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(FM22) A Balanced 4-3-3 Mid Block: Propelling Parma to the Top?


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Wow great read, I’ve been using the 4231 deep from the link you’ve added and I have to admit it’s been one of my most enjoyable saves yet. I’ve always been one to either use a full gegenpress or copy a managers style which usually involves some kind of high press anyway! I’m Into my 4th season with Milan and with it I’ve dominated the domestic league and actually went unbeaten last season. In Europe I managed to somehow with the CL in my second season with some crazy results and the final against Madrid was just bonkers. However all the other seasons have a been a struggle, in fairness I haven’t always won the group but the teams I’ve drawn first in the first knockout rounds have been Manchester United, Manchester United, Manchester city and now this season Bayern Munich :L so yeah not had the best of luck.

Anyway I might take inspiration from your tactic and use the deeper formation for away games especially in the CL, with a few tactical tweaks to player roles, team instructions are fairly similar already. Do you use any player instructions?

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@Fantasista10 someone is going to ask so it may as well be me - what are the player instructions and how do they link in to the wider tactic. 

Same with two ball playing defenders - I would have assumed two regular centrebacks or a no nonsense centreback since you've just been promoted.

You mentioned about using a lower mentality to use more attacking roles yet your tactic looks balanced enough to roll up or down the mentalities depending on  opponent - was this deliberate? After reading I fully expected a lower defensive line so to see a higher defensive line surprised me.

 

After reading three or four times I've a lot of questions but most centre around how the plyer instructions interact with team instructions and if you had issues there.

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11 hours ago, coach vahid said:

First of all, for a first thread, it's very good.

It will be interesting to see your tactic during a couple season. When you will maybe more favorite. 

Keep alive this thread. 

 

Thank you, that means a lot! 
 

You’re right. It will be interesting to see how the opposition adapt as we improve. I imagine we’ll face similar low blocks as we did vs Bologna and Salernitana but more often! 
 

That’s where I like to tweak and take real life inspiration from managers such as Guardiola, who is a master at breaking down a low block side. Overload to isolate etc. 

2 hours ago, Sarriball14 said:

Wow great read, I’ve been using the 4231 deep from the link you’ve added and I have to admit it’s been one of my most enjoyable saves yet. I’ve always been one to either use a full gegenpress or copy a managers style which usually involves some kind of high press anyway! I’m Into my 4th season with Milan and with it I’ve dominated the domestic league and actually went unbeaten last season. In Europe I managed to somehow with the CL in my second season with some crazy results and the final against Madrid was just bonkers. However all the other seasons have a been a struggle, in fairness I haven’t always won the group but the teams I’ve drawn first in the first knockout rounds have been Manchester United, Manchester United, Manchester city and now this season Bayern Munich :L so yeah not had the best of luck.

Anyway I might take inspiration from your tactic and use the deeper formation for away games especially in the CL, with a few tactical tweaks to player roles, team instructions are fairly similar already. Do you use any player instructions?

Wow that sounds like a rollercoaster! Great results though. I felt my season in Serie B was the same. We won the league by a big margin but it didn’t really feel comfortable if that makes sense? Every game felt harder than it should have been. 
 

Now, reducing the mentality and having a clearer idea of how I want to play, the game has become much easier. 
 

In regards to player instructions, I’m away from my laptop at the moment but off the top of my head only a few:

FB(S) - Get Further Forward

MEZ(S) - Take More Risks

IF(A) - Roam and Mark Tighter 

DLF(S) - Mark Tighter 

In the past I used to over do it with player instructions but I feel it’s more beneficial to strip it back and only add things if you notice specific issues or opportunities to exploit in game. 

1 hour ago, heutheo said:

great read!

took me some time to figure out that the first picture isn't an audio file haha

Haha, yeah apologies for that. Adjusting my volume (which was on max) whilst taking a screenshot! Rookie error I guess! 

 

41 minutes ago, nick1408 said:

@Fantasista10 someone is going to ask so it may as well be me - what are the player instructions and how do they link in to the wider tactic. 

Same with two ball playing defenders - I would have assumed two regular centrebacks or a no nonsense centreback since you've just been promoted.

You mentioned about using a lower mentality to use more attacking roles yet your tactic looks balanced enough to roll up or down the mentalities depending on  opponent - was this deliberate? After reading I fully expected a lower defensive line so to see a higher defensive line surprised me.

 

After reading three or four times I've a lot of questions but most centre around how the plyer instructions interact with team instructions and if you had issues there.

Player instructions are minimal, just posted above here. I’ll try and do a more detailed write up on that soon and hopefully address any questions you have on how they interact with one another. 
 

Regarding the BPDs, I kept them from my previous tactic as they worked well. Especially how the bring the ball out from the back (without dribble more instructions). I don’t see any Hollywood passes so I guess I could change to standard CD. No nonsense doesn’t fit my principals. I want to play out, not hoof it long at the first sign of trouble. 
 

