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Welcome to my first thread of Football Manager 2017. If you've been reading along so far you'll know that I've enjoyed re-creating the tactical styles of some of my favourite teams using the Football Manager tactics creator. If you've yet to read previous threads, I recommend that you start there in order to understand the background of the concepts I am talking about: Johan Cruyff's 3-4-3 Diamond Arrigo Sacchi's 4-4-2 Arsene Wenger's Invincibles Brazil's Jogo Bonito style Now, in a list containing Cruyff's Dream Team, Sacchi's Milan, Wenger's Invincibles and Brazilian Jogo Bonito - whilst a fantastic achievement - Wales' team of Euro 2016 isn't necessarily the next team to roll off the tongue - so, why Wales? Previous threads have inspired some great discussions and choosing Wales is a response to two common pieces of feedback: So far I've always chosen and developed world-class squads and regularly been asked how I'd play with lower quality teams. I've also played varying styles of attacking, attractive football and yet to talk about anything on the other end of the spectrum. The most common queries have been about recreating Simeone's Atletico, Ranieri's Leicester and - lately - Conte's Chelsea. I think that the points covered in this thread should offer insight for anyone looking to re-create those styles. Resources on Wales at Euro 2016 Spielverlagerung - Wales v Northern Ireland Spielverlagerung - Wales v Portugal Zonal Marking - Wales v Belgium YouTube: Wales v Belgium (Highlights) Zonal Marking - Portugal v Wales Outside of the Boot - Wales v Northern Ireland Underdog status (stats courtesy of ESPN): Only 11 of the 23 players in the Wales squad played predominantly in the Premier League. Of the other 12, eight played in the Championship, one in League One, two in Scotland plus Simon Church on loan in both the Championship and the Scottish Premiership. Wales had only Swansea's Ashley Williams and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey who made more than 30 Premier League appearances. Theory As usual, the formation Wales used is highly subjective - different people will see it differently - could be described as a 3-5-1-1, 5-3-1-1 or 3-4-2-1. Using the excellent analysis from Spielverlagerung, this is the shape we're trying to create: Here is a summary of some of the interesting traits I will be looking to implement in my own team: Off the ball: Compact 5-3-1-1 shape in defence. Low / Medium defensive block - medium defensive line, low pressing to retain shape. I like the Spielverlagerung description - "a fairly passive medium-block". On the ball: 3-4-2-1 shape in attack. Wingbacks providing width. Bale playing a free-role, primarily off the shoulder of the striker but also threatening wide. Ramsey as a more advanced playmaker and Allen as a deep playmaker. Transitions: Fast transition in counter-attack aiming to use Bale's pace and dribbling in space behind, or running at the defence. More controlled build up play through playmakers, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey with wingbacks providing width and Bale making runs. ================================================================================================ In Football Manager 2017 Before I take about tactics, let's take a look at the squad. As you can see, 2-years on and we're playing a similar squad to the Class of 2016. Notable changes: Cardiff City are now in the Premiership, although both Cardiff and Swansea are fighting relegation. Injury to Taylor, replaced by Declan John. Ashley Richards has now overtaken Gunter as my right back, currently playing Premiership football at Cardiff. Captain, Ashley Williams is 33 and slowly deteriorating but still first team at Everton. Likely to be his last international tournament. Key Dashed yellow lines indicate divisions, grouping relevant attributes together to allow for easier analysis: Work rate, determination, fitness. Technical ability. Defensive ability. Attacking ability. Green boxes indicate strengths. Thick green boxes indicate major strengths. Red boxes indicate weaknesses. In previous threads, at this stage I am talking about world class, complete players. In this case, Wales are more of an underdog so it's a case of playing to their strengths and mitigating their weaknesses. Strengths Work rate, determination and fitness reasonably high across the squad. Ramsey, Allen and Ledley are all reasonably 'complete' midfielders. Strong defensive unit and an intelligent back 3. Weaknesses Poor ball-playing ability in defence. Declan John is potentially a defensive weak spot (forced change due to injury to Taylor). Major Strengths Outstanding attacking attacking talent of Gareth Bale. Aaron Ramsey is an excellent playmaker. Mentality, Team Shape and Team Instructions aka Playing Style Continuing the theme of previous discussions - I see Mentality, Team Shape and Team Instructions as the backbone of my tactics yet