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FM21: Formation Analysis 433 / 4141


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I really like your analysis and I feel it is like this on the game.

I also missed the analysis of the 4-3-3 with three CMs and no DM. It is rarely used in FM but I like it much more than the other one and I think it can be very useful.

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4 hours ago, Jack722 said:

4141 / 433

image.png.f2c65939d549bbf19a6c80339ef78e8a.pngimage.png.875d91364832e8f80662f6c5a8d2bd34.png

 

Formations in reality are actually very fluid. Teams can change shape whether they are with / without the ball, or depending on certain triggers. In FM, though, this is quite tough to do, unless you want to spend all day watching full matches and rotating through various saved tactics. The placement of a player in a certain strata as well, regardless of role, can lead to maybe unexpected behaviours in attack despite fulfilling what is needed in defence, vice versa. This means that some formations, regardless of how well your squad matches the required positions, may actually be a poor fit.

433

image.png.875d91364832e8f80662f6c5a8d2bd34.png -->image.png.b95b37a7fd8d0bb2a57919fb376b5e91.png

A 433 formation in FM is actually fairly limited in terms of what attacking and defensive shapes you can achieve with it, and is mostly used for a team aiming to dominate. Wide forwards in the AM strata start wide as expected, but always come narrow in the attacking third, even if they are set as a winger. This isn't an issue with the ME, in fact, it's how a wide forward should be expected to play, as they are expected to contribute more with goals and combine with the striker, as opposed to a winger in a standard 442 who will stay wider and provide crosses.

This provides the knock on effect of needing good enough fullbacks to be able to dominate the whole flank with less support from a standard winger in front of them. Your fullbacks now need to be capable of playing as wingbacks, instead of pure fullbacks. The main difference between wingbacks and fullbacks on the same duty (D/S/A) is not that the WB's get further forward, it's that they are told to stay wider, dribble more and cross more often. They essentially become both the fullback and the pure winger of your team in one player.

Because of the need for attacking fullbacks in the system, a DM who holds their position is important to provide cover for the back 4, while your 2 CM's then have the job of supporting the attacking players by controlling the ball, making progressive passes / dribbles, and covering for the front 5 when needed. 

The striker in this formation can really be anyone. They are unlikely to get isolated, since that the wide forwards will provide close support. What's more important is that the front 3 link up well. You could go the Liverpool 19/20 route with a supporting forward (F9 / DLF) and goalscoring wingers (IF / RMD), or you could go the Barcelona 14/15 route, with a pure No.9 (AF / TM / P) and more supporting wingers (IW / AP / W).

The best form of defence for this formation is truly to attack, I would rarely use this formation if I'm not planning on playing on the front foot and using a high press + counter pressing. the reason for this is due to both the attacking and defensive shape. Once you lose the ball in your attacking shape, you will have lots of bodies forward, and across the whole width of the pitch, meaning that a counter press would be relatively easy. If you choose to regroup, your fullbacks will have to run even more by tracking back in line with the back 4 more than they may need to, and your wide forwards, who may even be ahead of your striker, will have to track opposition fullbacks all the way back to their own goaline, or risk leaving 2v1's on the flanks. 

In the settled defensive shape as well, it makes a lot of sense to press high and aggressviely. The front 3 can pressure the width of opposition buildup easily, while the CM's can drift froward to block passing lanes. If you choose not to press high, or your high press gets beaten, the wide forwards will track back to sit in an almost 4141 shape, but in my opinion, it is not very solid. Not only does it cause these players to have to work much harder, I realise that they frequently lose the player that they need to mark, as well as step up to press players far too early, leaving space infront of the fullback. In these situations in real life, it's common for teams to either defend in an extremely narrow 433, to block out the middle, or to switch temporarily to a 442, with one of the wide forwards joining the striker, and the other joining the midfielders.

In conclusion, a 433 is good for:

  • Teams that want to dominate the ball
  • High energy players that can press high for 90 minutes
  • Very attacking fullbacks 
  • Wingers that can play in the half spaces

4141

image.png.f2c65939d549bbf19a6c80339ef78e8a.png-->image.png.e05153d1869ae92e3302dfa7be06e3ba.png

A 4141 is much more flexible than a 433. It can be both relatively attacking or very defensive depending on roles and player selection. With more conservative CM's, this formation can easily get 10 men behind the ball very quickly, and gain defensive solidity at the expense of a quite isloated striker. On the other hand, it can enable you to select two natural no.10's in central midfield, and push all midfielders high.

The main difference between the 4141 and 433 is the position of the wide players. In the 4141, we have more traditional wingers that stay wider for longer, even if they invert when on the ball. This means that your fullbacks no longer have to be effective when on their own. Their main job now is to provide cover and only overlap the wingers when necessary, or they can even invert and join the midfield if crossing isn't your game.  Without wingers already occupying the halfspaces, and without needing to cover for attacking wingbacks, the two CM's can afford to be very attacking players who have more of a license to take risks and link up with the lone striker. Although a pair of MEZ(a) might leave your shape looking a bit like a donut, which is why I typically only really use one attacking CM and another supporting.

