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Help needed to make my winning team make more through balls

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Hi guys, everything all right?

So, I'm by no means a tactical genius and, honestly, most of my experience with FM was using other's tactics and, at most, tweaking my way.

This year, though, I  thought that would be more fun if I make my own tactic. I'm having sucess with my creation and I'm very happy about it, but theres one thing bugging me: I kinda want my team to make more through balls, but I'm struggling at that. Could anyone give me some advice or suggestions that could help my team unlock that part of our game?

So, I'm gonna give a little context about my team and the problems we're facing. First, I'm gonna show my recents results:


So, I played the entire preseason and until the São Paulo game (1-4) with a 4-4-2 flat with a low block at defense. But the tactic got some glaring flaws that the game against São Paulo made clear.

After the defeat, I went back and reformulate how our team was supposed to play. The results speak for itself: 15-winning streak, with 36 goals scored and only 7 conceded. 

My tactic is this:


So, let me explain my rational:

I want my team to play in a kinda of pass-and-move style. To achieve that, I planned at least one overlapping partnership at every horizontal channel in the attacking field:

  • the Libero-At overlaps with the CM-De;
  • the BBM-Su overlaps with the Eg-Su and the CF-Su;
  • the SS-At overlaps with the CF-Su.

Besides, I have one WB-Su at each flank stretching the opponent horizontally. Also, they are always the free men at each point of build-up.

All of this happens in every single game, even the Libero overlapping with the CM-De. I'm very happy with that kind of movemente.

However, I planned all of this hoping that the movement would lead to some through balls send to the SS-At and to the BBM-Su. However, that dont happen very often. 

Actually, at my last games (the victories against Palestino, Always Ready and Santos) we scored some goals with through balls (2 goals scored by CF-Su, 2 by BBM-Su and 1 by the SS-At). But before that, we scored very little like this. Our stats are like this:


Most of ours goals come by some great interplay between three players at each flank. In the left, we got a triangle made by WB-CM-SS and in the right made by WB-EG-BBM.

The plays goes something like this:

  • WB got the ball;
  • WB pass to horizontal cover (CM or BBM);
  • WB runs at the flank;
  • CM or BBM holds the ball and then pass vertically to SS or EG;
  • SS or EG pass to WB at the flank, completely free.

At this point, the WB runs and got 2 options:

  • cross to my CF-Su;
  • pass to EG or SS that wait at the margin of the box.

If he pass the ball to EG/SS, they normally make a pass to CF-Su to shoot or to BBM-Su. If they arent available, they try again with the WB or recycle the ball with the Libero.

So, our wing play is amazing. I dont want to change it. But I want to add another layer to our attacking play: make through balls in the channels. 

Do any of you have some suggestions how I can make this happen withouth lose my wing play? Some things I thought:

  • my team is still learning the tactic, so we are beginning to use more the channels;
  • we are facing too many teams with a defensive approach. That makes wing play more prominent;
  • the Enganche got in the way of the BBM sometimes. Should I change it to a more horizontally mobile role?

Any advice or suggestion is welcome :)

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7 hours ago, jondragonborn said:

I kinda want my team to make more through balls, but I'm struggling at that. Could anyone give me some advice or suggestions that could help my team unlock that part of our game?

The Limitation of trough balls is the space behind the defense that is exposed by the other team. So, if the other team is sitting very deep, it is unlikely for throughballs to happen. 

to simply exploit that space, add pass into space

Another thing is the teams passing instruction. While the slider is primarily about the passing range, it still leads to a conflict of penetrating space with a pass and maintaining possession. The quality of a pass, whether it’s played long/short/in the air/flat, is primarily down to the players technical ability and the demand of the receiving player.

for example, a striker with an attack duty will most likely demand a long range pass, as he is trying to create depth with the runs and the technical ability of the passing player will determined whether this pass is player up in the air or closer to the ground.

On the other hands, a team that is creating several attacking patterns, with mobility primarily coming from deeper areas, will most likely play a short passing game even with a standard or higher passing slider. You can check that by the stats report from your game analysts. There is a pie chart which splits the passes into long, mid range, short and also the direction as forward, sideways  and backwards.

So the question to decide whether to increase or lower the passing slider, is about if you primarily want to penetrate space with your passes or if your main goal is to maintain possession. So as a result, lowering your passing range will automatically result in less penetrating passes, which includes less through balls. 

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Given that FM rewards sensibly designed tactics, and the setup of roles and duties is the most important part of any tactic, I'll give you a couple of suggestions in that regard first:

- play the BBM behind the SS and CM on defend duty behind the ENG (opposite to your current arrangement)

- change the RWB's duty into attack

- change the CF's duty into attack (this is directly associated with the through balls issue)

After these tweaks, your setup of roles and duties should look like this:


SS      ENG

BBM      CMde

WBsu                          WBat

CDde  Lat  CDde


Such setup should lead to considerably better space creation and utilization in the attacking phase of play.

Now on instructions... 

You are telling the keeper to distribute to playmaker, but your only playmaker in this setup is the enganche, whose position is pretty high up the pitch (even if as a playmaker will look to drop a bit deeper), which directly contradicts your patient possession TIs such as PoD and short passing. Advice: remove the distribution to playmaker.

Given that your defensive instructions are fairly aggressive, the Regroup TI in transition makes very little (if any) sense. It does not necessarily mean that you should use counter-press, but I would definitely remove the regroup

Having mentioned your aggressive defensive TIs, you need to know that defensive and attacking phases of play have a considerable impact on each other. Which leads us to another tweak you may consider and try - drop the LOE just one notch (to standard) in order to create more space for your forwards to potentially take advantage of, including the likelihood of more through balls. 

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Don't want to mess with the tactic getting those results too much! :-)

Switch the CF/s to AF or PF/a. If you have a striker with 'likes to beat offside trap' that should help to.

Could try a DLF/s and hope they drop, offering up room for the SS/a to run in behind and maybe get a throughball from the Eng or the BBM.

Maybe another 'simple' change could be to move the SS up  and have two strikers, enables you to move the Engache into the middle and maybe creates more room for the BBM to make runs.

Could do all sorts really - as shown by others - but I'd only try changing up the striker, as it otherwise really does become, how long is a piece of string. And you could tweak your tactic right out of its effectiveness.

Edited by CaptCanuck
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