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Playing On The Edge: Dominating Possession with only one CB


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3 hours ago, aritra14 said:

I'm kinda averse to F-9 because it's a very demanding role - so I'm trying this variant. Also I prefer symmetry so the roles mirror each other.

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CF could work really well, given the right player.

Symmetry looks nice but remember that in the game it is variety and unpredictability that helps create better scoring chances and breaking down those pesky defensive "park the bus" sides.

Edited by crusadertsar
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2 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Symmetry looks nice but remember that in the game it is variaty and unpredictability that helps create better scoring chances and breaking down those pesky defensive "park the bus" sides.

I am trying to get that asymmetry from the PPMs and not the roles. For example, one of my CMs has gets forward whenever possible and tries long range passes while the other has dictates tempo and comes deep to get ball. So I have 2 different players, but they both share the same role.

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3 hours ago, Otabek said:

@crusadertsar how are you dealing when it comes to opposition instructions or are you leaving as is. Do you make any alterations when you have an opponent who is more difficult or superior?

I always let my Assistant Manager handle those. Thats why I make sure I hire one with good attributes in tactical, tactical knowledge and judging player ability. 

The only major alteration I make so far is when facing 2 striker formations like 4-4-2 or 4-4-2 diamond. For those I drop my Anchor back into another centreback and sometimes change from having AMC to DM role. So essentially switch to 4-3-3 when I want more defensive coverage. I usually keep same instructions except switching the Team Mentality to Positive since its a more defensive shape with less penetration. 

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25 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

I always let my Assistant Manager handle those. Thats why I make sure I hire one with good attributes in tactical, tactical knowledge and judging player ability. 

The only major alteration I make so far is when facing 2 striker formations like 4-4-2 or 4-4-2 diamond. For those I drop my Anchor back into another centreback and sometimes change from having AMC to DM role. So essentially switch to 4-3-3 when I want more defensive coverage. I usually keep same instructions except switching the Team Mentality to Positive since its a more defensive shape with less penetration. 

Interesting that you change your formation from the 343 Diamond to 433 when the 343 was specifically envisioned by Cruyff to overcome a 442 because of the numerical superiority it offered in defence and midfield. 4 at the back being a waste against 2 upfront 

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4 hours ago, aritra14 said:

I'm kinda averse to F-9 because it's a very demanding role - so I'm trying this variant. Also I prefer symmetry so the roles mirror each other.

2.png

Regarding the False 9, true it is a very demanding role. Yet you shouldnt write it off. Maybe once you have a suitable player. For me I am lucky to have aging David Silva there (and a kid from the last youth intake who looks like he might be a good replacement). 

I do love how its been "fixed" from FM20. No I notice much smarter movement from False 9. He actually drops deep and gets other players involved just like his "false" advanced playmaker role suggests. PPMs play a role here too though. I will be covering those soon.

Also the synergy that my False 9 has with a Shadow Striker is really nice. He brought out the best out of Portu this last season. And Portu has okay attributes for the role but is definitely not best SS. So far that reason I am even more excited to see how this pair will work when my new Brazilian acquisition makes it here for season two and makes Shadow Striker role into his own. He looks like a natural Shadow, except for "Comes Deep to get Ball" PPM, might need to untrain that one. 

 Sociedad's Dream Team is starting to take shape :D

SS.png.8bdf3858ce93ed8ba43a992d663cfcc5.png

Edited by crusadertsar
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43 minutes ago, 3LionsFM said:

Interesting that you change your formation from the 343 Diamond to 433 when the 343 was specifically envisioned by Cruyff to overcome a 442 because of the numerical superiority it offered in defence and midfield. 4 at the back being a waste against 2 upfront 

I know but its a bit of a gamey thing I guess. I want to make sure I have defensive coverage against such teams just in case my IWBs miss their mark against pacey strikers. So I won't use it every time. But if a tougher team like Real Mardid were to play with two strikers. Think of it as my version of parking the bus. As my back 3 players improve more I will probably just use the same 3-4-3 against all opposition. I'm not usually one to change formation against opponent. I say they should adapt to us not vice versa. 

But I think I did not make myself clear, when I said I play with 4-3-3, it does not mean I defend with 4. In this case I just want to make sure I am not outnumbered by fast strikers in our zone. But the formation actually looks like this, as I change my IWBs to more aggressive supporting roles now that we have more players in the back. So thats not even a true 4-3-3 I guess. 

F3AEA895CF6DF9403E086EC35433E0C327279073 (1600×900)

 

Edited by crusadertsar
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Great write up, I’ve always been intrigued by football that Barcelona side played under Cruyff - without doubt one of the most exciting teams. 
 

I have a question about some of your TIs that you selected. Is there a particular reason you have chosen a Narrow attacking width? I would assume to help create more overloads centrally but with four players there, would that not already happen? 
 

Cruyff was also keen to make the pitch as wide as possible in possession so I would have thought a narrow width goes against this? Then again I assume coupling with the Focus Play down both flanks alleviates this a little.  
 

This is not a criticism of your setup btw, I am just curious to know if you are getting enough width - especially against those stubborn narrow defences. 
 

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1 minute ago, Fantasista10 said:

Great write up, I’ve always been intrigued by football that Barcelona side played under Cruyff - without doubt one of the most exciting teams. 
 

I have a question about some of your TIs that you selected. Is there a particular reason you have chosen a Narrow attacking width? I would assume to help create more overloads centrally but with four players there, would that not already happen? 
 

Cruyff was also keen to make the pitch as wide as possible in possession so I would have thought a narrow width goes against this? Then again I assume coupling with the Focus Play down both flanks alleviates this a little.  
 

This is not a criticism of your setup btw, I am just curious to know if you are getting enough width - especially against those stubborn narrow defences. 
 

Exactly it was initially paired with Focus play to better create central overloads. But now that I think about it I dont think it actually makes much of a difference. Keeping width of default is better. I would probably remove it to be honest. 

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2 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Exactly it was initially paired with Focus play to better create central overloads. But now that I think about it I dont think it actually makes much of a difference. Keeping width of default is better. I would probably remove it to be honest. 

That’s cool to know, thanks. 
 

