Fluid 5-at-the-back Formation: Detailed Guide

FIFA19 1 - Fluid 5-at-the-back Formation: Detailed Guide

Just want to share my tactics because I had been getting a bit bored of the same old 4-2-3-1 and this switch has got me enjoying the game again.

I'm not saying this formation is going to improve your results and get you to Elite – if that's your goal then just stick to following the Pros or whatever.

This is just for those who are getting a bit tired and looking to try something new.


There are actually two formations used in-game here, which makes it "fluid": 5-3-2 and 5-2-2-1.

5-3-2 is the base, but one of your CMs will join the attack when switching to 5-2-2-1, so player selection is crucial here.

Wing Backs:

I'll start here, as these are the most important part of the formation.

They aren't the same as "attacking full backs" – full backs tend to stay in line with the back four until the ball reaches your winger, then they make their move to overlap – whereas wing backs will push forward as soon as you are in possession.

More often than not they remain unmarked, and are a perfect option to pass to, which can lead to a crossing position – or just keep passing it around until an opportunity opens up.

In defense, you will want your width set quite low (mine is at 3), this creates a narrow back 5 which is difficult to break down.

The wing backs will need good pace, crossing and stamina. Pace and crossing can be tweaked with chemistry so stamina is probably the key one to look out for here. H/H workrates also important, or at least medium defensive and high attacking.

Centre Backs:

There will be times when your wing backs don't get back quick enough and your back 5 becomes a back 3, so at least one of these (the central one) needs to be rapid to catch any breakaway strikers.

For the left and right CBs though, long passing is the key attribute. Again this can be improved with chem (powerhouse) but if you can get them into the 90s for this attribute, even better. So good passing to begin with will help.

The aim is to pick out the advanced wing backs with long, diagonal passes. So your LCB will pass to your RWB and the RCB passes to your LWB. It won't happen every time you get the ball, so don't try to force it. Keep patient and there will plenty of chances to get the ball in defense and ping a 50-yard ball to your wing back, who can then move into space and cross for a shot on goal.

From defense to a goal in two passes.

Here's an image from in-game – it shows how wide the centre backs position themselves and you can also see the LWB making his move forward (and the RWB also pushing high up on the radar). This opens up the opportunity for those diagonal long balls. The downside is the isolated CB in the middle, one bad pass and he is on his own, hence the need for him to be quick. (That is actually Schar in the middle on my screenshot, he's one of passers, Desailly should be in the middle but I got the setup wrong.)


Any 'keeper should do, but again if they can pick out your wing backs, even better. So good kicking is uesful.


Central CM:

The central midfielder will be your ball winner. This is a role everybody should be familiar with so no need to go into the key attributes in too much detail. They will be told to stay back on attack.

Left and Right CM:

One of these will be on balanced attack and stay on the edge of the box, and they should be a great passer of the ball. They will again look for the wing backs, but will also be capable of making a key pass themselves. If they can shoot from distance, that will also help and give a different attacking threat.

The other one, should be fast, tall and good at shooting. Passing can't be terrible, but considering they're supposed to be a midfielder, it's not as important as you might think. The idea with this player is to pick the ball up in midfield and run. A converted striker is likely to be your best option. They will be told to get forward and get into the box. They will also be the player that joins your attack in the 5-2-2-1.

Having two different styles here (a passer and a runner) just adds more different options so that you aren't relying on the same tactic all the time and can adapt to your opponent.


One of these just needs to be good at scoring and good in the air. Simple as that. Anything else they can offer is a bonus.

One of them will move to the wing at 5-2-2-1, so a bit of pace would be useful, and if they can cut inside for a finesse shot that would be ideal. They need to be good in the air as well – that is more important, so you may have to sacrifice pace. A lack of pace isn't the end of the world, because the wing back is your real winger.

In 5-3-2, the two strikers play as Target Men and stay central. The Striker in 5-2-2-1 remains the same, while the two "wingers" will cut inside and get into the box. Three big target men for your wing backs to aim for…


In-game you'll use 5-3-2 when you think there's enough space to run from deep with your midfielder. Switch to 5-2-2-1 against a packed defense, otherwise that running midfielder will struggle and will be wasted in that role. So the switch pushes him into the forward role where he becomes a target for your crosses.

Defensively I play 4 depth and pressure when losing possession. With 5 defenders, you can safely defend manually with one CB while the other 4 remain in position. Be careful not to drag too many out of position though.

Attacking, I play possession and a width of 6. Just keep the ball as much as you can. Aim for 60% possession. The longer you have the ball, the more chances will open up for the wing backs. Keep switching from wing to wing via your CBs. Eventually a chance will open up to cross, or the defense will become pulled apart and leave space to attack through the middle with a through ball or a direct run with your ball carrier CM.

Although the main tactic is to use the wing backs, you do have many other options available and can mix it up when you need to.

Give it a go. It's been great for me. 🙂

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