For the mentality you are spot on. I wouldn’t say this was necessarily deliberate, but I don’t like changing roles and duties needlessly once I’ve found balance. So, when chasing a goal I up it to Positive, and when closing out a game I drop it to Cautious. But no more than that. I find anything more is too extreme and can actually be detrimental. 
 

If you like I can share the Team Instructions that I add/remove in those scenarios with the mentality change. 

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On 25/02/2022 at 23:46, julle17 said:

Could you possibly upload a full match of your team playing in that mid-block, would be interested to see it in action

Parma v Roma.pkm Here's our match against Roma. I've never saved a match before so I hope this works for you - let me know if there are any issues and I can try again. 

This should be a great example of our mid-block in action as we limited Roma to just 0.29xG in this game whilst creating 2.37xG for ourselves. Safe to say the 1-0 scoreline flattered Jose's side!

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On 24/02/2022 at 11:45, Fantasista10 said:

Thank you, that means a lot! 
 

You’re right. It will be interesting to see how the opposition adapt as we improve. I imagine we’ll face similar low blocks as we did vs Bologna and Salernitana but more often! 
 

That’s where I like to tweak and take real life inspiration from managers such as Guardiola, who is a master at breaking down a low block side. Overload to isolate etc. 

Wow that sounds like a rollercoaster! Great results though. I felt my season in Serie B was the same. We won the league by a big margin but it didn’t really feel comfortable if that makes sense? Every game felt harder than it should have been. 
 

Now, reducing the mentality and having a clearer idea of how I want to play, the game has become much easier. 
 

In regards to player instructions, I’m away from my laptop at the moment but off the top of my head only a few:

FB(S) - Get Further Forward

MEZ(S) - Take More Risks

IF(A) - Roam and Mark Tighter 

DLF(S) - Mark Tighter 

In the past I used to over do it with player instructions but I feel it’s more beneficial to strip it back and only add things if you notice specific issues or opportunities to exploit in game. 

Haha, yeah apologies for that. Adjusting my volume (which was on max) whilst taking a screenshot! Rookie error I guess! 

 

Player instructions are minimal, just posted above here. I’ll try and do a more detailed write up on that soon and hopefully address any questions you have on how they interact with one another. 
 

Regarding the BPDs, I kept them from my previous tactic as they worked well. Especially how the bring the ball out from the back (without dribble more instructions). I don’t see any Hollywood passes so I guess I could change to standard CD. No nonsense doesn’t fit my principals. I want to play out, not hoof it long at the first sign of trouble. 
 

For the mentality you are spot on. I wouldn’t say this was necessarily deliberate, but I don’t like changing roles and duties needlessly once I’ve found balance. So, when chasing a goal I up it to Positive, and when closing out a game I drop it to Cautious. But no more than that. I find anything more is too extreme and can actually be detrimental. 
 

If you like I can share the Team Instructions that I add/remove in those scenarios with the mentality change. 

You already have added "Mark TIghter" in your TIs, why do you still add this to some PIs? Is there any value/difference?

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I tried it out in my Brighton save and have to say that I was just confirmed. Dont wanna be that guy, but in this game, playing anything else than gegenpressing is just an invite to concede goals and give away easy games... Some will come here and send me screenshots of their successful implementation of their mid-block, low-block etc... but honestly, these are people sending me screenshots from their 10th season etc. when indeed they already have a world class team, far superior than what the league has and also the AI teams starting to decline... yet to see someone outperforming in the first two seasons of the game... it is the same as those posting superior exploit tactics while these tactics have only been tested in the first season xD

I won the Europa League with max. LOE and full gegenpressing in my 3rd season with Brighton, and I was still using Dunk and Webster as my CBs... Would have I done the same using midblock? No way... I tested it in two games against burnley at home and west ham away and in both matches I had 35 percent possession and zero shots on target when I was heavy favorites... Wished, you could use different styles in this game, but this year, it is impossible to neglect gegenpressing...

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3 hours ago, goku4 said:

You already have added "Mark TIghter" in your TIs, why do you still add this to some PIs? Is there any value/difference?

To be honest I haven't tested extensively without the PIs, but I like to keep them on because in the games where we have been aggressive and my front 3 have won the ball back high up the pitch - it was with the Mark Tighter selected. So I just left it on. I honestly can't say if it makes a huge difference over many games purely because there's more testing to be done. If you were to try it, I'd suggest keeping it on. 