I’ve been tinkering a bit with my 4-3-3 of late, changing mentality from Positive to Balanced but adding more width and removing Focus Play. It’s working well. I still like to add Focus (to either central or left/right) during games as and when necessary. It’s definitely useful to create sudden overloads and problems for the opponent. 
 

Definitely plan on giving the 3-4-3 a whirl with my technically gifted Benfica side. A great club to build a Total Football philosophy around given their fantastic young players and youth setup. 
 

Looking forward to seeing the Sociedad Dream Team! 

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I’m intrigued to test this out, but I’m not sure how it will mesh with my current Eintracht Braunschweig team. I’m playing a journeyman kind of save, and I probably have to wait until I’m with a better side. 

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2 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

Regarding the False 9, true it is a very demanding role. Yet you shouldnt write it off. Maybe once you have a suitable player. For me I am lucky to have aging David Silva there (and a kid from the last youth intake who looks like he might be a good replacement). 

I do love how its been "fixed" from FM20. No I notice much smarter movement from False 9. He actually drops deep and gets other players involved just like his "false" advanced playmaker role suggests. PPMs play a role here too though. I will be covering those soon.

Also the synergy that my False 9 has with a Shadow Striker is really nice. He brought out the best out of Portu this last season. And Portu has okay attributes for the role but is definitely not best SS. So far that reason I am even more excited to see how this pair will work when my new Brazilian acquisition makes it here for season two and makes Shadow Striker role into his own. He looks like a natural Shadow, except for "Comes Deep to get Ball" PPM, might need to untrain that one. 

 Sociedad's Dream Team is starting to take shape :D

SS.png.8bdf3858ce93ed8ba43a992d663cfcc5.png

This is Marcos Antonio isn’t it? I’ve bought him for £19.5 mil to be my future false nine.

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Hi!

I've been playing with this tactic (or at least the version with the 2 MEZs published in your other thread) for the last week in my Youth Academy Challenge save. Currently in the first year where I took over South Shields. Predicted to finish 19th. 

We actually managed to win the league (Vanarama North). I have to say that I was probably lucky, as the analytics say I should have won 15 points less than I did, and finished 5th. But that still would have been an acomplishment with the players that I have. Needless to say there aren't that many Cruyffs running around in Vanarama North...

So the tactic can work even with a mediocre team, if you pick your players carefully. The football played can be beautifull. But, as Crusadertsar mentionned, it's not one for the faint hearted, certainly if, like me, you don't change formation against teams playing with 2 or 3 strikers. 

So, congratulations to the creator of this beauty, and I can't wait to get my ass kicked in the Vanarama National League.

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So I eventually gave this a whirl with my Benfica squad. I was a bit sceptical about using it against better (or similar level of) opposition and teams which don't set up to park the bus, so I waited for the perfect scenario. 

We faced a Nacional da Madeira side who came to us with no intention of playing at all. Setup in their Defensive 3-4-2-1 (basically a flat 5-4-1 in game), I knew this would be the perfect time to try this system. And it worked a treat: 

606300516_Screenshot2021-01-12at14_19_17.thumb.png.74c7b6e54796580b7d7d528b657cfc30.png

We actually should have scored more - with one of our goals coming from a corner, another a penalty - we created plenty more from open play. What impressed me the most is how we still created chances whilst recording around 730 passes (the most we have had in a game this season). When seeing some previous posts in the other thread recording over 1000 passes I was worried it could result in possession for possession sake but it definitely is not!

My other concern was, as you mentioned in the opening post, it's defensive solidity. Which again as you said, is surprisingly strong. I know Madeira weren't interested in playing in this game but its always pleasing to restrict the opposition to zero attempts on target. 

I did make a couple tweaks to suit my players, like having a in form out-and-out striker meant that I used a Complete Forward on Support rather than a False 9 and his hold up and link up play was sublime with the runners around him. 

Safe to say I will be using this more often! Also thanks for the brilliant training guide you shared, I am seeing instant results on that front, especially with the younger players! Total Football is in full flow at Benfica :cool:

Edited by Fantasista10
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Great write up, can I ask how everyone is having such good defensive stats? 

I started a save with Barcelona and I do nothing but concede goals from a striker running off the sole CB and have lost about 10 games in the league using it. I used the earlier versions of the tactic on my Rangers save to some success, however absolutely no luck this time. 

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1 hour ago, RenegadeMaster said:

Great write up, can I ask how everyone is having such good defensive stats? 

I started a save with Barcelona and I do nothing but concede goals from a striker running off the sole CB and have lost about 10 games in the league using it. I used the earlier versions of the tactic on my Rangers save to some success, however absolutely no luck this time. 

I have been using this with my Benfica side but only in games where my scout says the opponent will play a Cautious or lower mentality, and a formation with 1 striker (but not a 4-2-3-1). I’ve found that two striker or AM+ST systems can cause problems for the lone CB. 
 

One thing I found helpful is to ensure the two IWBs don’t have the Gets Forward PPM, but even then they can sometimes get caught out by a long ball into the channel. 
 

I’m not an expert and the OP will know better but my advice would be to use this for games where you feel the opponent doesn’t carry much threat in behind. At least until you have the right players/your tactical familiarity is high. 
 

I haven’t leaked goals, but I’ve had a few high scoring games like 4-2 or 6-2 even. The strength of this setup is definitely its attacking prowess.
 

I wouldn’t give up on this yet, it’s really fun to play and some of the football has been amazing. 

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@Fantasista10 Exactly, couldn't have said it better myself. @RenegadeMasterInitially before your team is fully fluent with the tactic you need to be choosy against whom you use it against. Eventually I got to the point where I was using it against almost all teams in my first season. It just takes time to get rolling. But yes, counter-attacking teams with pacy strikers or wingers will always be a risk. Make sure you have fast CB and IWBs too.

Edited by crusadertsar
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17 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

@Fantasista10 Exactly, couldn't have said it better myself. @RenegadeMasterInitially before your team is fully fluent with the tactic you need to be choosy against whom you use it against. Eventually I got to the point where I was using it against almost all teams in my first season. It just takes time to get rolling. But yes, counter-attacking teams with pacy strikers or wingers will always be a risk. Make sure you have fast CB and IWBs too.

