The Art of The 4-4-2 Diamond Part Three

This article will concentrate on all the bad points of this system and focus on the things that you need to be aware of. So for most parts it will be a really negative article but don’t let that put you off because in the fourth part of the series, we will focus on what the pros of the tactic are.

  • A possible lack of midfield width at times
  • Risk of the central midfielders being pulled out of position
  • Vulnerable to counter attacks
  • Requires superman type players for certain positions i.e full backs
  • Full backs can be isolated by the opposition
  • Overloads down the flanks
  • High energy expenditure

Those are some of the cons and probably the main ones that you have when using this shape. I thought I’d now show you bits of analysis highlighting some of these issues and showing you visuals, rather than just words.

Just a quick note before I start, in these games it’s still the same roles as I posted in the very first article. I didn’t change the roles until this was written. So I still use a Trequartista rather than Enganche or Advanced Playmaker. This was written during the first three games I played and as you know if you’ve followed my articles in the past, I don’t change anything in those three games even if I know something will work better.

Lack of Width

Width is probably the first thing people notice about this tactic and the space it gives up down the wings. This is always an issue but doesn’t mean you still can’t be successful, but we’ll get into that in the next one. However here are some images to highlight the issue further.


This is taken from a side using the same shape that I do. But you can see the space we give up and if this was against opposition using wide players at either midfield or attacking midfield slots then you can see just how problematic that might be.

Central Players Pulled Apart or Pulled Deep

Another risk is seeing the central players get pulled wide to cover all the vacated space down the wings. When this happens you then become vulnerable through the middle. So the roles you select here are vital, too much movement and the players will always drift wide to cover the danger. Too little movement and the players will be rather static in the middle. It’s a fine line finding the right balance for this trio of players. Variety is a good thing though, don’t have all three players doing the same things and then you lessen the risk of all of them being pulled wide at the same time. Which would be a catastrophic turn of events if they all left the central area at the exact same time.
Depending on the roles and duties that you do decide on though, you could see the players being pulled very deep into your own half which again can be a bad thing. The midfielders are your link to the attacking trio of players. If they get pulled deep then you’ll see a distinct lack of connection between your middle three and the front three. They’ll be cut off from each other and rather than playing as a cohesive unit, you will see them playing as two different units. There needs to always be a link between the midfield and the front three no matter what.




In this screenshot, it kind of shows both scenarios with the exception that the Trequartista is also one of the players who has dropped very deep. Even if we recover the ball here in this scenario (which we don’t btw) then we’d struggle to get it to the strikers without a long ball to them and their outnumbered 3v2.

All four of the midfielders got sucked into the right side of the pitch (from the opposition’s attacking view), this basically leaves the centre free and gives the oppositions lots of free clear space. Fortunately for me they’re also using the narrow diamond so don’t capitalise on it. But a 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 etc would likely rip me to bits here with this kind of play. Any kind of fast play which quickly changes the focus to the other flank or more central areas, then the diamond really struggles to cope and players can’t recover quickly enough.

Susceptible to Counter Attacks

When you play with an aggressive formation and especially with one that lacks width, then you are always leaving yourself open to be hit on counter attacks due to committing men forward in attacks.


This is me attacking a vastly inferior side and imposing myself on them. I have lots of players deep in the opposition’s half. But look how quickly this changes when the opposition win the ball back on the edge of their own area.


Straight away when I lose the ball I’m on the back foot because I have six players all behind the ball. Four of those six players have no real chance of making the ground up realistically. Whatever happens during the rest of this move doesn’t really matter because either way my side gets stretched and run ragged. If someone steps up to deal with the danger, then considering I only have four players able to cover who are ball side, then this means their position they should be covering becomes exposed.


That’s still the same move. It’s a good job I’m playing a rubbish team here because the opposition player hit the ball straight to my player which was fortunate. However it could have been very different against a half decent side. He could have passed to either of the two players were the jagged line goes. Then when they get the ball they could run with it and my centrebacks would be in real trouble. They’d be carved open because if the ball went to either player, they could easily play the other one in with a simple ball and there isn’t much I could do about it. That’s the downside of a lack of cover in the wide areas and is the main downside of over committing men forward.

Overloads On The Flanks

There is nothing worse than seeing your fullback get isolated and having the opposition’s players double up on him time and time again. There are ways to limit this which we will talk about in a later article. However it’s frustrating to see it happening against teams who use full backs and wide players.



Here we have the player circled who is going to feed the ball to his own fullback and then continue his run inwards to get between the fullback and defender. There are many different ways teams double up on players, it could have gone the other way and seen him make his run down the outside of the flank instead. So be aware of the different types of doubling up sides do.


There’s an awful lot going on in the next phase of play of the same move. There’s actually a few issues going on here.

  • The central midfielders (mine) have been drawn wide to help cover the wing.
  • This means that the player marked with 1 is free and should be being marked by the central midfielder.
  • My central defenders then have to deal with two players and a free player. So there outnumbered no matter what here.

This is very problematic. Once one player is out of position then someone has to cover for him, then someone for them etc. It’s the domino effect. One weak link or one player caught out of position and it all falls apart. And all this started because of one simple move, the fullback being exposed and isolated due to the numbers advantage of the AI.

It doesn’t really matter what mentality, roles, duties, team instructions or personal instructions you use when using this shape, you’ll still see these issues happening because their the cons of the system we used. However that isn’t the end of the world and using team instructions or player instructions might lessen the frequency they happen but can never stop them happening. And while it’s true this can happen in any shape you use, it happens more in the narrow diamond than most others due to the reasons we’ve discussed throughout the article.

While this might be problematic we have to remember we also have our own strengths that make us a threat to sides. It then becomes a trade-off of what you think is acceptable and if the benefits of the pros outweigh the cons and so on. For me it does and I’ll be highlighting exactly why in the next article.


8 thoughts on “The Art of The 4-4-2 Diamond Part Three”

  1. Love this, Cleon. 442 Diamond is my favourite formation (since Porto’04) and i want to succesfully employ it in FM16.

    I will be reading you 😉

  2. Part 4 is done it’s just not posted. Been giving people chance to take in whats been written so far and soak it up rather than overwhelm them with post after post.

    No I am not writing anything new, all of these are done already.

  3. I can’t await your other parts for this diamond tactic. It’s one of my favorite tactics but I can’t get it running in FM16.

  4. Great read as always. Ive been trying this for the first time as I’ve never deviated away from wingers but pleasantly surprised how well its been doing for me. Is the next part coming out soon?

  5. Excellent read Cleon. I’m trying a pseudo diamond my self, dropping the AM into a CM slot. Unfortunately I’m just beginning to understand tactics so haven’t been able to get the formation to work, but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on whether such a move may potentially nullify some of the cons of the narrow diamond.

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