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Fast, attacking football, 4-2-3-1. Help!


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I am trying to replicate something I used to good success on FM20 but am not seeing the same level of results yet.

I use a 4-2-3-1 (2 dms)....

                           PFat

     IWsu              AMsu             IFat

             DMde              VOLsu

FBat     CDde     CDde       WBsu

I use the following team instructions. Positive, Play out from defence, Pass into space, Higher tempo, Run at Defence, Counter press, Take short kicks, Distribute to centre backs, Distribute to full backs.

I have all four of my attacking players set to 'close down more'. the idea is that I smother their back line with the front four and should they get past that press then they have a whole back 6 still to breakdown. The volante on FM20 worked amazingly as the link between the back and front. this guy needs to be high energy with strong physical stats. For reference I used Kessie here as Milan in 20 and am playing as Arsenal and using Partey in this role now on FM21.

The issue I am getting more and more is as Milan on FM20 I would take teams out very swiftly after taking the ball back with Suso in particular running into space  from the IFat position and bagging a huge amount of goals. My team would exploit space quickly and effectively. I use Pepe here for Arsenal.

What I am finding on FM21 is that my attacks are a lot slower and I am finding my team compressing space too much and all standing on each others toes in the final third. Most of my shots are shots from distance or shots in the box that are easily blocked by the defence as they are well set and I have no space to operate in. My full backs often have tons of the ball as well as they are left unmarked but face delivering into a crowded penalty box that is easily defended.

How do I get back to this swift, devastating attacking style. FTR I have no interest in playing for possession. I find it odd that using essentially the same tactics as I did in FM20 that my possession stats are so much higher on FM21. I suspect it will be along the lines of lowering the mentality and possibly playing a deeper defensive line. I am keen to get some feedback. 

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I am struggling to understand why are so many people avoiding a winger (role)? For example, a winger in AMR would make a lot more sense in your tactic than the attacking IF (IMHO). 

The left flank/side looks good, but I would definitely make a couple of tweaks on the right (including the aforementioned AMR).

In terms of instructions, I would drop the tempo to default and remove pass into space (i.e. use it situationally, rather than all the time). Because even if a fast attacking style, there is no need to lose possession cheaply.

 

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thanks for your response!

the IFat (Pepe) has been my one resounding success so far with 9 goals and 4 assists in 12 prem games. The rest however are not clicking, the IWsu being the least effective by some distance (Nelson or Willian)O. I tried Saka Wsu earlier in the season and that was equally as poor.

I will see if Pepe as a Wat can add more balance to the attack without disrupting his own output. He is a natural leftie so not entirely sure.

With regards to remove 'pass into space', when do you recommend using this if not at all times? My possession stats have been very high and highlights show my team often struggling to breakdown well set defences so am worried unticking this and the higher tempo will make us even more predictable.

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2 hours ago, alittletoojack said:

With regards to remove 'pass into space', when do you recommend using this if not at all times?

Basically when there is space, i.e. when the opposition leaves enough space for you to take advantage of. But given that you manage a top team, it's hardly going to happen too often (if ever). 

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On 07/12/2020 at 19:34, Cleon said:

How does it make sense, can you expand on this as he has no immediate threat in the box other than a striker who will likely be marked and out numbered. A winger makes no sense in the system he posted unless he alters other roles to attack the box too. It makes zero sense to have a winger who's job is to provide crosses into the box, when there is no one to aim for and no one attacking the box to begin with

I did not say that it's the only role I would change. Let me quote myself: 

 

On 07/12/2020 at 13:21, Experienced Defender said:

I would definitely make a couple of tweaks on the right (including the aforementioned AMR)

And here are the tweaks:

- AMR / winger support

- AMC / AM attack

- DMCR / volante attack

- DR / FB support

Plus underlap right.