Any specific PIs in the 343 or the 433? 

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On 13/01/2021 at 18:31, Fantasista10 said:

I have been using this with my Benfica side but only in games where my scout says the opponent will play a Cautious or lower mentality, and a formation with 1 striker (but not a 4-2-3-1). I’ve found that two striker or AM+ST systems can cause problems for the lone CB. 
 

One thing I found helpful is to ensure the two IWBs don’t have the Gets Forward PPM, but even then they can sometimes get caught out by a long ball into the channel. 
 

I’m not an expert and the OP will know better but my advice would be to use this for games where you feel the opponent doesn’t carry much threat in behind. At least until you have the right players/your tactical familiarity is high. 
 

I haven’t leaked goals, but I’ve had a few high scoring games like 4-2 or 6-2 even. The strength of this setup is definitely its attacking prowess.
 

I wouldn’t give up on this yet, it’s really fun to play and some of the football has been amazing. 

Thanks for the response mate.  I've been trying to analyse games a lot closer and I think the issue is not having the correct personnel. For example, Pique is currently my BDP and has all the attributes to be able to play that role successfully however after closer inspection (and actually looking at PPM's) he does not dive into tackles and gets forward whenever possible. Thankfully I have Eric Garcia signing on a free so he will take over that role. 

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I'm really enjoying this tactic and it's sparked me back into enjoying the game.

I know this isn't a plug and play tactic but as you pointed out, others have had some quick success. I tried it on a whim as I was running out of ideas in the new season after a bad start with Reading and we played so much better.

10 games in and we still lose some (squad isn't designed for the playstyle yet) but when it clicks, we play some beautiful football. The movement and passing is really fun to watch. 

The back 3 defensive positions scream 'this won't work!' but for some reason we are more secure at the back than I was with a 4-2-3-1 lol. 

Loving it!

 

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Another storming night for Real Sociedad. We had a tough start to the 2nd season narrowly losing to both Real Madrid and Barca. And then we had hearthbreak when we tied Man City after leading the match 2-0 for the first half. Should have really won that game. 

Then, this happened against Atletico Pamplona. Pamplona tried to sit deep against us with 4 men backline and 2 DMs but our boys would have none of it. For all the troubles with possession tactics against parked buses in FM20, this has definitely been a breath of fresh air. I don't think I ever had a tactic like this. One that dominates possession so completely and is so highscoring :D

 

387861F2E3D824903761B69D1E3AB27A1C85DCB1 (1600×900)

And this was the Man City game, in case you were wondering. Rather equal in possession and shots. BUT we definately don't have the same quality of players so I still see it as a good sign that we played so well and limited their shots in our area. A solid team effort

92DC5C37A8B4BFDAF6F70709734CE4BD5643E0E3 (1600×900)

Edited by crusadertsar
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Woudnt you want the Be more expressive instruction as it allows to roam more, which was one of the main standouts for total football. Players constantly roaming and covering for each other?

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58 minutes ago, Maaz1748 said:

Woudnt you want the Be more expressive instruction as it allows to roam more, which was one of the main standouts for total football. Players constantly roaming and covering for each other?

I wish it worked that way in the game. But I dont want too much roaming as I want my team to keep their shape more. Especially the IWB. I do tend to give more roaming instructions to the forwards sometimes

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Nearing the end of my first season with Barca, finishing strongly despite a horrendous dip in form mid-season and a torrid European campaign.

Multiple areas of the squad need addressing and surprisingly, goalkeeper is one of them, despite his attributes Ter-Stegen has had a very poor season as any shot he faces just seems to fly in. 

One question I do have for anyone who has tried this 3-4-3 with Barca, does Ter-Stegen seem to ignore the 'roll it out' instruction for you? as he kicks it long all the time for me. 

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2 hours ago, RenegadeMaster said:

One question I do have for anyone who has tried this 3-4-3 with Barca, does Ter-Stegen seem to ignore the 'roll it out' instruction for you? as he kicks it long all the time for me. 

I’ve found that when my goalkeeper kicks it long despite being instructed to either Take Short Kicks or Roll It Out (with Play Out of Defence too) it’s usually because there aren’t suitable options to play short, or he’s taking too many risks due to his mentality.
 

I usually select a Sweeper Keeper on Support or Attack, but I change him to Defensive when I see too many long kicks and it tends to help. 

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This sparked my interest and I decided to boot up a save on FM 20 just to see how it would play. It is definitely a plug and play tactic... I'm using a 2nd Bulgarian division team that is full of youth players with not much passing or technical skills, and the general strength of the team is about mid-table.  And they took to it so easily! 

Judging by the attributes of the players, I would compare it's level to a national conference English side or a bottom League 2. Played 4 games I think with this exact set up, I won 2, draw and lost 1. The team is constantly on average to poor morale(no idea why, as it's generally overperforming), but I'm using a really powerful training method that is quite effective in boosting attributes. No idea if that plays a huge part in using this tactic tbh. I'm not using shouts as well. 

I just slapped this tactic on the team. We were playing a controlling 4-3-3,  with similar instructions, but after the change the team had average familiarity with the new tactic. Still, we won our first game, got unlucky in the second one and lost, heroically drew the third and beat the league leaders away 2:0. 

My takeaways:

  • I love the control and the fact that there is always someone open. 58% possession in 3 of the 4 games so far.  
  • The combo at the back is incredibly reliable. The IWB are playing well, and what I really love is that they get forward and help the team. When we were trying to recreate Atalanta's overlapping CBs, this is exactly what we wanted. This is exactly how to achieve that! Absolute masterpiece. Obviously, good and fast wingers are hard to deal with, but isn't that always the case? And it makes the tactic not overpowered. 
  • The Anchor man is key. Without his help in defence it would be a different story. I would prioritise a player that is good in the art of defending in this position if you can't find a complete player
  • the MEZ and BBM have the freedom. The BBM scored a few already, but I feel that's just FM 20 being FM 20. 
  • The SS gets bad ratings, but that could be because I don't have a proper player for it right now. I'm using more of a playmaker in there, so that could be the issue. 
  • The IF and IW are as expected - pretty good. I like the IW slightly more. 
  • The F9 is okay. It's the best player ability wise on my team so that's expected. Not as useful as the FM18 version of a F9,) but hey, I'll take what I can get. 
  • The whole tactic looks really good and fun to play. And it works with smaller teams. Obviously you'll be trashed by stronger ones but that's the challenge. Otherwise it will be an op tactic that gets boring within a week. 
  • This is on FM 20, so I assume it's even better in FM 21. I'll probably try some version of it on FM18 as well. 

