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Hi all,

I’ve been a long time reader of this forum and looking to get more involved in tactical discussions. In doing reading on the forum I’ve managed to get a lot greater understanding about tactical settings and how things work and I think I’ve been able to definitely simplify things to understand how it all works.

Hoping to have a bit of a discussion here about something I’ve been encountering on one of my saves lately.

I’ll give a bit of background first. I’m playing as Leverkusen in a Pentagon save on FM17. I’m about 10 seasons in so none of my players will be familiar to anyone so will dispense with all the discussions around them unless required.

I’m currently working with 3 tactics, all of them designed to play to my strengths or a specific play style: A 4-4-2 narrow diamond to play with my good strikers and talented central midfielders, a flat 4-4-2 with fast wingers, and a defensive 4-1-2-3 (aka 4-5-1 DM) when I’m trying to play a low-risk style of game against strong oppositions.

It’s this last tactic that I’ve had trouble using.

This is the tactic, and the style of play I’m trying to achieve:


In Defence:

-      Defend with a medium-low block as my defenders are quite quick but good in the air so can cope with a bit of space in behind. Normally I defend on higher mentality tactics with a medium-high block.

-      Bank of 4 defenders with a CDM screen to have players behind the ball.

-      Close down a normal for the Defensive mentality; players won’t get pulled out of position and keep their structure.

-      All midfield trio get involved defensively due to support/defend duties.

In Attack:

-      DLFs drops deep to link midfield when in possession, before moving into box late to become a goalscoring threat

-      IFa’s are main goalscoring threat, cutting inside onto stronger foot and with strong goalscoring skills (repurposed strikers)

-      APs pulls strings as the team’s playmaker from midfield strata.

-      BBM moves between lines to support midfield and attackers

-      FBs’s overlap a bit, but not too much to be caught out on the counter attack

I’m one of the better teams in the league having finished 2nd last season and 3rd the season before, and there’s about a group of 5-6 of us who are on about the same level. I only tend to use this tactic in away games against the bigger sides, but find that they tend to flatten me.

I’ll admit I haven’t done an in-depth analysis on specific games as some of the folks on the forum do, mostly because of time constraints in my normal life. But anecdotally I tend to concede multiple goals, have fewer attacking chances, and have lower possession in a tactic that is designed to be reasonably cautious and with a formation designed for defensive stability.

Some of this I put down to the top-level regens in this game often being a bit stronger than players at the start of the game (Schalke’s striker is probably the best striker I’ve ever seen in FM), as well as playing against strong teams on their home turf. But it’s not because these teams are better than mine on the whole; last season I lost 4-0 away to Dortmund (eventual champions) using the 4-5-1 DM in the league and then later in the week beat them 8-3 at home in the cup (they scored 2 consolation goals) when we both used identical players and my only change was to my more comfortable narrow 4-4-2 diamond.

But in general has anyone had similar issues using lower mentality tactics? I’m fully aware that the tactic is not going to be one to blow teams away but in using it I’m trying to be a good, compact defensive side but end up being hammered in most of these games

I might play a few more games with it over the next few days (coming into a new season on the save) against some lower class teams and see how it goes and post my results. If anyone has any advice or discussion about this that would be great as well. 

TL;DR: I’ve tried to build a tactic that is defensively sound, but find myself getting beaten easily by similar strength teams with less possession and more opposition chances. Wanting to see if anyone has had the same issue and have a discussion about it.

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1 hour ago, kirby511372 said:
TL;DR: I’ve tried to build a tactic that is defensively sound, but find myself getting beaten easily by similar strength teams with less possession and more opposition chances. Wanting to see if anyone has had the same issue and have a discussion about it.

Are you being too passive and cautious and just letting them control the game?

If wanting to keep defensively tight i'd question why your using wide forwards with both on attack so will leave space behind them,  why not ML + MR? 

Your back 5 is very conservative with two FB-S and A-D, against quality opposition are you expecting too much from the forwards to score on there own?  If your expecting to counter attack, could that DLP be in DMC with more aggressive PI's to start attacks and put a more mobile role/player in CM, even if just a CM-S?  Maybe a BWM player to break up attacks a bit higher and launch attacks?

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@kirby511372 The 1st thing I've noticed is that both your wide forwards are IFs on attack duty. This not only makes your attacks a bit one-dimensional, but also prevents these two guys from getting back to help out when the team is defending. I would change one of them to Winger and give Support duties to both. And would also consider changing the shape from Flexible to Structured. More direct passing also isn't a bad idea, combined with the Clear Ball To Flanks TI. And normal d-line.

The midfield trio also needs some adjustment. DM can remain ACM (or DM on defend duty), but I would change the MCs a bit. The DLPs in MCR position would become APM on attack duty, and BtBM would become BWM on support.

And last but not least, the lone striker could now go as DLF on attack (instead of support). So, the setup would now look like this:


IFs                    Ws

BWMs    APMa


WBd   CDd   CDd    FBs

And if you are among better teams in the competition (as you said), I guess the Counter mentality would be a better choice then Defensive.


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