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A counter-attacking 442 and some musings about defending.

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With things going well in my Milan save I felt the urge to try something different tactically. I am the kind of person that likes to dictathe the course of the game so I tend to go for high-pressing possesion oriented tactics but I want to try go for an antithesis to my prefered style of play:

A counter-attacking 442.

To counter-attack. That is to willingly accept an opponent's attack and punish them once they fail to prove anything against a determined defence. In other words a counter-attack requires a solid defensive system. That I believe is going to be the main challenge of this save.

On purest terms a counter-attack necessitates a low block. One could possibly argue that in geggenpressing there exist counter-attacking phases but that would go against what I am trying to achieve here. 

I believe that to implement a counter-attacking style only two TIs are needed: Regroup and Lower Line of Engagement. To put it simply the Lower line of engagement makes the team more compact and creates space before your own players and behind the opposition while the Regroup instruction tells players to quickly go back into position to defend as a unit, in this case two banks of four and a pair of strikers.

Counter is an interesting instruction, on paper it would be a good choice but it essentially asks your players to be more speculative when passing the ball and that can be detrimental. A succesful transition is one that ends in chance to score regardless of how fast or direct it is. In addition I will not always be able to rely on the counter so I need to know which instrutions, if any to use when on the ball. I think I will go for Pass into space and work things out from there since I am going to have three players (ML, MR FL) with attack duties ready to run into space.


This is what I am sure about. Now allow me to talk about things that bother me:


1. Goalkeeper defend vs sweeperkeeper defend.

Choosing the right role for the keeper is very important. I am specifically thinking about ball distribution. Because roles are simply a set of instructions that take part in shaping how a player performs during a game I guess that what I am simply trying to decipher is How good should a player be at distributing for me to trust him with giving riskier passes?  I guess I will just have to try both roles and different ways of distributing to find out which one is best for whoever my goalkeeper will be.

2. Ball playing defenders vs central defenders.

A good ball playing defender is a great asset for a fast transition since he can make a defence splitting pass from his own half of the pitch to the opponent's half. If I happen to have such a defender it would be a no brainer to give him the liberty of trying this passes but once again I must ask myself How comfortable must a defender be on the ball before I allow him to try this sort of passes?

3. Defend/Defend vs Cover/stopper.

Should I play a flat line or have a defender sweeping behind a more agressive stopper? To do the latter I would need a fast thinking, fast moving player to act as the cover for an imposing physical presence acting as a stopper. 

4. Central midfielder support vs Advanced Playmaker support.

When you give a player a playmaking role you are telling your other players to look at the playmaker like a priority option, this doesn't mean that they will always look for the playmaker regardless of the difficulty of the pass or the other option at their disposal but it does mean that when given several options they will be more inclined to give him the ball. This can be a good choice when you have a player that is a whole level above the rest when it comes to delivering (passing, technique, composure) and choosing (Decision, vision, anticipation, teamwork) passes. 


What I am sure about is that my front two will consist of an Advanced forward + Deeplying forward. This is a very flexible pair of strikers where both of them will more often than not have  choice between advancing with the ball into dangerous areas or delivering  pass to their partner. Furthermore an Advanced forward will help with transitions by pinning the opponent while his partner drops deep to link up play.


Once I am done studying my squad I will make the necessary choices regarding player roles. Then I can start testing the tactic.


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According to the earliest database of Fm19 this is what RB Leipzig's squad at the beginning of the season. I have chosen RB Leipzig because of their fast players, young talented squad and status as a mid-tier German team. Furthermore they happen to have enough money to reinforce the squad with one quality player of two.
























That is 21 players for eleven positions:

3 goalkeepers

3 defenders

2 rightbacks

2 leftbacks

4 midfielders

4 wingers

3 forwards.


The current priority is an experienced centreback with good mental stats that I can trust to reliably stop attacks on the area he covers. Ilsanker could do a good job as a centreback (14 positioning, 14 marking, 14 jumping reach, 1.89m, 17 tackling, 15 concentration, 15 anticipation). But I kind of want him as a Central Midfielder Defend

Furthermore I will need a Deeplying forward support. The closest thing to one in my squad is Matheus Cunha (12 passing, 13 vision, 11 off the ball movement, 9 decisions, 10 teamwork).

As of now my first eleven looks like this:


Mukiele is a solid rightback most suited for defending than attacking. Upamecano is a very good player with great technique for a defender who I trust with delivering riskier passes. Orban is a must in the team to make for the possible mistakes from Upamecano who is still young. Saracchi is better at attacking than defending and Marcel Halstenberg is my best attacking fullback so in matches I am dominating I might venture a more advanced role. Sabitzer is a generic winger without key strenghts or weaknesses in his attacking repertoire. Kampl is my most technically gifted midfielder and has been made an Advanced Playmaker Support because Ilsanker's ball distribution is quite poorer in comparison. Forsberg is a good Inverted Winger attack who can both finish and start an attack with roughly equal finesse, if he were a tad speedier he would be worldclass. I already talked about Matheus Cunha, at 19 years of age he can grow into a very complete forward.