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On 08/12/2020 at 08:32, Cleon said:

@alittletoojack So if you give me a little while I can write about my system which is a lot like yours and explain how the roles all synergise together and the possible issues there might be and how to fix them. But I've also wrote about this before too, so maybe you can find something in there that is helpful now more short-term while I write the new stuff. You can check out all the bits here;

Part One - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1o36GcU81BHmtY88DC9SnEetWJ7aXaBiCntOCJ8AGZOE/edit?usp=sharing

Part Two - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GT64VjEj53M3E64Yw2eFQSfLOSiJY42jL0N-2BDLyIM/edit?usp=sharing

Part Three - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1P4vvDtXSyYkO2F8d8rdm0B3FC50hH-NG8kltkchB7-8/edit?usp=sharing

Part Four - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1b4wMBJWixYOjp2NWglCNzepQ5DkZ9FdelziYwbCOB7c/edit?usp=sharing

 

 

Hi Cleon,

 

I remember you writing this article for an older version of FM.

 

Is this still relevant to FM21? I tend to avoid old guides mainly because of the changes to the match engine over time. 

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24 minutes ago, lim said:

 

Hi Cleon,

 

I remember you writing this article for an older version of FM.

 

Is this still relevant to FM21? I tend to avoid old guides mainly because of the changes to the match engine over time. 

While the match engine changes the basics will always be the same whether its CM03/04 or FM56 you are playing. Principles/basics etc are ever present. The way I wrote, all my articles apply to all versions :)

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On 08/12/2020 at 08:32, Cleon said:

 So if you give me a little while I can write about my system which is a lot like yours and explain how the roles all synergise together and the possible issues there might be and how to fix them. But I've also wrote about this before too, so maybe you can find something in there that is helpful now more short-term while I write the new stuff. You can check out all the bits here;

Can't wait. Its like an early christmas gift! :hammer:

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On this, I have a similar set up with a right winger and what I've found post beta is that I am lacking numbers in the box too, I'm actually now tempted to move away from that balance of an IF left and (W) right because I'm just not getting the numbers attacking the box.

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Comments that have nothing to do with providing direct tactical advice for the OP - including mine own - have been either edited or entirely removed. 

The only exceptions I've made are Cleon's post with links to his educative tactical stuff and people's appreciative replies to it, since I am fully aware how much most of the community were missing him during his absence from the forum. Hopefully his return will be on a permanent basis :thup:

However, anyone - including the great Cleon - who attempts to spark an argument with me about my moderation or posting style will have their comments either properly edited or outright removed. 

Whoever thinks I am not performing my moderator duties in an appropriate way is absolutely free - and welcome - to complain directly to senior SI staff either through the "Report" button or the "Contact us" form. 

Thank you :thup:

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While posts have been reported and they are being discussed, this isn't the place to talk about it. I would appreciate it if we could stick to the topic instead. The OP is after help/advice, so it's not fair to get distracted. :thup:

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@alittletoojack I'm far from knowledgeable about tactics but this year I've found in a lot of my formations with an AML/AMR I've been better dropping them and utilising them in the ML/MR positions. I close down a lot but I find that sometimes giving the opposition a bit more time and space to first of all try to build from the back and then they come under pressure has worked out a lot better for me - but I do have very pacey players out wide.

I've seen far more intercepted passes out to the opposition LB/RB when I'm using an ML/MR set-up than AML/AMR. It's anecdotal, but to an extent if their fullbacks are under more pressure from your players naturally being higher up the pitch the passes would either go to other players or attempt to play further up the pitch and cutting your AML/AMR out of the passage of play. 

Given your IF is scoring so well, and I'm not best positioned to advise how to recreate that from the MR position you might just give it a go on the left side of your team, asymmetric but it would actually create something of build-up play funnel for you to impose on the opposition and then try to close that down in a more targeted manner. 

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Actually that series by Cleon is one of my favorites of all time and inspired me to a sometimes hair-pulling obsession with the SV role and the two DMC formation in general.