2 hours ago, goku4 said:

I tried it out in my Brighton save and have to say that I was just confirmed. Dont wanna be that guy, but in this game, playing anything else than gegenpressing is just an invite to concede goals and give away easy games... Some will come here and send me screenshots of their successful implementation of their mid-block, low-block etc... but honestly, these are people sending me screenshots from their 10th season etc. when indeed they already have a world class team, far superior than what the league has and also the AI teams starting to decline... yet to see someone outperforming in the first two seasons of the game... it is the same as those posting superior exploit tactics while these tactics have only been tested in the first season xD

I won the Europa League with max. LOE and full gegenpressing in my 3rd season with Brighton, and I was still using Dunk and Webster as my CBs... Would have I done the same using midblock? No way... I tested it in two games against burnley at home and west ham away and in both matches I had 35 percent possession and zero shots on target when I was heavy favorites... Wished, you could use different styles in this game, but this year, it is impossible to neglect gegenpressing...

This is a shame. What I will say is that everyone has different experiences, and also different strengths in relation to how you play the game. I said this in my opening post - but simply copying someone else's tactic will not always yield results. Why? Well, because your team is not the same as mine and also in your case you are competing in the PL which in my opinion is the most unforgiving league in FM and has been for years. 

Also, being in your 3rd season with Brighton and winning the Europa League, I probably wouldn't be implementing a Mid Block personally, as you are probably too good and too respected by the AI opposition. For me, if I end up having a successful first Serie A season with Parma I would look to evolve tactically and see if we can start pressing a bit higher up. That would entail dipping into the transfer market too, so that I have players willing and able to press etc. In your case, I would not be looking to copy this mid block tactic with a side that seems to be as strong as you are saying it is. Would Brighton set up in a mid block at home to Burnley in real life? No chance. And after winning the Europa League three seasons in? Why even consider that? You should be looking to take the game to Burnley, suffocating them like the top teams in the PL do. 

I don't want to get into an argument about Gegenpressing being the only thing that works. FM is just a game that tries its best to replicate real football. If you want to sit in a mid block at home to Burnley, that is totally up to you. But I think you were doing the right thing before by pressing these teams high. What works for me and Parma in my debut Serie A season, most likely will not work the same for you 3rd season in PL. 

 

Edited by Fantasista10
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Il y a 2 heures, goku4 a dit :

I tried it out in my Brighton save and have to say that I was just confirmed. Dont wanna be that guy, but in this game, playing anything else than gegenpressing is just an invite to concede goals and give away easy games... Some will come here and send me screenshots of their successful implementation of their mid-block, low-block etc... but honestly, these are people sending me screenshots from their 10th season etc. when indeed they already have a world class team, far superior than what the league has and also the AI teams starting to decline... yet to see someone outperforming in the first two seasons of the game... it is the same as those posting superior exploit tactics while these tactics have only been tested in the first season xD

I won the Europa League with max. LOE and full gegenpressing in my 3rd season with Brighton, and I was still using Dunk and Webster as my CBs... Would have I done the same using midblock? No way... I tested it in two games against burnley at home and west ham away and in both matches I had 35 percent possession and zero shots on target when I was heavy favorites... Wished, you could use different styles in this game, but this year, it is impossible to neglect gegenpressing...

Fonte Botman as CBs (respectively 9 and 10 accel), logic would say to play a mid block as they do IRL but it’s just impossible and I concede more ball over the top than if I played gegenpressing. 
Not to mention the fact that they miss all their headers despite their great attributes…

 

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16 minutes ago, Fantasista10 said:

To be honest I haven't tested extensively without the PIs, but I like to keep them on because in the games where we have been aggressive and my front 3 have won the ball back high up the pitch - it was with the Mark Tighter selected. So I just left it on. I honestly can't say if it makes a huge difference over many games purely because there's more testing to be done. If you were to try it, I'd suggest keeping it on. 

This is a shame. What I will say is that everyone has different experiences, and also different strengths in relation to how you play the game. I said this in my opening post - but simply copying someone else's tactic will not always yield results. Why? Well, because your team is not the same as mine and also in your case you are competing in the PL which in my opinion is the most unforgiving league in FM and has been for years. 

Also, being in your 3rd season with Brighton and winning the Europa League, I probably wouldn't be implementing a Mid Block personally, as you are probably too good and too respected by the AI opposition. For me, if I end up having a successful first Serie A season with Parma I would look to evolve tactically and see if we can start pressing a bit higher up. That would entail dipping into the transfer market too, so that I have players willing and able to press etc. In your case, I would not be looking to copy this mid block tactic with a side that seems to be as strong as you are saying it is. Would Brighton set up in a mid block at home to Burnley in real life? No chance. And after winning the Europa League three seasons in? Why even consider that? You should be looking to take the game to Burnley, suffocating them like the top teams in the PL do. 

I don't want to get into an argument about Gegenpressing being the only thing that works. FM is just a game that tries its best to replicate real football. If you want to sit in a mid block at home to Burnley, that is totally up to you. But I think you were doing the right thing before by pressing these teams high. What works for me and Parma in my debut Serie A season, most likely will not work the same for you 3rd season in PL. 

