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Struggling against top teams (top team myself)

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Hi all,

In one of my saves I've been using the same system for close to 17 seasons. It's worked quite well so far. Playing in Belgium we won promotion from the 3rd tier in the first season. 3 seasons in second tier before we overpowered the division again and promoted to 1st. Took us about 10 years then to break through and win the title in the 1st division, a couple days before winning the Conference League. Part of that was, I believe, because the play-off system in Belgium caused top teams that consistently reached those play-offs to become very rich and powerful compared to the rest of the league. (Since you have to perform in those play-offs to gain european football.) Another result of that is that the Belgian teams are doing quite well in Europe since they're quite good now - it was difficult to break that glass ceiling.

Another part of what made it difficult was that I tend to struggle against the other 3 top teams. And since they make up the only other 3 teams in the play-offs.. that makes it hard to win the title :D  The strange thing is that we didn't have as many problems against them in the first 7-8 seasons in the first division. We managed to beat them regularly, but when we became quite big ourselves, that became a lot more difficult.

Long story short: We beat smaller or equal teams easily, with lots of chances. All in all, I can't complain, we're doing well but I guess I'm looking for strategies that could help against those better teams.

Here is my tactic (sorry, don't have game screenshots atm. If necessary, I can provide them later today). I stand by it since it also won me the title in just my second season with KV Mechelen in another save (y) 


Team instructions: balanced, counter-press, close down more, prevent short GK distribution & higher defensive line

No PI's

I've tried using counter and pass into space against top teams, but that is only effective 50% of the time. I've also tried a F9 instead of the DLF, but he seemed to have less of an impact. Turning the DLF into a AMC(s) helps in one save, but not in another. I have leading to star players (compared to the division) in every position, so we should be able to dominate more than we do, I think.

Issues I've noticed myself: we seldom win the possession game, but that's not an objective. However, against top teams we go down to about 35% regularly. Should that worry me?


Thanks in advance and let me know if you need more context!

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4 hours ago, jens_dewit said:

Issues I've noticed myself: we seldom win the possession game, but that's not an objective. However, against top teams we go down to about 35% regularly. Should that worry me?

Yes, 35% should be alarming, especially if your team is stacked with star players. 

I could imagine, that it’s very hard for your team to win the battle for central midfield as it’s set up right now. At least against stronger teams. For those matches I would properbly change the formation to a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. 

Being one of the leading teams in your league, a balanced mentality seems a bit conservative to me. But that might be down to personal preference - at least to some extend. 

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