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Making a functional 4231 formation


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Hey guys, I have been trying to figure out an effective way to get a 4231 formation to work in PES 2021. I basically wanted to do something inspired by Arteta's Arsenal, ten Haags Ajax and Flick's Bayern, with a fluid front 4 and aggressive pressing approach.

They key position I am having problems with is the 10 and by extension the wingers. There are two positions the player could be deployed in are as an attacking midfielder or a second striker. I've found this means choosing between 4213 and 4222 formations, meaning either playing the wide players as LM/RM or LW/RW. Each has its own pitfalls unfortunately when it comes to replicating the styles of the managers I mentioned. The 4213 is great in attack, wingers making darting runs, AM joining the front line and deep midfielders supporting as needed. The issue is that in defence the 10 drops BEHIND the 2 DMs frequently, at best falling in line with them. I really want the 10 either harrying the opposition CBs during their build up or defending as a line of 3 behind the ST, not as a 3 man line with my DMs and certainly not behind them. This probably has something to do with the way Konami code DEF, MID and FW positions but I find the heavy delineation into these brackets irritating. One solution to this is to put counter target on the AM, but this often leads to the striker dropping back and may mean I have a somewhat slow or lightweight, if skillfull, player trying to hold the ball up on counters, so not ideal.

The other approach is the modified 4222, pulling the SS deep almost into line with advanced LM/RMs. This is almost perfect in defence, with the SS joining the CF in pressing the backline, though the player tends to stay higher than I would like when dropping into a mid block. My major problem with this shape, however, is the lack of penetration offered by the LM and RM. Being midfielders rather than forwards seems to mean that they tend to sit off a lot more, rarely running in behind even when prolific wingers are used, and this leads to my attack feeling stodgy and without cutting edge. The SS can, at times, also play a bit too high and thus effectively mark himself out of the game, though I think this strongly depends on playing style and stats of the player used.

Broadly I have found the actual 4231 has the downsides of both of the other shapes without the upsides so I haven't really used it much recently, though perhaps recent datapacks have changed how it feels. I really struggled to get anything out of it. 

I generally try to use either false winger or attacking FBs in conjunction with wing rotation for attacking tactics as I think this most closely matches the fluidity of movement and commitment to attacking football shown by Ajax, Bayern and (of late) Arsenal. I am entirely open to suggestion on these though if you can think of something better.

Has anyone else faced this issue and come up with useful solutions? Is there a way to better retain the 4231 shape in the 4213 when in defence or can I do something to get more out of my LM/RM in attack? Thanks very much for your suggestions!

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Wow your a serious player mate, I just set up any old way and play PES 

might explain why I’m not very good at it :lol:

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15 minutes ago, Bullstein said:

Wow your a serious player mate, I just set up any old way and play PES 

might explain why I’m not very good at it :lol:

Haha I'm just a massive tactics nerd, genuinely doesn't make me any better at the game whatsoever, might make me worse even! I really like the tactical depth of PES but this little thing has been annoying me for a while and thought some people on here might have come across a solution.

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I tend to play 4-2-2-2 and found that hole players are pretty useful at LMF and RMF for making the forward runs

Not a clue about tactics though and the impact of using fluid formation.
Like a few others I just tend to play relatively standard/default formations and don’t really bother with any additional or advanced tactics 

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1 minute ago, BlondeDan said:

I tend to play 4-2-2-2 and found that hole players are pretty useful at LMF and RMF for making the forward runs

Not a clue about tactics though and the impact of using fluid formation.
Like a few others I just tend to play relatively standard/default formations and don’t really bother with any additional or advanced tactics 

I will give it a try with Hole players on the wide players and see how that does, thinking back I have probably occasionally run Hole players in these roles in my Arsenal save and I think it probably goes some way to helping, will give it another go with more deliberation, thanks!

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Cheers mate!

 

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The old age AMF dropping back to defend super deep.

s**t programming from Konami.

The only solution I have found is as you say, put counter target on the AMF.

