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Premier League 2020-21 tactical recreation thread


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Hello everybody.

Seeing as my Dean Smith's Villa tactical recreation thread seemed to go down well and generated some interesting discussion, I thought it would be a nice idea to try and do some of the other more unique tactical systems that are on display in the premier league this season.  Here's the link to that thread if you haven't seen it.

In the FM21 beta I also tried to do a recreation of Southampton's system under Hassenhuttl with Udinese. I definitely want to revisit this as I think the changes from the Beta match engine to the current one (especially changes to centre of the park attacking play) mean it doesn't work quite as well. But that thread can be found here:

In private I have been tinkering with some of these tactics and my aim would be to try and have a stab at replicating a number of the more interesting systems in addition to the above two. In my mind, these are:

  • West Ham's 541/343
  • Leeds' 4141
  • Man City's system (or family of systems) they have played in recent matches such as against Chelsea, that have been characterized by Cancelo as an IWB and De Bruyne as something in between a false 9, a 10 and an 8. I guess this is something between a 424 and a 433. (Very excited if anyone has any ideas about this one, I think it has been fascinating to watch)

There are also a number of one off tactical systems that have been used on occasion that I found interesting, like the system Fulham used against Leicester (somewhere in between a 541 and a 4231 with Reid as a 'false fullback?'). I've also tried tinkering a bit with a Spurs tactic, the most interesting aspect of which I find are Ndombele's free role and the channel coverage and dropping in of Hojbjerg and Sissoko when under threat. 

Here is a thread about Klopp's Liverpool if that floats your boat:

Anyway, I will be posting in this thread I think when I have got something that I feel comfortable sharing. But in the mean time, I'd absolutely love to see if anyone had any thoughts or had already attempted a stab at some of these tactics. I have seen a couple of threads trying to simulate Cresswell's behaviour in West Ham's system so I know there is interest in that at least. Let me know what you think :) 

Peace and love. 

Edited by Flußkrebs
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Hello all, sincere apologies in the delay on getting this out there, been very busy IRL. Forgive me/please let me know if there has been any substantial discussion on this elsewhere, I haven't been checking the forums since last week. 

Let me present the first of my tactical recreations on this: Man City's strikerless 4231. Thanks also to @JamesC86 for sending me some thoughts on this, they were very helpful and I came to similar conclusions myself after experimenting. 

MANCHESTER CITY 4231/3241/334

The system

In the past few matches, Pep has played a slightly bizarre system (or family of systems) that have started getting some really good results. 

They played this type of system against Arsenal (3-1 first, then 4-1), Newcastle (2-0), Chelsea (3-1), Man Utd (2-0) and Brighton (1-0), and other times as well

The reason I say it is a "family of systems" is that it is slightly different each time, and the roles change slightly depending on the personnel that are used. There are two main drivers for why Pep has shifted to this system in my eyes:

  • Pep has used a double pivot more or less since the start of the season, under the influence of Lillo. He was worried about the increasing numbers of goals on the counter City conceded in 19/20, which is almost certainly down to Fernandinho being used as a centre-back rather than as a pivot. Rodri has excellent qualities but he struggles to break up the play in the same way that City relied on Fernandinho to. Tactical fouling was the main strategy (no shade). 
  • City's two main strikers, Aguero and Jesus have been injured for substantial periods of the season. Jesus has also been in and out of form when he has been fit. So Pep has been forced to play without a recognised centre-forward for much of the season.

Let's get to it. The easiest way to describe the system is as a 4231 in defence. As I said, slightly different personnel have been used but it usually is something like:

                       KDB

Foden     Bernardo   Sterling/Mahrez

          Gundogan    Rodri

Zinchenko  Dias  Stones  Cancelo

                       Ederson

Alternatively, some aggregators have written it as a 433, with Rodri as the single pivot, and Gundogan and one of either the ST or AMC as the two 8s. This speaks to the unsuitability of describing systems like this with numbers ("formations are just telephone numbers").

In a nutshell, the system looks something like this in defence (4231):

837094544_Manchesterderbydefense24231.thumb.JPG.1ea11b57b709ffe7657c139d015e9eb1.JPG

And this in attack:

948074460_Manchesterderby325.thumb.JPG.ddd3ef05b188b48a9627ecfc0ed57f20.JPG

A 325, or 3241, or 3223. The LCM joins the attack, the RB becomes a midfielder and the LB stays further back to form a back three as the RCB shifts wide. 

I don't think the system is actually that complicated. It has the following consistent principles some of which are just Pep's JdP principles anyway: 

  • Two wide men (usually staying wide to stretch the opposition)
  • Midfield overload
  • Rotation of players
  • Variation in the player attacking the centre forward space

The system has the following fixed points:

  • The right back (usually Cancelo) inverts in possession.
  • The holding midfielder (Rodri) stays as a DM
  • The left winger (Foden) stays high and wide

The rest of the system is very flexible. I call it a family of systems as in some games Cancelo joins the midfield to form a diamond (e.g. the first game against Arsenal, 3-1, which was almost the 'proto'-system) with Rodri at its base, and then a LCM and CAM completing it. But in other games Cancelo forms a double pivot with Rodri in possession, albeit with license to get roam or get forward, and Gundogan is not part of a midfield diamond but part of the front line. 

