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FM19 - Champagne Football with Ajax


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Season 2 kicks off with another golazo on matchday 1 in the league. The all elusive (in FM19) passing move that ends in a short through ball! Superb from the 2 loanees I just hired for this season, Mason Mount and Ben Woodburn:

Sorry for filming it on my phone, when it's these long moves I'm not finding a way to upload the full clip from the game.

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Interesting tactic, and great effort put into the thread. Its real devotion to film it on your phone and then upload it, love it! :D

The feeling I get is that this tactic doesnt really have a clear characteristic, an identity if you will. Its both a possession tactic but also seems to rely heavy on crosses? Is it more work it into box-style or more direct style, would you say?

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22 minutes ago, Mutumba said:

Interesting tactic, and great effort put into the thread. Its real devotion to film it on your phone and then upload it, love it! :D

The feeling I get is that this tactic doesnt really have a clear characteristic, an identity if you will. Its both a possession tactic but also seems to rely heavy on crosses? Is it more work it into box-style or more direct style, would you say?

I think it's pretty direct and vertical, and the main route to goal is crosses from the wingers. I love possession football, but definitely wouldn't class this as a "possession" tactic and we often don't win the possession numbers.

However, and here's the trick, since we're effectively using 5 central midfielders (IWBx2, HB, BBM, TQ), and also have a really good formation for playing out from the back with the 2 CBs split well wide, and all sorts of natural passing triangles, we can bait the opposition into chasing our central players all over the place, until a gap finally appears to play a vertical ball for the wingers to rush into, or even direct vertical passes to the striker. It helps that in FM19 apparently we can get away with playing at "extremely high tempo" provided there's lots of passing options - it seems like we always find a free central midfielder with a pass despite the fact we're playing at 100 miles per hour.

Moreover, in FM19, if we hit a stumbling block against a deep defence, the players are now intelligent enough to retreat and pass the ball back into midfield, even at "extremely high tempo" and "attacking" mentality. So worst case scenario, if the opposition is very deep and there's no space for vertical balls into the wingers/striker which is our plan A, we just ping it back around to midfield and cracks will eventually appear for an unmarked player to shoot from long, which is now an actual dangerous thing.

Another scenario is, what if the opposition plays very spread out vertically, with a deep defensive line and attackers pressing us high (high line of engagement). That is when "run at defence" kicks in and you watch videos like above with Neres or Labyad running 30, 40 yards with the ball from deep.

Edited by noikeee
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I've just uploaded a video of the 6 goals in our most recent 6-1 win over Feyenoord (Ben Woodburn was incredible scoring 5), that shows just how direct we get at times. 2 goals are from crosses, 2 from long balls into the striker, 1 is a penalty, and the other a passing move through the middle that ends in a long shot from the striker. I think this is the ugliest we get:

I think it's the versatility between hurting the opposition through this directness, or instead by pressing our superior numbers at the base of midfield, that makes this works so well. We can attack in 2 different matches in completely different ways and I don't even have to touch a single tactical setting. If there's no space to play direct, the players automatically revert to exploit the midfield superiority instead.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I played season 2 basically not having touched my tactic at all (although I made a few signings). Just wanted to get some more info on how this performs over a longer period.

I think it turned out alright but not quite spectacular, we lost in the CL last 16 round on away goals to Arsenal, and also got knocked out early out of the Dutch Cup which was poor (although I had a heavily rotated side). On the upside, losing on away goals in the CL is really tiny margins, maybe we just needed some little extra luck; also we dominated the Dutch league as expected, AND got a dominant 2-0 win over Man City in the UEFA Supercup which was pretty damn sweet.

giPFi5L.jpg

Goal distribution was a bit different this season with a few more goals on the strikers (19 for Dolberg, 15 for Woodburn) and less so for others. Could be because I rotated strikers less, it's hard to tell. Labyad had an insanely good season as MR with 19 assists, this is somewhat unexpected since he "cuts inside from both wings" which on paper is not what I wanted from my MR, both wingers are meant to be classic providers of sheer width. That being said, I have noticed Neres on the left cuts inside a hell of a lot too, and scores a few thanks to that, despite being left-footed and having no "cut inside" PPMs. The reason he does this IMO is his right foot is still pretty good and he has superb flair. So my overall conclusion for both MR and ML is that, although I want a left-footed guy at ML and a right-footed guy at MR to allow them to cross easily, if they can ALSO cut inside due to PPM or due to a strong 2nd foot, that is a very very nice bonus to have in this tactic.

ScBGK1w.jpg

Now I've got this whole tactic as something I understand well and is very stable, I'm going to start a new career on the careers forum using it. I think this strategy is more than fine for 90% of the occasions, the one thing that might be worth adding is a secondary strategy to hold onto games we're leading, as sometimes in Europe this is just too attacking and chaotic. Even then, when up against big European sides, sometimes they play so open that this plays into our hands beautifully to counter-attack and we just plain outscore them.

