Since the introduction of the false 9 formation in the FIFA series, I could not imagine using a strikerless formation successfully. This year it took me some time to give the formation a go, but there is no way it will leave my side ever again. In H2H Seasons I managed to win all my games from division 8 till 1 using AS Roma, ending up with a record of 49-0-0. This winning streak continued in Ultimate Team, getting my streak in total over 90 games, when I got my first loss with this formation.
So before we start off, I would like to apologise for my English. It won’t be without mistakes, as English is not my first language, but I hope you can see through these. Now you will find a list of what you will be coming across while reading.
STYLE OF PLAY
• Player Instructions
ON THE BALL
BUILDING YOUR TEAM
TEAMS I USED
Style Of Play
The philosophy behind this formation is based on keeping possession and accurate passing, which means you will normally dominate the game. I want you to know before reading on that mastering a style of playing is only possible in case the formation suits you or it will require some practice.
The main idea behind the formation is creating a balanced team. So the team must not be vulnerable to counter attacks, it must be possible to stay on the ball and there must be different ways to score, making you unpredictable. In my opinion this formation covers all these requirements. The main man in the team is the false nine, who is important as the fourth midfielder when he falls back, but who also connects the midfield with the attack and makes the wingers cut inside to find their space behind him, preferably behind the defence line. But in my opinion the position of the Centre Defensive Midfielder is almost as important for this formation, to keep the balance and the defensive stability in your team. A decent CDM gives you the opportunity to control the game and keep pressure on your opponent.
There are in total six players of which I changed the Player Instructions. Below you will find them, including an explanation why I use them this way.
Fullbacks, Stay back while attacking:
During my first 10 games with this formation, I was planning on playing very offensive, so I used to give them the instruction to ‘Always Overlap’. But in these games I found out they were not there to overlap when I needed them to be there. So because I was actually let down in the advantage it gave me when on the ball, I decided to value the defensive stability and a good balance in the formation higher than this advantage it gave me on the ball.
Central Defensive Midfielder, Stay back while attacking:
The reason I decided to use the Central Defensive Midfielder purely on defence, is the fact that the CDMs this year are going forward too much. This would create an unbalanced midfield, with three players at the same time that could go forward, leaving a huge gap between them and the defence. So when the CDM stays back, just like the Fullbacks, it would guarantee at least five players to defend the counter when you lose the ball.
Wingers, Cut Inside, Run behind lines:
With the false 9 falling back into midfield it leaves a gap the wingers can get into by cutting inside. I decided to give them the instruction to run behind lines, because it will give you the possibility to have some depth in your play. It makes you more unpredictable when you have the possibility to get your winger one-on-one with the goalie with a through pass and to pass the ball to their feet.
False 9, Target Man, Stay Central:
Having him stay central and as target man, falling back in midfield, will actually create a diamond on the midfield, which means there will be triangles. Having more than just one passing possibility, makes it much easier to stay on the ball. By falling back into midfield it will open up space for the wingers to make use of.
On the ball
The key when you are on the ball lies in your own calmness. Take the time to choose the right player to pass the ball to, even when you are under pressure. Some people are trying to pass quickly while under pressure, because they are afraid of losing the ball. But in case you are doing this, you normally will lose the ball because of an inaccurate pass or a pass to a player that was being marked, which results in an interception.
When your keeper got the ball into his hands you should not rush bringing the ball back into the game. Wait till the strikers of your opponent are into position and decide whether you throw the ball to one of the central defenders or one of your fullbacks. The only case in which you may rush bringing the ball back into the game, is when you notice the players of your opponent are out of position, preferably the fullbacks. This could offer space for your wingers. You can reach them with a goalkeeper capable of the Long Thrower trait.
In case you threw the ball to one of your central defenders, you should start looking at the positioning of your opponent’s strikers. Will you be able to reach your central defensive midfielder? If not, what about the fullback? In case these two are not possibilities, you could pass the ball to your other centre-back and wait for the space to pop up to reach players in another position. The most important thing is that you got your eye watching your midfielders trying to find space to receive the ball. Don’t look at your false 9 or wingers yet when you are on the ball with your central defenders.
In case you threw the ball to one your full backs, you should start looking at the movement in the midfield, just like described above. You can also watch the direction in which your winger is moving. As we gave him the instruction to run behind lines the possibility is there that he starts running while you try to reach him in his feet to keep possession. So be careful of that. Pass in his feet when you are 100% sure he is moving towards you. You should decide whether you take the ball into midfield at this moment or you pass the ball into the direction of your winger.
Imagine you decided to pass the ball to your winger. There is three options right now. Normally the central midfielder will be in the mid and will not be marked. In two of the options you will pass the ball his way. The first option is just a normal pass and your winger will stay in the same position for possession play. In the second option you try the L1/LB button while you pass in the direction of the midfielder. This will cause your winger to make the run behind the defender. This is a good option when you notice the defender is following your player when he is falling back. A third option is to make the step over by pressing the R1/RB button. This is a good option in case you notice your opponents fullback is more positioned in the middle or is trying to anticipate on your pass by standing between you and the midfielder.
