An extra defensive version of your 4-4-2, the 'Holding' version encourages a counter-attacking style. Alternatively, you could use four central midfielders to dominate the ball à la Watford, Crystal Palace, and Barcelona in recent seasons. For those who aren't producing adequate, push your mentality to attack.
FIFA Expert's recommended work rates and player instructions:
Right Back – Low Attacking / High Defensive
Left Back – Low Attacking / High Defensive
Right CB – Low Attacking / High Defensive
Left CB – Low Attacking / High Defensive
Right CDM – Low Attacking / Medium Defensive
Left CDM – Low Attacking / Medium Defensive
Right Mid – High Attacking / Medium Defensive
Left Mid – High Attacking / Medium Defensive
Right Striker – High Attacking / Low Defensive
Left Striker - High Attacking / Low Defensive
FIFA Expert's recommended (4-4-2 Holding) player instructions:
Right Back – Stay back while attacking, Normal interceptions.
Left Back – Stay back while attacking, Normal interceptions.
Right CB – Stay back while attacking, Normal interceptions.
Left CB – Stay back while attacking, Normal interceptions.
Right CDM – Cut passing lanes, stay back while attacking
Left CDM – Cut passing lanes, stay back while attacking
Right Mid – Stay forward, stay wide, balanced support, balanced crossing runs, stick to the position
Left Mid – Stay forward, stay wide, balanced support, balanced crossing runs, stick to the position
Right Striker – Basic defense support, stay central, get in behind
Left Striker – Basic defense support, stay central, get in behind
Strengths: Probably thought of as THE classic formation, but thought of as less "fashionable" and definitely, less used formation. However, this version of the 4-4-2, we like. It is still a fairly well-balanced formation and an effective one with the right squad of players. As with the other 4-4-2 formation, the 2 ST's provide you with opportunities for the vastly dangerous 1-2 passing as well as holding the ball up in the final 3 rd of the pitch. These are the key layers as well as the 2 CDM's. They make you a really hard unit to break down.
Weaknesses: A huge disadvantage of this formation and probably the reason for its decline in popularity (particularly on FUT) is without the right players with the correct work rates you can be easily overrun in the middle of the pitch. If you look at the diagram, you can see the huge gap in the CAM area. If the opposition has a deep-lying playmaker such as Pirlo, then they can find huge space to dictate the play, which is something you want to try and avoid.
Key player/position: The 2 ST's play a key role in this formation. At times they can become a tad isolated especially with having the have two defensive-minded midfielders or even more so if the wide midfielders are quite conservative in their forward runs as well. Therefore, it is important they can work together to create chances for themselves as having wingers who want to join attacks like Reus or Robben, is something you want to try and have with this set-up.
Most suited style of play: Possession play with medium-range passing and speed of play. Long balls into ST's can work too if played accurately and quickly from deeper areas in your half from CDM's with high passing stats.