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A guide to defending like a real 442


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3 hours ago, nick1408 said:

I haven't noticed any issues with goalkeeper distribution. Did I mention it? Apologies if I did - I'm not seeing any issues.

no you didn't but distribute to TM seems broken and i usually play 442 at smaller clubs with a TM and can't rely on the GK to distribute to TM consistently. i was just wondering if its the same for you since we both play AF+TM

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I was wondering if you ever had any problems scoring goals or getting shots on target from your strikers. I feel like the strikers in this tactic are too defensive and don't move up high enough to create shots. Is there anything you would change to make this tactic more effective offensively?

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Hi @cocoadavid

That was very well written so thanks.

This was something I was already aware of, and as someone who likes to stay away from top teams, I reguarly use mid blocks and low blocks, it's super frustrating when you either have to choose sacrificing your attack or your defensive shape. 

I read the opening post a while ago and have only skimmed through the comments so sorry if this has been mentioned already. But I think that defending like a 'real' 442, or any formation for that matter, should be the game's default, rather than forcing you to bend over backwards to make players do the basics well. Such as strikers not hanging out by the halfway line and midfielders not vacating position.

I just opened a thread talking about this in the feature requests, so if you or anyone else are interested in sharing your thoughts, here's the link.

 

Edited by Jack722
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Thanks for this wonderful post! I am using it on FM19 and it works really well.

I was already using a 442 with very similar roles, duties and instructions. The idea was playing a solid midblock who counterattacks but had only 30% or 35% of possession. I was getting results but the system seemed a bit weak.

But with this tweaks and insights, wow. I understand a lot more about how defensive teams have to look. And I think the narrow + shorter passing + quick tempo gave me more possession numbers and more fluid build up.

I'm playing Espanyol en La Liga so the players are pretty average. But at mid season we are fighting against Atlético for the 1st spot.

I have obvious problems trying to open up matches or when I start losing but I think it is for a lack of personnel. (And my lack of understanding of the team instructions and their combinations, so I try to play very simple).

But I loved the post for its simplicity and it made me understand a lot about football. Thanks!

  

Edited by bosque
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What do you guys think about putting pass into space and less dribbling on? I realized that when that happens it creates a more faster counter attack and doesn't let the players idle too much with the ball. I'm trying to make the counter attack quicker and more direct 

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23 hours ago, Djeon36 said:

What do you guys think about putting pass into space and less dribbling on? I realized that when that happens it creates a more faster counter attack and doesn't let the players idle too much with the ball. I'm trying to make the counter attack quicker and more direct 

I came here just to post this! What a coincidence!

I've been using "less dribling" to great effect! Maybe start only with that, pass into space can be overkill, not much space especially if you're favorite!

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               DLFS

                 SS

IWA  DLPS  BWMS  WA

FBS     CB      CB      FBS

                 GK

Mentality: Positive

In possession : Play out of defence

In transition: Regroup, Counter

Out of possession: Force opposition outside, Lower line of engagement, Get stuck in, Use tighter marking and much less pressing 

I think the less pressing urgency is the key for the team to maintain the shape. The SS pushes up to form a 442 and he will go to whatever side the ball is at.

 

Edited by Nes1995
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  • 2 weeks later...
En 10/8/2021 a las 0:12, cocoadavid dijo:

Thanks, I really like how flexible you are with this approach, this is exactly how I intended my guide to help others.

One day I may write a longer post about attacking, I have some ideas about attacking movements, there are many possibilites, but it would definitely take some time to write that post with examples etc. But I'm happy to share my latest attacking approach.

In my recent save I used a TM - F9 combo in front, but the whole attacking movemens is built from the GK, first let me show you the tactic, and then I'm going to explain the thinking behind that.

THE TACTIC

napoli.png.1c61158e1dbab672f0a88fd27bb93149.png


FROM BACK TO FRONT

In this tactic I intend to build up my play mainly on the right side of the pitch, the TM is the key player here (altough there is also a way to goal on the left side).

  1. The GK passes the ball to my (usually right sided) BPD.
  2. Then there are usually two ways
    1. way A : the BPD passes the ball long the the TM. Then the TM, with his back to goal, passes the ball back to my running MEZ or right WM, and then they can either dribble or pass a through ball to my F9 who already makes a run behind the defence because he likes to try to beat the offside trap. Or my TM, instead of passing the ball back to the MEZ or WM, can also pass or flick the ball on to the F9 directly.
    2. way B: the BPD passes the ball to the right WM, who then drifts inside passes to the TM, who then passes to the MEZ, who then passes to the F9 or IW or FB on the left. What I like is that these passing patterns can happen really quickly.

The Attacking team mentality encourages the direct approach, encourages the F9 to make more forward runs and also encourages quicker passing.
On the left side of the pitch the F9 and IW can exchange passes and wait for the run of the overlapping fullback, or switch the play to the other flank to the running WM on the right side

 

Great job!!!
Could you share this tactic? I have tried to configure it in FMtouch and I do not get the indicated movements!
Thanks

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The tactic is becoming better and better as we rise in the leagues. Now I am in my second year in Bundesliga and I have much better players.

But I can’t train my forwards “gets forward whenever possible” why is that so? And are the PPMs “stays in the box” and “likes to beat offside trap” helpful, do you have experience with those?

thx Hanzi

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On 19/09/2021 at 09:28, blackmoix said:

Great job!!!
Could you share this tactic? I have tried to configure it in FMtouch and I do not get the indicated movements!
Thanks

Hi @blackmoix,

Thanks, please find the tactic below. Note that the indicated movements don't work all of the time, and your players should also have the right traits.

NAP TM.fmf

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20 hours ago, HanziZoloman said:

The tactic is becoming better and better as we rise in the leagues. Now I am in my second year in Bundesliga and I have much better players.

But I can’t train my forwards “gets forward whenever possible” why is that so? And are the PPMs “stays in the box” and “likes to beat offside trap” helpful, do you have experience with those?

thx Hanzi

Hi Hanzi,

I think the traits "gets forward whenever possible" and  "gets into opposition area" can only be learned if a player is also natural in a position other than ST. For example AM RLC or M RLC.
The "likes to beat offside trap" is definitely helpful in my experience. The "stays in the box" might be helpful, but I have no experience with that one.

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Am 22.9.2021 um 22:02 schrieb Djeon36:

Just wondering is it possible if I can still use overlap for a FB on support duty? Especially when the winger in front of him is W(attack)? 