The key part to understand here is that in 'replicating' this system we have to try and build something which has the key characteristics, but acknowledge that it is also very different depending on the opponent and personnel. That's fine, but just to note that this replication can't simultaneously mimic every way this system has been played. 

The final feature of the system is the strikeforce, or lack thereof. Again, this is a feature which has changed depending on who is playing. Sometimes KDB has been playing as a centre forward, other times he has been playing as an attacking midfielder, sometimes in the left channel, sometimes centrally and high, sometimes right etc. 

I'm convinced after watching the Brighton game that the system does not in fact have a false 9 (KdB) and a no 10 (e.g. Bernardo Silva) but two false 9s. I'm never quite sure what the rules are linking external articles, but Mark Thompson has an excellent article and video explaining this (should be easy to find from his twitter handle EveryTeam_Mark, or I can post the article if given the go ahead).

Essentially the idea is that two hybrid free 8s/10s/9s play as false 9 type players in front of the opposition centre backs. This achieves a number of things:

  • Confuses the opposition on who to mark
  • Dynamic and flexible penetration centrally, each taking it in turn, or neither, or both, to make runs and/or occupy a centre back or the penalty area. 
  • Overloads in the midfield, even if a player is operating as the striker (at least 1 extra player).

That's the theory at least. Let's move on to the recreation.

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I've been messing with a wide variety of ways to replicate some of this behaviour.

WARNING: If PIs and messy formations are not for you, look away now!

Caveat: This is absolutely the opposite of a plug and play tactic. In fact, it is almost certainly not the optimal way to play with City, as it only even exists out of the necessity of having no strikers. What it does do is produce a reasonably accurate representation of the way Pep's City have been playing over the last few weeks, produce good results (with the best players in FM) and produce some fun and attractive football.

Would this work with:

a) worse players, but same 'footing' (i.e. a top league 2 or youth side)? Based off my youth teams occaisional results, the answer is sometimes but it very much suboptimal as it requires extraordinary technical ability/mentals etc to work well. 

b) a worse ranked team (e.g. West Brom)? No idea, but I'd be incredibly surprised if it did.

The FM System

First of all I'll tell you what I have ruled out:

1) I just could not get any of the striker roles to work in a satisfactory way to mimic the KdB role in a normal 4231. I tried overloading F9s with PIs, simple CFs, DLFs, TQs. Couldn't get it to work. I sometimes got the behaviour sort of right, but the outcomes would go (poor ratings, lack of goals/assists etc.)

2) Literal double false 9s, in a 424 shape. Tried this, played a few games, thought it was ~ok but not brilliant, holidayed half a season, terrible results. No from me. 

3) DMs- I tried a Volante/DM type combo a couple of times and couldn't really get that to work either. I had to put the SVa on attack to get him far enough forward but for whatever reason results just weren't as good. I think this still has sort of potential, but to be honest it is straying further away from a 'normal' interpretation of the Pep tactic. 

I'm going to leave out some of the stats for the players and individual role analysis and just jump straight to my current and most successful iteration of the tactic:

818585446_Finaltactic.JPG.84aca46141d5c0feaa0f03ddf50c1d13.JPG

Here we go. Yep, it's strikerless AND asymmetric, how fun! Let's have a look at some of the roles.

SK-attack - if Ederson isn't an SKa then I don't know who is! In FM terms, we need at least an SKs to help with playing out from the back and sweeping up behind. I have yet to really see the SKa pull off a worldy of an assist, and I have seen some dodgy blunders in the box. So maybe it is not entirely necessary but I think that is closest to real life Ederson.

PIs: None

FB-support- Zinchenko/Ake (or Mendy, although he has the 'always get forward' trait so is less suitable for this tactic in FM) plays as part of a back three in build up. He'll get forward to either provide an out ball or occasionally a cross or shot, but usually stays further back. I was using a balanced mentality, but am now using a positive mentality, so I am considering playing with FBd or WBd. I need to try putting on cross less often as well. 

PIs: Hold position (essential), pass it shorter, dribble less. 

CD-cover- Dias has been playing in this role recently irl. I have tried a few different types of centre back partnerships in terms of duties, and this set has been good. Maybe it can be optimised further, I encourage you to try for yourself. 

PIs: None

CD-defend- Stones has been playing here irl, he isn't as good in FM so I have mostly been using Dias here instead. This role is tricky- it is notoriously difficult getting a back 4 to turn into an evenly spaced back three, so I've been playing around. I tried the cover duty to avoid the hold position hard coded, and it was alright, but the mentality is a little low. Stopper seems too aggressive and actually led to a few goals due to space behind, and he isn't really a stopper irl anyway. So I have settled for defend to up the mentality a bit, with the stay wider PI. It is not perfect by any means, as I'm sure you will see from the screenshots, he doesn't move as wide in possession as I would like (Stones is a right back in possession really). But, the defensive results have been sound so I am not going to tinker too much more. 

