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A High Intensity System Inspired by Schmidt's Leverkusen


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Introduction

Throughout my Pentagon Challenge save I have always wanted to play an Attacking style of play. In real life that is what I love to watch, football that gets fans off their seats and gets pundits talking. I'd tried to create attacking systems using various attacking threads (Cleon, Rashidi, RTH), and they were decent, but i wasn't quite getting the consistency I wanted. I was finding it difficult to genuinely create something from scratch that could work home and away, and so I thought to myself, why not attempt to emulate a system based on a team I enjoy watching in real life?

For me, Leverkusen are one of the most exciting teams in Europe. Schmidt came over after a very successful stint at Red Bull Salzburg, where he beat Pep's Bayern 3-0 in a friendly (A strong Bayern 11). Pep said it was the most he had ever been pressed, and Bayern found it very difficult to play their usual style. Schmidt was offered the job at the Bay Arena, and many questioned whether he could carry over what he'd done at Salzburg, but he did just that. He was given better resources, and he has excelled with them. With brilliant transfers, and his already fantastic system, Leverkusen have quickly become one of most exciting teams to watch in Europe, and although it would possibly be a challenge, I thought which better system to try and build.

If anyone is interested in a more detailed look into Schmidt's tactics, these 2 articles are fantastic and helped me in building my system:

http://theinsidechannel.com/guide-roger-schmidts-tactics-bayer-leverkusen/

http://www.thetacticsroom.com/articles/2015/5/26/roger-schmidts-footballing-philosophy-and-his-breathtakingly-brilliant-bayer-leverkusen-side

P.S I am playing with Stuttgart. I took the job in 2035, and I am now using the system for the first time at the beginning of a season. Also, this is not a wonder, plug and play tactic, it just plays football nicely the way I want it to, and it's fun to watch.

Analysis in post 33

The System

SLIGHT TWEAKS IN POST 18

The shape is a 4-4-2. Modern football has deviated from this formation, branding it as boring and old, not with the times. I must admit I was part of this group, instead preferring a fancy 4-2-3-1, or the well known 3-1-3-2-1. However what a lot of people seem to struggle to grasp on FM, is that your formation is your defensive shape. It's the roles and duties you give your players that determine what they do when you have the ball, and that is where you really get your team playing how you want (of course alongside TIs and PIs). So all you modernist hipsters out there, don't fall into the trap I did and shun the 4-4-2 for being old and boring, if you get it right it can be fantastic and incredibly fun.

Quick disclaimer, this system is simply inspired by Schmidt's Leverkusen. You may disagree with some of the roles or instructions and that's fine. I have just set the roles/shape/instructions out that I think suits Leverkusen's play, and that would work in FM.

So, the system! Like I said, it's a 4-4-2 with very high intensity and continuous, aggressive closing down. We play narrow and mark tightly. Despite this being an attacking system, the defensive side is crucial to it working. I will elaborate more on the instructions later on, first of all here's the tactic!

6000391c2edd9e6c63092fe069c61513.png

So this is the closest I could come to Schmidt's Leverkusen, bar a few roles that I will go through now.

Player Roles

Sweeper Keeper (s): Leno likes to come off his line a bit, and despite the fact we aren't playing a high line via instructions, our attacking mentality will certainly have our line higher by default, so I want my keeper sweeping up those over hit through balls. Has instructions to play out short to the defence, however I may turn this off in order for him to start looking for more counter attacking balls, maybe when I get a keeper with better kicking.

Right back (FBs): So in real life Hilbert/Jedvaj would certainly have a more attacking role here, but with the Winger ahead of him on an attacking duty, I wanted this guy to offer us more defensive cover on this flank, but he certainly gets forward too due to our mentality. Has player instructions to stay wide.

Left back (WBs): Wendell is brilliant at this, gets forward a lot, running with the ball more. Overlaps Calhanoglu regularly and I want this guy to get forward as much as possible. Again has instructions to stay wide, and also to run wide with the ball to try and replicate Wendell's on the ball dribbling.

Centre backs (D): Nothing special here, just standard defenders. Both have close down much less, as I don't want them being drawn out of position.

Left Midfield (WPa): The heartbeat of the team, such an important role. Calhanoglu is regularly seen in the No10 role but he does start out here too. My player here has a 8.34 average rating in the league and plays some lovely stuff. He will cut inside, looking for that defence splitting pass, and is quite central at times when we have the ball (like Calhanoglu). However without the ball, he is out wide and does a job defensively despite his attack duty.

Right Midfield (Wa): Bellerabi. This guy is something else in real life.. Ridiculous pace and direct running. Could have gone with a wide midfielder here without any specific instructions on the ball, but the winger does all sorts on attack. The winger role I think gets mistaken for players just to run directly to the by line and cross to your strikers, but no this guy does a variety of things in the final third and is a huge threat.

Central Midfielder (s): The Castro role before he left for Dortmund. Didn't go for anything special here, and he does the job well. Stays around his midfield partner most of the time but does get in support in the box when my wide players are trying to develop something.