You could have a go messing around with fluid formations. Maybe even go against what should be logical and have the player as an SS in attack, AMF in defence.

 

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I play 4231 with 3 AMF.

2 hole players at either side with counter target on. Anchoring on CF

They push on semi wide when win ball back

Do still have the issue of central AMF dropping deeper than I'd like but isn't too bad when attack level is up 1 bar

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40 minutes ago, MB 11 said:

The old age AMF dropping back to defend super deep.

s**t programming from Konami.

The only solution I have found is as you say, put counter target on the AMF.

You could have a go messing around with fluid formations. Maybe even go against what should be logical and have the player as an SS in attack, AMF in defence.

 

I mean SS in defence/without the ball, AMF in attack

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On any AMF formation I find making the AMF mark their DMF or CB much better than putting them on counter target, since CT basically turns a player into an inanimate object up the field lol

Marking also helps if the opponent builds up from the back or if they carry the ball forward with their CB/DMF 

 

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Things will also be comparative to your Def/att setting 

If your keeping it neutral they going to naturally drop back even with FLP enabled but stick it up a bar and your team naturally presses higher up the pitch 

I don't agree with some of the comments on the coding as with the modern game attack minded players in recent years have been actively encouraged to focus on the defensive part of the game as well as the attacking side 

 

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34 minutes ago, Sami3lungz said:

Things will also be comparative to your Def/att setting 

If your keeping it neutral they going to naturally drop back even with FLP enabled but stick it up a bar and your team naturally presses higher up the pitch 

I don't agree with some of the comments on the coding as with the modern game attack minded players in recent years have been actively encouraged to focus on the defensive part of the game as well as the attacking side 

 

I usually play with +1 on mentality and still find the AM dropping too deep for my liking. I sort of disagree with your comment on the issue with coding here, you're absolutely right that attacking players need to do more defensive work in the modern game but this work is usually carried out high up the pitch with front-footed pressing, rather than them simply running backwards to drop deep. It is true that teams generally defend in an organised block, meaning attacker have to drop off once the first line of pressure is bypassed, but they still retain a 442-ish shape in defence, or perhaps a 4231, rather than a 4231 effectively defending as a flat 3 in midfield and 3 forwards staying high. 

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2 hours ago, Kaupp said:

On any AMF formation I find making the AMF mark their DMF or CB much better than putting them on counter target, since CT basically turns a player into an inanimate object up the field lol

Marking also helps if the opponent builds up from the back or if they carry the ball forward with their CB/DMF 

 

Thanks for this comment, I have actually tried this too but not as much as I had a couple of games where the marking settings seemed to kill my 10 when I recovered the ball, he always found himself marked by the player he had just been marking meaning he was negated on counters but I will definitely try this again and see if I have more success. 

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3 hours ago, MB 11 said:

I mean SS in defence/without the ball, AMF in attack

Yeah this is a good option I think, will experiment with it. Thanks for your response!

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44 minutes ago, Sami3lungz said:

I don't agree with some of the comments on the coding as with the modern game attack minded players in recent years have been actively encouraged to focus on the defensive part of the game as well as the attacking side 

 

the problem is (for years now) that the AMF will drop down deeper than the DMF/CMFs

that is very wrong

this just happens all game ... by halftime your AMF is out of breath

i solved this by playing Bonaventura as AMF (a CMF with high stamina)

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Closest I managed to get the AMF to defend more forward is putting him to man mark the CB. He actually won't man mark him but instead will play more in front of the 2 CMFs. In attack having a hole player AMF or creative playmaker SS kinda works.

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Just now, d-a_BAT said:

Closest I managed to get the AMF to defend more forward is putting him to man mark the CB. He actually won't man mark him but instead will play more in front of the 2 CMFs. In attack having a hole player AMF or creative playmaker SS kinda works.

Yeah I agree, these roles are the best options, hole player SS goes too high, creative playmaker AM drops too deep, this way round works pretty well. 