I could very well be wrong, but one of the things which has been reworked in this match engine has been central play.  Still, as with previous versions, space is most important, as is the relation of roles and duties to each other. 

I used this formation quite successfully with a hard working team of runners and grafters, and it was a joy to watch seeing the team simply overpower the opposition with the volante doing just what he should do - be the heartbeat of the team. I then took over Roma with dreams of Zanolo, Vertout, and Pelligrini slotting into the tactic to create a European powerhouse.  What ended up happening were logjams with Zanolo shooting from everywhere or Pelligrini getting his knees stomped on the halfway line. 

What works for me now is turning the AM to a CM (a), and having him provide a direct, simple, yet deadly option from deep. He not only creates space as a runner from relatively deep, pitching in with plenty of goals and assists, but also creates that effect of the attacking monsoon from the center of the pitch.  Coupled with a right kind of SV, you end up with a sort of double barrel effect.  When the attacking midfielder is in the AMC slot, he simply doesn't create that because he's already positioned where he can be marked out, especially as you're playing with a team like Arsenal. Basically what you'd be left with is one of your widemen to dribble through a packed defense and make something happen. 

 

Also, I initially used the other dmc as either a DM(d) or DLP, and found it lacking.  Considering he is capable of contributing to the attack, giving him support duty actually helped create this pivot, but he ends up being a bit more active defensively without being a ball magnet.  I tend to keep PI's blank, allowing for player selection to color the approach - you can use a natural playmaker type of a destroyer, depending on what you need and who you're up against. 

 

My approach play is at times very different from the "kill moves" because of the nature of the tactic.  I would say half my goals come from the neat interplay through the middle or down the wings.  The other half, of course, happen when play breaks down - usually through the ccounterattack or counterpress, where the opposition is overwhelmed by the defensive shape.

Finally, you've got a very nice overload possibility on your right with the IF and Volante (I'd personally have an IW there as he tends to start a bit wider), so be sure to put a bit of creativity through the left in order to take advantage of that.

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On 08/12/2020 at 08:32, Cleon said:

So if you give me a little while I can write about my system which is a lot like yours and explain how the roles all synergise together and the possible issues there might be and how to fix them.

this would be so great! really miss your posts

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On 11/12/2020 at 00:35, Contexx said:

Actually that series by Cleon is one of my favorites of all time and inspired me to a sometimes hair-pulling obsession with the SV role and the two DMC formation in general.

I could very well be wrong, but one of the things which has been reworked in this match engine has been central play.  Still, as with previous versions, space is most important, as is the relation of roles and duties to each other. 

I used this formation quite successfully with a hard working team of runners and grafters, and it was a joy to watch seeing the team simply overpower the opposition with the volante doing just what he should do - be the heartbeat of the team. I then took over Roma with dreams of Zanolo, Vertout, and Pelligrini slotting into the tactic to create a European powerhouse.  What ended up happening were logjams with Zanolo shooting from everywhere or Pelligrini getting his knees stomped on the halfway line. 

What works for me now is turning the AM to a CM (a), and having him provide a direct, simple, yet deadly option from deep. He not only creates space as a runner from relatively deep, pitching in with plenty of goals and assists, but also creates that effect of the attacking monsoon from the center of the pitch.  Coupled with a right kind of SV, you end up with a sort of double barrel effect.  When the attacking midfielder is in the AMC slot, he simply doesn't create that because he's already positioned where he can be marked out, especially as you're playing with a team like Arsenal. Basically what you'd be left with is one of your widemen to dribble through a packed defense and make something happen. 

 

Also, I initially used the other dmc as either a DM(d) or DLP, and found it lacking.  Considering he is capable of contributing to the attack, giving him support duty actually helped create this pivot, but he ends up being a bit more active defensively without being a ball magnet.  I tend to keep PI's blank, allowing for player selection to color the approach - you can use a natural playmaker type of a destroyer, depending on what you need and who you're up against. 