Central Midfielder (d): Bender/Kramer. The holding midfielder in the team. Didn't go for anything special, just the general CM role and it works lovely. However I am considering changing this to a ball winning midfielder. Again though I will wait until I scout out a more specialist player before making that change.

Defensive Forward (d): The Kiessling role, sometimes I change this to support if we are chasing a goal, but even on defend he contributes with goals regularly. This guy needs work rate as he constantly presses the opposition back line and defensive midfielders, forcing them to make mistakes.

Complete Forward (a): Hernandez tends to play as more of a poacher or advanced forward but I wanted this player in my squad to contribute more to the build up play and he certainly does. The main goal scorer in the team and contributes nicely to the team as a whole.

All players have got tighter marking on their player instructions too.

Team Instructions

5fbfd9588dc0f94bd87a7cacec1d47ea.png

Attacking: We play on an attacking mentality, as I feel that whenever Leverkusen get the ball, they throw themselves forward quickly and aren't too bothered about retaining possession as a first resort. This turns to counter in some away games and if we are playing a big team (home/away), to great success.

Flexible: Had this on fluid, but didn't want us to be too grouped together, so notched it down to flexible to give us more balance in that side of our play.

Higher Tempo: Pretty obvious this one, like I said Leverkusen like to go about their business quickly, so this seemed like a must have instruction.

Play Narrower: This is more of a personal preference, however you could say Leverkusen play quite narrow. I like to overload positions in the half space and central areas, so went with this instruction.

Close down much more: Attacking mentality gives you high pressing anyway, but if there is one thing that defines Schmidt's teams, it is pressing. So I've taken this to the extreme with this instruction. In real life Schmidt likes to press in specific areas of the pitch, in a more controlled press, but this is not possible in FM so we have to compromise with just closing down much more. The idea is to get the opposition into a press trap, where they are forced to either make a mistake on the ball, or hit it long.

Tighter Marking: This is on player instructions anyway, but I want the team to stay very close to their man, so when they receive the ball they can try and make the tackle quickly. At first I was worried this would stop numerous players closing down a certain player, due to them wanting to stick close to their specific man, but I haven't seen evidence of this and am happy with how this plays out.

Get stuck in: Now Klopp said in an interview at Dortmund that they pressed heavily but rarely went to ground with tackles because if you win the ball via a foul, you haven't won the ball. Normally I agree with this, and in real life I certainly do, but in FM when my players close down, they do that bit nicely but then seem to stand next to the opposition player on the ball and just jockey him, resulting in them having the time to pick out a pass or cross. This instruction does alter that but at the expense of a few cards which is annoying. May take this off in the future if we continue to get the amount of reds we are getting.

Pass into space: When Leverkusen win the ball back, they like to play into the space. Bellerabi is constantly in space and has space ahead of him to pass it into, and this is the same in this system. Hernandez regularly likes to get in behind, with through balls from the playmaker and his strike partner acting as a deadly weapon. This is what I have tried to recreate with this shout.

Shorter Passing: Some say this may contradict the above shout, but this is more to do with our build up play. I don't want us always going long looking for players in space, but only do that when the opportunity arises, until that happens I want us playing the ball on the floor with high tempo, until our quick intensity and players' runs off the ball opens up our chance for a more direct pass.

Run at Defence: If there is one player in Europe who runs at the defence the most, I would go with Bellerabi on that right hand side. It is literally his job, pick up the ball and run direct at his left back, and for me this is what I want my team to do. It goes with our high tempo nicely and works well on the pitch.

Squad Building

For me, just like real life organisations, recruitment in football is everything. This kind of tactic needs the right type of players, or it just won't work. It's unlikely you'll be able to walk into a club and implement this kind of system succesfully within a few months (Klopp at Liverpool). It can take years of squad building (which is more fun in my opinion). Below I have listed just some of the key stats you'll want throughout the squad and a few key stats for certain roles.

Whole Squad

Work Rate: Pretty self explanatory, if you're going to be pressing constantly for 90 minutes, you don't want anyone giving you any less than 110% all game.

Bravery: Closing down is great, but to win the ball back high up the pitch you don't want anyone backing out of a 50/50 or a possible tackle.

Pace/Acceleration: Essential to a high tempo game, when we win that ball back, I want the whole squad to have pace to get forward as quickly as possible to exploit any opposition positional vulnerabilities they might have due to them just having the ball.

Concentration: They need to keep this style of play up for 90 minutes and can not lose focus late on.

Stamina/Natural Fitness: The physical partner of the above stat. You need your players to be able to maintain the pressing and high tempo game for 90 minutes, they must outlast the opposition on a physical level to take advantage of any late tiring on their part.

Decisions: When we are throwing ourselves forward at pace, I need my players to make the right decisions, is it a good opportunity to take a shot or is there a good ball on that would be better? This is important.

Wide Playmaker

This guy is key to this system working and is the main creative presence in the side. You have to get him right and if you do, he can smash average ratings of well over 8 throughout a season (mine is on 8.34 in March, cost me 3m).

