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I've recently started a game with Schalke.  While I'm not trying to replicate their current tactic (personally, with Schalke's personnel and their statistics I don't think you can) I did Google their tactics and their manager (Domenico Tedesco) after I struggled to work out a tactic for them.  What I found is that he is similar to Julian Nagelsmann.  That's about all I found.  Most of the recent articles revolve around the 4-4 with Dortmund.  Not a lot to work with but I did take into account what players are playing where under Tedesco.


Before my googling I made the following observations:

  • Midfield pace is slow - average of 12, worst in Bundesliga is 11.92.  Schalke are a slow team
  • Midfield acceleration is well above average at 13.6, with the best being Mainz at 14.
  • If I look at the players that I see as first XI that could play wide I have Meyer as pace 11, acceleration 14, 10. Eugene Konoplyanka pace 16, acceleration 18, 28. Alessandro Schöpf pace 12, acceleration 14, 14. Amine Harit  pace 11, acceleration 14.  The only quick one amongst them is Konoplyanka.  Due to this I don't see wide play as an option.
  • For full backs, Coke is slow (12 pace, 11 acceleration) Riether is ok (15 pace, 12 acceleration), 18. Daniel Caligiuri is quick (17 pace, 13 acceleration) and 24. Bastian Oczipka is quick (16 pace, 12 acceleration).


At the start of the season after noticing the poor pace in my team I asked the groundsman to make the pitch as small as possible.  My theory is that with a smaller pitch to cover I shouldn't get caught out with balls being played into space at home.  It also should make it easier to defend as attacking players have less space to work in.  Having less space to work in is also a detriment as it means my attackers have less space to work in.


While I tried to shoehorn players into a system which relied on quick wingers it just didn't work.  I sort of knew it wouldn't but hoped for the best.  I needed to rethink my style.  I decided that a 3 man defence with wingbacks would be best as I actually have pace in those areas to get forward and provide width.  Here came the next revelation - the wide defenders are poor at defending:

	Player - Positioning - Tackling - Marking
	Coke - 10 - 13 - 10
	Riether - 12 - 14 - 13
	Caligiuri - 10 - 10 - 8
	Oczipka - 9 - 10 - 10

Having an extra defender will help cover the lack of defensive ability out wide.  Luckily my central defenders are pretty handy with a 21 year old Thilo Kehrer being probably the worst but offering something different with his speed.  With defence covered my next headache popped up - midfield.  My midfield are not very good at passing.  While I have a good passer in Leon Goretzka (probably my best player) and some more than capable passers in Meyer and Bentelab the rest a plain crap.  We average 12th in the Bundesliga (16th best with Bayern averaging 14.15 as best).  My first question arrises here in how I can overcome this?  Usually if I had poor passers I would overcome it with a physical game (fast, direct game).  If I had a slow team I try and overcome it with a passing game.  I can't do either here.


What I have done is setup as follows:



With two ball playing defenders I have told the keeper to take shot kicks and distribute to the centrebacks.  Playing out of defence won't work wit BPD's due to their more risky passes PI (thanks @Rashidi & @Cleon).  I possibly only want the right CB as a BPD due to him potentially needing to make some risky passes to a high WB or volante.  Both DM's have been told to pass more direct with the BWM also being asked to shoot less often.  That is all the PI's I have started with.


Another thing I noticed is that I only have one left back.  I wanted to play McKennie so I couldn't fit Bentelab into the midfield. I felt having him as another passing option out wide would help.  While McKennie has been really good so far Bentelab has not been.  I may try Oczipka out there as I think he can also cover there.  This leads to Konoplyanka set as a winger.  With his cut inside from left wing trait it should mean he cuts inside even though he is set as a winger (again, thanks @Rashidi).  Being a right footer on the left wing will mean he doesn't cross too often either.  He needs to start wide to allow Bentelab to cut inside, otherwise inverted wingbacks will stay wide to provide the width if there was no wide player in front of him.  I am hoping that by having a IWB it will cover for the BWM if he is caught out of position but also provide a really good passing option from deep left on the field.