also one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of the game, particularly team shape. In my opinion - Mentality is the most significant single decision you'll make inside the Tactics Creator. Quite simply - no other single setting has anywhere near as much influence. As you are probably aware by now, your Mentality determines: Base individual mentality. Defensive line. Closing down. Width. Tempo. Time wasting. To a smaller extent - passing. As with most things in FM, nothing is set in stone. Defensive line, closing down, width, time wasting and passing are all easily modified by Team Instructions however I am increasingly finding that selecting the appropriate Mentality a much simpler solution than applying extensive Team Instructions. In my summary of the traits Wales played at Euro 2016 I identified two which I can implement using the mentality: Low/Medium Defensive Block - medium defensive line, low pressing to retain shape. Mixed transition play: Quick counters exploiting Bales pace and attacking talent. Controlled build up through Allen & Ramsey. Mentality: Counter Tactics Creator description: Team Instructions base settings in the Tactics Creator: Overview of Settings: Medium defensive line. Low closing down. Pretty narrow width. Lower medium tempo. Medium passing. The counter mechanism means that when the counter-attack is on - i.e we turnover possession and the opposition has over committed forward - we play direct, fast and attacking football to take advantage of the situation. Summary: The medium defensive Line and lower closing down gives me the low / medium block or, as per Spielverlagerung, the "passive medium block". Lower medium tempo and reasonably conservative mentality gives me the platform to combine with playmaker roles to create the controlled build-up through Allen & Ramsey. The counter attacking mechanism gives me the quick counter attacking play, when the opposition overcommit. Team Shape works hand-in-hand with Mentality and influences two key factors: Determines the distribution of individual players mentality across your team, based on your overall team mentality. Creative freedom across the team. Essentially, Team Shape determines how far individual mentalities deviate from the base mentality set by your overall Mentality. My Interpretation This could easily be an entire thread. The above definition is excellent, but the key - for me - is to tweak the definition above so you're considering how far individual player's mentality will deviate from your base mentality rather than "compactness / depth". Very Fluid = Very low deviation Fluid = Low deviation Flexible = Standard Structured = More deviation Highly Structured = Much more deviation There are a few reasons I prefer considering deviation to compactness / depth: Compactness is a positive term - who doesn't want their team to be compact? Team Shape is not the only way to achieve compactness. An example of a common confusion would be wanting to play a compact, defensive system. Logically, you could select a combination of Defensive mentality for the low-block and mentality, then Very Fluid for the compactness. Given that Very Fluid organises your team as one unit, this sets every player - including strikers and attacking midfielders - to a significantly lower mentality. Very Fluid also gives a higher creative freedom to every player. If you're playing a defensive system, you've probably got more limited players - do you really want to give them a "licence to thrill .... slowly". Not saying it could never work, but it's extreme to say the least. In addition, and more of a personal bugbear, but how many very fluid defensive teams do you see in real life? Personally, I can't think of too many free-flowing defences! Methods of achieving Compactness Team Shape - yes, it's very effective at achieving compactness. Just be aware it effects your entire team and their creative freedom. Player Roles - here's a pretty extreme example but regardless of team shape, this is going to be pretty compact: Formation - this 3-man defence with a 4-man shield in the DM strata will be pretty compact, regardless of team shape: Putting this into application.. Key Considerations for Wales' Team Shape: Already decided that I am playing a Counter mentality. My squad contains a number of players who are very limited technical ability, including first team and particularly defence. I do want compactness but I also want my star players - Bale & Ramsey - in attacking roles. Team Shape: Highly Structured Ignore the middle paragraph of the description. Not accurate. See THOGs description above. Summary: We have a Counter mentality which sets my base mentality slightly lower than average. Combined with Highly Structured means my individual players mentality will have a high deviation from the base mentality - in other words, setting an individual to Defend, Support or Attack is going to have a greater influence. We will play precise and controlled