PIs: stay wider

IWB-support- The Cancelo role. Probably the easiest of the specialised roles to simulate in FM in all actuality. IWB attack also works well but requires balancing the rest of the system to maintain solidity, so IWBs it is. Roams a lot, will still occupy typical wing back spaces on the overlap when necessary, usually tucks in to form a pivot, will make attacking runs. Happy with this one. Only down side is the uneven pivot which I will get to, but that is due to the DLPd role and not the IWBs role. 

PIs: Get further forward, close down more

BBM- This is the Gundogan role. I experimented with SV and heavily customised CMs, but BBMs is good. Still not quite as attacking as I would like so I have added some aggressive PIs when in possession. Gundogan has in some games operated as one of the false 9s, the system is flexible as I said. But typically he is position aggressively up the pitch in sort of the inside forward position in the old 235 formation, making runs. Out of possession, he is in a double pivot with Rodri. Another roaming attack minded midfielder to join in with the overload.

PIs: Move into channels, take more risks, get further forward, shoot more often.

DLP-defend- The holding midfielder. One of the few fixed points in this otherwise fluid system, Rodri initiates attacks by bringing the ball out of possession, dictates the tempo, acts as an outlet in the final third to recycle the ball, and breaks up the play on the counter. Out of possession, he operates as a right sided CM/DM. But in possession he will flexibly move between being a central DM and on the left side of a double pivot, when Cancelo plays as a RCM. Unfortunately, this intelligent flexible movement dependent on the positioning of other team mates is difficult to simulate in FM. I have put him in the central slot. Out of possession he will still be on the right hand side (although the pivot will appear slightly lopsided), and in possession this allows him to actually form a double pivot (although again lopsided somewhat) with Cancelo, and/or form a midfield 3 with Gundo-Rodri-Cancelo.

PIs: Tackle harder

Winger-attack- This role has been an IW-A with 'stay wider' at times, and also a W-S. I am mostly happy with it as a W-A, as long as the player has cut inside or get into opposition box as a trait. Inspiration from the experimenting @04texag has done with wide players will be useful here for further refinement. As I said, earlier, one of the key principles of JdP is having width and stretching the play. In recent games, it is only really the left winger who is the permanent width holder, with the RW free to roam. This role still gets lots of goals though!

PIs: Close down more

AP-attack: The KDB role. It is pretty good, but not perfect. On paper KDB is operating as a roaming playmaker/striker who does everything from progress teh ball, play the final pass, to scoring the goals. F9 doesn't simulate this at all, and AP attack does a decent job. I have tried TQ but it isn't really, with KDB's movement being less lateral and more vertical irl. Plus he is less involved in games in my opinion. Shadow striker is also an option, which I have found produces slightly better performances for the individual, but less good performances for the team. In defence, this player is the nominal striker. His higher mentality and 'close down more' PI mean that he definitely leads the press, and you end up with the 4231 shape as seen above (I will also post lots more pictures below). 

PIs: More direct passes, get further forward, close down more.

AM-support: This role is really simple and I am really impressed with it. Nominally the "no. 10" in the 4231 shape, he sits behind the AP attack generally but will also switch with him, take turns to make the runs, and sit in the penalty area.  The support mentality that he shares with the IW and IWB produces some great interplay on the right hand side, with constant rotation, which is very much a feature of City's irl play at the moment. Additionally, the lopsided central midfield means there is space for him to drop into in the right channel on occasion, forming what I call a 'fat diamond' (a pentagon really).

780709474_manchesterderbytransition2.JPG.539e680de3731c407b52c78112899930.JPG

This is maybe not the best example, but here (with KDB as the AMs and Foden as the APa) we can see (sort of, like I said it isn't the best example :lol:) the 1 at the base, 27 as the RCM, 8 as the LCM and De Bruyne and Foden creating a 'double 10' at the top of the midfield. This 5 man overload means we have two players completely free in the midfield despite their 4231 (18 is Bruno as the 10).

PIs: Pass shorter

And finally, 

IW-Support: The right wing role changes depending on personnel. In some games, Pep has used a right footed winger to create the width. Recently, Mahrez has played here, who naturally cuts inside. Against Brighton, he had a semi-free role, popping up in the midfield, as the striker, and sometimes keeping the width. Whilst in theory this violates JdP principles with the IWB behind, in reality this is solved by a combination of Stones usually staying wide and/or the rotation of the three right sided support players (AMs, IWs, IWBs) taking it in turns to keep the width. In FM terms, it just hasn't been that big of a problem, and Cancelo usually moves wide if there is plenty of space there. But it is maybe not ideal.

PIs: Roam from position, close down more. 

