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Marcelo Bielsa's Tactical Philosophy in Football Manager 2017


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54 minutes ago, Ö-zil to the Arsenal! said:

Bored in this lockdown and playing around with the tactics creator, just came up with this :cool:


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@Ö-zil to the Arsenal! how do you get the current squads into FM18? Have you got a database download you share a link for? I’m still on 18, as the tactics creator in 19 & 20 is guff. Your posts have greatly changed the way I view the tactics creator and match engine, it is sublime work - in depth and easy to understand - I’d just like to be able to apply some of these ideas using the current squads, but with a tactics creator that is fit for purpose. 

Edited by The Ninth Wave
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57 minutes ago, The Ninth Wave said:

@Ö-zil to the Arsenal! how do you get the current squads into FM18? Have you got a database download you share a link for? I’m still on 18, as the tactics creator in 19 & 20 is guff. Your posts have greatly changed the way I view the tactics creator and match engine, it is sublime work - in depth and easy to understand - I’d just like to be able to apply some of these ideas using the current squads, but with a tactics creator that is fit for purpose. 


Thank you for the kind words! I use the latest transfer update I was able to find online - it was literally a google search and then giving it a shot. Check the major FM fansites and search you should find one. They're far from an exact science but you should find something roughly playable :thup:
 

55 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

@Ö-zil to the Arsenal! That's awesome 👍 I'm just curious what are your reasons for still playing an older version of FM? How do you find the current ME when it comes to crafting tactics. Im still not sure what to think of Fm20 compared to other versions. It just seems to me that I had more success with tactics in FM18 and FM19.


 @The Ninth Wave sums it up in the post above pretty well! :lol:

I enjoy the tactical element of the game and just cannot get engaged with the tactics creator from FM2019 onwards despite many efforts, I'm afraid.. :(

Vertical tiki taka :seagull:  Feels like it was designed by someone who has never kicked a football in their life.

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42 minutes ago, Ö-zil to the Arsenal! said:


Thank you for the kind words! I use the latest transfer update I was able to find online - it was literally a google search and then giving it a shot. Check the major FM fansites and search you should find one. They're far from an exact science but you should find something roughly playable :thup:
 


 @The Ninth Wave sums it up in the post above pretty well! :lol:

I enjoy the tactical element of the game and just cannot get engaged with the tactics creator from FM2019 onwards despite many efforts, I'm afraid.. :(

Vertical tiki taka :seagull:  Feels like it was designed by someone who has never kicked a football in their life.

You mean the tactical presets? I never use those anyway as they usually use an overkill of team instructions.

But do you actually feel like the ME went downhill? In terms of how responsive it is to player input. Ive been debating whether i should go back to fm18 as sometimes I feel like whatever I do in FM20 tactic creator has almost no input in matches as I see my players blasting from long range or doing things I didn't instruct them too. In general over the years I found the game to be less and less responsive to player input in the tactics. Like in FM14 i felt like instructions had a huge impact where you had a lot of tactical control while in FM20 it feels so random at times.

Of course some will argue that it shows the game becoming more realistic and less susceptible to exploitation. I just miss that feeling of tactical triumph i had in older FMs.

Edited by crusadertsar
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Really happy to see this thread resurrected as I’m trying to run a Bielsa-style 3-3-3-1 with Minnesota United on fm20. I agree with the issue of the IWBs wanting to do their defending in a flat 5, so I’ve been testing with double volantes beside my defensive midfielder in late preseason. I’ll give an update once I have a bigger sample size.

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  • 8 months later...

Here is my Bielsa tactic for FM20 I've been working for a while. This is my interpretation. I could change the striker position to a more support duty but it has helped me to get more goals out of the tactic. In the championship I played a full season with Very Fluid and Very Attacking and finished with 40 wins, 6 draws, 0 losses, and 99 Goal Diff. Leeds score the most goals and won the most games in Championship history with this tactic. It has been mixed results in the Premier league, I have also switched to Attacking, as we were leaking a lot of goals, but in true Bielsa style, I refuse to change the style anymore than that, whatever will be, will be.

I also won the league two seasons in a row with Racing Club de Avellaneda. Some really great football to watch, with verticality, width and decent possession stats (57-62%) most matches. 

There are a lot of player instructions, which could probably be reduced but this helped to create a tactic in this ME that I believe is pretty close to Bielsa football, certainly entertaining attacking football that's for sure!

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Screenshot 2020-12-28 at 3.45.50 PM.png

Bielsa (v. 1 Striker).fmf Bielsa (v. 2 Strikers).fmf

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4 hours ago, malemute kid said:

Hold Shape rather than Counter on a Bielsa team? Does attacking or very attacking mentalities compensate for this instruction change? Because Leeds break very quickly in large numbers...

Yeah they still counter at speed, but I find the players are a bit closer together for quick one-two passes, before a switch to an opposite flank, or a longer through ball. You could definitely change to counter, but I have found this works for me.

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14 hours ago, VirgilFanDijk12 said:

Yeah they still counter at speed, but I find the players are a bit closer together for quick one-two passes, before a switch to an opposite flank, or a longer through ball. You could definitely change to counter, but I have found this works for me.

Interesting, I tested this (very attacking + high tempo + hold shape) a bit myself in preaseason last night in FM21 and it is similar to what you describe. I also looked at your tactics as I was curious with about your PIs, any reason you used pass shorter and mark tighter as a PI rather than TI? I think I saw those instructions on every player, except maybe the CBs didn't have mark tighter. I think one of the hardest things to recreate about a Bielsa system is going to be the mix of rapid short passing with some occasionally very direct play. Maybe Tries Long Passes or Likes to Switch Play PPM along with short passing instruction? 

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11 minutes ago, malemute kid said:

Interesting, I tested this (very attacking + high tempo + hold shape) a bit myself in preaseason last night in FM21 and it is similar to what you describe. I also looked at your tactics as I was curious with about your PIs, any reason you used pass shorter and mark tighter as a PI rather than TI? I think I saw those instructions on every player, except maybe the CBs didn't have mark tighter. I think one of the hardest things to recreate about a Bielsa system is going to be the mix of rapid short passing with some occasionally very direct play. Maybe Tries Long Passes or Likes to Switch Play PPM along with short passing instruction? 

