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Attacking with 5 players, how do you do this?


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So I was recently reading a Michael Cox article about how the best teams in the Premier League in the last few years have all attacked with 5 players.

Different teams have achieved it with different combos. Liverpool and Chelsea with a front 3 and their wing backs providing width, Man City with their wingers staying wide and De Bruyne and Silva acting almost like no.10s.

You ultimately end up either a 2-3-5 or 3-2-5 at transitions.

It is all based on theory that you should have an attacker in each stripe on the attached diagram to maximise your use of the pitch etc.

Do people try and incorporate that theory into their tactics and if so how does it look in possession?

I'm using a 4-4-2 with inverted full backs, but it means I don't really have a 5th player in the attack, not sure if I should either invert a winger and include a wingback (would work down the left with Smith-Rowe and Tierney or the right with Pepe and Bellerein)

Or I could keep with the IWB and Wingers in which case what role should I use for a CM to get them more involved in the attacking phase? I've got an Asymetric tactic but it seemed to struggle against the bigger sides.

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442.PNG

4221assymetric.PNG

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I never use asymmetric formations, so I cannot comment on that particular tactic. Instead I'll focus on the 442 (which btw is not an ideal system for what you want to achieve). 

4 hours ago, Duff1903 said:

442.PNG

The first thing you should do - apart from the idea of attacking with 5 players - is get rid of one-dimensionality. Not only your flanks literally mirror each other, but you even play both strikers in the same role and duty. Some variety would really be more than welcome.

Now, let's say you want your formation to transform into a 235 when attacking. How would I look to achieve that? For example:

F9   AF

IWsu    DLPsu   CMat    WMsu

FBat    CDde   BPDde   IWBsu

Now... I normally would not use an attack duty in the central midfield in a 442 (or any system without a DM), but in this particular case I did so only for the sake of having 5 players attacking the box in the final stage of attack from different areas. 

However, here you also need to set up the instructions in a proper way, taking into account the mentality as a huge factor that automatically affects everything

First, you use needlessly too many instructions, with many of them constituting different sorts of tactical overkill - both in attack and defense.

I would therefore tone everything down to a degree. For example:

Mentality - Positive

In possession - shorter passing, play out of defence and work ball into box

In transition - nothing (maybe counter occasionally, but not all the time)

Out of possession - higher DL and standard LOE (probably also offside trap)

Player instructions - split block involving both strikers and the CM on attack duty. 

 

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13 hours ago, Duff1903 said:

I'm using a 4-4-2 with inverted full backs, but it means I don't really have a 5th player in the attack, not sure if I should either invert a winger and include a wingback (would work down the left with Smith-Rowe and Tierney or the right with Pepe and Bellerein)

Or I could keep with the IWB and Wingers in which case what role should I use for a CM to get them more involved in the attacking phase? I've got an Asymetric tactic but it seemed to struggle against the bigger sides.

4-4-2 is a tricky shape to achieve this with because it doesn't cover the zones as well as a 4-3-3 would, but the simplest way would probably be to have one of the central midfielders go forward as an attacking player. This way, you'd have, in theory two players in the wide spaces (the two wingers), two in the half spaces (the strikers) and one in the central space (the central midfielder).

However, I would only do this against teams who are going to defend against you all day and have no interest in coming out of their deep block. Against teams who are willing to attack you, that lack of central midfield cover will hurt. In which case, inverting a winger and changing one of the IWBs to a conventional wing-back is probably your best bet. If you do that, I'd suggest changing the nearest CM to a defensive duty to cover the wing back, especially if you feel like you're getting overwhelmed down that flank.

Alternatively, you could experiment with a 4-4-2 DM system, with Guendouzi as a Segundo Volante on Support or Attack, depending on the match state. I love the SV because his movements from deep can be very dangerous, while at the same time he'll retreat into a more defensive position. It's a very demanding role but I think Guendouzi is practically made for it. In this case, your five would be the two strikers, the two wingers, and the SV.

9 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

The first thing you should do - apart from the idea of attacking with 5 players - is get rid of one-dimensionality. Not only your flanks literally mirror each other, but you even play both strikers in the same role and duty. Some variety would really be more than welcome.

As someone who often uses identical roles on both flanks and has been very successful in game, I don't know why this advice keeps getting thrown around like it's essential. 

In the first place, it's less about the role and how the player interprets the role. In this case, variety is still achieved because Smith Rowe is a right-footed player on the left with good playmaking abilities while Nelson is a right-footed player on the right with good finishing and crossing. So although they're both W(s), they'll play the role differently according to their attributes and PPMs. 

Edited by JEinchy
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10 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

I never use asymmetric formations, so I cannot comment on that particular tactic. Instead I'll focus on the 442 (which btw is not an ideal system for what you want to achieve). 

