FIFA 09-Formations

Fifa 09 Formations(Big 4 & Divisions)


General Tip on Selecting your Team’s Formation

The key to success with formations is understanding what your opponent is running and countering with the correct numbers on the field. It is all a numbers game. Find ways to gain numerical superiority where you need it and you will be successful. Even strong players become vulnerable when outnumbered!


Three Basic Tactical Approaches in the Big 4

1- Defensive Mentality (5-3-2)

2- Controlling the middle of the field (Balanced) (4-4-2), (4-3-3)

3- Attacking Mentality (3-5-2)


There are 17 total base formations in FIFA 09. When broken down in positions and strategy, there are really four general formations (the Big 4) and all the others are basically spun out of variations of each of those. This section takes the big 4, breaks them down in detail and then explains how each variation can be adapted to a particular game situation you may face.




The most popular, balanced and versatile of all formations. Works well against almost any other system with built-in flexibility. Works well against a 3 player defence, since the RM and LM can act as true wing forwards then return to midfield to secure the center of the field or assist the defenders. The LS and RS work in tandem either together in the center or making opposing runs, making them tough to defend and creating more attacking opportunities. The 4-4-2 can shift into other formations on the fly, and so can easily be used to create surprise attacks. This is tough to counter attack as well, because this system is so evenly distributed across the field and provides players the most balanced distribution of workload responsibilities of any of the formations.



If too many players get caught up in the attack from the midfield, the defenders will have to move up to cover and can cause holes in the defence that could be exploited by another 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2 system. If balance is not maintained, the opponent can quickly gain numerical superiority.



Use the width of the line up to work the ball around the field. Use possession and be patient for openings in your opponents. Switch the ball around the back and regroup and start the progression on the opposite side. Use numerical superiority to attack. When defending, gain numerical superiority in the middle of the field by having the LM and RM tuck in and letting the LB and RB pick up the attacking wings. The LS and RS should work in tandem to try and pull the defenders out of position.


Best Formations to Counter the 4-4-2

3-5-2 with attacking mentality can outnumber the defence, 4-4-2



  • 4-1-2-1-2

    • Used by the Argentina National Team, this variation of the 4-4-2 basically takes a flat defence and shifts them to a diamond defence. The CDM becomes a holding back and assumes the stopper position.

  • Likewise, the CAM assumes the attacking midfield role and acts as another attacker to keep the pressure on the opponent’s defence.

  • 4-2-3-1

    • The two central defenders become defensive oriented midfielders (LDM and RDM). The wing midfielders assume an attacking mentality (LAM and RAM). One striker now assumes the role of a CF and becomes the free roaming attacking playmaker.

  • 4-2-2-2

    • Also known as the box midfield and made popular by the Brazil National Team, this formation lets the LAM and RAM roam more into the attack, letting the opponent’s attack on the wing be covered by the LB and RB.

  • 4-4-1-1

    • One of the strikers pulls back, becomes a CF, and plays in the hole between the midfielders and the remaining ST. The ST has freedom to roam and seek out weaknesses in the opponent’s defence.


The beauty of this formation lies in controlling the middle of the field (or hole) where the 3 center mids play more compact and move laterally or vertically across the field almost as a single unit.

The LW and RW keep the width on the attack and are largely responsible for not only attacking with width but also preventing wide threats from your opponent when turning over the ball.

The other strength of this formation is the ability to have your CM take a more defensive posture (like a stopper), and your RCM and LCM more of an attacking posture bringing great balance to your defence (and at the same time more numbers for the attack).


If the LW or RW players do not get back to mark the wings, it forces one of the forwards to drop back, thus converting it to a 4-4-2 and losing the power of the attacking strength upon regaining possession. Also, if the LW or RW do not get back when possession is lost, your opponent can attack with width and break up your CM trio, leaving holes for your opponent to build a center field possession attack.


If the forward wingers successfully get up and down the wings and the 3 center mids can stay compact, this formation will dominate a traditional 4-4-2. This is because the traditional 4-4-2 only leaves 2 true center mids and two wing mids, giving the 4-3-3 numerical superiority and allowing a lot of possession due to frequent 3v2 situations. The 4-3-3 is even good against the midfield dominant 3-5-2 because of the 5v5 in the middle of the field, and more importantly, the 3v3 for your opponent’s defence. If you can spring one more attacker of the three CM, you have you now have a distinct 4v3 advantage, which Chelsea runs successfully for the Barclays Premiere League.

