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How on Earth do you defend crosses?


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Try removing the team instruction "play much narrower" think thats causing your team to leave too much space out wide which the oppostion wingers are running into.

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Sounds like you might be getting roasted on the counterattack, and in that case, the FB on defend may be even more vulnerable. You play high tempo, very narrow, and cutting down on crosses and long shots, plus up front you have two dudes who will drop deep and try to run at the defense with nobody running into the box. As soon as you lose possession, your flanks are exposed by virtue of you already playing narrow. No matter how good your defensive minded fullback are, they'll have a hard time stopping any rampaging wingers - a missed tackle on a winger in full speed and you're done. Even worse, a deep cross gives your defense no chance to regroup

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10 hours ago, dcaine100 said:

Try removing the team instruction "play much narrower" think thats causing your team to leave too much space out wide which the oppostion wingers are running into.

That instruction applies when your team is on the ball, it doesn't affect what happens when the opposition has the ball.

I think the reason why you could be conceding a lot of crosses might be connected with the way that you are defending the flanks.

The gap between your RB & RM is potentially huge which means that on most occasions you only have one player defending that flank.

As a result, opposition players can easily outnumber him and as he can't mark two players at once will find it very difficult to prevent crosses from coming into the box.

A similar problem exists on the other flank especially given the Very Fluid shape which means that even though the WM has a Support duty he will commit more to attacks exacerbating the gap between the two wide players.

As for possible solutions,

1) Take both defenders off defend duty. It will make them more proactive on the flanks by pressing opposing wide players more and also pinning back wide players as they begin to offer a threat offensively. One of the strengths of the 4-4-2 shape is the wide areas but you aren't exploiting that with the tactic you posted. You are giving the opposition way too much time and space on the ball and giving them nothing to worry about when they commit men forward on the flanks.

2) Get rid of some of the contradictory instructions, you have a Control mentality which takes a lot of risks but then you have Retain Possession which is totally risk averse. You have whipped crosses but also two strikers who are dropping deep when you have the ball. You have an Attacking mentality level of tempo but a set of attacking players who suit a more patient, passing-oriented style of play. The pieces don't fit together to form a coherent whole.

3) Reduce the shape to Fluid. I suggest this as in order to carry out a Very Fluid shape successfully you really need players which are great in every aspect of the game. Are all your players that well rounded?

4) Use OI on wide players or alternatively get your wide midfielders to man mark the oppositions wide midfielders.

7 hours ago, vanWolfstwinkle said:

I've set my width to play wider and I've changed one of the striker roles to AF. Haven't seen a difference but thanks anyways

The increased width wouldn't make much difference to defending the flanks as it is an on the ball instruction. An Advanced Forward isn't a False 10 role so that strike partnership isn't particularly balanced either.

Typical False 10 roles are:

Shadow Striker (Attack)

Attacking Midfielder (Attack)

Inside Forward (Attack)

Ramdeuter (Attack)

There are others which can work but these ones are best suited to it. The idea of a False partnership is that the more advanced False 9 creates the space for the False 10 to attack by dropping deeper and pulling defenders out of the defensive line.

I hope that has been helpful, good luck.

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1 hour ago, pheelf said:

A similar problem exists on the other flank especially given the Very Fluid shape which means that even though the WM has a Support duty he will commit more to attacks exacerbating the gap between the two wide players.

Not true. The WM on support duty has the same mentality on every shape from more structured to more fluid. For the fullback on a defensive duty, his mentality increases when you go more fluid vs. staying on flexible or structured, so being fluid would reduce the space between the fullback and the wide midfielder if anything. The reason why it might seem that a WM on support seems more attacking on fluid than on flexible is that the strikers would be less attacking, thus they are more likely to bring the supporting players into play rather than try to go forward immediately themselves.

1 hour ago, pheelf said:

2) Get rid of some of the contradictory instructions, you have a Control mentality which takes a lot of risks but then you have Retain Possession which is totally risk averse. You have whipped crosses but also two strikers who are dropping deep when you have the ball. You have an Attacking mentality level of tempo but a set of attacking players who suit a more patient, passing-oriented style of play. The pieces don't fit together to form a coherent whole.