football, with low creative freedom. Team Instructions: None Simple The mentality and team shape above combine with the formation and player roles coming next to give a balanced system that plays as I'd like it to. Team Instructions remain good options for game-to-game tweaks but not required as a key component of the system. Formation, Player Roles / Duties and Player Instructions Playing a Highly Structured team shape means we have additional considerations, in comparison to previous systems using Very Fluid or Fluid. The high deviation of individual mentality from the base mentality - counter - means that I need to use formation and duties to achieve compactness. Low creative freedom across the team means I need to use Playmaker roles to add some spark to the team. Highly Structured allows me to assign Gareth Bale an aggressive role to take advantage of his world-class ability. Experimented with a 5-3-2 which also worked well however I found the 3-4-1-2 above more compact and the wing backs offered better width. Player Instructions: Goalkeeper (Defend): N/A Central Defender (Defend): N/A Central Defender (Defend): N/A Central Defender (Defend): N/A Wing Back (Support): N/A Deep-Lying Playmaker (Support): N/A Ball-Winning Midfielder (Defend): N/A Wing Back (Support): N/A Advanced Playmaker (Attack): Get Forward More Shadow Striker (Attack): Roam From Position Defensive Forward (Support): Move Into Channels Gareth Bale In previous threads, we have been talking about squads containing generally world-class, 'complete' players. We've talked about attacking using intelligence (Ajax & Milan), rapid pace (Arsenal) and flair (Brazil) all generally combined with movement and technical ability. This time around, Wales have a more limited squad with a world-class talisman - Gareth Bale. Gareth Bale is an absolute beast - he's quick, strong, great on the ball, great finisher, great movement, dangerous from long range, set-pieces, good in the air and - crucially - versatile enough to play through the centre or both wings. My 'plan A' is always that he plays through the centre, in a free-role off the shoulder of the striker with Ramsey providing attacking support in his Advanced Playmaker role from midfield. The main risk of relying heavily on a world-class talisman is that the opposition mark him out of the game. I also notice that - particularly at international level - opposition defences regularly have a defensive weak spot which I can use Bale's versatility to exploit. Bale can be lethal cutting inside onto his left-foot from the right-flank as an Inside Forward (Attack) with Ramsey moving left to attack the space. Alternatively Bale can move left and play the Winger (Attack) he originally broke through as world-class at Spurs, targeting the opposition right back and stretching the defence for Ramsey to attack from deep. Always roaming from position, although sadly never quite as much as I'd like. ================================================================================================ In-Game Analysis Defensive Shape When talking about Team Shape, I made some bold claims about compactness. As a reminder, I am playing the "least compact" team shape available - aka the team shape that distributes individual mentality with the highest deviation from your core mentality - and I am using a tight formation, and conservative player roles to create compactness. The screenshots below are taken from my defence's greatest achievement, shutting out Argentina and the best player in the world - Mesut Ozil Lionel Messi. Argentina are attacking down the left-flank. Wing backs have dropped deep to create a solid 5-man defence standing firm just ahead of the 18-yard box. Ramsey has also fallen back to join Allen and Ledley in a compact 3-man midfield triangle ahead of the defence. Bale and Vokes are also deeper, troubling the Argentinian holding midfielders. The measure at the bottom shows the compactness of my entire team. Argentina now attack down the opposite flank. This time my left wing back has been drawn out wide to press the opposition. My centre backs have compensated by shifting left as not to leave any gap. The opposite wingback has tucked in as a right back, creating a solid back four - again - standing firm just ahead of the 18-yard box. Ramsey has once again combined with Allen and Ledley creating a compact 3-man shield ahead of the defence. Attackers aren't as deep this time, but not a major concern. This time the measure at the bottom shows the compactness between my defence and midfield. Here's our average defensive positioning from the game. A nice, compact 5-3-1-1 shape as we discussed at the start. Heartbreak Ultimately, this game ended in heartbreak for Wales. Despite Argentina's 62% we managed to all but nullify the attacking threat of Messi & Co. for 89 minutes, before Captain Ashley Williams was sent off for a two-footed challenge and conceding the winning penalty after having missed one ourselves just 10 