of the attack. He’s going to be the one spraying passes around and creating chances for others. For me, he has a high number of assists, not so much goals. Passing, dribbling, as well as strength are important here for me. A small nimble player may be bullied off the ball too easy, so a stronger or taller playmaker is preffered. I’ve never tried High/High but it may work here. High/Medium has been good for me so far. Just make sure the player is attack minded. There are times where he will take up the striker’s position, so it’s nice if he could hold his own in the box, whether it’s for heading or finishing.

    Striker– As previously mentioned, this formation is built for a strong target man. Finishing, heading, and strength are key for me. Dribbling and pace are nice bonuses of course. The striker will often be isolated up front, using close dribbling moves are key with this player. Don’t try and take on the defense by yourself. Hold the ball up and wait for support. This player’s job is to get in the box and score.


    Strengths of the 4-2-3-1
    Ability to utilize three different types of attacking players up top. Long ball works well either down the wings or over the top to a strong player over the ball. Build up play off the flanks works well with the proper CDMs.

    Weaknesses of the 4-2-3-1
    The formation can be very susceptible to counter-attacks, as not only your fullbacks, but at least one of your CDMs will bomb forward. That can leave you quite open on the break, so they key is to be patient and keep possession. It can be suicidal to lose possession close to the center of the pitch if your players have already pushed forward.

    Having a spare CDM on the bench is crucial if your opponent likes to use both wings as these two players will tire quicker than others.

    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.
     
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  2. BESHIKTAS

    BESHIKTAS Almighty Black Eagles

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    This has been my favorite formation past couple of fifa cycles. I used to go with 4-1-2-1-2 wide, but it left me with one guy to watch out for opponents wingers, so Broncos218 introduced me to 4-2-3-1.

    With this formation I use my CDMs the most, and switch them around. When I pick CDMs in my team I look at their defending rates, I would prefer them to have HIGH rating in that area, but medium would do fine as well, as long as at least one of them has high.

    My full backs and wingers have to have acceleration, so I can quickly run them back when needed.
    My CAM should be able to pass and shoot well from far, he doesn't have to be as fast as my forward. On the other hand, my forward needs to have the strength to fight with opponents' defenders, and accelerate somewhat fast.

    And of course I change the formation, and players roles depending on the score of the game. I recently tried to go with 3 CDMS in a 4-3-3 formation against a big shot :) . It kind of worked , but unlucky to allow a corner kick goal :(.

    After all 4-3-2-1 wide formation has been the formation for me for fifa 12-13-14 and in couple of them I managed to climb up to Serie A, so something must be working for me there, that's why I will keep it as long as I see the positive results out of it.


    Great write up Go Devils. I don't see how you manage to squeeze in stuff like this in your busy schedule.
     
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  3. RedAL925

    RedAL925 TSL Commissioner

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    The 4-3-3 is a terrible defensive formation, especially if you don't play it all the time, but I'm sure we'll get to that
     
  4. Go Devils

    Go Devils Agnostic Pastafarian

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    Oh I had the weekend off. And things get a little easier now that I'm only doing 2 full-time jobs during the week and my podcast monthly rather than weekly during CFB off-season.
     
  5. BESHIKTAS

    BESHIKTAS Almighty Black Eagles

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    I had it on 4-3-3 defense with 3 CDMs that have higher defensive rates. And of course there is not many managers I would use that formation against. I'm not really very technical when it comes to formations and tactics.
     
  6. MiaFLSurf

    MiaFLSurf Losing in the 90th

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    I used to play with the 4-2-3-1 but I hated having a lone striker up top.

    The whole concept of that formation is awesome - in fact, my favorite team, Chelsea, uses it - more due to the fact that they dont have 2 strikers that work well together... well at least they dont think so.

    I just think it stinks in FIFA.

    I go with 4-1-2-1-2 Wide.

    I need 2 strikers who can play 1-2 balls and I need wingers going up and down.