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It's a good tactic, I tried it with a lower league team (Inter Bratislava in the 2nd Slovakian div) and won the division despite being predicted to finish around the bottom and making no transfers of note. I made one change switching the AF to a poacher and he finished as my top scorer, which was especially pleasing as lone forwards really struggle in this match engine. Having said that, I thought the tactic relied a bit too much on the "WM crosses to the far post for the other WM" routine. Definitely a great effort, though.

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3 hours ago, endtime said:

It's a good tactic, I tried it with a lower league team (Inter Bratislava in the 2nd Slovakian div) and won the division despite being predicted to finish around the bottom and making no transfers of note. I made one change switching the AF to a poacher and he finished as my top scorer, which was especially pleasing as lone forwards really struggle in this match engine. Having said that, I thought the tactic relied a bit too much on the "WM crosses to the far post for the other WM" routine. Definitely a great effort, though.

Cheers, I have good memories of the Slovakian 2nd division from FM16, when you play against Dolny Kubin tell them I say hi. :D

Edited by noikeee
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  • 3 weeks later...
10 hours ago, andre62 said:

@noikeee

can you share the tactic to give a try please??? thanks ;)

If you read the original post you will see that there will not be a download link, and you can just copy the settings from the tactic screenshot

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@andre62 you got a PM

This tactic is still going very strong for me, currently attempting to get back-to-back promotions with União da Madeira from the 3rd tier to 1st tier of Portuguese football. It looks like we might pull it off but the team is starting to lose form in the 2nd half of the season. We even beat Benfica in the league cup! Here's the career thread.

Edited by noikeee
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Why this tactic is a exploit and wouldn't work in real life

 

So after a few seasons rocking this out, first at Ajax and now at my career thread with União da Madeira, in which this happened in just 2 seasons:

bm07FBC.jpg

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KhkXfzC.jpg

 

I am very much convinced this is a near bullet proof plug-and-play tactic, which I'm delighted about, have been enjoying it a lot!

But there's a reason why you don't see plug-and-play tactics discussed here in the tactics forum, and they're debated above in the downloads sub-forum instead. In the spirit of this forum, there is a major problem with plug-and-play tactics: they do not relate to real life football, and often stop working completely in each new version of FM, as they exploit AI and ME weaknesses that are different in each version. They serve to confuse unexperienced players who in each and every version of FM have to ditch their systems, and start all over again, trying to find new vulnerabilities of the game to exploit. This pushes people away from logical tactical thinking, and instead into trying to find ways to break the game. Now I am guilty of this as much as anyone else, but I know the limitations of this way of thinking.

So I've decided to analyse and criticise my tactic, roasting it to pick apart the bits in which I believe this is exploiting the game, why you probably will be unable to copy it into FM20 and expect it to work, and why if you tried to manage a real life team under this system you would probably fail. By picking this apart, you can probably gain more tactical insight and develop a more in-depth understanding of the game.

 


The space we gift - our weakness is in the AI's blind spot

 

Take a look at the way we attack when we're camped in the opposition's half. Notice anything wrong? What would you do if you're in a real football pitch, managing the other side, and are faced with an opposition that's lining up like this against you? Anything that we look vulnerable in, that you could possibly use to break us?

SGatnP6.jpg

 

The answer is in here:

Xg7v9ye.jpg

 

We attack with 8 men, leaving behind just a duo of CBs (and the keeper). The CBs are abnormously wide due to the presence of the HB, but regardless if they're wider or narrower, having just 2 players back is insufficient cover - on paper. The HB helps become an auxiliary CB in the earlier stages of buildup, but by the stage we watch in this screenshot, he's just a regular midfielder and is no longer any concerned with covering space behind the defensive line. The fullbacks have gone completely AWOL and are working almost as attacking midfielders, performing in the half-space, often waiting for gaps to appear to even run into the area to try and finish moves. They sure as hell aren't any concerned with covering their flanks. The WMs have gone so further up (and are so narrow) they're essentially wide forwards, and are helping zero covering the flanks too.

My point? We gift enormous runways in the flanks that a clever team could easily exploit. In this match, Penafiel (the opposition AI team) seems to have put themselves far too deep and have zero outlets for any quick counter. But all they needed to do to seriously hurt us, was keep two advanced players up. They could keep them both very wide upfront. Or even better: ideally one drifting into the flank, another exploiting all that nice central area that the CBs are leaving between themselves. Example:

 

R3DKqXa.jpg

 

Granted, these two players would have to come from somewhere else, they'd need to sacrifice two of their men behind the ball for this. I've highlighted in blue the 2 I think are doing the least defensively for them in this particular situation (they have 2 midfielders holding hands doing nothing, so that much is obvious, the other is their striker who probably shouldn't be that deep). This means a greater risk of our army of central men overwhelming them, but surely the risk is worth the reward. We'd EASILY be carved apart in a counter with 2 quick players in those positions there. Our CBs would be caught in a no-mans land of, do we drift wide to cover the wide guy, or do we keep nice and central to cover the central guy. They'd be easily stretched apart.