 

If you are using overlap TI it will keep the wide MF player a little more back and the FB more attacking. 
If You have a W on your side there will not be much room for overlaps. I can only see it working if there is space to overlap in. Maybe if your winger has the cuts inside PPM. Try a WM instead or use underlap TI with a “wrong footed” FB like Philip Lahm with right foot on the left side.

 

there are so many options and the flexibility is amazing. At the moment I am keeping my head just above the line with Braunschweig in my second Bundesliga year. It’s relegation fight until the end. My strikers are not hitting anything and all (few) goals are from MF players. The point is with this tactic, that my team is very hard to break down.

Now two of my strikers had developed “break offside trap” and it really helps with forward runs. With an AT striker the compactness is not like with two suppies.

Edited by HanziZoloman
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On 10/08/2021 at 23:13, nick1408 said:

image.png.caa2e4371f3e74c8962b913a8c548ec4.png

And just like that I have my best win of the season. Swapped out an inform Skhiri for Branthwaite to add some extra body in the midfield and it worked a treat. Tactic was also adjusted to my it's gone to poo adjustment prior to the match as Bayern Munich are just way too good for my side.

Using this tweak with my torino save.  Battling for top 4.  Love the tweak.  Love the defensive OP aspects of tactic.  For your tweak, what adjustments fo you make to "see the game out"?

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4 hours ago, ta11zx said:

Using this tweak with my torino save.  Battling for top 4.  Love the tweak.  Love the defensive OP aspects of tactic.  For your tweak, what adjustments fo you make to "see the game out"?

I can't remember to be honest but at 2-0 up I probably made no changes. I don't see any danger when two goals ahead.

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Hey Guys,

this is absolutely fascinating @nick1408 and I will consider it too. We are always playing well against the big guys in Bundesliga but still lose by a stupid goal. It’s impressive how you put Köln in the spotlight. 
I have a similar striker to yours, good physics good mentals but nothing special. Marco Tumminello, he is my captain and I want to get him going but I’m failing all the way. 
I am not well with an AF because the def shape is really important for me (expect to finish 18th).

Tuminello is a true PF with poaching class (otb:14/ finish: 14) he lacks dribbling (10) and passing (10) but got vision.

i play him as F9 but that is worth only for movement he is not getting g involved into play. Would you play a player like him as CFs?

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4 minutes ago, HanziZoloman said:

Hey Guys,

this is absolutely fascinating @nick1408 and I will consider it too. We are always playing well against the big guys in Bundesliga but still lose by a stupid goal. It’s impressive how you put Köln in the spotlight. 
I have a similar striker to yours, good physics good mentals but nothing special. Marco Tumminello, he is my captain and I want to get him going but I’m failing all the way. 
I am not well with an AF because the def shape is really important for me (expect to finish 18th).

Tuminello is a true PF with poaching class (otb:14/ finish: 14) he lacks dribbling (10) and passing (10) but got vision.

i play him as F9 but that is worth only for movement he is not getting g involved into play. Would you play a player like him as CFs?

Personally, I'd be using him as an AF but that isn't what you want. Beyond that, I'd only be guessing, sorry.

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vor einer Stunde schrieb nick1408:

Can you expand your question a bit more please? I'm not sure how to answer.

Of course, I’d like to know, how you’re movement and passing brings the AF into his scoring positions? He scored a good amount of goals despite being a super striker. Is he converting flick ons from the TM or is he the final player on the break and how is the interplay of your roles/ duties. Because I had tried Tuminello as AF without success.

you play a higher DL with Mere and Bornauw which aren’t that quick (are they?). I see you winning the ball midblock and countering with your quick Wa a cross to TM and a flick on your AF, really direct play. Or your BWM who is some sort of playmaker, winning the ball and playing it through the lines on your AF or TM (who again flicks it). He is the perfect player (Dies he have some standout attributes or is he just well rounded, which PPM does he have?)

On the left you have Kainz who is quick and can cross a ball or play it through. Your WBa can cross it early on the break.

Skihri isn’t that good in tackling is he? 

Edited by HanziZoloman
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I'll preface this with I'm well past the first season so some of the information may not be quite right. I'll answer this in order of what I consider easiest:

30 minutes ago, HanziZoloman said:

Skihri isn’t that good in tackling is he? 

Tackling isn't a huge priority. In fact, tackling and marking are bonus attributes for me. I need him to act like an aggressive box-to-box midfielder so I do like some sort of positioning. After Skihri (who I sold after one season) I moved to Ryan Gauld and Eduardo Camavinga*. Ignoring Camavinga, Gauld is a very similar player to Skihri but not as strong. After I lost Camavinga to Liverpool I used that £111m to buy Jude Bellingham from Dortmund. The key to my Bellingham decision was his PPM's of Gets into opposition area and Gets forward whenever possible. Arguably Bellingham is the weakest of the players I have had play here but his aggressive movement and better attacking attributes has lead me to feel he is the best BWM for this tactic I have used. I also like good off the ball movement too.

*Camavinga wasn't really aimed for. I had gotten Gauld for free to play the BWM but Camavinga became available in the same window so Gauld unfortunately slipped to second preference in the same position.

 

57 minutes ago, HanziZoloman said:

you play a higher DL with Mere and Bornauw which aren’t that quick (are they?). 

Bornauw has 13 accelleration and 16 pace. Not too shabby. Mere is a bit slower but nothing that concerned me.

1 hour ago, HanziZoloman said:

I see you winning the ball midblock and countering with your quick Wa a cross to TM and a flick on your AF, really direct play. Or your BWM who is some sort of playmaker, winning the ball and playing it through the lines on your AF or TM (who again flicks it). He is the perfect player (Dies he have some standout attributes or is he just well rounded, which PPM does he have?)

A lot of countering in the first season. AF ran onto balls in front of him. When Thielmann developed the likes ball played to feet trait this dried up. Across the midfield the assists (from left to right) were 10, 5, 4, 7 (starters only) so the winger provides the most but it is fairly evenly spread. The starting full backs also provided 9 assists between them too.

I've moved the TM on in the last window but his attributes are as follows:

image.png.6712ca69449c4eff2e1ceacf894ffef0.png

He had Plays with back to goal but I'm not sure if I had comes deep to get ball or not.

image.thumb.png.4388336e2ebf363506b0f9a3c9779448.png

After the highlighted row he became the backup so goals and assists dropped off.

