Put simply, the goal of this playstyle is to get into the best possible crossing positions, with the best crossers of the ball, to deliver the best cross, to the tallest targetman, against some of the smallest players in the game.
The best way to achieve the above is by playing a Targetman on the wing (yep, on the wing) in a 5221 formation. This allows you to load one side of the pitch with as many as 4 (LWB, LW, CM, ST) proficient crossers of the ball who will all look to cross to a targetman arriving late at the back post.
9 times out of 10, the targetman will be marked by a fullback. This usually creates a mismatch in height, strength and aerial ability which can be exploited.
For this playstyle you will only be attacking down one wing so for the player examples below I will be attacking and crossing down the left, however, you can mirror these player types and instructions if you’d prefer to use the opposite flank.
GK - Your choice, good throwing and kicking are always useful.
LWB - Very important player. Needs to have pace, excellent passing and crossing. Defensive stats are worthwhile but not the first consideration (i’ve Played wingers in this role). The LWB will combine with the LW to get into good crossing possitions. To do this he will be playing a lot of through balls, 1-2’s etc hence the need for high passing stats.
LCB - Another crucial position. The LCB should be left footed and a great passer of the ball. As the LWB advances up the pitch the LCB will move across to cover. This means he can be utilised as part of the attack when other passing routes are blocked. I’ll cover this in more detail in the ‘Attacking’ section below.
CB - Just a solid defender, best you can afford.
RCB - Same as above, however, long passing helps here. This allows you to spray the ball to the LWB from deep.
RWB - Your RWB won’t actually see much of the play. His main duties will be to defend and switch the play (often) so defending stats and long passing ability a must.
LCM - Another crucial player who will be pivitol to build up play. I prefer this player to be left footed, have good ball control and passing. He also needs serviceable crossing and pace. Defending stats are important in this position but not as much as the RCM.
RCM - The midfield general. This guy will more often than not be your only midfielder who’s in position when your opponent breaks. He needs to be able to track back quickly and break up play where possible. If he can’t win the ball he needs to slow the opponent by limiting options allowing the LCM and LWB recover their positions.
LW - The LW will be your main provider of crosses. He needs to be rapid, a great crosser with a min 4* weak foot and good on the ball.
ST - The striker in this playstyle is deployed as an extra crossing threat/out ball. Although you can play a second targetman here if you wish. If using him as a crosser he needs to be similar to your LW. You can try a hybrid of both, Scream Fellaini can work here for example.
RW - This is your main man. Firstly I should point out, there are no right wingers in the database with the right combination of physicality and stats to play this role so you will have to use custom tactics to get him in the team (typically swapping the starting RW with the ST). This guy needs to be a colossus, height is very important as is jumping and heading ability. He needs good attack positioning and volleying stats too. Pace is of no importance whatsoever.
Player instructions - (Standard unless stated)
LWB - Join the attack
CB’s - All 3 Default
RWB - Stay back
LCM - Get forward, Cover the wing
RCM - Stay back, Stay central
LW - Stay wide, get in behind
ST - Drift wide, get in behind
RW - Targetman, stay forward, get in the box for crosses
Pressure after possession loss
Width - 4
Depth - 5
Width - 7
Players in box - 5
Corners - 3
FK - 3
How to attack -
As the formation only attacks down one wing you need to get as many of your team involved as possible. This, if set up correctly will be your LWB, LW, LCM & ST. Look to get your LW and ST in behind then combine with the LWB and LCM to get in an optimal position to cross. If you find your opponent is blocking you effectively, pass back to your LCB (who should be free) from there you can switch play (either directly or by passing through your CB’s) to your RWB. From here look to switch to advance slightly then switch the play to your LWB or LCB. This will pull the opponents formation about and recreate space on the left wing.
Be patient, one of my the main advantages of this style is the amount of game time you consume whilst getting in position to cross. This stops your opponent getting possession whilst also frustrating them into mistakes.
Another big plus for this playstyle is, as the patterns of play get ingrained as muscle memory, you stop panicking when you win the ball. You know immediately where you want to pass the ball and what options you have once it gets there.
Crossing Tips -
+ Always try to cross when not sprinting. If you can get your player facing the box before crossing this will also improve your delivery.
+ Use plenty of power, the targetman’s at the back post so you need to get it over the keeper and above the fullback.
+ Make use of the lofted cross, this gives your targetman time to get in position
+ Press shoot quite early, this seems to get the player into position to challenge
The main drawback of the 5221 is a lack of presence in midfield. Your opponent will break on you following a failed cross, however, the 5 at the back formation reduces passing options when they attack. You should focus on getting your CM’s back into position while they are deciding what to do.
When the opponent does get to the edge of your box the back line tends to crowd them out or block the shot.
Final thoughts -
This playstyle may not be for players who are highly skilled at fifa. I’m a very average, maybe even poor player, however, using these tactics I can get around 20 wins in weekend league and hold my own in division 3 of rivals.
To illustrate how effective it can be, my targetman is 81 IF Wout Weghorst, he has 397 goals in 258 games, all WL and div 3 rivals!
Hope this guide helps other players who want to try something different, it can be great fun, especially when a clearly talented player rage quits at 3-0 down after the first half
I’ll update this guide as we go through the rest of Fifa 19, any questions are welcome, as are constructive suggestions.
Get it in the mixer!!,
***Update 1st Feb***
Custom Tactics -
I’ve tweaked my CT’s since first writing the guide, as always you should experiment with CT’s to find what suits you best but following a few requests here’s what i’m currently using:
Fast build up:
Players in box: 7
Free Kicks: 4
Patterns of play -
Had some feedback around struggling to get crosses away against a deep packed defence, here are some suggestions:
Make use of your wide CB’s:
When you attack with your Winger and WB your wide CB will drop into a FB position and will generally be unmarked. If your opponent nerfs your wing attack, make use of the CB, when he has the ball you can either go back down the same wing and try again or (I use this play a lot) hit a cross field lofted pass to the opposite wide CB.
From there I generally play a short pass to the WB then check the radar. If the other WB is completely unmarked i’ll hit a full power cross field pass to him. This can really mess with the shape of the opponents team. You may also find your opponent challenges your WB trying to head the cross field ball away, if he misses it or you win the header, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to work a cross between your winger/WB.
Mix it up:
The mismatch between the wide targetman and the FB is not only exploitable at the far post but in general play too. If your opponent is using a high press tactic and you’re having trouble passing out from the back, there’s nothing wrong with going long. Hit a lofted pass up to the wide targetman.
From here you have a few options. If you can bring it down then great, but this will be rare. Either head the ball to your ST, CM, or WB. Often the WB will actually make a run in behind, in this case, use the through ball button to head the ball into the path of the run.
Lay it off:
In most games you’ll find yourself running down the wing with your winger being tracked by the opponents FB, who, as you get close to the box, will generally be joined by either a CB or CDM. This can make it difficult to cross as you are smothered by defensive players.
In these situations i’ve found that the opponent concentrates almost entirely on stopping the winger and pays little attention to the WB who has dropped back further up the field. I like to tap a throughball back up the line to the WB. This creates a perfect first time crossing opportunity, just load up the power and whip it in.