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  1. Welcome to the latest instalment in a series of Football Manager tactical recreations based on some of the most entertaining football teams of all-time. Sitting in Barcelona as I type, it is impossible to ignore the the football culture and history associated with the iconic FC Barcelona. After last week's result in Paris and Pep Guardiola's stop-start season at Manchester City, this is perhaps not the most fashionable subject but - to me - Pep Guardiola's Barcelona team was certainly the best I have witnessed and arguably the best of all-time. Their iconic playing style and the best player of all-time - Thierry Henry [/sarcasm] - combined with the supporting cast of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Alves, Busquets, Pique, Puyol etc., etc. makes them an interesting prospect for this type of discussion. If you have yet to read previous discussions, I recommend starting starting with the previous threads in order to fully understand 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 Cult Heroes: Wales at Euro 2016 Whilst Barcelona may not be the biggest challenge - and I am aware many have asked about lower-quality sides - Guardiola's tactics offer us the chance to discuss areas we have not yet covered comprehensively. Mentality - Team Mentality v Team Shape v Player Duty. Specialist Roles - famously the Half-back and the False 9. Multiple Playmakers and how to differentiate between them. Retraining Players, including Player Traits. In addition, Messi - in my opinion the best player of all-time - in the prime of his career. Let's enjoy his ability whilst he's here. I think it may be quite a few iterations of FM before we see another player like him. Resources on Pep Guardiola's Barcelona GPS - Analysis: Pep Guardiola's Barcelona Tom Payne Football: Analysis of Guardiola's Barcelona (2 parts) Zonal Marking Team's of the Decade: Barcelona 2008/09 Spielverlagerung - 2011 CL Final: FC Barcelona v Manchester United Zonal Marking: Barcelona 3 - 1 Manchester United Sky Sports: Pep Documentary Theory Once again - using the excellent analysis from Spielverlagerung - this is the shape we are trying to create. In case you have been living in a cave, this is the starting line-up from the 2011 Champions League Final where Barcelona faced Manchester United. Barcelona winning 3-1 and Sir Alex Ferguson describing Barca's passing as a "carousel" in a game widely regarded as one of the defining games of Guardiola's Barcelona. Lined up in a 4-3-3 or 2-3-2-3 formation - defence, midfield and attack highly integrated with each other. Playing style clearly inspired by Dutch Total Football and Cruyff's influence at the club. Guardiola once said, "Cruyff build the cathedral. It is up to us to maintain it". Highly creative, free-flowing football. Focus on intelligent, technically gifted players. Thierry Henry describes Pep Guardiola's playing style as 3 Ps: Position - Juego de Posición. Team is structured into triangles with players between the lines, giving the player in possession options. Busquets drops deep, central defenders spread wide and the wing backs push forward to create numerical superiority building up from the back in what's known as la Salida Lavolpiana. Messi also drops deep, linking up with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets creating a diamond in midfield. Wide Forwards stay wide during build up, stretching opposition defence and creating space for creative players in midfield then given licence to cut inside when the ball hits the final 3rd. Possession - don't say tiki-taka. Controlling possession and moving the opposition, to create weaknesses elsewhere. One of the most technically gifted teams in history. Dual playmakers in central midfield - Xavi acting as the heartbeat of the team playing deeper and recycling possession, whilst Iniesta is more advanced, creating chances and linking with the attack. Pressure. Attackers leading the pressing. Pressing as a unit. High block defensive line controlling space. In Football Manager 2017 There are a lot of rather sophisticated - and potentially complicated - tactical concepts here, but we actually don't need to deviate too far from the playing style we have already discussed. Last time out we discussed the concept of Playing Style and Structure. Let's now apply that concept, to the points we outline above. Playing Style Playing style is going to be more evolution than revolution. We have already mentioned that Guardiola's style is heavily influenced by Cruyff and the Dutch school of Total Football. We can use playing style to create: Highly creative, free slowing football. Team working together, attacking and defending as a unit. Possession orientated game-plan, short but positive passing. Higher Defensive Line & Pressing. Team Shape: Very Fluid Surprise, surprise. Hello, old friend. If you've read previous threads, this will not be a surprise. Very fluid gives us the creative, free-flowing football and ensures the entire team attacks and defends as a unit. Mentality: Control The main evolution to playing style. Moving from Standard to a Control mentality offers several benefits: Higher collective mentality. Quicker tempo. More width. Higher defensive line. More aggressive closing down. With a just a handful of Team Instructions we are able to create the playing style we want. Team Instructions: More Closing Down - has the knock on effect of increasing tempo and defensive line. Play Out of Defence - shortens the individual passing instructions for my defensive players. Shorter Passes - shortens passing across the team and lowers tempo. Retain Possession* - further shortens passing. Can further decrease tempo but doesn't when combined with More Closing Down. Getting pretty minimal now, which I am very happy