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Marcelo Gallardo - An interpretation/emulation of his 4-1-3-2 - DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE

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2 hours ago, kingjericho said:

Looking forward to seeing your transition to FM of this.

Cheers mate. I'm pretty excited.

1 hour ago, carloshcorbalan said:

Muy bueno.............

Ojala suba enlace a tácticas para probarlas...:thup:

¡Gracias! Subiré la táctica cuando haya terminado.


Part II is now out! 

Edited by yellowforever
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I always struggled for resources for trying to imitate River Plate for my FM19 saves, good to see someone else having a little more success.

Where do you see Quintero fitting in? Will he be utilised in the 4-1-3-2 shape, or will he only play when you change formation? On FM19 he was the most talented attacker in the squad so I'd assume you'd want him involved somehow. 

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I'll be uploading another section of this story in the next few days, showing some changes I've made to the tactic, as well as our first few months of games in the Superliga and the Libertadores. 

5 hours ago, zlatanera said:

I always struggled for resources for trying to imitate River Plate for my FM19 saves, good to see someone else having a little more success.

Where do you see Quintero fitting in? Will he be utilised in the 4-1-3-2 shape, or will he only play when you change formation? On FM19 he was the most talented attacker in the squad so I'd assume you'd want him involved somehow. 

Quintero is an interesting one, but given De La Cruz's success playing as a Mezzala for me (spoiler alert), I imagine with a bit of training he'll be an upgrade there. For those wondering here's a screenshot of him at the start of the game. He's still a quality player a year on, despite his injury.

Regarding shape, I'll be working primarily on this 4-1-3-2, but have plans to branch out and make a 4-2-2-2 that Gallardo sometimes employs, possibly as a solution for tough away games in the Libertadores. I'll also try a 4-3-3 and a 4-4-2  in Gallardo's style. Eventually once these are done and tested with River, I'll try it with a weaker team in a different league and see how it does with players less suited to the tactic. 

7 hours ago, Tiger666 said:

This is very interesting. For years playing as Spurs I've always ended up with some variation of 4-2-3-1, been looking for something different for FM20, I like the look of that formation.

Cheers! It's a tricky one, the shape is naturally pretty secure against teams that attack me through the middle, but breaking down low block teams requires some work. 

9 hours ago, anderson36015 said:

Very much looking forward to seeing this thread progress!

Playing a similar set up myself at the moment be interesting to see your thoughts on how it all plays out

Good stuff. I'm enjoying managing in a style and shape completely outside of my comfort zone.

Edited by yellowforever
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Part III - Tweaks, tunings and testing


Just a short update for today. So far I have progressed past Universidad Católica from Chilé in the Libertadores 6-2 on aggregate, and played some interesting games in the league and the Copa Argentina. In fact the first competitive game I played was an away match in the Copa Argentina 6th round against San Lorenzo which turned into a real end to end thriller, ending 3-1 to us. Our first league game was a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Lanús, in which I played a full team despite it coming just 3 days before our Libertadores second leg in Chile. We managed to remain unbeaten in all these games without really looking convincing,until our trip to reigning Superliga champions, Racing Club.


As you can see, a near complete performance against a strong team mirroring our formation. For the first time I could really see decent movements and what I envisioned for our team. 


This is what the tactic looks like currently. There's been a few changes but the original shape remains the same and these amendments have mostly been informed by me watching a few halves of River playing this season in the Libertadores and domestically:

  • Changing CDs > BPDs - this was a change I was anticipating anyway, and having watched them, both Pinola and Martinez Quarta do look to play in a more ambitious manner than a default CD would
  • Perez A > HB - Perez drops between the CBs a fair amount IRL and also this has helped defend against two-man striker teams, of which we have faced a few
  • MEZ/DLP/MEZ - again, this is based on real life observation. Often Palacios is the deepest of the three and is more of a playmaker than an attacking role. Changing De La Cruz to a MEZ (A) and allowing him to roam to get him playing as a pseudo winger and Fernandez to MEZ (S) to make him a sort of wide box to boxer seems to work. It creates a kind of weird formation that's a mix between a box and a 4-4-2, but seems to emulate real life River Plate better.
  • Pratto in and a PF (S) - no idea what role suits him best but I want him to play, and he seems to be handling this role fine
  • Lower the tempo - undecided on this one, but allows us to keep the ball better and we still move it about at a reasonable lick when we're playing well. Will probably revert this
  • Extremely Urgent Pressing & Much Higher Line of Engagement - we were too passive outside of possession and I wanted all of our midfield to attack the ball like wild dogs when we don't have it. The back 4 + the DM all have close down less to atempt to mitigate the defensive weakness from this.

