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Here's a great write-up on how they used to play:



Some facts :

(note: these are mostly from my memory of watching those teams back in the day, so there's a very real possibility that I could be wrong)

Lobanovsky's teams are famous for their universality - every player contributed on defence as well as on attack. A fluid shape is a must then, which means you've got to load on support duties.

Base was always a 4-4-2.

Lobanovsky rarely used any traditional wingers who would hug the line. Instead he played universal midfielders on the flanks, matchday instructions dictated how narrow the actually played.

If you didn't have work rate and stamina, you simply didn't play for Dynamo Kiev. They were running around the whole game, often switching positions, and did that with great intensity.

Long balls to the forwards followed episodes of patient build-up between defenders and midfielders, there was no mindless hoof-ball, the team rather took calculated risks.


Now, based on that article and my own recollection, here's what I got so far:


                              CF(a)                         PF(s)


WM (s)                 CM(s)                       CM(d)                        WM(s)


FB(s)                    CD(d)                       CD(s)                          FB(s)





Balanced mentality (which changes game to game)

Extremely high tempo

Be more disciplined



Extremely urgent pressing




GK: none

LFB: get further forward

CD(d): mark tighter, less urgen pressing, mark opponents most advanced striker

CD(s): none

RFB: take fewer risks, mark tighter, hold position, mark AML or ML

LWM: get further forward, stay wider, mark DR or WBR

CM(s): none

CM(d): none

RWM: mark tighter, sit narrower, cut inside with ball, mark MCL or DMCL

CF(a): none

PF(s): stay wider, mark DL or WBL


Testing has brought mixed results so far. I can't seem to get my PF to track all the way back and follow the opposing full-back. Also, my Cd(d) keeps losing the opposition's lone striker. My stopper, who should be my extra player on defence, with a license to close down enemy attacks, mainly stays in-line. Long balls behind the opposition's d-line are sparse, but adding more direct passing and/or pass into space resulted in my tema not keeping the ball at all. Whilst the RWM does mostly what I tell him, the LWM (who's supposed to get freedom on his decisions) doesn't contribute much on attack. Defensive solidity is not on a level I (or the man himself) would expect it to be.


Thoughts and suggestions are welcome.


Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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Coincidentally I've just finished a stint managing Dynamo Kiev and ended up watching some old games of theirs from 97 - 99. Judging by their Champions League games they seemed at least as likely to go with a 3-5-2 as a 4-4-2, but were certainly very comfortable with both. I remember associating them more with the 3-5-2, which perhaps suggests they used it for tougher games (I'd have been more likely to watch them on telly in the CL knockouts and have mainly watched big games recently).




I also remember on versions of FM in the early noughties, Vaschuk was listed as a SW/DC, Luzhnyi as DRC, Kossovskyi really versatile on the left (but mainly an attacking left winger)... generally their positions were suited to a 3-5-2 with a sweeper.

With the 3-5-2, the overall approach is the same, but the back 4 are a diamond instead of a line, and obviously the wingers have to work a bit harder getting back, while the 'full backs' tuck in. It seems more like a 4-4-2 with a diamond back 4 (DM dropping in, very much a half-back in FM terms), or a 3-1-4-2, than it does a 5-3-2. With Rebrov dropping off behind Shevchenko, it starts to look at times like Van Gaal's 3-4-3 of a few years previously, though they get it forward a lot quicker. In fact they pump it forward into space every chance they get, and most certainly have their 'hit early crosses' box highlighted - but that's against opposition who are happy to attack them.

I think they maybe did it when they were worried about not dominating the middle. Against Newcastle, who were a very strong side at that point but who played 4-4-2 all the time and were all about wing play, they went for 4-4-2 and matched them all over the pitch. Ditto Arsenal. Against Real Madrid (4-2-3-1 so three central midfielders) and Bayern (5-4-1 / 3-4-3, but lots of options in the middle, Matthaus bringing the ball out from libero and only Jancker really playing up front) they went for three at the back with Holovko stepping into midfield.

That might be something worth including in your approach! Then you don't have to worry about playing super narrow in order not to get overrun against decent teams.

Edited by ceefax the cat
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Those are certainly valid points @ceefax the cat. The full-backs (shall I say side-backs) rarely ventured forward against tougher teams, and Lobanovsky always had someone playing slightly higher than the rest of the d-line. That's the player I designated as a stopper in the tactic above, but perhaps I should try and use a half back. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure if a half back works as intended when there are three central defenders behind him. I will experiment with that.

