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  1. In no small part down to the emergence of the trend of a 3-man defence across Europe this season, I believe a revision of the player instructions of DCs may be due. Currently, the Libero is the only role that allows the defender to adopt a midfield position when the team has possession. However, whilst a Libero ventures forward and steps into midfield in possession, he adopts the role of a conventional sweeper in defence - he "drops behind the defensive line, aiming to sweep up through balls, pick up extra attackers and make goal saving tackles, blocks and interceptions. His exceptional athleticism and reading of the game enable him to cover for defensive errors, take possession of loose balls from a deep position and secure possession.". Significantly, this means that in order to play with a central defensive player who steps into midfield when in possession, you are limited to only being able to deploy a Libero - a player who also adopts the deeper role of a sweeper in defensive situations - something which I don't believe is suitable to or realistic of certain systems in today's day and age. Therefore, I think the addition of a 'Get Further Forward' player instruction to Central Defenders and Ball Playing Defenders of all duties would be greatly beneficial. This would allow for greater choice of and control over how the DC acts in the defensive phase - for example, a Ball Playing Defender with the 'Get Further Forward' instruction would act as a Libero would in possession, but as a normal DC would on whatever duty they are deployed as when in the defensive phase. I believe this is only realistic, as not all central defenders who roam into midfield in possession are necessarily sweepers in defence. In basic terms, this would allow for a realistic 'hybrid' of a Libero and Central Defender/Ball Playing Defender that exists in many 3-man defences in 2017 - a defender who ventures forward into midfield in possession, but remains as a DC in defence, rather than a sweeper.
  2. Other tactics Guardians - Creating defensive fortitude The Magnificent Four - Strikerless crying havoc ___________ Han Solo - Asymmetric strikes back In my previous attempt at tactic building the emphasize had gradually shaped into creating solid defensive structure. This time around I’m looking to smash scoring charts. Considering that my previous tactic would average 2-2,5 goals a game at the end of the season, I will define “goal bonanza” tag achieved if I’m able to average 4+ a game this time. As I don’t have a squad full of Ronaldos to achieve it, I will create a heavy-attack system, which would require to sacrifice some defensive form to be able to excel in scoring department. So I will be perfectly fine as long as I outscore the opponent. Here we go. Against Real Madrid in Champions League group match A routine league game Tactic will arrive soon.
  3. Introduction During a long haul flight I recently endured (who decides it's a good idea to fly from the Far East to Europe at 8 in the morning?) I read the book "Inverting the Pyramid" by Jonathan Wilson. The book details the tactical evolution of various systems since as far back as we have records. One passage caught my eye: the 3-5-2 probably invented by pragmatist Carlos Salvador Bilardo. Using this system Argentina won the '86 World Cup, bringing home El Mundial for the second time in eight years. Another possible inventor of the 3-5-2 is Ciro Blazevic with Dinamo Zagreb in the early eighties. It's all semantics, because within this 3-5-2 the style of the two managers were very different. Before Bilardo took Argentina to back-to-back World Cup Finals, César Luis Menotti had won the Cup using a much more aesthetic and eye catching approach in '78. However, the '82 failure saw Menotti resign and Bilardo brought a new concept to the federation and nation as a whole: win at all costs. For a proud footballing nation this was very controversial and a divide in tactical thinking was created; menottismo y bilardismo. Menottismo is strongly influenced by Total Football and the Dutch way of playing. Menotti used a version of what we know now as the 4-1-2-2-1, or 4-3-3. Mario Kempes was given a free role behind the front 3 as a playmaker and won the final almost alone, making surging runs in the great spaces left by the Dutch team, who couldn't cope with the movements of the Argentine front 3. Kempes scored twice in a 3-1 win after ET and that was that. Bilardismo is much more pragmatic and cynical. Bilardo and Menotti would over the years become footballing enemies and the latter would use every chance he got to