1 hour ago, HanziZoloman said:

On the left you have Kainz who is quick and can cross a ball or play it through. Your WBa can cross it early on the break.

Kainz was the IW and was a really good player for the one season I kept him:

image.thumb.png.b4b03b68088501234d56007f9f528f8a.png

I could have kept him but I moved from right footed players to left footed players so he was forced out.

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That’s great, especially what you told about Skihri and followers. I have David Kinsombi New in the squad and he could be played similar. 
my defenders are both quicker than yours so maybe I move them up. Against the bigger sides you did the Shikiri tweak, replacing him with a natural CD but you still hold on the 442? 

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26 minutes ago, HanziZoloman said:

That’s great, especially what you told about Skihri and followers. I have David Kinsombi New in the squad and he could be played similar. 
my defenders are both quicker than yours so maybe I move them up. Against the bigger sides you did the Shikiri tweak, replacing him with a natural CD but you still hold on the 442? 

Technically yes but Branthwaite isn't a natural CB in my opinion. His attributes lean towards being a mix between a BPD and a BM:

image.png.31d0f2b31dfa0ec8f45a43faf1d8aa2d.png

image.png.d83a29355ed059be6b08327db085d06c.png

This is what I would consider a typical centreback and I wouldn't use him as a BWM:

image.png.bf744ab29e8ed050c51143b48ca72201.png

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1 minute ago, HanziZoloman said:

Wow! Nice! I have a similar player with Nahan Kenneh but play him CD because he is the only left footer...

I really don't care what foot my CB's and MC's use. Even strikers I only consider it for a fleeting moment. I generally pick a few things that are important to me. Footedness only comes into consideration for wings and full backs.

 

If you are only using Kenneh as a CB because he is left footed you may be limiting yourself from potential key players (or even worse, unlock some sort of tactical movement you like).

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This tactic seems to be really good. I went on a 9 games not winning streak, and i had like 8 losses and 4 wins total in the season. After i replicated and suited more to my own players, i now have 7 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses (Milan,Roma) in my last 10 games. 

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On 30/09/2021 at 02:52, nick1408 said:

I can't remember to be honest but at 2-0 up I probably made no changes. I don't see any danger when two goals ahead.

I change to regroup and lowered the defensive line by 1 to see the game out.  so far its worked decently. 

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This looks super interesting! 

 

A bit of a more generic question RE: the front 2, but I was wondering how important/effective the TM is. Is it extremely important in setting up in this defensive 442 or should any support duty forwards be good, given the appropriate attributes and player.

Was also curious whether the TM being used are pure Target men e.g. big beefy boys with good heading, or simply a player role used as the focal point of distribution.

 

Finally, I was wondering about the best role to shoe-horn natural AF/a into, as most of the strikers i have bought into the club have been in that mould (Athletic with the 'holy trinity', OTB and Ant)

Happy to provide any necessary screencaps and appreciate the help :)

Edited by elohzza
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  • 3 weeks later...

Having seen the new FM22 livestream, it seems as though defending deep is going to be much easier and realistic this year! It looks as though the attacking forwards help more to block off passing lanes into midfield while a CMd paired with a CMs will roughly stay more in line with each other.

So hopefully in FM22 we can just set up a 442 in the way we'd like to attack, and the defence should take care of itself. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 18/10/2021 at 10:37, Jack722 said:

Having seen the new FM22 livestream, it seems as though defending deep is going to be much easier and realistic this year! It looks as though the attacking forwards help more to block off passing lanes into midfield while a CMd paired with a CMs will roughly stay more in line with each other.

So hopefully in FM22 we can just set up a 442 in the way we'd like to attack, and the defence should take care of itself. 

Is that anyone else's experience of the beta- do we still need both CMs on Support duty to defend in a flat line of four?

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2 hours ago, redmisty said:

Hi Cocoadavid

Having real difficulties with adapting the tactic to fm22. Any tips about what adjustments are needed? Seems like its harder.

Hi @redmisty

I haven't bought FM22 yet, so unfortunately I don't know what adjusments are needed at the moment. I plan to update this thread if I buy FM22.

But at the moment I am not 100% sure that I'll be buying it. Reading the feedback thread of the beta, I am not convinced of the FM22 ME yet. I have seen too many complaints about lack of central play, IFs and IWs not cutting inside, overpowered headers and CBs scoring 20+ goals a season. All of these issues have been acknowledged by FM. I'll only buy FM22 if these issues are sorted out.

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I am using some parts of your tactic with FM22. This is due to using it in FM21 to build up my teams from academies as I rarely play other system than 442. Usually with FM21 I was able to play this system well before the end of first season as a secondary tactic. It wasn't the case with FM22 and I needed much more time.

I played 2 and half seasons so far and tried various approaches. What I like most to your system is the opposition instructions and I also draw inspiration from this post about quick transition. Additionally to your defensive approach I use for quick transition positive mentality, regroup (most of the time) and pass into space because very good passing and traits of players available.

What I learned in this time playing is that, of course, you have to have the players able to play this way. My club (FC Arges, Romania Liga I) did not had the player for a 442 but for a 4231 (e.g. natural at AML or AMR which were bad at defending) and I know this team very well, I mainly played with it in FM21. So I tried to change the system during the season and didn't go well. I was fired twice and re-started twice because I was forcing a tactic that did not suited my players.

At the 3rd save I planned better, I got some players to retrain and once I've made it to play off I switched to 442 with mixed results, one small win, one heavy defeat but finally toward the end of the season it started to click against big teams as well. I also looked into training and tried to adapt it to the requirement. Now in the second season and I'm constantly top 3-5 although the level of my team is probably 7 to 10 place in league.

What I observed so far:

- one may need more variation with tactics to use that 442 block, I had to adapt pressing of regroup to various opponents. 

- also variation of block LoE or defense line should be considered for different situations.
- CDs are annoying, they sometime fail to pass even when have 2 options in midfield. even BPDs have issues so I think it may be a bug which will be solved (it was reported a lot)

- counter attack is harder to play and although I had an experienced and good DLF, it didn't help; I managed to make it work with a False Nine who works wonders with IWs on attack; I usually put them on same side

- the fact that ME seem to make strikers go wider when in counter certainly do not help but I managed to replicate FM21 plays staying narrower. 

