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(FM 19) Penetrating Passes into the Box


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Hey there tacticians, I'm really hoping someone can offer some advice here. I'm trying to get my team to play attractive, team based, pass and move football in FM 19. I'm really struggling to produce it against low blocks and compact defenses though. To be clear, results are good and I'm scoring plenty, it's just that everything comes from set pieces, long shots, and a ridiculously high volume of crosses. Build up is fine for the most part, but our play in the final third is ugly and uncreative. Obviously, based on real life examples we all know that breaking down low blocks is tedious work and often even very talented sides fail, and obviously FM is lightyears from being able to emulate the guile of a player like Iniesta or the tightly rehearsed attack patterns of Man City, but it's still rough sledding, to the extent that I'm struggling to find a single example of a real team goal that we've scored this year. I've tried a bunch of things, but this is what I've settled on for now

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I've tried different variations of the TIs, including specifying a greater number but allowing more creative freedom, but didn't notice much difference in results or style of play, so I prefer this set for it's simplicity. I've also tried playing on balanced with a greater number of attack roles to try and make certain players break the lines and look to get into the box, but I'm using this for now to encourage more variation and a greater degree of fluidity and combination between my players. 

I've chosen this set up on the basis of the following theory. The AF stays high, pushing back the DLine to allow space for the AMC to operate and offering an option for a penetrating through ball. He also moves into channels, ideally pulling defenders out of position or creating overloads and combining with the IFs. The AMR is a burner, and has the PI to get further forward. He should look to get in behind the defense as well, exploit the space left by the AF at times, and threaten the back post when the ball goes wide to the other side. The AML is an occasional runner in behind but more frequently a passer, who should provide the through balls I want or cut inside to combine with the AMC via one-twos, or simply shifting the angle of a potential penetrative pass. The AMC is the star man, and should play the others in when available, as well as roaming himself to create or exploit space (he has the roaming PI). He also drops deep frequently to assist in build up and hopefully drag his marker out of the hole.

The issue I'm seeing repeatedly is that teams play deep and narrow against me, stifling my central attacks. There are times when I think a through ball into the box is on, but it is never played in. My front three (ST, and wide forwards) often end up quite static and pinched. basically spread across the top of the box with nowhere to run. The only ones routinely free of this congestion are the wingbacks, but playing those passes just leads to huge numbers of crosses every game. We do a decent job, all things considered, of freeing up the AMs on top of the box, but that space is almost always used to fire a long shot.

I'm open to any suggestions, but here's some of my thoughts on roles-

WBs- These guys are told to cross less often and to do so from the byline, but still pump in a ton of crosses. This is probably because we firstly feed them a ton of passes in the final third as they stay very wide and are commonly the free men, and also because they frequently find themselves hemmed in when that super compact block shifts their way and they lack other options. I can do several things to encourage them to recycle possession more, such as bumping their passing higher or moving my CMs to a more reserved DM position, but that won't do too much for me if I can't solve the issues with my attackers. Fewer crosses is only good if it means more of another type of chance, not if it just leads to more shuffling around the midfield. I wonder about a role change n order to bring them inside more where they can participate more in the short passing game and won't be as easily isolated. I worry IWB will congest the middle too much and do away with much of my width, while FB (A) might see them be too aggressive and might not make much of a change to their width.

 

CMs- I had played a DLP(D) and a Carrilero here, but I wanted to shed the playmaker role right behind my AP. That position is played by a player with Stays Back at All Times, so it plays like a slightly more progressive CM (D), and is really just a generic holding mid. The Mezz replaced the carrilero to offer me a more progressive player while still getting a little wider, as my midfield three has a tendency to stand very close together. I'm considering a switch to BBM for even more impetus, but for now I think there's no space for him to run into further up field. Honestly, I haven't even noticed much difference between the carrilero and the mezz, and I suspect that's the reason. I'm also considering dropping these players to the DM strata in order to make more space for the AMC, offer better options for recycling possession, and to try and draw the opposition onto us a little bit more

