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The best formations to use in FIFA 22 Ultimate Team

kylian mbappe controlling the ball in the air in fifa 22
(Image credit: EA)

Looking for the best FIFA 22 formation? In FIFA Ultimate Team, packing the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, and Mbappe won't count for much if you're playing them in the wrong system. Well they'll still count for quite a bit, to be honest, but you get the point.

So, to get the most out of your cobbled-together player collection, you should think carefully about the FIFA 22 formations you choose, both in terms of exploiting your players' strengths and the all-important team chemistry. So, here are the best formations, and why you should consider choosing them.

The best FIFA 22 formations for FUT

4-4-2

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It’s traditional, but still relevant. Diego Simeone’s Atletico use it to devastating effect, soaking up pressure in midfield and hitting on the counter against supposedly better teams. Even if you’re new to FIFA, chances are you’ll understand this formation, which makes it a good place to start.

Avoid the Gerrard-Lampard issue by having one central midfielder take an attacking role and set one to be more defensive. Play to your strengths. Ensure the full backs drop into defence when you lose the ball and use direct passing to keep those strikers moving.

4-4-2 has no special strengths, but critically it has no major weaknesses either. It’s a solid structure, difficult to penetrate, that can also get the ball up field quickly as there are always options at the top. The two strikers can play keep ball while the midfield moves up. The wingers have to track back, however, leaving little room for flair, and the space between two lines of four can be exploited if they lack discipline. Where the system does run into trouble is in midfield where the central two can be outnumbered by an attacking midfield of three and smart managers will adapt individual roles accordingly. 

Once you’ve got this working, it’s time to get weird.

4-3-2-1

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The Christmas tree setup made famous, in England at least, by Terry Venables and his Euro 96 side, is currently in vogue in the world of FUT.

It gives you the triangles to bypass 4-4-2, and while it’s narrow and packs the midfield, the attacking wing backs should give you the necessary width. You’ll also need attacking midfielders with shooting boots. Again, play to your strengths and don’t try to fit players to the strategy.

In the midfield three, set an anchor and two box-to-box midfielders. Make sure to keep your two attacking midfielders central, swapping their feet. This allows them to receive the ball, turn inside and shoot.

4-2-3-1

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Closely related is the 4-2-3-1, so beloved of real-world football right now, with the Premier League playing catch-up with Spain and Germany. It uses the same difficult-to-beat triangles, but gives you two defensive midfielders. These would need to be physical workhorse types, and you’ll need a talented CAM who can get into the box. The two wide players need to track back—a source of friction between Mourinho and Ronaldo at Real Madrid. Also, the whole thing is knackering and the reason that Leeds under Bielsa tend to tail off at the end of the season.

4-2-2-2

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The Magic Rectangle… who calls it that, really? Brazilians probably, it being the Little Canary’s formation of choice. It was used by Pelligrini at Villarreal and at Man City in 2014, winning the Premier League, or rather allowing City to slide past Liverpool as they imploded.

It works well in FIFA with lots of lines between the strikers and the two rows of midfield. Possession is the key in offence. Just keep that ball until the opposition loses concentration and then you can hit them with everything.

The weakness is the lack of a playmaker, which you trade for attacking width. This leaves a gap between defence and the forwards in the centre of the park.

Again, put left-footed CAMs on the right and vice versa, and select 'Get into the Box'.

4-1-2-1-2 and 4-3-1-2

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The midfield diamond, which in theory contracts in defence and expands in attack like an accordion, was very popular in 2015 with Juve and Liverpool using it to great effect. It swaps natural width for darting runs out wide.

It requires a talented anchor CDM who needs to stay central and a CAM with good passing stats who stays forward. Hit that Forward Runs setting for offence and unleash those five attack-minded players. 

However, do you have the athletes to take those outside midfield roles? Brendan Rogers’ Liverpool declined as he lost the playing staff to make the system work effectively. Is FIFA 22’s AI sophisticated enough to make a system so reliant on individual initiative work? The jury's out, but mostly, yes.

3-4-1-2 and 3-1-4-2

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Used by Capello at Roma, and more excitingly by Scolari with Brazil in 2002, when Ronaldo played behind Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, and used wingbacks as wingers. It requires a rock-steady back three and it’s vulnerable to a back four with good wingbacks.

It’s seen as a slightly safer 3-5-2, which is perennially popular to break down parked buses, but can be defensively suspect. The narrow three can count on 5-to-7 players when defending and the front two can be part of a 5-to-7 enfilade in attack. Set that CAM to 'Get in the Box', and enjoy the show.

3-1-4-2 is the more offensive version. Presumably Brazil broke out a bazooka at that point.

4-3-3

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Why not go all early-Mourinho and break out the 4-3-3? Two strikers tying up the opposition wingbacks, two box-to-box midfielders, and an anchor dominating midfield and a license for wingbacks to push forward knowing they’re covered by possession in the middle. It’s tough to counter, and you can park the bus completely by converting into a 4-1-4-1 and soak up pressure.

A word of warning though. In his first spell at Chelsea, Mourinho had Lampard sticking in over 20 a season from midfield, Robben on the wing and Drogba being Drogba. It requires thinkers and players with vision. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

Select 'Press' in possession 'Loss' in defence, like Klopp at Liverpool, and 'Possession' in attack. The central midfielders need to be aggressive and get the wing-backs making attacking runs.

4-5-1

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If you want to negate that 4-3-3 and you're not too bothered by accusations of lacking ambition, then 4-5-1’s defensive solidity and crowded midfield is for you. In theory those wingers can push up, but let’s not kid ourselves. Your striker might spend the game a very lonely figure and it’s useless if you’re chasing the game. This is how you win knockout competitions in the real-world though.

You’ll want a 'Fast Build Up' in offence and 'Drop Back' in defence to get the best of the formation. Have the wingers 'Cut Inside' too, as crosses won’t find that one guy up front. 

3-5-2

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So, the opposition is lining up as a 4-5-1? Bring out the 3-5-2. This rather Italian formation requires super-fit wingbacks to use properly, and centre-backs are covered as part of a three by a deep lying midfield. Two strikers can make their own chances as part of a counter, especially if the ball arrives to feet nice and early.

Those centre backs need a talented passer of the ball and someone with good positional sense. In the real-world that’s often a midfielder, but FIFA doesn’t like you sticking anyone in there without its say-so. Select 'Aggressive Interceptions' in midfield to make the most of the dominance and don’t be afraid to keep possession if the opposition is being defensive. Wait them out.

FIFA 22 FUT formation tips

Rules are meant to be broken, of course, but I recommend the following to start:

  • Work with what you have. Cut your cloth accordingly, or secure what you need before experimenting in multiplayer. There’s always Concept Squads if you want to dream bigger.
  • Set all strikers to 'Get in Behind'. it’s the most effective.
  • Swap your wingers: Place left footers on the right, and vice versa. This will let them cut inside rather than rely on crossing, which is still a curate’s egg in FIFA 22.
  • Don’t be afraid of the Balance setting. It might look dull, but it’s often the best option. If it needs tweaking you can do that as you go along.
  • Don’t forget chemistry: There’ll be a sweet spot between keeping those green lines and having the best player in a specific role. Only practice will tell you precisely where that is.