I have set the be more disciplined PI due to my teams poor passing.  the tooltip says it keeps the shape better at the expense of flair but my team is #1 in flair across the Bundesliga so this doesn't concern me too much.


There is the explanation of my tactic.  No for the main issue - I can't score!  My attack doesn't seem to get into attacking positions enough to be a real threat.  As an example here is a transition:


Embolo dribbled and ended up drawing 3 players towards him before passing to the volante (Bentelab in this instance).  Now Bentelab has no passing options and I expect him to lose possession here (he did - he passed to 6 who then pumped it forward for one of the left players to run onto which was never going to happen).  This poor transition sling-shotted into a goal for Stuttgart.  At half time of this game I have had 50% of my shots on target (good) - 1 on target out of two shots (bad).  For the most part my defence has held up well.  Stuttgart has had 4 out of 10 shots on target, also being forced to shoot from distance 4 times.  I don't like the amount of shots but I back my defence to cover for most of these.  If my attack was more potent it would be less of an issue.  At half time I switched McKennie to be a regular DM, Kehrer to be a CB, added PI's whipped crosses (mixed is a waste with no players forward who can head), roam from positions (try and pull some Stuttgart players out of position to allow my players to have more time on the ball) and push up much higher (get more players involved in attacking phases).  I also dropped shape to fluid and changed the IWB to an attack duty.  There was one good movement but that was about it:


This attack gets Konoplyanka passing to the IWBa who draws 4 players towards him:


The IWB is slightly out of position to make a cross to the three players waiting with 1 vs 1 at the top of the box.  By the time he moves into position he makes an innocuous that is cut out by one of the four players drawn to him as he had time to drop off into the box and effect the interception.  I lost this match 1-0 with 74% passing completion, 2 shots on target out of 4, 43% of possession.  Usually I don't care about possession (I had a great tactic with RBL whrere I averaged about 40% possession but the side was so strong when defending and attacking it didn't matter) but in this case I feel I need the ball as long as possible so my passing isn't my undoing.  What would you guys do with Schalke to counter their deficiencies?  I see Tedesco plays Kehrer on the left CB and I imagine that is to allow his pace to cover for attacks down the left.  What else could I do to get more balls into the back of the net?  I have watched a nearly all of @Rashidi Bust the Net series for FM17 and FM18 which has helped a lot.  I see he uses the offside trap in most of his tactics this season so that may be an option to try too.

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1 hour ago, Rashidi said:

Very nice analysis. Just understand why I use the offside trap and your journey is complete. I use it to compress space when I defend.

Thanks mate.  I know I am almost there.  I have identified a few weaknesses and a few strengths but how do I bring it all together to strengthen the good and lessen the bad?

Edit:  That is a bit of a blunt question.  What I am after is getting players into a decent attacking area to have dangerous shots.  I think it would be a mistake to pinch Tedesco's ideas as I don't see the players being suitable (Meyer doesn't look like hecould play deeper, for example).

Edited by nick1408
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  • 2 months later...

If you're still looking for a tactic of sorts, I have found Bustthenet's 4-2-3-1 guide to be great and fit Schalke really well.


With Oczipka having great crossing, I usually encourage him to get forward and Coke/Kehrer to be the more reserved full-back. Nastasic's ball playing abilities complement Naldo's brute force well, and a double pivot of Bentaleb as a DLP-S and Goreztka as the engine, Volante-A, works good.

I play Kono on the left as in IF to utilise his trickery (one of Schalkes best players), and Harit/Meyer in the AM as a AM as they drop deep and help transition the midfield up. Caligiuri on the right as a W-A to add width and to stretch the game, or Burgstaller as a Raumdeuter to use the space thats created by the passing combinations on the left of the pitch.

Up front is up for grabs, with Embolo and Advidaj offering very opposite options. 

Anyway heres the guide I used...



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And yeah, Meyer deep on FM is a big no-no, he's utterly crap defensively. I mean you could try to train him there, as you have Goretzka/McKennie/Bentaleb/Stambouli who have the work rate to cover for him. But yeah, Meyer is better in the AM I think.

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