with. As outlined above Team Instructions usually have knock on effects and I think this causes a lot of problems. You can easily add loads and lose track of what you've changed. Keep it simple until you know what your doing, and even then keep it simple. * Retain possession is a controversial subject. Team Structure The most important thing about Playing Style and Team Structure is that they complement each other. In addition, we can use Team Structure to re-create: Team structured into triangles with players between the lines, giving the player in possession options. Busquets dropping deep, central defenders spread wide and the wing backs push forward to create numerical superiority building up from the back in what's known as la Salida Lavolpiana. Messi also dropping deep, linking up with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets creating a diamond in midfield. Wide Forwards stay wide during build up, stretching opposition defence and creating space for creative players in midfield then given licence to cut inside when the ball hits the final 3rd. Dual playmakers in central midfield - Xavi acting as the heartbeat of the team playing deeper and recycling possession, whilst Iniesta is more advanced, creating chances and linking with the attack. In previous threads we have discussed how Very Fluid team shape means that individual mentalities will deviate minimally from team mentality - if you attack, everyone attacks. If you defend, everyone defends. Control is a reasonably aggressive mentality - more aggressive then Standard, but less aggressive than Attack or Overload - so my Team Structure must balance that. A second consideration is that in order to have Busquets dropping back and my centre backs spread wide, firstly he must be in the Half-Back role but also - due to a glitch in the match engine - my fullbacks must be in the wingback strata, otherwise my central defenders won't spread wide. This means that we have two important challenges which we need to balance out: We have increased mentality across the team. Our hand is forced into an aggressive Formation. Mentality is probably up there with Team Shape as the cause of the most confusion for a lot of people, but - in my opinion - it is actually incredibly simple. ========================================================================================== What is mentality? Mentality is mentality. Mentality describes perfectly what it does. It's probably safe to assume that most people reading this have - at some point - played football or some kind of sport. Now, think about your mentality when playing and how you act differently. If you're an attacking player, you're more likely to be passing the ball forward, more directly towards goal, take up more advanced positioning and make more attacking runs. As a defensive player, you're more likely to take up a conservative position on the field and your passing, movement and general play will effect that. Then of course there is everything in between, and extremes at both ends - all out attack or holding on to a 1-goal lead in the last minute of the Cup Final. In Football Manager a player's mentality is reflected in a hugely-informative[/sarcasm] green bar, tucked away in the player instruction screen. If you're numerically minded - like me - @GreenTriangle put a helpful spreadsheet together of the 'under the hood' values, reminiscent of the old, slider systems. Mentality is determined by: Team Mentality - increases or decreases mentality across the board. Team Shape - determines how far individual mentalities deviate from the team. Player Duty - specifically duty, not player role. Position Player Duty is relative primarily to Team Mentality, but also Team Shape. Team Mentality determines whether your team is attacking, defensive, somewhere in-between or either extreme. A player's Duty, determines whether their responsibility is to attack, defend or support within that team mentality. Then Team Shape determines how far a player's Duty will make their individual Mentality deviate from the Team Mentality. Structured systems have more deviation, whereas more Fluid systems are more of a unit. For example, not all MC(A)s are created equal - in fact, differences can be large. In an Structured, Attacking system the MC(A) mentality is 17 / 20 where as in a Very Fluid / Defensive system that mentality is reduced to 8 / 20. In real football terms that's the difference between, "we're going to play an attacking system, everyone's got their own roles but you're the spearhead" and "we need to defend as a unit, attack when you can but be very careful". The challenge of going from a Standard mentality to a Control mentality is that - across the entire team - mentalities increase by 20-30%. This is a horrendous interface for analysing this, but given the centre of the bar is Neutral mentality at a basic level we can see that in a Control mentality with Very Fluid shape, Duties take the following effect: Defend duty: Slightly below neutral - if neutral is 50-50, they're 55-45 in favour of being conservative. In real football terms, players with a Defend duty will be slightly more conservative than neutral, but only just and higher than a typical defender. They'll be involved with build up, playing pro-active football but remain reasonably conservative. Support duty: Slightly above neutral - if neutral is 50-50, they're 60-40 in favour of being positive. In real football terms, players with a Support duty will be slightly more positive than neutral. They'll be playing positive football, more inclined to more the ball forwards as opposed to side-ways and support attacks yet remain reasonably sensible. Attack duty: Pretty comprehensively attacking. Looks like 75-25 in favour of attacking. In real football terms, players with an Attack duty mean