And the Team Instructions:

1637331790_finalTI.JPG.3f7682060184ab4d4dedb9933d980fb9.JPG

So, the current version of the tactic was the only version I'd managed to make which both replicated the key features of the system and also got good results. However, the good results were not great results- the defence was VERY good (lowest xG by a decent margin) but the attack was stagnant. It was simply a matter of not getting enough shots off, and a slight conversion rate issue, but that was variance. So, I upped the mentality to positive and added a couple of the PIs above and it seems to have kept the good defensive results and improved the attack significantly.

The In Possession PIs are standard tiki-taka with intent stuff really. In game, I'd definitely encourage these to be tweaked frequently depending on what you see in front of you. Man City (as all teams do) will change the tempo of the game frequently. Sometimes lower tempo is better but I tend to start off with the higher or much higher tempo. Dribble less is to encourage passing about and discourage dwelling on the ball, and the attackers with hard-coded dribbling will still do so (quick back of the napkin calculations puts is in the 53rd percentile for dribbles per game). 

Nothing particularly notable with in transition. I turned off counter pretty early on to try and stop counter-counters and build attacks a little more patiently. Players will still counter quite a lot, they're just less likely to force the issue which reduces the risk of a turnover. Counter-press is both accurate to real life of course, and also necessary given we have pressing set to 'standard'. 

Higher defensive line is City of course. City haven't really been playing with a Much Higher DL this season, as Pep has been worried more about counter attacks. And in any case, I felt like it provided little benefit and risked far more balls over the top. Much higher line of engagement has worked well with the strikerless system, as it means one of the 'false 9/10's, usually the APa will press as the centre forward.

Results

After 7 games played:

image.png.d816df433f5cd8e544471eb2f262aa58.png

Very solid.

image.png.aaa44cd6d008ec6041848563d2ab4899.png

Burnley-Arsenal were holidayed out of laziness/time necessity given the volume of tactic versions I have tested. I think this is definitely a tactic where close tweaking and management is necessary based on what you see happening. 

I will do another post walking through the system in defense, transition, possession and attack. The Manchester Derby will be perfect to walk through :lol:

Edited by Flußkrebs
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In match examples

I'll show you the Manchester Derby first, as it provided some good examples of the tactic in action.

First, the game:

199977209_Matchresultsmanchesterderby.JPG.6e8cabd9439d5c14e23d99d171cdc86e.JPG

Positives:

  • 5 goals scored, despite a penalty being missed
  • Considerably higher xG than opponent
  • Outscoring xG (given underperformance in previous games)
  • Outshot opponent

Negatives:

  • Low possession- an anomaly compared to the seasons results, but United pressed very aggressively (20 fouls). And I was testing this system, so didn't really set it up ideally to counter that high press. But shows we can get a good result despite lack of possession dominance. 
  • ~1.7 open play xG- could be higher, and meant we got pretty lucky on our goals. But still a good performance against a very strong United defence. 
  • So. Many. Corners. (Is this just FM21 though...)

Overall it was a good performance and a brilliant result. Let's have a look at some moments.

Defence

Here's an example of our block in a 4231 shape. Our 'striker' APa (47) presses the ball carrier. Our number 10, De Bruyne in this case, sits further back and blocks the passing lane to their left midfielder, McTominay. You can see the somewhat lopsided double pivot, with Gundo as the left sided player. 

1604408161_Manchesterderbydefense24231.thumb.JPG.18cbfc8f2b1b23be56066720ca899b3a.JPG

We successfully pressure Maguire into passing back to De Gea, shift the block up and get out of our own half. Foden, our APa, is playing in the AMCR slot but as you can see is defending as a striker, harrying the centre backs. 

1572271957_Manchesterderbydefense34231.thumb.JPG.56f205c4e8965410c45b9c7334761cac.JPG

Possession or build up shape

Here is an example of our shape in possession once the ball has been progressed a reasonable distance. The left back should be tucked further inside, as I said in an earlier post, I think trying WB on defend duty might be suitable (telling him to sit narrow is not quite right as the back three should be relatively well spaced out). 

995874955_Manchesterderbypossession1.thumb.JPG.c351d6a8fdeb715f1738e57649ec8f8c.JPG

Otherwise, it is a good example of the rest of the system. Cancelo and Rodri form a very neat double pivot. There are 5 players in that pentagon shape in the centre of the park, with Foden (in the 'de bruyne' role) dropping deeper to assist. Wingers stay high and wide to stretch the pitch. Gundogan is operating in the left hand channel.

Transition

Sterling has just won the ball back on the left hand side. Ake is positioned higher than typically in possession because he came to provide support in the pressing. Cancelo has moved immediately inside, and there is a staggered line of 5 now in attack. LW-APa-BBM-AMs-RW.

383360042_Manchesterderbytransition1.thumb.JPG.035fc381aaa8ee3d10962940d20dbe9d.JPG

Foden takes the ball, Gundogan moves to his outside. Double pivot now clearly in action, Ake has slowed down a little but is keeping up with play somewhat. 

