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Top Eleven 2021 Best Formations and Tactics Guide: Everything You Need to Know

For close to eleven years, Nordeus has been releasing new versions of its Top Eleven football management game, and the latest version, Top Eleven 2021, has been around for some time for both iOS and Android devices. Much like previous versions of the game, this new title promises the ultimate management experience for gamers, with live PvP matches, various league trophies and other accomplishments, and an expansive universe of fictional players and teams that arguably approximates what one can find in the real world of association football.

Aside from regularly updating your starting lineup and having everyone on your squad go through regular training sessions, it’s also important that you choose the right formations for your starting eleven. While some players may want to stick to a regular formation and only make small changes when needed, it’s actually recommended to have more than just one standby formation ready for different types and skill levels of opponents.

top eleven 2021 best formations and tactics

We have already covered this game in the past, as we shared with you loads of tips and tricks as part of our Top Eleven 2021 beginner’s guide. Now, we are back with more goodies, as this Top Eleven 2021 guide will take a look at 12 of the more recommended formations in the game, along with the accompanying tactical settings. Your mileage may vary when it comes to your preferred formations and tactics, but this guide should, at the very least, give you several options to choose from ahead of your next match.

Definition Of Tactics

Team Mentality – The overall feel of your team’s strategy — in most situations, you can choose Normal, Defensive, or Attacking, though there may be certain instances where you may need to employ Hard Defending or Hard Attacking. Usually, Hard Defending is used when you’re trying to protect a slim lead, while Hard Attacking works best when you’re trying to mount a desperation rally.

Focus Passing This mainly refers to the part of the field where you want most of your plays to take place — you can choose from Mixed, Down Both Flanks, Right Flank, Left Flank, or Through the Middle.

Passing Style – The length of most of the passes you’re going to attempt during a match. Short passing is good for maintaining possession, while long passing is riskier but could allow for more opportunities to score.

Force Counter Attacks Turn this on if you want to employ a counter-attacking approach during a match, leave it off if you want to keep things straightforward.

Pressing Style You can choose from High Pressing or Low Pressing in this defensive tactic — the former allows for more aggressive defense but could be more tiring, while the latter is more conservative, but won’t get your players that winded.

Tackling Style This is self-explanatory for the most part — Easy tackling is safe, yet might result in a porous defense, while Hard tackling may result in more stops…as well as more fouls and yellow/red cards.

Marking Style Man to Man and Zonal are the only two choices here. Opting for the former is better for your defense but may leave your players fatigued, while choosing the latter isn’t as tiring but might leave specific players unmarked.

Play Offside Trap Turn this on if you want your players to try luring your opponents into offside violations.

Top Eleven 2021 Best Formations Overview

You probably know this if you’ve been playing any Top Eleven game for a while, but in case you haven’t, the main thing to remember when it comes to formations in the Top Eleven series is that the game does not come with any stock formations or tactics. This isn’t one of those games where you can unlock new formations/tactics as you level up, either. As any Top Eleven veteran will tell you, the game’s main intent is to give you full control of your team and to give you full accountability as well, and that includes making you manually set your own formations.

The good thing about this is that it’s easy to drag and drop players from one part of the field to another, or from your bench to the field or vice versa, but if you need to make adjustments to better match up against your next opponent, or if you need to replace an injured player, the lack of an auto-select feature or stock formations could lead to some inconvenience. But as we  mentioned, the folks at Nordeus wouldn’t have it any other way — all changes to your starting eleven and your formation for the next fixture need to be done manually.

top eleven 2021 tactics

Another thing to remember when it comes to formations in Top Eleven is the fact that you can save your formations. Just tap on the folder icon on the bottom left of the Squad screen, tap on Save, and you’re set — you can save up to four different formations and load them at any time, which should make things a bit more convenient for you. That will also save the Tactics you had chosen for that formation — Tactics in Top Eleven would pertain to your team’s various tendencies on offense and defense, such as your passing focus, whether your team should counter-attack or not, your pressing style, and other elements.

This also covers your Team Mentality, which refers to how focused your team is on an offensive/attacking or a defensive style of play. That said, formations would refer to the placement of each player on the field, while tactics, as mentioned, refer to strategies and tendencies.