Dribbling: He cuts inside from the left, and needs good dribbling to make sure he can get himself into a position to nail that final ball.

Passing/Vision: The final ball, must have these as high as possible to make that killer ball. The PPM helps here too (Makes killer balls often). I've just trained him to do this and his assists have noticeably increased.

Technique: Pretty obvious, he needs the technique to pull off the variety of passes, dribbles and shots that he will be doing.

Conclusion

So that is my take on the Schmidt system, bar a few changes that I made myself. It plays nicely in this years FM and after a while of struggling with the tactics side this year, this tactic is bringing me back a bit of the joy I enjoyed last year. You may disagree with some of the decisions I've made, and please do leave a comment on what you would have done, but this is just what works for me and was only inspired by Schmidt, it was not a direct emulation.

If anyone wants this for download, I could add a link, but not sure if this would mean moving it to the upload section, + all the information is in the thread. Anyway thanks for reading and feedback is appreciated!

SLIGHT TWEAKS MADE IN POST 18

ANALYSIS IN POST 33

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I think this is great. The linked articles are good and I can see why you have done what you have. All these 4-4-2 threads are certainly making me keen to revisit the system. Will digest this more thoroughly this evening and post again later.

What would really set the thread off is some in FM analysis of how well the interpretation stands up to real life.

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I think this is great. The linked articles are good and I can see why you have done what you have. All these 4-4-2 threads are certainly making me keen to revisit the system. Will digest this more thoroughly this evening and post again later.

What would really set the thread off is some in FM analysis of how well the interpretation stands up to real life.

I will certainly have a look at giving this a go! Thanks

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Very interesting. I'm playing a completely different system (a 4-5-1 on control mentality) but I've also found out recently that playing narrow, against the right teams (ie teams that play very spread apart, specially laterally) can be highly effective as you completely swamp them in those half-spaces. I imagine this is what's happening with your side when things click.

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Very interesting. I'm playing a completely different system (a 4-5-1 on control mentality) but I've also found out recently that playing narrow, against the right teams (ie teams that play very spread apart, specially laterally) can be highly effective as you completely swamp them in those half-spaces. I imagine this is what's happening with your side when things click.

Yes, overloading the half spaces is certainly a key weapon for us.

Excellent write up. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks very much :thup:

I'm in, lets go how it goes with Bayer.

Do let me know how you get on, would love to know if it works for others, good luck!

I am very interested in how this comes along. You have a lurker :-)

Thanks rashidi, I'm going to have a look at trying to film some in-game analysis for this, will keep a look out for goals that epitomise this style of play over the coming days and get it written up.

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Yes, overloading the half spaces is certainly a key weapon for us.

Thanks rashidi, I'm going to have a look at trying to film some in-game analysis for this, will keep a look out for goals that epitomise this style of play over the coming days and get it written up.

If its on YT i will sub :-)

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how does it work in the game ??? results ?

Our results are good, we play nicely against the big teams too going on counter (Beat dortmund in the super cup this season). We have staggered a bit this season, struggling a bit with consistency. We can blow teams away 3/4-0, but then lose 3-0 the next week. Maybe teams are figuring us out after a succesful first 2 season (Delivered the cup in our second season). Might have to make some of the changes I mentioned in the OP. It will take a large degree of squad building though for you to get it right, don't just expect to plug it in and win leagues, as the poster above said. But when it goes right it's beautiful :brock:

If its on YT i will sub :-)

Nah not on youtube i'm afraid :thdn:

A great thread. Not had much time recently so only just starting to catch up with thing. Nicely written :)

Thanks Cleon :thup:

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Tweaks

Since the original post, we were lacking a bit of consistency, blowing teams away in some games and then failing to impress the next. I decided to make some changes, including some I'd mentioned I might make the OP, and I am pleased to say we have conjured up this beautiful sight:

07267bd472c39431c856ac49ceb78859.png

The changes I made were the following:

- Switched the CM(d) to a BWM(d). This now makes this player a real predator, hunting the ball down in midfield ferociously and this has definitely added a bit more spice to us winning the ball back. I initially had worries that this would leave us somewhat exposed in the middle, as being a BWM drags you out of position a lot, however due to our narrow/fluid shape we are close enough together for this not to be a major problem.

- Mentioned it in the above point, I've switched to fluid as opposed to flexible. This brings us closer together in a more compact shape. I felt this was a good idea as I want my players to close down in packs, to try and 'press trap' the opposition into making that mistake or long ball. This is really working and we close down a lot more efficiently now, I am noticing a lot more panicky decisions from the opposition.

- Probably not a major change, but I've set my 2 strikers to swap positions throughout the game. This makes man marking a little harder and since pretty much all my strikers have the attributes to play both roles (Long term squad building:brock:), it gives both the players on the pitch at any one time the opportunity to lead the line throughout the match.

- Defensive free kick/corner set up. This literally takes seconds to set up but if you do it right, it can be deadly and I've noticed a few goals coming from these counter attacks.