 

Yes, you are right. I used your def. advices in the second half of my game away to wolves to hold on the lead and it was really good. wolves did not even have one highlight in the second half. however, in the next two games, when I used midblock from the beginning, I barely could put the opposition under pressure...

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6 minutes ago, sonnevillejr said:

Fonte Botman as CBs (respectively 9 and 10 accel), logic would say to play a mid block as they do IRL but it’s just impossible and I concede more ball over the top than if I played gegenpressing. 
Not to mention the fact that they miss all their headers despite their great attributes…

 

I disagree, I'm sorry. 9 and 10 Acceleration is incredibly poor for that level. That screams Low Block to me, especially if they are strong in the air as you say. My Mid-Block system employs a High Defensive Line with Standard LOE. I would not try and play a High Line with someone with 9 or 10 Acc. 

Take a look at my two starting centre backs: 

1354344800_Screenshot2022-03-01at16_31_36.thumb.png.bd3ae5320647eb6e498bd17c6ddba429.png

Valenti, as you can see has 15 Acc and 14 Pace. He is ideal for a team that plays with a High Line but does not press to the extreme because he can mop up balls over the top or win aerial duels.

1979200268_Screenshot2022-03-01at16_28_10.thumb.png.3549fe45496f940af89991752acb7203.png

Osorio, is slightly slower but 12 for both Acc and Pace are good enough. Note both aren't slow, and are quite strong in the air. 

If you are expecting a pair of slow CBs to be able to cope with a High Line but Standard LOE, Regroup etc. then you are mistaken. They would be less exposed if you pressed Higher or Much Higher so that you discourage those long balls a bit more. 

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You are also using the same formation as me. When I watch how the opposition do early pressing with 433, I just wonder, how they manage this. They use their wingers to be as close as possible to my full backs. They have that one striker who is then supported by both CMs. Problem is, I just can not get those CMs so far up the pitch when the opposition tries to build up play from the back... The AI can do it, but for me it seems like its not working...

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9 minutes ago, goku4 said:

Yes, you are right. I used your def. advices in the second half of my game away to wolves to hold on the lead and it was really good. wolves did not even have one highlight in the second half. however, in the next two games, when I used midblock from the beginning, I barely could put the opposition under pressure...

It's good to know that it works for you in some situations at least - not totally flawed then! But yes, I can imagine why it won't be effective to start games because as I said before you're probably too good and the AI are perhaps parking the bus. This isn't a system that will put the opponent under a constant barrage of pressure. 

 

3 minutes ago, goku4 said:

You are also using the same formation as me. When I watch how the opposition do early pressing with 433, I just wonder, how they manage this. They use their wingers to be as close as possible to my full backs. They have that one striker who is then supported by both CMs. Problem is, I just can not get those CMs so far up the pitch when the opposition tries to build up play from the back... The AI can do it, but for me it seems like its not working...

Hard to say what could be causing this. They might be specifically man marking like Bielsa / Leeds for example. Do you use Prevent Short GK Distribution? 

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il y a 10 minutes, Fantasista10 a dit :

I disagree, I'm sorry. 9 and 10 Acceleration is incredibly poor for that level. That screams Low Block to me, especially if they are strong in the air as you say. My Mid-Block system employs a High Defensive Line with Standard LOE. I would not try and play a High Line with someone with 9 or 10 Acc. 

Take a look at my two starting centre backs: 

1354344800_Screenshot2022-03-01at16_31_36.thumb.png.bd3ae5320647eb6e498bd17c6ddba429.png

Valenti, as you can see has 15 Acc and 14 Pace. He is ideal for a team that plays with a High Line but does not press to the extreme because he can mop up balls over the top or win aerial duels.

1979200268_Screenshot2022-03-01at16_28_10.thumb.png.3549fe45496f940af89991752acb7203.png

Osorio, is slightly slower but 12 for both Acc and Pace are good enough. Note both aren't slow, and are quite strong in the air. 

If you are expecting a pair of slow CBs to be able to cope with a High Line but Standard LOE, Regroup etc. then you are mistaken. They would be less exposed if you pressed Higher or Much Higher so that you discourage those long balls a bit more. 

I used Standard DL and Standard LOE, even tried Standard DL and Lower LOE, with a balanced mentality but still those long balls… 

Yesterday I tried balanced mentality, much lower DL and LOE just for testing, I swear that the first highlight I saw was a long possession time for the opponent (so no counter) and a long ball from the midfield behind my CBs -> goal. 
 

There is no logic in pressing the opponent high when you have Ben Arfa and his (very) low work rate and agression and players like Zhegrova and Angel Gomes with those similar attributes. 

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24 minutes ago, sonnevillejr said:

I used Standard DL and Standard LOE, even tried Standard DL and Lower LOE, with a balanced mentality but still those long balls… 

Yesterday I tried balanced mentality, much lower DL and LOE just for testing, I swear that the first highlight I saw was a long possession time for the opponent (so no counter) and a long ball from the midfield behind my CBs -> goal. 
 