Last, but not the least for this overview, we should warn you that none of these formations will give you the results you may be expecting if you do not pay close attention to your team’s Training and make sure that everyone on the field has good morale — an unprepared, demoralized team will let their frustration show on the field, and as you find yourself struggling against an otherwise beatable opponent, the ripple effect will continue. Having a good formation with the right tactics helps, but if your squad isn’t properly prepared, it will all go to naught.

So with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the best formations you can opt for in Top Eleven 2021.

4-2-2-2 Attacking

top eleven 2021 4-2-2-2 attacking formation

Positions: GK, DL, DC, DC, DR, MC, MC, AML, AMR, ST, ST

Team Mentality: Attacking

Focus Passing: Mixed

Force Counter-Attack: No

Passing Style: Long

Pressing Style: High

Tackling Style: Easy

Marking Style: Zonal

Offside Trap: No

Key Players: MC (Playmaker), AML or AMR (Dribbler, Shadow Striker), ST (One-on-One Scorer)

There’s nothing too fancy with this attacking formation — it’s your average formation with four defenders, two center midfielders, two attacking midfielders at the flanks, and two strikers, and nothing unusual either in terms of your tactics.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance attacking strategy that should be safe enough for most situations while generating a fair bit of offense while you’re at it, this is a good place to start. We listed Easy tackling above, though you can also switch this to Normal (or even Hard if you’re playing catch-up late in a match) if you don’t want to play it too safe on the defensive side of things.

4-3-3 Attacking

top eleven 2021 4-3-3 attacking formation

Positions: GK, DL, DC, DC, DR, MC, MC, MC, ST, ST, ST

Team Mentality: Attacking

Focus Passing: Through the Middle

Force Counter-Attack: No

Passing Style: Long

Pressing Style: High

Tackling Style: Normal

Marking Style: Man to Man

Offside Trap: No

Key Players: MC (Playmaker, Dribbler), ST (One-on-One Scorer)

This may be an even simpler formation than the last one, but it also may be riskier due to the fact that you’ve got three strikers up front — we should also warn you that it might be a bit tricky to set this up on the Squad screen, as you’ll want to be careful your Strikers are not listed as AML or AMR.

But this is also a high-reward formation if you can leverage your three-striker setup and you’ve got at least one capable one-on-one scorer among your strikers. You will, however, need a good passer in your midfield in order to truly maximize this formation’s offensive potential.

3-1-2-3-1 Attacking

top eleven 2021 3-1-2-3-1 attacking formation

Positions: GK, DL, DC, DR, DMC, ML, MR, AML, AMC, AMR, ST

Team Mentality: Attacking

Focus Passing: Mixed (Can change to Through the Middle or Down the Flanks depending on whether your opponent is weak in the middle or in the flanks, respectively)

Force Counter-Attack: No

Passing Style: Mixed

Pressing Style: High

Tackling Style: Normal

Marking Style: Man to Man

Offside Trap: No

Key Players: AMC, AML, AMR (Playmaker, Dribbler, Shadow Striker), ST (One-on-One Scorer)

This can be considered a hybrid formation, as it only features one striker but relies on an Attacking team mentality. Still, it’s possible to score a ton of goals with this formation and defeat most, if not all of your opponents if you have an especially skilled striker, as well as talented attacking midfielders who could get the ball to your striker or help out in the scoring if the opportunities are there. You may also need to have a good defensive midfielder who can provide support to your defenders, as well as the two regular midfielders on the flanks.

4-1-2-1-2 Attacking / Narrow Diamond

top eleven 2021 4-1-2-1-2 attacking formation

Positions: GK, DL, DC, DC, DR, DMC, MC, MC, AMC, ST, ST

Team Mentality: Attacking

Focus Passing: Through the Middle

Force Counter-Attack: No

Passing Style: Short

Pressing Style: High

Tackling Style: Normal (Can also be Easy or Hard)

Marking Style: Zonal

Offside Trap: No

Key Players: ST (One-on-One Scorer), AMC (Playmaker, Shadow Striker)

This formation has been recommended as one that could defeat opponents who make use of the standard 4-4-2 formation and go for a no-frills approach — in other words, your average Top Eleven newcomer sticking to the tried-and-tested approach.