 


Why this is the AI's blind spot

 

There is just one major problem. Let's flip sides for a moment and pretend we're Penafiel in red here, and it's the AI team playing in yellow, playing "Champagne football" against us. Now, I have never ever came across a AI side that played "champagne football" or played a crazy attacking duo of IWBs against me, but I HAVE come across AI sides that play super attacking fullbacks/wingbacks (classic wide overlapping ones), and found themselves in a similar position to my "champagne football" team - attacking with everyone but the 2 CBs, often narrower than ours. So I have tried to do exactly what I think the team in red should do in the screenshot above. Keep a high-up wide man, and keep a very high-up central man, to go 2v2 against their CBs whilst stretching them. And I... mostly failed.

Keeping the high-up central guy is easy. Just play a striker on attack duty, or don't use low line of engagement. The problem is it's a lot more hit-and-miss for the game to let you keep the winger that high up that wide. I must admit my experiments with this were done in past FM versions so I'm not exactly sure how it is now, but sometimes they'd track back even on attack duty on AML/AMR positions. I suspect to stop that, you need to either use attacking mentality and/or high line of engagement, in both cases you'll probably struggle to keep a nice tight defensive shape with the remaining players.

 

EGfScTg.jpg

 

Even if you DO manage to keep your winger high up whilst you're defending, you'll still find him surprisingly ineffective:

  • Your team will find it surprisingly hard to quickly pass the ball up to him. Even if you use things like "clear ball to flanks", "exploit the flanks", and have great long ball passers like DLPs or registas.
  • Another reason why it's so hard to use them is that in this game fullbacks (among with other players) are superhuman athletes. Our IWBs recover position extremely quickly, and run loads of kms per match. It's even easier for regular non-inverted WBs to recover position. If you want to exploit the space behind their backs, you'd have to be extremely quick (and accurate) to play the ball into there.

 

D8vXAx4.jpg


Distance covered by our Portuguese 2nd tier players in a random regular match - 4 of them are above the 12kms mark. 2 years ago in real life Premier League the player that covered the most distance in the whole league (Christian Eriksen) had an average of 11.9kms - why are our rubbish lower level players capable of outrunning him? They cover an unrealistic amount of space, recovering their defensive positions too effectively.


All of this, is a part of the reason why in FM18 formations with 2 and 3 strikers were so effective (and still are, to a lesser extent) - the wide strikers, who stay much further up more easily than wingers, would be FAR better at exploiting the space in the flanks in a counter behind opposition attacking FBs, than actual wingers.

Then let's go back to remember I'm talking about an AI team coming up with, and pulling off this plan (that I've designed for the team in red). They'd need to 

  • a) recognise we're using IWBs and realise we're gifting space in the flanks - even though on paper we have a formation that's completely stable on the flanks with DL/ML and DR/MR.
  • b) be able to play a sophisticated plan where 9 men keep a tight shape in defence and 2 are completely free to counter-attack
  • c) be able to play a assymetrical system - what I'm designing here for the team in red, is an attack that has 1 single winger and 1 single striker. You could potentially keep 1 more winger high up to be symmetrical, but then you're taking away too many defensive players from their jobs and becoming too vulnerable to our own central attacks. Keeping 3 high up vs just 2 CBs, will make for devastating counters yes, but it means the team in red now will have fewer players in defence than the yellow team has in attack.


In the rare cases the AI tries to hit us where it hurts, it still fails

Against me whilst I play "champagne football", the AI in the final few minutes often switches to things like attacking 4-2-4 or attacking 4-3-3 with 3 strikers. This keeps players high up for countering our CBs, yes, but these tactics fail both the b) and c) criteria above. They do not keep enough men at the back so are easily outnumbered by our attack, and worse, the men they keep behind do not keep a tight shape, going too easily out of position to press us. This all plays into our hands and in these final few minutes we often simply outscore the AI.

Da2sbzP.jpg

 

In this screenshot, we are playing in white and the AI has switched to an attacking 4-2-4 in the final few minutes. You might think this is perfect to break us in the counter, but on the contrary the AI is committing far too many men forward, with just 6 remaining at the back vs our 8 attackers, and all under extreme urgency setting to press us. The screenshot is taken just seconds before we score a goal, as the cracks easily appear for the right winger to come unmarked - our midfielder (#35) will receive the ball and drag the LB with him. 

We are dramatically overcomitting men forward ourselves too, of course, but since everyone else recovers position so quickly to a pretty stable bottom-heavy formation, this is less of an issue than it looks on paper. Our 8v6 sounds worse than their 4v2, but is actually better, because our 8v6 stays that way throughout the whole time we have the ball, whereas their 4v2 evaporates quickly.