So the system as described in your initial post works fine for FM22 even with the issues reported. 

 

 

Edited by CharlieTZR
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On 31/10/2021 at 21:05, cocoadavid said:

Hi @redmisty

I haven't bought FM22 yet, so unfortunately I don't know what adjusments are needed at the moment. I plan to update this thread if I buy FM22.

But at the moment I am not 100% sure that I'll be buying it. Reading the feedback thread of the beta, I am not convinced of the FM22 ME yet. I have seen too many complaints about lack of central play, IFs and IWs not cutting inside, overpowered headers and CBs scoring 20+ goals a season. All of these issues have been acknowledged by FM. I'll only buy FM22 if these issues are sorted out.

Thanks anyway- understood!

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  • 1 month later...

Just finished a season using these principles as my main base. @cocoadavid first of all, thank you very much for a very detailed writeup and follow-ups in this thread, I personally like how you built and presented the system as a sort of identify the mechanisms first approach, i.e. that you have specific plays and squad that suit the playstyle, then built the roles and the tactic. Also a big fan of the default positional OIs you set.

 

FM22 engine is a bit different than last years, namely the winger positions are the main bug so far. They are a huge thing though as IW/IF roles do not act accordingly so you need to resort to W or WM alternatives. I chose Livingston as my starting point, media prediction is 10th place out of 12 in the Scottish Prem, no summer transfers, and brought in just one player in the winter. In the end I can say we were robbed of 3rd place. Used this tactic year-long so the core principles definitely work for an underdog team as well. Huge note before I give more details - as you already mentioned, this is far from a plug and play tactic. You need to alter it to your players and what you have on your disposal.

 

General notes

- for weaker sides, an AFa will be much more helpful than a CFs. Yes you lose a quarter of that mid block and it turns your front two to a x-1-1 shape (regardless of AFa manmark instructions) but the player is more efficient in attack phases. Without the proper PIs (managed to teach my striker beats offside trap, but gets into opposition area wasn't on the list), any support striker will not perform as expected. I actually started the season with SSa-TMs combo, but it did not prove good at this level at least.

- striker duo scored majority of my goals: 28 in 44 from my AFa, and 17 and 45 from my TMs. The others didn't contribute too much although my wingers aren't that good so that might be one reason - will test out other winger combos in future saves. AFa Anderson won top scorer (although exceeding his xG) with 11 goals difference. 

- the setup itself is very straightforward but it's not too easy to counter. 442 as cocoadavid mentioned positionally counters the usual 4231 or 433DM formations, and was very efficient vs 5 ATB:

image.png.c044db38dd5dcbaa3ee3163240fda708.png

- my midfield was usually DLPs-MEZs combo, reverting to BWMs against stronger sides or when securing the lead (along other changes). Neither of them ended in top 10 by rating (actually all my MCs were all at the bottom when sorting by AVR, so might be a rating issue perhaps. But they did not contribute at all when looking at final stats: BWM/MEZs Omeonga had 1g+1a in 41 games, and DLPs Benson 0g+3a in 19 (player used after the break), 1g+3a in 28 (before the break). Again might be due to the fact that they have ok stats, 11s, 12s all around, but do not excel in any area. Also this was one of the very few saves I've played the whole season with no one in central midfield having marking/tackling above 10. So will look for a team with a more polarized mid duo next time instead of two all-rounders.

- NCB Obileye was rated #1 (191cm, 17 jumping, 14 heading, rest is below average) so took a LOT of headers), GK very high too. Disappointed in MR Forrest, he had just 1 goal from open play in the Prem, with 7 assists. Expected much more here. ML Lewis nothing better either, again might be due to the MLR ME issues, but my standard wingers had most key passes on average so definitely not useless, just lacking contributions (left mid = red, right = blue):

image.png.6956f12c0268d42c1aaf0716844f2ea5.png

- special mention to my TMs Hamilton who is again, just an average striker, far from Nisbet or Celtic/Rangers front force, but was very consistent and is 2nd in league by #shots/90 at 4.57. Biggest disappointment was probably my FBa/CWBs at the right, Devlin, just five assists and one of the worst ratings won't cut it. 

- overall squad rating and stats below, no other outliers.

image.thumb.png.e9fad3131c586da931a0b14ef60ee069.png

 

Tactical changes

- vs narrow front 3 formations (e.g. 41212 AM-ST trio), I dropped my MCs to DM strata, otherwise the opposing AM will roam free. Worked very good.

- vs more defensive teams I switched my FB(a) to CWB(s) to provide one more option at all times

- BPD+NCB work fine, I had the NCB to cover for half of season to try and counter balls over the defense but did not notice any difference. Through balls were the most often assist type, this might be the outcome of not having a dedicated DM or just an engine thing.

- used direct passing vs some stronger teams (not just Celtic/Rangers, also vs Hibs)

- a lot of minor tweaks during the match depending on the score, opponent, minute etc., but usually one-click changes in tempo (normal-higher), passing (shorter-direct), pressing line/LoE (standard/low-high/standard)

- the core of the tactic stayed the same, but mentality ranged from defensive (for Rangers/Celtic only) to positive, usually either balanced or positive. So more or less this was it:

image.png.0eaa65d5c4f4bb543cf5fcd44e662747.png

- vs the big two which are by far the strongest teams, I opted for a variation of the original tactic (but thought of that only after I lost 7-2 and 4-0...). I might use this for away games vs stronger teams in my next save as well as it proved good.

