Howdy folks, my names Chris, and welcome to my comprehensive 5-2-2-1 formation guide, or as I like to call it – the art of counter attacking football. I love the 5-2-2-1 formation, and for many years, it has been my go to formation for FUT. It all started due to the fact I when I came to the conclusion that I was awful at defending (Like worse than Sunderland), and so naturally, my re-action was to pick a formation with more defenders, hence how I came across 5-2-2-1. For the last few FIFAs, the formation has not changed, but this year it feels different, and although it took me a few games, I finally realized the perfect way to utilize this formation on FIFA 16 – and that is through counter attacking football. Other wise known as the only way Leicester City can score, counter attacking football is highly effective on the latest FIFA, and when paired with a 5-2-2-1, it becomes unstoppable. Before I get any further, I would like to answer some things I know will pop up in the comments:
Why are you promoting a sweaty formation?
Simply put, I am not. This formation used to be sweaty back in the days when any formation with fast players could be considered sweaty, but now, although fast players are required, I would not class this formation sweaty.
What custom tactics do you use?
Only the default counter attacking one pre-loaded in the game.
Why do you support a tragic club like Sunderland?
Ask my granddad, he has more details.
The Playing Style
I'm going to honest with you. When Pele said play beautiful in the FIFA 16 trailer, he obviously hadn't played with the 5-2-2-1 formation. When using the 5-2-2-1, chances are you will not hold the possession of the ball for more than your opponent; for me I normally average at around 40% possession, but before you close this guide because I'm a N00B, just hear me out.
This is exactly the way this formation is meant to be used. With a strong back line of defenders, and two well rounded center midfielders, you will invite a lot of pressure from your opponent; however with the back 5, it won't be an issue. Even if you suck at defending on FIFA, having five bodies, six if you include the keeper, defender becomes easy enough.
As you can probably guess from the title, the positive side to this formation is the counter-attacking side. If you're able to withstand the pressure from the opposition for large parts of the game, the rewards are fantastic. As more of the opposition players push forward, all you need to do it get the back back, give it you to your center midfielder and go from there. Long balls to the wingers, getting the striker to hold up the play, or just playing a killer ball to anyone running through on goal, all of these tactics work perfectly when counter attacking. See the graphics below for suggestions on how to attack on the counter attack in this formation.
Obviously there are a lot more possibilities, this was just me showing some of the ones I have adopted in counter attacking. It's important to note, if you hold well enough against pressure, chances are you will out number the opposition when counter attacking.
Now I will address each position, how they play and what type of players you want to slot in, and of course, my suggestions.
Literally anyone you want. Whichever keeper fits your team best.
The Center Backs
The beautiful gift of having three center backs is that one can act like a sweeper, constantly pressure players coming forward, and collecting loose balls, all the while safe in the knowing there is still two of central defenders covering the goal. I like to split the three center backs in two groups. The two rocks and the drifter.
The two rocks, are the center backs in the RCB and LCB position, and serve as more traditional defenders. For this position you want big strong defenders, where defensive capability outweighs pace. I wouldn't recommend any under 6'2" for these two spots, as they will have to deal with a lot of air balls and will be called upon to deal with this. These two center backs shouldn't be the ones chasing down attackers, that'd down to the CB, and therefore pace is not an issue for these two big lads. Work rates don't matter too much for the two rock center backs, as long as their defensive is higher than their attacking work rate.
Recommended Center Backs
: Per Mertesacker, Raul Albiol, Martin Skrtel, Holger Badstuber, Ryan Shawcross, Dejan Lovren, Younes Kaboul, Big John O'Shea.
Now onto the other center back. I think I have already covered the basics of this guy in your team. He is the sweeper, the pit bull of the defense. He will chase down every ball, whether it's loose or at the feet of an attacker. Now, the CPU won't do this for you, which is very important to remember. When defending against the onslaught of pressure, I would highly recommending controlling this defender and chasing down the ball. Once you get the ball, dump it off to the center mid, and counter attack.