 

My approach play is at times very different from the "kill moves" because of the nature of the tactic.  I would say half my goals come from the neat interplay through the middle or down the wings.  The other half, of course, happen when play breaks down - usually through the ccounterattack or counterpress, where the opposition is overwhelmed by the defensive shape.

Finally, you've got a very nice overload possibility on your right with the IF and Volante (I'd personally have an IW there as he tends to start a bit wider), so be sure to put a bit of creativity through the left in order to take advantage of that.

thanks for this, it is super insightful. i have tried a few games with the CM(A) so far and he is certainly more involved than when in the AMC slot. picking the ball up slightly deeper in space and facing the opponent.

a couple of questions.

do you have your SV on attack or support?

instilling creativity on the left, would you go for a playmaker in the AML position? willian and saka are doing ok jobs as winger (su) to date but they are more direct runner types who want to whip crosses in.

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can i get some critique, feedback on the below?

this is producing some exceptional defensive results, just won 1-0 away to city reducing them to 0.23 xG. but i am struggling a bit to create the chances i was experiencing in a 4-3-3- with 1 dm + 2 cms.

one thing i've noted is that despite having a more adventurous role, parteys average position is usually deeper than elneny.

in terms of PIs, i have the front 4 on close down more, ask tierny to stay wide and run wide with ball and ask ozil to get further forward.

low crosses are on to encourage cut backs and due to the fact i don't have any worth a damn going forward who can head it.

be more expressive is used as i am using balanced and most of my roles are quite vanilla, no mezalla, false 9 etc.

again the idea is to engage high up with the front 4 when the oppo has it and behind that remains a solid base of 2+4.

image.thumb.png.fe02c102a896c7c12528fd8c8296af5a.png

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3 hours ago, alittletoojack said:

his is producing some exceptional defensive results, just won 1-0 away to city reducing them to 0.23 xG. but i am struggling a bit to create the chances i was experiencing in a 4-3-3- with 1 dm + 2 cms

The 4213 wide is a very defensive (bottom-heavy) formation and therefore is not about dominating matches and/or creating (too) many changes and/or scoring a lot of goals but primarily about being defensively solid and hard to break down. You can rarely have everything at once. So this formation is doing exactly what it's supposed to for you. So I would advise against unrealistic expectations. Btw, your tactic looks pretty decent overall. 

On top of that, winning City with any result - especially with a clean sheet being kept - is always a fantastic achievement. 

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4 hours ago, alittletoojack said:

can i get some critique, feedback on the below?

this is producing some exceptional defensive results, just won 1-0 away to city reducing them to 0.23 xG. but i am struggling a bit to create the chances i was experiencing in a 4-3-3- with 1 dm + 2 cms.

one thing i've noted is that despite having a more adventurous role, parteys average position is usually deeper than elneny.

in terms of PIs, i have the front 4 on close down more, ask tierny to stay wide and run wide with ball and ask ozil to get further forward.

low crosses are on to encourage cut backs and due to the fact i don't have any worth a damn going forward who can head it.

be more expressive is used as i am using balanced and most of my roles are quite vanilla, no mezalla, false 9 etc.

again the idea is to engage high up with the front 4 when the oppo has it and behind that remains a solid base of 2+4.

image.thumb.png.fe02c102a896c7c12528fd8c8296af5a.png

Yeah if this is defensively solid as you say I would not really mess with it. Instead, I would iterate on it with a second tactic that is similar but more offensive. That is what I have done in my Arsenal save with a 4-1-4-1 when I need to keep them out and/or believe they'll give me space to score in that way. And then a more traditional 4-2-3-1 for games where I need to break teams down, etc.

So, in your case, I'd probably iterate on what you have by moving to a standard 4-2-3-1 with the AP in the AMC slot and the two DMs in the CM strata. If you do this, the next changes I'd make would be to shift your forward to something like an AF(a) or PF(a)... anything that doesn't ask him to really drop. With an AP in the AMC slot, you want the striker to push the defenders back to give the AMC space.