  • more defensive roles: two FBs, mid duo BWMs and DLPs
  • defensive mentality
  • more direct passing
  • frequent time wasting
  • regroup

Nothing to write home about, but a few ok results here, with xGs not being one-sided as they should in these games. Won vs Rangers away with 30% possession, but more shots on target then them even though they had four times more total shots. 5 of them were blocked, 6 were long shots. Got lucky but you need luck and a strong GK away to Celtic or Rangers in this league.

image.png.5d427264a6124a1d984d879c2c170665.pngimage.png.33ba1bb0facd80b0b5975fdf03ec3db6.pngimage.png.207b52a19f7040b3ff47df465a8f37c8.pngimage.png.fb1b4ce5e4bc763e2f7a89af8d368899.png

Results

The first month of in-game time was abysmal - after defeating lower league opponents in the League Cup group stages, a season opener to Rangers away ended 7-2 with my key defender getting 5.2 and a red card in the end. This was still the SS(a) phase and I started with balanced mentality I think. We were rising up the table, ending 5th before the break in January. After that we had 6 wins out of 7 in row, including 2-0 to Rangers and 1-0 Hibs away. So was at 3rd place before the split after 33 rounds with I think 6 points safe from Hearts, and the standard 20+ less than top two. But in the championship round I lost all five. It was a period of bad luck and weak form where nothing went our way. Lost opener to Motherwell, who were my black cat this season alongside Hearts; I won just one of 5 vs Motherwell, and they eliminated me from the Cup in QF but we had bigger or around the same xG numbers in all 5) and the draw gave us Celtic and Rangers at home, but away games to all teams chasing behind me. Lost the last one away to Hearts 1-0, if we won we would have ended up 3rd but it wasn't meant to be.

image.thumb.png.8de6140714d42a73c11bf7dea9059fce.png

image.png.339709406df0c66632dac8f531c2bad7.png

So in the end 5th spot for a 10th place predicted team is not bad at all. Combine it with the fact I was 3rd for almost half the season means even more. We were 3rd by goals scored (and joint 3rd by xG), all the while having 3rd cheapest team in the league. And the cheapest two ended up getting relegated. Some stats showing the low-block in action, we gain possession in our half almost exclusively. We had very low numbers of dribbles and fouled against numbers which is again due to combo of being a direct counter team vs stronger teams, or playing a shorter passing game vs weaker sides, plus not having anyone with pace > 13 either. I assume having a pacey winger would change this a bit.

image.thumb.png.fcd56f279ebc93613ee959fdb7bb588a.png

image.png.e7c58b6c701fc49c9d7d46169d61caa7.png

 

Conclusion

Core principles of 442 defending still work perfectly fine. Approach from the opening post can be applied to FM22 too. For weaker teams opt for AFa and go with CFs only if you have positive PPMs, otherwise they will be too defensive. In-game tweaks necessary.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've played one more season with 4-4-2 base so a short overview to follow. First disclaimer - yes, the level of football in this save is very poor, and this formation + direct football is what usually works in the Vanarama. So partially it was bound to be good.

For this test I took over Guiseley form Vanarama North, English 6th tier. Rather than making this a season review (as this topic is definitely not appropriate for that), I would focus on several points noticed from two seasons of playing this style (the other being Livingston from the above post). As an intro, I'll just leave a few notes:

- Guiseley were predicted to end up 15th at start of game, and has the cheapest team in the league when looking at wage costs

- no transfers in first window, brought in three players total in winter: a first-choice GK since they start with awfully bad two goalies that conceded long shots regularly, a hard-working MC, and a striker which I'll turn to ML but one I brought in a month before season end

 

Tactic

Core stayed the same as with Livingston. Flat 4-4-2, roles pretty much unchanged. Same advice goes for striker duo, stick to AFa in lower levels, but both had PI to mark MCl/r positions, or DM if the opposition played with one. CM duo was still DLPs+BWMs, switched to W(a) on both wings (more on that later), in the back slower wingback was FBd, other one was FBs. Same adjustments when needed with BMWs becoming MEZs or B2B when chasing a result.

But added a few playstyle changes:

- on the left is the standard home game first half hour, on the right is the switch I would usually make after that time, or when playing away

image.png.4dd34ef392535a706e473eb9594e9540.pngimage.png.e75926027e18ca64f50b991cc409af29.png

- notable differences compared to Livingston were much more direct passing (before it was shorter), and a more aggressive entrance to the game with counter+prevent short distribution. By much more direct passing I opted for @engamohd's approach as seen in this thread, with a difference that this was more often hoofball than not. As seen I've also added the play from defense TI to limit long balls when there's a player free

- other than that, I think everything else stayed the same. Play for set pieces was added as my team had two CBs+TMs+FBs all 190cm+ and good in the air so why not.

When it comes to traits, they can help but you should be selective, and it depends on the level you're playing at. My target is something like this:

DLP - dictates tempo, comes deep to get the ball

BWM/B2B/MEZ - switches ball to other flank, and I used gets forward whenever possible on my quick BWMs to have him more active up front while not changing his defense-first role

W - depends on what you want to achieve. For a IF/IW, use a left footed player on the right, add cuts inside trait. Naturally, gets forward whenever possible, runs with ball often and knocks ball past opponent work here too.

TM - plays with back to goal

AF - gets forward, likes to beat offside trap.

 

Strikers efficiency

Probably the most obvious one. Even though I'm playing most of my games on positive or balanced, flipping between them during the match, I still managed to score 90 in 44 (2.05 per game), leaving Gateshead at 71 goals. Striker duo this year was TM(s) Thompson paired with AF(a) Thewlis. They're both nothing out of the ordinary for this level, but have performed fantastic. We have most xG (80.37), most CCC created (167, 26 more than the champions), most shots per game (18.59) and probably rank first in several other categories. So you will see goals using this tactic. Apart from the strikers, Kaine Felix, ST who I turned to MR at start of the season, scored 14 on the wing and from penalties. Those three were the most consistent scorers.

image.png.f351c21064963e875624c596aa16b32e.png

You should note that because you're essentially playing only with your 2-3 backline players on defense duties, you won't have much games without conceding a goal or two. 55 goals conceded to only 25 from league leaders is average at best. Below you can see how we scored and assisted. The more aggressive start definitely adds to the tally, most goals were scored in first 30mins. Assists from own half and from deeper areas were joint first which is the result of much more direct passing. So all expected on that end as well.

image.png.1cf98c9428a922559ef44682c0f2e478.pngimage.png.39f3d04dca943f9f95a753f52370f331.png

 

Wingers first

I noticed that the only way to have LM and RM dangerous on the ball is to have them both to W(a). IF/IW roles have bleak runs with ball, and having WMs is too passive on the counter. If you want to achieve a IF on this FM so far, use a right footed W(a) on the left and vice-versa, there is no other way, at least for me. This is of course a known bug right now so other roles may become viable after another patch. 

 

DM strata vs stronger teams

Emphasizing this point once again as it worked very well, especially in the final stages of the season. In Livingston I'd drop the MC duo to DC strata vs 3 up front formations such as 4-1-2-1-2. However I tested this versus stronger teams and it gave me a bit more defensive security. I will try to play it more often next season. When having them at DM, I sometimes opted for VOLs over DLPs, but noticed the player would not drop deep enough to carry the ball from the back. 

