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Adapting to the opposition: how do you approach this?


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I've been watching some of Rashidi's videos these past few weeks and he pretty much demonstrated how you can completely flip things around with a fluidity change. The effect can be massive. For example you can escape heavy pressing and simulate a 'high tempo' instruction just by going more structured.

The one thing we can all agree (i think) is that a balanced,sound tactic will not work in every situation. You may have set the players' movement well, they may have good passing options on paper, but this is very abstract. A specific match situation can make this balanced tactic look trash. The notion of only watching how your players are playing and disregard the opposition is idiotic.

So, how do you approach adapting the tactic? The options Tactic Creator offers are many and you can achieve similar on-pitch results in very different ways. Is the option of sticking with a fix mentality-fluidity and changing  only Team Instructions still a viable one?

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Interesting as I have just been thinking about this after watching some of Rashidi's videos too. 

Whats great is I have turned around my team almost miraculously by doing so. I've gone from 22nd in the championship with Blackburn to promotion places, from losing 5 on the bounce to winning 8 in a row. I'm not saying this is the only reason for the turnaround but its certainly contributed. 

From watching Rashidi's videos I have started to do a quick analysis of the opposition, what their main shape is, their dangermen and how they tend to play. 

Example 1: I played up against a team  who play in a 4231. They have a very creative AMC and 2 all round MC's. Their right wingback is quite offensive and their wide players come inside. Looking at a previous game I can see that their pass combinations usually revolve around the MC's and the AMC and the RWB. 

My usual  shape is a 41221. My plan is to stop their MC's from playing out to their attacking players. I play on counter mentality but fill my central midfield with aggressive hard men and set high pressing on the two opposition MCs. I also turn my forward into a defensive striker in the hope that he will break up any passing from the back. My left winger is set to support duty in the hope that he will harry the RWB. 

Example 2: I play against a side who are using a deepish 442. I can see from the pass combinations that the MC's pass out wide and the forwards are coming back into midfield to get involved in play. I will need to outnumber them in midfield whilst protecting my flanks and exploiting the spaces between the lines.

I play a 4411 formation with a SS and a DLP/S in the hope that my forward movement can break between the lines of the 442. I have both wide players on support to protect my flanks and I also have both central midfielders on support so as to push up on them as I assume they will be sitting back, thinking my backline will be able to handle their front two who don't try and beat us for pace. 

Later I'm winning 2-0 and I see they have changed to a more attacking varient of 442 and so I change to a 4141 in order to control the centre but also hold the flanks. 

I think thats a couple of the changes I've made recently and I think I've seen the benefit, previously I tended to just hit and hope and not bother with making changes according to opposition, but i think its vital now, especially if you don't have a top quality set of players.

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I only directly adapt to the opposition by choosing between my three universal tactics on a game-by-game basis. Although what other teams do and how they can be exploited is something I put a lot of time into figuring out, with a view to improving my own tactics, their specific strengths and weaknesses isn't something I primarily base my tactics on. Otherwise, I'd be understating the importance of my own team's strengths and weaknesses. If I did the opposite and based by tactics primarily on my team's strengths and weaknesses, I'd be understating the importance of the opposition. 

To create universal tactics that help balance out every external factor and can adapt to any circumstance, I base everything around the alchemy of the team rather than individual players, other than on set pieces. This means I have everyone on a standard role, which means DLF for ST's as that comes the closest, no additional player instructions, a 'very fluid' team shape, along with the 'be more expressive' and 'roam from position' team instructions. I also don't have many attacking team instructions that come outside the realms of team shape, as those things have to be decided by the players on a case-by-case basis.  When you're outnumbered in attack, it's more important to be unpredictable there, even if you run the risk of making mistakes or losing the ball, than it is when you're outnumbering the opposition in defence and just want to win the ball back as quickly as possible without conceding a chance. It also helps how many goals come from opposition mistakes, counter-pressing, or both.

On opposition instructions, I show everyone to their weaker foot, but that's the same for every team.  As far as I've seen, nobody else does anything like this process, so maybe I'm missing something :-). 

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I play slightly different that most people who post. There's no right or wrong way to play but I'll explain why my approach works for me.

I never adapt to the opposition ever. The reason for this is I don't like to complicate the game for myself because I tend to create my own playing style and philosophy. So for this to work I can't be adapting to the opposition because then you never truly have a defined style of play as you constantly change game by game and I lose sight of what I am creating. Instead I focus solely on what my side and players are doing. I don't mind giving up space, I don't mind being pressed high up the pitch etc as long as my players are doing exactly what I want them to do and play the style of football I've created. I concentrate on that side of things instead. I think a lot of people at times lose sight of what their own players are doing and over focus on the opposition and trying to counter every aspect when there's no real need. If they do all the things I want them to do, then I know in 90% of the games I'll get the result needed.

My bench is full of people who play the roles differently to the players who start the game. I never have two players who play the role the same way, I don't personally see the point in that. I like having options that are different to really change the game. So this aspect of the game is probably the most important bit of the whole game for me.

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Tactically, I don't adapt much.

I'll have my standard tactic and then a defensive one. If I'm a big team, it's standard all the way, unless I'm really focused on closing out a match or I have a big first leg lead and expecting easy counters against a very attacking team. If I'm managing any other team, I'd usually roll out the defensive tactic away against the big boys.

Where I do some adapting is in player selection. Again though, if I'm one of the top teams in the league, I don't care too much. They can worry about me. It's much more important to me if I'm a mid or low level club. Then I feel I need to try and find some advantage and for me, that's in player match-ups. Staying within my tactic, I'll try and find weaknesses, like me fielding a good dribbler against a player who's tackling is poor. Or I'll choose my AMC with the best off the ball movement against a player with poor positioning and marking. That sort of thing, all within reason though. I'm not going to go and call up a 1* 16 year old from the u18s because he has the best off the ball, but 1s and 2s for everything else. It still needs to be a strong team.

 

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The only real tactical adaptation I'll make is considering how many strikers the opponent has. Occasionally I'll use formations with no DM and only 2 DCs, but if an opponent is not weaker and has 2 strikers I'll opt to use a formation with 3 defenders in that area.

That said, my favourite formation has been 4-1-2-3 DM (and now 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow) regardless of my opponent in my current game, I typically don't make any tactical adjustments as my players are brought in to fit into my existing tactical framework.

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