Best Formations to Counter the 4-3-3

The 3-5-2 can be used as mentioned above to force the 4-3-3 to have to shift to a 4-4-2 and lose attacking strength. The 3-4-1-2, the 3-4-2-1, and the 5-4-1 all provide a threat to unbalance the center 3 CM trio of the 4-3-3.


  • 4-3-1-2

    • This formation is usually deployed if the opponent has the three forwards of the 4-3-3 marked very well on attacks. This variation of the 4-3-3 takes one of the forward wingers and makes him a second true striker. At the same time, the other winger falls into a supporting role of the crafty playmaking center forward (CF). Playing just behind the strikers, the CF can wreak havoc for the opposition’s defence by his constant movement and ability to feed a striker quickly.

  • 4-3-2-1 (Christmas Tree Formation)

    • The 4-3-2-1 gets its strength from taking the wing forwards and giving them both the same ability to be playmakers for the striker. Instead of primary responsibility to run the wings, they now play slightly behind the striker, working in tandem and opening space to allow overlapping runs from a LCM, RCM, LB or RB player. The 3 attackers (LF, RF and ST) can now move as a unit, and with the overlap of mid or defensive players, create a lot of bodies for your opponent to pick up. Through runs and overlapping runs down the middle now become a bigger weapon for you.

  • 4-5-1

    • The main purpose of shifting your 4-3-3 to this formation is to keep a strong team from scoring. It is very simple to switch to this more defensive-oriented formation by simply taking your LW and RW attackers and pulling them back into attacking midfield players (LAM and RAM). Their primary role is to support the attack, but more importantly to bring numerical balance back to the middle of the field to prevent great possession teams from possessing you on counter attacks. Brazil, Club America, and other possession-oriented teams are very good at breaking down a traditional 4-3-3 since the wing forwards tend to stay too high in the attack.


This formation utilizes a true sweeper CB (the clean up man) and two wing defenders (LCB & RCB) who usually man mark. The true strength of this formation comes from the stacked midfield which usually gives them numerical superiority in the middle of the field. The LDM & RDM alternate, acting as a stopper (or holding mid). At the same time, when being attacked the LM & RM can drop back to cover the defensive wings, shifting from a 3-5-2 to a 5-3-2 easily. The sweeper will determine how high the defensive line is kept to force the offside trap.

The main difference between a “3 back” system as opposed to a “4 back” system is the 3 backs need to stay more compact and work as a unit, not trying to cover the entire width of the field. If one of the wing backs does push wide to cover, then one of the defensive mids must slide back to fill the gap.

This formation works really well if your opponent is running a line up with a 1 or 2 man striker system. This system also has great strength when attacking to trigger numerical superiority by using 3 midfielders and 2 strikers (usually against 4 defenders).


Take great care in noticing your opponent’s line up when using this system, as it can be weak against a team running 3 forwards of any type. Also, the midfield must be able to support the attack and return to support the defence. As mentioned above,

the most vulnerable aspect of this line up is if your opponent can force the 3 backs to have to cover the width of the field without midfield support (say, from a quick counter attack), which creates holes for strikers to get clean looks at your goal or make threatening through runs.


Be very aware of the positioning of your defensive midfielders to act as a stopper, almost making a diamond defence, and act as that first line of attack to disrupt your opponent’s flow. Also, use your midfield strength to your advantage in both attack and defence. Look at your LDM, RDM, and CAM as a triangle in the middle of the field. If the LDM and RDM are next to each other with the CAM in front, this has the midfield triangle in a “defensive posture” used against a threatening attacking team and in essence gives you two stoppers. Likewise, if one defensive mid acts as a holding back (or stopper) and the other defensive mid pushes up next to the CAM, then this deploys an “attacking posture” used to pressure the opponent’s defence or capitalize with numerical superiority.

Best Formations to Counter the 3-5-2

Any formation deploying 3 regular attackers keeps the constant threat of a counter attack from allowing the defensive mids from moving up in the attack too far. Also, a 3-5-2 can be very effective

for all the reasons mentioned above.