307fb65a31f4a7c55f942ec2e444c568.png

So this is defending a corner (same for free kicks). I have my complete forward and right winger (2 quickest players in the team) staying forward. I then have my Wide playmaker standing on the edge of the area, so if our defence heads it out, my WPM can pick it up and spray a pass to one of the 2 lads up top and suddenly we have a counter on our hands.

2ac9a2d624a9fc8682687aed0478d11a.jpg

Here we are playing Leverkusen (the irony..), and they have a free kick near the touchline. Our WPM is stationed on the edge of the D, and as you can see my CF and winger are waiting up top for the counter (at the same time forcing 3 of their defenders to stay back, less opposition players in the box = less chance of conceding a goal:brock:).

bbcc01a7e35d982817ce9fa14c5fa04d.jpg

The free kick has been taken and our CB headed it out to Calvo (WPM). Shaw(CF) straight away makes his run.

632d27b59e33dd5a3787158a4d9156f5.jpg

Calvo whips it in behind their back line and Shaw gets onto it. He then decides to cut back and play it into Prohaska (winger, picture below), and he goes through and scores. We played well that game but it was 0-0 before this. Little changes to our set up at free kicks/corners gave us a goal in a very important top 4 game and broke the deadlock, we went on to win 2-0.

aba07afa01e030e813dee5f089c42917.jpg

So these little changes have really turned our fortunes, a slight lack of consistency has now turned into us winning 15 of our last 16 games. Still working on some analysis for the normal game play but should have it up soon. :thup:

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Tweaks

Since the original post, we were lacking a bit of consistency, blowing teams away in some games and then failing to impress the next. I decided to make some changes, including some I'd mentioned I might make the OP, and I am pleased to say we have conjured up this beautiful sight:

07267bd472c39431c856ac49ceb78859.png

The changes I made were the following:

- Switched the CM(d) to a BWM(d). This now makes this player a real predator, hunting the ball down in midfield ferociously and this has definitely added a bit more spice to us winning the ball back. I initially had worries that this would leave us somewhat exposed in the middle, as being a BWM drags you out of position a lot, however due to our narrow/fluid shape we are close enough together for this not to be a major problem.

- Mentioned it in the above point, I've switched to fluid as opposed to flexible. This brings us closer together in a more compact shape. I felt this was a good idea as I want my players to close down in packs, to try and 'press trap' the opposition into making that mistake or long ball. This is really working and we close down a lot more efficiently now, I am noticing a lot more panicky decisions from the opposition.

- Probably not a major change, but I've set my 2 strikers to swap positions throughout the game. This makes man marking a little harder and since pretty much all my strikers have the attributes to play both roles (Long term squad building:brock:), it gives both the players on the pitch at any one time the opportunity to lead the line throughout the match.

- Defensive free kick/corner set up. This literally takes seconds to set up but if you do it right, it can be deadly and I've noticed a few goals coming from these counter attacks.

307fb65a31f4a7c55f942ec2e444c568.png

So this is defending a corner (same for free kicks). I have my complete forward and right winger (2 quickest players in the team) staying forward. I then have my Wide playmaker standing on the edge of the area, so if our defence heads it out, my WPM can pick it up and spray a pass to one of the 2 lads up top and suddenly we have a counter on our hands.

2ac9a2d624a9fc8682687aed0478d11a.jpg

Here we are playing Leverkusen (the irony..), and they have a free kick near the touchline. Our WPM is stationed on the edge of the D, and as you can see my CF and winger are waiting up top for the counter (at the same time forcing 3 of their defenders to stay back, less opposition players in the box = less chance of conceding a goal:brock:).

bbcc01a7e35d982817ce9fa14c5fa04d.jpg

The free kick has been taken and our CB headed it out to Calvo (WPM). Shaw(CF) straight away makes his run.

632d27b59e33dd5a3787158a4d9156f5.jpg

Calvo whips it in behind their back line and Shaw gets onto it. He then decides to cut back and play it into Prohaska (winger, picture below), and he goes through and scores. We played well that game but it was 0-0 before this. Little changes to our set up at free kicks/corners gave us a goal in a very important top 4 game and broke the deadlock, we went on to win 2-0.

aba07afa01e030e813dee5f089c42917.jpg

So these little changes have really turned our fortunes, a slight lack of consistency has now turned into us winning 15 of our last 16 games. Still working on some analysis for the normal game play but should have it up soon. :thup:

Good to see someone using the ball winning midfielder and getting the player to work in a 2 man midfield. I also think that because you are playing with MR/ML instead of AMR/AML it makes you shape more compact because the MR/ML will defend the flanks better than if they were pushed up. I think the shape you play allows the ball winning midfielder to perform well in the role. I have tried a few test games with ball winning midfielder in a 442 and 4411 and I found out that the player works better in these set ups. But when played in a 4231 all hell breaks loose in my central midfield even when I play my AMR/AML on support duties. Once again well done for getting the role to work.