In an attacking 4141, the striker can really be anything, although a supporting striker might leave you looking quite blunt without any other players who's job is to attack the box and score. In a more defensive 4141 however, you really need someone who can deal with getting isloated. Physical and technical attributes such as strength + pace + jumping reach + first touch become quite important.

Defensive formations in FM are more forgiving when asked to press high and attack than the other way around. This is because positions such as CM's and FB's can both be very defensive and very attacking, like the CMa vs CMd. But wide forwards and CAM's can only ever really be attacking. Also, any high pressing system will see players pushed further forward and leaving their positions early to close down, whereas a low pressing system won't cause forwards to track back any deeper. This means that a 4141 can pull off pretty much any pressing system. However, if you have packed your midfield full of attacking players, it is probably still worth attempting to dominate the ball and press high, since you don't want them being exposed by defending most of the game.

In conclusion, a 4141 is good for:

  • More traditional wingers who can cross and rely on pace and dribbling
  • Fullbacks who may be limited in an attacking sense
  • Teams packed with attacking central midfielders

how would you translate this into a tactic in FM?

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How do people set up a 4-1-4-1 for a decent balance between offensive play and defensive play? I have only had 'success' with a very defensive 4-1-4-1 that I use sometimes if I'm playing a team much better than mine (i.e. a cup tie against Man Utd at Old Trafford as a lower league team) but I cannot get it to offer very much going forward. My sole forward ends up isolated and alone.

I definitely agree that the 4-3-3 needs to be used with higher engagement/high pressing.

Edited by Djecker
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9 hours ago, Djecker said:

How do people set up a 4-1-4-1 for a decent balance between offensive play and defensive play? I have only had 'success' with a very defensive 4-1-4-1 that I use sometimes if I'm playing a team much better than mine (i.e. a cup tie against Man Utd at Old Trafford as a lower league team) but I cannot get it to offer very much going forward. My sole forward ends up isolated and alone.

I definitely agree that the 4-3-3 needs to be used with higher engagement/high pressing.

878194927_433study2.png.ff41691c4db7e440840393330efcee0a.png

this one has worked for me with the team I played with, I haven't used it with another team tho.

You can replace the MEZ with a CM-A and have both fullback as WBs or the AP with a RPM

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That's a 4-3-3. I use a similar setup with a CM-A instead of a Mez. I'm talking about a flat 4-1-4-1 like in the OP.

 

Edit: since seeing this thread, I've had some success with turning my positive, higher pressing 4-3-3 into a 4-1-4-1 and getting consistent results with both attack and defence.

Edited by Djecker
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On 20/08/2021 at 17:21, halfspace3000 said:

how would you translate this into a tactic in FM?

 

On 20/08/2021 at 23:38, Djecker said:

How do people set up a 4-1-4-1 for a decent balance between offensive play and defensive play? I have only had 'success' with a very defensive 4-1-4-1 that I use sometimes if I'm playing a team much better than mine (i.e. a cup tie against Man Utd at Old Trafford as a lower league team) but I cannot get it to offer very much going forward. My sole forward ends up isolated and alone.

I definitely agree that the 4-3-3 needs to be used with higher engagement/high pressing.

Here's what I'd do in FM as simply as possible

433

433.PNG.870f269915eb3f951636a66bed5ae28c.PNG

  • Attacking wingbacks to provide width and crosses
  • Defensive DM (as opposed to a Regista or other supporting role) to cover the wingbacks
  • Supporting CM's to control the ball and safely supply the forwards
  • Use of false 9 since the wide forwards can easily be used as inside forwards to be the main goalscorers

TI's

  • Aggressive / high pressing combined with playing out of defence will help to control the ball and dominate the game

4141

4141.PNG.17464431f548a3e8fa05d23251a7f34e.PNG

  • More traditional fullbacks since that the width can now be provided by the wingers. FB's can easily be more attacking or defensive based on who you play.
  • DM is more flexible since there is less space to cover, could be a variety of roles depending on who you play
  • One very aggresive midfielder to link up with the lone striker
  • One more supporting midfielder to maintain numbers in midfield
  • Use of an attacking lone forward
    • CFa, TMa or AFa is what i'd go for. A poacher may get too isolated, and a supporting striker without anyone else attacking the box may be too easy to defend against.

TI's

  • Best to use shorter passing since a long ball to a lone striker may be demanding too much of him.
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I mostly agree.  4-3-3 certainly accentuates the wings and attacking fullbacks.  And I wish that for wingers, there was a more generic role (like CD/DM/CM/AM). 

But I've had a lot of success playing mid-block with slightly higher pressing, too.  It's true that against better teams, especially teams which play 4-2-3-1 wide, in order to protect the flanks, I often use two DMs, usually SV(s)-HB or DLP(s)-HB, which lessens the central attacking thrust.  And against great attacking teams, like Zebre/Juve, I'll either drop deeper or lower the pressing and maybe restrain a fullback.

