Formation. The most basic, but yet influential decisions you have to make when you begin to look at the strategy of Football, and therefore FIFA 17. Where do I want my players to stand
on the field? It may sound ridiculous, but this decision has a huge impact on how your team plays, whether it be to abuse the long ball with a solo striker (Target man), work the flanks with wingers, or compress the play into the centre of the park, with multiple midfield options. This is all dictated by simply the formation you choose to play (among with other, more in depth decisions, which we will go through in a later article).
Thankfully, we don’t have to position the players on the field by hand. Within FIFA 17, there are a magnitude of pre-made options in which we can set up, which emulate the most common formations that exist in real football. I will include a list slightly further down, but we will be focusing on my personal 5 best formations to use in FIFA 17. Just as a note, I will be avoiding using similar formations (as there are variants of each) for the simple fact it would be a fairly uninsightful piece if I did, so I will only discuss one variant of a formation. I have my personal thoughts on them, but just as a point Formations are very subjective, and I would urge you to develop your own style of play, and choose a formation which compliments this. I will also include one 3 at the back formation , and one 5 at the back formation, although they probably wouldn’t have made my top 5. This is to allow me to discuss their advantages and disadvantages, for any reader to learn from.
There are 25 formations altogether in FIFA 17, and here is the list of them. I have ordered them beginning with 3 at the back, through to 4, and finally to 5, and this has no reflection on where they appear in my top 5.
3-4-1-2 / 3-4-2-1 / 3-4-3 / 3-5-2
4-1-2-1-2 / 4-1-2-1-2 (2) / 4-1-4-1 / 4-2-2-2 / 4-2-3-1 / 4-2-3-1 (2) / 4-3-1-2 / 4-3-2-1 / 4-3-3 / 4-3-3 (2) / 4-3-3 (3) / 4-3-3 (4) / 4-3-3 (5) / 4-4-1-1 / 4-4-2 / 4-4-2 (2) / 4-5-1 / 4-5-1 (2)
5-2-1-2 / 5-2-2-1 / 5-3-2
Now, lets get into the list!
Boring I know. Unfortunately, I have simply found the standard 4-4-2 to be the best variant of formation in FIFA 17. interestingly, this occurs right after a year in which Atletico Madrid and Leicester have succeeded domestically, both playing the standard 4-4-2, rather than the most common 4-2-3-1 (2) which I will discuss slightly later. Although not groundbreaking, this formation offers what I believe to be everything you need within the game to succeed. Firstly, and this is specific to this FIFA 17, I truly believe having two strikers is the optimal way to play.
Moreover, I believe having a target man, and then a poacher is the most effective style. I can reference this within my Ultimate team, in which I have a hybrid squad, the formation 4-4-2, and the two Strikers I use are Jamie Vardy as a Left Striker, and In form Mandzukic as a right striker. I played for the longest time with a solo striker, but I really feel like this year they need support from a player with a little bit of pace. I have always played with a solo striker, but this year I made the change.
Advantages – So, I believe the reasons this formation exceeds where other formations struggle is the options and versatility it offers you. With instructions , you can make this formation literally do anything. It allows you to be very adaptive, which is a huge boon in FIFA at a high level, as identifying and successfuly countering an opponents strategy will give you an edge.
If you utilise the two central midfielders correctly, and use the right personnel, they will provide you with ample support for your strikers, whilst also forming on defense a wall in front of your Centre backs. The central midfielders used should be players who can both attack and defend (my personal preference ) or alternatively, an attacking style player (a CAM by definition) and a defensive player (CDM by definition). I do find the second option does make you predictable however.
I currently use Rooney and Nainngolan in UT, as these players are known for having a high work rate, and being able to do all aspects of the game to a high standard.
Disadvantages– As with any choice, it does have drawbacks, but I believe these can be covered simply by correct personnel choice and instructions. The first is that with only two in central midfield, if these players are either too attacking or too defensive, they can leave your defense or strikers isolated. Also, on a counter this can mean you can have trouble dealing with fast breaks.
I also believe, however, that this can be controlled, by having one of your Central midfielders set to “Stay back whilst attacking”, effectively keeping him in position whilst your other, more attacking midfielder, pushes on .
Style – This formation uses two wingers, so wide play is always an option. It also uses two strikers, allowing you to keep your options open to the long ball to a target man, a ball over the top to a poacher, and everything in between. This versatility really puts the ball in your court as to how you want to play, which I believe to be the perfect way to allow good FIFA players to showcase their abilities.
Effective into – I believe 4-4-2 , due to its versatility , can be adapted to counter any common formation in FIFA. But in its base form, I believe it performs well vs teams which play with central defensive midfielders , This is due to the CDM’s not being positioned close enough the central midfielders to mark them, and if they are then they are pulled out of position, which can be abused by the second striker. It also plays well into 5 at the back formations, as they will generally not have 4 in midfield, and will be outnumbered.
2. 4-2-3-1 (2)
The most common tactic in current world football, and therefore one which works well within FIFA the 4-2-3-1 (2) uses two Central defensive midfielders, a central attacking midfielder, two wide men and a solo striker. However, this formation, similarly to 4-4-2, offers a plethora of ways to adapt it, meaning it can be altered quite drastically to effectively work against any formation. One example is to have a central defensive midfielder set in his instructions to “Go forwards whilst attacking) which creates a deep runner other teams may not track. You still have a holding midfielder, and therefore this formation looks more like a 4-5-1. Likewise, if you tell your Left midfielder and right midfielder to push up high, it can morph into a 4-3-3. This versatility is why it sees so much play in real world football, and therefore makes it a strong formation in FIFA.
Advantages – This formation creates a lot of triangles on the pitch, which opens up the game to a lot of quick, intricate pass and move options. As an example, the LB, LM and LDM have a close proximity to each other, allowing them to make passes around players. The opposing team will generally only have one to two people out there, allowing you to move the ball around fairly easily. Furthermore, the overload in midfield usually allows one player to be free (hopefully your CAM, but usually one of your CDM’s will be free) to play the role of playmaker.
Also, it stifles the options of your opponents CAM, as you have two players marking him, and if they
do not play with one, up to 4 players to mark their Strikers and attacking midfielders.
Disadvantages – The reason I have fallen out of favour with this formation (And trust me, I legitimately only used this formation for the past three FIFA’s) is the lack of support I find the striker has. Each other position has triangles to work within, and sometimes multiple options, but the striker is left quite isolated. I find this a gift and a curse, as with someone who is adept at being a solo striker (Diego Costa, Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo) they will be able to make options on their own. But a typical Target man cannot play this position, as he is expected to hold the ball up and make passes for the team , sometimes over long distances. I do believe this formation can be make to succeed with instructions, i just find the lack of a poacher in this formation difficult to utilise.
Style – This formations style is one of possession. It pulls people out of position by holding the ball deep with your CDM’s, and then exposes either the flanks, or the gap for your CAM,
who needs to be a playmaker. They have to dribble well, as they are usually required to beat a man before being truly free, but if you can do this, the formation will be very strong.
Effective against – I find this formation most effective against teams who play with a single CAM (4-3-1-2, 3-4-1-2) or teams with a lack of attacking players (any 5 at the back formation) as it crowds the midfield, and gives you plenty of possession. You have to be able to take your chances however, as possession (as we see with teams such as Manchester United) doesn’t win you games.