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Good to see someone using the ball winning midfielder and getting the player to work in a 2 man midfield. I also think that because you are playing with MR/ML instead of AMR/AML it makes you shape more compact because the MR/ML will defend the flanks better than if they were pushed up. I think the shape you play allows the ball winning midfielder to perform well in the role. I have tried a few test games with ball winning midfielder in a 442 and 4411 and I found out that the player works better in these set ups. But when played in a 4231 all hell breaks loose in my central midfield even when I play my AMR/AML on support duties. Once again well done for getting the role to work.

Yeah I think you're right, the wide players being in the midfield line definitely gives him a bit more freedom to do his thing.

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Great read and very inspiring. Will most def try some of your ways out in my own game. One question though: with that long run of victories, do you sometimes, like me, feel as if you have to mix it up tactically as the ME "figures you out"? And do you do that or stick to your baseline of play? I feel like sometimes I probably overestimate the ME's ability to crack the code vs my team after an unbeaten run, and desperately start tweaking tactics rarely to any effect. Cheers?

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This is very similar to what I've been trying to get working to emulate Simeone, though I play with defensive mentality. I've thought about changing CM-D in my setup to BWM-D, but was worried it would leave me too open. I didn't think about playing narrow making that not *as much* an issue. Glad to hear.

I am curious what you have your CM-S do, as far as PI? I assume get further forward so he'll make some later runs? I've been using a BBM there, but I think if I plan on swapping to a BWM-D I might go back to a CM-S with similar PI to the BBM. My premise is to win it back, then immediately get to the flanks. My idea is to funnel everything inside, then kick it outside on the break.

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Great read and very inspiring. Will most def try some of your ways out in my own game. One question though: with that long run of victories, do you sometimes, like me, feel as if you have to mix it up tactically as the ME "figures you out"? And do you do that or stick to your baseline of play? I feel like sometimes I probably overestimate the ME's ability to crack the code vs my team after an unbeaten run, and desperately start tweaking tactics rarely to any effect. Cheers

The only changes I make during a game are the mentality, and if a DLP is getting a bit of freedom I change my DF to defend role (currently using support from the off). For our mentality, I switch it during the game based on how we're doing. If we start with attacking, and we aren't really grasping hold the game, I switch it down to control. Just to grab the game a bit more and then go from there. If we are against a decent team and start attacking, but they are on top (mainly away), I'll switch it down to counter. Just to sit a little bit deeper and then spring on the break. A quick example in a recent game:

153f0bcd63f7a819269c7a5124c75ac5.png

So in this game we started on counter. At around 70 minutes it was 0-0 and was quite an even game, not many CCC's, most chances being half chances. No team was on top and so I decided to make some changes to try and knick it. I brought on our not fully fit winger and brought on a more creative midfielder for the CMs role, and switched our mentality to control. Straight away I saw a huge difference, we started to control the game a bit more and 7 minutes later we capitalised with a goal through Shaw. I kept it on control and Dortmund (Top of the league, 7 points clear), didn't have a single shot in the final 20-25 mins. Little changes like that based on the match situation can be deadly.

This is very similar to what I've been trying to get working to emulate Simeone, though I play with defensive mentality. I've thought about changing CM-D in my setup to BWM-D, but was worried it would leave me too open. I didn't think about playing narrow making that not *as much* an issue. Glad to hear.

I am curious what you have your CM-S do, as far as PI? I assume get further forward so he'll make some later runs? I've been using a BBM there, but I think if I plan on swapping to a BWM-D I might go back to a CM-S with similar PI to the BBM. My premise is to win it back, then immediately get to the flanks. My idea is to funnel everything inside, then kick it outside on the break.

The only PI I have on the CMs is mark tighter. With the worry that the BWM might get drawn out of position and leave a hole in midfield, I don't want my CMs making too many runs forward, I want to try and keep them as close as possible. The role itself gives you some runs from deep anyway and I didn't want to make them any more frequent as I feel that would definitely leave the middle exposed. I feel like there aren't enough PIs on him, but at the moment the role is doing a fine job, exactly what I want it to so I'll leave it as it is for now.

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Good to hear. I'm probably going to steal some of your ideas. I like using the CM-S as a more creative style player, so I'll usually use riskier passes and more direct in the PI. :)

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Good to hear. I'm probably going to steal some of your ideas. I like using the CM-S as a more creative style player, so I'll usually use riskier passes and more direct in the PI. :)

Feel free mate :thup: Yeah like I said a more creative player there in certain games can certainly help:)

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It's also nice to see more people coming around on the DF-S/D. I think people get scared by the name and think it's not an offensive role. I used to always use an asymmetric 4411 with a STL and SS at the AMCR slot for a 442 shape, but lately I've been pushing it up to a true 442 with a DF-S/D depending on the formation I'm facing. He ends up being like a jack of all trades for me and ends up with a ton of assists and usually 2nd in the most goals. I feel it's much better than the SS right now, at least in my experience. If you have a true CF-type, the CF-A/DF combo is prettttty legit.