Whereas I agree that there might be issues in the attacking play as there are no players running in behind the defence, I'm not sure if the whipped crosses TI has much to do with it as it only affects the type of crosses played, not the frequency of the crosses. It's more to do with when the players actually cross the ball than whether they should cross the ball. I think I also agree with the tempo, as the duties, combined with the retain possession TI, are constructed for a patient play, and higher tempo might move the ball forward too quickly, especially since there are no threats in behind the defence.

I do disagree with the bolded part though. Just because you have an aggressive mentality does not mean that you can't use retain possession. In fact, balancing the aggressiveness of a high mentality with a TI like that could be a good way of shaping up a certain style of play. This is because the control mentality creates the framework on which you build the rest of your tactic. Retain possession on a control mentality does not mean that your team becomes really patient and only looks to hold onto the ball, it just reduces the risks that the team takes on the ball which can be a good instruction to balance out the aggressiveness. This is true especially here, since the roles and duties favour a more patient approach. Retain possession basically does three things. It reduces tempo - like we concluded before when talking about tempo, this can be a good thing for a very fluid tactic that looks to bring more players into play rather than attack quickly. Secondly, it reduces passing length. This can be useful for the same reason. On this kind of a system you do not want your players to play the ball forward directly, as there are very little threats to attack the space behind their defence. Thirdly, retain possession reduces through balls. Again, isn't this good for a tactic that does not players who are constantly looking for spaces in behind the defence? I think retain possession is perfectly reasonable here to balance the aggressiveness of the mentality.

Here is a link to an excellent thread by @herne79 on how he combines attacking mentality with retain possession and passive duties to create a nice balance and patient yet attacking play in possession: 

 

1 hour ago, pheelf said:

An Advanced Forward isn't a False 10 role so that strike partnership isn't particularly balanced either.

Typical False 10 roles are:

Shadow Striker (Attack)

Attacking Midfielder (Attack)

Inside Forward (Attack)

Ramdeuter (Attack)

There are others which can work but these ones are best suited to it. The idea of a False partnership is that the more advanced False 9 creates the space for the False 10 to attack by dropping deeper and pulling defenders out of the defensive line.

I hope that has been helpful, good luck.

AF and F9 combination can actually make a really nice combination up top, with the F9 dropping deeper, looking to drag defenders out of position and then feeding the ball to the AF when he gains possession. Not much difference to the classic AF - DLF/S combo. Of course, here the F9 doesn't act as a classic lone "striker" dropping deep to create space for deep runners, but rather a runner beside/ahead of him, it does not need to be paired with a deep runner if this setup works, and I don't think there is a purely tactical reason why it would not work.

Of course, if you specifically want to make a false nine tactic combined with deep runners then AF does not fulfill that role, but here it doesn't really need to fulfill that role either.

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how to defend crosses??

stop them or reduce the quality of them

in other words you need at least one of these combos: WBRL, DRL, MRL with ultra closing down capabilities. with pace.

3 MCs midfields won't be enough on their own, neither would 3 DMCs midfields

 

for a 442 formation, u need either your MRLs or DRLs at max closing down

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Defend crosses is easy in the game, you just need to recognise what you are doing as a team - shape, what your mentality is telling your players to do and how the roles and duties you have chosen impact them.

Your width is irrelevant, in fact your choice of width is irrelevant. Mentality guides how far your players tuck in when you are defending. So how do you defend your flanks?

Recognise that different roles defend differently. The more aggressive an overall role is the more it closes down. Eg. A Wingback cetrerus paribus will track someone across the face of goal on a higher mentality and even on fluid, than a fullback will. The duties exacerbate them. 

Now if you are going to bomb down a flank, you need someone to protect it, naturally you need the fullback to do his work. So how do you use him optimally. Every manager in the world will tell you that they want the midfield to defend first before the backs go diving in. If your backs are going in first something is wrong, or the ML/MR is outta position. Check their role/duty, if you want them to play as a WB(A recognize that this could happen, so what you can do is to increase the closing down of the midfielders. 

Defending your flanks properly involves getting different groups of players to do different things:

1. You want passing lane channels shut
2. You want fullbacks or WBs to be the second player closing down. You want ML/MR to do their job properly.