business. They'll be strongly inclined to attack - not quite at all costs, but pretty heavily - the ball will be going forwards at goal and they'll be looking to score. ========================================================================================== Formation, Player Roles and Duties: If I was to be 100% accurate, I would perhaps skew my wing backs roles to create the Abidal / Alves roles to something along these lines, however I just do not have a player for the Abidal role at the moment. Not sure this represents anything overly groundbreaking here. Only one falling off his chair at this point is probably @Guimy at the sight of my first Strikerless system - of which I'll explain more detail shortly - otherwise, I'd be fairly surprise if anyone had not seen or thought of similar systems before. In comparison to previous systems we are using a lot more Support roles and fewer - but more potent - Attack roles. The wide players are the main difference between this and my last 4-3-3, moving from Attack to Support. For both Wing Backs and Inside Forwards - outside of mentality - the changes are negligible. IF(A) is hard coded to Get Forward More. IF(S) doesn't automatically Get Forward More, but has the option to. IF(S) will also automatically play More Risky Passes. WB(A) automatically Gets Forward More, Run Wide With Ball, Dribble More, Cross More & from Byline. WB(S) automatically Gets Forward More & everything else is optional. Complete Wing Back (Support) has the mentality of the WB(S) but the instructions of the WB(A) plus Roam From Position (which apparently = Complete, to SI). Player Instructions: GK: Sweeper Keeper (Support): Distribute to Centre BacksDCR: Ball-Playing Defender (Defend): N/ADCL: Ball-Playing Defender (Defend): N/AWBR: Complete Wing Back Right (Attack / Support): N/ADMC: Half-Back Defend (Defend): N/A WBL: Wing Back Left (Defend / Support): N/AMCR: Deep-Lying Playmaker (Support): N/AMCL: Advanced Playmaker (Attack): Roam from PositionAMR: Inside Forward Right (Support): Get Further Forward & Stay WiderAMC: Shadow Striker (Attack): Roam From PositionAML: Inside Forward Left (Support): Get Further Forward & Stay Wider Lionel Messi & the False 9 role The first of my joker cards In the Football Manager Tactics Creator we are spoilt with a number of remarkably similar Roles for Strikers / Attacking Midfielders. Let me begin by saying that - to me - the Role is entirely plastic. The most important things are: Position - DMC, MC, MCR, AMC etc. Duty - Defend, Support, Attack. Are they a playmaker? Movement - hold position, get forward, roaming, wide, cutting in etc. Other PIs - crossing, shooting, hold up the ball etc. Lionel Messi is probably the best player I have seen since Ray Parlour and he is famous for the False 9 role. In Football Manager, the False 9 role is represented as: Key points: Striker position. Support role. Move into Channels, Risky Passes and Dribbling all hard coded. Option to Roam from Position. However I opted to go for the Shadow Striker role, which is represented as: The roles are similar. Lots of movement, dribbling, creative, but we can see there is a key difference: The False 9 starts in the striker position and moves away from the goal, creating space for others. The Shadow Striker starts deeper in the AMC position, but aggressively attacks the space ahead of him. The role you chose will depend on the way you see Messi and we probably all see things slightly differently. To me, Messi is way more the latter - he's deep, he links with midfield, draws defenders towards him and attacks the space. Looking at his goal record and watching some of his goals I would be advocating an Attacking mentality all day long. Squad Development & Player Profiles There is a reason I left the tactics screen above without a team selected. Whilst our Team Structure and Playing Style may have been reasonably vanilla in comparison after previous threads. Squad development is an area we can throw in a couple more joker cards and hopefully make it worthwhile reading. A common misconception is that particular tactics will instantly turn no-hopers into world beaters. Unfortunately - whilst there are always tactics which will optimise what you have - until SI implement a "Play Like Messi" instruction, sticking Per Mertesacker up front and calling him a False 9 is not going to make him play like Messi (but maybe Peter Crouch?). Whilst many are admirably grafting away, gradually turning their lower league team into world-beaters I have been having a whale of a time taking one of the best squads on the game and throwing £280m at it whilst shipping out £230m of dead-wood or mis-fits. Squad - 2017/18 Season Best squad I've ever had. Bar none. Couple more joker cards. Starting XI Couple of points of interest here: Messi, Iniesta, Neymar, Coutinho, Dybala and Suarez all in the same starting XI. 6 players playing in retrained positions. Apologies for the confusion of: Neymar in the Messi role. Messi in the Iniesta role. Iniesta in the Xavi role. Yes, that's Philippe Coutinho at right wing back. Xavi & Iniesta: Let's talk about Playmakers Last time out we looked at the differences between our options for Player Roles - Regista, Roaming Playmaker, Deep-Lying Playmaker, etc. This time let's think about the player performing the role. To me - regardless of role - world-class playmakers must be strong in two key areas: Technical ability - Technique, First Touch, Passing. Intelligence - Vision, Decisions, Anticipation, Composure. Plugging these attributes into a Player Search Filter with a 17 minimum, for elite level performers gives us: The original triumvirate - Messi, Iniesta & Xavi - plus Özil, Pirlo and Totti. Average age is very high - only Özil and Messi below 30, 3 players over-35. Players with widely differing styles - Pirlo to Xavi to