My problem with using pass into space in the base tactic is that on FM19 it more often than not results in hoofball and eventually getting overrun by the opposition. That's where I need advice from the more experencied players, as in what instructions to use if I want short, patient passing at the back, then - almost out of nowhere - launch long balls into space behind the defence when the opportunity arises. Strikers with great off the ball attributes are a necessity, I presume. I've been seeing the AI play like that, but not sure how exactly should I set it up. In my previous Atletico Madrid save, Levante used to do that all the time against my team. Real life example can be Wolverhampton (who have a central defender that plays long balls after passing around - the name escapes me), and, well, Dynamo Kiev under Valery Vasylyovych Lobanovsky.


Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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The various threads about total football on this very forum, as well as a question on the quickire thread inspired me to revisit this long-term pet project of mine.

Lobanovskyi is perhaps still a somewhat unheralded figure of football history, outside of fans of the Eastern European game, that is. Those in the know, however, acknowledge him as one of the greatest football minds in the history of the sport.

I won't go into his philosophy in great detail, and that is mainly because there have been several people who are smarter than me (and have a better command of the English language) to have written about him. Jonathan Wilson dedicated a whole chapter to him in his popular book Inverting the Pyramid, and there are many more articles you can find online. Suffice it to say, that without Lobanovskyi, there is no Arrigo Sacchi and there is no Diego Simeone (the manager, not the player, of course).

Lobanovskyi adopted at least as many characteristics of the Dutch brand of total football as he deviated from. The trademark universality remains a core principle. Every player defends and every player attacks. Most positions and roles are interchangeable. There are no specialists on a Lobanovskyi side, and no designated playmakers whatsoever.

This Soviet, later Ukranian variation of total football however didn't emphasise ball possession as much as the Dutch lineage. While the players were expected to be technically sound, at least as much attention were paid to physical superiority. This philosophy was built upon high tempo, direct passing, intense pressing and the fastest transitions you'll ever see. It was heavy metal football, long before Jurgen Klopp famously created the term.

Two of the many footballing masterpieces created by Lobanovskyi were the games between Dynamo Kiev and Barcelona back in 1997 that I cited in the original post. I remember watching those matches as a teenage football fan, and also remember my jaw dropping every five minutes. Dynamo Kiev completely annihilated FC Barcelona, and they did it not once, but twice.

Later on, somewhat ironically, it was a Dutchman who created the greatest Lobanovskyi replica I have seen so far. Dick Advocaat married his Dutch heritage with the Eastern brand of total football, and his Zenit St. Petersburg side won the UEFA Cup in 2008, playing breathtaking football along the way.

Lobanovskyi always preferred a spare man on defense. An insurance policy at centre back if you like, whose job was staying deeper and sweeping up opposition threats while his partner often stepped out of the defence. The full-backs tucked in or stayed wide, depending on the strategy for the day. His preferred 442 often morphed into a 352, with the full-backs coming inside to join the sweeper and one centre-back playing as a quasi half-back.

The midfielders were interchangeable. While one wide midfielder usually stayed wide and the other came inside, and one CM was a tad more defensively oriented that his more creative partner, all of them contributed to both attack and defense, and, again, there were absolutely no specialists.

Since the rest of the team mostly relied on teamwork and tactical awareness, it was the forwards' job to do the magic on this Dynamo Kiev side (and the same was true for the great Soviet national team of 1980s). You may have heard of them: one was Sergiy Rebrov, the other, Andrei Shevchenko. Both of them legitimate world class players, they were lightning quick, great on and off the ball, with fantastic dribbling, and equally good creators and finishers. Neither of them was a pure flair player though, the press usually started with them.

So. How does all this translate to FM20? Well, I firstly need to state that a complete replication is not possible. For one thing, the kind of universality and position swapping that is a trademark of total football, is not yet achievable on the game. Furthermore, Lobanovskyi often applied man-marking principles to his tactics, which, as we know, is now totally out of vogue, both in the game and real life football. If you click on the article I linked in the OP, you will see that against Barcelona, Rebrov (a striker) was asked to man-mark the left back, while the RWM man-marked a central player. These instructions, when applied to FM20, will inevitably lead to chaos.

And yet. Fortunately, there are many of the principles that can be brought to the game, and they often result in very pretty football.

Perhaps unusually, I will post the actual formation and instructions last, mostly because it's just framework. It needs to be adapted and tweaked game-by-game, like all real life tactics for that matter.