 

Varying mentality

Continuing @cocoadavid's point from this thread where he describes mentality switches throughout the game (comment link). I used something alike, a little less min-maxey, and simply started more aggressive, then paused back around 20-25min mark, and went to a more balanced approach as seen on one of the tactic images above. It worked very well as seen above, as we took the lead much much more often with the goals breakdown being:

1st-15th minute: 16 for, 4 against

15-30: 19:11

30-45: 16:7

45-60: 13:10

60-75: 12:10

75-90: 10:11

image.png.6b6542dfd9cbc5a51d89b94afacf08cf.png

One of the goals for next season is to develop a time wasting tactic for closing down games, an approach that I had on FM21 too, also based on a flat 442.

 

Importance of set-pieces

We don't have the best physical attributes in the league. Our average height is 183cm (rank 5th), and we rank 16th in jumping with an average of just 9.10. However you only need to have 3 good jumpers in the squad to have positive outcomes from set pieces.

We scored 12 goals from corners (1st), while conceding just 3 (5th). Up front I had two routines, a near and far post one:

image.png.e1644aadc7b4af5e76969510d900d213.png image.png.2e1bd296f1e64e500772820102b648e4.png

Both were efficient. As stated previously, all my defenders were tall and strong (CDs 199cm/194cm), and I had a TMs at 194cm as well as a relatively tall DL at 188cm. So naturally the four would go up front, the rest stays back. Jake Hull scored 7 as he was my main target for far post, and I know a chunk of TFs Thompson's 30 goals were from corners as well. 

For defensive corners and free kicks, the idea stayed the same. Partially used @Rashidi's idea from FM21, can be seen here. The point is to win the first duel or be prepared for the second one, and always have two or more aggressive, pacey players ready for the counter. Take some time to do this as it will give you few more wins, it's worth it. It might not be the best strategy out there, but it's better than leaving it at default especially for defensive set-pieces, where I found far post crosses overpowered when left untouched. That's why for deep/wide FKs I have the cavalry marking the goal box.

image.png.aabbaf3ec86f288efaa975c0f016b24a.png image.png.8ce793c59305ab721bf41f6d8fdb1ebe.png

 

Closing words

From last save, I tested a slightly more aggressive approach, but still well in the counter-attacking area. Wingers have been an issue in this save as well, mostly due to Guiseley not having any proper ones at the beginning. Slow LM and a backup-level RM were far too little. That's why I transformed Felix to RM and kept the slow one on the left but used the quick BWM there sometimes. Some overview stats below:

image.png.eb48b5646ec4e155801ee3774c689134.png

 

Goals for next season:

- test out DM strata BWM+VOL more often

- focus on a closing down the game tactic

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have read this from front to back today and now I’m implementing this for my Juventus squad. First game playing the OP tactic I won 5-2 against PSV in a CL match. Last 15 minutes I used the cautious version. Conceded one but scored one 5 minutes later. Will test it a bit more but it looks promising!

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Am 13.12.2021 um 12:37 schrieb TIR669:

Just finished a season using these principles as my main base. @cocoadavid first of all, thank you very much for a very detailed writeup and follow-ups in this thread, I personally like how you built and presented the system as a sort of identify the mechanisms first approach, i.e. that you have specific plays and squad that suit the playstyle, then built the roles and the tactic. Also a big fan of the default positional OIs you set.

 

FM22 engine is a bit different than last years, namely the winger positions are the main bug so far. They are a huge thing though as IW/IF roles do not act accordingly so you need to resort to W or WM alternatives. I chose Livingston as my starting point, media prediction is 10th place out of 12 in the Scottish Prem, no summer transfers, and brought in just one player in the winter. In the end I can say we were robbed of 3rd place. Used this tactic year-long so the core principles definitely work for an underdog team as well. Huge note before I give more details - as you already mentioned, this is far from a plug and play tactic. You need to alter it to your players and what you have on your disposal.

 

General notes

- for weaker sides, an AFa will be much more helpful than a CFs. Yes you lose a quarter of that mid block and it turns your front two to a x-1-1 shape (regardless of AFa manmark instructions) but the player is more efficient in attack phases. Without the proper PIs (managed to teach my striker beats offside trap, but gets into opposition area wasn't on the list), any support striker will not perform as expected. I actually started the season with SSa-TMs combo, but it did not prove good at this level at least.

- striker duo scored majority of my goals: 28 in 44 from my AFa, and 17 and 45 from my TMs. The others didn't contribute too much although my wingers aren't that good so that might be one reason - will test out other winger combos in future saves. AFa Anderson won top scorer (although exceeding his xG) with 11 goals difference. 

- the setup itself is very straightforward but it's not too easy to counter. 442 as cocoadavid mentioned positionally counters the usual 4231 or 433DM formations, and was very efficient vs 5 ATB:

image.png.c044db38dd5dcbaa3ee3163240fda708.png

- my midfield was usually DLPs-MEZs combo, reverting to BWMs against stronger sides or when securing the lead (along other changes). Neither of them ended in top 10 by rating (actually all my MCs were all at the bottom when sorting by AVR, so might be a rating issue perhaps. But they did not contribute at all when looking at final stats: BWM/MEZs Omeonga had 1g+1a in 41 games, and DLPs Benson 0g+3a in 19 (player used after the break), 1g+3a in 28 (before the break). Again might be due to the fact that they have ok stats, 11s, 12s all around, but do not excel in any area. Also this was one of the very few saves I've played the whole season with no one in central midfield having marking/tackling above 10. So will look for a team with a more polarized mid duo next time instead of two all-rounders.

- NCB Obileye was rated #1 (191cm, 17 jumping, 14 heading, rest is below average) so took a LOT of headers), GK very high too. Disappointed in MR Forrest, he had just 1 goal from open play in the Prem, with 7 assists. Expected much more here. ML Lewis nothing better either, again might be due to the MLR ME issues, but my standard wingers had most key passes on average so definitely not useless, just lacking contributions (left mid = red, right = blue):

image.png.6956f12c0268d42c1aaf0716844f2ea5.png

- special mention to my TMs Hamilton who is again, just an average striker, far from Nisbet or Celtic/Rangers front force, but was very consistent and is 2nd in league by #shots/90 at 4.57. Biggest disappointment was probably my FBa/CWBs at the right, Devlin, just five assists and one of the worst ratings won't cut it. 