  • 3-4-1-2

    • This version of the 3-5-2 basically takes the CAM and turns him into a true playmaker–the crafty CF. So his posture is now to pressure the opponent’s defence as the third attacker, making creative runs and maintaining an attacking mentality.

  • 3-4-2-1

    • This version takes one of the two Strikers and makes him into a more supporting forward role. Likewise, the CAM also becomes his counterpart, occupying the opposite forward role, both behind the pressing attacking line of the single striker. There is now one true striker target left to push high; however, there is great flexibility to attack with forwards who can either pinch closer together or spread wide and keep the ball in your opponent’s danger zone. Look for opportunities to send one of your forwards on a through run, even ahead of the striker for a quick goal scoring opportunity.

  • 3-4-3

    • This version takes one of the two Strikers and makes him into a true winger. Likewise, the CAM also becomes his counterpart, occupying the opposite forward winger role. There is now one true striker target left, but great flexibility to attack wide. This creates all sorts of aerial threatening crosses to pull the defenders out of position, creating holes for your striker to slash through and bury the ball in the old onion bag.


Simply put, if you are against a serious threat of attack constantly in the game or are trying to hold onto a lead in the closing moments of a white knuckle game, then this

system shores up and basically puts your team into a strong defensive posture. Once again, there are an odd number of true defenders, which means that the center player is usually the sweeper, or the clean up man.

The LWB and RWB are great at running up the wings and provide additional numbers into the attack. Roberto Carlos for Brazil and Real Madrid was a master at creating the odd man attacking threat from the wing. He would come up from so far back so fast that mids and defenders alike were often caught off guard, instantly giving his team numerical superiority and creating a lot of goal scoring opportunities. The 3 center defenders stay compact and make it tough for your opponent to get through runs. The center mids likewise have great flexibility to play compact and move as a unit which can dominate the middle of the field.


The ability to keep the ball in your opponent’s third of the field is tough against certain line ups, like the 4-4-2, where your players need to be creative to penetrate successfully. Also, if the 3 center mids start to spread wide to play the width of the field, it does leave holes for teams with strong midfield numbers (like the 3-5-2) to take over the middle of the field and exploit any holes on your defence. You may find yourself always under attack and seemingly starved for possession of the ball. Your opponent will look for opportunities to attack quickly when the wing defender is in their third of the field.


Most importantly, make sure that only one wing back at a time makes that long run into the attack so that the other can hold, leaving 4 remaining in the back so that you are not vulnerable to a quick counter attack. If you commit too many players into the attack, then the strength of this formation starts to break down quickly. Have your center mids jockey more when on the attack to try and stop the threat of attack down the middle of the field, and force your opponent to play wide into where your defensive strength is strategically waiting. This line up is just like the 3-5-2, with the exception that the LM and RM have defensive priority.

Best Formations to Counter the 5-3-2

The 3-5-2, based on numbers controlling the middle of the field, as well as the balance from a 4-4-2 can be very good at keeping the heat on your defence and out possessing you.


  • 5-2-1-2

    • This variation takes the center midfield player and turns him into a better playmaker for the striker as a CF. This gives more flexibility to roam across the width of the field and leaves the 2 remaining center mids with more of a supporting role.

  • 5-2-2-1

    • This is another version of the Brazilian “box” midfield. It takes one of the strikers and puts him into more of an attacking supporting role as a true forward. It also takes the CM and makes him into his counterpart as the other forward. The two play in tandem behind the striker, but do have great flexibility to make or serve through runs or launch in crosses.

  • 5-4-1

    • This variation is deployed to create a true diamond midfield. One striker becomes a center attacking mid (CAM) and one CM becomes a center defensive mid (CDM) playing right above the defensive line much like a stopper. This leaves two wing mids (LM & RM) and one true striker. The CAM is strongest and goes to a checking back striker. The is best to run

  • when your CB can drop a step back to take on the sweeper role and allow your RCB and LCB to work as central defensive pair. RM and LM can pinch in to the middle of the field when your LWB or RWB make attacking wing runs.

Author: Nick2930

I am a 33 year old librarian, part time writer, all time gamer, and what my cousin refers to as an intellectual badasss. Normally I wouldn't brag, but I like that so much I feel compelled to.