The subsequent posts will show via images how these principles work in the game.

Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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First, let's see our defensive shape.




Note how we're lining up in an almost perfect 442 shape. The two banks of four are clearly visible.




Again, two banks of four, with the stopper slightly higher positioned.




Every player besides the forwards is back defending. Each opposing player is directly accounted for, except for the full-backs. This time around, it is intentional.




Once the ball gets to the full-back, he's immediately closed down by our LWM (No. 11.), who's now defending just outside of his own box. Next, our LCM (No. 8.) gets to their No. 7., the full-back has no options and the attack ends in a blocked cross.

Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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For testing purposes, I played the same game three times. The second time around, all I changed was having our wide midfielders man-marking the opponent's full-backs.


Here, you can see all the positives and negatives of man-marking. No. 21. is our RWM and he sticks close to their left back. No. 11., our LWM is on their right back. This time around, their full-backs have no space, but that comes with disruption of our 442 defensive shape.


The right back has nowhere to go.




Thus, our LCM (No. 8.) wins the ball.




And immediately launches it to our AF (No .10.)




Who takes the ball down and heads for goal. It's one-one, thanks to us trapping their right back. All he needs to do is beat their slow centre-back.




He does exactly that and scores. According to the game clock, 8 seconds have passed from us winning the ball to it ending up in the back of the net.

Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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The third time around, we went with a low block.


Navas is starting to regret stepping onto the field.


Our No. 8. wins the ball.


And sends it up to our No. 10. Navas is far away. Does that look familiar?


It's two on one.


So he plays in the DLF (No. 9.).


It is done.


Who said football had to be complicated? 10 seconds from winning the ball to goal.


Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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Let's get onto some of the attacking patterns,


Please note the benefits of playing out of defence, but relying upon the gk's decisions where to distribute. We draw the opponent in...


But then send the ball way up to the DLF.


Who heads it down to the CM. The CM is all alone...


And can launch the ball the AF. Unfortunately, he hit it one bit too late and it's offside, but we're definitely onto something.





Here, we recycle the ball to the gk.


Who sends it up to the CM (No. 5.).


This time, the AF is not offiside.


He passes it back to other CM (No. 8.)...


Get in!


13 seconds from goalkeeper to goal.

Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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We are very solid defensively.


Their No. 8. is surrounded by three of our players.


So we get the ball.


Pass it back to the CB.


Seizing the opportunity, the CB seeks the DLF (No. 9.).


The DLF plays in the AF (No. 10.)


The AF passes to the LWM (No. 11.)


Who now has acres  of space and plenty of options.


He gets it back to the AF (No. 10.)


The AF misses..


A 13-second attack, resulting in a clear-cut chance.

Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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2 minutes ago, josel15 said:

Just want to say that someone on dictate the game blog last year tried to emulate the great Lobanovskyi and is an excellent read. Looking forward to what you'll do :D

That is correct. @crusadertsar 's passion for Eastern European football and fascinating tactical experiments have been a great inspiration to me.

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Judging from the shape and from the analysis spielverlagerung did


I'd start with this

Mentality: Attacking


More Direct

Pass Into Space


Lower Line of Engagement

High Defensive Line

More Urgent Pressing

Tighter Marking


CD (x)-CD (c)-CD (x)


IW (a)-BBM (s)-BBM (s)-W (a)

SS (a)

--------CF (s)


A 4-4-2 in attack but becomes a 3-1-4-2 in defense...

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More of our direct attacking style.


By playing out of defence, we draw the opponent higher up the pitch. Even their defenders are close to the half line.



The stopper (who has a higher individual mentality) brings the ball out. He has four relatively easy passing options to choose from: the CM's, the LB and the LWM.


He goes for the CM nearby (good boy, I told him to take fewer risks). The CM then passes it other CM.


The CM has no such instructions. The AF (No. 10.) is told to stay wide and, dictated by his role, sits on the shoulder of the defender.


So he the CM takes a calculated risk and goes long for the AF.


He misses again (Tbh, Oyarzabal, that's a great player, but he's no AF.)


14 seconds.

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As you can see by now, I'd like our build-up play to be quick and decisive.



GK to CB. I highlighted our forwards, note how they're both ready to run into the channel between the CB and FB.


Sevilla had gone very attacking by this point, so I removed take fewer risks for the stopper, but left in on for the rest of the defenders. He sends it up to the channel, aiming for the DLF (No.9.).


The DLF flicks it on. One of their CB's came out to challange him which leaves space behind.