Also had success playing a WTM on the wing.  I retrained a creative target man to play the left wing and he dominates smaller fullbacks, and works well with an overlapping FB and CM(s/a)/AP(s/a) or Mez (of course, only if I play more players in the central midfield).  It'd work even better either my LB or LCDM had better attacking skills/decisions and could play IWB(a) or SV(a).

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9 hours ago, glengarry224 said:

I mostly agree.  4-3-3 certainly accentuates the wings and attacking fullbacks.  And I wish that for wingers, there was a more generic role (like CD/DM/CM/AM). 

But I've had a lot of success playing mid-block with slightly higher pressing, too.  It's true that against better teams, especially teams which play 4-2-3-1 wide, in order to protect the flanks, I often use two DMs, usually SV(s)-HB or DLP(s)-HB, which lessens the central attacking thrust.  And against great attacking teams, like Zebre/Juve, I'll either drop deeper or lower the pressing and maybe restrain a fullback.

Also had success playing a WTM on the wing.  I retrained a creative target man to play the left wing and he dominates smaller fullbacks, and works well with an overlapping FB and CM(s/a)/AP(s/a) or Mez (of course, only if I play more players in the central midfield).  It'd work even better either my LB or LCDM had better attacking skills/decisions and could play IWB(a) or SV(a).

Interesting. I haven't ever tried a WTM but it seems like it could work well.

I've also had some success with a 433 midblock and slightly more urgent pressing like you. But most of the time I used it (before watching more football irl and the FM ME) I realised that pressing high almost always was as successful, if not more, even if you didn't have a team suited to it.

That way I was really threatening on the counter, but it is a bit risky to use if you are not a strong side, as it's pretty easy to either lose your counter attacking threat by having the wingers dragged backwards, or to get overloaded on the wings. I realised that my wingers normally got caught in no man's land under sustained pressure.. not fully commiting to tracking back nor taking up great counter positions.

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What do you think about below roles and duties?

          IW(a)  CAR(su)  MEZ(a)  W(a)

                              DM(d)    

         FB(su)   CD(d)   CD(Co)  FB(su)

Also which roles I should appoint on striker and goalkeeper?

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On 26/08/2021 at 19:21, tamertunatt said:

What do you think about below roles and duties?

          IW(a)  CAR(su)  MEZ(a)  W(a)

                              DM(d)    

         FB(su)   CD(d)   CD(Co)  FB(su)

Also which roles I should appoint on striker and goalkeeper?

I don't think it's necessary to use a carilero in this formation, since that IIRC they are used to cover for wide players, which you don't need to do here. For the striker, if you are unsure, it's best to use an AF since that they are your typical focal-point sort of player who assists and scores. But it really depends on the players you have and the instructions. For the goalkeeper it also depends on who you have.

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Thank you jack722.In 4-1-4-1 formation roles which you choose on example.If we choose narrow,Much lower tempo,dribble less,be more disiplined(in possesion),slow pace down(transition) and stay on feet(defence) instructions.do they make any sense?

Also is this midfield strata(A(D)-BBM(SU)-AP(A))logical when we use 4-1-4-1 formation?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great topic and particularly like how @Jack722 made it clearer that 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1 are very different formations in terms of the overall attacking shape (and to a lesser extend, defensive) and the type of players they're using. Too often I see people go with 4-3-3 but then use all sorts of attacking CMs in combination of attacking wide men and forward (similar is the case when they use 4-2-3-1 with attacking #10, inside forwards and some forward with attack-duty). Then complain why they can't open up defences or they don't create quality chances etc. 

4-3-3 should be think of as a 3-4-3 (as it morphs in that shape naturally) and this numerical explanation explains the type of players used: mostly that the DM is primarily a defender and should be considered part of a trio alongside the CB (hence why the HB role is made for a 4-3-3), that the full-backs are really more of midfielders and more often than not the sole wide presence down the whole flank and the the wide men are actually wide forward (hence the term inside forwards). This is precisely why the Total Football brand is mostly associated with 4-3-3; or to say it another way - 4-3-3 is arguably the most suitable formation for the Total Football brand of football.

Taking a look at real-life and we can see not many teams using a proper 4-3-3. Real M under Zidane, Klopp's LFC, PSG, Guardiola's Man City half of the time (the other time they're using a 4-1-4-1 and recently sort of a 4-4-2 that is more of a 4-6-0) are prime examples. This is because only these teams have the suitable type/profile of players to rock a proper 4-3-3. Meaning very offensive full-backs/aka wing-backs, controlling CMs, goal-scoring inside forwards and playmaking/creator type of forwards. Most other teams that are associated with 4-3-3 are indeed 4-1-4-1 and not only because they don't press high or something. It's because they use different type of wingers and forwards: more of natural wingers and more of attacking forwards. 