There is no logic in pressing the opponent high when you have Ben Arfa and his (very) low work rate and agression and players like Zhegrova and Angel Gomes with those similar attributes. 

I would probably take a look at the posts by Cleon in this thread: 

He sets up a low block that seems to be very effective. If you haven't got players that can press, and you're still struggling with a mid block then I'd suggest dropping even deeper and looking to play almost exclusively on the break. 

Have you tried playing a back three? I have found playing with an extra CB helps especially against two strikers. Alternatively, using an Offside Trap against two strikers seems to have helped but I wouldn't recommend with slow defenders or Standard DL. 

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Il y a 2 heures, Fantasista10 a dit :

I would probably take a look at the posts by Cleon in this thread: 

He sets up a low block that seems to be very effective. If you haven't got players that can press, and you're still struggling with a mid block then I'd suggest dropping even deeper and looking to play almost exclusively on the break. 

Have you tried playing a back three? I have found playing with an extra CB helps especially against two strikers. Alternatively, using an Offside Trap against two strikers seems to have helped but I wouldn't recommend with slow defenders or Standard DL. 

I am familiar with this thread, unfortunalety my team is predicted 5th so opponents tend to play defensive against me, it seems too conservative. That’s also why I prefered a midblock rather than a low one (that’s how they play IRL)

Regarding the formation, I turned off the first mercato and I only have 3 natural CBs in my squad, so I opted for the 4411

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  • 2 weeks later...

End of Season Update:

Remember when I said ‘we shouldn’t finish in the top 4’ and ‘the top teams will recover’… Turns out they didn’t recover and we did in fact get Champions League football in our very first season in Serie A!

147086380_ITALIANSERIEA.thumb.png.6541b6392eeeca724a8420b594734013.png

I am amazed, very pleased but at the same time also a bit underwhelmed by how easy it was. Perhaps it was down to many of the teams underachieving but I did expect my average Parma side to fall away at some point. Instead, we only finished 1 point behind the winners Milan. Not bad for a newly promoted side in financial difficulty. (See screenshot below: We’ve only just gone in the green after our Top 4 finish. Had no money to spend, and was given the board objective of ‘recovering the club’s financial position’)

396579287_OVERALLBALANCE.thumb.png.f75e689a2bfafdbb7d0b0745a8ead97a.png

Before I dive into how the season went and display some stats and results, the system I used did in fact change towards the end of the season due to us signing talented striker Lorenzo Lucca in January. He did not really suit the DLF(S) role and I’m not a fan of using a Target Man/Forward. I persisted for a while with the original 4-3-3 but perhaps due to Lucca, or the latest winter patch and ME fixes, our attacking play was not as hard hitting.

I experimented with a few formations, whilst keeping the TIs largely the same. I tried some back 3 systems, both the 3-5-2 and 3-4-1-2 with the hope of being able to use Lucca as a Target Forward and bring others into play. Performances were okay but I was missing the threat in behind that my duel Inside Forwards used to provide. I tried the 3-4-3 but to find balance it meant using Lucca as a support duty striker which I didn’t think suited him (with 9 passing and 11 vision).

I chopped and changed a bit but this was the system we largely stuck with for the second half of the season:

TACTICS.thumb.png.6a23e3a30f0cc40c110bde4d1210f6f2.png

This 4-2-3-1 above is pretty much the same as what was in the thread I linked in the opening post. I do make some tweaks to roles and instructions to suit personnel and opponents but I found this to be a really good base. Perhaps the title of the thread might change to a '4-2-3-1 mid-block' but my aim is to return to a 4-3-3 at some point!

So after some experimenting, we used this 4-2-3-1 for most games after January with Lucca playing as an Advanced Forward. I changed his role to a Complete Forward (Attack) for the final game of the season (pass map below) and he scored 2 and assisted 1 goal - this has given me food for thought as to how to get even more out of him next season.

Our pass map from our final game of the season, a 5-1 demolition of Venezia:

728509093_Theplayersshownonthe.thumb.png.6abcac574c02162fc58e853122a48840.png

Some tweaks were made on a game by game basis, and often during games. Particularly; changing the passing length to Much Shorter, adding Counter Press & Hold Shape and occasionally increasing the DL and LOE by one notch and adding Offside Trap to create a higher press in which we can sustain attacks and pressure on the opponent. So essentially we are training two approaches: a mid block which can be more direct and counter attacking, and a more controlled, patient high pressing system - which is eventually where I want this team to get to on a full time basis.

A more controlled tweak:

TACTICS.thumb.png.8833f1db2f498e9c8534a52868c9f637.png

From the pass map above, you can see we completed 800 passes in this game, and this was using the above tweaked ‘Control’ version of the 4-2-3-1 where we reduced the passing length but kept the tempo at ‘Slightly Higher’ so we were not too passive.

