Battling the 4231 – An elite players 442(2) formation guide

FIFA19 5 - Battling the 4231 - An elite players 442(2) formation guide

Hi all,

Some of you may remember the 4222 thread that I made a few months back:

. . that gathered quite a lot of popularity. I created it primarily as a way to overcome the huge influx of players on Drop Back instructions.

These players abusing drop back/low depth still exist, however, we're now seeing a huge amount of players that have added the ridiculous "R3 scoop cross", and "El Tornado" cross to their arsenal. I don't like this mechanic. I think it's stupid and should not exist. How it's still in the game months after coming to light, frankly, baffles me. It just reeks of laziness on EA's part, because there's no way they intended it to work the way it does. But anyway, that argument has been beaten to death and that's not what this thread is about.

So what is this post about?

It's about how I have overcome these struggles with a formation switch from the 4222 to 442(2), whilst still remaining competitive (potentially even favoured), vs. the 4231 formation.

The reason why this formation works, is because of the added strength that you have wide. With my tactics and instructions, you basically "double" up on your opponents wide CAM that is trying to cross the ball in. It's not perfect, sure, but it's a hell of a lot more consistent than anything else that I've tried.

Typically I finish anywhere between 24-27 wins prior to switching to this formation. I still finish 24-27 wins…. however, I think given time and mastering of this formation, I will fare better. Also, it's fun. It's a fun way to play the game due to the spacing and a plethora of different attacking options. It plays quite similar to the 4222, but it's more solid defensively and you have much better defence out wide.

Again, just like my 4222 guide, excuse my formatting. I'm winging it again.

442(2) PRO's

  • Strong wing play – Both on offence and defence
  • 2 CDM so you aren't suffering through the middle to narrow formations
  • Attacking versatility. You can play through the middle or out wide
  • No real weak formation match ups. In fact, I believe you counter a lot of the current meta formations being used
  • Defensively strong due to 2x banks of 4
  • 2 strikers

442(2) CON's

  • Your 2 CDM need to be very strong and some of the better players in your squad. You can't get by half-arsing this position
  • You need to have wingers with very high STA, as with my instructions, it's very demanding on them.
  • No Central CAM. However, my instructions create's a psuedo-CAM. Somewhat.


In this set up, I play a lot through my CDM's and LR/RM, passing around laterally until an option presents itself. Often this is my LM or RM making a run behind that allows me to knock it out wide, then either skill my way back inside, cross, or pass to my second striker. This formation is also great for counter attacking, as my LM and RM stretch out their central CDM and shift them out wide (assuming you're playing vs. 4231, which you usually are…), allowing me to utilise the space this creates through the middle.


Defensive Style: Drop Back

Width: 6

Depth: 4


Offensive Style: Balanced

Width: 6

Players in the Box: 7

Corners: 3

Free Kicks: 2

Yes, I know I initially spent a good portion of this this thread complaining about drop back, and here I am, on drop back. However, there's a significant difference with playing super low depth (1/2), and a depth of 4. The reason I choose to play drop back, is that due to my instructions of Players in the Box: 7, I like the fact that I'm somewhat covered against the counter-attack. I've tried "Press after Possession" loss, also, and I was using that up until the last WL. It works fine, no issues, so if you feel more comfortable and manually defend better than I do, feel free to give that a go.

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I use Balanced offensive style as I like the flexibility it offers. I tried Fast Build up, and my players just pushed forward a little too fast. I found I was left with very little build up options using this instruction; restricting my play-style to more or less counter-attack only.


I use "Players in the box: 7", as I feel it gets my wide players more involved in the build up. If I'm on the left wing, my right mid will push inside to make the numbers up giving me much more options when penetrating the box. It also drags one of my CM further forward for late runs in to the box or to present additional passing options. You can drop this to a lower figure if you like, but I wouldn't go too low, as your offensive players just get marked out stifling your attack. The purpose of having this so high, is to at least try to go 1:1 with their defensive structure. Sure, you might get counter-attacked if you lose the ball, but that's why we play drop back – for that added security.

Corners and Free kicks is personal preference. I keep free kicks lower to prevent people countering off my own corners when clearing. I also shoot quite often from free kicks, (I'm not so bad at this!) rather than calling second man. But honestly, whatever works best for you.


Strikers: 1x Striker on Get In Behind, Stay Forward, Stay Central. 1x Striker on Come Back on Defense, Stay Central. Put whichever striker suits these roles better for your team. The better CAM of the 2 strikers is preferable to come back on defence.

  • I use come back on defence for one striker, as he drops back into a CF type role. I don't use him on defence, I just use this instruction to create some distance from my other striker. I tried False 9, but found this to be much better. For some reason False 9 dropped even deeper than Come Back on Defence did. I don't want that. He's still a striker. I need him up top.

LM/RM Stay Wide, Come Back on Defence.

  • I use come back on defence to help nullify my opponents wingers/LAM/RAM. This is vital to help combat people trying to abuse stupid crossing mechanics. Don't worry, they will still be there on offence and won't hinder your own attacks. This is why players with high STA is vital. They will be covering a shit-load of ground.

  • I use Stay Wide as, (mentioned earlier), this stretches my opponents central players out wide creating much more space for me to play in to. A lot of players hardly touch their defenders, so by using Stay Wide instructions, it forces them to either switch or drag their CDM into uncomfortable positions. Due to Players in the Box: 7, also, one of your CDM will have pushed forward which allows you to play it wide, then play it back inside.

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CDM's 1x Stay back while attacking, 1x Balanced. Both on Cut Passing Lane, Cover Centre.

  • With Drop Back instructions, 2x Stay Back is overkill. You want your most offensive CDM pushing forward slightly, to assist with build up. Don't worry, whenever a CDM pushes forward, the other covers for him and stays back. They won't both be bombing in to the box.

Defenders All Default, with Stay back while attacking added to LB and RB.



I use one striker that is good in the air, strong, and can hold the ball up. (CR7, Ibrahimovic, Immobile) and a striker that is speedy and can also function as a CAM. (Cruyff, Rashford, Mertens etc.)

This give me multiple ways of attacking, and offers different threats to my opponent.


STA is important here, so buy the best outside players you can afford with relatively decent STA – or at least have subs ready to switch out. Generally all wide players fit the offensive side to this role perfectly, but you most definitely want ones with speed. 4* or 5* skills is a must. Depending on play-style, you may want to choose left or right footed players to adapt to how you play. If you cross a lot, obviously, you want left footers on the left and same for the right. If you cut inside and finesse or shoot, inverse of that.


Exactly the same as my 4222 guide here.

I have one tank (Fabinho, Casemiro, Ballack etc), and one hound. (Kante, Nainggolan etc.)

I have the tank on stay back instructions, and leave the hound on balanced. The hound also helps link up in the middle of the pitch, and due to his pace, he's also able to get back defensively. Kante is ideal for this role. Like I said earlier: Tank is Med/High, and Hound can be High/High or Med/High.


Best that you can afford/link up.

I hope this guide helps you guys out there. If anything, it offers a different way to play the game which can be appealing to some. After all, a game is supposed to be fun, right? If you have any questions, feel free to drop them below. I will try to be as interactive as possible.

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