minutes earlier. Despite the disappointment, it was a fantastic tournament and the Welsh fans repeated their Euro 2016 performance with messages after every game about their delight from the results - even after the defeat. Attacking Shape One of the pleasant surprises of this experience has been the attacking shape. A highly structured, counter-attacking 5-3-2 variant hardly screams, "great football" but I really enjoyed the way we played. Particularly given that we were using largely inferior quality players to much of our opposition. At the out-set I defined two distinct approaches Wales showed in possession: More controlled build up play through playmakers, Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey with wingbacks providing width and Bale making runs. Fast transition in counter-attack aiming to use Bale's pace and dribbling in space behind, or running at the defence. Highlights How we got here.. Road to FIFA World Cup 2018... Wales' World Cup qualifying campaign was an interesting challenge. With a reputation clearly enhanced by the success of Euro 2016, overcoming lower-ranked yet equally-matched opposition became difficult. We started in the 5-3-2 I mentioned briefly earlier. The 5-3-2 worked to an extent but was somewhat disjointed; the wing backs weren't providing enough width and we weren't compact enough with the opposition finding space between defence and midfield - the result being 3 draws in our first 4 games. We moved to the 3-4-2-1 in order to offer more width and a compact block in-front of the defence - the result being 5 wins from the last 6 and an unbeaten qualification. FIFA World Cup 2018 - Group D Wales first World Cup appearance since 1958. The World Cup group stage continued where the qualification campaign had left off. Comfortable qualification with 2 wins and a draw. Knock-Out Stages The knock out stages were my highlight of Football Manager 2017, so far. We started by holding Holland to a 0-0 draw where we defended very well and created a few chances to win outright but in the end it was heroics from Hennessy - saving 3 penalties in the shoot-out - which sent us through. Spain was the performance of the tournament. You can see from the highlight reel that it could easily have been 3 or 4 against them. Argentina - as you've heard - solid for 89 minutes with heartbreak at the end. We then finished strongly with a comfortable 3-1 win over Norway courtesy of a Gareth Bale wonder-goal. Speaking of Gareth Bale, his talisman role went rather well and earned him this little accolade. 2018 World Cup Review That's quite enough from me. Hope you've enjoyed reading and hopefully there's some useful information you can take away to apply in your tactics. Lots of you have asked me about tactics that'd lean towards the structured end of the scale - Simeone, Ranieri, Conte, Mourinho etc - and a common misunderstanding is on 'compactness' so you should be able to use this. Cheers, everyone
HEl **For download link, please read disclaimer at the bottom of the article** **Scroll down for TACTIC TWEAK, better results slightly less possession** I’ll start off and state possession stats mean NOTHING, as Wigan recently proved after pipping Pep in the Fa Cup, but it’s nice to have possession and control the tempo of a game, right? This is the idea behind this tactic, my sole focus is on playing possession football and hoping results will follow. It’s too easy to exploit the match engine on FM18 (3 striker formations), so instead I’m aiming to play beautiful football. So before I go into the tactic and how we’ll be playing, here’s the final league table and the average possession stats after 38 games. 1 point separating 1st and 4th. 7000 more passes than any other team in the league. This is the base of this FM18 Tactic, it’s not to win every game 6-0 (though 3 central strikers exploiting the broken match engine would probably achieve this) it’s to control the tempo of every game we play, regardless of the opposition. Shape is everything, and I wanted to create a system where my players always have more than 1/2 options to pass the ball, I therefore needed a shape with as many ‘triangles’ as I like to call it, as possible. Here’s the shape, the most eye catching part of our tactical set up is the 2 red zones on each wing, where we seem to be missing wing backs! I do tend to ignore these warnings, as generally my wide midfielders will fill in with their defensive duties. Instruction wise, here is how we’re setting up: As you can see, we’re playing SO narrow and the reason behind this is to completely overload the midfield so we can gain control. If we for example were to play wide, then our weaknesses (red zones) would be open for exploitation. A much lower tempo allows us to control the game and frustrate the opposition. IMPORTANT **Tip #1** As with any FM tactic, we’ll have games where it just isn’t going to plan. As this is a very expansive formation, we’ll get picked off if for example, we