criticize the way the Argentine team was playing under Bilardo. Bilardo faced a huge challenge when creating the 3-5-2 - how to implement the demi god of football Maradona in a five man midfield. Back then this was unheard of, everybody knew that a player like that would only thrive in a 4-3-1-2. Bilardo solved this by making the defensive midfielder a "destroyer" and giving free roles to the wing backs when Maradona was man-marked out of a game. The wing backs would then be asked to cut inside and making runs to confuse and break the shapes of the opponents. When the English decided against man marking, Diego he scored the Goal of The Century. When Bilardo explains this it sounds ridiculously simple, I'm sure there was more to it. However, bilardismo is known as antifútbol in South America, even though he had great success. Over the years not only managers, but also the footballing journalists of Argentina have chosen sides. The two schools can be seen as tactical religions and until you as a manager have substantial success on your own, you are either a menottista or bilardista. Although most managers choose the Menotti way (La Volpe, Gallardo, Pekerman, Sensini), the Argentine coach with most success in recent years is a Bilardista; Diego Simeone. This is from an Argentinian website: Despite living in South America for 6 years, I never really knew much about the different tactical schools of Argentine football. I thought to myself, as I was reading up on this, why not make a hybrid of the two and go from there? Turns out someone, IRL, thought of this before me. In other words, in my alternative universe Marcelo Bielsa was never born and I am the one to unite these two theories to create something bastardly and surprising. The 3-3-3-1/3-3-1-3 My idea was to create a system that was both defensively solid and spatially oriented, meaning that I would find a tactic that would work well against superior and inferior sides, needing only slight changes in roles to make changes. I read up on the various Bielsa systems in addition to Bilardo, but never wanting to go full Bielsa I looked for something in between. I didn't want a possession system and I had to find a way to make use of the two traditions of Argentine football: one libero/sweeper and one pure No 10. Both Menotti and Bilardo had each one truly great enganche, or #10 in Kempes and Maradona respectively. Bielsa used the libero/sweeper role that Bilardo used in his system, but used the wingers more associated with Menotti. This tactical posts starts with Indenpendiente in Argentina, I then moved to Benfica after being offered the job as the Apertura 2018 was about to begin. Therefore, some of the contents will deal with the Independiente side that won the Sudamericana and Clausura (I still use those terms, even though they now are one tournament). Then the tactic evolved slightly in terms of roles at Benfica, because the squad there is much stronger and have different types of players. This image is from a Copa Libertadores match against Palmeiras. At Independiente I used a more cautious approach as most opponents are either equal or superior in ability. In this image you can see the defensive shape, where we form a defensive wall of 6 defensive players. It is the job of the two CD's to break play ahead of the libero, to stop any advances from the forward 3 Palmeiras players. Once winning the ball they will look to pass it forward quickly and vertically. The formation here is straight out of the Bielsa playbook, the shape/mentality is not. In this post I will not go into detail on the various settings and roles, I will do that in a separate post. But I think you can see what the objective is: Stretch the play wide to create spaces in the central areas. The inverted wingbacks will serve as central midfielders when we have the ball high up and drop deep to build a wall in defense. The central areas must then be used for full effect, both by our free-flying playmaker and said IWB's. Two examples below of the wingbacks scoring from open play: Both of these goals came against very defensive sides. The leftmost image displays my left winger Blanco putting a low cross in between the goalie and defenders, Fabricio Bustos has snuck free and scores from a simple tap-in. The AP is barely visible, right next to Bustos, also free from defenders. In the rightmost image our right winger Benitez drops back and deep, receives the ball from the DM and using two touches the right wingback Britez is through on goal, scoring. Next up I will go into the tactical side and then finally give you some inspiration in the form of Bilardo vids and hipster blogs.