 

IFs- I worry that having both of these players come inside is cramping the middle too much, but that's what fits their skills the best. I don't think the issue is so much that they come inside, as they stay pretty wide during build up, but that I'm not getting enough movement from the ST, and they therefore don't have as much space to run into as I'd like. They also have a frustrating refusal to try through balls that seem on or try one-twos, despite having take more risks and the one-twos PPM, but I'm not sure there's anything I can do about that. I've considered giving a raumdeuter a shot at one position, but I'm worried about how the role with perform without much space available

ST- The AF(A) seems perfect on paper, but I think I'm not getting the action I want out of Moves into Channels. The spaces between CB and FB are so tight that moving there doesn't provoke a reaction from the defense, and his movement is the first domino to fall in my attacking plan. I'll add roaming and see how that does, but I think I might have to change his role here. CF seems an obvious choice, but anything else I should consider? F9 is a classic for moving defenders, but I worry it's redundant to my AMC, and DLF might still be on his toes a little bit as well. 

 

For TIs, I think I still have some tweaking to do. I'll likely try bumping up tempo a bit. If our ball progression is too slow, we're going to have trouble capitalizing on any gaps. I'm intrigued by the idea of shrinking my width to very narrow to bring my WBs closer inside, but I worry about congesting things even further. I'm open to suggestions here too, if there's anything that's worked for you when it comes to breaking down stubborn low blocks to create beautiful goals!

 

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I have the same issue after a few seasons when im dominating the league but then every team ends up parking the plane. 4 or 5 at the back with 2 DMs and they just kick the ball long hoping for the best. they congest the middle and force my players to play it out to overlapping wingbacks who cross asap into the first defender and out for a corner without even considering cutting the ball back or recycling possession.

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8 hours ago, Marassi said:

TacticSnip.thumb.PNG.63290b8492c673ff1adcda06db13e0e5.PNG

For me, there are 2 key problems in your tactic. Attacking-wise, it clearly lacks penetration. Defense-wise, the absence of any holding midfielder can be a huge liability in a top-heavy system with no DM.

Other issues include:

- AF tends to struggle for space when played as a lone striker in highly aggressive and attack-minded tactical systems like yours

- your build-up play is too slow, which gives the opposition (more than) enough time to consolidate and get back into their defensive shape

- the entire midfield 5 are operating in and competing for basically the same areas of space, which is further compounded by one-dimensionality of your flanks

- your more-aggressive-than-necessary manner of defending (out-of-possession TIs) further reduces the space for your attacking players to potentially take advantage of

Think about the above observations and try to make tweaks accordingly. Then come back and post a screenshot of the revised tactic :thup:

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11 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

For me, there are 2 key problems in your tactic. Attacking-wise, it clearly lacks penetration. Defense-wise, the absence of any holding midfielder can be a huge liability in a top-heavy system with no DM.

Other issues include:

- AF tends to struggle for space when played as a lone striker in highly aggressive and attack-minded tactical systems like yours

- your build-up play is too slow, which gives the opposition (more than) enough time to consolidate and get back into their defensive shape

- the entire midfield 5 are operating in and competing for basically the same areas of space, which is further compounded by one-dimensionality of your flanks

- your more-aggressive-than-necessary manner of defending (out-of-possession TIs) further reduces the space for your attacking players to potentially take advantage of

Think about the above observations and try to make tweaks accordingly. Then come back and post a screenshot of the revised tactic :thup:

Thanks for the tips! Definitely noticing the struggles of the AF, and concur on the rest. The slow build up + high press is a really good example in particular of instructions combining to create unintended consequences