The first thing you should do - apart from the idea of attacking with 5 players - is get rid of one-dimensionality. Not only your flanks literally mirror each other, but you even play both strikers in the same role and duty. Some variety would really be more than welcome.

Now, let's say you want your formation to transform into a 235 when attacking. How would I look to achieve that? For example:

F9   AF

IWsu    DLPsu   CMat    WMsu

FBat    CDde   BPDde   IWBsu

Now... I normally would not use an attack duty in the central midfield in a 442 (or any system without a DM), but in this particular case I did so only for the sake of having 5 players attacking the box in the final stage of attack from different areas. 

However, here you also need to set up the instructions in a proper way, taking into account the mentality as a huge factor that automatically affects everything

First, you use needlessly too many instructions, with many of them constituting different sorts of tactical overkill - both in attack and defense.

I would therefore tone everything down to a degree. For example:

Mentality - Positive

In possession - shorter passing, play out of defence and work ball into box

In transition - nothing (maybe counter occasionally, but not all the time)

Out of possession - higher DL and standard LOE (probably also offside trap)

Player instructions - split block involving both strikers and the CM on attack duty. 

 

Not sure the right word is “should” get rid of one dimensionality on the wings, it may not be your preferred way but having identical wings can and does work.

Newcomers could see that as a rule and should not be done which is not the case.

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I'd probably echo the thoughts above and add this to them:

In a 4-4-2 in the centre you essentially have two straight lines of 3 players each (i.e. CBL, CML, STL and CBR, CMR, STR), so this probably isn't the ideal shape for what you want to achieve, personally I'd aim more for a 4-3-3 (or 4-1-4-1 wide or whatever the game calls it), a 4-2-3-1 or even a 3-4-3 (the wide one like Conte's Chelsea) or a 3-5-2 varient. If you think about it all of these shapes have one thing in common: the players are well distributed through these vertical lines you mentioned, meaning you have much greater coverage to start with. However this is not to say its impossible with a 4-4-2 or its varients. In fact I had a similar but slightly different idea only the other day. I'm yet to try it out in my save for two reasons mainly because I've not actually been on it since I had my idea but also as it wouldn't suit my players at all. I'll introduce it to you here20200208_193721.thumb.jpg.f5b4e5c50fbb8c0b052233b948ff18dd.jpg

You'll notice its a strikerless system, this is by no means my area of expertise its merely something I've had relative success with in a few iterations of the game and a concept that aligns with my views on football as a whole, however it is by no means necessary to the system. The basic concept less so evolves around the rigid positioning of players in the 5 vertical bands as you described, but more so around the fluid movement of the forward players into and out of the various bands further up the pitch. The idea is this means in theory the opposition defenders will be moved out of the vertical bands they wish to occupy, to allow one of our on rushing runners to take advantage and exploit the space. This idea takes inspiration (albeit loosely) from a few strikerless systems, namely some of Guido's and @ManUtd1's over in the career updates, Sheffield United's basic principle (this clearly isn't a replication merely a plagiarism of concepts), some of @Ö-zil to the Arsenal!'s threads and really any fluid attacking team you can think of.

Hopefully this'll be some use to you in terms of a way to achieve what your after as in my opinion the best way to learn is to apply the logic of others within your own style, as opposed to doing what your told, as although it brings success it doesn't actually help you learn. I'm by no means the greatest tactician here but I like to think I'm capable and I'll gladly help out as you require as I align with your principles it seems.

Cheers mate and good luck

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1 hour ago, JEinchy said:

As someone who often uses identical roles on both flanks and has been very successful in game, I don't know why this advice keeps getting thrown around like it's essential. 

In the first place, it's less about the role and how the player interprets the role. In this case, variety is still achieved because Smith Rowe is a right-footed player on the left with good playmaking abilities while Nelson is a right-footed player on the right with good finishing and crossing. So although they're both W(s), they'll play the role differently according to their attributes and PPMs. 

 

completely agree, i often do this. i for one would have no problem playing 4-3-3 with 2 wingbacks and 2 inside forwards or 2 inverted wingbacks and 2 wingers. as you say no player is identical so their PPIs and individual skills will change the role. think of city with of city of 2018 with sane and sterling. both essentially wingers but sane interpreted it alot more literally and sterling with his natural inclination to cut inside

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1 hour ago, JEinchy said:

4-4-2 is a tricky shape to achieve this with because it doesn't cover the zones as well as a 4-3-3 would, but the simplest way would probably be to have one of the central midfielders go forward as an attacking player. This way, you'd have, in theory two players in the wide spaces (the two wingers), two in the half spaces (the strikers) and one in the central space (the central midfielder).

However, I would only do this against teams who are going to defend against you all day and have no interest in coming out of their deep block. Against teams who are willing to attack you, that lack of central midfield cover will hurt. In which case, inverting a winger and changing one of the IWBs to a conventional wing-back is probably your best bet. If you do that, I'd suggest changing the nearest CM to a defensive duty to cover the wing back, especially if you feel like you're getting overwhelmed down that flank.