 

It's early days but so far I really like it. Some of the movements are really cool, and the team defends surprisingly well. Well done! 

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3 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

@Impacto Thank you so much for such a deep analysis! 

No problem! I love trying out tactics like this. I don't have the time and ability to create them, but I love testing and playing with them. 

Played a few more games today. Didn't lose one. Few more things:

  • Going a man down is not a big issue - happened twice, just dropped the SS to the position that was missing and it's like we're even on players. Won a game with a man down and also drew one. 
  • 4-4-2 is a real danger... if they get the ball. Just had 70% possession against a better team, but they had some great chances on a counter. Ended up 2:2. 
  • It might be worth changing the left side from IFs to IWa. I think the IWa is just working better. Also, the IWB behind the IW is getting better ratings so far as well. Could be a connection? No idea, still a small sample, but it feels like it.   
Edited by Impacto
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I tried to copy your tactic but as I mentioned on your other thread, I feel like my defense is way too exposed. When on attack, my wing backs go forward and leave the CB alone with one or sometimes two opponent attackers!

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48 minutes ago, CM4fan said:

I tried to copy your tactic but as I mentioned on your other thread, I feel like my defense is way too exposed. When on attack, my wing backs go forward and leave the CB alone with one or sometimes two opponent attackers!

I don't know what to tell you. If you look through this thread then you will see that with the right type of player in IWB role it is rather good defensively. You have to always make sure that their traits are suitable too.

But the tactic is what it is. Thats why I call it "Playing on the edge". It is inspired by Cruyff's vision of defending proactively in the opponent's half. If you are too nervous with that then dont use it and use something safer (and more boring) like 3-4-3 with 3 CBs but I will tell you right away like @Impacto said above me you wont see the same beautiful passing plays. CBs in the match engine were never good at that sort of thing (even when told to play with a very high defensive line). Afterall I really tried hard to make 3-4-3 with 3 CBs work in past in both FM20 and FM21 and it was only when I moved by creative defenders/midfielders into IWB (D) roles that it really started to click. 

Edited by crusadertsar
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29 minutes ago, Impacto said:

No problem! I love trying out tactics like this. I don't have the time and ability to create them, but I love testing and playing with them. 

Played a few more games today. Didn't lose one. Few more things:

  • Going a man down is not a big issue - happened twice, just dropped the SS to the position that was missing and it's like we're even on players. Won a game with a man down and also drew one. 
  • 4-4-2 is a real danger... if they get the ball. Just had 70% possession against a better team, but they had some great chances on a counter. Ended up 2:2. 
  • It might be worth changing the left side from IFs to IWa. I think the IWa is just working better. Also, the IWB behind the IW is getting better ratings so far as well. Could be a connection? No idea, still a small sample, but it feels like it.   

It might be that IW(A) drops better to connect with IWB. It is usually a more hard-working role, sort of like a cross between a wide AP and IF. Thanks for the tips. Will definitely look into it. 

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54 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

I don't know what to tell you. If you look through this thread then you will see that with the right type of player in IWB role it is rather good defensively. You have to always make sure that their traits are suitable too.

But the tactic is what it is. Thats why I call it "Playing on the edge". It is inspired by Cruyff's vision of defending proactively in the opponent's half. If you are too nervous with that then dont use it and use something safer (and more boring) like 3-4-3 with 3 CBs but I will tell you right away like @Impacto said above me you wont see the same beautiful passing plays. CBs in the match engine were never good at that sort of thing (even when told to play with a very high defensive line). Afterall I really tried hard to make 3-4-3 with 3 CBs work in past in both FM20 and FM21 and it was only when I moved by creative defenders/midfielders into IWB (D) roles that it really started to click. 

Sure, I was not looking for a miracle solution, just wondering if you had faced that problem and managed to solve it.

Also, I am not on the best team... I am playing Malaga, got promoted to La Liga on the first season and only used this formation on the last 6 or so matches of the season, when I already had avoided relegation. I don't have the best players, but I still ask them to do what I want them to do. :)

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It can't be underestimated how important it is to have the correct type of player in not only the IWB, but the CB and DM positions . As seen in my posts above during my first season I had major defensive issues and only after closer analysis did I realise they were not suited to the roles they were being asked to play. 

My right IWB is a retrained BBM, although he was part of my back three last season, has only just now after nearly 10 months of training and constantly being played there become 'natural' in the position (which I think means he can play to a world class level?) and the difference it has made defensively is unbelievable. Any long ball the opposition plays behind him he now anticipates and snuffs out attacks before any real threat develops. For example in my second season I have played 6 games and conceded 3 goals, I had conceded 10 at the same stage last season. The 3 that I have conceded this year is once again down to Ter Stegen, who I really can't get over how poor he is this year. 

One major attribute that I think the back three and DM need to have is anticipation. Since bringing Garcia in to play the CB role I have noticed a few times the ball has tried to be played in behind him and before the pass was played he had made the move and ended the attack. This once again is something that was not happening last season and would almost guarantee that I was about to concede.

Some results from my first 6 games: 

 

vs leganes.PNG

vs Sevilla.PNG

vs Madrid.PNG

Barca league overview.PNG

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@RenegadeMaster wow those are some really impressive stats! Especially the Leganes game, unbelievable. 

Cool to see you've ironed out those defensive issues. I've been having a few myself in recent games but I put that down to playing inexperienced youth players. I'm managing Benfica and using this tactic in games I'm expected to win comfortably but I think it's too demanding for some of the young defenders. Like you said, I think Anticipation is a key attribute here. 

