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Help me analyse my two losses? Can't seem to beat English teams in the Champions League (PKMs attached)


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Made a 352, felt pretty good about myself. Won the league early in my 3rd season (34P 34W 2D 1L 95G 13C), then lost 0-3 on aggregate against Arsenal in the CL semis. Similarly, lost in the first knockout round last season against Chelsea.

For reference, this is the tactic. The only PI is for the left defensive winger to take more risks.

lineup.PNG.f89e65984199673530b9729f4d3fe934.PNG

I don't think I've changed any team instructions at all this whole season, except for increasing the LoE against a super deep team (twice, both against the same team). This is just because they were playing a deep 5-2-2-1 DMs and wingers, and the DMs were passing to themselves when they had the ball.

The other changes I've made are the roles:

  • Left midfielder from winger to defensive winger (permanent)
  • Swap the BPD from central defender to left side CD (permanent)
  • The DLF to a targetman (one game) when I couldn't transition forward

I've attached the two games I lost, as I can't seem to figure out what I could've done. I'm pretty wary of changing instructions, so I just tried putting different players in but it doesn't seem to work.

In the first game I tried putting Gosens, who usually plays left DW, on left CB to counter Bailey's speed, which worked against PSG in the first knockout round to shut down Mbappe. So I thought it would work again this time but failed. In the second game I just put my regular lineup, but nothing could get past Leno, and the CBs easily handled my players when they break past the line.

 I'm thinking I probably should make my RCB a BPD too, just to create more direct chances to the AF before they could drop deep. But everything sounds simpler in hindsight.

Appreciate any insights you can give! 

For reference, 0-2 was the first game, 0-1 was the 2nd game.

Lazio v Arsenal 0-1.pkm Arsenal v Lazio 0-2.pkm

Edited by backpocket
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In terms of roles and duties, it would make more sense IMO to swap around the positions of the AP and attacking mezzala, so that the AP would be behind the AF and the MEZ behind the DLF. 

Or even better - switch the mezzala's duty to support and the DLF's to attack (given the formation you are using).

Defense-wise, combining an aggressive manner of defending (high pressing urgency) with less-than-optimal compactness (the distance between DL & LOE) is always risky. 

Last but not least, playing both outer CBs on stopper duty in a 3-men backline and no DM can also prove more risky than necessary. Instead, I would have the outer CBs on defend duty and the central one as the stopper (due to the absence of a DM). Like this:

CDde     CDst      CDde

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In your game agains't Arsenal you had a real problem on the wings. Arsenal's fullbacks won many second balls and intercepted loose clearances because the defensive wingbacks were busy keeping an eye on the inside forwards. A second problem appeared when your defenisve wingers pressed insidewards, these left a huge gap on your wings that could be exploited with good diagonal balls. 1992049814_Problemonthewings.png.22da6ca37ad28d48d05f599195893de4.png

In this case, Smith Rowe had no trouble orienting himself and splitting your defense with a throughball to Martinelly. Gosens playing as a centreback found himself too high up the pitch at times, which created a hole on your defensive line for Jonathan David. If I were you I would either drop Ajer to a DMde position and role, or tweak your defensive line like so: BPDde-CDco-CD-de

You did not fare too bad on the ball but your centrebacks were too eager to send long passes to Esposito, which lead to unnecesary turnovers, Luiz Felipe was the worst offender in this regard. Adding play out of defence as an instruction might help you reduce this losses of possesion.

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2 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

In terms of roles and duties, it would make more sense IMO to swap around the positions of the AP and attacking mezzala, so that the AP would be behind the AF and the MEZ behind the DLF. 

Or even better - switch the mezzala's duty to support and the DLF's to attack (given the formation you are using).

This was how the tactic started actually! Mezzala behind the DLFs. But one issue I faced is that the play on both sides become predictable, and I had to play around with instructions depending on who I'm facing to create chances, which is tiring. A straight through ball was also easier to intercept by the defender and GK. So it was very vertical movements, which can work brilliantly but easily stopped.

But when I changed the DLFs to the same side as the APs, both on the left flank now, they both started combining and create unpredictable plays. On the right flank, I'll instead see the AF, Mezzala and winger combine higher upfield.

So basically I made one flank more possession based, another flank more direct. 

2 hours ago, Rosenkind said:

If I were you I would either drop Ajer to a DMde position and role, or tweak your defensive line like so: BPDde-CDco-CD-de

I tried this defender combination and it worked much better. I just realised that since I have my defensive wingers press high, my defenders don't have to step up. It's more important for them to hang back and intercept the diagonals.

2 hours ago, Rosenkind said:

You did not fare too bad on the ball but your centrebacks were too eager to send long passes to Esposito, which lead to unnecesary turnovers, Luiz Felipe was the worst offender in this regard. Adding play out of defence as an instruction might help you reduce this losses of possesion.

That's a good point. I relooked it again and I realised the reason he did it was because my right CM was a Mezzala who's both high AND wide. So now the mezzala and RW are easily covered as they're in the same spot, making the CBs passing options limited. Changing it to a CM on attack is actually better for this formation. I don't know why I never noticed this. :rolleyes:

Him originally being a Mezzala meant he couldn't get involved when play is on the left, as he's high on the right. And when the ball's on the right, he's like 2 feet ahead of the winger, who'll choose to pass to the AF because...why pass to someone who's 2 feet away? The only reason he scores for me at all is because of his late diagonal runs, but the rest of the game he's basically invisible. These two losses just exposed this huge flaw. I seriously feel so dumb for never noticing this.

I've also converted the right CB to a BPD on the right, so he can drive forward into the big space there.

Thanks for taking the time guys!

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