Alternatively, you could experiment with a 4-4-2 DM system, with Guendouzi as a Segundo Volante on Support or Attack, depending on the match state. I love the SV because his movements from deep can be very dangerous, while at the same time he'll retreat into a more defensive position. It's a very demanding role but I think Guendouzi is practically made for it. In this case, your five would be the two strikers, the two wingers, and the SV.

As someone who often uses identical roles on both flanks and has been very successful in game, I don't know why this advice keeps getting thrown around like it's essential. 

In the first place, it's less about the role and how the player interprets the role. In this case, variety is still achieved because Smith Rowe is a right-footed player on the left with good playmaking abilities while Nelson is a right-footed player on the right with good finishing and crossing. So although they're both W(s), they'll play the role differently according to their attributes and PPMs. 

My thoughts exactly, in fm18 I managed to win premier league and champions league with spurs using identical wings

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6 hours ago, Hilly1979 said:

Not sure the right word is “should” get rid of one dimensionality on the wings, it may not be your preferred way but having identical wings can and does work

I was talking about the one-dimensionality of his setup in general, not just on the wings/flanks. And my original sentence was: 

 

16 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

The first thing you should do - apart from the idea of attacking with 5 players - is get rid of one-dimensionality.

I did not mention specifically the flanks here (although they are also without any variety, but okay). But an even bigger problem in terms of one-dimensionality - at least as far as I am concerned - is that even his both strikers are identical. Identical flanks can be okay/make sense sometimes, but both strikers in a completely identical role and duty is really too much for my liking. Sorry :onmehead:

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1 hour ago, Fletty221019 said:

@Experienced Defender you always say about different roles on the wings to stop being one dimensional, but would player traits not make them play each role differently?

Yes traits, attributes and other  roles/duties in nearby positions.

No player will play the role exactly the same so this one dimensional nonsense is quite frankly nonsense.  

In saying that, 2 identical roles in a partnership is pointless like 2 advanced forwards.

 

Edited by Hilly1979
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2 hours ago, Fletty221019 said:

@Experienced Defender you always say about different roles on the wings to stop being one dimensional, but would player traits not make them play each role differently?

Yes, traits can mitigate the one-dimensionality, but his setup is not one-dimensional only on the flanks but also up front. 

Judging by threads/posts on the forum, people with one-dimensional setups generally experience tactical issues more often than not, and certainly more than those who have some variety. Of course, variety alone (i.e. without good balance and logic) is not enough either.

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14 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

Yes, traits can mitigate the one-dimensionality, but his setup is not one-dimensional only on the flanks but also up front. 

Judging by threads/posts on the forum, people with one-dimensional setups generally experience tactical issues more often than not, and certainly more than those who have some variety. Of course, variety alone (i.e. without good balance and logic) is not enough either.

Sorry should have said I was more on about the full backs and wingers - I often play with players in the same roles on the wings. I wouldn't play strikers the same role, the useless gits can't score anyway. :seagull::seagull:

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So since I've been on here the 4-4-2 has evolved. Olmo signed and has been playing as a modified CMA which has helped greatly in breaking the lines and has helped with the 5 up front. The BBM wasn't doing enough of this.
I've started varying the full backs as I was finding against teams that played wing backs (especially Wolves) the IWB was leaving me too exposed on the flanks. Generally now if I am playing against a team with a wide player that I deem a particular threat that full back is now moved to a more traditional full back or wing back to help defend that flank better. Or I occasionally let Tierney overlap Rowe if I don't need him to overload the CM.
In terms of the wingers, Smith_Rowe automatically comes inside due to his traits and finished season 2 with 14 goals and 9 assists, and Nelson had 6 goals and 20 assists.
The two Advance Strikers isn't ideal but with the attributes for acceleration, pace, off the ball and finishing Auba and Lacazette had it seemed like the best way to deploy the pair of them especially with the number of 1 on 1s they generated as a result. (Lacazette finished with 25 goals, Auba with 22 and Halland with 15) 
Auba has been sold to PSG and Lacazette will be if I get a decent offer in for him due to age and wage. Strike force for next year is Halland + another.  The current back up pair are Gouri and Nketiah was hoping to add in Martinez from Inter but he has decided I'm not for him. Open to a deeper lying striker on the left but Dybala has moved to City and Firminio to PSG. If Lacazette moves on may move for Chalov.
The pics below are my current tactic and the position with the ball. 
The one change I'm considering to the 442 when I use it is making Smith-Rowe(ML) a full fledged inverted winger and sitting him narrower and allowing Tierney to bomb on outside him but I think if I was doing that I'd need to ask Olmo (CMR) to be more defensive or I risk being outnumbered.

442.PNG

442 with ball.PNG

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