Curious to know if you, or any others have looked at any PPMs which might aid defensive solidity? One that stands out to me would be Stays Back at All Times, but what about Dives Into Tackles? I guess the benefit of diving in is being more aggressive in which is an already aggressive setup, to aid with pressing. Drawbacks (on the CB) would be if he misses a tackle you are completely exposed. Then there's Marks Opponents Tightly - again this could help to steal the ball back quickly but could also get spun by a quick/agile striker. 

In the past I have overlooked the use of PPMs but I've really seen the benefits of some attacking moves such as Plays One Twos so it would be interesting to know what kind of defensive traits suit a Total Football style. 

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TACTICAL UPDATE AND ANALYSIS

So I have been doing some thinking... or more accurately tinkering. It was mostly a result of a stretch of bad form in October in my 2nd season with my beloved Real Sociedad. You know how it goes. Lose and/draw a few games, morale goes low and you start thinking that you will never climb out of it. You start thinking about deleting the save, or even worse uninstalling it :(

 

 Results.png.511232a944fbd8239b80d419d777e2af.png

 

I came very close to doing just that. Well, maybe not uninstalling haha but abandoning my save.

And I just couldn't pin point what went wrong. Especially given our success (3rd place LaLiga finish) with the same tactic in 1st season. Also given the "Dream Team" that I assembled over the summer (more on that soon). How could we possibly play so badly? But then I realized that after all the planning there is still a lot of bad luck in football and in FM. And we did have a rough start to the season, dealing with injuries to some key players as well as having a really tough Champions League group draw. Drawing Juventus alone might have made things interesting but getting Manchester City also just put a serious dent to any hopes we had of progressing. Not that Real Sociedad is a bad team. But it is still a young team that has not reached its full potential with the Total Football system. Although I think we are well on our way there, especially given the quality of some of our young players. 

So in the end, the humbling experience of losing in Champions League made me realize that not everything is controlled at the tactical drawing board. There are no perfect tactics. Things can still go wrong, and definitely will. It is the job of the manager to pick up the pieces and use failure as a learning opportunity to make their tactics even better. And most importantly that tactic creation in FM21 is a constantly evolving process of tweaking and improvising. So hopefully this is what the next couple of updates will show. But first lets take a look at the changes.

Tactic.png.30d7d1dbb1dff1676f9fca64689875d7.png

 

I was able to cut down on some of the team instructions from my original tactic. It was all in attempt to really refine only the absolutely necessary instructions to recreate the sort of shape and movement that I was looking for. Hence the change to Attacking mentality.

attack.png.45df21e045d5d779b917c4719526a97a.png

Switching to Attacking allowed me to cut down on some of the instructions because there is already certain level of pressing and tempo hardcoded into the mentality. The only thing you need to modify is the passing length, to cut out the directness. Overall I chose it because of its effect on the individual player mentalities. The switch split my team into two mentalities, the top 6 players (with exception of CF) now operate with Positive individual mentalities. While the bottom 4 outfield players are Balanced in their approach. The two similar mentalities help my players to operate closer together to suit the Total Football approach. Also the vertical shift from Balanced to Positive allows for more gradual build up while keeping intent in our possession especially once the ball makes it to our attackers. There are some important PI for the two IWs (to make the two play differently) but I will discuss those in a separate post about my attackers. The focus of this with be the midfielders and its Diamond.

The primary concern of my tactical rework was augmenting the Diamond in the midfield. I think it is absolutely essential to preserve the shape of the diamond. It is what helps the team keep control of the ball, especially when pressing high in the opposition zone. I found that with the two roaming roles (two Mezzalas or Mezzala and BBM combo) there was too much movement which sometimes broke the diamond and made players play too close to each other. Secondly, the Shadow Striker was not working as planned. I found that despite having a hard-working player there, he was not dropping deep enough to help the other 3 midfielders. And his offensive output was not significant enough to justify keeping the role.

Diamond.png.7d1a6b94ae103d45a1b8f1569355afc6.png

Now, above you can see the average positioning from one of the most recent games with the updated tactic. It is exactly what I am looking for! The combination of our high defensive line, standard line of engagement and counter-press is allowing the players to mostly maintain pressure inside the opponent's half. True to Cruyff's philosophy this is also how we are defending, proactively. Just don't let them get the ball into our half. And to do this optimally you need to maintain equal distances between the four players of the diamond. Since to control the space, your midfielders cannot be too bunched up leaving big gaps for opponent to exploit elsewhere.

3BA31E8A9F18B28B6C915EB3C416F81A01E5B275 (1600×900)

Our latest result against Leganes for example. We ended up winning the match rather decisively while keeping 70% possession. Their sole consolation goal came late in the game. I think that is one of the weaknesses of my system, it really tires the players out (especially the two carrileros) so you need to make sure you have real work-horses for those roles with high Stamina, Workrate and Natural Fitness (to allow them to recover quicker from games, play more matches back to back and ward off "jadedness"). Not to mention the usual mental attributes of Anticipation, Concentration, Composure, Positioning, Off The Ball, Teamwork, and Vision. Essentially if you are looking for Well-Rounded Total Footballers to recreate my system then the midfield roles is where you should scout first. The Diamond Heart of the system requires the best players. 

Just to show you how much of an effect the change in tactics I will post some of our recent results. You can see the kind of possession and goal number that the tactic is capable off, once you have the right players and they are familiar with it.

 

Levant.png.d37cc9985e17d064e82164a531dadf19.pngEibar.png.1216a2d2ee3b756c434aefa754608f55.png                 

       

Pos.png.e562d5c7f961c0b3b1bf7fe7aeb5424a.png

 

Hopefully its a sign of better things to come.

Email.png.5e7d949c6013fa385f85d35ae72072cd.png

 

Edited by crusadertsar
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3 hours ago, Fantasista10 said:

@RenegadeMaster wow those are some really impressive stats! Especially the Leganes game, unbelievable. 

Cool to see you've ironed out those defensive issues. I've been having a few myself in recent games but I put that down to playing inexperienced youth players. I'm managing Benfica and using this tactic in games I'm expected to win comfortably but I think it's too demanding for some of the young defenders. Like you said, I think Anticipation is a key attribute here. 