Space that the AF can run into.


Simple football..


.. in 9 seconds.

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On 05/06/2020 at 23:05, Jean0987654321 said:

Judging from the shape and from the analysis spielverlagerung did


I'd start with this

Mentality: Attacking


More Direct

Pass Into Space


Lower Line of Engagement

High Defensive Line

More Urgent Pressing

Tighter Marking


CD (x)-CD (c)-CD (x)


IW (a)-BBM (s)-BBM (s)-W (a)

SS (a)

--------CF (s)


A 4-4-2 in attack but becomes a 3-1-4-2 in defense...

That is an interesting approach and I must say very different from mine. I am not using any attack duties in midfield, beacuse I need every one of them back defending nad need them back fast. Transitions are key to this kind of football, and are probably the most difficult to nail down. 

I've found it that you can win most games almost solely via transition play, so I try to pay a lot of attention to them.

Thanks for chipping in with your take.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a quick update for those who are interested, as it's been all work and no play for me lately. Which means I only managed to play half a season in my new save with Dynamo Kyiv (who else?). I'm still tweaking the tactic, but right now I'm more or less liking what I see, so maybe, just maybe, it has started clicking. And it proved to be something of a chance creating machine so far:


Disclaimer #1: I'm playing in the Ukrainian league, which obviusly has a large gap in quality between the top two teams and the rest of the pack. Still, it's often a struggle to create CCC's against packed defenses, so I'm pleased.

Disclaimer #2: While much improvement has been made since the beta, the game's calculation of CCC's iss still not entirely accurate. The eye-test, however, confirms this data, and more. Sadly, it also comfirms that our conversion rate is abysmal, so I need to find out whether it is my strikers or the tactic.

So far, when it comes to creating chances, our system has been pretty consistent. We're doing it against better teams, too:



I will finalize the tactic and try to finish the season in the coming days, which is when I plan to post an analysis of the system as well. I don't think we can win the league, because I kind of punted on it early, to make sure we made it to the group stages of the CL. Meanwhile, Shakhtar have been literally winning all their games. I don't like Shakhtar.

Edited by Experienced Defender
needless mention of the ME
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Wow reading this inspires me to give Lobanovsky another shot. It's a style of Total Football in a way. And maybe it would be nice to go back to where it all began. My very first tactical analysis thread on here was on recreating Lobanovsky's Dynamo.


Edited by crusadertsar
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So, after using the above principles for one and a half seasons and molding the club to the great Lobanovskyi's image, here are a few thoughts and musings.

First, this is the system I have ended up with:


Faithful to Lobanovskyi's thinking, we're using the most universal roles and duties imaginable. No specialists, no designated playmakers. The customisabilty of these roles gives us great flexibility. This, like I said earlier, is but a generic framework. The rest of the tactic (in this case, close to 75%, I would say) is dictated by PI's, attributes and player traits.

I. PI's

The centre-backs are told to take fewer risks. The full-backs pass it shorter, get further forward and cross more often.

Now, the last two is to make sure my we make our presence felt in the wide postions and deep into the opponent's half. The passing instructions for all defenders are rather important to our system. What it does is make them more considerate with the ball, as they're not the primary agents of our direct style. It won't take away their long balls entirely, but simply limits them to those few golden opportunities that may or may not come by. It will make them to look for short passes and ball retention first and foremost, and only launch it long when absolutely necessary.

The RCM is told to hold position and tackle harder. The LCM is told to roam, get further forward and take more risks. What we've done here is have a more defensively oriented CM to partner up with a perhaps more creative one. This is one of the great advantages of these universal roles: both my CM's will go up and down the pitch, both contribute to attack and defense, yet have different priorities. If these positions are occupied by the right players, we basically have a RPM-BBM duo, but so much more than that at the same time: we took the instructions we needed of these roles and scrapped the ones we don't. Furthermore, they can be interchangeable without actually changing the roles. I've seen many times my RCM acting like a playmaker simply because he had more space in that game.

The RWM is told to roam, sit narrow and take more risks. Now, the thinking behind these instructions are two-fold. First, this player is on the side of our more defensively oriented CM, so he will serve as a good passing option, while acting one of our main sources of creativity. Second, I have been playing our star player, Tsygankov, here, so I needed to give him the freedom he needs. This position. along with the LCM, is the one to account for the most assists and key passes on our team, usually.

The LWM is told to stay wide and cut inside. This gives us variety on the flanks, while leaving space for the LCM to operate in. This player will run at the defence from out wide, creating havoc, and also gets to the end of balls from our RWM.