Özil - have remarkably similar core attributes. When building a new team, my instinct is always to find a young player with potential and a reasonable attribute profile, tutor, give game time and let them grow into the role. In keeping with Barcelona's ideology, I attempted the same with Samper and Aleña but they are limited from reaching elite-level by their potential. Xavi and Iniesta are both legendary midfielders, absolutely at the top of their game. Not only their intelligence and technical ability, but also their experience allowing them to exhibit total control over games. This is why I opted for experience. Addressing the second point - how do we differentiate playmakers from each other with such similar attributes? Player role and how they are utilised tactically. Auxiliary playmaker attributes - particularly Team Work & Flair. Team work determining how likely they are to create chances for themselves vs team mates. High across the board but lowest in Messi, who happens to have the best goalscoring record of the group. Flair being the ability to create a moment of magic and do the unexpected. High for all but Xavi who was famous for his simple approach. Non-Playmaking specific strengths - dribbling, set pieces, finishing, strength, work rate etc. Inherent characteristics - preferred foot, (to an extent) size). Player Traits. Moving Iniesta into the Xavi role Xavi was undoubtedly one of the most intelligent and technically gifted midfielders of all-time and the heart-beat of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona. Xavi's role as a playmaker was more that of a conductor - controlling and recycling possession, switching play, connecting the entire team. Representing Xavi's role in Football Manager Either Deep-lying Playmaker (Support) or Roaming Playmaker (Support) depending on whether you're able to hold control of the midfield or need to move to find space. Incredible intelligence and technical ability. Xavi's traits: Comes Deep to Get Ball. Plays One-Twos. Dictates Tempo. Avoids Weaker Foot. Right Footed. In comparison, here is Iniesta at the beginning of the game: We can see, he's already got the intelligence and the technical ability but his traits are very direct. As a result, playing in the deeper role, he's going to try to directly create chances from deep rather than perform the controlling role we are looking for. Profile after 2-seasons moulding his traits by: Stop playing killer balls. Start dropping deeper to get the ball. Start playing one-twos. Physical stats have began to decline sharply but by maintaining his high level of ability by carefully managing his game-time and training he has become more intelligent and further improved his technical ability. Moving Messi into the Iniesta role Iniesta's role in Guardiola's Barcelona was that of a more advances playmaker, linking midfield with attack and creating chances. Representing Iniesta's role in Football Manager: Advanced Playmaker (Attack). Incredible technical ability and intelligence. Iniesta's traits: Tries Killer Balls Often. Dictates Tempo. Switches Ball to Other Flank. Looks for pass rather than attempting to score. Either footed. Messi has a phenomenal profile. He would be the best in the World in most attacking roles. In this case, development was simply: Retrain as a Central Midfielder. Tried but failed to Develop Weaker Foot - I believe due to maxing out his CA vs PA. The idea of Messi playing in midfield, coming deep to get the ball and then moving forward aggressively with 3 world-class attacking options ahead of him or going himself is - quite frankly - devastating. Neymar playing the Messi role In the 2016/17 season, my attack was structured like this: My scouts rating Neymar as a similar level of ability to Messi by the end of the season and - whilst performing very well - not quite reaching full-potential on the field playing wide right. Like Messi under Guardiola, Neymar moved central - initially as an experiment - and absolutely exploded. Messi dropped deeper into the midfield playmaker role and Cesc moved on to PSG for a modest profit after a very successful yet brief 3rd stint at the club. Coutinho playing the Dani Alves role Dani Alves is a special player. Wonderful Brazilian style attacking wing back. All round football ability - people have even called to see him in midfield. Solid defensive ability, which developed over time. Flair, work rate and fitness are inherent to his overall game. Ahead of the 2016/17 season I had a big decision to make. I had the option to sign Özil - as we have already identified, one of the few elite level playmakers capable of the Iniesta role perfectly - or Coutinho. But I couldn't sign them both due to financial constraints. Coutinho edged it for a few of reasons: Time required to retrain Coutinho meant I wanted him early, whereas maybe I could get Özil later. Scarcity of players with flair, work rate, fitness, a good right foot and the attacking ability to play right wing back. Availability of Cesc Fabregas as a cheaper alternative to Özil. Coutinho's progress has been gradual. It took the entire first season to reach Accomplished at right wing back and has not reached natural after two seasons. Attacking threat, technical ability, all-round footballing ability, fitness and intelligence come ready made whilst defensive ability is improving gradually. ========================================================================================== Match Analysis You join me for the 2018 Champions League Final - the ultimate El Clásico. Having beaten Real Madrid - once again - to La Liga and put two big scores on them in the League, they were out for revenge. Zinidine Zidane is still in charge has actually had two very strong campaigns despite losing out on the trophies. Perhaps under pressure for his job if it