Yeah I used 'mark tighter' and specifically marking certain positions in order to try and recreate the Bielsa man marking system, without complete chaos. As for pass shorter, I picked that because I thought it would help with possession, but in combination with the higher tempo + very attacking it would reflect that one-two possession style but with more verticality. I've trained/I am training 'one-twos' and 'likes to switch play' to as many players as possible.

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25 minutes ago, VirgilFanDijk12 said:

Yeah I used 'mark tighter' and specifically marking certain positions in order to try and recreate the Bielsa man marking system, without complete chaos. As for pass shorter, I picked that because I thought it would help with possession, but in combination with the higher tempo + very attacking it would reflect that one-two possession style but with more verticality. I've trained/I am training 'one-twos' and 'likes to switch play' to as many players as possible.

Gotcha, I am not looking at the tactic now so I must have misremembered that you had those PIs on every player. I like that you're using CM(s) as they're so customizable, Hojbjerg (great signing for such a system) tucks into the middle bank of 3 and Zaracho advances forward as the 1. Did you try using any WM instead of IF/IW? They have similar levels of customization and I think they will press harder by default from the midfield strata on support duty. 

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4 hours ago, malemute kid said:

Gotcha, I am not looking at the tactic now so I must have misremembered that you had those PIs on every player. I like that you're using CM(s) as they're so customizable, Hojbjerg (great signing for such a system) tucks into the middle bank of 3 and Zaracho advances forward as the 1. Did you try using any WM instead of IF/IW? They have similar levels of customization and I think they will press harder by default from the midfield strata on support duty. 

Here's a tweaked 4-1-4-1 version, has achieved some decent results too.

 

Screenshot 2020-12-30 at 7.33.41 PM.png

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For months now, I've been trying various ways of replicating Bielsa's tactics on football manager. This thread rekindled curiosity's flame and now I'm back to working on it. Part of what I enjoy most about this is the amount of research it can take. I stumbled upon this article regarding Bielsa's influence of Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton squad and had myself a look at the two graphical breakdowns of Bielsa's Chile side created by Jed Davies (side note: if you're interested in Bielsa, he's a great English-speaking resource) used by the writer of the article. In Davies' analysis, he provides us with a full breakdown of the exact way the different roles worked on the pitch in both attack AND defense. Something I've seen repeated across this very forum related to tactics has been that the formation refers more to how your team defends and less how it attacks. I have found this to be true as I'm sure many others of you have as well. So, sticking with this framework of the tactic as it relates to FM's match engine and combing it with Davies's analysis, I've developed the following 5-4-1 tactic which I believe will better represent Bielsa's 3-3-1-3 in attack while maintaining a solid defensive structure.

I will now compare the analysis provided by Davies to my created tactic and explain some of the rationale and how I've seen fit to emulate Davies' analysis. Beginning with the defensive phase, I have replicated D1 by forcing the opposition outside. WM on the left flank fills the D2 job fully by tracking back in line with the rest of the midfield while the winger on the right stays prepared to attack as outlined in D3 (note that keeping him in attack is crucial, according to Davies, as this winger is crucial to the transition. this is further replicated by reducing the player's pressing in the player instructions). D4 is covered by the CM (this is primarily why he is not a DLP or AP, but more on that in the attacking phase). Finally, D5 notes that the central overload facilitates interceptions and fast transitions, something made possible by defending narrowly and flooding the center.

Moving towards the attacking, or in possession, phase, Davies notes in A1 the wide-splitting back three which I have replicated with 3 BPDs and the two stoppers have individual instructions to stay wider. A2 again reveals the nature of the attacking winger, reinforcing the choice of setting him as a W-ATT. A3 describes the number 10 which I have (perhaps to some controversy?) opted to not use a playmaking role here and instead use a CM with PI's of "get further forward, dribble more, take more risks" accomplishing the tasks outlined by Davies. My thinking behind this is simple, playmaking roles in FM have "under the hood" consequences for tactics. Every playmaker role passively includes that they will seek to collect the ball more. And while this behavior may be "ideal" for a number 10, I do not feel it fits with the Bielsa system and leads to far too many breakdowns since opponents can man-mark the 10 out of the game. Moving on, A4 gives us insight into the striker position, which will be used a DLF on support to allow him to drop off the line and aid in the build up as well as open up a spot for the 10 and right winger to run into. A5 is obvious but provides us with crucial information for the development of the players in this role or what to look for on the market. "Often the fittest and most versatile in technical ability" explains Davies these IWBs on support will be critical in the success of this tactic. A6 tells us to overload the center, so we will by ticking "focus play down the middle." Finally, A7's description of the left winger lead me to stick with my WM on support but give him the "cross from byline" option.

While we cannot replicate a 1:1 tactic on FM exactly, I feel this is a good overall tactic that breaks away from traditional 4-1-4-1 DM Wide/4-3-3 DM and more exotic 5-1-3-1 shapes without sacrificing defensive solidity, possession, or cover in transitions. 

Player instructions are as follows:

LBPD, RBPD - stay wider, BWM - hold position, CM - get further forward, move into channels (optional), dribble more, take more risks, WM - cross from byline, W - less urgent pressing

Some final thoughts:

1) The DLF, TM, PF, and CF can all work in the striker role. TM might help with the quick transitions winning balls for the 10. If you have an exceptional striker he can play with the role attacking, but make sure he has the teamwork to play others in. 

2) You can play with a playmaker in the 10 slot, but I would only do it if you feel its necessary for the success of your season with the tactic. I strongly recommend scouting a playmaker and playing him in this role as is rather than making the role a playmaker.

3) I opted again the "play out of defense" option in possession because Bielsa isn't strict to it either. The quick transitions (hit early crosses) matters more for keeping the opposition under pressure and their press gets drawn by distribution to the centerbacks in transition.

4) The much higher line as the tactic is right now allows for the team to stay compact and explosive, but it is not perfect. Bielsa himself accepts this as a necessary flaw to achieve his football, I suggest you do the same! Or you can adjust it to opponents as you see fit. 