Speaking of controlling CMs in a 4-3-3, I particularly like the two different 'schools' or approaches of this: specialist ball-players/playmakers or more of hard-working all-rounders who are good at everything but don't excel at something. The former is Real M's approach, particularly during the Kroos-Modric era. The latter is Klopp's version of total football at LFC. Interestingly both approaches reach the same outcome - controlling CMs, attacking wing-backs, inside forwards and false 9 type of forwards but in different way and with different overall brand of football. This is particularly interesting from FM's perspective when he still had the Team Shape tactical option and going with Structured of Fluid (which is why I like FM 17&18).

Back to Guardiola and him using either 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1. His Barca team was proper 4-3-3 while for 90% of his Bayern M time and 50% at City, he is using proper 4-1-4-1. It's interesting how such attack-minded and space-oriented manager started using such a bottom-heavy (as we, users of FM would say). But him going back to the past and re-inventing the inverted wing-back role enabled him to make the 4-1-4-1 very much controlling and attacking formation as a 4-3-3 but in a different way. Instead of attacking wing-baks he had touch-hugging wingers providing the width, instead of controlling set of midfield 3 he had the DM joined by the inverted wing-backs to control and guard against the counter-attack; then instead of goal-scoring wide-men, he had goal-scoring CMs (the so called free 8s). The only similarity is the DM and CF positions - both stayed largely with the same roles/tasks in both 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1.

Speaking of 4-1-4-1 I always think of Mourinho's first Chelsea side. This was the prototype of what a proper 4-1-4-1 looks like and why it's different to 4-3-3. The full-backs and the wingers had the perfect blend of defensive cover and attacking width with the FBs (especially Gallas at LB) staying deeper to allow the RB (P. Ferreira) to overlap the inverted winger (initially Duff but later Robben). The attacking thrust was provided by the combination of relatively all-round forward and a goal-scoring #8 - Drogba and Lampard. This was very close to a proper 4-4-1-1 (in terms of their roles and tactical input it was mostly carbon-copy) but the 4-1-4-1 was dictated that Makelele was proper #6 and Lampard wasn't a #10. The other reason was that Mourinho specifically wanted a 4-1-4-1 with a DM to guard and overload the teams using 4-4-2 (which at that time meant 95% of all English teams). 

When playing FM, I consider my formation mostly based on what type of forward, wingers and CMs I have (in that order). I don't start with some set formation and try to fit my squad in it; it's the other way around. Personally I believe there's no real-life team that uses only one formation and most back 4 teams are actually using all of 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1 and 4-1-4-1 more or less. My approach in FM is similar in that I have 3 sets of playing styles (attacking, controlling and counter-attacking) around these most used back 4 variants. So I often have around 10-12 saved tactical presents which I use (some of them more, some less but all come into play sooner or later). 

Anyway, just want to again congratulate @Jack722 for the good topic. Something similar could be written about the 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-1-1 but it's for another day. :) 

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2 hours ago, The #9.5 said:

Great topic and particularly like how @Jack722 made it clearer that 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1 are very different formations in terms of the overall attacking shape (and to a lesser extend, defensive) and the type of players they're using. Too often I see people go with 4-3-3 but then use all sorts of attacking CMs in combination of attacking wide men and forward (similar is the case when they use 4-2-3-1 with attacking #10, inside forwards and some forward with attack-duty). Then complain why they can't open up defences or they don't create quality chances etc. 

4-3-3 should be think of as a 3-4-3 (as it morphs in that shape naturally) and this numerical explanation explains the type of players used: mostly that the DM is primarily a defender and should be considered part of a trio alongside the CB (hence why the HB role is made for a 4-3-3), that the full-backs are really more of midfielders and more often than not the sole wide presence down the whole flank and the the wide men are actually wide forward (hence the term inside forwards). This is precisely why the Total Football brand is mostly associated with 4-3-3; or to say it another way - 4-3-3 is arguably the most suitable formation for the Total Football brand of football.

Taking a look at real-life and we can see not many teams using a proper 4-3-3. Real M under Zidane, Klopp's LFC, PSG, Guardiola's Man City half of the time (the other time they're using a 4-1-4-1 and recently sort of a 4-4-2 that is more of a 4-6-0) are prime examples. This is because only these teams have the suitable type/profile of players to rock a proper 4-3-3. Meaning very offensive full-backs/aka wing-backs, controlling CMs, goal-scoring inside forwards and playmaking/creator type of forwards. Most other teams that are associated with 4-3-3 are indeed 4-1-4-1 and not only because they don't press high or something. It's because they use different type of wingers and forwards: more of natural wingers and more of attacking forwards. 

Speaking of controlling CMs in a 4-3-3, I particularly like the two different 'schools' or approaches of this: specialist ball-players/playmakers or more of hard-working all-rounders who are good at everything but don't excel at something. The former is Real M's approach, particularly during the Kroos-Modric era. The latter is Klopp's version of total football at LFC. Interestingly both approaches reach the same outcome - controlling CMs, attacking wing-backs, inside forwards and false 9 type of forwards but in different way and with different overall brand of football. This is particularly interesting from FM's perspective when he still had the Team Shape tactical option and going with Structured of Fluid (which is why I like FM 17&18).