808792019_manchesterderbytransition2.JPG.0304e803d0e357d106926be9bf652259.JPG

Foden cuts the ball back to Cancelo who has made a run from the pivot through the middle. Sterling has overtaken him and cut inside. Gundo's positioning is off a little as Foden held up the ball in transition and is now further back. 

1515490981_Manchesterderbytransition3.thumb.JPG.698e353d6b2f819e2e66dac405094e5b.JPG

As I'm you have guessed, Cancelo plays a slide rule pass to the onrushing Sterling. 1-0 in 4 minutes, great goal and the IWB makes the assist from just outside the D. 

2074284162_Manchesterderbytransition4.thumb.JPG.1cf62f4e669a26987891e7199d7a6003.JPG

Another goal

This goal shows a goal from build up a little better. Ake on the ball in a slightly lopsided (to be fair, the whole pitch is lopsided to the left side due to the ball carrier) back three. Double pivot in front, Gundogan hidden underneath Bruno (18). Mahrez high and wide- as I said, he keeps width situationally relatively well despite no 'stay wider' instruction and instead being told to roam. Midfield 5 causing marking chaos as well: the double 10s are occupying their double pivot; Gundo occupies their 10; Rashford has been dragged inside by Cancelo and Martial has had to drop back to cover Rodri. That leaves our centre backs open to continue recycling/building. But it also leaves Mahrez free- if Telles marks him that leaves acres of space for our AMc (Bernardo Silva now) to run into. (Foden on the left is free as well, sitting in the channel). 

1645415685_manchesterderbygoal41.thumb.JPG.6b30d1d83886e386dca9c5a138c84016.JPG

Greenwood presses Ake on the ball. Note De Bruyne has dropped to support Greenwood. Bruno stays to cover, Gundo rotates to sit in the channel and Foden shifts inside a little, creating an overload. Mahrez is still free. 

2026811887_Manchesterderbygoal42.thumb.JPG.57d01fcd91b2a9d0027f45e10f8a241f.JPG

Ake digs the ball out to free man Foden, who cuts inside. Gundogan rotates with him and shifts out to the left. Van de Beek sticks with Gundogan, leaving Foden free to run at Lindelof :brock: Note the triangle on the right with Rashford stuggling to know who to mark, positioned between Cancelo, Bernardo, and Mahrez.

1123873327_Manchesterderbygoal43.thumb.JPG.4abac41bc09a545f221f19857e51a96c.JPG

A bit more shimmying around ensues, Foden lays the ball off to the ''''striker'''' De Bruyne, who has made the move from the LCM position to between the lines as the 10. He plays a lovely ball to Mahrez, who has stolen a march on the naive Telles...

90549239_manchesterderbygoal44.thumb.JPG.06c6c2203db909f450df392112b7b3c0.JPG

And there's only ever going to be one outcome from there:

655188296_manchesterderbygoal45.thumb.JPG.1d6db5c99f241d6d0794633c3abcd01f.JPG

And that wraps it up! I hope people enjoyed this attempt at a recreation. I think changing the mentality of the left full back to be more conservative might be necessary. And the only other issue I have really is that Gundogan can often end up in people's way a little, although he has been a valuable player.

Enjoy your weekend guys, and let me know your thoughts :)

Edited by Flußkrebs
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Stress tested results

I made one change to the tactic for the subsequent games after the 5-1 Manchester Derby:

image.png.90c92ee5e6d7b55cc7db5f5baac15071.png

The left back has been switched to a FB on defend. With the positive mentality this gives him a cautious mentality, so he kind of ends up sitting wide and slightly deeper than the DM, but occasionally gets forward to support if necessary. It makes the line of three better for sure, but also, results are very good:

image.png.132c7232142d822e2ca3557bc7e47048.png

Some great goals in there, and a very healthy number of clean sheets.

image.png.7b6b9abb5c6f635d590e79ee3d306c24.png

Puts us 1st in the league going into 2021. Conveniently, in real life Man City have played 16 games as well, so we can do some comparisons. Bear in mind that we've been playing basically without Aguero and Jesus most of the season as well. 

Real life:

image.png.f81d3b393573d83211f3be7ef3960a08.png

FM:

image.png.97e897683935eec0a83782f9e503f750.png

So I will take that- better defence and attack than they have at the moment, and better results too. Whilst playing a similar system.

And some final stats (bearing in mind that the exact current tactic has only been used for half these games:

image.png.dc6f2f858f47feca5b78fb2ba6d67e70.png

image.png.27aa202ee95b535b52ec66fcd6f61fe7.png

Expected Goals Against:

image.png.ff1e719d07ea0e911d32a449655aafc5.png

Overperforming xG scored but so are the other top teams, and bang on our VERY impressive xG against. Happy with that, and feel like it fits Pep's new defence first mentality. 