Timo Werner deserves a paragraph of his own. Lightning fast (18 pace, 18 acceleration) hard working (16 workrate, 16 stamina) good at finding and attacking spaces (16 off the ball, 13 anticipation, 12 concentration) and a good goalscorer (14 finishing, 13 composure). I trust him as the flagship of my team for years to come.


My plans for the squad is getting rid of one of my keepers by either loans or sells, sign a support forward and sign an experienced defender.

Edited by Aladdinsane
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The Day has come.

The Bundesliga is starting and we are facing Borussia Dortmund as our opponent for the first week.

This will surely be the greatest test by far given the sheer ability of the players we are facing.

As my starting eleven I have gone for these eleven men:


Boyata and Kannemann where two cheap intelligent signings. Boyata is an experienced defender who is well below Upamecano or Konaté in terms of pure talent but who is a finished product ready to play in a low block (16 heading, 15 marking, 16 tackling, 12 conccentration, 14 decisions, 16 positioning, 12 antiipation, 15 jumping reach, 15 strength, 1.88m) his one problem is he thinks he can play with the ball at his feet (he can't). So I might have to give him a NO Nonsense Centreback defend role to keep him from doing anything stupid.

Walter Kannemann is a true defensive fullback. He can be trusted to defend his zone of the pitch (15 heading, 16 marking, 16 tackling, 15 positioning, 15 anticipation, 15 concentration, 15 stregth, 14 jumping reach, 1.83m) but is a bit slow (13 pace, 12 acceleration). He has no talent for the attacking side of the game but that is okay because Forsberg and Bruma more than make up for his deficiencies. 

I am playing with no Ball playing centreback defend because I haven't chosen Upamecano for the backline and I only trust him with such liberties.

So far we have managed to beat several smaller teams and tie away against Zenit with the current TIs and the Upamecano role change:


We really should have won against Zenit but we wasted out chances and lost an aerial duel against Dzyuba which saw us go behind against them.


Fearsome stuff. Two hardworking midfielders covering for a front four including Poacher Alcacer, Nº10 Gotze, the most talented american player ever and super Marco Reus.


Mukiele might mave the physical advantage against Reus but those 9 extra years of experience are going to show. I will need to have Sabitzer helping out, but that gives Guerreiro a free pass. 

We should be losing this game. Let us see if there are any positives.


As predicted their vey first play is looking for Reus and Reus inmediatly goes to face Mukiele but thankfully Mukiele has an aerial advantage, if we can keep Gotze from playing killer balls into the space behind Mukiele we might be able to shut Reus out of the game which is why Ilsanker has been told to man mark Gotze. I am trying to isolate their best player by cutting off his prefered way of receiving the ball. Reus is fast and sneaky but can't win aerial duels so he can't be allowed to receive short passes.


Pulisic decides to cut inside and passes the ball to Alcacer who has smartly found space in our defence. Ilsanker was too busy marking Gotze to deal with him and Alcacer scored at the half hour mark. The "good" news is that Reus has done nothing so far. I am going to tell them to defend narrower to try and prevent a second goal of a similar fashion.


Bad ball from Kannemann to forsberg. 


In his one true intervention during the match so far Reus has found himself better positioned than Mukiele and charges into space on the counter to find himself in a one on one against Péter and score the second goal. All from a horrible mistake on the ball from Kannemann who as we have asserted before can't be trusted on the ball.


Here we can see Dortmund's stats for the game. We succesfully stopped Gotze from being relevant during the game but couldn't deal with Pulisic (2 chances created, 5 dribbles). Alcacer proved to be another headache for us, I missread him as a mere Inzhagi like poacher but he kept finding pockets of space from which to make our life a living nightmare. Witsel and Delaney proved enough to stop us from being a threat when attacking.

Mukiele did a great job. The goal on the counter aside Reus had only one real shot on goal in the entire match and our defeat had more to do woth my inability to account for Pulisic and Konnemann's non existent attacking capabilities.

I am not all that upset, this was a game in which the sheer quality of their front four proved to much for what was onthe whole a good defensive display. 


Edited by Aladdinsane
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As a reward for hammering Zenit at Leipzig we have been handed what was perhaps the easiest Europa league draw I can think of:


This will be good for our finances and reputation since unless something goes terribly wrong we will go into the further stages of the competition but bad for the thread since it means I have to wait until we face Bayern, Leverkusen or schalke before I can update this topic with another underdog performance

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