5) Similarly, you can move the focus of play in possession according to where the opponent is weakest, but as a general rule keep the play central and adjust it during matches accordingly. 

6) A few thoughts on transfers: Bottom line, most players need high marks (relative to your league ofc) in work rate, natural fitness, acceleration, teamwork and decisions. Wingers should be excellent at crosses. Forwards should be aggressive and brave and good off the ball. Your 10 should have flair, vision, dribbling, and technique. Defenders need to be comfortable on the ball but more importantly fast and intelligent. The ball-winning midfielder needs to stay back at all times and be good with positioning and decisions while clean with tackles. Both wingers should be able to cross, but the left needs to be able to shoulder the additional defensive responsibilities. IWBs will make or break this tactic and not many players are naturals in the position, so it might be helpful to find technical BBMs with high determination that you can retrain to fill these roles. Goalkeepers need to be (in some cases very, very!!!) comfortable facing one-on-ones.

7) Train players in new positions (like I said for the BBMs into IWBs) and make them learn to play one-twos. You can use a Libero in the central defense, but I would only do so if that player can actually do that well and not many can. Instead of purchasing one, retrain a taller, defensively sound DLP into a Libero instead. Bielsa loved developing his players, you should too.

There you have it. I hope this tactic is successful for you. I would love to do another one of these breakdowns, but I haven't been able to find something similar to Davies' detailed analysis of Chile with Bielsa's other teams. Let me know what you think and how the tactic works for you, I'm a full time student and don't have as many hours to dedicate to FM as I'd like at the moment, so we'll all be testing this together. Enjoy!

 

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4 hours ago, coach vahid said:

Why using hold shape and not counter?

I had used a few tactics on counter and, while that may seem logical for a Bielsa recreation, I found that countering combined with counter-presssing left the team very out of shape and resulted in lower possession than I wanted to achieve. The “hit early crosses” better facilitates the quick transition while maintaining shape and keeping the team on the ball. 

 

If you test and find it not high enough energy, feel free to tick the counter box and see, however I think the attacking mentality combined with holding shape provides those quick counters once they become available rather than senselessly committing players forward and being more caught out. This way, you should still see a lot of the ball (55%+ possession) and keep the opponent on the back foot.

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Interesting take, @bielsadidnothingwrong! I would love to get your insights on the more current system he is using with Leeds. I suppose the principles are the same, but the system is played differently. 

I found a good resource about it, but I'm not sure I am good enough to replicate it myself. https://rmarchioli.wordpress.com/2020/08/02/leeds-united-marcelo-bielsa-tactical-analysis/

At the moment, I'm trying it out with Newcastle in Premier League 2024/25. I took over a year ago, saved them from relegation and is currently 7th in the league playing a balanced 4-3-3 DM Wide. I have collected some information about the Bielsa principles from several resources, and Leeds is the main inspiration. I adapt to opponents, so the RPM can become a HB for example. Not super satisfied, but it gets me results and some play similar to the Leeds side. I believe PPMs are crucial.

What is not seen on the tactic I have attached is the man to man-marking that I've set up. Wingers, central mids, DM and full backs man mark. Front 5 press more urgent. Hoedt is marking a lone striker, and Stergiou can drop off and support if necessary. 

I am sure there are a lot of things that is not Bielsa-esque, though. I have not seen enough of Leeds, or Bielsa, to be able to copy it into FM21 in a great way, so don't see this as anything but a glimpse of inspiration.

Screenshot 2021-01-08 at 20.35.19.png

Edited by golden-goose
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@golden-goose that link is a fantastic resource! I actually consulted it when making some set piece routines in FM20. I did plan on doing another breakdown of his Leeds tactic, but unfortunately I am not as skilled of an analyst as Jed Davies so it would be based on an aggregation of analysis regarding Leeds as well as my own personal observations. If everyone here enjoyed the 5-4-1, I will definitely plan to do a similar breakdown of the Leeds tactic. 

 

If I can make one critique, the DM position in Leeds' system under Bielsa does not roam as much as the RPM will, and instead should remain a halfback. What I have done in the past is recruit an excellent DLP with traits like "tries long rang passes" and "switches ball to opposite flank" which accurately represents the way Kalvin Phillips plays. 1211307993_ScreenShot2021-01-08at12_21_26PM.png.a0484b042a7d373b76c8cb8a3de629af.png

A second observation is the RMD on the left flank. For Leeds, that role is performed by Jack Harrison who plays more like an out-and-out winger while the right flank played by Costa provides more central play. If memory serves, Harrison and Costa are left-footed which is important to the overall concept of the tactic. The first heatmap shows Harrison's position and the second shows Costa's. Note the circled area occupied by Costa that Harrison keeps away from as well as the denser number of touches inside by box taken by Costa.

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If you want a little more accuracy, I would play your left wingback at a fullback (support) and your right as a CWB on support. The CWB will support central play as well as pressure the flanks vacating by the inverted winger/inside forward on the right. I believe this is similar to the way Bielsa uses Luke Ayling.

Other than that, Bielsa utilizes the one-deep, one-forward rule with the midfielders and it looks like you've accomplished that with the CM-Mez combo. All the other roles work, I would increase support duties (winger and CF) to allow more fluid play in the final third.

 

 

Edited by bielsadidnothingwrong
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Thanks for your reply! Please give it a go and interpret the Leeds tactic, I'd like to give it a shot. 

To counter your feedback:

- It seems like Phillips actually is roaming a bit, as per the heat map? In the Tifo Football-analysis for example, they say Phillips search for space to receive the ball from the centre backs or the goalkeeper. If being pressed, he moves laterally to create time and space for himself. I may be wrong though. I agree with the PPMs you mention: tries long range passes and switches ball to flanks. FM-Phillips also have the PPMs Dives into tackles and Dictates tempo, but I'm not sure how much that would change anything when trying to replicate the style of play. I kinda feel he actually is a playmaker/ball magnet IRL though?

- I think I went with the RMD and Wa (with cut in from the right PPM) to get some unpredictability. Since my right side winger cuts inside from the right, I went with a winger to sometimes get him to cross and sometimes to attack the area. I may have seen some average position charts where they overloaded the right side as well, so that may have influenced my take on it. Where do you get your heat maps by the way?