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It's also nice to see more people coming around on the DF-S/D. I think people get scared by the name and think it's not an offensive role. I used to always use an asymmetric 4411 with a STL and SS at the AMCR slot for a 442 shape, but lately I've been pushing it up to a true 442 with a DF-S/D depending on the formation I'm facing. He ends up being like a jack of all trades for me and ends up with a ton of assists and usually 2nd in the most goals. I feel it's much better than the SS right now, at least in my experience. If you have a true CF-type, the CF-A/DF combo is prettttty legit.

Yeah have to admit I fell into this trap too. Used it for the first time at the start of FM16 and it surprised me! I'm the same with you, he's one of the main players that wins the ball back high up the pitch and then always has a passing option with the CF or wide players, and gets a lot of assists this way. My strikers rotate the roles but I definitely see numerous goals coming from the DF. As for support or defend, that is down to whether the opposition has a DM. So yeah you're right, the defensive forward is extremely effective and not at all dull!

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Analysis

We have just finished using this system for the second full season, and it's been extremely successful. I felt it was time to do some analysis on how the system works and gets it's goals. How do the fundamental values of the philosophy actually work in game? I've tried to recoup some of the goals that show this the best and had a go at analysing them. We score all type of goals of course, as all teams and systems do, but these are a few (including the goal shown in the 'tweaks' post in post 18) goals that represent our philosophy.

Here was our season (My fourth in charge, second using the system):

ec76f7427291a81b49cd8e2aea13fcae.jpg

The Pokal 3rd round was devastating, it took a while to get over, we had some key players out and really didn't play that badly, as can be seen here:

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This is the season's results as a whole:

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As you can see, we went unbeaten throughout the whole first half of the season. We were fantastic throughout this period, particularly playing away at Dortmund, Real Madrid, Bayern and Man City, winning them all. The losses we got were certainly annoying as I genuinely felt we could go unbeaten all season. It wasn't to be, but winning the Bundesliga and the Champions League (completing my pentagon challenge along the way) in the same season, was a great feeling, having done it with a system that I genuinely enjoy, both making and using.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

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In this picture, you can see our solid 4-4-2 defensive shape. Heigl receives the ball for Freiburg from the player next to Baert. He is about to try the return ball, but Garcia (our BWM) straight away aggressively closes him down.

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Due to him being closed down and put under immediate pressure, Heigl slightly under hits/misplaces his seemingly simple through ball, and due to Baert (our WPM) tightly marking his man, he is able to get in and intercept the pass, immediately playing it first time to Baumgartl (our DF).

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Baumgartl takes the ball under control and turns, and as he turns, our team has already thrown itself into numerous advanced positions. Shaw (our CF) is offering a through ball through the middle, and Baert (WPM) is offering a nice option over to the left. Baumgartl opts for the quick through ball to Shaw.

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As soon as Shaw receives the ball, he plays a first time simple pass to Baert in space, and as you can see, Chavez (our CMs) is making a great run through the middle. This is an example of our CM(s) giving us those runs from deep.

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With Baert being our WPM, even being closed down, he has the composure and technique to play the killer ball through to Chavez, and it's inch perfect. Chavez (CM) picks it up and slots it into the corner to shut the game off. We won 3-1 with this goal being the killer blow.

Here's the full move in GIF form, not sure if this will work or if you can see it very well but thought I'd include it anyway (sorry if it doesn't work).

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This goal is more of a direct counter.

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Again we are in a compact 4-4-2 shape and Klingmann has played the ball to Standera. Straight away you can see our left back aggressively closing that pass down (he is close enough to him to do this via 'tighter marking' PI and TI) and he ends up making the tackle.

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Beetz (our LB), comes away with the ball and immediately plays the ball to Vanhove (Our CF), who has immediately made himself available by dragging out wide a bit, drawing his man with him.

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Vanhove picks up the ball, and straight away we can see Shaw (DF) making that run in behind. If Vanhove can pick that pass through the 2 centre backs, Shaw is through on goal after just 2 passes.

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You guessed it, with our pass into space instruction he does exactly that and Shaw is through, he takes it round the keeper and slots it home. So no more than 10 seconds earlier Hamburg had a decent attack going, trying to carve something out on the edge of our box. A mix of 'get stuck in', 'higher tempo' and 'pass into space' got us a goal using just 1 tackle and 2 passes. It's that rapid transition that gets us so many goals, catching the opposition by surprise and taking advantage of positional errors. Again, here's the goal in GIF form (apologies for the cut out bit at the start, won't let me include that):

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Extra Analysis

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As you can see here, the majority of our assists come from the left hand side, where our wide playmaker is. I'd also say a good chunk of the assists in the middle would be his too where he has cut inside and found a killer pass. All in all though the assists are pretty spread out. As for assists against, it tends to be down the flanks. I don't think we have any major positional vulnerability down there, I just think that's how the ME is this year.

As for our goal times, again it's spread out. However 1-15 minutes is just a bit more popular, and I certainly notice a lot of goals in the first few minutes, especially straight from kick off. This could just be down to our high tempo and high intensity takes them by surprise so early on and they haven't got a chance to get a feel for the game yet. Not sure but I have definitely noticed that.