Now I have given you guys enough information to go think about this..its going to be a combination of Defensive Line, Closing Down and Tackling

Your FB(D) could be sitting too deep, the channel between the WM(A) is too large, so you need to fix that, with a duty change, and you need to try playing it on Flexible if you want your team to play as focused groups. At the moment you could have a lot of your players doing the same thing at the same time.

 

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10 minutes ago, juusal said:

Not true. The WM on support duty has the same mentality on every shape from more structured to more fluid. For the fullback on a defensive duty, his mentality increases when you go more fluid vs. staying on flexible or structured, so being fluid would reduce the space between the fullback and the wide midfielder if anything. The reason why it might seem that a WM on support seems more attacking on fluid than on flexible is that the strikers would be less attacking, thus they are more likely to bring the supporting players into play rather than try to go forward immediately themselves.

1

I agree with the point that the mentality doesn't change but given his support duty (correct me if I'm wrong) doesn't that mean that on higher shape settings that he attempts to do more of everything including attacking which he will favour considering that the team mentality is Control. Whereas the defend duty fullback will focus more on defending and transitions and very rarely venture forward unless in the safest of circumstances even though his mentality has been bolstered by the shape and team mentality.

29 minutes ago, juusal said:

Whereas I agree that there might be issues in the attacking play as there are no players running in behind the defence, I'm not sure if the whipped crosses TI has much to do with it as it only affects the type of crosses played, not the frequency of the crosses. It's more to do with when the players actually cross the ball than whether they should cross the ball. I think I also agree with the tempo, as the duties, combined with the retain possession TI, are constructed for a patient play, and higher tempo might move the ball forward too quickly, especially since there are no threats in behind the defence.

I do disagree with the bolded part though. Just because you have an aggressive mentality does not mean that you can't use retain possession. In fact, balancing the aggressiveness of a high mentality with a TI like that could be a good way of shaping up a certain style of play. This is because the control mentality creates the framework on which you build the rest of your tactic. Retain possession on a control mentality does not mean that your team becomes really patient and only looks to hold onto the ball, it just reduces the risks that the team takes on the ball which can be a good instruction to balance out the aggressiveness. This is true especially here, since the roles and duties favour a more patient approach. Retain possession basically does three things. It reduces tempo - like we concluded before when talking about tempo, this can be a good thing for a very fluid tactic that looks to bring more players into play rather than attack quickly. Secondly, it reduces passing length. This can be useful for the same reason. On this kind of a system you do not want your players to play the ball forward directly, as there are very little threats to attack the space behind their defence. Thirdly, retain possession reduces through balls. Again, isn't this good for a tactic that does not players who are constantly looking for spaces in behind the defence? I think retain possession is perfectly reasonable here to balance the aggressiveness of the mentality.

Here is a link to an excellent thread by @herne79 on how he combines attacking mentality with retain possession and passive duties to create a nice balance and patient yet attacking play in possession: 

 

4

The point I was trying to make there was whether there was any point instructing the team to favour playing whipped crosses when there wouldn't be any regular recipients for them or any cross for that matter. I agree that it hasn't got anything to do with frequency and just defines the type.

I agree with all that you have said with regards to the usefulness of using TIs to temper the effect of playing a particular mentality but if you look at the team instructions he is using I question why he is using that mentality at all when he is using 4 different instructions which alter that mentality. Why select a higher risk mentality based on high tempo, quick transitions when that's not what the tactic is geared toward hence the contradiction.

43 minutes ago, juusal said:

AF and F9 combination can actually make a really nice combination up top, with the F9 dropping deeper, looking to drag defenders out of position and then feeding the ball to the AF when he gains possession. Not much difference to the classic AF - DLF/S combo. Of course, here the F9 doesn't act as a classic lone "striker" dropping deep to create space for deep runners, but rather a runner beside/ahead of him, it does not need to be paired with a deep runner if this setup works, and I don't think there is a purely tactical reason why it would not work.

Of course, if you specifically want to make a false nine tactic combined with deep runners then AF does not fulfill that role, but here it doesn't really need to fulfill that role either.