Curious to know if you, or any others have looked at any PPMs which might aid defensive solidity? One that stands out to me would be Stays Back at All Times, but what about Dives Into Tackles? I guess the benefit of diving in is being more aggressive in which is an already aggressive setup, to aid with pressing. Drawbacks (on the CB) would be if he misses a tackle you are completely exposed. Then there's Marks Opponents Tightly - again this could help to steal the ball back quickly but could also get spun by a quick/agile striker. 

In the past I have overlooked the use of PPMs but I've really seen the benefits of some attacking moves such as Plays One Twos so it would be interesting to know what kind of defensive traits suit a Total Football style. 

Hi mate, 

Funnily enough since I posted that I have started to become quite leaky again - but that seems to have coincided with players become quite fatigued and in need of a rest, which I'm sure @crusadertsarsaid in either this thread or the Total Football one strength in depth is needed. 

In regards to PPM's although none of my back three have the stay back at all times but I think that is something I will definitely look to train into them and also play out from the back, which would also benefit the IWB's too in my opinion. I'm not too sure about the dives into tackles as maybe that would concede freekicks and penalties, but one I would definitely avoid from experiencing Pique playing the lone CB role is 'DO NOT dive into tackles'. 

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1 hour ago, crusadertsar said:

TACTICAL UPDATE AND ANALYSIS

So I have been doing some thinking... or more accurately tinkering. It was mostly a result of a stretch of bad form in October in my 2nd season with my beloved Real Sociedad. You know how it goes. Lose and/draw a few games, morale goes low and you start thinking that you will never climb out of it. You start thinking about deleting the save, or even worse uninstalling it :(

 

 Results.png.511232a944fbd8239b80d419d777e2af.png

 

I came very close to doing just that. Well, maybe not uninstalling haha but abandoning my save.

And I just couldn't pin point what went wrong. Especially given our success (3rd place LaLiga finish) with the same tactic in 1st season. Also given the "Dream Team" that I assembled over the summer (more on that soon). How could we possibly play so badly? But then I realized that after all the planning there is still a lot of bad luck in football and in FM. And we did have a rough start to the season, dealing with injuries to some key players as well as having a really tough Champions League group draw. Drawing Juventus alone might have made things interesting but getting Manchester City also just put a serious dent to any hopes we had of progressing. Not that Real Sociedad is a bad team. But it is still a young team that has not reached its full potential with the Total Football system. Although I think we are well on our way there, especially given the quality of some of our young players. 

So in the end, the humbling experience of losing in Champions League made me realize that not everything is controlled at the tactical drawing board. There are no perfect tactics. Things can still go wrong, and definitely will. It is the job of the manager to pick up the pieces and use failure as a learning opportunity to make their tactics even better. And most importantly that tactic creation in FM21 is a constantly evolving process of tweaking and improvising. So hopefully this is what the next couple of updates will show. But first lets take a look at the changes.

Tactic.png.30d7d1dbb1dff1676f9fca64689875d7.png

 

I was able to cut down on some of the team instructions from my original tactic. It was all in attempt to really refine only the absolutely necessary instructions to recreate the sort of shape and movement that I was looking for. Hence the change to Attacking mentality.

attack.png.45df21e045d5d779b917c4719526a97a.png

Switching to Attacking allowed me to cut down on some of the instructions because there is already certain level of pressing and tempo hardcoded into the mentality. The only thing you need to modify is the passing length, to cut out the directness. Overall I chose it because of its effect on the individual player mentalities. The switch split my team into two mentalities, the top 6 players (with exception of CF) now operate with Positive individual mentalities. While the bottom 4 outfield players are Balanced in their approach. The two similar mentalities help my players to operate closer together to suit the Total Football approach. Also the vertical shift from Balanced to Positive allows for more gradual build up while keeping intent in our possession especially once the ball makes it to our attackers. There are some important PI for the two IWs (to make the two play differently) but I will discuss those in a separate post about my attackers. The focus of this with be the midfielders and its Diamond.

The primary concern of my tactical rework was augmenting the Diamond in the midfield. I think it is absolutely essential to preserve the shape of the diamond. It is what helps the team keep control of the ball, especially when pressing high in the opposition zone. I found that with the two roaming roles (two Mezzalas or Mezzala and BBM combo) there was too much movement which sometimes broke the diamond and made players play too close to each other. Secondly, the Shadow Striker was not working as planned. I found that despite having a hard-working player there, he was not dropping deep enough to help the other 3 midfielders. And his offensive output was not significant enough to justify keeping the role.

Diamond.png.7d1a6b94ae103d45a1b8f1569355afc6.png

Now, above you can see the average positioning from one of the most recent games with the updated tactic. It is exactly what I am looking for! The combination of our high defensive line, standard line of engagement and counter-press is allowing the players to mostly maintain pressure inside the opponent's half. True to Cruyff's philosophy this is also how we are defending, proactively. Just don't let them get the ball into our half. And to do this optimally you need to maintain equal distances between the four players of the diamond. Since to control the space, your midfielders cannot be too bunched up leaving big gaps for opponent to exploit elsewhere.

3BA31E8A9F18B28B6C915EB3C416F81A01E5B275 (1600×900)

Our latest result against Leganes for example. We ended up winning the match rather decisively while keeping 70% possession. Their sole consolation goal came late in the game. I think that is one of the weaknesses of my system, it really tires the players out (especially the two carrileros) so you need to make sure you have real work-horses for those roles with high Stamina, Workrate and Natural Fitness (to allow them to recover quicker from games, play more matches back to back and ward off "jadedness"). Not to mention the usual mental attributes of Anticipation, Concentration, Composure, Positioning, Off The Ball, Teamwork, and Vision. Essentially if you are looking for Well-Rounded Total Footballers to recreate my system then the midfield roles is where you should scout first. The Diamond Heart of the system requires the best players. 

Just to show you how much of an effect the change in tactics I will post some of our recent results. You can see the kind of possession and goal number that the tactic is capable off, once you have the right players and they are familiar with it.

 

Levant.png.d37cc9985e17d064e82164a531dadf19.pngEibar.png.1216a2d2ee3b756c434aefa754608f55.png                 

       

Pos.png.e562d5c7f961c0b3b1bf7fe7aeb5424a.png

 

Hopefully its a sign of better things to come.