    I also think that having 2 CDMs is overkill. We already have to retreat back to the center line to play defense, so dont you have everyone back anyways? Why sacrifice offense since you have to play 11 deep (forced) anyways?
     
  7. BESHIKTAS

    BESHIKTAS Almighty Black Eagles

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    Yes, back to the center line! Maybe even a bit further down to your half, but not everyone does that. That's why I have to have 2CDMs to secure my back line and my left and right wings.

    When I had Cisse in my QPR roster that was a perfect line up to practice 4-2-3-1 formation , I loved every minute of the game when I had that squad for some reason.
     
  8. IJGator

    IJGator Walk On

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    Cisse was unstable for you. That dude gave me fits.
     
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  9. Go Devils

    Go Devils Agnostic Pastafarian

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  10. Zikry

    Zikry Walk On

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    This is the formation I'm using with Ghana for WCQ. The key to this formation, imo, is the two CDMs. I need two players who have a high defensive mentality and are able to pass the ball efficiently for this formation to work. Also, if they are too slow (60s) then that can often lead to your midfield being outnumbered and outrun when the opposition is counter attacking, so having them be at least respectable in terms of speed is also key imo. The wingbacks don't need to feature as much in attack as in other formations since you have two advanced wingers in this formation already, so that allows you to try and have your back 4 sit back in defense while the front 4 do the attacking, which is also why the 2 CDMs are really important as they are in charge of the entire midfield area when it comes to defending the counter.
     
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  11. RedAL925

    RedAL925 TSL Commissioner

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    I think this is my main issue with this formation (and partially why I'm not using it for Ivory Coast). The 2 CDMs have to control the entire midfield, and they're usually sitting too deep to join the attack to any useful effect. The CAM feels so far away from them as well, making central passing triangles difficult to execute.

    Can't wait to hear what you all think of the 4-3-3
     
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  12. IJGator

    IJGator Walk On

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    I agree with this. I used the 4-2-3-1 with Malaga and found myself with a winger having control of the ball with limited passing options. I could pass to a CAM who was usually out of view or cross to the ST who usually was against 3 defenders in the box. The center of the midfield was very congested and made it difficult to funnel the ball through the middle.

    However, when I had space, there was always a midfield player darting toward the box. my CAM scored most of my goals and his stats didn't warrant a goal scorer but more of a passing playmaker. For users that are skilled at passing, this formation must kick ass. I just wasn't skilled enough to take advantage.
     
  13. MoonBBad

    MoonBBad http://twitch.tv/moonbbad

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    Very, very nice thread. Great work Go Devils
     
  14. Frenchie1916

    Frenchie1916 Just a clodhopper of footballer, running pell mell

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    My only problem with this is having the lone target man up front. At least with Stuttgart, none of the true strikers are particularly good dribblers or speedy. They're decent finishers, but that means an awful lot of work from the midfield to get the top man the ball. I prefer the 4-1-3-2 with a REALLY solid CDM who can boss the whole center of the pitch and distribute the ball like a mofo. In the 4-2-3-1 I felt like there were too many cooks in the midfield and not enough guys going forward on their own to create space or be that last guy to look to put the ball in the net.

    I liked the 4-2-3-1 using Ibisevic as the target man when I would cross more, but I've beaten myself into only 2 or 3 crosses per match because of EA's fuckups, so now I prefer the 2-man front line.
     
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  15. Go Devils

    Go Devils Agnostic Pastafarian

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    I've found somewhat of a solution to this problem. The fake shot!

    I got the whole fake shot/pass animation thing down over the weekend and started kicking the shit out of people on-line. It really opens up A TON of space for your attackers when used properly.

    We'll see if it holds true against you bastards. :)
     
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  16. Cimmy24

    Cimmy24 Candy Ass Self

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    Not now it won't since you gave it away....

    Or did you????? ;)
     
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  17. Frenchie1916

    Frenchie1916 Just a clodhopper of footballer, running pell mell

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    I'm of the opinion that all of my shots are fake shots. It's just that a small handful of them happen to get away from the shooter, finding the back of the net.
     