(To be honest, I can't remember why I went with the RMD/Wa. Both my wingers are right footed, so I may have lopsided it. Not sure)

- I think you are correct with Ayling! I tried to play with an IWB since they stay wide if the player in front cuts inside, but he just spent way too much in the middle of the pitch. A CWB may be a better choice!

- The striker role is difficult. I wanted a support role there, but he helped out too much when the opponent had the ball in my back third. I want him to stay up front, ready to get the ball. 

- The CMs should have some PPMs as well I suppose. I think the Klick-guy should arrive late into the box for example. Tries killer balls on both Hernandez and Klich? Maybe long shots?

I also started out playing short passes, but since Leeds play the odd long ball now and then, Standard worked best. We average 400-450 passes, 88% succeeded, 55% of possession. Approximately 25-30% is played forward. I was afraid Balanced Mentality would be too conservative, but the vertical passing style is shown anyway. 

 

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58 minutes ago, golden-goose said:

- The striker role is difficult. I wanted a support role there, but he helped out too much when the opponent had the ball in my back third. I want him to stay up front, ready to get the ball. 

- The CMs should have some PPMs as well I suppose. I think the Klick-guy should arrive late into the box for example. Tries killer balls on both Hernandez and Klich? Maybe long shots?

First of all, I am enjoying the dialogue! I have spent so much of this process working these things out in my head that certain things never became apparent to me. The Phillips role is a great example. I will give it some time and look into some things and see how I interpret it now having heard your feedback!

Back to the matter at hand, yes, the striker can be tricky. I think if you have an attacking winger with close-down less (as I did with my 541), you will still have that forward presence you said you lacked with the supportive forward. Maybe even split the difference and reduce the forward's pressing intensity while keeping him on attack. 

Here's one analysis I've been looking at regarding the midfielders: https://danielfraizmartinez.medium.com/one-short-one-deep-a-look-at-the-singularity-of-kalvin-phillips-the-tactical-significance-f92e2d8c2682.

And here's another specifically on Klich: https://allstatsarentwe.medium.com/mateusz-klich-the-numbers-behind-leeds-uniteds-midfield-engine-c834d413873c. One thing specifically mentioned in the Klich analysis reinforces your application of the Mez, "Klich likes to operate in and around the half spaces in offensive situations." Additionally, the analyst mentions something that indicate other PPMs. Klich plays one-twos and plays killers balls. It also seems like he can get the crowd going as well. 

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I had some time to set up a single-season sim test lab using PSG. My thoughts behind this are simple; bring the tactic from the theoretical to the practical and generate some in-game examples of the tactic which I can look at. For the dpurposes of this experiment, I want to pretend as if a player just plugged this tactic in, put minimal effort into team cohesion and player development, and simply wanted to "simply play" with the tactic. To further exemplify this "plug and play" environment, I've selected to manage PSG. I will delegate all my tasks and sim to two periods in the game, each time I will simply set the tactic WITHOUT selecting the players and leave the rest of the the game. The only tasks I remain in control of are touchline instructions and and opposition instructions.

My first sim period takes us from the beginning of the French calendar in game (22 of August?) and brings us to the new year, 1 January 2021. For this period, I loaded the same tactic I shared in the post above, the v1,1 of the 5-4-1, and let the game do its thing. Here are the results for that period:

 

Spoiler

741712677_ScreenShot2021-01-08at9_14_53PM.thumb.png.93cd6ffaee0e8c0946297bdb1abbfa47.png

 

And here is a snapshot of the team analysis with the attacking efficiency 

Spoiler

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Needless to say, I'm not enthused by the initial results. While scorelines such as the 4-0 to Montpellier immediately jump out, the highlight package reveals three came from set pieces (set to default because this is not a total tactical package... yet) and one goal from open play (a low-XG screamer by none other than Mbappe). Other results stand out for the wrong reasons. The home loss to Nantes (0-2) and away loss to Reims (1-2) revealed some tactical inadequacies that needed addressing. 

The loss to Nantes presented me with a minor puzzle. Nantes had only been able to generate a poor .44 xG compared to my 1.41. But the critical breakdown for us came in the battle for the ball, Nantes humiliated us by coming to our ground and beating us (literally and theoretically it seems) at our own game. They dominated 60% of the ball with just over 700 passes but rarely penetrated into our third. They were content to let us chase the ball around in their own half according the heat-map and action zones. Clearly, we should have been more surgical with our finishing (addressed by training), but perhaps there is another answer in tweaking the tactic. All things being considered, I can see how this match played out in my head: Nantes are very defensive and lined up with a 4-4-1-1 and just worked the ball around until a break down of the high back line occurred. Regardless, I think this loss points to some necessary defensive and offensive tweaking.

The Reims result seemed much more fair in comparison. Reims took their shots well, their first goal came from a footrace to chace down a Ghislain Konan cross into the box between Diallo (at RCB) and the Reims striker. A wide free kick leveled it, until a nearly identical cross from the opposite side of the pitch as the last found a freshly substituted streaking Reims striker who yet again dusted by centerback in a footrace. While Diallo may be decently quick, his 11 positioning probably hinders him most. He finished that match with fitting 6.6 rating.

I'm sensing a pattern, let's examine one more loss and another match in which we gave up some goals. An an embarrassing away loss 2-0 to Lorient in which they outshot us, surgically finished with six shots all on target will be our next point of reference. Here, both strikers for the baddies scored and no one in the starting eleven finished below a 6.9 rating. The first goal came from a quick ball over our high back line launched at the edge of their half by the left center back into an ocean of space between my right-and-central defenders, the left striker squares it to the right, 1-0. Their second came from a horrible pass played by an under-pressure Diallo, who gave the ball up inside his own six yard box on an ill-advised clearance attempt.

In a 1-1 draw tp Bordeaux, the high back line saw a retreating Florenzi completely overtaken by the streaking Bordeaux left winger resulting in their goal of the contest. The only goal surrendered in the 3-1 win at home to Rennes resulted from their blistering pace out of defending a freekick, but an earlier goal had been canceled out by VAR in which again my central ball playing defender found himself on the wrong end of the highlight reel. 