Other unrealistic issues

We have covered the inability of the AI to exploit our weaknesses, but that is not all. There is a few other things that makes this tick that I don't quite feel are correct to real life:

  • we appear capable of playing extremely high tempo passing football, on attacking mentality (!), throughout a very crowded midfield, even in the lowly Portuguese 2nd and 3rd tiers with average players for that level. Granted, our formation has a LOT of central players so there's bound to always be an unmarked guy, but it's quite remarkable how there doesn't seem to be any confusion in the players' minds, they simply just find that one unmarked guy pretty quickly. It looks sleek in the 2D/3D engine, but go out there to a football pitch, try to do that, and you'll find that the pitch suddenly shrinks to a pretty small space and good luck finding that one elusive open passing lane, even if it's just a square sideways pass. It's too easy to pull this off with rubbish players in the current version of FM, in my opinion.
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It's not all exploity nonsense - what I'm proud of in this tactic that could actually apply to IRL football


Okay, so I've had enough of roasting my tactic, it's probably time to try to finish today's wall of text on a positive note. Hey it can't be all rubbish!


Playing from the back

One thing I'm particularly proud about is the pattern we use to play out from the back. This has already been covered in the thread's opening first post, but it has this passing triangles dynamic that I really fancy:

H1Z5bVs.jpg

3EnkoHn.jpg

 

Two things were not previously mentioned:

  • the IWBs who stay very wide at goalkicks, but quickly get inside as soon as the ball gets rolling. This is NOT by design but I guess it further helps drag opposition players out of position. As soon as they get inside, the width is still very well present, now completely provided by the CBs and the WMs.
  • I have on purpose, NOT instructed the goalkeeper to play to any particular player. The reasoning is this depends wildly on how the opposition is pressuring us. If they're pressuring the HB, then the keeper will have the braincells to pass to the CBs. If they're pressuring the CBs, then he'll pass to the HB. If all 3 are marked, then he might try to bypass them and go for the IWBs or WMs. It works like a charm.


Crossing from deep

Another nice detail about the tactic that I've not given much attention to, is the main reason why the WMs are WMs and not wingers. Purely so they can do this:

 

... so they can cross from deep. The winger role locks you out to "cross from the byline". Screw that, I want variety, cross from wherever you want! So that is the only PI from the winger role I've NOT given to our WMs. I realise this is unfair to the AI as they can't customize roles like this, but I'm not gonna apologise, you can instruct players to play like this on a real football pitch can't you? 


Dribbling into space

And finally, I will leave you with the most entertaining goal of the last season I played...

 

There are a few different things working well here but I'd like to pay attention to a TI that's exemplified in here: "runs at defence". That is an absolutely KEY instruction - it tells players to, if they see any kind of open space ahead of them, run with the ball into it. The IWBs and WMs do it a hell of a lot, and the result is it opens up a lot of space. It will eventually drag some marker out of position and simply make the team more dynamic under possession. Plus it's just fun to watch. ;) 

Edited by noikeee
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Why would you need to download the tactic? Everything you need is in the post.

I really like the attacking aspects of this tactic, but the defense is a little loosey-goosey for my liking 😄. The halfback should be dropping much deeper, you would imagine, covering the distance between the two CDs. I haven’t used the HB in the last few iterations of FM because of this.

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16 hours ago, ronaldo1026 said:

I really like the attacking aspects of this tactic, but the defense is a little loosey-goosey for my liking 😄. The halfback should be dropping much deeper, you would imagine, covering the distance between the two CDs. I haven’t used the HB in the last few iterations of FM because of this.

Well yeah we only keep 2 guys back really (the 2 CBs). Honestly when I was developing this I was shocked at how solid it turned out to be in defence because it looks so ridiculously open on paper. :D I mean just last season with União in the 2nd tier, we had just gotten promoted to that league, and not only we became champions, we also finished as the joint 2nd best defence in the league. That is just insane, we don't even pretend to defend at all ffs. :lol:

I'm not sure I'd want the HB to be deeper though. I mean at least for this system the role is working just perfect. He drops right in the middle of the 2 CBs when we're starting moves from the back, but then when we're camped in the opposition's half he's in the perfect position for the ball to be recycled back to him when everyone else has ran too much forward.

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Hey @noikeee

I really like what you've done here. I've been experimenting with inverted wing backs recently and a half back, and basically ended up in a very similar place to this. I was getting some really solid football going, but seeing the success you had with an attacking mentality and more creative freedom made me question how I was setting the attacking roles up. I had wingers on the flanks rather than wide midfielders, balanced mentality and a normal tempo. This system creates such good passing options which is why I wanted to do something like this, but I lacked the cutting edge in attack.

I switched my wide players to WM's and went along your lines with TI's and mentality...same defensive solidarity but more quality in attack. Beautiful stuff and I owe you one for posting this at just the right time when I needed a nudge forwards.

Only difference i have is my AF is playing as a PF, cause I want them to be more aggressive in the press, especially with the Trequartista being less inclined to press hard, and I'm exploring an AP (A) instead of a trequartista as well for the same reason.