Email.png.5e7d949c6013fa385f85d35ae72072cd.png

 

I really like the look of this tweaked setup, nice work :applause:

How are you finding it defensively? It doesn't seem like it's lost its control of the game and potency in the final third which is excellent. I plan to give the Attacking mentality a whirl in Pre Season. 

47 minutes ago, RenegadeMaster said:

Hi mate, 

Funnily enough since I posted that I have started to become quite leaky again - but that seems to have coincided with players become quite fatigued and in need of a rest, which I'm sure @crusadertsarsaid in either this thread or the Total Football one strength in depth is needed. 

In regards to PPM's although none of my back three have the stay back at all times but I think that is something I will definitely look to train into them and also play out from the back, which would also benefit the IWB's too in my opinion. I'm not too sure about the dives into tackles as maybe that would concede freekicks and penalties, but one I would definitely avoid from experiencing Pique playing the lone CB role is 'DO NOT dive into tackles'. 

Thanks for advice mate, I plan to train Stay Back on my younger full backs. Unfortunately my star left back Alex Grimaldo has Gets Further Forward so he really isn't suitable for the role but his attacking threat means I can't not play him. So I'm using a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 variant mostly until my squad is capable of playing this way. But the 3-4-3 is certainly the long term aim!

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Interesting stuff. I tried something different. I'll explain it in a bit.

Defensively so far I have no issues, but that could be the difference in the ME. The Anchor man is really helping, the IWB are doing their job and the CB is playing like Van Dijk. He is one of my better players ability wise though.  We still get opened from time to time, but the team defends really well. I'm currently playing on Extended Highlights and I'm seeing a lot of blocks and key recoveries. The keeper is doing a good job as well. But this is 'playing on the edge' so I love it! 

Take a look at this:

Spoiler

269871380_92completedpassesand72possession.png.494a0cafd56c17270b232843fcf87290.png

92% passes completed and 72% possession. Madness. But see the chances? Not much there. And this is my issue that I tried to solve. 

I think the problem was that we just didn't have width. Players were cramped up in the middle, leaving little space for the F9 and the SS to operate in, the wide players struggled being forced inside and there was nobody to overlap behind them to stretch the game. We were still unbeaten for like 10 games, but something was missing. 1-0, 2:0, but no more. And we barely had games where we had a lot of shots and chances. We had a ton of possession, but that's about it. 

I decided to try something that never worked in FM for me - to have my IF and IW stay wider, while still cutting inside. It did stretch the game a little bit, but I just didn't like it. It was ineffective in my eyes so I went with another option - using pure Wingers on attack.

The difference was instant - the whole midfield got more room to operate, resulting in a lot more highlights. The SS and F9 suddenly came alive and the wingers exploited the space wide, dribbling and beating players which opened up even more space. The IWB also started contributing even more! It's incredible to watch, at least for me. The game got more open and that makes it even more fun, again, at least for me. We might suffer a bit more defensively, but considering we barely conceded before that I'm okay with it. And we still felt like controling the game, although slightly less and even more 'on the edge'. 

I'll keep updating (as long as it's still fun) with the team's progress. I'm curious how far this can go.

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1 hour ago, Fantasista10 said:

I really like the look of this tweaked setup, nice work :applause:

How are you finding it defensively? It doesn't seem like it's lost its control of the game and potency in the final third which is excellent. I plan to give the Attacking mentality a whirl in Pre Season. 

Thanks for advice mate, I plan to train Stay Back on my younger full backs. Unfortunately my star left back Alex Grimaldo has Gets Further Forward so he really isn't suitable for the role but his attacking threat means I can't not play him. So I'm using a 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 variant mostly until my squad is capable of playing this way. But the 3-4-3 is certainly the long term aim!

I can absolutely see why the 3-4-3 is the aim. I’ve used plenty of possession tactics during my years of playing FM but nothing has come close to the passing and build up play I’ve seen whilst using this and I’m looking forward to trying out the updated version at some point tomorrow

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Real Sociedad "Dream Team"

Part 1: Midfield Diamond Roles 

diamond2.png.f7ce73bea38f71ecc6d9b19b50047c2b.png

So the midfield diamond in Cruyff's 3-4-3. The most important 4 roles in the whole tactic, aside from the sole CB of course. 

Carrileros

As I mentioned before here is where you need your Total Footballers, very well-rounded players great in attack, defence and transition. To give an example of my favourite player in FM21, Mr.Sociedad himself, El Capitán Mikel Oyarzabal, you will need players who just like Mikel can slot into any of the three roles; AMC, Carrileros or DLP(D). Again to reiterate what I wrote before, the reason why I settled on those four roles as opposed to earlier Shadow Striker, Mezzala, BBM and Anchor quartet, is to better keep the diamond shape. I could have used CM(S)s too but I found that carrileros do exactly the same job except with the additional benefit of having "Stay Wider" hardcoded in. Again this instruction is important to keep the shape and adding some more additional cover on the flanks while freeing up the middle for my AMC and DLP. Unlike what you might expect, carrilero can be a good progressive midfielder going forward too. While they are not as aggressive as Mezzalas, they can basically make late forward runs ala BBM (especially if possessing appropriate PPMs). So Mikel is my prime choice for carrilero role. 

oyarzabal2.png.5b10617b34462ae9b8068a85c80e3c62.png

He could probably play just as well as my AMC or DLP or Central Striker or BPD even. Or any role in my formation for that matter. The only reason I would hesitate using him as IW on wing is his unfortunate lack of acceleration and pace. Well, you cannot have everything :lol: 

Actually, his universality is one reason that I am not training him with any new traits. Its best he stays my universal Swiss knife player that I can slot in anywhere in midfield or even defence at a moments notice.

So you get the idea. If I had 4 Oyarzabals for my Diamond then it would be ideal. But instead I possess four players of similar attributes albeit with their own unique skills and strengths. Oyarzabal's partner Mikel Merino was initially his perfect foil. Merino possessed more defensive aggressiveness and raw physical strength to compliment Oyarzabal's technique and mentals. But then Man United crashed our party and triggered Merino's release clause. To be honest I was resistant and angry at first (particularly when I could not match their offer of £155 000 per week). But then without that sale I probably wouldn't have my £ 85 million cash and no Dream Team. So at least have to be thankful to the bloody Devils for that. No hard feelings really. Hopefully Merino plays as well at Trafford as he did at Anoeta.