doesn't go his way. 4-1-4-1 is a bit of a surprise as Real Madrid have heavily - and successfully - used 4-1-2-3 all season. The big money acquisition of Eden Hazard has pushed Karim Benzema onto the bench, moving Ronaldo centrally. Ronaldo has thrived centrally in the 4-1-2-3 - hitting just under 30 league goals - but I'll be looking to ask questions of him with less support in the 4-1-4-1, trying to cut off supply and isolate him. 4-1-4-1 offers brilliant defensive coverage but the challenge is supporting the striker. You'll notice that in my 4-1-4-1 my striker is on Support and midfield runners rush forward. In Hazard, Kroos, Kovacic and Bale, Real Madrid have runners, but I'd imagine Ronaldo in an attack duty and his traits will drive him further forward - will we be able to isolate him and then exploit the space left by the midfield runners? Analysis Without the Ball Key Instructions / Attributes: Very Fluid - attacking and defending as a unit, forwards mentality is closer to team mentality meaning they will lead the press. Control - pushes defensive line, closing down and mentality - across the board - higher. Support duties - ensures my Inside Forwards and Wing Backs are track back and mitigate their aggressive starting positions. Work rate, determination, stamina, team work. Real Madrid attempting to build up play from deep. De Vrij advancing with the ball after a Real goal kick. Pressing structure I've been using for a few years now: Front 3 lead the press, hassling the opposition back 4, disrupting building up play and - ideally - forcing a long ball. A midfield wall consisting of WB - MC - MC - WB pressuring the opposition midfield and shielding the defence. Defensive triangle DC - DMC - DC outnumbering opposition attack. 'Busquets zone' protecting the centre of the field. Thinner dashed lines show the distances between the WB and the centre back behind and the wide forward ahead - a particular concern building this tactic. Note: in a standard mentality we use more pressing TIs - Higher Line, Close Much More, Tight Marking, etc. Using Control, we simply use Close Down More and notice how advanced we are. Already a risk, any higher would be overkill. Ideally the "Sweeper" Keeper would "sweep" more, but I can't make that happen. Real Madrid handicapping themselves by dropping Casemiro at DM into the defensive line (to aid build up) but failing to spread the defenders. Look at how close Casemiro is to Varane. Effectively taken himself out of the game, allowing us an extra man advantage - see Busquets. Low Block Real Madrid in a more advanced position, attempting to build an attack. Pressure on both the player making and receiving the pass. Wing backs and wide forwards have both adopted deeper, defensive positions creating a compact 4-1-4-1. We have a 4-man defensive line of WB - DC - DC - WB with Coutinho advancing to put pressure on Hazard. Busquets is shielding, again holding that vital position ahead of the defence and cutting out any passing option to Ronaldo. Alba is tucking in. Bale does have quite a lot of space, but with the ball on the other side of the field it'll take a while to reach him. Alba is well positioned to track a dangerous run at the far post. Wide forwards replace wing backs in a 4-man midfield screen. Neymar tracking way back creating a 3v3 on the opposition midfield, leaving Busquets free again. Real Madrid playing conservatively, neither their full backs or central midfielders making a run leaving Hazard, Ronaldo and Bale outnumbered. Analysis in-Possession Deep Build Up Play: Salida Lavolpiana Starting from a goal-kick, Barcelona attempt to build an attack from deep. La Salida Lavolpiana Busquets drops deep, between Pique and Romagnoli. Pique and Romagnoli spread wide - in this case, Pique draws Ronaldo with him. Wing backs push forward, creating a 3-4-3 shape. Messi and Iniesta drop deeper to offer passing options - in this instance, Iniesta is marked but Messi is open. Busquets is unchallenged and can progress with the ball, drawing out a defender to create more space for Iniesta and Messi to play through the middle. Suarez and Dybala retain their width, stretching the opposition defence. Neymar free to roam from position to create a diamond with Iniesta, Messi and Busquets, find a pocket of space and/or make an attacking run. Neymar is pulling the Real Madrid defence forward leaving lots of space behind. We have technical players with space and time to play a pass. We have very dangerous attacking runners in Dybala, Suarez and Neymar. Iniesta pulling the strings - Heartbeat of the Team Not normally one for the stats - as @Cleon pointed out in his Art of Possession thread, stats are often calculated differently - but Iniesta set some hit some stand-out achievements pulling the strings in his new role. 92% pass completion over the course of the season. Averaged nearly 75 passes per game. Completed 125 passes against Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Watch highlights: Messi - the Playmaker Over the course of his career, Messi has been a winger, an inside forward, False 9 and a playmaker. As the best footballer of his generation, he would be the best in the world in almost any attacking role. There are a couple of advantages of playing him in midfield. More involvement, receiving the ball earlier. More time and space. Passing options ahead of him, rather than behind. Receiving the ball from Iniesta and Busquets deep, Messi turns and runs at the defence. Almost anything could happen here. As we hit the final 3rd, the wide forwards - Suarez and Dybala - have cut inside. Wing backs drive forward providing width. Neymar has options for different attacking runs and space in behind the defence to attack. Devastating. The concern with Messi in midfield is his work-rate but he actually covered more