So what do you think? I've added Pass into Space, Be more Expressive and Exploit the Middle at various points in games and those are possibilities to be in our base tactical set up.

Next update I'll come back to you with a near finished tactic (hopefully) and show how we've done in the various competitions throughout the season.

Edited by yellowforever
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@yellowforever it seems odd to see a HB right behind a DLP, don't they often look for the same space when the team has possession? Usually the more attacking midfielder stays in the centre in order to create a sort of diamond. If this turns into a sort of flat 4-4-2 I like it, I'm just asking because I remember using an Anchor Man and a DLP in a 4-1-4-1 before and they were constantly occupying the same spaces.

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44 minutes ago, kingjericho said:

@yellowforever it seems odd to see a HB right behind a DLP, don't they often look for the same space when the team has possession? Usually the more attacking midfielder stays in the centre in order to create a sort of diamond. If this turns into a sort of flat 4-4-2 I like it, I'm just asking because I remember using an Anchor Man and a DLP in a 4-1-4-1 before and they were constantly occupying the same spaces.

Yeah it's an odd shape to be honest. My initial formation had Palacios essentially as the tip of a diamond, but having watched River games more I decided to change things. Often the HB drops back between the CBs so there's a bit of space for the DLP to operate in. I've tried the RPM and AP there but I think the DLP is probably the best. In some ways this formation is a bit of a narrow 4-2-4, and in other ways a fairly standard 3-5-2.

1 hour ago, FMunderachiever said:

I don't know what impact, if any this has.

But one thing I notice about River is their squad is OLD.

When I say old, I mean.............OLD.

Does this affect the way you intend to press? move the ball? approach training etc?

Yes this is a bit of a problem. Key players in areas such as the forward midfield 3 are all of a good age, as well as the full backs and those are the guys who get through the most effort. You can get away with an older CB and DM in this system like Perez, Pinola and Ponzio. There has had to be a lot of rotation which has definitely hampered my efforts in the league. I'm nearly done with the season so I'll put up the next, and probably final part then.

1 hour ago, andre62 said:

can you share the tactic please?

I will upload it in the next part, which will be when we finish the league season. Nearly done now.

2 hours ago, nick1408 said:

Are you trying any player instructions?  My thoughts are you probably don’t need them yet but not really sure. Really interesting read I think. 

Nothing in particular currently, my back 4 + HB are all set to close down less, and I'm trialling a few different roles and instructions currently with others.

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Part IV – The Final Cut


Welcome back to the last formal instalment of my South American odyssey, whereby I explore the tactics of Argentinian maestro, Marcelo Gallardo. We have currently finished all competitions we started in and have now looped back to the group stage of the second year’s Copa Libertadores. How’s it gone? Pretty well in all honesty

The 4-1-3-2 shape has some natural advantages. It allows us to have 4 bodies in the centre of the park, giving us a premade diamond and great potential in keeping the ball. It also provides a stern defensive shape, that gives solidity when defending against a team passing the ball around in the middle third. Having two strikers gives us many out-balls available should we need to play more direct and whip crosses in from wide areas. Sounds good right? What are the catches? Well, plenty. With no players in the AM strata, those two players up front can end up marooned and about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Only one option in the wide areas mean we may end up one dimensional and find it hard to break down defensive teams. Tactical emulation is a tricky nut to crack – on one hand I want to create a faithful rendition of Gallardo’s River, and on another I want to make an all-conquering creation of a 4-1-3-2 tactic on the current match engine of the simulation game, Football Manager 2020.

How do we reconcile both objectives, and how have we done?

The Results

Overall, a superb season to be honest. The only real problem came in the league, where we had to rotate heavily and fell behind mid-season to an impressive Velez team. When the continental competitions slowed down, we were just too far behind to catch up and win the league. Winning the Libertadores (and against Boca!) is massive for us though, and that was my main aim. The Club World Cup win was a nice unexpected win, where somehow Monterrey beat a near full strength Liverpool in the Semis. Having played against them in the final, I have no idea how that happened because they were poor against us.



The Tactic


So here is the tactic that is available for download. Honestly there are so many TIs, roles, PIs that I’m still tweaking, but due to lots of people requesting it, I thought I’d upload it as it is. Any questions about why I’ve done certain things or this and that, just ask. The proof is in the results which are largely positive, but remember, this is based on a very specific set of players I have and has been designed to play in a way that resembles the real-life team.

TWEAKS ARE NECESSARY. We have gone into almost every game as the stronger team in paper, which is why so many of the roles and instructions are aggressive. Even so, teams dropped back and clogged up the middle of the pitch which is difficult for this shape to deal with. I would encourage you to experiment with width and other instructions, such as “Pass in Space”, “Be More Expressive”, and “Exploit the Middle” as I have used all of those in different situations throughout the year. Away from home or against better teams you may need to drop the line of engagement and defensive line for example.