So in steps Olympiacos' Mady Camara. My Mikel Merino replacement and the first piece in the New Total Football Dream Team.

camara_goal_web-thumb-large.jpg.d5d80d581ec927c3d93ab0638ad513bb.jpg

I got to say Mady is a hell of a carrilero (and I am even training him as my future IWB too). In a way as Merino replacement, Camara does not lose any of the former defensive and technical abilities. But his physicals are a definite improvement. So welcome to the team Mady!

Mady.png.d1641f29555b006abfd043554fee05a8.png

 

Side Note on Total Football DNA

Before I go on with the other two roles, I just wanted to offer a little insight into my scouting requirements (and at same time little update on my Total Football DNA) Because the diamond is so essential, I am extra picky on who I play in the midfield. When searching through my shortlist, these are basically the attributes I filter for. The actual values are not as important since they will differ depending on your league and competition level. But generally for top leagues you don't want any of those below 12-13. Obviously if they are still young then you have more room to develop the attributes.

Attribs.png.e8e418638f7d5c4791bdf3522ae531b5.png

So I am rather proud that my team possesses 5 "Total Footballers" - 4 of them in our midfield diamond with all of the required values. The only other club in my database that currently has more Total Footballers is Liverpool (according to the above parameters). Not surprising really. 

Players.png.084ae5f78ec33f47b4cda97210dc2b34.png

 

AMC Role

Of course the individual strengths or traits of the player will still gravitate some "Total" players towards a specific position. While Oyarzabal can play any role in the formation and Mady can also be an excellent IWB, Marcos Antonio and Beltran (my other two Dream Team acquisitions) already have specific spots in the diamond. To help me decide, I generally look at the attributes and if they have better "attacking" ones such as Anticipation, Composure and Off The Ball then I put them higher up in AMC slot. 

This is Antonio's profile, and you can see that he is definitely my Attacking Midfielder. I think aside from Man City's Bernardo Silva I have not seen a young player under 23 who has similarly high mental attributes. He also becomes Real Sociedad's first player with "world-class" label. And still lots of room to develop his potential. I'm a little scared of what he can become in two years. But surely a fitting replacement for our aging icon David Silva. He even has similar traits to Silva. 

Marcos.png.045c17538382976076e077b4c68b2396.png

At this point I want to make a note on PPMs (or player traits). I am usually not one to use them needlessly, especially when the same player behavior can be coded by a simple Player or Team instruction. But some traits bring truly unique tendencies to players that cannot be manually coded. In Antonio's case the ones that I like for this reason are "Runs with Ball", "Comes Deep to Get Ball" and "Dictates Tempo". These will allow him to act more like a playmaker without designating his role as such. Especially "Dictates Tempo", there's no way to really instruct this manually. It simply gives player more creative freedom to control the passing length and tempo. Sometimes having very intelligent players with this trait is the kind of creative spark that is needed against defensive sides. Another one is "Comes Deep to Get Ball". Actually, I prefer my AMC to have this trait as it allows better link up with the rest of the diamond. Something that Shadow Striker definitely wasn't doing. Another trait that I think is mandatory for AMC is "Plays One-Twos". This is my all-important possession football trait. I will discuss it more in the future Forwards Role Update. But to give you a little preview, all of your front four need "One-Twos". For my carrileros the only real required trait would be "Arrives late in Area"

Deep-lying Playmaker (Defend)

Other than more creative freedom there is really no other difference between DLP(D) and Anchor. All of my players for this role are creative playmaker-types so I decided that Anchor role limited their creativity too much. But if you have a more defensive type then by all means play him as Anchor. Generally I am looking for players with best "defensive" attributes here such as Positioning, Tackling, Marking and Concentration. But if they are also very technical than the DLP(D) role will take the full advantage of their skillset. I do like to position my playmakers in deeper strata in possession tactics as it allows them better control of the game and much more passing options without having to deal with the opposition press all the time. Like in Cruyff's classic tactic, young Guardiola had the full lateral control of his deep midfield area. But at same time Cruyff did not want him moving vertically (unlike the CMs in front of him or the libero-like sole CB behind him). From his deeper position Guardiola could use his superb vision to pick out the right passes to midfielders in front of him. 

Again in terms of traits, we need to be careful here so as not to overdue it. Its definitely the case of less being better than more. Thus the popular "Tries Killer Balls often" trait might do more harm here than good. I want my DMC to act as a reliable link between our defensive trio and the rest of the midfield. Not to send Hollywood passes to the forwards all the time. In my opinion, the best combination of traits here would be "Dictates Tempo" again, "Stays back at all times" and maybe "Comes deep to get ball". Actually, Pep Guardiola's own choice for this all-important role at Barcelona was Sergio Busquets. And Sergio possesses perfect set of traits for it. Although "Dictates Tempo" could be even better than "Short Passing" to make the role unpredictable and better at creating dangerous plays. 

Busq.png.6e38a2e65b49ad1baccaa0ea73ea0287.png

 

And this is by the way my 1st choice DLP, Fran Beltran. The third Dream Team transfer and a former Vigo wonderkid. Also another versatile "Total Footballer" as he can easily fill carrilero role to give a break to Mady.

Fran.png.f92c5e677f7f71a310bb7ff10c8b6e37.png

It's really amazing how far £ 85 million can go. And that's not even all the players I acquired in that summer. I will try to show you the rest of Real Sociedad's Total Football Dream Team in the next update.

Edited by crusadertsar
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1 hour ago, gokalpcakir1 said:

has there been a Pl change in the last version ?

The only PIs in the formation are given to IWs. This is what it looks like for my Left IW who is always the more attacking one, sort of like a quasi-Inside Forward. The right one is more of a traditional IW with only Get Further Forward and Stay Wider. 

PIs.png.6847607d91aeb6bfe3f70043e94dd612.png

Edited by crusadertsar
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  • crusadertsar changed the title to Playing On The Edge: Dominating Possession with only one CB

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