I've focused my analysis so far on the domestic league, but results in Europe reveal what has been obvious from the get-go; the high-line is incredibly risky. The other thing made evident by this first half of the experiment: There needs to be more forward options from the midfield. With these two objectives in mind, I will next walk through some of my tweaks and then we will analyze the results of the second-part of the season. 

Edited by bielsadidnothingwrong
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What changed? Less is best. I're removed some TIs and tweaked some PIs.

In possession: 

- removed: be move expressive. The passes are risky enough, the movement patterns are perfect the way they are, perhaps this muddles things. 

In transition:

- removed: hold shape 

Out of possession is staying as is! Instead, I'll rely on some PI tweaks. I'm going to use my center BPD as the "free safety" in defense and have him close down less, keeping him central and ready to boot that final entry pass into the center away. I'm also going to tell the 10, CM on SUP, to move into channels and untick the "roam from position" option.

My goal with these tweaks will be to solidify the team on both ends of the pitch, providing more discipline in attack and solidify our most obvious weakness without compromising the overall goal of the tactic. Here are my results:

Spoiler

465619091_ScreenShot2021-01-08at9_15_35PM.thumb.png.21f881cff5ebae9b698e9e38023a8500.png

2123991833_ScreenShot2021-01-08at9_17_06PM.thumb.png.89b1e9b57086b14997d63dc3b2944062.png1499431946_ScreenShot2021-01-08at9_17_38PM.thumb.png.64749dafc167d3c802a9d72a7e51425f.png

 

At the very least, we're seeing much better results. I'll now peer into the results of these matches and take a look at how the changes to the tactic have contributed to this improvement. Big results like the 5-1 demolition of Nice early in the second-half of the season must have really helped morale. Looking at the match, we split possession 50/50 but it seems sensible that the attacking mentality kept the throttle open the entire time. The very first goal resulted from a deep cross from Neymar into the space immediately into the right channel where a 3-on-1 between Mbappe, Pereira, and Di Maria had formed. The Nice leftback incorrectly opted to mark the incoming 10 Danilo Pereira charging into the channel (already occupied by Mbappe sitting on the left centerback's outside shoulder) leaving it to Di Maria and the keeper. The additional instructions visibly paid off. 

Against Arsenal in the UEFA cup, the backline again struggled with the pace of opponents. In an affair in which neither team mustered above 1.00 xG, the match ended 3-0 to Arsenal. The gunners netted one from a set piece early on and Aubamayang punished our high central defender again. Despite the overwhelmingly positive results of the adjustments that came at the second half of the season, the high back line still remains as vulnerable as ever to fast forwards. Use this lesson to inform your game planning with the tactic accordingly and maybe drop the defensive line back a notch if necessary. 

The French Cup Final tie against Lille ended unfairly according to xG. Lille generated 3.09 xG to our tawdry 1.65. While Lille's only goal came predictably from a ball over the top of the defense, I did find some reconciliation by left IWB looked like a B2B streaking into the box to find the end of a deep cross from the opposite side of the pitch. 

Final stats: 

PPG: 2.16 (1st)

Goals: 77 (1st)

Shots for 556 (T-1st)

Fewest shots against: 193 (1st)

Pass C% - 90% (T-2nd)

POS% - 51% (8th) 

Dribbles - 145 (1st)

Shutouts - 19 (1st)

Fewest Goals Conceded - 24 (1st)

Top Scorer: Mbappe, 24 (also finished with 8 AST, .60 GLS/90, .20 AST/90, 2.00 K PS/90.

Most assists: Neymar, 16 (also finished with 18 goals, .52 GLS/90, .46 AST/09, team-leader in K PS/90 with 4.69 and highest average rating at 7.51)

Pass C%: Idrissa Geuye, 96%

...

Some takeaways: 

- I am really disappointed in our possession statistics. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I am looking forward to actually spending a season with this tactic and seeing what types of adjustments I need to make during matches to better keep us on the ball. I want to squeeze as much possession as possible out of a tactic with "hit early crosses" ticked now to test the limits 

-I never wanted this to be a "plug and play" tactic, but I am glad to see that with doing the bare minimum (delegating tasks, picking PSG, etc.) the results still come out in my favor. 

-When playing against a team that likes to go wide, I think adjusting defensive width is necessary. Maybe I will adjust the width to standard and run it again, but to be honest testing is really boring and I would rather just sit and play the game, flaws in my tactic in all. So thanks for making it this far, let me know what sort of results you're getting with using the tactic. I have attached the tactic with my adjustments to this post. 

Closing thoughts:

I want to move on to making a Leeds recreation as well as look into some set-piece routines, but like I said in my original post I am a full time student so I don't have as much free time to dedicate to these projects as I'd like. I've really enjoyed this experiment regardless of how boring it was waiting for the match results to roll in, I hope you enjoyed my write up. 

Attacking 5-4-1 - Bielsa 1,2.fmf

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Hey guys, 

Here is my attempt at Bielsa's Leeds in FM21. 

Some key aspects of my tactic that I feel are representative of the way he plays are: extremely wide, extremely high tempo, and extremely urgent pressing. I have chosen to have the passing range as "standard", in combination with PI's to certain players to pass short. These instructions help to create a range of passing, and "verticality", passing short, but mostly moving forward. The final detail to add is that I have not gone full man for man, for the sake of producing a tactic that doesn't descend into total chaos, but I have instructed the forwards, attacking midfielder, central midfielder and defensive midfielder to man mark, and mark tightly, leaving a back 4 to stay more in a rigid position for some safety.

There is only one tweak that should be made with this tactic, which is when I play against one striker use DLP (S), and when I play against two strikers use HB (D) in order to create close to a back 3 with more passing options. 