ground than anyone in the league. Neymar - the new Attacking Spearhead Messi dropping deeper to take on a midfield playmaker role opened a space at the top as the spearhead of the team. Neymar - like Messi many years before him - moved inside from his wing taking up the "False 9" role, and never looked back. Watch highlights: Achievements Won the La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League treble. Completed an unbeaten season in all competitions. Broke the La Liga goalscoring and point scoring record with 143 goals and 102 points. Played beautiful football. Thank you & GoFundMe contributions So far the response to these threads and discussions generated have been absolutely phenomenal so once again I wanted to thank everyone for contributing as I have really enjoyed it. A couple of people have suggested they'd like to contribute financially to support the series so I have set up a GoFundMe page - Football Manager Analysis. I'd like to be 100% clear that these articles are completely free and will always continue to be. Contributions are simply supporting the work that's been done so far, if you've enjoyed them. As I am sure you can appreciate - whilst I love writing them - a lot of time & effort goes into these. Any contributions are very much appreciated. If we reach the conservative goal of £100m I am going to sign Nicklas Bendtner. I am going to finish by saying that - for those who have read a long so far - I think we have now talked through pretty much all of the tools you'd need to build your own system, if you have a different inspiration - for example Bielsa, Klopp, Pochettino. Please shout if there is anything you feel lacking and I will include in future threads. Enjoy
  2. As a EPL fan and a long term Gunner I'm somewhat still disappointed at how things are at Emirates so luckily we have FM 18 to take matters in our own hands, after a good first season I was ready and had the balance to get myself some quality players and start the new era in new direction... As I stated EPL has always been mine favorite league and after years and years of watching it I can tell that now the EPL is loaded with quite few tactical geniuses which each have their own tactical signature, Mourinho and his catenaccio style of low blocks, Guardiola with his pass tiki-taka, Klopp and heavy metal gegenpress, Pochettino high press attack, Sarri with his high def line and good ball retention, Emery with his inverted wingers and more, so I came do a decision to morph best qualities of few of them into one tactic, well lets say tried, others will say if it was a success so far. The main idea is high pressing which can be said is influenced by Liverpool's Klopp and his tactics which are absolutely amazing,(even OX plays fairly good under him), the second idea is to have a backup plan in same tactic which will focus on keeping the ball and creating overload in one side of pitch while other side is left fragile and exploitable, who does it better then Pep(tbh I hate the guy and his pass it pass it style, but he is atm best at utilizing halfpaces in EPL) and finally third man is Wenger, some of you might feel it weird using something from Wenger in allround system but yeah, back in days Wenger played mid-low block in his Invincibles season and it worked for him and will be mine defensive backup if the initial high press fails. The idea What's the big deal here? It's just a 451? Let's say this first, I'm a huge fan of 451 or as some may call it 41221, the simple reason is it has a player in every strata there is, it is much easier to develop young players for me in this system then in any other, you have mid 3 which have a holding player, a runner and creator, you have wide players whom are expected to run create and score, you have wing/full bakcs with different responsibilities and you have a striker, there isn't anymore I could ask for. Team instructions Now the general idea is to use 2 CM's and 3 front players to press high up the pitch, get the ball and do a quick transition which will lead into our goal, easier said then done, we all want that, the other part is mine duties, the left flank is loaded with creative duties, similar to what Sarri did in Napoli and what Pep does in each game, he creates overloads forcing opposition to step out and close down players, the goal here is to have those 3 on left flank closed down by 5 of their players before we switch the ball to other flank, it won't happen every minute, AI isn't that stupid, but it will happen often enough for me, the other side of the pitch has a BBM that roams and might join left side players in creating said overload while freeing mine STC or AMR from their marker since we will add another player into the fry, I would probably use BWM(S) instead of B2B if I haven;t had a quality allrounder like I luckily have, and last part of the overload puzzle is mine DMC, the DMC has DLP role which will make him recycle possession by simply offering mine team a back pass solution when they fail in their intention, also DLP is further away from goal and has a good sight over whole field so he can make that 2nd pass toward other side of the pitch to create an opening for mine RB or AMR, usually DLP will do 2nd passes to RB/AMR who will run in 16m box and then provide assist for STC/AML/Mezzala. The 2nd line of defense is mine other 5 infield players DLP and back 4, they won't be so forcefull in trying to get the ball, they will stand ground and wait for opposition to arrive to them, this makes it easier to defend against pacey wingers since high press will make opposing players hoof the ball 90% of time where you have 5 players who are just waiting to recycle it. That is the general idea, I do make some changes according to match scenes, ie look for overlap shout, if a side is heavily shut in and