Back to Guardiola and him using either 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1. His Barca team was proper 4-3-3 while for 90% of his Bayern M time and 50% at City, he is using proper 4-1-4-1. It's interesting how such attack-minded and space-oriented manager started using such a bottom-heavy (as we, users of FM would say). But him going back to the past and re-inventing the inverted wing-back role enabled him to make the 4-1-4-1 very much controlling and attacking formation as a 4-3-3 but in a different way. Instead of attacking wing-baks he had touch-hugging wingers providing the width, instead of controlling set of midfield 3 he had the DM joined by the inverted wing-backs to control and guard against the counter-attack; then instead of goal-scoring wide-men, he had goal-scoring CMs (the so called free 8s). The only similarity is the DM and CF positions - both stayed largely with the same roles/tasks in both 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1.

Speaking of 4-1-4-1 I always think of Mourinho's first Chelsea side. This was the prototype of what a proper 4-1-4-1 looks like and why it's different to 4-3-3. The full-backs and the wingers had the perfect blend of defensive cover and attacking width with the FBs (especially Gallas at LB) staying deeper to allow the RB (P. Ferreira) to overlap the inverted winger (initially Duff but later Robben). The attacking thrust was provided by the combination of relatively all-round forward and a goal-scoring #8 - Drogba and Lampard. This was very close to a proper 4-4-1-1 (in terms of their roles and tactical input it was mostly carbon-copy) but the 4-1-4-1 was dictated that Makelele was proper #6 and Lampard wasn't a #10. The other reason was that Mourinho specifically wanted a 4-1-4-1 with a DM to guard and overload the teams using 4-4-2 (which at that time meant 95% of all English teams). 

When playing FM, I consider my formation mostly based on what type of forward, wingers and CMs I have (in that order). I don't start with some set formation and try to fit my squad in it; it's the other way around. Personally I believe there's no real-life team that uses only one formation and most back 4 teams are actually using all of 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1 and 4-1-4-1 more or less. My approach in FM is similar in that I have 3 sets of playing styles (attacking, controlling and counter-attacking) around these most used back 4 variants. So I often have around 10-12 saved tactical presents which I use (some of them more, some less but all come into play sooner or later). 

Anyway, just want to again congratulate @Jack722 for the good topic. Something similar could be written about the 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-1-1 but it's for another day. :) 

Really really great reply. I agree with everything from the real life comparisons to the idea of having saved tactics for different situations.

I had actually started writing about the 4231 / 4411 within this post, but decided to delete it since I found that I was repeating myself a lot while simultaneously writing about about a different thing somehow. :confused: I find though that when watching real life games, the 4231 seems to more represent a 4231DM in FM, particuarly Manchester United's. While a 4411 uses CM's. I'd encourage you to do your own anlysis on it, if not I may get round to it in the future.

Also speaking of Guardiola's 4141 at Man City with the inverted wingbacks, did you ever try to replicate it in FM? I had a go with dual Mezzalas in midfield, and while the attacking shape looked spot on, we could barely score, and I couldn't quite put my finger on why. So i've mostly stuck to a Mourinho Chelsea style 4141 with fullbacks and only one very attacking CM.

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6 hours ago, Jack722 said:

Also speaking of Guardiola's 4141 at Man City with the inverted wingbacks, did you ever try to replicate it in FM? I had a go with dual Mezzalas in midfield, and while the attacking shape looked spot on, we could barely score, and I couldn't quite put my finger on why. So i've mostly stuck to a Mourinho Chelsea style 4141 with fullbacks and only one very attacking CM.

Guardiola's Man City rely a lot of very fluid movements and interchange of positions to maintain the optimal shape of 5 players up front. The FM ME is limited in that it cannot really replicate these type of movements hence the movement of players in FM will be more rigid and limit the potency of your attack.

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@Jack722 I agree that real-life 4-2-3-1 is closer to the 4-2-3-1 DM in FM. This is because in real-life a 4-2-3-1 uses 2x #6 and a #10, which in FM translates to 2x DM and 1x AM. But as in real-life and FM, the main issue then becomes how you plug the gap in midfield and link everything properly (as you said above, the issue of the 'donut' shape; see Portugal v Hungary at the Euros for a great example of this). As such I'd argue that in real-life teams are more often using the 4-2-1-3 or the 4-4-1-1 variants of the 4-2-3-1 family tree. 

4-2-1-3 is something I probably like most as it combines the best of a 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1 - the movement fluidity and attacking potential of a dropping CF and inside forwards with a controlling midfield in behind. Meanwhile its doing a very good job of mitigating for both formations' main issue - the lack of cover for the FBs in a 4-3-3 (due to the presence of a double pivot) and the lack of natural link between 2x #6 and a #10 of the 4-2-3-1 due to 4-2-1-3 employing what I call an advanced #8 instead. 