So now you got the ball to one of your midfielders you are probably asking yourself what’s next? Keep calm, just keep passing in midfield. Try to pass the ball into the feet of your false 9 and depending on the pressure try to turn around or pass it back to a midfielder. Don’t take risk. Pass your way to the box. When you get there and there is no possibility of reaching any of your teammates, turn around and pass the ball back to the CDM who is standing there in the middle. Try to pass your way around the box and wait for the moment one of your players is not marked. This player will face the goalkeeper and has the possibility to score the goal. Take this opportunity. Don’t forget to celebrate!
Unlike your play on the ball, there is not much I can say about defending. I believe everyone has his own style of defending and it’s best to stick to your own way. I prefer tracking players back with my midfielders instead of switching to a defender. People don’t know what to do when you stay back with your defenders, they will slow down and wait for you to come up, but instead you are chasing them with that midfielder behind them. This is one of the things that work great for me.
Because your full backs got the instruction to stay back on attacks it means your opponent faces four defenders and possibly some midfielders. So when he tries to make the run past your defenders, make sure you force him to make his way to the sides. So in case you are sure you won’t make it back in time with your midfielder, try switching to your full back and position him closer to the central defender. This central defender you should position right between the opponent on the ball and the goal, preferably slightly closer to the other centre-back than to the fullback. This would cause your opponent to make the move in the direction of the full back. Now make sure you select the full back and make another step towards the mid, causing the opponent to again decide to make the run to the side. From this position he will be less dangerous.
Building your team
Below you will find all different positions including a short description of the abilities they require. Each position will have a list of example players that will fit the position. Besides there will be a list of workrates. When some form of workrates are not in the list, it does not mean it can’t work. It means I personally don’t like it for that position.
Go with any goalkeeper you like and who is doing the job for you. I usually prefer goalies with the trait ‘Long Thrower’. This trait makes it easier to reach your wingers for example. It gives you more opportunities of players you can get the ball to.
Examples: Neuer, Courtois, Cech, Casillas, Sirigu
Taking the given instruction into consideration, the best players for these positions require some strength and a decent defending ability. The instruction does not mean they are not going forward at all. Often there is a lot of space left in front of them, causing me to give them the ball in the space. They don’t have to be the fastest players, but some pace is required.
Workrates: H/M, M/M, H/H, M/H
Examples: Caceres, Filipe Luis, Alaba, Piszczek
The central defenders require strength, height, good defending stat and all passing is a good bonus during the possession game. Because the defensive line presses up high when you are on the ball for some time, it makes you more vulnerable to counter attacks. That is the reason I prefer some pace on my defenders.
Workrates: L/H, M/H, M/M
Examples: Kompany, Chiellini, Barzagli, Boateng, Thiago Silva, Godin
Central Defensive Midfielder:
The CDM should be able to win the ball back to you and contribute to the attack. It makes him an allround player who mainly requires decent defending and physical stats. Passing and dribbling are of importance as well. It would make it easier to stay on the ball on midfield. Shooting is least important because he is mainly a defensive orientated player.
Workrates: M/H, L/H, L/M, M/M
Examples: Yaya Touré, De Rossi, Felipe Melo, Matic
There are two types of central midfielders in the way I use this formation. The one is more the box-to-box type of player that needs to contribute in defence and attack. This type of player requires everything. He is mainly all-round, where the offensive stats are more important than defensive stats. You can position him yourself in the right place, but you can’t fix his shooting to give you an example for that. The other type of player on the midfield is the more offensive orientated midfielder. He should be able to give those through balls that would get you in a scoring position. His shooting must be decent as well. He will pop up in the box sometimes.
Workrates box-to-box: H/H, M/M
Workrates offensive: H/M
Examples box-to-box: Schweinsteiger, Vidal, Ramsey, Gerrard
Examples offensive: Modric, Iniesta, Pogba, Fabregas
The idea behind the wingers in this formation is them to cut in and reach them with a through ball. So because they need to make runs and cover some distance quickly pace is an important aspect of players in this position. Besides they will often come into a scoring position, which makes shooting and dribbling important as well. I prefer players that can get in with their strong foot. So a left-footed player on the right and a right-footed player on the left.
Workrates: H/L, H/M, M/L
Examples: Ronaldo, Reus, Bale, Robben, Hazard, Lavezzi
In this position I prefer a player with amazing (long) shots, great passing and lovely dribbling. Strength is not a requirement, but each bit helps. I prefer a converted CAM over a converted striker in this position. This player should assist runs by the wingers and score goals himself. Because this player is not making runs himself, pace is not needed. This is that one player that you feel you are wasting at the midfield, because he has too much qualities.
Examples: Messi, Cazorla, Sneijder, James Rodriguez, Totti
A paragraph about hybrids is not really common in a formation guide, while most people enjoy using hybrids. So I thought it would be a good idea to show some of the different possibilities of building a hybrid in this formation. Below you will find two different forms of a hybrid in 4-3-3 (5). This only includes strong and perfect chem links. There are a lot more possibilities making a hybrid with use of weak links, but including all these would take up too much time.
Teams I Used