First Touch Games is known for its multiple soccer-based franchises for iOS and Android gamers — the Score! franchise is designed for the more casual gamer who prefers to complete extremely tricky soccer-based challenges, while the Dream League Soccer franchise is for those who favor traditional 11 vs. 11 matches with most of the bells and whistles you’d usually get from a soccer management game — thousands of real-life players and accurate player ratings and attributes.
Dream League Soccer 2021 is First Touch’s latest entry in the series, and in case you haven’t played any DLS game yet, the basic premise remains the same — you start out with a randomly selected team of low-level players, then progress through the divisions while strengthening your team. But as important as it is to have talented players on your squad, it’s also essential that you choose the right formation.
Compared to your average soccer management game, the strategic aspect of Dream League Soccer 2021 is not that well-emphasized. That means you won’t have too many choices of formations, nor will you have the option to fine-tune them to customize your passing, shooting, or pressing strategies. Then there’s the game’s mechanics to consider — unlike other titles, you don’t get a full set of formations from the very start.
But there are some formations that stand out above the rest, and in this Dream League Soccer 2021 strategy guide, we shall take a look at the best formations available in the game, as well as the mentality you should choose in order for the formation to work to its fullest potential.
An Overview Of Formations / Tactics In Dream League Soccer 2021
As Dream League Soccer has always emphasized controlling players and running precise plays on the field as opposed to coaching strategy. Substitutions are automatic by default, and choosing formations (or tactics, as they’re considered one and same in the DLS universe) is likewise very simple.
Unlike in other games, there’s no option to choose the intensity of your players’ tackling, the type of passing to focus on (long, short, or mixed), or any other on-field setting; all you need to do is to choose whether you wish to employ a moderate, attacking, or defensive mentality, then pick one out of 12 formations, which, to be fair, you can change during a match if you see fit.
It’s very simplistic compared to what you may get in Football Manager, Top Eleven, or other soccer management titles, but once again, it’s all because of the game’s focus on on-field player control above anything else. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing — in fact, it’s what sets DLS apart from the competition — but that also explains in part why this guide may be shorter than your average list of best formations.
Given that there are three mentalities and 12 formations, that leaves you with 36 choices, but there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to this guide. First is the fact that you will only start the game with two formations unlocked — you’ll need to upgrade your Training Center with gems in order to unlock more formations, and each Training Center upgrade costs progressively more gems.
That means you’ll need to play several seasons and spend a whole lot of gems in order to have access to all 12 formations in the game. Secondly, as there are, at the end of the day, only a dozen formations, we decided to choose seven of them — three moderate formations, two attacking, and two defensive. Lastly, the game seems to leave managers with a fair amount of leeway to have players play out of position, just as long as they’re not too far out of position.
Suggested players: GK, LB, CB, CB, RB, LM, CM, CM, RM, CF, CF
The default formation, and arguably the stock formation used in most football games. If you’re new to Dream League Soccer, this is a good setup to stick with in the early goings, even after you’ve upgraded your Training Center for the first time to unlock new formations. Nothing fancy is needed here — just four defenders and four midfielders with one of each on the left and right sides, and two center forwards.
While this is far from the most intriguing formation to go with, it does, at least, give you the best chance of playing everyone at their correct position and not forcing the issue by having your right midfielder, for instance, play as a center midfielder. This should, at the very least, offer a good balance of offense and defense, and is also the best Dream League Soccer 2021 formation to use if you’ve got a similarly balanced lineup.
Suggested players: GK, CB, CB, CB, DM, DM, LM, CM, RM, CF, CF
Due to the setup of formations in Dream League Soccer 2021, you can divert from the suggested positions listed above and play two center midfielders and three attacking midfielders, or one DM and CM right ahead of the defenders, then an LM, CM, and RM behind the forwards, just as we did in the screenshot.
These are just among the many options you have, depending on your available personnel — as you can see, some players may be slightly out of position, but just as long as you aren’t playing anyone on the wrong side or playing anyone too much out of position (e.g. using a defender as a midfielder or a midfielder as a forward), you shouldn’t notice any issues during matches.
As one of our two suggested moderate formations, this one is best to use if you’ve got a particularly strong and deep midfield, as well as a stout defense. The latter is important due to the simple fact that you’ve only got three defenders — these defenders will ideally need to have good Tackling and/or physical skills to prevent opposing players from getting too close to your goal.
Some players prefer to use the 3-5-2 as an attacking formation — this could also work to your advantage, especially if you’ve got some skilled scorers and passers in your midfield.