- overall squad rating and stats below, no other outliers.

image.thumb.png.e9fad3131c586da931a0b14ef60ee069.png

 

Tactical changes

- vs narrow front 3 formations (e.g. 41212 AM-ST trio), I dropped my MCs to DM strata, otherwise the opposing AM will roam free. Worked very good.

- vs more defensive teams I switched my FB(a) to CWB(s) to provide one more option at all times

- BPD+NCB work fine, I had the NCB to cover for half of season to try and counter balls over the defense but did not notice any difference. Through balls were the most often assist type, this might be the outcome of not having a dedicated DM or just an engine thing.

- used direct passing vs some stronger teams (not just Celtic/Rangers, also vs Hibs)

- a lot of minor tweaks during the match depending on the score, opponent, minute etc., but usually one-click changes in tempo (normal-higher), passing (shorter-direct), pressing line/LoE (standard/low-high/standard)

- the core of the tactic stayed the same, but mentality ranged from defensive (for Rangers/Celtic only) to positive, usually either balanced or positive. So more or less this was it:

image.png.0eaa65d5c4f4bb543cf5fcd44e662747.png

- vs the big two which are by far the strongest teams, I opted for a variation of the original tactic (but thought of that only after I lost 7-2 and 4-0...). I might use this for away games vs stronger teams in my next save as well as it proved good.

  • more defensive roles: two FBs, mid duo BWMs and DLPs
  • defensive mentality
  • more direct passing
  • frequent time wasting
  • regroup

Nothing to write home about, but a few ok results here, with xGs not being one-sided as they should in these games. Won vs Rangers away with 30% possession, but more shots on target then them even though they had four times more total shots. 5 of them were blocked, 6 were long shots. Got lucky but you need luck and a strong GK away to Celtic or Rangers in this league.

image.png.5d427264a6124a1d984d879c2c170665.pngimage.png.33ba1bb0facd80b0b5975fdf03ec3db6.pngimage.png.207b52a19f7040b3ff47df465a8f37c8.pngimage.png.fb1b4ce5e4bc763e2f7a89af8d368899.png

Results

The first month of in-game time was abysmal - after defeating lower league opponents in the League Cup group stages, a season opener to Rangers away ended 7-2 with my key defender getting 5.2 and a red card in the end. This was still the SS(a) phase and I started with balanced mentality I think. We were rising up the table, ending 5th before the break in January. After that we had 6 wins out of 7 in row, including 2-0 to Rangers and 1-0 Hibs away. So was at 3rd place before the split after 33 rounds with I think 6 points safe from Hearts, and the standard 20+ less than top two. But in the championship round I lost all five. It was a period of bad luck and weak form where nothing went our way. Lost opener to Motherwell, who were my black cat this season alongside Hearts; I won just one of 5 vs Motherwell, and they eliminated me from the Cup in QF but we had bigger or around the same xG numbers in all 5) and the draw gave us Celtic and Rangers at home, but away games to all teams chasing behind me. Lost the last one away to Hearts 1-0, if we won we would have ended up 3rd but it wasn't meant to be.

image.thumb.png.8de6140714d42a73c11bf7dea9059fce.png

image.png.339709406df0c66632dac8f531c2bad7.png

So in the end 5th spot for a 10th place predicted team is not bad at all. Combine it with the fact I was 3rd for almost half the season means even more. We were 3rd by goals scored (and joint 3rd by xG), all the while having 3rd cheapest team in the league. And the cheapest two ended up getting relegated. Some stats showing the low-block in action, we gain possession in our half almost exclusively. We had very low numbers of dribbles and fouled against numbers which is again due to combo of being a direct counter team vs stronger teams, or playing a shorter passing game vs weaker sides, plus not having anyone with pace > 13 either. I assume having a pacey winger would change this a bit.

image.thumb.png.fcd56f279ebc93613ee959fdb7bb588a.png

image.png.e7c58b6c701fc49c9d7d46169d61caa7.png

 

Conclusion

Core principles of 442 defending still work perfectly fine. Approach from the opening post can be applied to FM22 too. For weaker teams opt for AFa and go with CFs only if you have positive PPMs, otherwise they will be too defensive. In-game tweaks necessary.

Nice work! Inspiring!

Especially as this is a very important read for all beginners and the ones who want to climb the leagues. 

I had relied on much of it too in my Kaiserslautern save (FM20). Your stuff is focussing on LLM which I like the most. 

Noticed this Adam Lewis which I am playing on the left still in Bundesliga. Nice lad and good player, curls ball trait is very good for corners and free kicks. I had a TMs / CFs partnership up front with both trying to beat the offside trap. I reached promotion in every league but was far from playing as good as you or the OP. 

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Some excellent info in this thread. 4-4-2 as a defensive shape for zonal marking is just about as good as it gets. 

I'm an old school die hard for the golden era of Serie A and the defensive and counter attacking principles of Italian football, especially sides like 1990 Sampdoria and Sven's Lazio side that won the scudetto playing 4-4-2. The hallmarks of that era for many teams (Sacchi's Milan aside) was often long ball-ish counter attacking style with the odd dash of absolute quality. Late 90s era  Parma and their 3-5-2 is another favourite, but that's a whole other subject...

Ranieri's Leicester side and Simeone's Atleti brought a lot of that golden era Serie A grit back (each with their own twists)  and the simplicity of the style and system of the 4-4-2 is often derided, but you can't deny it's effectiveness.  It's a perfect platform for the upstart wanting to punch the big boys in the mouth. 

I'm currently having a blast building my own direct-countering system with Red Star FC in France and working our way to promotion to Ligue 2. 

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6 horas atrás, sparkyunited disse:

Some excellent info in this thread. 4-4-2 as a defensive shape for zonal marking is just about as good as it gets. 

I'm an old school die hard for the golden era of Serie A and the defensive and counter attacking principles of Italian football, especially sides like 1990 Sampdoria and Sven's Lazio side that won the scudetto playing 4-4-2. The hallmarks of that era for many teams (Sacchi's Milan aside) was often long ball-ish counter attacking style with the odd dash of absolute quality. Late 90s era  Parma and their 3-5-2 is another favourite, but that's a whole other subject...