Recommended Other Center Back
: Thiago Silva, Kostas Manolas, Marquinhos, Marcos Rojo, Gabriel, Mapou Yanga-M'Biwa, John Stones, Kurt Zouma.
The Full Backs
In years gone by, full backs in the 5221 formation have been some of the most important players, however this year I feel like they play a much quieter role. When I last wrote this guide, back on FIFA 14, full backs were the crossing players in this formation, however I feel this year, they act more as traditional full backs and just stay back. Pace is still important for this position, because if you didn't have decent pace in this position, players could exploit the LWB LCB / RCB RWB areas. You don't particularly want this player going forward on the counters, as you won't always score, and you could be left short at the back. And there's no need for these guys to go forward anyway, with the two center midfielders and the front three pushing forward, you shouldn't need any additional bodies.
Recommended Left Backs
: Alex Sandro, Benoit Tremoulinas, Kieran Gibbs, Gaya, Gael Clichy, Abdul Rahman Baba, Luke Shaw
Recommended Right Backs
: Carvajal, Natheniel Clyne, Juanfran, Kyle Walker, Allan-Romeo Nyom
The Center Midfielders
Central midfielders are the heart of any team, regardless of formation, and there for it is the same for the 5221. These two central midfielders are the engine of the team, they will be back defending with the defense, while the front three hang forward, and then going forward they will also join the attack. What I have found out with these guys is that, one tends to push up with the counter attack while one drifts a bit further behind. Then the one going forward normally finds his way to the edge of the box, which gives you another option while going forward. While pace isn't a huge issue here, in order to ensure these central players can get back to defending the times they do push forward, you need at least around 70 pace for them. Really, you need all round players for this position as they will be expected to do all most everything
Recommend Center Mids
: Yaya Toure, Blasie Matuidi, Radja Nainggolan, Ilkay Gundogan, Aaron Ramsey, Marco Parolo, Enzo Perez, Jordan Henderson, Zlatko Junuzovic, Yann M'Vila, Moussa Sissoko, Corentin Tolisson, Lee Cattermole
The next part of the team, the LW and the RW are more down to preference to the user, and how you play with them. There are two things I would recommend with the wingers however, which are that they have decent pace so that your counter attack has some sting to it, and that you have one left footer and one right footer. The wingers had tendencies to both cut inside and float outside the defender so either foot would do, but however it would be better to have one of each.
Recommended Right Wingers:
Karim Bellarabi, Juan Cuadrado, Willian, Patrick Herrmann, Theo Walcott, Domenico Berardi, Mohamed Salah, Zherdan Shaqiri
Recommended Left Wingers:
Raheem Sterling, Yevgen Konoplyanka, Memphis Depay, Andre Schurrle, Stephan El Shaarawy, Kevin Mirallas, Jeremain Lens.
Now onto the striker position, arguably the most important player in any team, regardless of formation (Ok, maybe not the false 9, without a striker, but moving on). In this formation, the striker is the spearhead of the attack, who often is the one on the end of the counter attack, but often too they can help in the build up too, depending on the style of counter attack. With these formations, the attacks often accumulate with a cross into the box, so a decent size striker is needed, but also decent pace, enough to push forward with some sting. The striker really needs to be an all rounder - Salomon Rondon is the best player in this formation I can recommend, but below is some more.
: Salomon Rondon, Jackson Martinez, Alexandre Lacazette, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Bacca, Morata, Romelu Lukaku, Nabil Fekir, Rodrigo, Burak Yilmaz, Mame Diouf.
I absolutely love this formation on FIFA 16. Yes, you will be under pressure a lot throughout the game if you're playing good opposition, but if you can withstand the tirade, you will reap the rewards with quality counter attacks. I hope this formation guide helps out, it can be great for beginners or even more experienced players wanting to try something different. Hopefully this guide breaks the taboo that five at the back formations are sweaty and for noobs. Anyway, feel free to ask any questions you may have and I'm happy to build squads for anyone looking for teams. I'll reserve the next post for any more screenshots I post in the thread.