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The Backpage | FIFA 12 Formations Guide Part 2

Football journalist and FIFA gamer Darren Cross looks at five more FIFA 12 formations in detail, and why they could work for your style of play…

In last week’s Backpage we picked out five of the most common formations in FIFA 12 and looked at the strengths and weaknesses of each one, what kind of FIFA player they’re good for and which clubs they suit best.

In case you missed it, it’s here: http://www.ea.com/uk/news/fifa-12-formations-guide-the-backpage

In this final part of the formations guide we’ve got anther five to look at, and they all offer something a little different.

Let’s kick-off with…

3-4-2-1
WHAT IS IT?

There are no full-backs in this formation. Instead you have three centre-backs in defence, a flat midfield four then two attacking midfielders/forwards behind a lone striker. If you’ve ever played with or against Napoli you’ll have seen the 3-4-2-1 before, as it’s their default formation.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Much is asked of the midfield four in the 3-4-2-1. All effectively alternative between defending and attacking depending on who is in possession, so it can feel like you’ve got seven taking care of defence when you don’t have the ball and seven looking to attack when you do. In that sense it’s fairly balanced.

STRENGTHS…
One of the things I really like about this formation is that the central midfielders will actively support your attacks. This is great when you’re building the play through the middle, but especially effective if you hold the ball up during a quick break and allow one or both to join the play late, as the opposition must react quickly to mark them. It’s also a good formation for those that like to cross, as the two supporting forwards tend to drift out more often than not, so there is plenty of width.

WEAKNESSES…
Width in attack can work to your advantage, so consequently allowing your opponent space out wide when they have the ball can be dangerous and unfortunately this formation does exactly that. As with the 3-5-2 we looked at last week, there’s so much space where your full-backs should be and it’s very easy to pull your team shape apart by sending a centre-back out there to help. That’s not all though… I find that the ST often turns towards the play when you have the ball so that he becomes an option to pass to, but this can leave you with no central figure in the box. Also, I often feel overrun in defence with one less player at the back and no protection from a CDM.

WILL SUIT YOU IF…
You like to keep the ball and have the option to go through the middle or out wide in attack, and you can play with three at the back.

WORKS WELL WITH…
Napoli would be the obvious answer here but, while I like their options in attack, their defence is just too sluggish for there to only be three of them. AC Milan have some great players for this and I like using it with them, but be quick – Zlatan and Silva will obviously be at PSG in FIFA 13.

5-3-2
WHAT IS IT?

With this one you get three centre-backs, two wing-backs, three central midfielders and a strike partnership. It’s similar to the 3-5-2 we looked at last week, but with the wing-backs playing more defensively behind a flat midfield three.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
It’s basically an ultra-defensive formation. When you haven’t got the ball you’ll have eight players working back to help out – six of them centrally – so it feels like you’ve got defenders everywhere.

STRENGTHS…
You’ve got defenders everywhere. Did I say that already? Joking aside it’s obviously a very good formation if you’re trying to park the bus, particularly if you combine it with the ultra-defensive mentality. Then it can be really tough to break down as there are so many players between the goal and the ball.

WEAKNESSES…
The big one is that there’s a large gap between midfield and attack, so your forwards can get isolated. There’s also very little attacking width as the three central midfielders all tend to stay in the middle, so it’s not really one for those that like to cross unless you’re using a team with fast, strong, fit full-backs that can dribble and cross.

WILL SUIT YOU IF…
You’re hanging on to a lead, or if your style is to defend well first and look to nick a goal.

WORKS WELL WITH…
Teams with three quality centre-backs, decent full-backs, mobile midfielders and strikers that can finish. It suits Dortmund quite well if you bring Santana in alongside Hummels and Subotic at the back.

5-2-1-2
WHAT IS IT?

With the 5-2-1-2 you still get the protection of a back three and two full-backs or wing-backs, but one of the midfield three takes on the CAM role with two strikers ahead of him.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
It’s really a slightly more adventurous version of the 5-3-2 we just looked at. It’s still a defensive formation in my opinion, just not quite as defensive as 5-3-2 because of the midfielder playing further forward, linking your attacks.

STRENGTHS…
Again the strength is that you still get plenty of numbers in defence and pack the middle, making you tough to break down, but with the added bonus of more options when you’ve got the ball because your strikers won’t seem quite so isolated.

WEAKNESSES…
You’ll still miss width going forward unless you’re patient enough to wait for your wing-backs to catch up. The danger with that kind of approach is that you’re vulnerable to wide counter-attacks if the other team breaks quickly when they get the ball from you.

WILL SUIT YOU IF…
You want the security of a back five while still using a CAM to play between your midfield and strikers.

WORKS WELL WITH…
Again you’ll benefit from strong, quick centre-backs, good full-backs and an excellent CAM. Brazil really fit the bill here, but for a less obvious team try Inter. They’ve got the right players for this.

5-4-1(1)
WHAT IS IT?

There are two versions you can choose from. This one, which has a midfield diamond, and the 5-4-1(2), which uses a flat midfield four. 5-4-1(1) is the most attacking of the two.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
It’s like a wide version of the two other formations on this list that use five defenders, but with an extra man in midfield at the expense of a striker. Defensively you’ve also got a CDM in front of your back three, so it’s another one that’s hard for opponents to break down.

STRENGTHS…
You get plenty of numbers in defence and lots of width, thanks to the combination of wing-backs and wingers in this formation. Great news for those of you that like to stretch teams and whip crosses into the box.

WEAKNESSES…
You’d better make sure your striker is lethal with his head and his feet, otherwise goals are going to be a real problem with this. You also really have to make possession count because there are a lot of big gaps between your positions, so you can’t really afford to take too many risks with your passing. Finally the CAM needs to have a great Stamina rating as he’s going to be buzzing about all over the place, with and without the ball.

WILL SUIT YOU IF…
You want all the advantages of five-man defence while still using wingers and a CAM. This one is also going to work best for players that really know how to protect the ball, because of the risk with passing in this formation.

WORKS WELL WITH…
Teams that have an excellent CAM and a clinical striker. I quite like the combo of Diego and Falcao at Atletico Madrid.

And finally…

4-1-5
This is a custom tactic that I made a while ago, but it really doesn’t take long to create for yourself and it’s so effective that I had to have it in this guide.

I’ve written a whole Backpage all about how to build it and why it works so well, which you can find here: http://www.ea.com/uk/news/the-backpage-fifa12-4-1-5-anyone

Okay that wraps up the formations guide, I hope you found it useful.

Darren
@Darren_Cross