are down to 10 men. It’s so important to manage these situations. If we can pretend Ozil is invisible(which he’s pretty good at for Arsenal in real life in some games), here is how I tend to change when down to 10 men > **Tip #2** Away from home, if you’re struggling results wise please do consider using the v2 of this tactic which is the 3-5-2 for more solidity. Also, there’ll be games when we’re not playing well, this happens regardless of what tactic you use or what style of play you operate. A key switch of shape is needed to stabilise the performance, again I switch to a 3-5-2> If for example we’re only 1-0 down or we’re drawing on 70 mins, I’ll tend to change back to a 3-4-2-1 and take a risk for a potential victory. **Tip #3** This is all about key player attributes to look out for when signing players. As this is an expansive formation, our transitions from attack to defence and from defence to attack is so important. Therefore, this tactic is more suited to players with HIGH natural fitness and stamina. Please do bear this in mind when selecting your team and picking out transfer targets. Match Stats So you’ve seen how the league table ended, but below are some example matches and match stats> # Download link? Please do download here > https://defencefirstfm.com/2018/02/21/my-fm18-possession-tactic-3-4-2-1/ (scroll to the bottom) Thank you for reading and I hope this draws some tactical inspiration for your own saves. **Disclaimer** This tactic is designed for teams predicted to finish near the top of the league and is solely focused on possession football, so please bear this in mind. Share this:
Hello everyone and welcome to another FM17 project. This time the spotlight falls onto Borussia Mönchengladbach: a historic team for German Football, 'Die Fohlen' have enjoyed their most successful spell in the 70's and are widely regarded as one of the best footballing institutions in Europe. Having developed players like Marko Reus, Andre-Ter-Stegen in modern times or Herbert Wimmer, Berti Vogts and Günter Netzer in the golden decade of 70-80' that saw them win eight trophies and make a series of appearances in European finals, BMG's legacy is tied to several pillars of traditional German football philosophy: youth development, coaching excellence and tactical innovation. The nickname 'Die Fohlen' (i.e. the foals, the young horses) isn't incidental either, in that respect. Hennes Weisweiler, the coach that kick-started BMG's golden decade, developed a style of football based on fielding highly energetic young players and employing an offensive-minded philosophy and powerful play that attracted fans from all over Germany. From the fans' point of view there's no doubt towards the visual relevance their tactical style had in that regard. Young, aggressive, quick, physical, hard-working and hungry - a horde of foals indeed. The club has experienced a resurgence in their performances as much as their identity since appointing Lucien Favre as coach back in 2011. Prior to that, there were relegation battles, disjointed performances and a complete lack of vision that ultimately drove the club as low as the second division (98' and 07'). Under Favre, the team re-discovered their emphasis on youth development as well as a tactical style that integrated elements of counter-pressing or 'Gegenpressing' with work-ethic and compact defensive displays. A good article on the particularities of Favre's style can be found here. Since the Swiss took over in 2011, BMG enjoyed 3rd and 4th placed finishes in the league and Favre's tactical approach meant The Foals were once more amongst Germany's elite. Players like Raffael, Xhaka and particularly young sensation Marco Reus have propelled the club to a mini-renaissance, however even that would prove to be short-lived. We are in 2017, Reus has long left for BVB, where he made his mark as one of the most efficient attacking players in the Bundesliga, Favre has left BMG after a dispute with the club's board and The Foals found themselves ending the current campaign with a 9th placed finish. I've taken it upon myself to 're-invent' this club, maintaining elements of their core identity and pushing them to the next step in terms of domestic and maybe even European Success. The principles will be simple: Have a strong presence of young players (preferably German) in the squad and gradually build them into first-team performers. Develop a style of play that doesn't venture far from 'Die Fohlen DNA'. In terms of FM, here's how I see it: hard-working players and system relying on player's determination, bravery, work-rate and stamina a football style based on collective feats rather than individual brilliance intelligent tactical strategy that seeks to exploit team's strengths and minimise weakness You don't need to know a lot about BMG to know they're probably the most hard-working, aggressive squad in the Bundesliga. The stats do that justice: I'm looking to build on these core foundations