The 4-1-4-1 formation is one of the best formations in FIFA Ultimate Team 15 to dominate possession and create chances. I used 4-1-4-1 from division 10 to division 1 Online Seasons, winning the title in each season. After reaching division 1, I was trying out all the other formations but always kept going back to 4-1-4-1. In this guide, I will explain how to set up the team and how to attack and defend in 4-1-4-1. Please note that everything written in this guide is based on my opinion and my style of play.
The 4-1-4-1 formation is a recently developed variation of either the 4-3-3 or the 4-2-3-1. Spain used the formation in Euro 2008 final against Germany with great success. The presence of Marcos Senna as a lone defensive midfielder allowed the midfield of Iniesta, Xavi, Fàbregas and Silva to roam inside out and cause problems to the opposition. After the World Cup 2010, Joachim Löw also experimented with the formation himself with some success. When Bayern Munich announced that Pep Guardiola would take over the club, I was very excited to see what kind of system he would implement within the team that previously won the treble. He introduced the new 4-1-4-1 formation, utilizing Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger or sometimes Thiago Alcântara as the holding midfielder. This coincided with FIFA Ultimate Team introducing new formations including the 4-1-4-1 and I had to try it out. It was one of my favorite formations in FIFA 14 and now that we can use instructions in FIFA 15, 4-1-4-1 has become my favorite formation.
The 4-1-4-1 is one of the best, if not the best, formations to maintain possession in the opponent’s half. The dominating presence of the midfield triangle between the lone holding midfielder and the two central midfielders means there is always a midfielder available for pass. The striker will also join the central midfielders during the buildup phase while the wide players make diagonal runs behind the defensive line.
4-1-4-1 also gives the option for more players to get into dangerous attacking positions and overload the opposition’s penalty area. This means the goals will be scored not only by the striker but also the wingers and the central midfielders. In fact, my wingers score more goals than my striker in 4-1-4-1.
Finally, 4-1-4-1 is a very flexible formation. The team shape can be changed easily to 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 by using different work rates and instructions. However, in this guide, the attacking shape of 4-1-4-1 will be similar to 4-3-3 (5) False 9 formation because that’s what I find to work the best for me.
Just like any other possession heavy formations, one of the main weaknesses of the 4-1-4-1 is that it can be prone to quick counter attacks. This is due to having only one defensive midfielder and in FIFA 15, defensive midfielders often fancy themselves playing as shadow strikers. Therefore, the positioning of the lone holding midfielder is very important both in attack and defense.
The formation also requires you to build up patiently. If you rush into attacks, the lone striker will often become isolated and lose the ball under the pressure from the opponent’s center backs and defensive midfielders. When the lone striker receives the ball, the attacking midfielders should be higher up the pitch so that the striker can link up play with them.
In this section, I will explain the role of each position in the 4-1-4-1 formation and which players suit the best for those particular roles. Note that I only recommended the players that I have tried myself.
First off, choosing your goalkeeper obviously doesn’t depend on the formation. You can just pick your favorite goalkeeper that you’ve tried and tested. I prefer my goalkeepers to have GK Long Thrower trait and decent kicking because I always build up slowly from the back and my GK needs to be able to play the ball safely to one of the defenders. Other than that, all the keepers in FIFA 15 are prone to ridiculous errors, so don’t spend too much of your budget on the GK.
Again, your choice of central defenders isn’t different from other 4atb formations. Tall and Strong center backs with at least one fast defender will do the job. Usually, I pair up a fast M/H defender with another M/M or H/M defender. That way, the M/M or H/M defender push high up to put pressure on the opponent’s player on the ball or even win it back, while the M/H pacey defender tracks the run of the opponent’s striker. This year, I don’t find H/M defenders to be as much a problem as in FIFA 14. They don’t bomb forward to join the attack unless you instruct them to or use L1+X with them. Having good dribbling and passing stats is a plus for the central defenders but not necessary.