There are 25 different formations to choose from in FIFA 16 Ultimate Team. While your skill with a controller and the quality of players on your team will largely determine your success, picking the right formation could ultimately be the difference between winning and losing.
Before We Begin
I've had my fair share of Division 1 titles over the years, and I've never used more than one or two formations on a regular basis to get them. The most important aspect of picking a formation is choosing one that complements your overall play style. Once you've figured this out, combining it with tactic and mentality commands can also prove beneficial, and I’ll list some examples of this as we go along.
Another key factor is understanding when to change your formation on the fly. If the opposition is overwhelming you with attacking flair, you could switch to a defensive strategy and work the counter-attack. Alternatively, if they’re finding too much success down the wings, try altering your setup by bringing in some wing backs to cover those areas. When you're struggling to gain the upper hand, it's all about spotting the danger signs and implementing an effective strategy to counteract any weaknesses.
So, on to the list. We’ll start with some of the most basic formations and go from there.
#1 – 4-4-2
We English folk love this formation. To get the most out of it, you'll need to be unpredictable going forward. Mix up your play and spread the ball to the wings, as well as driving through the middle. Great for beginners (and veterans!).
#2 – 4-4-2 (2)
The second variation drops the two center midfielders into defensive roles. This is great for providing cover at the back. Your attacking output will suffer, so you’ll need quick wingers to compensate for the lack of support through the middle.
#3 – 4-5-1
By equipping the 4-5-1, you’ll be looking to overpower the midfield. Creativity is the key, so build slow, patient attacks. Keep the ball on the ground and don’t play too direct.
#4 – 4-5-1 (1)
This variation moves the two attacking midfielders back into central positions. You’ll be better placed to defend any oncoming attacks, but you might struggle going forward. This suits a defensive mentality combined with a counter-attacking tactic.
#5 – 4-3-3
This is an attacking lineup that requires skill out wide. Your defensive cover is compromised as your midfield spreads out to compensate. Put someone strong and tall upfront, and target them with crosses into the box.
#6 – 4-3-3 (2)
Here, a center midfielder drops back into a defensive role. Again, use your wings and benefit from the added defensive cover.
#7 – 4-3-3 (3)
Another defensive variation here. It pushes two players into CDM positions with one center midfielder in the middle. Your attackers will get isolated upfront, so you might need to employ the counter-attacking tactic. Good to switch to when defending a lead.
#8 – 4-3-3 (4)
This is a very attacking formation. Switch to this when there’s nothing to lose, or setup with it if you’re trying to overwhelm the opposition going forward. This suits the attacking/ultra-attacking mentalities well.
#9 – 4-3-3 (5)
The fifth version of the 4-3-3 equips a deeper-sitting striker as well as a central defensive midfielder. The striker helps to build up the play, so you’ll need to be patient as you push up the pitch. There's an added emphasis on wingers, so get some pacey ones out there.
#10 – 5-3-2
Playing five at the back is actually banned in some tournaments due to its overly defensive nature. The extra center back provides you with excellent defensive cover. In attack, you'll be playing down the middle with no width options.
#11 – 3-5-2
Two defensive midfielders provide cover at the back, but the lack of wing backs means the opposition can exploit that space. Going forward, you’ve got lots of options at your disposal. A creative attacking midfielder will offer adequate support to the two strikers upfront.
#12 – 3-4-3
For those who love width in attack, the 3-4-3 is a great option. Spread the ball out to the wings and start your attacks from there. Be wary of your defensive positioning as you'll generate holes due to your lack of assistance at the back.
#13 – 4-4-1-1
This formation is almost identical to the 4-4-2 but drops one striker back into a center forward role. The key to success is utilizing the CF effectively. You need to use that player as a playmaker and build patient attacks around them.
#14 – 4-2-2-2
For those who don't like the rigidness of the 4-4-2, this pushes the two wingers into attacking midfielder roles. The lack of width can be an issue against speedy opposition wingers, but you’ll have more penetration upfront than a regular 4-4-2 setup.
#15 – 4-1-4-1
Four of your midfielders push higher up the pitch, leaving one back in a defensive role. The one attacker will need support from those behind them, and you’ve got lots of room to spread the ball around in midfield.
#16 – 4-3-2-1
This formation is all about driving through the middle. Your striker is complemented by two center forwards, and they all play in close quarters to each other. There’s no width in the midfield, so you have to use your numbers advantage to penetrate the defense.
#17 – 4-3-1-2
Another narrow formation here. This time there are two strikers up top with an attacking midfielder playing just behind them. The strikers will push the defense out wide while the CAM provides an option to break through the middle.
#18 – 4-2-3-1
While two CAMs provide backup for the sole striker upfront, the lack of midfield width leaves you at a disadvantage. If the opposition spreads the play out wide, you’ll be spreading out too, subsequently creating gaps in the middle.
#19 – 4-2-3-1 (2)
This solves the problem of the first variation by considerably widening the play. Two of the CAMs turn into wingers, leaving just one central CAM to do your attacking work down the middle. You'll need a skilled player in this position as he will be very busy.
#20 – 5-2-1-2
Providing adequate cover across all areas of the pitch, the 5-2-1-2 is primarily a central formation that, again, requires a good CAM to get the most out of on a match-to-match basis.
#21 – 5-2-2-1
With this, you'll be spreading the play out wide. The added bonus of a five-man defense will provide good cover at the back. Going forward, use the width to your advantage.
#22 – 3-4-1-2
The attackers overwhelm the opposition all over the pitch, but your defense is weakened because of it. The three defenders spread out to accommodate wide attacks, while the defensive midfielders try and plug the gap in the middle.
#23 – 3-4-2-1
This formation is a good fit for both direct and creative styles, depending on how you approach it. You can counter-attack well with this setup.
#24 – 4-1-2-1-2
The 4-1-2-1-2 is similar to the 4-4-2, but it moves the central midfielders into defensive and attacking roles. Your wingers might become isolated in the process, so don't spread the ball out too often.
#25 – 4-1-2-1-2 (2)
This variation looks to counter the isolated wingers by pulling them inside, forcing narrow play down the middle. The obvious threat is your empty wings, so you'll need quick fullbacks to deal with this.
So, that’s our simple guide to all 25 formations in FIFA 16. What’s your preference?