The PF (the Rebrov role) stays wider. The AF (Shevchenko) stays wider and dribbles more. I've found that stay wider is the single greatest instruction I can give my strikers for our direct style to work. What it will do is make them move around, get into the channels, provide us more with, and, most importantly, ensure that they don't always have to go up against strong centre-backs, they oftentimes get behind the opposing full-backs who had pushed up the field. This is essential for our attacking transitions. Like those classic Dynamo Kyiv sides I mentioned in the opener, the forwards play off each other and their interplay is a joy to watch.


II. Attributes

Our system will fail miserably if we don't have the players who can execute it. What we need is universal, all-around players who are solid at everything instead of being great at one aspect of the game. You will note from the following squad list that most of our players can play multiple positions and I'm making sure that all of them are at least comfortable with both feet (those who are not yet, are in the process of getting there).


Buyalskyi, for example, I've used him in every front six position. The wide players can play on both flanks. The strikers can play either role. I prefer either-footed full-backs. I want my more creative CM to be able to play out wide if needed.

You will notice two more things. One, I've made the decision to use Eastern European players and players from the former Soviet Union exclusively and that extends to our non-playing staff as well. I've also set out to establish the greatest youth academy in the world, and rely on home-grown players, just like Lobanovskyi did.

Second, you can observe the core attributes that are essential to our club culture and playing system:

Determination, Bravery, Concentration, Composure: I want relentless, focused, cold-blooded b*stards who are not afraid of anything.

Teamwork: no one, not even a superstar like Shevchenko, is bigger than the team.

Work Rate, Stamina, Natural Fitness: Dynamo Kyiv, win or lose, will out-work and out-run their opponents and do that for 90 minutes, every single game.

Agility, Balance: for physical superiority in one-on-one duels, on and off the ball.

Our recruitment policy is set up in a way to ensure that all our signings either have the expected scores for our core attributes already or the potential to get there. Our training regimes are specifically designed to improve those attributes.

Of course, there are several more attributes to take into consideration when it comes to assign players to positions. As these are mostly the 'usual suspects', I'm not going through them one-by-one, but I firmly believe that you have to have a clear idea of what you expect of your players in each role.


III. Player traits

These are also very important parts of our system, because of the otherwise universal roles we are using. Here are a few I try to make sure we teach our players.

Forwards: tries to beat offside trap, places shots. tries to round the keeper

WM's: switches ball to other flank, gets into opposition area, cuts inside from both wings

LCM: killer balls, long range passes

FB's: gets forward whenever possible

On the other end of spectrum, these are huge no-no's: avoids using weaker foot, dictates tempo, dwells on ball, stops play, plays one-two's. As you have probably guessed by this point, we're not playing tiki-taka at Dynamo Kyiv.


Next up is an analysis of the tactical aspects, first in theory, then in practice.




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In this post, I will explain the thinking behind every tactical decision I've made, so bear with me, I guess.

Please keep in mind that I'm changing team mentality frequently, oftentimes during games as well. I'm also playing around with team instructions, but there are four I'm absolutely not relenting on:

Higher tempo: one of the linchpins of Lobanovskyi's philosophy, this is essential to our playing style

Counter: we want fast attacking transitions

Much higher defensive line: Lobanovskyi believed in expanding the playing field when you have the ball and compressing it when the opponent does

More urgent pressing: again, essential to the philosophy

Distribute to CB's is there to draw to opponents in and I'm using it almost every game. I think there have been two games in one and a half seasons when I unticked this: our two contests against Liverpool, where I saw that we couldn't quite cope with their press. One of the best teams in the world (AND the coach who made the gegenpress the flavour of the day) aside, this is here to stay.

I use pass into space quite frequently, as it's another recurring Lobanovskyi template.

I don't change roles and duties with the excpetion of the PF who can range from defend duty to attack, depending on our matchday strategy.

All other changes are few and far in between, and are always situational.


My experience with the game's tactical creator tells me that your attacking style is dictated approximately 5% by in possession instructions, 15% by mentality, and 80% by roles, duties, attributes, traits and PI's. That's right: Eighty percent. As you'll see later, we're playing marvellously direct football on balanced mentality with standard passing. This is why when creating a tactic I always set the in possession instructions last, in fact, first I leave them entirely blank, and then add a few I absolutely need. In my one and a half seasons, I never for one minute had more than three in possession TI's on. Show me a tactic with six of those ticked and I show you three that are totally unnecessary and counter-productive.