2

I agree that it certainly can be a good combination in FM but perhaps that's a failing of the ME as it really shouldn't be. The whole idea as I understood it for the F9 is about creating vertical spaces which other players in behind attack whereas an AF operates on attacking horizontal spaces (channels). Therefore, as a result, the F9 should be creating space that the AF can't really use as he is already ahead of the ball but because of the way that the central defenders behave it doesn't work that way. 

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2 hours ago, pheelf said:

I agree with the point that the mentality doesn't change but given his support duty (correct me if I'm wrong) doesn't that mean that on higher shape settings that he attempts to do more of everything including attacking which he will favour considering that the team mentality is Control. Whereas the defend duty fullback will focus more on defending and transitions and very rarely venture forward unless in the safest of circumstances even though his mentality has been bolstered by the shape and team mentality.

Well that's not exactly how it works. Shape is basically the distribution of mentalities across your team (plus the addition of creative freedom, but I tend to ignore it completely as a) it does not reflect how we use the word creativity in real life football and b) because it is almost impossible to quantify or see how it actually affects your team). With fluid shapes the mentalities of your players are closer together and with structured mentalities they are further apart. You can see how the mentalities change by going to the PI screen and see how long the mentality bar is, and then change shape and see how it changes. That's the best way to see how shape actually affects the mentalities and how your team is expected to play. What happens is that attacking players, that being mainly players with an attacking duty, get their mentality reduced in fluid systems (their mentality gets closer to the average mentality) and in structured systems their mentality is increased (their mentality is further away from the average. The opposite happens with defensive player. Their mentality is increased in fluid systems, and decreased in structured systems.

Thus, in structured systems attacking players are very attacking and defensive players are very defensive, so they have more clearly defined roles. In fluid setups, the attacking players are now a bit less attacking (compared to flexible or structured systems) and defensive players are a bit less defensive. So yes, in fluid systems defensive and attacking players are shifted more towards the team mentality and are involved in different phases of play more than in structured systems where they have their own jobs that they stick to. However, midfielders on support duties are pretty much unaffected by changes in shape. The thing is, supporting midfielders are, regardless of the shape, already responsible for all phases of play rather than concentrating on one. And this does not really change when the shape is changed.

3 hours ago, pheelf said:

The point I was trying to make there was whether there was any point instructing the team to favour playing whipped crosses when there wouldn't be any regular recipients for them or any cross for that matter. I agree that it hasn't got anything to do with frequency and just defines the type.

I agree with all that you have said with regards to the usefulness of using TIs to temper the effect of playing a particular mentality but if you look at the team instructions he is using I question why he is using that mentality at all when he is using 4 different instructions which alter that mentality. Why select a higher risk mentality based on high tempo, quick transitions when that's not what the tactic is geared toward hence the contradiction.

I agree that the tactic is not really aimed at a crossing game, but in slow attacks there are bound to be some crosses regardless so I don't necessarily see a problem with instructing the team to play those crosses in a certain way when they inevitably get those crossing chances.

I can really see a point in having a higher mentality and still opting for a more patient approach. Higher mentality pushes more players forward and makes them more aggressive when defending as well and there are certainly benefits, and there is no reason why that cannot be combined with a more patient buildup in possession. I agree that the higher tempo might not, depending on the situation, be a good instruction if it moves the ball forward too quickly, but considering retain possession reduces tempo I am not sure where the total effect lies and how the tactic plays out. I would start with a normal tempo setting and see how it plays out before making changes, so I think we agree there.

3 hours ago, pheelf said:

I agree that it certainly can be a good combination in FM but perhaps that's a failing of the ME as it really shouldn't be. The whole idea as I understood it for the F9 is about creating vertical spaces which other players in behind attack whereas an AF operates on attacking horizontal spaces (channels). Therefore, as a result, the F9 should be creating space that the AF can't really use as he is already ahead of the ball but because of the way that the central defenders behave it doesn't work that way. 

AF is actually a really vertical player, always looking to get in behind the defence whenever possible. I don't really know if it shouldn't work, you could even argue that the current 4-4-2 system that Barcelona play is similar to an AF/F9 combo with Messi playing in a deeper role, pulling out defenders, and Suarez playing further up looking to find any gaps. Sure, how Suarez plays might not be exactly characterised by the AF role, but the ideas are similar.