I achieved a 6th place finish with the base squad, with 56% possession, 2nd most in the league for: interceptions, possession won, and clear cut chances created. Good old Patrick "the hat-trick" Bamford got 20 goals, 8 assists and 16.19 xG from the DLF (A) position. I can include screenshots of that stats if you are interested.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2352308944

 

1155511932_LeedsTactic.thumb.png.04bf7f0eca5e8d8bd9826ac0c6d33c4b.png1724575728_Leaguetablefinish(Leeds).png.196ca36382128867fd7a51e95dfab55f.png

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4 hours ago, LHurlz said:

@VirgilFanDijk12 That's superb :applause:I reckon you've nailed practically every role there aside from Phillips being a HB but your reasoning for only playing that vs two strikers makes sense

Thanks @LHurlz I appreciate that! Yeah, I mean you could have it at HB all the time, but I do have 'distribute to playmaker' and 'take short kicks' so Phillips does what Phillips often does against one striker, which is drop slightly deeper, but into a position to receive a pass, creating a passing triangle with the CB's, rather than fully in to the back 3.

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16 hours ago, VirgilFanDijk12 said:

Hey guys, 

Here is my attempt at Bielsa's Leeds in FM21. 

Some key aspects of my tactic that I feel are representative of the way he plays are: extremely wide, extremely high tempo, and extremely urgent pressing. I have chosen to have the passing range as "standard", in combination with PI's to certain players to pass short. These instructions help to create a range of passing, and "verticality", passing short, but mostly moving forward. The final detail to add is that I have not gone full man for man, for the sake of producing a tactic that doesn't descend into total chaos, but I have instructed the forwards, attacking midfielder, central midfielder and defensive midfielder to man mark, and mark tightly, leaving a back 4 to stay more in a rigid position for some safety.

There is only one tweak that should be made with this tactic, which is when I play against one striker use DLP (S), and when I play against two strikers use HB (D) in order to create close to a back 3 with more passing options. 

I achieved a 6th place finish with the base squad, with 56% possession, 2nd most in the league for: interceptions, possession won, and clear cut chances created. Good old Patrick "the hat-trick" Bamford got 20 goals, 8 assists and 16.19 xG from the DLF (A) position. I can include screenshots of that stats if you are interested.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2352308944

 

1155511932_LeedsTactic.thumb.png.04bf7f0eca5e8d8bd9826ac0c6d33c4b.png1724575728_Leaguetablefinish(Leeds).png.196ca36382128867fd7a51e95dfab55f.png

This tactic. Wow. Brilliant recreation. Results are tremendous. Well done!

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Very well done, @VirgilFanDijk12! What does it look like in the defensive third without the ball? Is it similar to a 4-1-4-1, the 3 AMs are not too separate from the backline?

By the way, with both you and @bielsadidnothingwrong in here: did we get a conclusion with the movement of Kalvin Phillips? Does he roam at all, or is a more static playmaker role a better interpretation for him?

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I think Phillips has been relatively static, definitely staying central. Here's his seasonal heatmap (touches I believe) from sofascore: https://www.sofascore.com/player/kalvin-phillips/786028

 

If Leeds have needed to build out of the back with 3 this season, more often Ayling has tucked in as a 3rd CB rather than Phillips splitting the two defenders has a half-back

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On 11/01/2021 at 23:50, VirgilFanDijk12 said:

Hey guys, 

Here is my attempt at Bielsa's Leeds in FM21. 

Some key aspects of my tactic that I feel are representative of the way he plays are: extremely wide, extremely high tempo, and extremely urgent pressing. I have chosen to have the passing range as "standard", in combination with PI's to certain players to pass short. These instructions help to create a range of passing, and "verticality", passing short, but mostly moving forward. The final detail to add is that I have not gone full man for man, for the sake of producing a tactic that doesn't descend into total chaos, but I have instructed the forwards, attacking midfielder, central midfielder and defensive midfielder to man mark, and mark tightly, leaving a back 4 to stay more in a rigid position for some safety.

There is only one tweak that should be made with this tactic, which is when I play against one striker use DLP (S), and when I play against two strikers use HB (D) in order to create close to a back 3 with more passing options. 

I achieved a 6th place finish with the base squad, with 56% possession, 2nd most in the league for: interceptions, possession won, and clear cut chances created. Good old Patrick "the hat-trick" Bamford got 20 goals, 8 assists and 16.19 xG from the DLF (A) position. I can include screenshots of that stats if you are interested.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2352308944

 

1155511932_LeedsTactic.thumb.png.04bf7f0eca5e8d8bd9826ac0c6d33c4b.png1724575728_Leaguetablefinish(Leeds).png.196ca36382128867fd7a51e95dfab55f.png

In the picture it shows the left winger playing as a winger. When you download the tactic that position is a IW?

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1 hour ago, Sarriball14 said:

In the picture it shows the left winger playing as a winger. When you download the tactic that position is a IW?

Yes, it's very much up to you which you prefer @Sarriball14 if I play Harrison I play him as a winger as he's left footed, but if you're using this tactic with a different team you can keep the IW. I have tested this with Leeds, Celtic, RB Leipzig and Wolves, it works very nicely with IW, as they also have stay wide instructions to stretch the pitch. I would suggest just changing it to winger mate.

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4 hours ago, golden-goose said:

Very well done, @VirgilFanDijk12! What does it look like in the defensive third without the ball? Is it similar to a 4-1-4-1, the 3 AMs are not too separate from the backline?

By the way, with both you and @bielsadidnothingwrong in here: did we get a conclusion with the movement of Kalvin Phillips? Does he roam at all, or is a more static playmaker role a better interpretation for him?

It resembles a 4-1-4-1 without the ball most of the time. The CM (Klich role) drops back a bit, and the 3 AMs usually do too.  Have a look at the off the ball position in the two pictures I have attached.

As for the movement of Kalvin Phillips, I've found he varies in different matches sometimes Ayling joins the 3 and Phillips will move sideway to receive a pass, sometimes (against 1 striker) they both push up and the CBs and the keeper try to pass around the press. I think moving between a HB and DLP (S), depending on opposition strikers, and the general strength of the opposition. I used a DM (s) sometimes in FM20 which is decent too, but he presses forward almost too much. 

I have yet to figure out how to get a full back to join 2 CB's to form a back 3 yet, but I'm trying to for a Peter Bosz tactic I'm try to create at the moment. If anyone knows how to replicate that please let me know.