Ranieri's Leicester side and Simeone's Atleti brought a lot of that golden era Serie A grit back (each with their own twists)  and the simplicity of the style and system of the 4-4-2 is often derided, but you can't deny it's effectiveness.  It's a perfect platform for the upstart wanting to punch the big boys in the mouth. 

I'm currently having a blast building my own direct-countering system with Red Star FC in France and working our way to promotion to Ligue 2. 

share pls!

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Still a bit of a work in progress but here is the current version I'm using with Red Star FC in Championnat National:

image.png.4699fda8038bfc5b1d44e8e4a165b19f.png

 

Concept: As per the mindset of a lot of the managers of that era of Serie A and more recently Mourinho and Simeone, my focus is on keeping a clean sheet while posing a threat on the counter. This is a different way of thinking compared to the tiki-taka/total football concept of possession football, in that he who has the ball is more likely to make a mistake!  

 

Formation/Roles: It's (very) loosely inspired by the Eriksson-era Lazio setup in the late 90s/early 2000s and the 4-4-2 setup more recently used by Simeone and Ranieri at Leicester. I particularly liked the "double 6" 4-4-2 Lazio played in big matches circa 2000/01 with Simeone and Almeyda in the double pivot with Nedved on the left and Veron on the right. Tight in the middle, creativity on the flanks is the order of the day. Veron also played through the middle or on the left at times but I've gone for the more conservative version of this formation. 

 

Midfield: The WP role will get the player into the half-spaces or creating from wide kinda like Veron (the little witch was everywhere!). Eriksson had other quality options like Stankovic (a utility with grit and quality) and Conceicao, for whom I'd swap the RM role to a WM if I felt I needed more width or another scoring threat (I find a narrow WM-A will bang in a lot of goals). The rest of the midfield PI's are similar to the OP (hold position for the CM, sit narrower for the IW, get further forward for the WP). 

 

Forwards: Eriksson had a bit of a revolving door of quality striker options over this time too with Vieri, Salas, Boksic, Inzaghi, Crespo, Lopez and Mancini (who I adore) all coming in and/or out of the club. I'm going for a DLF/AF combo at the moment but have also used a TM/PF(a) pairing to good effect so far (i.e. Boksic/Salas). You could pretty much go for any support+attack role combo and get one of the pairings he had available. In my setup, the DLF is my Mancini who I want to be both a creator but have the strength to be a target and hold the ball up. I want the AF to play on the shoulder in the attacking phase and our main counter-attacking threat. If you think of the Mancini/Vialli pairing at Sampdoria (there are some great highlights on YT for unfamiliar younguns) ...this is kind of what I'm going for. 

 

Defensive Shape: One key difference to the Lazio side is that this tactic has more active marking by the forwards, which was largely missing in the Eriksson era at Lazio (Marcelo Salas aside) as he primarily wanted them to stay higher up the pitch to offer a counter-attacking threat immediately after winning possession in their own half. The nice thing is that I find that the FM22 engine will let me keep a "proper" 4-4-2 defensive shape even with an AF if you use the OIs as per the OP (i.e. never pressing CD's and marking CM's). I would prefer to be able to play a little less compact at times to recreate how Lazio would defend in a deep block but have strikers virtually 50 yards upfield, but the match engine doesn't gel with this from a defensive perspective. Keeping things compact between the lines and having strikers in the passing lanes between the opposing CD & CMs is a nice compromise and allows us to defend the "Italian way" (to quote Claudio Ranieri). 

 

Defence: The defensive setup is pretty vanilla. My mindset on this is a little bit of a departure from the Lazio Low Block and I'm going for the Ranieri Leicester approach to having our midfield engage the opposition at the halfway line. For most games, I'm finding a mid-block helps us avoid conceding "worldies" from 35 yards out, or balls over the top, but still gives us enough room to get behind our opponents. In terms of PI's One full back (left side) is instructed to push forward and wide in possession while the other holds his position and stays narrower. The left CD is asked to stay wider to cover the left half-space when the full back moves forward. This gives me a 3-at-the-back shape at times, but this is not an aggressive "flying fullback" setup like you'd see in the modern era, it's simply to offer width in the build-up if we ever need it. Most of the time the ball is already in the final third before he makes the move anyway if we're playing as I want us to (fairly direct). 

 

Active Management: Throughout the game, I am also very active in managing the defensive line in games moving it up/down depending on the phase of the game. This is a real-world trait, as is the "waste time" if you're protecting a 1 or 2-0 lead or upping the pressing intensity if we're chasing the game. I tend to watch the first 10-15 minutes on "full match" to make sure the defensive structure is working as I want it to before switching to comprehensive highlights. 

 

Improvements: Despite the "Much More Direct" TI, I've found that this isn't hoofball and we have more possession than I'd like (remember, I do not want the ball) but this may change if we get promoted to Ligue 2 and are taking on much better teams. I'm still tweaking a few things to see if I can get our possession numbers down and want to make some squad improvements (I play under LLM/Llama "realism" style rules) so we'll see how things play out over this save. 

Cheers, S.

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Just wondering instead of a TM(s) and a DLF(s) how similar would a PF(s) be and what are the differences? When I tired it out I couldn't seem to see the difference?

Edited by Djeon36
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5 hours ago, Djeon36 said:

Just wondering instead of a TM(s) and a DLF(s) how similar would a PF(s) be and what are the differences? When I tired it out I couldn't seem to see the difference?

He'll likely be more aggressive in the defensive phase and look to press the nearest player in the DM strata.  On the ball, he'll probably play more like a DLF.

Having played a few more games since my post yesterday, I alternated between a DLF and TM (support duty) and while both work nicely, the TM role straightens up the approach play and links better with his strike partner on the counter.  Both my suitable TMs in my squad are more creative big men with decent first touch and flair, so it's not like playing a lumbering forward who only looks to win the ball in the air. There's some beautiful one-touch football at times.

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3 hours ago, Oakland Stomper said:

This article is from the 2019/20 season. It covers the clubs using the 4-4-2 in La Liga.

https://betweentheposts.net/laliga-revolt-4-4-2-formation-corona-covid-restart/

This is an excellent piece that shows the depth of the formation and defensive options available from the crazy high line and insane pressing systems to deeper, more targeted and measured approaches.   

As much value as many people put in possession-based football, to me there is equal beauty in what can be done off the ball.  Watching a team drop back into two  solid banks of four like a coiled spring waiting for the turnover is a magical thing. 

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