Most gamers that play FIFA 12 have realized that every team has that one formation that works best. And I believe it tends to be the same in real life. From Barcelona's 4-3-3 to Napoli's 3-4-3 FIFA 12 has a lot of different options to choose from. But which formations are the best and which one's work best at which times? Well, in most cases you have to know which team you're facing to choose a formation to counteract that particular formation. I will explain that all and much more in a minute as I break down some of the most popular formations in the game of FIFA and how you the gamer can use them to the fullest.
Setting Up the Squad
Before you even looking at the formations screen I highly suggest you take a deep look at your squad. Knowing where the strengths are within a team is extremely important and can be the deciding factor of winning or losing a game. For instance, if you have chosen a team that has 2 or 3 top class strikers then you would want to choose a formation that plays to their strengths. The same can be said about central midfielders(CM's) and center backs (CB's). But let's say you play with Manchester City or Barcelona. Both teams have a whole host of strikers. That's where being smart with who you decide to start and bench will come into play.
Knowing the Other Team
Another thing I suggest you do before a match - especially if you're in an offline mode like career mode - is to take a look at the other team. Take a look at their formation and players and make your decision based off that. For instance, if I was facing Barcelona and saw that Messi was playing at LW and I was Inter Milan I would put a fast RB (Maicon) on Messi's side so I could counter-act Messi's pace. You can also tell certain players to mark other players. For example, If I was playing with Arsenal and I was setting up my side to face Stoke City I would set my 6'6 center back (Mertesacker) to mark Stoke's 6'7 Crouch. Whereas If I wouldn't have set up that mark I could have a situation where Koscielny - who is only 6 foot - would try to challenge a 6'7 striker for a ball in the air. It's certainly something I would not want seeing as Crouch has 7 inches on my center back and would easily out-muscle and out-jump him for the ball.
So knowing which players are where and what their strengths are is an extremely important concept that you have to master if you hope to have a chance when facing the computer on a higher level difficulty setting.
Choosing the Formation
After you have taken look at your squad and the opposing squad it is now time to choose a formation. The most common one used in FIFA is a 4-4-2(or other variations like 4-1-2-1-2, or 4-2-2-2). This is most likely due to the fact that it incorporates 2 wingers and 2 strikers into the system, I highly suggest this formation to new gamers because it provides defensive cover as well as attacking prowess. The second most popular formation is the ever-present 4-3-3. If you have speedy wingers and full-backs in your side this is the formation for you. It really plays to their strengths and if you have creative Center Midfielders in the middle of the park you can just play lobbed through balls over the opposing defenses head all game. The only thing I would be aware of with this formation is that there is only one true striker and depending on who you have players can really get isolated up top. I generally like to have a pacy striker that also has good strength up top. Players like Cardoza, Llorente, Zigic, Ibrahimovic, or Crouch are often guys I stay away from because the slow down my gameplay. Stick with guys like Rooney, Sturridge, or Milito. Other than those 2 formations and their variants there's really not many other formations that work too well in FIFA 12.
Lot's of times in games I'll find that my formations don't work the way I wanted them too. Sometimes it's because I didn't scout the other players too well or maybe I started the wrong guys in the wrong places. Generally when this happens I'll finish out the half and then at the intermission look at what needs to be fixed. Also another thing I'll do is if I'm in the 70th minute and I'm down a goal or two I'll change to 3 at the back and start pushing guys forward. This can be a really positive move and has gotten me a couple of late wins. Another thing I suggest you to do is make a crazy formation. What I mean by 'crazy formation' is something that will put the most people in the box and will score you some goals. I always have a formation saved in my custom formations that's absolutely insane and I'll have maybe 2 defenders, some midfielders and the rest strikers or high wingers. But be extremely careful about this formation, it can leave you very vulnerable at the back and I've conceded many a goals because of that.
*Extra: Choosing Kick Takers and Captains*
Another thing that's good to do while your setting up your team is to mill around on the kick takers screen. There you can toggle between which players you want taking free-kicks, corners, penalty kicks, and you can even change the captain on this screen too. When selecting the corner kick takers I generally will choose someone that has great curve and has a foot preference that is opposite the corner. Therefore, I can swing in a cross that my target guys will be able to rocket into the back of the net. Also, when selecting corner kick takers, choose the relatively small guys on your roster to take them, anyone below 5'10 is a good candidate. The reason I say this is because you want the tallest guys you have in the box so they can jump over and compete with their markers. It goes back to what I said earlier about Crouch and Koscielny.