I think the rest may be fine, at least I wouldn't change anything else initially. But you may also think about your defensive line and line of engagement. I have had luck with the LOE 'one step' below the defensive line... so, LOE on standard with DL on higher, etc. (I shift it, but maintain that relationship between the 2 lines)

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  • 3 weeks later...

The great tactician Cleon probably knows more about tactics than most of everyone on here put together. Like he said the match engine has changed but the basics stay the same.

Edited by Experienced Defender
"collateral damage" of another person's deleted post
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High tempo will move you up the pitch quickly, the ball will quickly go up to your forward and then to keep the ball your going backwards or your getting trapped in the middle and the attack will break down 

 

Don’t be afraid to play you WB sup on attack instead let him get forward let him get wide. 

 

I would also consider swapping the CDMs around give your IW the option to drop the ball into the sol v the full back on attack gets on his toes on the left, the sol v plays a lovely ball just in front the LB beats his man whips the ball in and Pepe bangs it home on the back post.

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Ok  some of this may seem insane but, as always it's squad related.

First, imho Ozil at the center of the pitch, as your focal point, in this tactic, could work but he's got a lot of ground to cover - or it could be that his teammates have a lot of weight to carry for him.  An AP on attack duty should be driving up the pitch with the ball, and his teammates will look for him.

I play with Roma, and my CM is Lorenzo Pelligrini. Now he's no Ozil but a bit similar in that he's a classing Advanced Playmaker (runs with ball often, tries killer balls, pass rather than attempting to score). When giving him the role of CM(a), as unglamorous and "vanilla" as it seems, he's actually able to express himself via the ppm's, while also ensuring he's not the (only) focal point for attacks.  I absolutely do not want my fullbacks playing it to him too early and too often while he's stranded in the pressure cooker that the midfield becomes.  Any midfield featuring two DMC's especially one with a Volante gets pretty ugly for the more glamorous footballers - by winter break, lil Mesut will be off taking selfies on a yacht while nursing his broken nail.  Giving him a non-playmaking role could allow your play to develop more before finding him or another player in better position.  Also, keep in mind a playmaker in the center will inevitably compete for space with the Volante who is given a lot of license to roam and essentially boss the midfield.

One thing to keep in mind is this tactic can be a powerhouse but that comes with a price. For me, I was dominating the Juventus-dominated Seria A, until about February, when injuries and fatigue started to take their toll. With the likes of Partey in your line-up, you run the danger of not having adequate cover. One advantage of the SV role is that he tends to do a bit of everything and "impose" himself on the pitch - that can lead to some flatteringlly spectacular performances, but you also need to ensure you've got enough depth and cover for the long season.

Now here's what worked for me in my second season. I know it sounds strange, but by switching my mentality to Attacking, my defending and overall play improved tremendously. Suddenly, the urgency of build up this kind of formation needs was there.  I could actually see the aggression in both my defending and attacking.  The beauty of the tactic came from getting it up the pitch quickly to the wide players, through sudden crossfield passes and seeing the opposition get punished when they enter my zone.  The way I did it was by shortening the team passing while focusing down the flanks or the middle depending on the opponent. Ideally, what I wanted was to create the overloads, with the knockout punch being a less characteristic long diagonal ball to my advanced players or a cutback to the onrushing central one. 

One other thing you may want to do is turn your striker into a pressing forward or give him more aggressive pressing.  You need someone who will be a nuisance to the opposition and disrupt their build up.  You may find ratings for your centerbacks to be on the low side even (or especially) when you win, because either the dmc's deal with opposition attacks or they have not much to do.  There is a risk of the opposition being able to set up shop in your central midfield, so having someone (other than Ozil, you don't want him to break his nail) and add a bit of steel to your central area.

 

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