Now, the out of possession TI's are somewhat different, as you have to set these carefully to achieve the style you want. (OFF: I, for one, would love to see some changes made in the game when it comes to these settings, as I'm finding them way too powerful. Would be nice if more of the team's defensive behaviour was influenced by the players and their roles. ON:) My method here is simple enough. I decide what style I want to play and then go through the instructions one by one, deciding whether I need them or not.

As I mentioned earlier, we want to compress space for the opponent and press them aggressively. Much higher defensive line and urgent pressing are needed for this. I wanted to minimize the gap between my defenders and attackers out of possession. I could have elected for higher d-line and lower LOE as well, but then our reliance on counters would've been far too great to the point of compromising the flexibility of our system. Do I need higher or much higher LOE to engage the opponent relatively high up the pitch? Absoulutely not. The much higher d-line will make our LOE high enough as it is, and defensive compactness is the key here. Do I need extremely urgent pressing? Absolutely not. More urgent will make our team sligthly more proactive on defense, moreover, it raises the individual pressing urgency of certain roles, as it's displayed on their PI page. In our case, the forwards's and WM's pressing are maxed out, while the others' are left alone. This is exactly what we want: we force the ball to wider areas where their build-up have fewer options, and then, with the aid of the sideline, press them mercilessly. This is called a wide press, and it's used to great effect by the likes of Diego Simeone. Extremely urgent pressing will max out the pressing of every single outfield player, except for the CD(c) and we don't want that, no matter how unrealistically well it can work in the game.

Do I need an offside trap? No, as I play a fast CB on cover. If you have a much higher d-line with an offside trap, you're essentially inviting the opponent to beat it. Do I need to adjust defensive width? No. Our two banks of four will do the work, and if I want to take their full-backs out of the game, I prefer OI's and/or man-marking. I don't need to prevent short GK distribution, as I don't care about ball possession. Let them bring the ball out of the defence all they want, it will only give us more space to attack. Tight marking: only via OI's and only occasionally. Finally, I don't need to adjust tackling either, the more urgent pressing will make sure we're forceful enough.


As I have alluded to it many times before, this is a system based on transitions. Our fast attacking transitions are triggered by the combination of higher tempo, counters on, quick gk distribution and, most importantly, the way our forwards are set up. And our fast defensive transitions are ensured by the support duties plus the identical attacking and defensive shape and width. Counter-press can compromise this, so I rarely if ever use it.


It is of utmost importance to stress that, while a manager must remain faithful to his core principles, well thought out game-day strategies are essential to this system. No team in the world plays every game the same way and an approach that works against one opponent may fail against another. The follow-up will show examples for that.

Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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To illustrate the flexibility of our system and how the principles work in the game, I picked two consecutive matches we played three days apart. These were two entirely different contests: the first a CL group match against Fenerbahce,  and the second a league game against mediocre Karpaty.

The reports told me Fenerbahce was using a rather attacking 4231 and wanted to play possession football. One of their CM's was a DLP, and they relied upon him to distribute the ball around and play in the wing-backs. So, I went in with my default tactic on a Positive mentality, but, I asked my players to tight mark and hard tackle their DLP. I didn't raise my LOE, as I was fine with letting them play out of defence and have possession, but aimed to disrupt their chance creation instead. Their other CM was a mezzala, so I knew he wouldn't be coming deep for the ball.





What we did here is take their playmaker out of the game almost completely, which meant there was no one to distribute the ball to the wing-backs. Who bombed forward anyway, because that's what wing-backs do. We had both of our strikers staying wider so they were consistantly running into spaces vacated by those wing-backs, thus we destroyed them on the counter. If we pressed too high, or too aggressively, they would most probably have played around our press.


For our next game against Karpaty, I went with a heavily rotated squad. They lined up in a defensive 451, so I knew I had to play differently. I lowered the mentality to balanced, but selected pass into space and be more expressive. What this does is make your players slightly more considerate on the ball, but at the same time maintain the decisiveness that comes with higher tempo. PIS and BME was there to ensure that our players seized every opportunity that would arise. So we distributed to the centre-backs, our CM's dropped, and we played the ball around to lure them out. Then we launched through ball after through ball behind their defence that simply couldn't cope with our fast strikers.


The game counted 9 CCC's, but I would argue we had at least a dozen.