Some Results:

Results and performances were spectacular. We kept the solidity that the mid block provided and although defensively we have not been as strong as we were at the start of the season, it gave us a solid platform to build. Using the 4-3-3 we seemed to be a little more solid but the 4-2-3-1 with Lucca as a spearhead provided us with real firepower in attack.

1438342279_JANUARY2023.png.813f6ce3602bdf5904a96b607f4ae938.png

We picked up where we left off after the World Cup break, going unbeaten in a hectic January which included an extra time away win in the Coppa Italia against Milan.

It was a tough start to February with back to back games against Inter, drawing in the league and winning away again in the Coppa. We were completely FM’d by Bologna a couple weeks later, where Marko Arnautovic and Musa Barrow ran riot early on despite the xG being equal (including their penalty):

762302486_BOL4-1PARItalianSerieA.thumb.png.b3d68aa4f622446e69e9e39f911b49b2.png

I might be right in saying that February coincided with me updating FM to the latest version (winter update patch) and initial results weren’t as great, with a few draws in there too. This is where I started tweaking a little and eventually things clicked again.

1075595913_MARCH2023.png.71b4ea5ede03506d83c942b9a81c08e8.png

We went away to Atalanta in the Coppa for the 1st leg, losing narrowly 1-0. Our league form however, was imperious. Important win away to Napoli, holding firm away to Milan and then the goals started to flow. Roma away was one of the toughest of the season - Lucien Favre (now manager) has them lined up in a tricky 5-2-3 where wide overloads and Tammy Abraham in behind are a problem.

Atalanta were comfortably beaten, and then came the result of the season… nobody expected this, not even the bravest of Parma supporters! Juventus (Zebre) demolished. Embarrassed. Outclassed.

437611096_Saturday15thApril2023.thumb.png.8c6cca5560267121f718678804c0b477.png

Dennis Man, the Main Man, scored a hat-trick within 14 minutes. Juve are stunned, and they don’t recover. The score is 4-1 before 20 minutes is played. Not sure what else to say really, pretty nice win.

Unfortunately, we are dumped out of the Coppa Italia semi-final on away goals by Atalanta which was disappointing because we had come so far and knocked out better teams on the way. Still, I didn’t expect to go that far so we held our heads high.

The remainder of the season was a breeze and we closed the gap to league leaders Milan and found ourselves in the most unlikely to title fights until we blew it, uncharacteristically to Benevento. I must take responsibility for that, as I changed to a 5-3-2 to accommodate two strikers whilst missing key wide men to injury.

Some Stats:

Goals:

The obvious stand out here is we scored quite a few from corners. Six more than the next best side, but I’m pleased with this. I obviously want to score plenty goals from open play, which we did, but it’s important to be a threat from everywhere on the field.

Pretty useful going forward:

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Only four teams scored more than us in the league, with Juventus and Fiorentina scoring just one more. Talented squads like Roma and Inter could only manage four fewer than us. This is very pleasing, and it proved to me that I don’t need to play on a higher mentality to create chances and score goals.

The January signing, Lorenzo Lucca was a huge contributor to our attack in the final stages of the season, also chipping in with a few goals from corners due to his mighty 6’7” frame. He scored 13 goals and chipped in with 4 assists in 17 league appearances - an instant impact from the big man. I had been trying to sign him since the start of the save, but at first he showed no interest due to recently signing with Pisa, and when we went back for him the next summer, we simply had no money to complete the deal. In the end, we had to part with a few squad players to get the deal done for an absolute bargain for an initial £2.7m as Pisa had been relegated to Serie C and he was keen to force the move.

Lucca’s impressive half-season in Parma:

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Defending:

In terms of how we faired defensively, we managed to keep up the good work from the start of the season however still conceded a few more than I would have liked - but we can’t have it all.

4th best defence in the land:

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3rd most clean sheets, too:

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We win the ball back very often:

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34 goals conceded in 38 games is pretty decent. It looks better in comparison to the rest of the league, translating to the 4th best defence. I’m a little disappointed because you may remember we started off extremely well with just 10 conceded in our first 14 which is around 0.71 p/90. Compared to roughly 0.89 p/90 over the entire 38 games.

We can also be pleased with the amount of clean sheets, one more than the eventual league winners Milan and just two shy of the best, Inter. Our tackling is also impressive, as it was since the beginning. I take great pride in this as it shows we win the ball back often, which means our press, the compact and aggressive mid block, is working. If we win our tackles, we get the ball back and we can initiate another attack.