of the team as much as the legacy of the above-mentioned Favre. Perhaps what he was most famous for was his narrow shaped 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 that allowed wide players to use space centrally in intelligent ways as well as maintain a robust tactical shape. This refers to one of those terms I keep mentioning a lot when talking about tactics, and in no way is that by coincidence: The Half-Space Increasingly popular in modern football discourse, the half-space is a key strategic concept that has often been overlooked in traditional football thinking. Of course, there are a number of ways of interpreting space on a football pitch, however the most common markers of formation based interpretations usually exclude this term from the conversation. There a are plenty of reasons why understanding how the half-spaces can be best used can be extremely beneficial. "Theoretically, one could even argue that the half-space is superior to the middle. From the half-space, both the middle and the wing are options. But from the midfield there are only the two identical half-spaces, which both have the same end product and a clear path to goal." The quote is 'stolen' from a fantastic article on Spielverlagerung which goes into great detail in analysing the particularities and interpretations of this spacial concept. Find the full article here, I strongly recommend you read it. For a short summary, though, we have the several points to guide our thought process: 1. Using the half-spaces allows for the 'surprise element' against the most common/traditional formations (4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3), which all emphasise either the middle or the wings, leaving gaps in the horizontal third quarter. Agglomerating the half-space usually results in opposition players being drawn out of position and an increased variety in the way space is manipulated. 2. Correct interpretation of the half-space allows for great flexibility in space coverage, be it defensive/attacking transitions or compactness of shape in rigid situations. 3. The geometrical applications of the half-space allow players positioned in that area to be better connected to various aspects of play as well as for players to have a better visual perspective on the situation on the pitch. Part One: The System I will start from the fact that if half-space theory is understood correctly then one quickly draws conclusions about the style of play that would enable a team to reap the full benefits of employing the half-space as the main tool for space-manipulation. Be it in defence or attack, elements of pressure and pass geometry are much more efficient if there is more than one player exploiting the half-space, or if the strategy of play revolves around a collective application to exploiting the half-spaces. There are many formations that can be employed to illustrate a style of play like that, however I will go for the 3-4-3 as my big goal for FM17 was understanding this formation in as many applications as possible. So here are my key considerations for employing a 3-4-3 that will make its' aim to exploit the Half-Space. 1. The BMG squad possesses a good mix of technically gifted players with good movement off the ball and vision as well as hard working defensive-minded players. 2. The application of the system will seek to exploit the intelligence and movement of the front three whilst relying on the work-rate and defensive know-how of the rest in a combined fashion. 3. A general characteristic of the 3-4-3 is that its' main advantage (the wings) are also its' main disadvantage. Correct allocation of roles and team shape set-up can help smother the disadvantage, as much as particular attributes for key position such as the wide centre-backs and the wide players. Shape / Formation / Mentality The Reasoning behind the Team Instructions I can already hear you saying 'but... but.. it's not a 3-4-3!' And before you do go on, I should say that I pay as little attention to formation cliches as much as I do to how much sugar I've got in my coffee. If you've read any of my previous stuff, you should find decent enough reasoning to my thought process there. All in all, what the FM tactics screen shows is about 5% of what really matters, as you'll see in the upcoming analysis. A very fluid set-up for the collective style of play mentioned earlier on, a standard mentality that allows me to neutralise the 'generic approach' and dissect the players that attack and defend via duties/roles and instructions. Whilst that might sound contradictory at first, the idea is to channel team efforts collectively towards space coverage via fluidity and balance the risk via mentality. - a system that aims to manipulate space, hence 'pass into space': this instruction will exploit complex player movement and will take advantage from either the two deep passing options finding a player into space with a long ball or the attacking mids with a shorter