There are two things that deserve attention, and that's why I picked this game (as even our second team is obviously way better than Karpaty). One, note how direct we are even on Balanced and without selecting more direct passing. Make no mistake: direct passing doesn't equal hoofing. The aim against teams like this is to be more patient in possession (which is why our defenders are told to take fewer risks), let them come out and then abuse them with defence-splitting passes. There are a lot threads around here about the AI having possession for the sake of possession and not coming out of their half. That's because tactics that press very high up the pitch simply won't let them, which can be counter-productive. Figure out what the AI wants to do and prevent it by making them do what they don't want to. 

Two, look at the key passes by our CM's (No. 5 and 10, the latter of which came out around the 60th minute). These are generic central midfielders on a support duty with a couple of PI's. Yet both of them played like some kind of a halfback-slash-regista hybrid. The point here is, if you identify the attributes and traits you need, even without using specialists or designated playmakers, all the ever-important tasks of central midfielders in a 442 can be accounted for by these universal roles.


Next, I will talk about how to learn from the games you screw up.


Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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I would be amiss if I only mentioned our success stories. So here is the low point of my Dynamo Kyiv career so far.

With the memorable victory still on our minds, up came the away game against the same Fenerbahce side. Even though I noticed the scout report warning me that they would change things up and play in a 424 this time, in all my complacency I ignored it, and thought that since we had destroyed them so thoroughly in the first game, we would do it again without problems. So I went with the same tactic. We were down 2-0 by the 30th minute and it could and should have been worse than that, as they were simply running us over. Chasing the game, we entered into a shootout, which we simply couldn't possibly win.




I screwed this game up royally, there's no other way around it, and my single greatest mistake was betraying one of the key principles of our tactical philosophy. Remember how I wrote about Lobanovsky always making sure he had an extra man in defense? Which is the reason why I have a CB on cover? With their 424, Fenerbahce's attackers matched our defenders in numbers, and since they are probably a slightly better team that Dynamo Kyiv, that was enough to destroy us. I didn't have a defender to sweep up opposition balls anymore, because he was constantly dragged out of his deeper position by one of the four enemy forwards.

What made this especially frustrating is that it eliminated us from the CL with one game to play. That last game was against Bayern, who beat us 3-2 in Munich. With nothing but our pride to play for, I set out to win this game no matter what. Bayern play a Guardiola-esque 4141 DM Wide, with a single playmaking pivot at DM and wing-backs pushing up the field. They rotated their starters a bit, but still heavily outmatched us. So I took a chapter from the famous José Mourinho bestseller called "Sh*thouse Your Way to Glory", and decided to eliminate the opponent's greatest threats, then hope for the best. This led me not only to telling my WM's to man-mark the opposing wing-backs, but also asking my PF to take one for the team, put him on support (later in the game on defend) duty and have him man-mark their DM.

Now, a strategy like this can backfire in so many spectacular ways. The PF's attacking threat essentially vanishes and there's still no guarantee he's up to the job. What led me to taking the chance then? (other than a questionable sense of entitlement of course)

Meet Artem Besedin:


This is probably my favourite player in the game currently. Great physicals, all the attributes you want from a striker AND 14 for teamwork, 16 for bravery plus no less than 19 for work rate. He can be a goalscorer, a creator and a bully, depending on what you need from him. So while I sold Tsygankov to Chelsea without thinking too much about it, when Leicester came in with €50 million for this guy, I rejected in a heartbeat.

Besedin took Valverde (and himself) out of the game:


We were more than a little lucky, but I'll take it. Thanks, José.


The Champions League qualifiers play-off round next season gave us a chance to finally put that game in Istanbul behind us. We drew Braga, who, much to my satisfaction, lined up in a 424 formation. In order to have my extra defender this time around, whilst keeping our 442 if possible, I came up with the following man-marking strategy: our RWM marks their LW, our RB marks their LCF. Our RCB is on cover. Our LCB (stopper) marks their RCF. The reason why I went with that is because their left-back was a rather conservative full-back, so I figured I can get away with sacrificing both the RWM and the RB. This way, my numerical advantage was secured. Our LB and LWM stayed on zonal marking. That's because their right back was an attacking WB, so I elected to set my left flank free, so to speak. Add pass into space, focus down the left, and stay wider for my LCF, and..


We played almost an entire half with 10 men because of Verbic and his competitive streak (I really should get rid of him already), but Braga simply had no answer.