Screenshot 2021-01-13 at 7.22.35 PM.png

Screenshot 2021-01-13 at 7.23.20 PM.png

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7 hours ago, VirgilFanDijk12 said:

I think moving between a HB and DLP (S), depending on opposition strikers, and the general strength of the opposition. I used a DM (s) sometimes in FM20 which is decent too, but he presses forward almost too much. 

This seems to be my conclusion as well. Analyzing available matches and comparing what I've found with more seasoned profession analysis is just that. His movement is very dynamic and largely depends on the system. I think in some cases he can be a libero, a halfback, and a regista/supportive DLP. But no matter what role he plays, his ability to throw himself into tackles and pick out a long ball never change. After watching a few matches in FM, the roaming playmaker role actually fits a player like him very well because it requires both offensive and defensive acumen.

Let's take a look at some heat maps from a couple of his games in the premier league:

Below we see his overall heat map from this season. His versatility is on full display here as we can see his influence peppered across the midfield, but the majority of his touches are coming in his own half.

638146721_ScreenShot2021-01-13at12_03_45PM.png.1bed3515f83a4a44cbf566a8d91e4e16.png

It would appear though that in matches where he lines up in the DM slot, he spends much of his time in his own half. In a 5-2 thumping of Newcastle, you can see him influencing play further up the pitch, but when their fortunes were reversed against United Phillips stopped being so adventurous. 120832353_ScreenShot2021-01-13at12_33_31PM.png.5f9bcf53a5a762b277f26dc0526fb4b8.png248572417_ScreenShot2021-01-13at12_36_36PM.png.541de9449740502f0f987da325e94389.png

Phillips movement between his and his opponents' half can also be seen in the 3-0 loss to Spurs.

1517999885_ScreenShot2021-01-13at12_39_04PM.png.0515588d599b2e26a1282a611c475e05.png

However, Bielsa uses his versatility to its full advantage when changing shapes to match opponents. Against Burnley, Phillips say in central defense playing the FM-equivalent Libero role for Bielsa's Whites amassing 75 touches (more than any other player), 41 carries, and hitting 12 long balls. 1162119862_ScreenShot2021-01-13at12_43_01PM.png.51099f2b5c5c8a63c857de3ce72d8fb3.png

Phillips has also seen action further up the pitch against Chelsea and Everton where Bielsa lined up him alongside Klich/Dallas in a double pivot.

378899711_ScreenShot2021-01-13at12_49_18PM.png.f401cdd648a5461796d486180cca74a2.png682929598_ScreenShot2021-01-13at12_48_55PM.png.4311b668ff84584f1f3519fa12e93c96.png

What to make of all these heat maps? Bielsa makes proactive decisions on his team's shape which we have seen has an impact on Phillips' positioning on the pitch which makes translating into a role/duty difficult at a glance. While finding the right answer for his position has proven to be difficult, I think we can narrow it down based on what we've seen here to a supportive playmaker in the holding midfield position for most matches. Looking at FM21 roles under the hood, the RPM collects the ball more, carries the ball more, and tracks back defensively. As outlined on Guidetofm.com, the RPM in the DM slot has the primary tasks of defensive support as well as on and off ball runs with a secondary task of creating. These cover Phillips' responsibilities nicely while some PPMs and TIs will unlock the full use of the role in FM. 

Until SI adds the PPM for the DM to split the defenders or makes a playmaking-halfback role, the DM RPM makes the most sense for replicating Kalvin Phillips under Bielsa in FM21.

 

Edited by bielsadidnothingwrong
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Absolutely loved reading that @bielsadidnothingwrong thank you so much. Here is my final suggestion, I don't know if this works, I'm thinking about it without testing it. How about CB's sit wider PI's, then have a DM (S), with goalkeeper to specifically distribute to the DM (S), you could add a PI to take more risks. That should instruct the DM (S) to drop slightly deeper to collect the ball without becoming a CB, plus he will tackle hard and press, and also mix up passing range. 

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@VirgilFanDijk12 Thank you very much, I enjoyed preparing it!

As to your suggestion, I don't have experience with splitting two CBs (other than the natural amount they split to facilitate the HB dropping deep) but I have used it with a 3 man defense and it splits them out pretty wide so I would worry about a big hole being left in the center of the pitch when in possession spreading two central defenders. I also don't know how much the distribution settings will impact the playing out of defense, hopefully it would result in a quick exchange between the DM and CB but it may result in the playmaker taking the ball forward and bypassing the defenders altogether. While that may not sound too bad, I think a faithful Bielsa recreation must emphasize the use of defenders in buildup play. If you look at the stats for most Leeds matches, the CBs, Luke Ayling, and Phillips normally dominate touches and passes, so I always try to have a centerback get the first touch in the build up for my Bielsista tactics. But again, I don't know exactly how the ME would treat these instructions and handle any contradictions. The only way is to try and test! 

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2 minutes ago, bielsadidnothingwrong said:

@VirgilFanDijk12 Thank you very much, I enjoyed preparing it!

As to your suggestion, I don't have experience with splitting two CBs (other than the natural amount they split to facilitate the HB dropping deep) but I have used it with a 3 man defense and it splits them out pretty wide so I would worry about a big hole being left in the center of the pitch when in possession spreading two central defenders. I also don't know how much the distribution settings will impact the playing out of defense, hopefully it would result in a quick exchange between the DM and CB but it may result in the playmaker taking the ball forward and bypassing the defenders altogether. While that may not sound too bad, I think a faithful Bielsa recreation must emphasize the use of defenders in buildup play. If you look at the stats for most Leeds matches, the CBs, Luke Ayling, and Phillips normally dominate touches and passes, so I always try to have a centerback get the first touch in the build up for my Bielsista tactics. But again, I don't know exactly how the ME would treat these instructions and handle any contradictions. The only way is to try and test! 

I agree, when I used by tactic with Celtic, my CB's finished with 96% pass completion, they had a LOT of the ball, and my Phillips (DLP (s)/HD) completed more passes than anyone else in the league.

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1 minute ago, VirgilFanDijk12 said:

my CB's finished with 96% pass completion, they had a LOT of the ball, and my Phillips (DLP (s)/HD) completed more passes than anyone else in the league.