Suggested players: GK, LB, CB, CB, RB, DM, LM, RM, AM, CF, CF
The 4-1-2-1-2 is one of the more interesting and versatile formations available in Dream League Soccer 2021. It can also serve as an attacking or moderate formation depending on your configuration; if you want to go attacking and have the players for it, you can swap your LM and RM for a pair of wing forwards, or exchange the DM for a CM. For a more defensive-oriented setup, you can go with four defenders, a defensive midfielder, three midfielders (with the attacking midfielder replaced by a CM), and two forwards.
With those suggested players, you can use the 4-1-2-1-2 formation any way you wish, and get good results on both sides of the field. If you choose to use a center midfielder in place of a defensive midfielder, they should have good defensive skills to support your back line, and they should conversely be good scorers and passers when replacing the attacking midfielder.
As such, this is a formation you can use if you have an all-around CM who could help out on defense, scoring, and passing. (Paul Pogba would come to mind, among the players you can choose as your team captain at the start of the game.) Having two forwards up front clearly allows for additional scoring opportunities regardless whether you’re using a Moderate, Attacking, or Defensive mentality.
Suggested players: GK, LB, CB, CB, RB, CM, CM, CM, CF, CF, CF
Due to how rare wide forwards (WF) are in Dream League Soccer 2021, we didn’t list them among the suggested players/positions, but if you’re lucky to have a couple of them on your team, you can get better results by starting one CF and two WFs up front. You can also go Moderate for this formation, and that only underscores how versatile it is, despite how basic it may look.
When opting for the 4-3-3 formation, it’s best if you have some talent at the flanks on defense, and more important that you’re well-stacked up front. Having three skilled forwards ensures that you can score from any side of the field, but in order to facilitate that, most, if not all of your midfielders need to have good Passing numbers. Your center midfielders should ideally be all-rounders who could pass, win the ball on defense, and score if needed.
And going back to your forwards, it really does help if you’re able to add some natural WFs to your starting lineup, especially those with good Speed and Acceleration to help them create scoring opportunities, either for themselves or for your CF.
Suggested players: GK, LB, CB, CB, RB, DM, CM, CM, CF, CF, CF
This is yet another formation where we’re suggesting center forwards only because of how common they are; this should work better if you have fast and athletic wide forwards, but if you aren’t able to add a WF through the transfer market (or don’t have any WFs to begin with), you should be fine with a trio of talented CFs with good Shooting, Speed, and Acceleration.
While you can substitute two of your CMs (the ones that are slightly on the right and left sides) in a 4-3-3 with an RM and LM respectively, this formation is best if you’re completely bereft of talent at both of the latter positions but have a defensive midfielder who could pick up the slack and provide support to your defensive line.
Just the same, your CMs also should be skilled in passing, with at least one of them versatile enough to offer support as a secondary scoring option and passer. Due to the presence of a DM, it’s not mandatory that your CMs have good Tackling and Strength, so you can actually have them focus more on the offensive side of things, thus adding to your scoring potential if you have the right players on the field.
Suggested players: GK, LB, CB, CB, RB, DM, LM, CM, CM, RM, CF
When talking about the best defensive formations to use in Dream League Soccer 2021, the 4-1-4-1 is usually suggested as a solid choice for those who want to keep the opponent’s score down. That’s because it still allows you to get some offense going, thanks to the presence of four midfielders helping get the ball to your lone forward, or helping out as well with the goal-scoring.
Obviously, you’ll need to have a strong defensive unit, with a premium on Tackling and Strength for most, if not all the four defenders in your starting lineup, plus your defensive midfielder. At least one of your center midfielders should also have decent Tackling/Strength stats and be more of an all-rounder who could help out on both defense and offense alike.
We would also recommend this formation if you’re particularly weak up front and only have a few forwards with good ratings in relation to the rest of the team. However, having a good midfield with a 4-1-4-1 gives you the ability to negate this weakness. Not only would you have a stout defense with such a setup; this could also potentially help you maintain possession for most of the match.
Suggested players: GK, LB, CB, CB, CB, RB, CM, CM, AM, CF, CF
As you may have noticed above, the defensive formations we favor include those that allow you a good chance to score some goals despite the focus on the other side of the coin. This one should also give you some scoring opportunities due to the presence of an additional center forward, but this is the only formation in this list (and one of only two in the game) that has five defenders.
You could also swap one or two center midfielders for a defensive midfielder, though your DMs will need to be good passers in order to get the ball up front and give your offense some additional punch.
As this is a formation that only has three midfielders, all of whom are positioned at the center, your left and right defenders will also need to have decent Passing, so that they could move the ball forward and lead the counter-attack when the occasion calls for it.
The three center defenders should ideally be your strongest players in terms of Strength and Tackling, while both forwards should naturally have the requisite Shooting if you want to get some solid offense out of a formation that’s designed, above anything else, to prevent the opponent from scoring.