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What I like about this screen is that even though a lot of goals come from crosses (winger/overlapping wingback), the same amount have come via through balls. A lot of people this year are saying crosses are the be all and end all, but I'm delighted that an equal amount of goals come via killer through balls (pass into space/tries killer balls often PPM on WPM). It's also the same with assists against. Another thing I like here is the goals that have come via opposition mistakes. This is higher than I usually see, and I like to think this is down to the constant pressing on the opposition defence forcing them into a rushed back pass or something similar.

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From this screen we can see that 37% of our shots are on target, and 28% of our shots on target have been goals. I am okay with these statistics. Normally I'd agree with Cleon here that you should be aiming for 50% shots on target rate, however due to our high tempo we have a lot of rushed attacks that can lead to rushed shots so I'm actually happy with 37%. If you only count the league, our percentage is 46% so I'm happy with that.

Team Stats

We finished 4th this season for most possession which was actually surprising to me. However we did finish 12th for passes completed, and also finished 12th for pass completion %, so that shows we do like to move the ball forward quickly without passes for passing sake (good to see). We finished top of the yellow cards chart by quite a margin, and although this is a sacrifice of the get stuck in shout, I'm not a fan of this stat. May have to look into this and see what taking the shout off does to the overall system. For tackles won we were top by quite a margin so that shows that the shout could also be doing some good, but this is countered by the fact we are way out on top for fouls conceded.

We scored 95 goals in 34 games which is pleasing, the highest in the league.

All in all, for a team predicted to finish 3rd (7th when I joined), I think beating the likes of Bayern and Dortmund for the title is a great achievement, and to throw in the Champions League as well is just fantastic. It's great to see a tactic that you've made yourself (with inspiration) be as successful as this, I highly recommend you look at doing the same! Thanks for reading! :thup:

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Excellent read, and well done. I want to try something similar with Liverpool. Let us know how you progress!

I think this system does lend itself the the starting Liverpool squad. I've actually started a save using it as a base tactic.

Coutinho as the WPM on the left with Moreno overlapping. Can/Henderson/Lucas/Allen as the CMs. Ibe providing the pace down the right. Lallana backing him and Coutinho up. Ings/Sturridge/Benteke/Firmino up top.

That's how I'm setting up currently at any rate. ;)

Again, awesome thread HH. :thup:

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I think this system does lend itself the the starting Liverpool squad. I've actually started a save using it as a base tactic.

Coutinho as the WPM on the left with Moreno overlapping. Can/Henderson/Lucas/Allen as the CMs. Ibe providing the pace down the right. Lallana backing him and Coutinho up. Ings/Sturridge/Benteke/Firmino up top.

That's how I'm setting up currently at any rate. ;)

Again, awesome thread HH. :thup:

Yeah I think you're right here, can't think of many better players equipped to play that WPM role than Coutinho, and obviously Canhanoglu himself. Eriksen would be brilliant too. Liverpool would certainly be a fun side to try this with that's for sure.

Thanks a lot Dave :thup:

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Using this concept on my Liverpool save, we're currently top of the league by 4 points after 13 games, won 10 and drawn 3.

Most notable results are wins home and away to Dortmund in the Europa League. Away wins at Man Utd, City and Everton and a home win against Spurs.

We did lose 3-0 away to Stoke in the league cup though... But it was a cold and wet Tuesday night and we had a weakened team. :D

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I've built a similar system to this (designed to emulate how Klopp is playing with Liverpool at the moment) and it lines up like this:

CF (S) --------



------- SS (A)

WP (A) --- CM (D) --- BWM (S) --- W (A)

FB (A) --- CD (D) --- CD (D) --- FB (S)

SK (S)

As has been mentioned a few times it's really too bad that the option for selective pressing is not available, but otherwise I find it works quite well. My only question is whether or not you do any TI changes when switching from 'Attacking' to 'Counter'? I've had a bit of trouble adapting to bigger teams at times and I'm just in the final stages of tweaking the tactic (very similar TIs to yours I think, bar a few things like whipped crosses, and I don't have 'run at defence' ticked or 'use tighter marking'). I've also been considering changing the FB (A) to a wingback.

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Harold, I love threads like this, Ill never implement it in my teams because I would freak out if we won 7-4 in a match but its really what these boards should be all about. Thanks for the thread and taking the time to see it out.

No worries I love writing stuff like this:thup: Do scores like 7-4 not make it more exciting for you? :brock:

Will give this a try in a 4-2-3-1 and let you know how it goes

Would be interested to know how you do, I feel like the 4-4-2 defensive shape is important to this working. Good luck!

Using this concept on my Liverpool save, we're currently top of the league by 4 points after 13 games, won 10 and drawn 3.

Most notable results are wins home and away to Dortmund in the Europa League. Away wins at Man Utd, City and Everton and a home win against Spurs.