Similarly to using 4-3-3 with both attacking inside forwards and attacking CMs, what is the most often occurring mistake people make when using the 4-2-3-1 is they go for the combination of CMs, AM and inside forwards in FM. Translating to real-life language, this would mean using 2x #8 and a #10 in combination with inside forwards. Then people complain why they struggle to break down opponents and/or are easily hit on the break. I'd say that no team uses such formation in real-life for more than some late in the game charge when being a goal or two down. Bayern M came closest to this under Flick last season as their main formation but as we saw, it produced a lot of goals at both end with close to a record breaking 44 conceded. 

When it comes to a 4-2-3-1 family three people need to choose between either having a #9 + #10 combination (be it a false 9/false 10 or a proper 9/proper 10) with the wide men being more of a midfielders to provide both defensive cover and passing options. This is the 4-4-1-1 variant of the 4-2-3-1. Or go for inside forwards with attacking full-backs but then either (or even both) of the #10 and #9 need to be dropping deep and creating that space with a proper double pivot in behind. Hence the term 4-2-1-3 of this variant. 

To me the 4-4-1-1 is the old-school 4-2-3-1 where it was built to get the best out of the #10-#9 combination (Rafa Benitez' Valencia is one of the prime example of this; as was his Liverpool side with a small tweaks in the profile of the #10, the wide men and the double pivot as he was trying to adapt it to the more modern times and tactics). But this was naturally more rigid variant and worked best at the start of the 2000s when teams were still using mostly 4-4-2, so it was enough to have 3v2 in midfield to open them up and create chance.

In past 10 years, the 4-4-1-1 variant is reserved for mostly counter-attacking football as naturally it can't provide the same level of fluidity 4-3-3 or 4-2-1-3 (or even a 4-1-4-1) can vs packed defences. But at the other hand, it's one of the best defensive shape as it covers both the flanks and the centre and easily morphs into a 4-4-2 pressing shape (early on to prevent the opponent having easy time to play out from the back) or a 4-5-1 passive/containing shape which is naturally very hard to break down and requires some intricate passing and very fluid movement (hence the need for some hybrid 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation - i.e. the 4-2-1-3 - or for you to specifically target one area and look to overload it and go from there). 

==

As for Guardiola's 4-1-4-1 - no, I haven't tried it in FM. The reason is because I don't particularly like this variant and I prefer other tactical approaches (that's not to say it's not a good one or something - it definitely is and there's a lot in it to admire from a tactical point of view -  it's just a matter of preference; I'm more of a 4-2-1-3 guy as hinted above). However, I don't think 2x Mezzala is the way go with it.

This is because I view Mezzala as something like the Trequartista - a very specific CM which is reserved for a very specific formations/tactics. Both are traditional Italian type of players created to suit their traditional narrow formations - be it some sort of a diamond or a back 3. Mezzala is essentially a CM which pushes into the channels/half-space to help create additional width due to the lack of a support for the full-backs. Which is why the Mezzalla is more suitable for a diamond formations as they employ full-backs instead of a any back 3 formations as the more attacking nature of the wing-backs mean there's less onus on the CMs to drift wider. 

In a 4-1-4-1 with natural wingers there's simply no need for a Mezzala. With the inverted-fullbacks drifting infield to help control the midfield zone and guard v counter-attacks and the wingers pushing higher and wider to provide the width, the CMs are there to attack and roam through the centre. By using Mezzalas the effect will be the same 'donut' shape but focused towards the flanks. This might be good if you want to overload there but it'll be then harder to break through a packed defences. I think a simpler combination with two attack-minded CMs (but somehow split) is the way to go. For the D. Silva-KDB pair I'd go with a AP/a + CM/a pair while if I had a Liverpool's midfield, I'd go with a CM/a + B2B pair.

However, such highly specific tactical approaches require very specific players. Basically you need copies of D. Silva and KDB as they're proper 'free 8s' in that they are both playmakers and attackers rolled into one. On this front, I agree that a Mourinho style 4-1-4-1 is similar to recreate and use in FM. 

Also, as @zyfon5 rightly noted, I also think FM is a bit behind real-life when it comes to the ME's capabilities to recreate such high specific tactical approaches in their overall movement and passing fluidity. 

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30 minuti fa, The #9.5 ha scritto:

4-2-1-3 is something I probably like most as it combines the best of a 4-3-3 and the 4-2-3-1 - the movement fluidity and attacking potential of a dropping CF and inside forwards with a controlling midfield in behind. Meanwhile its doing a very good job of mitigating for both formations' main issue - the lack of cover for the FBs in a 4-3-3 (due to the presence of a double pivot) and the lack of natural link between 2x #6 and a #10 of the 4-2-3-1 due to 4-2-1-3 employing what I call an advanced #8 instead. 

How do you turn this into roles and duties on FM? Thanks

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1 hour ago, sejo said:

How do you turn this into roles and duties on FM? Thanks

I use mainly the following two variants, both in a 4-2-3-1; I use this when I want to dominate the midfield and create more movement and options in opponent's half. 4-4-1-1 and 4-1-4-1 are used when I want to be more cautious/counter-attacking. 4-3-3 is used as an alternative to this 4-2-3-1 for example against another proper 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 that I know the '3' will roam and cut inside. Therefore I want extra protection with a DM without going too defensive/cautious/counter-attacking and switch to 4-4-1-1/4-1-4-1. 