Defensively, you note the system should be inclined to not defend but I disagree and I think this sells the system short some what. Given when you are in a block the wing backs drop back in to form a 4, and the HB sits deep, an opponent trying to build slowly will come up against basically a 4-1-4-1. On the counter attack, the opponent might have more luck, so in that situation it comes down more to the quality of CB's and the positioning of the half back. Inverted wing backs on support still defend well enough, it's only really if the opposition is playing a raumdeuter out wide, or 3 centre forwards it may struggle a bit with overloads on the counter. Your screen shot above showing the 2v4 possible counter overload, I find that happens pretty infrequently for me with the HB sitting deep enough to avoid the issues. I think the key is using a half back who is defensively orientated and holds position well! I'd also note that a system playing WB(S) on the flanks will still end up getting exposed defensively on the counter, this system just pushes the full backs inside rather than overloading the wide areas...but same same in terms of defensive weakness I think. If I was using a half back in front of a back 4, you can bet I'd be using wing backs (or inverted ones) rather than standard full backs...it's just changing where you want the attacking overload to happen.

Attacking...as you note perhaps it doesn't behave like it should in real life, but only partially. What this system does is create an impressive amount of movement and attacking overloads, which means passing options are always there. The match engine responds by making things look very easy as there are always good options available. I would imagine you would find the players just retain possession and make easy passes, manouver the opposition around and then when a creative option appears, they can take it, so it looks very fluid. Most people you see frustrated on here that their players miss easy chances, are frustrated because their tactical systems do not create good quality movement, chances. The match engine just represents this on screen in a way that makes people feel like their strikers are missing sitters. This system is just the opposite of that...from the match engines perspective it creates lots of high quality chances, as the attacking players are always at an advantage.

Balance wise for me, the change from W (A) to WM (A) on the flanks thanks to your posts was the difference. With wingers on attack I was getting exposed more, but players who are set as WM's with PI's to behave like wingers on the ball works far better, they are more inclined to defend but still provide the same attacking movement. One of my biggest issues with the tactical system on the game is it's ability to offer wide roles that actually do what I want them to do, I like to play my wingers further up the pitch as more wide forwards, but I want them to be wide forwards, not wingers and not inside forwards. I always find the easiest way to do this is via WM's with the right PI's. None of the roles available for AMR or AML offer the right options.

 

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22 hours ago, bowieinspace said:

I really like what you've done here. I've been experimenting with inverted wing backs recently and a half back, and basically ended up in a very similar place to this. I was getting some really solid football going, but seeing the success you had with an attacking mentality and more creative freedom made me question how I was setting the attacking roles up. I had wingers on the flanks rather than wide midfielders, balanced mentality and a normal tempo. This system creates such good passing options which is why I wanted to do something like this, but I lacked the cutting edge in attack.

I switched my wide players to WM's and went along your lines with TI's and mentality...same defensive solidarity but more quality in attack. Beautiful stuff and I owe you one for posting this at just the right time when I needed a nudge forwards.

Thanks but I'm really surprised switching wingers to the tweaked WMs made THAT much difference, I remember when I was building the tactic I hesitated a bit between them because barely noticed anything different! I think what you gain is the extra crosses from deep, which is a nice little extra, but didn't notice them being better defensively.

22 hours ago, bowieinspace said:

Defensively, you note the system should be inclined to not defend but I disagree and I think this sells the system short some what. Given when you are in a block the wing backs drop back in to form a 4, and the HB sits deep, an opponent trying to build slowly will come up against basically a 4-1-4-1.

Yes and no, the thing is I'm using "counter-press", "prevent short gk distribution", "use tighter marking", "extremely urgent pressing" and "much higher defensive line" so whilst we do have a deep formation on paper that we revert to in our half, we aren't trying to keep a formation at all, just going absolutely gung-ho to press and even man mark, the only thing we're not doing is going for heavy tackling. On top of that we aren't keeping anyone behind bar the 2 CBs due to our roles/instructions, so we're extremely vulnerable to a quick counter - on paper.

Essentially I'm banking on the opposition being unable to bypass our super aggressive press, and to be able to capitalize on our limited number of players we keep back quickly enough, and funnily enough that's exactly what happens 95% of the time in FM, the opposition either doesn't notice this weakness or know how to take proper advantage of it. And I have tried myself to exploit this weakness in AI sides that attack with too many players, and you know what, it feels surprisingly hard! Which is why I think there's a bit of an exploit in here.

22 hours ago, bowieinspace said:

Inverted wing backs on support still defend well enough, it's only really if the opposition is playing a raumdeuter out wide, or 3 centre forwards it may struggle a bit with overloads on the counter. Your screen shot above showing the 2v4 possible counter overload, I find that happens pretty infrequently for me with the HB sitting deep enough to avoid the issues. I think the key is using a half back who is defensively orientated and holds position well! I'd also note that a system playing WB(S) on the flanks will still end up getting exposed defensively on the counter, this system just pushes the full backs inside rather than overloading the wide areas...but same same in terms of defensive weakness I think.

But we don't just use IWB/S's...  we tell them to "get further forward" too. At times they act like they're playing on the AMCL or AMCR positions, sometimes even breaking into the area to finish moves. They have the whole pitch to run to recover to their original positions!