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Here's an updated tactic. It's an improvement for sure, and the movement and space look much better. Still a lot of crosses, but completion % has gone up hugely over the couple matches we've played. Long shots seem better balanced as well, so that's nice, although we're still scoring virtually all goals from corners and crosses. Likely needs some more tinkering to perfect. Major changes are a slight increase in tempo, a slightly lower defensive line, and the addition of the counter instruction to create some more rapid transitions when they're available. As far as roles, I've swapped the AF to PF(A) for more roaming, the AMR to W(A) to unclutter the middle a bit (player there still has cuts in PPM, but much better balance), and the AMC to Treq to better support the ST and prevent him from wandering quite as deep as he did as an AP(S). Also tweaks to the fullbacks to try and stop them from getting themselves in the same predicament in wide spaces

TacticSnip.thumb.PNG.e2fac539ffdd838fd98408519cab512f.PNG

Things I'm still watching (and am open to input on!)-

Tempo. I originally moved it much lower to try and give players time to move into supporting positions and discourage impatient solo efforts, but with better role balance I can possibly move it up to standard, allowing us to better exploit gaps and unsettle opposition defenses. Could be tempered with a move to shorter passing to try and get the balance right if standard seems too high

Width- Should probably vary somewhat against different opposition. We still get funneled down the wings a bit more than I would like, and it may make sense to try and stretch opponents more horizontally, or alternatively to go narrower to bring players into more dangerous positions, provide more short passing options, and discourage putting 70 crosses a game into the box

FB roles- I want them to bomb forward and provide width, but this very rarely leads to attacking moves that are what I'm looking for, so it's probably time to reconsider my approach somewhat

ST role- PF(A) fits my players well and keeps much of the intention of the AF role, but also seems to offer a little more movement. I'm still a little worried he's going to struggle to influence the game much against really narrow defenses, and will remain largely a target for crosses

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5 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

Instructions may need a little more tweaking, but the setup of roles and duties now looks really good and absolutely makes sense :thup:

Thanks for all your help!

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If your opponent is playing conservative on defense, sitting back, not pressing aggressively, and generally parking the bus, then I find the best way to get penetrating passes is to play with an attacking mentality on very slow tempo with shorter passing and with your wingers / forward having a get forward often PI (either via their role or via you specifically setting that PI).

By slowing down, the player on the ball will hold it longer, waiting to see if a team mate makes a run.  Since they have time on the ball, they can wait, spot the run and try to make that penetrating pass.

If your opponents is playing very deep, it simply may mean they are denying you space behind them and you won't be able to easily penetrate behind them.  In that situation, you are more likely to score via a cross or a long shot from the top of the box.

---

If on the other hand, your opponent is playing aggressive defense, with a high defensive line and aggressive pressing, then you likely want to play with a faster tempo and standard or more direct passing (and likely dribble less) with at least a few players making forward runs often.  This tries to get your team moving the ball quickly around and beyond the pressing defense.

I'm not talking about counter attack situations, which are totally different.

I hope that helps!

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On 28/06/2020 at 16:52, Columnarius said:

If your opponent is playing conservative on defense, sitting back, not pressing aggressively, and generally parking the bus, then I find the best way to get penetrating passes is to play with an attacking mentality on very slow tempo with shorter passing and with your wingers / forward having a get forward often PI (either via their role or via you specifically setting that PI).

By slowing down, the player on the ball will hold it longer, waiting to see if a team mate makes a run.  Since they have time on the ball, they can wait, spot the run and try to make that penetrating pass.

If your opponents is playing very deep, it simply may mean they are denying you space behind them and you won't be able to easily penetrate behind them.  In that situation, you are more likely to score via a cross or a long shot from the top of the box.

---

If on the other hand, your opponent is playing aggressive defense, with a high defensive line and aggressive pressing, then you likely want to play with a faster tempo and standard or more direct passing (and likely dribble less) with at least a few players making forward runs often.  This tries to get your team moving the ball quickly around and beyond the pressing defense.

I'm not talking about counter attack situations, which are totally different.

I hope that helps!

These are good tips too. Thanks!

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"Work ball into box" can be tweaked, too. In my opinion. You can take it off and use PI("shoot less often") on your entire front 4. It'll minimize excessive shooting but keep in place to "range passing" of your team.

Test it & see what I'm saying.

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