1) Control/Positive mentality, from left to right: GK, FB/s, CB, CB, FB/a; CM/s, DLP/d; W/a, AM/s, IF/s; CF/s (I favour an all round forward but sometimes I use DLF/s and F9 depending on the player)

2) Counter/Cautious mentality, from left to right: GK, WB/s, CB, CB, FB/a; DLP/s, CM/d; IF/a, AM/s, IF/s; CF/s

Both variant create a tighter midfield unit with the AM/s acting as an advanced #8, which is the key and provides the required balance in all phases/transitions. 

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Really interesting thread that’s very relatable to what I’ve been playing around with on my own save.

I’ve been trying to replicate the 325in possession whilst having a 442 off the ball.
 

P.s I wish the 4231 pressed in a 442 shape like the majority of managers do in irl 

(Something Pep and Arteta have utilised). This cannot really be achieved in the game since neither the inverted wing back on defend nor a full back on defend with sit narrow properly act like a 3rd clb, but it’s the closest you can get. Hoping it’s possible in fm22

I started off with a standard 442 but found that the 2 cms on support ( didn’t provide the defensive solidity I was looking for nor did my attacking full back go high enough either.

I think I’ve found a solution by switching to an assymetrical 424 dm system (as follows):

                  1E430D7C-8E5E-4283-9039-F67F1BF77EA6.thumb.jpeg.cca29f25d80da496a7408248f5770aea.jpeg

with the ball the idea is to look like this

3BF988FE-2966-4414-884F-4ACC05CB3B84.thumb.jpeg.eda48c651c6acc5569d9c257f2863aa9.jpeg

Ideally I would change dlf (s) to false 9 when I get the appropriate player. I had to push my wing back into the dm strata to get him forward enough.

Am I better off moving the mr to amr as an iw and then the wbr back to dr as a wing back to get the front 6 movement I’m looking for?

I’m not sure I want to sacrifice my defensive shape


PI: air narrower on the full back, roam from position on iw (s) and stay wider in the iw ). roam from position on both st’s and close down on the front 4

TI: play out of defence, wide, counter-press, higher defensive line.

Should I think I’ll also increase the line of engagement to high as well?

 

 

 

 

Edited by _mxrky
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To those who use a proper 4141 formation, do you succeed at playing a high pressing possession style? I feel like my 4141 is struggling to press upper than the midfield because only the centre forward is upfront. I don't want to set my out of possession instructions upper than higher LOE/DL but I feel kind of forced to because the pressing is lesser efficient than in a traditional 4123.

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7 hours ago, Delial said:

To those who use a proper 4141 formation, do you succeed at playing a high pressing possession style? I feel like my 4141 is struggling to press upper than the midfield because only the centre forward is upfront. I don't want to set my out of possession instructions upper than higher LOE/DL but I feel kind of forced to because the pressing is lesser efficient than in a traditional 4123.

I've found that my 4-1-4-1 does not suit high pressing up the field as it is quite a bottom-heavy tactic. I do as my wide players to press their opposing numbers using OIs, but I won't press the opposing CBs or the GK with my one TM. If you want to press high up the field, start your players high up the field in a top-heavy formation like a 4-2-3-1.

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Il y a 6 heures, Djecker a dit :

I've found that my 4-1-4-1 does not suit high pressing up the field as it is quite a bottom-heavy tactic. I do as my wide players to press their opposing numbers using OIs, but I won't press the opposing CBs or the GK with my one TM. If you want to press high up the field, start your players high up the field in a top-heavy formation like a 4-2-3-1.

Yes thank you, that's what I thought.

I used to play a traditional 4123 et wanted to go with a 4141 to push my wide players wider to give more space to my cm's. But I just can't keep the possession and the pressing doesn't work at all. My defence is over exposed and it's just a never ending flow of goals since then. How do you set up your middle field pressing?

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Standard LOE, higher DL. Press their wide players (wingers and fullbacks) and central midfielders using OIs always. Sometimes strikers too. Tightly mark strikers. Show strikers and wide players onto opposing feet. Shorter passing helps with possession. I've tried both with and without counterpress, and I prefer with counterpress on. More urgent pressing and force oppo inside (into my anchor man and central midfield).

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On 16/09/2021 at 08:36, _mxrky said:

Really interesting thread that’s very relatable to what I’ve been playing around with on my own save.

I’ve been trying to replicate the 325in possession whilst having a 442 off the ball.
 

P.s I wish the 4231 pressed in a 442 shape like the majority of managers do in irl 

(Something Pep and Arteta have utilised). This cannot really be achieved in the game since neither the inverted wing back on defend nor a full back on defend with sit narrow properly act like a 3rd clb, but it’s the closest you can get. Hoping it’s possible in fm22

I started off with a standard 442 but found that the 2 cms on support ( didn’t provide the defensive solidity I was looking for nor did my attacking full back go high enough either.

