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Morning everyone,

I'm playing in the German lower leagues (really fun and difficult challenge, since mostly only one team gets promoted out of every regional league) and had been doing well up until a few weeks ago. I developed this tactic primarily because I have an outstanding AM and two excellent strikers, and not much else besides (well, I have debt, does that count?). Most teams go ultra-defensive against us, so this really attacking approach has been working well. Generally we win comfortably, especially away from home, and we generally rack up quite a few goals if we get an early goal. Most goals conceded are against pacey strikers (my defenders are good in the air but slow) but they're generally late consolations so it doesn't really matter.

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But suddenly in the last few months, we have started conceding ridiculous goals and failing to score. My goalkeeper is pulling in terrible ratings and my strikers are missing sitters, while we're also creating a lot fewer chances. It's always been an issue that my CMde gets low ratings and generally seems to contribute almost nothing, but now my whole midfield is a shambles.

It's always been clear that this tactic has weaknesses on the wings but only recently we've been conceding a lot from crosses after overloads on either side (in the Luckenwalde game, where they snatched top spot from us, their left IF scored two headers from crosses from the right despite being a tiny little guy. He managed to outjump both my hulking monster CDs).

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So, I have some questions:

- How do you tell the difference between a normal and temporary loss of form and a tactic that has had its weaknesses exposed by the opposition? I've switched to a bog-standard 4-4-2 to try to stem the tide in some games, but without any luck.

- If you had a team with two good strikers (both pacey, one is hardworking and not a great finisher, the other is a bit lazy but generally a prolific finisher) and a good AM (excellent dribbling and flair, and very good on set-pieces, hence the TI), how would you set up to get the most out of them?

- Any comments or recommendations welcome!

Thanks!

Edited by sglennon
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It's a pretty offensive looking tactic at first glance. Just personal preference here but I'd probably change the Mez(Su) to a Carrilero so the player there is more defensively minded and covering for the marauding full back on that side. And maybe switch the PF(Su) and AF(A) around. 

But a bad run of games doesn't necessarily mean your tactic is broken. I would suggest looking at your players' morale and see where that is at. Morale can have a pretty big impact on player performance, so its possible that is one area you could investigate to turn things around.

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18 minutes ago, NotSoSpecialOne said:

It's a pretty offensive looking tactic at first glance. Just personal preference here but I'd probably change the Mez(Su) to a Carrilero so the player there is more defensively minded and covering for the marauding full back on that side. And maybe switch the PF(Su) and AF(A) around. 

But a bad run of games doesn't necessarily mean your tactic is broken. I would suggest looking at your players' morale and see where that is at. Morale can have a pretty big impact on player performance, so its possible that is one area you could investigate to turn things around.

I'll give the carrilero a shot, thanks for the tip. Yeah morale isn't great at the moment. Somehow my abjectly misfiring strikers are still delighted with life, so that's something.

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Major flaws in your tactic:

- on the left, the partnership of an attack-minded fullback role and a mezzala means that flank is highly exposed defensively (no defensive cover for the attacking fullback)

- on the right, a conservative fullback role in a narrow formation usually means insufficient attacking width (because in narrow systems it's precisely the fullbacks/wing-backs who are supposed to provide width as the only wide players in the entire system)

- no real need for an attack duty in the central midfield in a formation of this type (referring of course to your mezzala on attack duty in MCR)

Btw, I am struggling to understand what's your reasoning behind the Play for set pieces TI in this kind of tactic?

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It seems like that the last update changed some things.

Anyway, I would not combine a higher defensive line with slow defenders. They will get caught out.

I've never played with mezalas but I believe they are very attacking minded. Try the carrilero indeed.

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1 hour ago, Experienced Defender said:

Major flaws in your tactic:

- on the left, the partnership of an attack-minded fullback role and a mezzala means that flank is highly exposed defensively (no defensive cover for the attacking fullback)

- on the right, a conservative fullback role in a narrow formation usually means insufficient attacking width (because in narrow systems it's precisely the fullbacks/wing-backs who are supposed to provide width as the only wide players in the entire system)

- no real need for an attack duty in the central midfield in a formation of this type (referring of course to your mezzala on attack duty in MCR)

Btw, I am struggling to understand what's your reasoning behind the Play for set pieces TI in this kind of tactic?