We did lose 3-0 away to Stoke in the league cup though... But it was a cold and wet Tuesday night and we had a weakened team. :D

Sounds like it's working well for you! On those away wins did you switch to counter and do some in-game management or just keep it on attacking for the whole game? Yeah there are a few key roles in the team that if the player isn't up to scratch (youth player), the whole system can struggle. Glad to see it working for you:thup:

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I've built a similar system to this (designed to emulate how Klopp is playing with Liverpool at the moment) and it lines up like this:

CF (S) --------



------- SS (A)

WP (A) --- CM (D) --- BWM (S) --- W (A)

FB (A) --- CD (D) --- CD (D) --- FB (S)

SK (S)

As has been mentioned a few times it's really too bad that the option for selective pressing is not available, but otherwise I find it works quite well. My only question is whether or not you do any TI changes when switching from 'Attacking' to 'Counter'? I've had a bit of trouble adapting to bigger teams at times and I'm just in the final stages of tweaking the tactic (very similar TIs to yours I think, bar a few things like whipped crosses, and I don't have 'run at defence' ticked). I've also been considering changing the FB (A) to a wingback.

Looks okay to me, just a couple of things to mention:

1) I would definitely look at changing your LB to WB(s), purely for the fact that having both wide players on one side on attack duty can be risky.

2) Possibly look at swapping your central midfield duties. Every team needs runners from deep and I don't think I'd be satisfied with that midfield pair doing that.

As for TI changes, I tend to not change anything. Having all those TIs on an attack mentality can be seen as overkill, as that mentality gives you most of those things to an extent anyway. Changing down to counter against Dortmund away for example, just tones down those TIs a little bit, which is obviously helpful against the bigger teams. So in a way, changing the mentality for a big game actually indirectly changes the TIs so that you don't have to.

Good luck!

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Well, the central midfield duties/roles are the ones I've always had the hardest time choosing. I've toyed with DLP (D) - B2B (S), CM (D) - RPM (S), BWM (D) - DLP (S) etc.

Maybe CM (D) and B2B (S) more accurately would portray what I'm trying to do, but then I'm not sure that the B2B player will offer the right amount of defensive cover. The way the BWM (S) is described, especially on 'Guide to Football Manager' is such that seems to complement the style and offers a late runner into the box (similar to what Henderson often does, though obviously it would seem the B2B role is the one that most effectively emulates his style of play); it's 'useful' PPMs listed are 'arrives late in opposition area' and 'shoots with power'.

Do you think the CM (S) makes more runs from midfield than the BWM on a support duty?

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Well, the central midfield duties/roles are the ones I've always had the hardest time choosing. I've toyed with DLP (D) - B2B (S), CM (D) - RPM (S), BWM (D) - DLP (S) etc.

Maybe CM (D) and B2B (S) more accurately would portray what I'm trying to do, but then I'm not sure that the B2B player will offer the right amount of defensive cover. The way the BWM (S) is described, especially on 'Guide to Football Manager' is such that seems to complement the style and offers a late runner into the box (similar to what Henderson often does, though obviously it would seem the B2B role is the one that most effectively emulates his style of play); it's 'useful' PPMs listed are 'arrives late in opposition area' and 'shoots with power'.

Do you think the CM (S) makes more runs from midfield than the BWM on a support duty?

The arriving late PPM will hopefully allow him to offer those runs regardless of his role (support duty assumed), so Henderson would be a good idea for your runner. I'm not 100% sure on the last question, but I would imagine due to the BWM having more defensive duties, he would give less runs than the CM(s). I would definitely give this a bit of trial and error though!

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Sounds like it's working well for you! On those away wins did you switch to counter and do some in-game management or just keep it on attacking for the whole game? Yeah there are a few key roles in the team that if the player isn't up to scratch (youth player), the whole system can struggle. Glad to see it working for you:thup:

We won 3-1 away to Utd and 3-0 at Everton and thoroughly deserved both. We got battered by City but held firm and hit them on the break with 2 late goals to win 2-0. We won 1-0 away at Dortmund in a fairly even contest. We stayed on Attacking the whole time, though I may have tweaked the shape to structured from fluid at various points, especially late on in all of them. ;)

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We won 3-1 away to Utd and 3-0 at Everton and thoroughly deserved both. We got battered by City but held firm and hit them on the break with 2 late goals to win 2-0. We won 1-0 away at Dortmund in a fairly even contest. We stayed on Attacking the whole time, though I may have tweaked the shape to structured from fluid at various points, especially late on in all of them. ;)

Good to hear mate! Would definitely recommend sticking it down to counter for big games, although in game management will be needed if you do that :brock:

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Continues to be a really good thread. Glad to see things working well, and especially glad to see you continuing to update the thread with comprehensive analysis.

How do you record .gifs and where do you store them?

Thanks RTH, considering leaving stuttgart soon and trying out this in scandanavia in a challenge over there. As for the GIFs I'm using the Gyazo one. Used to be just screenshots but they've updated it to GIFs too.:thup:

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Thanks RTH, considering leaving stuttgart soon and trying out this in scandanavia in a challenge over there. As for the GIFs I'm using the Gyazo one. Used to be just screenshots but they've updated it to GIFs too.:thup:

Hah would love to see you take on a challenge in Norway! Just dont pick Rosenborg as the league will be far too easy.

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