Passing:

‘Take the ball, pass the ball…’ (almost):

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I was pleased with how we passed the ball. Our completion is very good at 91%, putting us amongst the best in that metric. Which means we are not very wasteful in possession and do not gift our opponent many turnovers. The number of passes per game is also very high at 24,397 which averages out to around 642 p/90. Considering we are not a purely possession based team, I’m delighted with those figures. Avg. possession is pretty standard at 52% which perhaps demonstrates that we look to move the ball quickly and decisively, rather than patiently build up. I think as we become a better side we will look to improve in this area to control games better.

Transfers:

I already mentioned our financial difficulty, due to the club being relegated from Serie A in the 2020/2021 campaign, we started the save in Serie B with a very strong squad on very big wages. I tried desperately to shift some players but it became an impossible task due to clubs not willing to meet their demands. The lack of revenue in Serie B along with our wage bill, was a recipe for disaster. We finished the season with huge financial losses and the club’s official status was ‘Insecure’. I honestly believe promotion to Serie A saved the club from going bankrupt (once again).

So we start the campaign in Serie A with a budget of £0 and being way over our wage budget due to loanees returning, promotion wage rise clauses and yearly wage increases for certain players. It was a summer of clearing out dead wood and over paid players. I was not expecting to have the season we had, without any real additions. In fact, by the start of the season, only one new player was brought in:

Step up, Simone Bastoni:

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We managed to snap up Simone on a pre-contract agreement the previous January as his deal at Spezia was coming to an end. I couldn’t believe we faced such little competition to get him. This is the kind of complete, total footballer that could step into most sides in any of Europe’s Top 5 leagues and we got him for absolutely nothing! He had a really impressive season, although he tailed off towards the end as all of his 9 assists came in the first half of the season. Something to watch out for, but overall really impressed by him and the challenge now is to keep hold of him.

Below you can see all the players that arrived:

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Gennaro Tutino was an already agreed transfer (initial loan with obligation I believe) that we had no say in as I assume it’s agreed in real life. I was annoyed by this as it was costly for us and he didn’t set the world alight in Serie B. My mind would soon change as he stepped up in Serie A, becoming our joint top scorer on 14 goals.

Del Prato was signed on a free after having spent the first season on loan with us, a decent back up at right back who could also fill in at centre back and midfield.

What more to say about our January signing Lorenzo Lucca? Arrived halfway through the season and equalled our top scorer Tutino on 14. A bargain, excited to see what the future holds for him.

Talented teenager Hugo Felix, brother or Joao, arrived from Benfica on loan with an option to buy at £6m. He had a decent loan contributing to 1 goal and 2 assists often from the bench.

You can see we managed to turn a profit here which was much needed, and we had to get creative with the lack of funds we had, which actually made it quite fun.

Next Season:

Despite our overachievement and impressive results, the current system did not control games as I would have liked so I will look to make some adjustments. So the goal next season will be to try keep the ball a bit more and sustain that initial defence performance, because the goals and chances, as proven, will come. I’m also planning to tinker with a 4-3-3 that still utilises Lucca as an Attack duty striker, as after all it is my favourite formation to use.

The next step?

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The current iteration of my 4-3-3 takes inspiration from Guardiola and more recently how Arteta has Arsenal set up. We have an IW(A) told to stay wider on the right (in the Saka role), to open up the half space for the MEZ(A). The hope is that the CF(A) will also drift over to this side when we create an overload with 3-4 players on that side, and we can then hit a defence splitting pass to the on rushing IF(A) on the left. Now if I was to try and recreate Arsenal properly, I’d say the Odegaard role is of most importance, and he is much more than a Mezzala. If I had the right player, I’d like to experiment with an AP(A) with the instruction to stay wider, to encourage more half space movement. Enough on that for now, if all goes well I may delve into a Gunners recreation in the future.

I will also look to develop a 4-3-3 (or perhaps a 5-2-3) system that we can use for more tricky games, especially now that we are in the Champions League! The next season will be a huge challenge for us, particularly given our financial constraints, which will push our squad to the absolute limits with the increased matches and standard of competition.

If you’re still with me after that long read, thank you, and I hope to keep this going if people are interested. As always, feedback is welcome!

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Love your 4-3-3 I have a very similar set up as well albeit with a false 9 and a HB. I will be very interested to see how your striker fares, as it is always one of the things I want to change to boost his goalscoring numbers, but do not not do for fear of ruining the interplay I have with the rest of the team.

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47 minutes ago, poobington said:

Love your 4-3-3 I have a very similar set up as well albeit with a false 9 and a HB. I will be very interested to see how your striker fares, as it is always one of the things I want to change to boost his goalscoring numbers, but do not not do for fear of ruining the interplay I have with the rest of the team.

Thanks! 
 

I’ve seen your 4-3-3 as well and I like the look of it. I’ve always tried to replicate Pep and his Barca side especially. But like you say, the striker role is difficult - especially if you want to replicate Messi’s movement and number of goals/assists which is more or less impossible. 
 