I think I’ve found a solution by switching to an assymetrical 424 dm system (as follows):

                  1E430D7C-8E5E-4283-9039-F67F1BF77EA6.thumb.jpeg.cca29f25d80da496a7408248f5770aea.jpeg

with the ball the idea is to look like this

3BF988FE-2966-4414-884F-4ACC05CB3B84.thumb.jpeg.eda48c651c6acc5569d9c257f2863aa9.jpeg

Ideally I would change dlf (s) to false 9 when I get the appropriate player. I had to push my wing back into the dm strata to get him forward enough.

Am I better off moving the mr to amr as an iw and then the wbr back to dr as a wing back to get the front 6 movement I’m looking for?

I’m not sure I want to sacrifice my defensive shape


PI: air narrower on the full back, roam from position on iw (s) and stay wider in the iw ). roam from position on both st’s and close down on the front 4

TI: play out of defence, wide, counter-press, higher defensive line.

Should I think I’ll also increase the line of engagement to high as well?

 

 

 

 

I have tried this before but with a 4411. Rather than IWs, I used WM-A and WP-S on the wings. WP-S plays more like an AP. If my right winger is the WP, then my right CM will be drop into DM strata and BWM-S role to give the WP more space. The other central midfielder is CM-S with hold the position as I don't want him to get into the box but rather be a central partner with the BWM (interestingly the BWM push forward to join CM when in possession). Up top, I used DLF-S and Shadow Striker. Shadow Striker will be on the same side with WM-A. The back three in possession is achieved with FB-D and CD-D. Unfortunately the my other wingback (WB-A) didn't push as high as I wanted. WB-A is on the same flank with WP-S. Although it work pretty well, I changed to a double SS and it works great for me.

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I want a 433 with the striker drop deep and the wingers on either side to run diagonally. Ideally, I want the midfielders to play among themselves until an opening is created then making through balls allowing the wingers to run behind.IMG_20210921_005457.jpg.fb08b511a3d13ee0a0b60c59c8e45b32.jpg

This is how I set my team up at the moment. However, the F9 didn't drop as deep and both midfielders doesn't pass around the ball that much. During most of my highlight, my midfielders will get the ball but they will instantly pass it to WB or the wingers. The end is almost always the same. The winger get the ball, run toward the box then shoot from wide. Almost all midfielders have killer balls often which I think why they always try to pass to the wingers instead of playing to the other midfielder. I would love to hear some suggestions.

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2 hours ago, soft tofu said:

I want a 433 with the striker drop deep and the wingers on either side to run diagonally. Ideally, I want the midfielders to play among themselves until an opening is created then making through balls allowing the wingers to run behind.IMG_20210921_005457.jpg.fb08b511a3d13ee0a0b60c59c8e45b32.jpg

This is how I set my team up at the moment. However, the F9 didn't drop as deep and both midfielders doesn't pass around the ball that much. During most of my highlight, my midfielders will get the ball but they will instantly pass it to WB or the wingers. The end is almost always the same. The winger get the ball, run toward the box then shoot from wide. Almost all midfielders have killer balls often which I think why they always try to pass to the wingers instead of playing to the other midfielder. I would love to hear some suggestions.

Looks good to me. Are your IF's some of your better players? Because the IF is naturally a higher mentality role, so on attack duty it could lead the player basically doing whatever he wants and trying shots / through balls / dribbles more than you'd like a lower ability player to do. Also the long shots could be a result of the wingbacks not getting up high enough to support and stretching the opposition defence enough to make gaps.

Otherwise I can't tell based on this image

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On 18/09/2021 at 06:26, Delial said:

Yes thank you, that's what I thought.

I used to play a traditional 4123 et wanted to go with a 4141 to push my wide players wider to give more space to my cm's. But I just can't keep the possession and the pressing doesn't work at all. My defence is over exposed and it's just a never ending flow of goals since then. How do you set up your middle field pressing?

Yes I agree I notice that the possession numbers in a 4141 are never as high as a 433, which is due to the poor high pressing. But I still manage to get results using the formation. And for me it's more important that we get results and see our in-possession shape look good than get high possession numbers, so it doesn't bother me so much.

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9 hours ago, Jack722 said:

Looks good to me. Are your IF's some of your better players? Because the IF is naturally a higher mentality role, so on attack duty it could lead the player basically doing whatever he wants and trying shots / through balls / dribbles more than you'd like a lower ability player to do. Also the long shots could be a result of the wingbacks not getting up high enough to support and stretching the opposition defence enough to make gaps.

Otherwise I can't tell based on this image

I'm retraining my AF into IF and honestly I may mess up there. One of them have dribble through the center and I'm trying to remove that. The other is a bit selfish, he have 8 in teamwork.

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I think it's okay to have your goalscoring target with low teamwork. I would want him to have a look-to-score mentality all the time. I think it's okay if he is the selfish player of the XI.

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