22 hours ago, bowieinspace said:

Attacking...as you note perhaps it doesn't behave like it should in real life, but only partially. What this system does is create an impressive amount of movement and attacking overloads, which means passing options are always there. The match engine responds by making things look very easy as there are always good options available. I would imagine you would find the players just retain possession and make easy passes, manouver the opposition around and then when a creative option appears, they can take it, so it looks very fluid. Most people you see frustrated on here that their players miss easy chances, are frustrated because their tactical systems do not create good quality movement, chances. The match engine just represents this on screen in a way that makes people feel like their strikers are missing sitters. This system is just the opposite of that...from the match engines perspective it creates lots of high quality chances, as the attacking players are always at an advantage.

Well yeah that was largely the idea around this all, to create a lot of passing options. I enjoy it a lot but still think it looks a little too easy in the ME though! Sometimes we're absolutely cramped at the edge of the box, and the lads still have the patience to turn and find other options, whilst the runners go back, revert to the initial position and try do the runs again.... this on attacking mentality.... on much higher tempo.... eh?

I feel in this ME it's too easy to ping the ball around until the last 30 metres, where then you hit a wall and it becomes extremely hard to ping a nice through ball. It's largely to do with the defensive positioning of most sides, everyone retreats to a really tight bunch right out of their own area, shutting off all passing lanes in front of it.... and by consequence opening up the rest of the pitch.

22 hours ago, bowieinspace said:

Balance wise for me, the change from W (A) to WM (A) on the flanks thanks to your posts was the difference. With wingers on attack I was getting exposed more, but players who are set as WM's with PI's to behave like wingers on the ball works far better, they are more inclined to defend but still provide the same attacking movement. One of my biggest issues with the tactical system on the game is it's ability to offer wide roles that actually do what I want them to do, I like to play my wingers further up the pitch as more wide forwards, but I want them to be wide forwards, not wingers and not inside forwards. I always find the easiest way to do this is via WM's with the right PI's. None of the roles available for AMR or AML offer the right options.

Yeah I'm still surprised that change had that much effect for you, but agreed on the AMR/AML thing, I think FM lacks a more generic customizable role for those positions akin to the WM role, basically everyone on this entire forum has been asking for it for a few years now...

Glad you enjoyed the tactic, or at least the ideas it gave you for your own tactic :) 

Edited by noikeee
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I think it's great you take such a critical view of the tactic and question it's legitimacy @noikeee- really important to do. I never use the tactic downloads forum and love to create my own systems that will work across any match engine or version of the game. I think the combination of a half back with inverted wing backs has a lot of potential generally though and I suppose that's the view I was looking to put across generally and why I've been experimenting with it.

Interestingly i hadn't utilised any PI's on the inverted wingbacks and I think that forms a major point of difference. I wanted my inverted full backs to come inside and basically form a 3 man line with the half back when attacking. When the transition happens, I didn't want them so far from their position that they couldn't get back. I agree that with the get further forward PI included, if they are always in and around the box, but able to do super human things to get back into their defensive shape that's a bigger issue! I suppose on an attacking mentality they are more likely to go forwards anyway. Also worth noting that one of my IWB's I've used has a get further forward trait, but I've used other players in the same role and had similar outcomes, but I will definitely keep a close on eye this.

Some notes and photos from goals in my last match:

Playing against Real Betis, they are utilising a 4-1-4-1. We conceded an early goal but came back to win 4-1. Worth noting their formation as they aren't using AMR's/AML's

Goal 1:

d6CWE5b.jpg

Here we are looking at the teams position at the moment we regain possession. Inverted wingbacks are sitting narrow but outside of the CB's, with the half back (7) sitting in a pretty deep DM position, BBM midfielder (at this point of the game, 8- Herrera) slightly in front.

aYKWdFb.jpg

A few seconds later on, Nunez has regained the ball, laid it off to the IWB on the right (Odriozola) forming a great triangle to play the ball out from the line. The IWB's and half back forming the perfect set up for what I wanted.

6WrFvHT.jpg

Odriozola, rather than playing it inside to the half back, saw the run of the WM (A) and played a through ball in to space. You can see the IWB's, half back and BBM effectively forming a bit of a diamond. I'd usually expect the BBM to be further forward here, but taking him out of the equation, the IWB's and Half back are forming a nice midfield 3. They have left one up, occupying a space in the middle but realistically if they won the ball soon here, the ball is extremely unlikely to get to their CF.

aBqpY0Y.jpg

Shot is taken here by Muniain (trequartista) after our cross from the right is partially cleared by Mandi. You can see the IWB's are sitting compact near the CB's due to the lack of threat wide, and the half back in a good position to receive any clearances in the middle.

Goal 2:

hMJpFsh.jpg

Just the one image to show here. We've won a throw in down the right and it's been played short to Nico Williams. The two CB's are pushed super high, covering their CF who is deep to get numbers in defence. The IWB's...one just took the throw in so is super wide. The other (Odriozola) is set next to the BBM (28, Sancet who came on as a sub), while the half back is closer to the throw in taker (now Herrera, 8). The two in the box are the trequartista and the right midfielder. 