Thanks for the tips. A carrilero on the left already seems to be helping.

I'm a bit stuck on the right because my right-backs are, well, poor. So I was trying to compensate for the lack of width with an attacking mezzala. I think my close-season shopping will be for a right-back that can attack.

The 'play for set-pieces' is because my AM is really good at them and my CDs score quite a bit because they're good in the air. What are the drawbacks of playing with this TI?

Edited by Experienced Defender
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1 hour ago, sglennon said:

I'm a bit stuck on the right because my right-backs are, well, poor. So I was trying to compensate for the lack of width with an attacking mezzala

If you have a fullback that is not good enough to provide proper attacking support along with performing his defensive duties, then you may want to reconsider your formation in the first place - i.e. switch to a non-narrow one.

Alternatively, you can try with a WB on defend duty and mezzala on support. Because: 1) wing-back as a role is generally better than fullback at providing attacking width, even with a lower duty; 2) the mezzala on support will provide a better link between the relatively conservative fullback and more advanced areas of the pitch than a mezzala on attack duty, thus allowing for smoother attacking play + overall tactical balance would be a lot better, both from the attacking and defensive perspectives. 

1 hour ago, sglennon said:

The 'play for set-pieces' is because my AM is really good at them and my CDs score quite a bit because they're good in the air. What are the drawbacks of playing with this TI?

Well, the problem is that the instruction encourages players to look for a set piece even when they have a good opportunity to create something from open play. It usually suits weaker teams who are good in the air but at the same time struggling to benefit from regular open play. Can also be used as a time-wasting tool toward the end of a match when you want to preserve a result you are satisfied with.

On top of that, if you play an attack-minded style of football and are managing to dominate the opposition, you'll win a fair number of set-pieces anyway, especially corners resulting from blocked crosses. 

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12 minutes ago, Experienced Defender said:

If you have a fullback that is not good enough to provide proper attacking support along with performing his defensive duties, then you may want to reconsider your formation in the first place - i.e. switch to a non-narrow one.

Alternatively, you can try with a WB on defend duty and mezzala on support. Because: 1) wing-back as a role is generally better than fullback at providing attacking width, even with a lower duty; 2) the mezzala on support will provide a better link between the relatively conservative fullback and more advanced areas of the pitch than a mezzala on attack duty, thus allowing for smoother attacking play + overall tactical balance would be a lot better, both from the attacking and defensive perspectives. 

Well, the problem is that the instruction encourages players to look for a set piece even when they have a good opportunity to create something from open play. It usually suits weaker teams who are good in the air but at the same time struggling to benefit from regular open play. Can also be used as a time-wasting tool toward the end of a match when you want to preserve a result you are satisfied with.

On top of that, if you play an attack-minded style of football and are managing to dominate the opposition, you'll win a fair number of set-pieces anyway, especially corners resulting from blocked crosses. 

Great tips, thank you. Make sense about the set pieces, my attackers are good enough to cause trouble at this level without trying to force the issue. I'll try the defensive WB too. Solutions that don't require signing new players are always preferable due to financial constraints.

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7 minutes ago, sglennon said:

I'll try the defensive WB too

Okay, but remember also what I told you about the mezzala's duty (MCR position). Because roles do not work in isolation, but only in conjunction with one another. 

And also be aware that the mere number of attack duties does not improve your attacking potency, so there is no need to use them excessively. Think about roles and duties in terms of how they interact between themselves, because that's key to creating a good and consistent tactic.

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Just a little update: these changes seem to have helped a lot. With a WBd or WBs on both sides, the midfielders have more passing options and the whole team just seems to be performing in a more coherent way.

Another little change that I made was to take off the 'run at defence' TI. When looking at longer highlights, I noticed that players dawdled on the ball a bit too long, which allowed the opposition to get back into shape. When I took that TI off, they seemed to play early balls more often, which often left the opposition defence in all sorts of trouble. I had put that TI on because I had good dribblers, but it makes more sense to just tell those specific players to dribble more rather than telling the whole team to aimlessly hold on to the ball when a pass would be a better option.

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