I think it’s best to try and simplify the striker role in regards to how it fits with the rest of the team. Are your wingers/inside forwards the main goal threat? If so you can use a support duty striker and not have to rely on them to score the bulk of the goals.
 

I’m trying to find the right attack duty role to fit into a 4-3-3 but maybe I’m thinking too hard about it. Because when watching games on comprehensive, attack duty strikers actually tend to drop deeper, move to the left or right wing to overload and link up much more than in previous years and almost as much as support duties. So maybe a CF(A) or DLF(A) can do the job - I want to test it more though. 

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1 hour ago, Fantasista10 said:

I’m trying to find the right attack duty role to fit into a 4-3-3 but maybe I’m thinking too hard about it. Because when watching games on comprehensive, attack duty strikers actually tend to drop deeper, move to the left or right wing to overload and link up much more than in previous years and almost as much as support duties. So maybe a CF(A) or DLF(A) can do the job - I want to test it more though. 

I use a PF(A) in a similar setup and they average 15+ goals and 7+ assists for me a year. I currently have a player with similar PPMs to Lucca (Plays with back to goal and Shoots with power) and he has 10 goals and 12 assists with over 10 games to go in the season. 

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2 hours ago, prched55 said:

I use a PF(A) in a similar setup and they average 15+ goals and 7+ assists for me a year. I currently have a player with similar PPMs to Lucca (Plays with back to goal and Shoots with power) and he has 10 goals and 12 assists with over 10 games to go in the season. 

Those seem like pretty good numbers! Especially with assists. Do you find the attack duty leaves him isolated at all? Or is he regularly involved in attacking moves? 

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9 hours ago, Fantasista10 said:

Those seem like pretty good numbers! Especially with assists. Do you find the attack duty leaves him isolated at all? Or is he regularly involved in attacking moves? 

This is the concern I have with attack duties. I haven't been able to commit to them for a long time because in the defensive phase they just seem to camp beyond or around the half way line and do very little by way of closing down in midfield. This is even the case with a pressing forward on attack, as their inclination is to press opposition defenders rather than midfielders. 

I would assume either a CFa or DLFa might give a blend of coming deep as well as being more of a goal threat perhaps even a Treq (but pressing might become an issue), but as you mentioned it's important to assess which players are going to be the main goal threats. Like with Arsenal in real life, ours are most certainly our wingers with Lacazette almost exclusively being used as a facilitator to those around him.

Regardless, I am sure your tactic will give you great results, especially with those sets of TIs and player roles.

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1 hour ago, poobington said:

This is the concern I have with attack duties. I haven't been able to commit to them for a long time because in the defensive phase they just seem to camp beyond or around the half way line and do very little by way of closing down in midfield. This is even the case with a pressing forward on attack, as their inclination is to press opposition defenders rather than midfielders. 

I would assume either a CFa or DLFa might give a blend of coming deep as well as being more of a goal threat perhaps even a Treq (but pressing might become an issue), but as you mentioned it's important to assess which players are going to be the main goal threats. Like with Arsenal in real life, ours are most certainly our wingers with Lacazette almost exclusively being used as a facilitator to those around him.

Regardless, I am sure your tactic will give you great results, especially with those sets of TIs and player roles.

You’re spot on here. I no longer think there is a big issue when you have the ball, attack duties seem to be involved enough in deeper areas. It’s without, when defending, that the distances are huge and it can create big gaps. 
 

It might take some trial and error to get it right. Maybe it’s more suited to a counter attacking style as well, where the striker camping up field on the last line would be a great outlet. 
 

But it all comes back to what sort of player you have, and the profiles of the wingers around him. Like you say with Arsenal, Lacazette is not the main source of goals and he needs to be involved in all phases to bring others into play. Compared to an Aubameyang who was (meant to be) the main threat. 

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13 hours ago, Fantasista10 said:

Do you find the attack duty leaves him isolated at all? Or is he regularly involved in attacking moves?

He is involved in every move basically. But he is one of my best players and has high teamwork, work rate, vision, and passing. So it makes sense he would be involved. I think Lucca would be involved as well in a lot of moves. 

4 hours ago, poobington said:

This is the concern I have with attack duties. I haven't been able to commit to them for a long time because in the defensive phase they just seem to camp beyond or around the half way line and do very little by way of closing down in midfield. This is even the case with a pressing forward on attack, as their inclination is to press opposition defenders rather than midfielders. 

 

2 hours ago, Fantasista10 said:

You’re spot on here. I no longer think there is a big issue when you have the ball, attack duties seem to be involved enough in deeper areas. It’s without, when defending, that the distances are huge and it can create big gaps. 

I think a lot of that has to do with line of engagement. I play on standard and my PF(A) and he will drop back and help. Especially if I move to a lower line of engagement. I think attributes like work rate, tackling, anticipation, bravery will play a role as well. 

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