They sent all these players forward, but every one of them had a marker, and additionally, we had our extra man. Almost every time an attack by Braga failed because they had nowhere to go, and we got the ball from them (and, needless to say, that happened a lot), it resulted in a chance for us at the other end of the field. Munteanu, our LCF (who became our lone forward after the red card), obliterated their defense, which is exactly how we designed it in the gameplan. He should've scored five.


Now to be fair, Braga are worse than Fenerbahce, and, even though I had sold quite a few starters in the summer, are probably worse than Dynamo Kyiv as well. I'm still proud of how we played with 10 men and how our plan came together. The game is what it is, but with some analysis, creative thinking and a clear philosophy, you can achieve any style you want and make it successful.

Edited by Enzo_Francescoli
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  • 1 month later...

Excellent thread! I've been using a similar system based on Sérgio Conceição's 442 with Porto, which, in turn, uses Sachi's elements. I couldn't help but test your system with my squad after all the players are perfectly suited to this type of football.

Just a couple notes: you sure you don't like 1-2s? they work really well for me, but my players are technically sound.

I'd also say I concede a CCC due every other game coming behind the stopper. He's not the fastest player but I just notice it's a bit vulnerable there, at least for now, during the first 4 games.

But overall, it's very effective, even against defensive teams.

Edited by afailed10
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10 hours ago, afailed10 said:

Excellent thread! I've been using a similar system based on Sérgio Conceição's 442 with Porto, which, in turn, uses Sachi's elements. I couldn't help but test your system with my squad after all the players are perfectly suited to this type of football.

Just a couple notes: you sure you don't like 1-2s? they work really well for me, but my players are technically sound.

I'd also say I concede a CCC due every other game coming behind the stopper. He's not the fastest player but I just notice it's a bit vulnerable there, at least for now, during the first 4 games.

But overall, it's very effective, even against defensive teams.

One-two's are more suited for systems with a shorter passing game and I want my team to be as direct as possible. Come to think of it, however, it might be a useful trait for our full-backs (but only the full-backs). It could result in some nice combinations with the WM or CM ahead of them, without compromising our direct game. I might experiment with that. Already there are matches where I put them on shorter passing, because the midfielders are the main outlets of our chance creation.

I've found the stopper-cover partnership very effective. I suspect the issues you saw when testing the tactic are due to the much higher defensive line more than anything. I've already started tweaking the tactic for games against the much stronger teams in the Champions League (as there are a lot of them), beacause we can't use it in these matches yet. Liverpool destroyed us in the first knockout round two years in row, and I have to admit, we had no answer for them. The first version I came up with was very solid defensively (0-0 against both Man City and Roma), but while we had some good scoring chances, I wasn't fully satisfied with what I saw. I believe the fundamentals are there for a lethal counter attacking system in the base tactic, and that's what I plan to work on once I have the time to play the save again, because the system has already achieved complete domination in the home league.

Thanks for the comment and feel free to post your tactic, I'm interested to take a look since you say it's quite similar.

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  • 2 months later...
On 13/08/2020 at 08:30, thewire147 said:

Really enjoying this.


On 12/11/2020 at 22:34, howhigh1337 said:

great read, Lobanovskyi was really ahead of his time

Thanks guys. This was the only save I was able to get into on FM20. I haven't tried 21 yet, but some of the feedback seem to suggest that it's a major improvement from the previous installment (a very low bar to clear, but still). I can't wait to implement these principles in the new game.

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  • 1 month later...

@shaneomac Not yet on 21. But I've noticed some improvements on the match engine, espacially the enhanced central play, so I would guess a Lobanovsky system could now work even better.

If you play both strikers on attack in a 442, they WILL be high up the pitch. It will inevitably result in a more direct attack, which actually is how the tactic was designed. They also won't come back too far to defend, we'll have to live with that. They will press though which is absolutely necessary.

I do think you have too many instructions on. No need for much higher LOE, because you'll lose a lot of compactness out of the ball nad also no need for extremely urgent pressing because it will make even your defenders press like crazy. I wouldn't use CWB's on the overlap in a setup that has no DM, like, ever. Prevent short GK distribution kind of takes away from the very essence of the system which is to let them play out of defence but then hit them hard. You can use short passing but, again, this is a direct attack all the way, and as you can see above I prevent mindless hoofing with PI's for the defenders instead. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the WM's are the creative fulcrum of the tactic, and a limited role DW is not really suitable for that.

That's just a few of my suggestions and they are based on a LOT of testing, on FM20 at least. But, it's really up to you test your own system and tweak it gradually. By all means, any tactic inspired by the great Lobanovsky is always a welcome addition to this thread.

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