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16 hours ago, juusal said:

Well that's not exactly how it works. Shape is basically the distribution of mentalities across your team (plus the addition of creative freedom, but I tend to ignore it completely as a) it does not reflect how we use the word creativity in real life football and b) because it is almost impossible to quantify or see how it actually affects your team). With fluid shapes the mentalities of your players are closer together and with structured mentalities they are further apart. You can see how the mentalities change by going to the PI screen and see how long the mentality bar is, and then change shape and see how it changes. That's the best way to see how shape actually affects the mentalities and how your team is expected to play. What happens is that attacking players, that being mainly players with an attacking duty, get their mentality reduced in fluid systems (their mentality gets closer to the average mentality) and in structured systems their mentality is increased (their mentality is further away from the average. The opposite happens with defensive player. Their mentality is increased in fluid systems, and decreased in structured systems.

Thus, in structured systems attacking players are very attacking and defensive players are very defensive, so they have more clearly defined roles. In fluid setups, the attacking players are now a bit less attacking (compared to flexible or structured systems) and defensive players are a bit less defensive. So yes, in fluid systems defensive and attacking players are shifted more towards the team mentality and are involved in different phases of play more than in structured systems where they have their own jobs that they stick to. However, midfielders on support duties are pretty much unaffected by changes in shape. The thing is, supporting midfielders are, regardless of the shape, already responsible for all phases of play rather than concentrating on one. And this does not really change when the shape is changed.

8

Thanks, that's a really good explanation actually. Shape in this game is a mysterious thing which I think would be much better explained with visual aids. Currently, you have to go into each and every role to see where the mentality is, change shape then go into them again to see how it has affected the individual mentality. Surely there must be a more streamlined way of doing that.

16 hours ago, juusal said:

I agree that the tactic is not really aimed at a crossing game, but in slow attacks there are bound to be some crosses regardless so I don't necessarily see a problem with instructing the team to play those crosses in a certain way when they inevitably get those crossing chances.

I can really see a point in having a higher mentality and still opting for a more patient approach. Higher mentality pushes more players forward and makes them more aggressive when defending as well and there are certainly benefits, and there is no reason why that cannot be combined with a more patient buildup in possession. I agree that the higher tempo might not, depending on the situation, be a good instruction if it moves the ball forward too quickly, but considering retain possession reduces tempo I am not sure where the total effect lies and how the tactic plays out. I would start with a normal tempo setting and see how it plays out before making changes, so I think we agree there.

1

I agree with the idea behind what you say. I guess for me I just don't see the point in instructing a certain type of behavior when you haven't set up the roles in a way to benefit from it. From my perspective, whipped crosses don't make sense unless you have a player who constantly tries to break the offside trap to get on the end of them which a False 9 won't consistently do.

The reason why I feel that the Retain Possession instruction contradicts the style of play is that it is such an extreme instruction for a starting tactic. I feel that in order to make a coherent tactic you need to commit to a style of play otherwise you end up in a halfway compromise which doesn't do either particularly well. 

If he wants to play a style based on ball retention and breaking teams down using technically gifted players with methodical passing and movement then he should do that (although a 4-4-2 isn't suited to that). If on the other hand, he wants to play a hell for leather high tempo, quick transitions and pressing game then he should gear the team toward that. As it stands, the player roles don't match up with the way he is instructing his team to play.

17 hours ago, juusal said:

AF is actually a really vertical player, always looking to get in behind the defence whenever possible. I don't really know if it shouldn't work, you could even argue that the current 4-4-2 system that Barcelona play is similar to an AF/F9 combo with Messi playing in a deeper role, pulling out defenders, and Suarez playing further up looking to find any gaps. Sure, how Suarez plays might not be exactly characterised by the AF role, but the ideas are similar.

2

The AF is definitely a vertical player as you say in addition to being a horizontal one. In terms of the vertical spaces, I always thought that the AF wanted to exploit space in behind the defensive line whereas the F9 looks to create vertical space in front of the defensive line. That's why I say it shouldn't really work well as the supporting F9 isn't producing the vertical space that the AF wants to use.

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