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PES 2021 formations: Four of the best tactical set-ups explained

(Image credit: Konami)

Konami is rightly famed for its nuanced take on the beautiful game, so deep knowledge of PES 2021 formations is a necessity if you're going to pick up wins in FIFA's big rival. While technically only a roster update, PES 2021 has also undergone some tactical tinkering – which is why we've focussed on in-depth coverage of four specific set-ups in order to bolster your dugout career. Master the 4-3-3 or 5-2-3 and you should find victories easy to come by, using our PES 2021 formations guide.

Best PES 2021 Formations: 4-3-3

(Image credit: Konami)

Best for: Attacking from the wing

Going forward: Picking this formation offers plenty of support for your front line when taking the ball forward. Having two wingers in a high position allows them to get in behind the full-backs, either making a break for the goal themselves, or putting a cross into the centre forward instead. 

Your midfielders also have some give in them, allowing them to keep a strong line in case the attack fails, or use them to play the balls to the wingers so that they can get the ball forward. Across the pitch, you have a balanced team that can work well on the counter attack or a patient pass and move approach.

Keeping it tight at the back: Whilst still having your two wingers far up the pitch, it can leave you exposed if the opposition break fast. Thankfully, having a midfield to cushion the counter helps, but they need to be strong. 

It would be prudent to use the central midfield player to position themselves just behind the other two. Using a defensive midfielder can offer support to your back four, and potentially stop any counter attacks, with plenty of cover in the middle of the pitch. 

What you need: Having a central midfielder with the ability to defend well and plenty of stamina help supports your defence. As for the wingers, they need to be able to run fast and put in accurate passes, both to supply the centre forward and go in for a shot if they see the opportunity.

Best PES 2021 Formations: 4-2-2-2

(Image credit: Konami)

Best for: Plenty of attacking options

Going forward: Making use of the left and right midfielders just inside the opposition’s half offers a multitude of attacking options, and that supporting striker can cause havoc against defenders.

Having that support striker means he can pull away defenders from the centre forward, as well as offering support to them. The SS’s presence also means attacks can go through the middle of the pitch as opposed to the wings, offering plenty of options on the attack.

Keeping it tight at the back: Having the wingers closer to the centre circle means that the rest of the midfield has support if they are required to fall back towards the defence. Bringing them in a bit gives you that extra security if the opposition decides to counter attack.

The two centre midfielders can be used as DMFs, but leaving them where they are means that can still get back to support the defence. You can also move the left and right backs further out depending on what your opposition’s formation is.

What you need: Playmakers on the wings who can also get back to defend well, and making sure your support striker has some pace can make sure they drag defenders away from the centre forward. 

Best PES 2021 Formations: 5-2-3

(Image credit: Konami)

Best for: Holding a strong defensive line

Going forward: Using this formation offers plenty of protection defensively, but there are still some great moves to make in the middle of the park. The midfield is sparse, but having your attacking wingers a little closer to those two midfielders offers a close and strong passing distance.

Attacks predominantly come by way of wingers supporting the centre forward, but bringing them in behind the CF offers more support outside the front of the box. Long balls might be an option here, and with a tighter attacking formation in the middle, room for error is limited.

Keeping it tight at the back: This is a very safe and conservative tactic. Five defenders almost always overpower any attack, and using those two midfielders in front stops the majority of counter attacks.

If you are wanting to keep the midfielders where they are, man-marking with the defence can stop a lot of the best strikers in the world because of the additional support offered in the box.

What you need: Strong full backs are the key to this defence, and having a pacy and skilled striker is vital as they may be required to be inventive with limited options up front.

Best PES 2021 Formations: 4-2-1-3

(Image credit: Konami)

Best for: Possession play

Going forward: This is a great choice if you are looking to keep possession of the ball, and also work through the middle of the field when on the attack. Not only do you have two forward-looking wingers but you have an attacking midfielder who can create plenty of chances.

Taking your time and working the ball through the opposition towards the attack allows for a patient approach, with the ability to become aggressive on the break at a moment’s notice. 

Keeping it tight at the back: This formation might sting if your opposition plays from the wing as central areas are often unoccupied. It is imperative that you move back as quickly as possible to try and break this down.

Don’t risk moving your CMFs to counter this as going so leaves your midfield exposed. Pushing your defenders up a bit and being aggressive trying to win the ball back is a great way to stop this from happening – but be careful, as it can send your entire team into disarray.

What you need: A skilled attacking midfielder with plenty of stamina can supply every facet of the attack. Also, if he is are strong when tussling to win the ball, it has the potential to stop most attacks against you.

Chris White

Chris is a freelance journalist, photographer, and charity consultant. He specialises in sports, both in real-life and in the gaming space. He's written for publications including GamesRadar, The Sun, Daily Mail, The Times, The Mirror, and more.