Goal 3:

1rfi6H4.jpg

Defensive positioning. They won the ball in their own half and played it out from the back, our IWB's have had enough time to form a back 4 with the half back sitting in front. You can see also how deep the right midfielder is sitting as well, which I think even with the PI's is something the WM does better than a W. Herrera (8) playing half back has seen the opportunity to close Jahanbakhsh and has done so, he wins the ball right after this screenshot. We make two quick passes (both forward), the second being a lofted ball to try to release the CF. he's being closely marked by their number 17 though so the ball comes to nothing...

rkENAZp.jpg

Their CB (Ruiz) however makes a poor headed clearance, straight to our CF who dropped off realising he couldn't win the ball initially. He hits it first time into the corner. You can see the IWB's and half back have formed the perfect line. Their wide midfielders due to the speed of the transition are still relatively high up the pitch, but the IWB's are close enough to deal with a better clearance. They could have gone right to the byline and caused us more issues if a clearance to the flanks happened as you've noted in your posts!

Last goal was a penalty so will ignore.

Now on to another game, this time against a more attacking team (Napoli, Champions League game), playing with AMR/AML's...our goals (4) were one pen, two corners and the 4th was from open play. I'm not going to focus on our goals rather our defensive positioning, which is more interesting against a team playing two wide forwards.

I watched through large sections of the game on replay to reassess what was happening. They did create one excellent chance where our CB's were split wide (GK was playing a ball out aiming for the IWB who was pushing up the flank ahead of the CB). It was intercepted and a through ball was played to their CF. The half back was with him but hesitated, releasing the CF who should have scored, but keeper saved it. That'll happen occassionally with this system so no major concerns.

RJmvcse.jpg

This is the moment here, their number 24 hussles across and intercepts the pass before our IWB (Lopez) can receive it. You can see the half back is positioned nicely but then he loses his man, 24 plays a through ball to 32 who misses. Ideal positioning for playing the ball out, CB's wide with the HB deep, but we get caught out and the HB doesn't read the game well enough. Keeper should have distributed to the wide right CB!

aakg4AV.jpg

This one here is a defensive transtion. We have just lost the ball and Azpilicueta has picked it up. You can see the IWB's inside forming a midfield line with the BBM...they are pushed quite far up, but because the half back has formed a back 3, the CB's are wide covering the flanks and this is the usual image I see from my defence in transition. I generally see situations where we will only commit the HB and inverted wing backs forward when the opposition 11 are all sitting deep behind the ball. However in games like this where they are more likely to attack, the HB sits deeper and forms a back 3 regularly, allowing the CB's to cover any wide counter attack threat. There's obviously a risk here that the ball could be hoofed quickly to their CF though, which is a weakness of the system when the offside trap is not sprung quickly enough. However, the positioning of the CB's and IWB's is great.

sTt6QqF.jpg

Here we are in attack, pushed quite high, I like this positioning. We have our two CB's covering their lone striker, with our IWB's and half back forming a deep midfield 3 which spreads wide enough given the ball has just come from a throw in taken by Lopez. If they put a man out on their wide right, they would be free for a counter attack...however, we do still have a spare CB and if the ball was cleared to their right flank, they would slide over with 4 marking their 9, and our other CB coming across to press their right winger. However if they left a man wide out there (7 is their AMR for reference) we'd have a potential overload at their back post. We basically force them to sit in.

 

I searched through the whole game to find situations where they could exploit us out wide, but due to the half back dropping in and the CB's splitting when necessary, they couldn't do it. It's more likely they could catch the half back out with a through ball over the top to the CF when the CB's are wide. If they stuck someone out wide (e.g. first shot from this game) we stuck to a back 3 and the half back didn't push out. If they didn't stick anyone out wide, the two CB's would sit a bit narrower to cover their lone forward, and the IWB's and half back would form a midfield 3. This midfield 3 made it almost impossible for them to counter attack because we just collected every clearance. Equally when attacking, due to the mentality and tempo, it's extremely rare for us to build play slowly and over commit men forwards before an incisive pass is played. With a slower tempo, players push forwards but the ball doesn't move as quickly, so more likely to overload and subsequently get caught out on the break. With a high tempo, the ball gets progressed so quickly it either creates an opportunity or play breaks down before the IWB's can get delusions of grandure and begin to overload the box.

I watched another game where the opposition played a 4-2-3-1, some interesting notes:

Firstly their wide attackers always tried to track our IWB's when we were attacking. If we did lose the ball they weren't ever really in a wide position to receive it. I suppose it's a case of our team saying, you are welcome to go and stand in that space over there, but then that leaves us with free men when attacking. If we lose the ball, we will immediately counter press aggressively to stop the out ball. If the out balls happens and reaches it's target, we will have players ready to cover while we reorganise.