In order to make the most out of this take on the 4-1-2-1-2 formation, your attacking midfielders need to be equally skilled as playmakers and shadow strikers, and your two strikers, of course, need to be proven scorers who can score in a number of ways against opposing defenses.

Also of note here is the fact that Passing Style is set as Short — this is a possession-based strategy that is usually employed for defensive formations, as opposed to those that are supposed to get the ball in the goal before anything else.

3-5-2 Hard Attacking

top eleven 2021 3-5-2 hard attacking formation

Positions: GK, DC, DC, DC, ML, MC, MC, MR, AMC, ST, ST

Team Mentality: Hard Attacking

Focus Passing: Through the Middle

Force Counter-Attack: No

Passing Style: Mixed

Pressing Style: High

Tackling Style: Normal (Can also be Easy or Hard)

Marking Style: Man to Man

Offside Trap: Yes

Key Players; ST, DL, DR, DC

Hard Attacking formations are best used when you’re trying to catch up against an especially tough opponent, or an opponent that’s employing a heavy defensive-oriented strategy. As you’re going for goal first and asking questions later,  there are a lot of risks involved here, and the best way to mitigate these risks is by having a solid backfield — you need some skilled defenders to make sure you don’t allow too many goals despite being laser-focused on offense.

And naturally, it’s not a Hard Attacking formation unless you’ve actually got some skilled strikers up front — here, you’ll need at least one of your strikers to be a proven scorer.

4-1-2-1-2 Normal / Tiki Taka

top eleven 2021 4-1-2-1-2 tiki taka formation

Positions: GK, DL, DC, DC, DR, DMC, MC, MC, AMC, ST, ST

Team Mentality: Normal

Focus Passing: Mixed

Force Counter-Attack: No

Passing Style: Short

Pressing Style: High

Tackling Style: Normal (Can also be Easy or Hard)

Marking Style: Zonal

Offside Trap: No

Key Players: DMC, MC, AMC (Playmaker, Dribbler)

The Tiki-Taka strategy is all about ball movement and maintaining possession — that means a whole lot of short passing, which is why it’s imperative that you set Passing Style to Short and make sure you have no shortage of good passers in your midfield.

And that means defensive and attacking midfielders as well — you’ll need them to ensure crisp ball movement from the first to the last minute of every fixture. Scoring isn’t as important here as it is in other formations, but you will, at least, need to have some decent scorers among your strikers and attacking midfielders.

4-2-3-1 Normal

top eleven 2021 4-2-3-1 normal

Positions: GK, DL, DC, DC, DR, MC, MC, AML, AMC, AMR, ST

Team Mentality: Normal

Focus Passing: Mixed

Force Counter-Attack: Yes

Passing Style: Mixed

Pressing Style: Low

Tackling Style: Hard

Marking Style: Zonal

Offside Trap: Yes

Key Players:

This formation is arguably proof that “normal” or balanced formations don’t have to be run-of-the-mill and boring all of the time. Unlike most of the other formations here, Offside Trap is turned on, while Hard tackling ensures an aggressive defensive approach.

It’s also worth noting that this is a strategy that involves a lot of counter-attacking, further underscoring how defensive-oriented tactics can oftentimes make for the best offense. But with Team Mentality set to Normal, you should still be able to score a lot of goals if you have some talented goal scorers in your starting eleven.

4-4-2 Normal

top eleven 2021 4-4-2 normal formation

Positions: GK, DL, DC, DC, DR, ML, MC, MC, MR, ST, ST

Team Mentality: Normal

Focus Passing: Mixed

Force Counter-Attack: Yes

Passing Style: Mixed

Pressing Style: High

Tackling Style: Normal

Marking Style: Man to Man

Offside Trap: No

Key Players: GK (One on One Stopper), MC (Playmaker), ML and MR (Dribbler)

This is the “classic” 4-4-2 formation — nothing unusual about where the players are positioned on the field, and no attacking midfielders or defensive midfielders to shake things up. You’ve got four defenders, four midfielders, and two strikers, with the flanks and the middle both well represented, and this should be a nice, balanced formation, especially for first-time players.