wants me to attack it and exploit me on counters i will take them on their offer, overlap shout will make mine Wingbacks go further up the pitch and create havoc in wide areas and supllying crosses in penalty box, I also told mine players to try for whipped crosses since I don't quite have any Vanyamas and Girouds who are supposed to join attack, true SMS and Matic are quite tall in FM standards and Lacazette and iwobi aren't to be joked with either but I feel the forwards pace and anticipation is way better weapon for mine players then their height. Mine mid 3 is quite different from most mid trios I've seen over the years in football, the reason behind this is I need a mid 3 that are abble to create, score(CM's) and tackle so I need allrounders, slotting Xavi at his prime in MEzzala or DLP role would spell disaster on multiple levels, same as sloting iniesta in any of mid roles, but being as I am a weird manager with weird ideas i do have that role on the pitch, a pacey agile good balanced dribbler who can assist, that sort of player will always find a place in mine team and that is mine wide playmaker. The whole idea here is to have a team with good decisions, anticipation, workrate and teamwork in addition with good physical stats, each of mine players needs some balance and pace i expect them to close down aggressively and sustain that style of play for 90 minutes. Beauty of tactics so far for me has been when teams open themselves up and try to score one for themselves, then its heavy metal time, press them and retrieve ball in their own half with 3 players almost constantly being forward and sometimes even 4 since Mezzala has a high starting position so when press starts its sometimes 424 formation in their transition phase, with that kind of pressing most teams are forced to clear the ball long and hope it will get to their Diouf style striker who will be disposed. In mine back 4 I have BPD role, this role is there to initiate counter attacks with through balls after the opposition comes near mine def line, so if mine high press fails, and opposition gets to besiege me, this fella will eventually get the ball and try to find either mine RB, AMR, STC, AML or he will try to fin some space for MC's and give them opportunity to orchestrate attacks. OI's OI's are fairly simple as they are there just to prevent buildup from back and force mine front 5 into closing down opposition in their own half. When did I struggle? i struggled heavily vs Conte, his 3511 with diamond mid and 2 WB's gave me hell until I decided to switch mine DM from DLP to BWM(D), the reason I opted for such an option was to try and win that midfield battle, the outnumbered me there, but I had confidence that mine flat 4 will whistand siege from the remaining playerrs which weren't closed down by mine 6 players, simple math was he has 3CB's and 1 DM who aren't gonna join in attack, if I commit 6 players to close down his 6 players and leave 4 of them in a simple wall i still have the advantage, and guess what? It worked, Chelsea got rekt on Stamford bridge Some might say who destroyed whom? They had more shots on goal then you did? So lets analyze the shots Chelsea shots from inside the box: Morata: 2 of which 1 from corner Hazard: 2 from decent positions Guerriro(WBL): 1 from wide position Their CB's combined: 2 from corners, headers from 10 or so meters Arsenal shots: Lacazzete: 2 from 5 meters both goals since goal was open 1 blocked Ramsey: 1 from 5 meters again on open goal Lingard 1 missed HC Decide for yourselves which chances would you prefer for your team. Conclusion so far i'm having a blast. I'm still tempted to try and provide different role to Mezzala but i simply can't get away from the role since its superb, i initiatively wanted to go from RPM but he doesn't overlap and surges into attacking area as often as mezzala does and he would/t be able to press as high as mezzala, 2 AP's on same side isn't ideal for me so I wrote that one off, I still change a role or 2 depending on opposition, like a Chelsea game for example, or a game vs weaker sides where mine RB gets the full attention he needs with CWB(s) so he can surge forward from get go, CF to support role so that he holds on ball and comes more into midfield to link with CM's and AP leaving space for IF to exploit, it all depends on matches but most of time its jsut a simple mentality change to counter with retain possession WBIB play out of defence in matches I want to close out and simply rest mine players, most the time I have the luxury of playing lower intensity in final quarter of the game so mine players don't get taht much fatigued... Some player screens from current season: Some of you might feel mine squad could be better, i opted for Woodburn and Lingard since those 2 are perhaps the future of Wales and English football and I want to give poor guys a chance, Matic and SMS are mine fellow countryman so that's a no brainer, Alexandr Trent is world class for me personally, although I'm a gunner Bellerin is simply like a blindfolded bullet train and I wanted someone with more "mentals" and techical cappability, Monreal was too defensive thus Josh Tymon gets the chance, do I even need to explain why Elnenny, Xhaka, Aubameyang, Welbeck and Ozil got sold? either you work or you play for Man City and finish 5th, yes Aubame i'm talking to you, current squad isn't full of depth but i hope they will manage to provide wihtout too many injuries and get some additions in Winter break along the way. I'm satisfied with forward players tho I'm thinking of adding in a young prospect for Wing positions so he can replace Mkhitaryan, 30 years offensive player isn't in mine book unless he is Luca Toni at least. Cheers fellow managers and I hope you find this helpful and give me more ideas to improve mine current idea.