Dribbles and shots both up as well from earlier in the season. Now joint top for dribbles, despite 'dribble less' TI, and up to 5th for shots on target. 

image.png.549618a1564b454288f4e816d28d4fcb.png

As expected for passes completed, and pass completion rate is joint top at 92%

[PS, does anyone know how FM works out possession? Most stats providers just use the ratio of passes for each team. I'm assuming measures it as time spent in possession or something.]

We have 5 players in the top 20 players in the league so far:

1st Raheem Sterling - 7.51

5th Kevin De Bruyne- 7.37

8th Ruben Dias - 7.31

12th Bernardo Silva- 7.24

20th John Stones- 7.21

Which is good to see. And the only other stand out player stats I've seen are:

  • KdB is averaging 0.6 assists/90 (1st in league) and 5.4 key passes/90 (2nd)
  • Raheem Sterling has 21 dribbles made and 1.92 dribbles/90 (both 1st)
  • Raheem Sterling has been fouled 42 times (1st- sit down Jack Grealish!)
  • Ederson has conceded 8 goals (1st), kept 10 clean sheets (1st) and saved 82% of shots he has faced (3rd)
  • Bernardo Silva has a 35% conversion rate (1st), with 6 goals from just 17 shots

We still need to take more shots is the main thing. But our outstanding defence is not overperforming, and combine with our good but not incredible attack it should be fine to sustain our title challenge. Let's just try and get those shots up :) 

 

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The good performance in defence is pretty much expected with the Man City tactic especially with how many players are there in the middle and the defensive minded backline. Even a very good team will have trouble breaking down this type of defence. You can go a little bit more attacking in some matches especially when facing teams that are committed to sit deep.

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Nice write up, defo would be interested to see the other recreations from the premier league! It seems we have similar thinking with the FB(D) creating the back 3 in the build up - works really well imo and is the way pep likes to build from the back in real life. Very similar to my system in defence (trying to create Pep's Barca v Real Madrid 2010) but the main difference being instead of right full back tucking in, he provides the width down the right.

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So much detail with this recreation, definitely shows how difficult it can be at times to get a true recreation of real life fluid systems in FM. But fair play, you’ve done a great job and I know a lot of work has gone into this 👏

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21 hours ago, zyfon5 said:

The good performance in defence is pretty much expected with the Man City tactic especially with how many players are there in the middle and the defensive minded backline. Even a very good team will have trouble breaking down this type of defence. You can go a little bit more attacking in some matches especially when facing teams that are committed to sit deep.

100% agree. Part of the what I was trying to get across in the posts above was that whilst there are certain immutable features about the recent system Pep has been using, there is so much flexibility and reaction to opposition on top of that. The aggressiveness of the 10/8s, where the LB plays, how the wingers play, these features alone all depend on the opposition. And basic features like tempo, pass length, work ball into box and underlaps/overlaps all depend on the formation and system the opposition are playing.

Against set block defences the generally correct strategy with this formation (and tbh as a rule of thumb) is to play wider in attack, lower the tempo somewhat, and depending on the roles in use potentially add work ball into box. Sometimes the issue is ball progression and all your shots are outside the box (in which case work ball into box might be useful) and other times the issue is just moves breaking down in the box (maybe you need to add width/runs from deep/give up space to counter into etc.) 

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I'm trying to recreate Lampard's Chelsea tactic, a 4-3-3 but the squad is so unbalanced and bad so I most likely get the sack before being able to do some tactic tests :brock:

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On 15/01/2021 at 10:04, Flußkrebs said:

IW-Support: The right wing role changes depending on personnel. In some games, Pep has used a right footed winger to create the width. Recently, Mahrez has played here, who naturally cuts inside. Against Brighton, he had a semi-free role, popping up in the midfield, as the striker, and sometimes keeping the width. Whilst in theory this violates JdP principles with the IWB behind, in reality this is solved by a combination of Stones usually staying wide and/or the rotation of the three right sided support players (AMs, IWs, IWBs) taking it in turns to keep the width. In FM terms, it just hasn't been that big of a problem, and Cancelo usually moves wide if there is plenty of space there. But it is maybe not ideal.

This has all been great, and is another interesting version of the Pep "Free 8's" or double Treq or whatever you want to call it. It is wonderful and I'm developing a very similar tactic for my Montpellier side (though one of my better players is a striker so I'm using a DLF for now and hopefully will phase into strikerless when able because I agree with you on the benefits of it.

My question is - the only glaring part of your tactic is that you have a IWB and a IW on the same side... when trying to replicate Pep who is all about having width in attack and a player standing on the chalk on either side.

For example, my version has a W(s) or WM(s) on the side of the IWB(s). So my IWB can join the CM(d) centrally as a platform for possession and be close enough to the front line to reach them with firm ground passes. But if my right side attacker is a IW and inside at the same moment then I have no width on the right.

Can you elaborate on selecting a IWB and IW on the same side?

Thanks!