There are, however, some twists that you may have noticed in the Tactics for this formation — first, counterattacking is turned on, which should help your cause when trying to create offense from your defense, and Pressing Style is set to High, which gives you a more aggressive defense than usual.

3-2-2-2-1 Normal

top eleven 2021 3-2-2-2-1 normal formation

Positions: GK, DC, DC, DC, DML, DMR, MC, MC, AML, AMR, ST

Team Mentality: Normal

Focus Passing: Down Both Flanks

Force Counter-Attack: Yes

Passing Style: Mixed

Pressing Style: High

Tackling Style: Easy

Marking Style: Man to Man

Offside Trap: No

Key Players: MC (Playmaker), AML and AMR (Shadow Striker)

If you’re looking for a formation that makes use of a Normal mentality but shakes things up quite a bit in terms of the structure and shape, this should be worth your while. As you’ve got defensive and attacking midfielders on the left and right side, shifting your passing focus to Down Both Flanks makes sense, though at the end of the day, you’ll need some good passers among your central midfielders to make this work. We set Tackling Style to Easy, though we believe you can also get good results if you change that setting to Normal, or even Hard.

4-1-2-2-1 Defensive / 4-5-1 V Style

top eleven 2021 4-1-2-2-1 defensive formation

Positions: GK, DL, DC, DC, DR, DMC, MC, MC, AML, AMR, ST

Team Mentality: Defensive

Focus Passing: Down Both Flanks

Force Counter-Attack: Yes

Passing Style: Mixed

Pressing Style: Low

Tackling Style: Normal

Marking Style: Man to Man

Offside Trap: No

Key Players: DMC (Playmaker), AML and AMR (Shadow Striker, Dribbler)

We’re now down to the defensive-oriented formations, and one of the more common defensive formations out there is the 4-5-1 — this one, however, can also be considered a 4-1-2-2-1 due to the presence of one defensive midfielder and two attacking midfielders.

Given how the DMC should ideally be a solid playmaker and the AML and AMR need to have some decent offensive skills as well, this formation should pack a bit more punch than the average 4-5-1 (provided you’ve also got an above-average striker) while still allowing relatively few goals per match.

3-2-3-2 Defensive

top eleven 2021 3-2-3-2 defensive formation

Positions: GK, DC, DC, DC, DML, DMR, MC, MC, MC, ST, ST

Team Mentality: Defensive

Focus Passing: Through the Middle

Force Counter-Attack: Yes

Passing Style: Short

Pressing Style: Low

Tackling Style: Normal

Marking Style: Zonal

Offside Trap: No

Key Players: DC (Aerial Defender), MC (Playmaker, Dribbler), ST (One on One Scorer)

Like the aforementioned 4-5-1 V-Style, this is another defensive formation that may also allow you to score more goals than expected, especially since you’ve now got two strikers up front instead of just one. As such, one or two of these strikers need to be solid as one-on-one scorers, while both central midfielders need to be good passers into order to get the ball up front, and through the middle.

But since most of the offense here is generated through the counter-attack, it’s important that at least one of your central defenders is skilled in heading the ball away from danger after dispossessing the opponent.

4-4-2 Defensive / Bus Park

Positions: GK, DL, DC, DC, DR, ML, MC, MC, MR, AMC, AMC

Team Mentality: Defense

Focus Passing: Mixed

Force Counter-Attack: Yes

Passing Style: Mixed

Pressing Style: Low

Tackling Style: Normal (Can also be Easy or Hard)

Marking Style: Zonal

Offside Trap: Yes

Key Players:

For this formation, you can also use Hard Defending as your Team Mentality, because its goal is to absolutely shut down your opponent while slowing things down on the offensive end — this makes it an ideal formation for the dying minutes of a close game against an especially strong opponent, where you’re trying to preserve a slim lead.

As such, there are no actual strikers in the formation, while the defenders are positioned closer to the goal than usual. We set Passing Style to Mixed, though this can also be changed to Short in order to stay true to the fundamentals of your average time-wasting, lead-preserving tactics.

And this is where we conclude our Top Eleven 2021 best formations and tactics guide. Do you agree with our recommended formations? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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