pass - even though I want my lines close to each other, I do not want my players too close to each other horizontally, given how many numbers we have in midfield. I've chosen a wider team shape to help stretch us out in that sense - I have two deep passing options: one molding with the back three and the other a bit more advanced and creative, hence I ticked 'play out of defence', in order to exploit their functionality - the tempo has been left at 'normal', as well as the passing at 'mixed' as I trust the players to choose between a long ball/short pass according to the situation (key note: our squad features some of the best decision-makers in the league) - I want to work the ball in the box, given the front three are instructed to roam and create space via movement - Even though I employ a 'normal' defensive line, I've instructed the team to close down more, so that we feature elements of high pressing in our style of play. I also use 'prevent short GK distribution' sometimes, when I feel we could benefit from additional pressing from the front three. A juxtaposition that should explain better why I chose the current set-up: You can see how high the number of players 'concentrated' in the half-spaces is, as well as having wide players that are instructed to 'sit narrow'. Apart from the pressure on the half-spaces, we create a central 'circle' shape that will aim to circulate possession and maintain possession-based pressing. Analysis of play attacking shape in our most attacking form, we become a 3-2-5 that shows good coverage of width and two deep passing options - the HB and the DLP, each prepared to offer support either side of the pitch, or create additional pressure in the left or right half-space. With the help of the DF who is instructed to 'hold up the ball', our wingers and attacking mids are much more involved in the final third the two attacking mids have instructions to roam from position and will often drift from the centre to the flanks, or in other words, agglomerating the half-space here is a prime example of that in action: in the next screenshot notice Hazard (AM) drifting away from Barcelona's marking all the way to the flank where he offers himself as a potential passing option: in the same move, after about 3 seconds whilst the ball is circulated between the HB and the defenders, Hazard moves back to the centre and receives the ball: defensive shape our initial shape from a goal-kick. notice how wide the LCB and RCB are and the DLP & HB offering passing options to help build-up from deep the high press defensive shape. hard working player for the left winger sees him maintain good coverage of potential attacking threat on the flank. the front three (AM,SS,DF) press aggressively : the deep press: wide players track back to almost 'wingback' thanks to high work-rate and high fluidity pressing trap one of the key elements of 'half-space defending' in this system is the pressing trap achieved through numerical superiority and positional flexibility. Given the fact the our two axis formed by the DLP+AM and the HB+SS in the centre of the pitch can drift either centrally or towards the wing, we manage to create numerical superiority in most situations of play. This helps us put pressure on the opposition either through the passing triangles that these movements create, or defensively, where we have 4 players pressing wings and 6 pressing the centre of the pitch Key elements here? High Fluidity + Player mobility/workrate. Here is an example: we are being hit on the break by Barcelona and Suarez has the ball in an advanced position. Our HB and DLP are cutting passing lanes towards the middle of the pitch, where Suarez has the most passing options. The next passing option he has is towards the wing where we have Hermann (RWM) outrunning the opposition player. In the meantime, we have the CB, HB and the DLP all applying physical pressure on Suarez. Two seconds later, Suarez is being succesfully tackled by our CB and Hermann (no 7 ) drifts inside and picks up the ball to initiate a counter-attack. Key players for the system: - hard working & fast wingers self explanatory, absolutely key requirement for any 3-4-3 - mobile & fast LCD and RCD the flexibility of the back-line is a key element of this system: the wide CB's are responsible for covering both wide and central areas, so they need the attributes to pull that off - intelligent attacking midfielders the two indispensable tools of the system: they are responsible for key elements in maintaining possession and attacking space. High stats for technical and mental attributes are very important here. With the help of three key signings, Van de Beek (DLP/HB), Lucas Alario (DF) and Matthijs De Ligt (CD), we have pulled of a clean swipe in our very first season: I will focus a bit more on issues of squad building in the next post ---------------------------- Leave your thoughts if you liked what you've read and as per usual... no download available