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5 minutes ago, Pjtreelore said:

Yeah I agree, these roles are the best options, hole player SS goes too high, creative playmaker AM drops too deep, this way round works pretty well. 

i think in the past i used a creative playmaker SS too

that mimiced that #10 role pretty well offensively ... defensively he would not really help out though

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18 hours ago, Pjtreelore said:

Has anyone else faced this issue and come up with useful solutions? Is there a way to better retain the 4231 shape in the 4213 when in defence or can I do something to get more out of my LM/RM in attack? Thanks very much for your suggestions!

I play a standard 4123 with an anchor man as DMF (also put anchoring on him) and two CMFs or one CMF and an AMF. Attacking wise you have 5 players (+2 FBs who join) and defending wise I play as really high line and a high compactness.

First thing I do when I lose the ball is long pressing the arrow to get everybody out of my half. Next thing is lots of manual right stick switching and trying to run into passing lanes and then try to press the player if no passing options are present anymore. Takes some time to master, but it's the closest thing to playing the Ajax way in this game. Also makes a difference if you play online or offline (because no way you're going to get the ball of an AI attacker :lol:)

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It sounds more or less like a 4-4-2 with an SS, but there aren't really enough options to get exactly what you're looking in both attack and defence if it strays much from default behaviours. Not intuitively anyway.

Pick one and make the best of the other is my philosophy, or make something s**te and be too lazy to change it. I don't think PES tactics go deep enough to emulate really specific play styles precisely. It's not bad, but definitely limited.

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So, in case anyone is interested, I have been playing around with all the various suggestions for a few days vs A.I and online in Matchday and in MyClub. I think the best solution for my play style is 4213 and applying specific marking instructions. I have found using the AM to mark the opposition LCB, ST the RCB and the LW/RW the full backs, or opposition LM/RM if they're using no FBs in a 352 gets the team to retain the 4231 shape the best. Hole player and, somewhat surprisingly, classic 10 have been best for the AM position, though creative playmaker also works but can drop a little too deep for my taste in possession. Advanced instructions that work best for me are false winger and centring targets. I like wing rotation too but found it often resulted in rather stale possession with little cutting edge, great for build up but centring targets actually pushed players into the box. Attacking fullbacks can also work but I found this draws my wingers inside a bit too early, spreads the CBs a little to wide and means the double pivot often drop off too deep to cover. Whilst I really like how high the FBs are, these downsides mean the slightly more cautious false winger set up has been better.

 

Tactically I have actually preferred playing on possession, short pass, flexible and centre with low (1-3) pass support. I think wide vs centre is basically a non-issue, either works, but I was a little surprised how much better I found possession than counter attack. General consensus is that CA is just better because players will make more runs, but I found it lead to the team feeling disconnected. 

Defensively I've used exclusively FLP, with centre and aggressive the best combo for me, though wide can also work fine. High-ish line, 6-8, and high-ish compactness (4-7) have been best for me but your mileage may vary.

 

Thanks everyone for your contributions, I really appreciate it! I have also been playing a bit with a Cruyff-dream team inspired 343 diamond shape which can be pretty fun so maybe I will write that one up after some more testing.

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Frillypink post mate, I'm a sucker for all the tactical settings.

On compactness, do you mean high as in spaced out with a low setting? Surprised you get much luck out of that as I just find it leaves huge gaps to exploit, always go for as compact as possible. 

And have you tried using the fluid formation settings for with ball / without ball? If you want your AM to stay higher defensively, maybe set to SS a few notches up without ball.

What I'd love to know is the difference in movement you get with a RWF versus an SS. I want a wide player that cuts inside, like Salah, but can never decide which is better suited. Predominantly use an RWF with False Winger for the time being. 

Hope Konami look to expand it for 2022. I miss being able to set define attacking / defensive intent for each player, + the attacking arrows. Allowed you more flexibility to get some asymmetry going, very rarely do you have both full-backs either attacking or defensive like in PES. I guess it's a fine balance as the more options you have the easier it is for dickheads to find an exploit. 

 

 

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