 

 

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On 23/01/2021 at 19:11, acmilano112000 said:

This has all been great, and is another interesting version of the Pep "Free 8's" or double Treq or whatever you want to call it. It is wonderful and I'm developing a very similar tactic for my Montpellier side (though one of my better players is a striker so I'm using a DLF for now and hopefully will phase into strikerless when able because I agree with you on the benefits of it.

My question is - the only glaring part of your tactic is that you have a IWB and a IW on the same side... when trying to replicate Pep who is all about having width in attack and a player standing on the chalk on either side.

For example, my version has a W(s) or WM(s) on the side of the IWB(s). So my IWB can join the CM(d) centrally as a platform for possession and be close enough to the front line to reach them with firm ground passes. But if my right side attacker is a IW and inside at the same moment then I have no width on the right.

Can you elaborate on selecting a IWB and IW on the same side?

Thanks!

 

 

You're right that Pep's positional play is all about having a wide player stretching the play (typically). But this was just a replication of the specific tactics that have been used when Cancelo has been playing and no striker has been on the pitch for City. In recent games the tactic has actually been mirrored (with Walker as the reserved/defensive full back and Cancelo inverting from the left hand side).

So for the specific matches I was basing this tactic off, what was happening was a flexibility in the postional play principles. That is, there was always someone keeping the width ont he right hand side, but who that was would change as the players rotated. In build up this was usually Mahrez as the right winger, as Cancelo inverted into the double pivot. But Mahrez had license to roam, much more than the left winger who operated as a normal Pep style wide player (keeping width until on the ball, when they have license to cut inside). So when Mahrez was not occupying the left flank position, the right sided false 9/10 or Cancelo would then move to keep the width. 

So my FM tactic has an IWB and an IW on the same side as that is what I observed in real life. As you can see from the last goal that I posted in one of the posts above, Mahrez does keep the width well in build up, here's the start of that move:

1672461936_manchesterderbygoal41.JPG.328610af1370fa1dd828fb46a0699bac.JPG

All of this isn't to say that a winger would not work (it does), and would get relatively similar behavior if a player with traits like cut inside from the right was used. You could also maybe try giving the IWs stay wider hard coded. But I was happy that there was enough width for the tactic to work!

PS. The only other thing is that IRL sometimes Stones is the player who keeps width, when the formation most resembles a 3223 in build up 

For example this might look like:

Foden-De Bruyne-Mahrez

       Gundo-Bernardo

          Rodri-Cancelo

Zinchenko-Dias-Stones

Where Stones, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez and Cancelo can all hold the width in different phases of the play. 

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7 hours ago, Flußkrebs said:

The only other thing is that IRL sometimes Stones is the player who keeps width, when the formation most resembles a 3223 in build up 

Thanks for the answer, makes a lot of sense. Good explanation.

I would just add, since we're talking about width and potentially a CB like Stones keeping it... that it my understanding of one of Pep's big principles is not just having width somewhere, but specifically having width high up the pitch. The width is intended to stretch the opponent's back line wider. And if they do not stretch, then to get the ball to that widest player who ought to have an opportunity to take his man on 1v1.

The idea of a CB like Stones holding the width is interesting for the build-up portion of play, but probably doesn't address the Pep concept of width to stretch the opponent defense. (Unless you were to somehow get Stones like way up). So just to point out that there is basically two width discussions to have when looking at Pep's teams. Build up width, and final third width.

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Excellent stuff.

Thought it was interesting last night after Laporte came on, it looked quite like this in possession:

Sterling------Mahrez------Torres

Zinchenko--Bernardo--Cancelo
                        Rodri

Laporte-----------------------Stones
                        Dias

Cancelo would have been the one to fall back into line but uh... he never really needed to...

This interests me because the reserves have played like this throughout Pep's time here, making me think he wanted to play like this all along. For example on Monday, in possession, they looked like this:

Nmecha--McAtee--Edozie

Knight-----------------Palmer
           Lavia--E-Riley

C.Doyle---Gomes---Burns

With CJ Egan-Riley being the RB in the defensive phase. None of those players up top are strikers either, so watching the pattern last night felt very familiar. 

I'm glad to hear you say that its generally a bit of a struggle to perform the role & duty based switch to the back 3, as I've struggled myself :lol:

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7 hours ago, Sean Blinkhorn said:

Excellent stuff.

Thought it was interesting last night after Laporte came on, it looked quite like this in possession:

Sterling------Mahrez------Torres

Zinchenko--Bernardo--Cancelo
                        Rodri

Laporte-----------------------Stones
                        Dias

Cancelo would have been the one to fall back into line but uh... he never really needed to...

This interests me because the reserves have played like this throughout Pep's time here, making me think he wanted to play like this all along. For example on Monday, in possession, they looked like this:

Nmecha--McAtee--Edozie

Knight-----------------Palmer
           Lavia--E-Riley

C.Doyle---Gomes---Burns

With CJ Egan-Riley being the RB in the defensive phase. None of those players up top are strikers either, so watching the pattern last night felt very familiar. 

