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The Right Formation to get the Job Done

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A little while back I experimented with an idea to change formation every game to counter my opponent’s formation. I got mixed results so I thought it was loser and dropped it. However, the idea had merit and it was fun creating a tactic almost every game so I though I’ll share the idea and perhaps the community could iron out the faults.

Before I explain what I was doing, let me clear up one thing:

– FM players do not learn a formation over time

This is a myth, even I used to believe, but FM players do not need time to adapt to a formation. I read an article a while back with a SI employee (I think) saying that an FM player does not learn formations and using the same formation does not increase squad harmony. Also if you think about it there is no way of see a player’s preferred formation until he becomes a coach.

Choosing Formation

Okay, back on subject. I would decide what formation I would play by deciding what formation my opponent would play. This is easily done from the scout report. It is not always right but until I become a computer telepathist, it reliable enough.

I would then use the “Create Tactic” wizard and follow these rules in this order:

1. Defence

Opponent plays 1 FC => 2 DC + DR + DL

Opponent plays 2 FC => 3 DC + WBR + WBL

Opponent plays 3+ FC => 3 DC + DR + DL

2. Attack

Opponent plays 2 DC => 2 FC or 3 FC or 0 FC

Opponent plays 3 DC => 1 FC or 3 FC or 0 FC

3. Defensive Midfield

Opponent plays 0 AMC => 0 DMC

Opponent plays 1 AMC => 1 DMC

Opponent plays 2+ AMC => 2 DMC

4. Attacking Midfield

Opponent plays 0 DMC => 1+ AMC

Opponent plays 1+ DMC => 0 AMC or 2+ AMC

5. Use you judgement and assign the rest of the players in the AMR or AML or MC or MR or ML positions

The rules were created to avoid strengths and promote weakness in opponent formations. It errors on the side cautious but you can’t lose if you don’t concede. I’ll explain why I chose the rules further down but first I’ll run through some examples.

Opponent plays a 4-4-2 so I would play:

1) 3 DC + WBR + WBL

2) 2 FC

3) 0 DMC

4) 1 AMC

5) 2 MC

So it would be a 3-5-2

Opponent plays a 4-1-2-3 “Mourinho” so I would play:

1) 3 DC + DR + DL (this is a bit fuzzy; are the AMRL forwards or wingers?)

2) 2 FC

3) 0 DMC

4) 0 AMC

5) 3 MC

So it would be a 5-3-2

Opponent plays a 4-2-3-1 “Benitez” so I would play:

1) 2 DC + DR + DL

2) 3 FC

3) 1 DMC

4) 0 AMC

5) 2 MC

So it would be 4-1-2-3

Opponent plays a 5-2-3 “FM Juventus” so I would play:

1) 3 DC + DR + DL

2) 1 FC

3) 0 DMC

4) 1 AMC

5) 3 MC

So it would be a narrow 5-4-1

You must remember that following these rules give you a formation but the tactics and roles applied could vary the implementation considerably.


Using your experience and the situation you will decide on the tactics best suited to the match. For example:

Playing at Home and you are the favourites then play Controlled or Attacking football with Fluid Philosophy.

Playing Away and you are the underdog then play Counter or Defensive football with Ridge Philosophy


I can not really help here. The roles assigned to a player must either be specific to the players or help in the structure of the formation. So you are using Man City and have a MC positioned filled by Gareth Barry. What role do you assign? He is played best as a Deep Lying playmaker but you really need a Balling Winning midfielder to balance the formation. If you are not sure just leave the defaults that the wizard suggests, it would probably be Central Midfielder (Support).

So there you have it a formation design to oppose the opponent’s formation and hopefully a tactic to support it. When I was using this method I got better results playing away. The designed formations would usually come out narrow so naturally kept thing tight. However, at home the results were unpredictable, probably because I should not be adapting to my opponent when I was favourite. Perhaps I needed a preferred formation for home games and made the opponent adapt to me.

You have done well if you are still reading and I appreciate it. The rest of the post is explaining why I choose the rules. Any comment on additional rules that I missed will be welcomed.

Why I chosen the rules

1. Defence

I want an extra DC as cover were possible so if the opponent plays 1 forward I have 2 DC, if he plays 2 then I have 3 and if he plays 3 then I need defensive fullbacks for extra cover. Problems I have are Inside Forwards who are usually strikers so should be counted as forwards for this but wingers should not.

2. Attack

The rules for attacking players are, sort of, the opposite of defensive rules so I want to out number or match the opposing team DC’s. I can also make players redundant so if he is playing 3 DC then I would only play 1 FC. I have also included 0 FC (ala Roma) for completeness and used in conjunction with rule 4 can have a packed midfield.

3. Defensive Midfield

This one is simple; opponent is playing Messi in the hole so I play Makelele on top of him. If he plays more than one I play 2 DMC but no more. I have never seen 3 DMC and there is probably a reason for this.

4. Attacking Midfield

The opponent is not playing a DMC so there should be space between his defence and midfield to take advantage of. However, if he be playing a DMC then I should either overload them or make them redundant.

5. The rest of the available players should be placed into the position I have not considered “important” and will usually be MC’s.

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