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  18. shiftee

    shiftee Walk On

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    My offense hasn't been as potent with this formation but I really like the balance you get on both sides of the pitch. If you have mids that can score then that's even better because even though there's the lone striker, he's not always the focus when building up to take the shot.
     
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  19. Broncos218

    Broncos218 Walk On

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    I've had the most success running with a 4231, and use it currently for both hamburg & poland. Few other things I wanted to point out about the formation that weren't mentioned earlier and might help those trying to use the formation:

    - Defensively, opposing wingers can burn you if your RB/LB doesn't stay back, as your LAM/RAM play too far up to help much of defense. This was probably my #1 reason for leaving Bordeaux after just 1 season way back in S7- both fullbacks had high offensive workrates and constantly left gigantic gaps behind them. However, if you're RB/LB does run up on offense, a CDM can usually cover for him and protect you against quick counters. The 2 CDMs do kinda join the attack, but if you focus on manually dragging those CDMs back immediately after a turnover, you should have someone to fill any voids in the back.

    - I tend to play passing lanes on defense more than going for tackles, and switching off between the 2 CDMs (and sometimes CAM if I really need defensive help) works really well. I can constantly switch back and forth between the center mids to catch any runs by attackers not on the ball and it really can clog up the middle of the field, making it difficult for teams to beat you there.
     
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  20. Frenchie1916

    Frenchie1916 Just a clodhopper of footballer, running pell mell

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    Go Devils - when's the next formation talk coming???
     
  21. Go Devils

    Go Devils Agnostic Pastafarian

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    Working on 4-1-2-1-2... maaaaaaybe next weekend (to be honest, I wrote most of it during lunch breaks for my second job, actually been working hard the last 2 weeks).

    I'd love someone else to talk more on 4-3-3 RedAL925 or 3-5-2 Broncos218. If I get a sec we should talk over PM
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
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  22. Broncos218

    Broncos218 Walk On

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    i think 4-3-3 would be interesting, mainly because I suck at it and have never been able to get it to work well, plus a decent amount of people use it and so maybe we'd get some good input on it. I used 3-5-2 for a couple of seasons w/ Anzhi on FIFA 13, but then abandoned it after 2 seasons completely.
     
  23. Go Devils

    Go Devils Agnostic Pastafarian

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    And kiss my ass... maybe I don't want to write the next one because the goddamn English police will be coming after me. :)
     
  24. Timpegoose

    Timpegoose Walk On

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    If you want any help let me know. I'm running the 4-1-2-1-2 with RSL in the MLS league right now and really enjoying it. Are you working on the wide diamond or the narrow diamond?
     
  25. Frenchie1916

    Frenchie1916 Just a clodhopper of footballer, running pell mell

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    I have to say, I'm considering switching to this. I played a Career mode match with 4-2-3-1 as the default formation and my team, VfB Stuttgart, with all of the standard players, was pouring in the goals like it was going out of style. I beat Fiorentina 4-0, and I usually beat AI teams 1-0 or 2-1.

    Is there a difference in the skill or style of play between a standard game and a career match?

    This was my first match in a new career with rosters reset to season defaults, so it would have been Stuttgart and Fiorentina at the beginning of this year's campaign. On paper, Fiorentina should have stomped me.

    I don't know what it was about the formation, but I felt it was much more open as an attacking style than the 4-1-3-2 that I've come to rely on. With 10 of the same 11 personnel (an additional defensive mid instead of a striker), I was almost scoring at will, finding gaps in space and enjoying the game like a virgin on her wedding night.

    The wings pinched in and the attacking mids really charged forward when I had the ball out wide or my CDMs were in possession. By contrast, in the 4-1-3-2, the three supporting midfielders are often withheld so far in an attack as to be useless offensively. They don't venture forward in an attack unless prompted and the two strikers are left on their own to generate goals.
     
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