Things you just love to see! 

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On 11/01/2021 at 23:50, VirgilFanDijk12 said:

I have instructed the forwards, attacking midfielder, central midfielder and defensive midfielder to man mark, and mark tightly, leaving a back 4 to stay more in a rigid position for some safety.

@VirgilFanDijk12this looks great, well done! I’m two games into a Crystal Palace save and might introduce this as it’s not that far from my starting tactic. Quick question - someone mentioned a download link (they were asking about W or IW)?Or can I just use the screenshot and add the PIs I have quoted? Thank you

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50 minutes ago, jdubsnz said:

@VirgilFanDijk12this looks great, well done! I’m two games into a Crystal Palace save and might introduce this as it’s not that far from my starting tactic. Quick question - someone mentioned a download link (they were asking about W or IW)?Or can I just use the screenshot and add the PIs I have quoted? Thank you

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2352308944 

Yeh when you download it the left forward is IW, I change to winger when I play as Leeds because they have so many left footers. But, IW and W both work with the tactic so it's up to your preference on which you prefer.

Edited by VirgilFanDijk12
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4 hours ago, VirgilFanDijk12 said:

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2352308944 

Yeh when you download it the left forward is IW, I change to winger when I play as Leeds because they have so many left footers. But, IW and W both work with the tactic so it's up to your preference on which you prefer.

great, thank you! will let you know how Crystal Palace get on!

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4 minutes ago, VirgilFanDijk12 said:

In a different tactic I'm creating, I've managed to get my LB, who is a re-trained right CB, instructed to play inside and sit narrower (Konate) to tuck inside and become a CB in build up/transition. This could have some potential for the Ayling in the build up, Phillips push ahead conundrum. What do you think @bielsadidnothingwrong?

Screenshot 2021-01-13 at 11.15.21 PM.png

I often set an RB or LB to FB/d with Sit Narrower, Cut Inside and Cross Less to aid in this build up - Pirlo uses Danilo in a similar way to build up at Juventus.  Mixed with setting the opposite side CB with Sit Wider this can create a very nice back 3 in build up and the FB then does move forward to support the attacks when safe to do so.

 

I was actually thinking of trying this type of set up with the opposite side FB as an IWB/s and the wider CM (on the FB/d side) asked to Sit Wider and Run Wide With Ball to try and gain some staggered width (and depth).  I'm going to have a play with it this evening.

Edited by Lordluap
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2 minutos atrás, Lordluap disse:

I often set an RB or LB to FB/d with Sit Narrower, Cut Inside and Cross Less to aid in this build up - Pirlo uses Danilo in a similar way to build up at Juventus.  Mixed with setting the opposite side CB with Sit Wider this can create a very nice back 3 in build up and the FB then does move forward to support the attacks when safe to do so.

There's a thread about the 3-1-6 attacking formation where I've brought this up aswell. City is playing like this as well in the last few games with Zinchenko/Aké and even Mendy being the 3rd CB. But since there's so many teams opting to defend with a back 4 and attacking with 3 man in the back line, I think SI will probably do something to support this. Something like the HB holding his position between the CB (instead only in the build up), the FB (D) staying inside and the opposite CB going a bit wide so they can be symmetrical, the DMs/CMs coming deep and staying there aswell in a 3. There's a lot of options that we see in world football that we can't quite replicate in the game yet.

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2 minutes ago, drigaco said:

There's a thread about the 3-1-6 attacking formation where I've brought this up aswell. City is playing like this as well in the last few games with Zinchenko/Aké and even Mendy being the 3rd CB. But since there's so many teams opting to defend with a back 4 and attacking with 3 man in the back line, I think SI will probably do something to support this. Something like the HB holding his position between the CB (instead only in the build up), the FB (D) staying inside and the opposite CB going a bit wide so they can be symmetrical, the DMs/CMs coming deep and staying there aswell in a 3. There's a lot of options that we see in world football that we can't quite replicate in the game yet.

Absolutely, I saw that in the 3-1-6 thread.  Its very useful when the player executes it properly.  I for one hope for more advances in the defending roles from SI - the ability to use a Libero in a wider CB slot for instance (like Alaba and to create a nice triangle amongst 3 CBs) and like you say to allow a HB/narrow FB to fully aid in build up.

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Looks good @VirgilFanDijk12. is 27 your DM in that screenshot? What role is he in?

I have used the FB on "sit narrow + hold position" for Dallas' role on the left, but I think the biggest problem with replicating Ayling's role in Bielsa's system are all the different ways he can be used (in defensive line, at center back, out wide, in the center, in the box, and on the byline). Seems he and Phillips both fulfill a variety of roles and duties for Leeds depending on the type of opponent they face and the real challenge for recreating these tactics in FM comes from the various ways of implementing them successfully. 

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5 hours ago, bielsadidnothingwrong said:

Looks good @VirgilFanDijk12. is 27 your DM in that screenshot? What role is he in?

I have used the FB on "sit narrow + hold position" for Dallas' role on the left, but I think the biggest problem with replicating Ayling's role in Bielsa's system are all the different ways he can be used (in defensive line, at center back, out wide, in the center, in the box, and on the byline). Seems he and Phillips both fulfill a variety of roles and duties for Leeds depending on the type of opponent they face and the real challenge for recreating these tactics in FM comes from the various ways of implementing them successfully. 

Yeah 27 is my DLP (s). Tyler Adams is a very capable playmaker, with solid physicals and mentals.

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19 hours ago, Lordluap said:

I often set an RB or LB to FB/d with Sit Narrower, Cut Inside and Cross Less to aid in this build up - Pirlo uses Danilo in a similar way to build up at Juventus.  Mixed with setting the opposite side CB with Sit Wider this can create a very nice back 3 in build up and the FB then does move forward to support the attacks when safe to do so.

 

I was actually thinking of trying this type of set up with the opposite side FB as an IWB/s and the wider CM (on the FB/d side) asked to Sit Wider and Run Wide With Ball to try and gain some staggered width (and depth).  I'm going to have a play with it this evening.

Let me know how you get on, sounds intriguing.

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