  3. Which roles did they play at Pep's barcelona? Can someone give me the position and instructions?
  4. What was Busquet's actual role under Guardiola 2009-2012? I'm creating Pep's barcelona tactic, can someone say which role he played under him? FM
  5. Hello, I'm trying to create Pep's Barcelona. Which team shape and mentality are best to use? Please give me good answers with explanations. I looked around forums, but found several answers.
  6. Hi all, In the last couple of weeks I've discovered that my holy grail of football tactics lies within the total football inspired by cruijff and guardiola. I'm trying to emulate this kind of football in FM. I'm not trying to copy an exact tactic 1 on 1, but it's more about the philosophy behind the tactics. Lately I've been reading a lot of articles about Guardiola's philosophy and I was wondering: When I'm emulating his ideas into any fm tactic, what instructions do I absolutely have to tick? I guess I'll have to play very fluid, control. And further on? - retain posession? - work ball into box? -play out of defence? -high defensive line? -high pressure? My question in short is: what are the basic instructions that you would use every time while forming every cruijff/guardiola-inspired tactic? Note: I have learned a lot from the topics of Özil to the arsenal about his fantastic ajax and barca tactic. But I'm not trying to emulate exact tactics, I'm trying to emulate the bigger picture, the philosophy (gosh, I sound like Louis van Gaal right now).
  7. I'm struggling with attempting to recreate Pep's tactics as they're so fluid. They go from a 3 at the back, to the holding midfielders slotting in at wingback. I would also think that instructions such as be more expressive, run at defence, higher defensive line, work the ball into the box and retain possession.
  8. Hello, and welcome to my FM17 save. I've decided to do something a bit different this year, and it's probably the most difficult challenge I've ever undertaken. The Challenge This challenge, as the title suggests, is based on the career of Pep Guardiola. I'm going to try to win every trophy he has managed to (including the minor ones), in the same timescale. I will also take a 'sabbatical' at the same stage he did, and will watch games during that time, posting updates from the football world. I will create the vacancy at the next club at the appropriate time, but it'll still be up to my manager to get the job, I won't re-invent myself. My Manager I have, with the help of the FM Community, managed to almost exactly replicate Pep Guardiola's attributes from the 2007/8 season, and so here he is and here are his managerial stats to date The starting point
  9. Just a quick idea, wondering what anyone else thinks. I strongly believe we should have a much more in-depth tactic creation. Sometimes I feel I'm limited to what I can do with a tactic, for example take Pep Guardiola, Man City vs Sunderland opening game of the season. (I will link a youtube video to emphasize my point more) In the transition from defense to attack you notice he uses an unorthodox approach regarding his full backs and defensive midfielder, opting to have the DM drop inbetween the two CB's. Granted I know this can be achieved with a HalfBack role but what about the fullbacks in cliche and sagna who come inside and act as two holding midfielders infront of the now new back three with inturn draws opposition players inwards and creates space out wide for the wingers leaving a clear 5 men behind the ball and 5 infront attacking the goal. Now it might just be me but i not sure something like this is achievable with tactic creation features at our disposal in FM16. I think there must be a way to be able to create real unique tactics using some sort of transition phase creation feature perhaps? In the same way we do with the set piece creation tool? Let me know what you think. Also here's the youtube video in question:
  10. Not sure where to post this, so if it's in the wrong place I'm sorry. I have been thinking about what career save I'm going to do when FM17 comes out, and have decided I want to do a 'Pep Guardiola save'.I intend to start as Barcelona B, with the manager attributes set to those of Pep Guardiola's when he took them on at the start of 2007/8 season. The problem I have is that despite having bought every FM (and Champ Man) since the start of the series, I've lost the discs and this one predates Steam so I can't just reinstall. Does anyone still have FM08, and would the be willing to post his Manager Attributes and Coaching Badges for me please? I've even tried Googling them but to no avail. Thanks if anyone is able to help.
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