Mentality is important, and it’s set to Balanced on the download. You’ll need to use some common sense though – see how many chances you’re creating in the first 15 minutes, you may need to bump it up to Positive or Attacking.


I’ve attached the download of the tactic for you guys to try. Let me know how it goes. Remember, this is both a tactical emulation of a specific team and built around the players I have available to me. It took me a little while for my team to build up tactical familiarity which is where exciting football results. Don’t be afraid to tweak to whatever team you have available to you, and I encourage you to apply the same principles and team instructions to a different shape. After all, Gallardo is famously a tactical chameleon.

Important players

  • Complete Wing Backs - Need to be fit! Really fit! They're the only guys on the wing and they need to be Attackers, Defenders, and Midfielders. If they're good though, they'll get amazing ratings. Montiel (rb) was our top rated player despite being technically unimpressive.
  • Half Back - Someone who can be partially CB, partially pass master. Enzo Perez was brilliant in this role. You can definitely play an older player here as he doesn't need to run much.
  • Deep Lying Playmaker - Needs to be a good all rounder, and especially creative. Although we are a short pass team, you'll often find this guy playing a longer through ball to the strikers. Feel free to try the RPM role, I'm not sure which is better.
  • Mezzala - You can play an attacking midfielder/winger here as long as he trains well. De La Cruz was very strong for me here even though he was completely uncomfortable in this position.
  • Forward Roles - I went for Pressing Forwards and both Borré and Pratto scored a lot of goals.

The future

And thus ends part IV. I may well play further ahead on this save with River and knowing the usual swoop for talent from European and North American clubs, try to rebuild with a new generation of players. I may also use the tactic with a completely different team, different shape and different league to see how well it translates. If (as rumoured) Gallardo makes the jump into European management, I may emulate his approach with whatever club he ends up at. What I am definitely doing, is applying this approach to my dafuge challenge save with Nuneaton town. There’s no way I have the players required, both in talent and positional aptitude so it should be fun! I think I’ll try the 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 shape. The National League won’t know what’s hit them.

If you guys want to play with the tactic and have any feedback for me, then I'm happy to have a look and apply your suggestions. 

Good luck to all.

gallardo v2.fmf

Edited by yellowforever
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Part V - Holiday Testing


I know River are a great team, and expected to win their division and also get to the latter stages of the cups, so I thought I'd set up a holiday save this evening while I was watching some football. This tactic is first and foremost designed as an emulation of a real life manager, but the tactic itself has to be able to perform at least reasonably in game right? Plus I'm constantly tweaking and making in game decisions on what I see in front of me, especially in mentality, so I want to simulate the tactics performance with a team battling relegation and without my influence. On the TV was the Brighton v Wolves game, so I thought I'd start as Brighton as they were predicted to finish 18th, and was wondering how the tactic would handle itself with a weaker team (in comparison to the league) in the hands of an assistant. I started a game with Brighton, disabled first transfer window business, set up the tactic, moved all staff privileges to my staff and set a holiday until after the last game of the season. I've attatched the league table, some relevant stats and also the January transfers (my chairman decided to sign some players), as well as some good performing players.



League Table


Final Squad


Chances Created






Not bad eh? I thought the tactic might bomb, we get relegated and me and my assistant get booted out the club. As you see by the squad list, we really didn't have any regular goalscorers which was a big problem. Our midfield chipped in, but there wasn't much going. Perhaps the  forward roles should be adapted for certain players to get the best out of them. The transfers were weird bar Tonali, with the chairman getting a dude on loan from Watford only for him not to play, and a young forward from Anderlecht who only played a handful of games. Overall, I'm chuffed. 15th highest goals in the league is relatively poor and it's clear to us that the problem is with the strikers, but 9th fewest goals conceded is encouraging. Remember, I'm not able to bump up mentality in game like I often do, so this isn't that surprising. 




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  • yellowforever changed the title to Marcelo Gallardo - An interpretation/emulation of his 4-1-3-2 - DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE

Great thread.  I really enjoyed it.  Did you keep much shorter passing for all of your players or did your DLP and CM-A have direct passing as well?  Some of the individual instructions would be interesting to know.  It seems like you would struggle to score goals with broad based short passing for all players.

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Imho Gallardo's River main characteristic is the relentless and hard press. Often too much like it was seen in Libertadores final. They are very much thr Atlético of South America. So i'd have maximum settings for pressing and would activate tight marking. Everything else is more subject to interpretation but they are not a very good side to watch if you like intricate short passing. 

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