I'm glad to hear you say that its generally a bit of a struggle to perform the role & duty based switch to the back 3, as I've struggled myself :lol:

Yep bang on. Thought it was really interesting that he chose to bring on Laporte and shift Zinchenko into midfield (on paper). Of course, that left hand side position he occupied is where a conventional Pep full back (sometimes wide, sometimes inside) would play anyway. Funny old things formations. I need to go back and double check but they were effectively playing a kind of Cruyff style 343 diamond, with much interchangement, other than Rodri mostly hanging slightly further back. 

I can't pretend to have watched the City U23s at all so I'll take your word for it. Would you say it's more of a narrow 343 in possession? With a double pivot/box midfield formed like Cancelo usually does and the two 8s playing in the channels ahead? How does it line up defensively, like this?:

 Nmecha------McAtee-----Edozie

            Knight------------Palmer
                          Lavia

C.Doyle---Gomes---Burns---E-Riley

 

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12 hours ago, Flußkrebs said:

Yep bang on. Thought it was really interesting that he chose to bring on Laporte and shift Zinchenko into midfield (on paper). Of course, that left hand side position he occupied is where a conventional Pep full back (sometimes wide, sometimes inside) would play anyway. Funny old things formations. I need to go back and double check but they were effectively playing a kind of Cruyff style 343 diamond, with much interchangement, other than Rodri mostly hanging slightly further back. 

I suppose the mitigating circumstance with Zinchenko is that, in reality, he's a midfielder anyway - so that was the slightly more obvious switch. Not that Cancelo couldn't play absolutely anywhere on the pitch, of course.

12 hours ago, Flußkrebs said:

I can't pretend to have watched the City U23s at all so I'll take your word for it. Would you say it's more of a narrow 343 in possession? With a double pivot/box midfield formed like Cancelo usually does and the two 8s playing in the channels ahead? How does it line up defensively, like this?:

 Nmecha------McAtee-----Edozie

            Knight------------Palmer
                          Lavia

C.Doyle---Gomes---Burns---E-Riley

Yeah that's it. Factoring in the step-down of course, that Egan-Riley is a much more...rustic player than Cancelo, he tends to move next to the DM (Lavia recently, he's played there himself though!) to form that double pivot like you say, rather than what we see with Cancelo who seemingly bypasses that line altogether.

The most interesting reveal in this particular reserve game for me, was unlike CM James McAtee playing up front (Liam Delap suspended due to having a bit of a temper, and not having another striker) - we had both an LWB (Oscar Tarensi) and a RWB (Alpha Dionkou) on the bench. This seems to suggest it was an active decision. In fact, when Tarensi came on, he sat right where Ben Knight was playing in the advanced midfield, much like his senior Zinchenko did for the first team!

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  • 2 weeks later...
2 hours ago, Beni150 said:

Did you update your pep formation in any way?

Not who you asked, but I think lining up Pep's formation with roles and duties for City is fairly easy, tbh. As opposed to some other PL managers, I think FM is fairly well kitted in terms of roles and duties to replicate it - however, the outcome is extremely dependant on having the right players. 

81fdbd7ae3fef2ab7a7742b6733c2688.png

There are a few caveats/changes from game to game, though, depending on who's playing each role. And the players in some of these roles play differently than most other players. Some examples: 

1) Centrally, both Silva and Gundodan wanders wide, but Silva does it more often and to a bigger degree. Gundogans role is hard to nail down in general, and I suspect Roaming Playmaker is more accurate. He's adept at getting into the box, but that's Gundogan thing - not decided by his role (in FM terms). 
2) They chance creation is based on attacking the channels, but their build up is wide and Sterling+Mahrez stay wide most of the time to stretch the pitch. Mahrez is definitely less active off the ball than Sterling, hence the different duties. Both want to move inwards, but will go on the outside often enough to where the Winger role seems the most accurate in FM. 
3) In some games, Zinchenko will play more like a regular full back and move up the flanks. However, most games (especially recently) he functions mostly as a third defender, though a tad bit further up than Dias. You could argue having Dias on Cover duty, as this bowed shape is normal in City during buildup with Rodri screening ahead as a primary passing outle (DLPd)t: 

58140527b11431b7593f477594c951b3.png

4) The central attacker is difficult. Foden and Jesus have mostly had this role recently, and play very differently (understandably so). Jesus moves and positions more like a F9 in the striker position, while Foden comes deep a whole lot more, playing more like Shadow Striker (especially with the trait 'Comes Deep to get the ball'). 

This is what I'd argue is the most accurate starting point just in terms of PRDs. That being said, Pep makes changes from game to game, and what players are on the pitch changes some of it as well (as mentioned). It's not all the way there, but close enough to start with. I'm not even gonna try to replicate his Team Instructions as I dont possess the knowledge to do that (of FMs ME), and because it will depend on the players you slot into it. 

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