VgcGJy3.jpg

Here's a nice transition in attack. You can see here we have played the ball out from the back. Our IWB on the left (number isn't clear but it's 35, has received the ball and played a pass to the trequarista (20) who subsequently hits a through ball to Borja. You can see here their CF has the potential to break as the half back is sitting ahead of him, thinking about the attack. But the HB is still deep, so the CB's are wide. As this is the start of an attack, the half back has just left his position between the two CBs and started to push up, leaving the CF open. The IWB's are sitting perfectly in a 3 alongside the HB, and you can see the 4-2-3-1 pretty clearly, with their double pivot a touch out of position but nothing drastic, this is because their number 12 has come across to close down the trequartista, but our high tempo means he's too late and the pass has happened already.

VyurVUh.jpg

This is a second or two later. Borja has received the through ball on the left and is lining up a cross to our CF (which comes to nothing in the end). The thing I like here is the movement of the defensive unit...the CBs have narrowed due to the half back pushing higher...perfect!! The IWB's are still sitting fairly deep as they don't want to over commit, the opposition still have their attacking 4 positioned fairly high. If we lose the ball here, let's say a poor cross finds the feet of their number 15, there is no counter opportunity available. He could play a ball wide to their 6, but our IWB would come across to cover and the other defenders would slide across as well to reposition. 

 

Another playing out from the back, half back/IWB's example:

B8uaR3v.jpg

Super risky here, but only if we give the ball away. However I have full confidence in my players to not do that. if it happens occasionally and costs us a goal that's fine. I could also consider changing the keeper to a more aggressive role as well here to provide an extra passing option. You can see the CBs have spread suuuuper wide, the IWB's are sitting inside as midfielders, with the half back the one on the ball (Herrera). 

c7kJumk.jpg

About 5 seconds on here, we've attacked down the left following an attacking run by our ML. He's crossed but it's a poor one in to the side netting. You can see the IWB's are where they should be, the half back has pushed up to join them...the big thing though is as the half back has pushed slightly higher, the CB's have come narrower. Their 9 still has an opportunity here, but we have had the ball so the CBs are well positioned to come narrower still if we are about to transition. It's risky play but we have quick CBs able to cover the space if a quick transition happens, and the IWB's are well positioned to deal with any wide threat (at least slow their attack down to regroup). Also worth noting that as movement continues after this screen capture, before the players 'adjust' the the ball going out of play, the CB's are continuing to narrow, so this screenshot is effectively in the middle of their transition of being spread wide to narrowing due to the HB pushing up.

 

What i like about the changes your post pushed me to make, wasn't the attacking nature of the IWB's as I've not gone down that route...it's the tempo and mentality. The players look to play the ball so quickly that we pretty much never build the play up slowly. The only times we might do that are against teams trying to park the bus, in which case they don't offer much threat on the counter anyway. As we build the play extremely quickly, the IWB's and half back don't really have chance to go out of position in an attempt to influence play in the box. If they do, it's because the opposition are sitting deep and there isn't a threat to deal with. 

 

Edited by bowieinspace
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On 22/08/2019 at 02:11, bowieinspace said:

I think it's great you take such a critical view of the tactic and question it's legitimacy @noikeee- really important to do. I never use the tactic downloads forum and love to create my own systems that will work across any match engine or version of the game. I think the combination of a half back with inverted wing backs has a lot of potential generally though and I suppose that's the view I was looking to put across generally and why I've been experimenting with it.

(...)

What i like about the changes your post pushed me to make, wasn't the attacking nature of the IWB's as I've not gone down that route...it's the tempo and mentality. The players look to play the ball so quickly that we pretty much never build the play up slowly. The only times we might do that are against teams trying to park the bus, in which case they don't offer much threat on the counter anyway. As we build the play extremely quickly, the IWB's and half back don't really have chance to go out of position in an attempt to influence play in the box. If they do, it's because the opposition are sitting deep and there isn't a threat to deal with. 

 

Great post, enjoyed that.

I think overall your IWBs tend to perform as DMs in possession whereas mine are more like AMs. I would say this is because of the "get further forward" PI, but also partially because of the "run at defence" TI, which makes them very prone to advance a lot with the ball, which takes them to a high up position and then they just stay there.

For example in this goal I posted earlier Silva is my right IWB - see how the early run takes him so high up that he runs further up into the area, his run is too early but he stays there almost on a striker position just a little longer, to then break into the area again and finish:

What your post is making me think, is that having slightly more conservative IWBs like yours, might be a good idea for situations in which I'm protecting a lead and don't wish to concede, without disrupting the rest of the tactic. I've tried earlier to create a more conservative version and it tended to backfire more often that not, so just gave up and stick to my crazy open plan A 100% of the time - we usually outscore the AI when it comes to attack us, anyway.

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On 23/08/2019 at 10:35, SmileFaceGamer said:

I'm using a similar system, also with Ajax. Did you have injury and fitness issues going into early November or am I just crap at squad managment 

Not really no, but I'm playing in FM Touch which might model injuries/fitness differently, I'm not entirely sure.

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1 hour ago, 3rik said:

Do you change anything in your tactic when facing a much better team or away games etc?

No I'm treating it as pure plug-and-play, I use the exact same tactic every match without changing anything. 

The only thing I do is switch to easy tackling for defensive players who pick up yellow cards, or stay on feet for the whole team if we're picking up too many cards altogether. 

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