  4. hello and welcome to this thread For a long time now I've been fascinated by the idea of developing a style of football that presents something new and perhaps unconventional. If you've read any of my previous tactical experiments you might have noticed I'm quite drawn to asymmetry and different interpretations of certain aspects of football. Here are some of the stuff that might give you a background on that: The Spartan way - a Tactical Identity Journey /// Tactical adaptability vs. Tactical variety //// Tactical revelations with VfB Stuttgart Call it a hipster approach if you wish, but I firmly believe in the fact that the FM tactical creator as well as the ME allow you to explore to great depth the immense complexity of this game, even though we will probably never see complaints about how poor they are ever stop. Inspired by one of the tactics that I've worked on in the Stuttgart thread (FM16), and given that it was heavily relying on the Half-Back (which doesn't seem to be working in this year's FM) I will try to implement a similar system that relies on a few key ideas: Total Defending as you might have heard me say before, I've always believed that in order to come up with a definition for a style of football, one must consider how it manifests in all situations of play - starting from how your team defends to how your team manages possession, space, width, penetration, pressure and so on. I've noticed that when people are talking about total football, the concept based on fluidity, movement and positional awareness, they only seem to refer to or focus on the attacking side of the game. This same concept and principles can be applied to the defensive phase as the team will look to defend by: a) reducing space between the lines - the idea is to 'shrink' the team vertically, leaving as little space as possible for the opposition to exploit between the players through either runs or passing whilst maintaining horizontal width in order to maintain good coverage of space desirable scenario (experimental) - notice how close the lines area to each other as well as the width of the team vs. the opposition width b) compact and mobile shape - a team shape that stays compact and minimizes the space the team has to defend as well as being mobile enough to shift the focus of play to different areas of the pitch. desirable scenario (experimental) - notice the number of players committed to the action area So far, I've identified a few main issues I want to implement in the tactical creator: - I want my team to be compact yet fairly wide - I want my team to be mobile and commit as many players as possible to the action area - I want my team to be defensively responsible In the system I want to develop, I want to focus on the application of this style with a particular focus on how the team defends. What not only complements this but also brings us to one of the key points of this thread is the next key idea: The Libero a role that seems to have been absorbed and nullified by modern football tendencies, the Libero was a key part of how many teams played a few decades ago. Think about players like Franz Beckenbauer, Matthias Sammer or Gaetano Scirea for some of the greats in this role. A quote from thesefootballtimes.co's great article about the Libero tells us pretty much everything about why this role is so special: "It was a majestic sight. Go back 30 or 40 years and watch teams defend. The majority of them will feature a type of player that seems to have been lost from the modern game. You’ll see an elegant defender sitting behind the defensive line, picking up a stray through balls from an attacker. As he effortlessly brings it under his control, he marches forward with it, stepping past the other defenders and moving into the midfield zone. From there he acts as a modern-day deep-lying playmaker, initiating the play and spreading it out to the flanks, or playing it forward into midfield or attack. This is the Libero" FM description of role Ok, so how does the role fit into my overall idea of the system? - the libero's transition to midfield in attacking/possession phases helps us create additional pressure and numbers in the opposition area - the libero will perform a variety of duties in our defensive set-up which will make our defensive unit more complete and able to deal with various threats The type of player required for this role is by all means complicated and there are a few key areas which are key to a player performing well in this position/role: a) tactical awareness - The type of football played by the Libero means he will have to make correct decisions in pressured situations, anticipate team-mates and opponents movement, spot an opportunity for a pass, identify space to run into, all these being issues relating to the mind more than the feet. Without a single doubt, the complex movement that this role entails means we want one thing above the rest from our Libero: football intelligence. This is a skill that is incredibly hard to identify in real life, however FM offers a set of attributes that make it easier to determine whether or not a player excels in that department: Anticipation – How accurately can a player predict other player’s movements In other words, can our Libero “read the game”, can he predict where the ball is going and where his opponents are going to be. A player who can accurately predict the movement of opponents doesn’t need to be fast or ruthless, he compensates with the power of his mind and his speed of thinking. Concentration – How long a player can keep his mind focused on the game A players attention tends to fade as the game progresses. We don’t want that, our Libero needs to be focused for as long as possible, as any mistake he makes can be potentially fatal. A high attribute for Concentration means the player will use his Decisions and Anticipation attributes better throughout the length of a match. Decisions – Controls the quality of decisions the player makes A player is constantly presented with options, and the Decisions attribute controls if the player chooses the best option. It also controls how and when an option is performed. Decision is what, when and how. We don’t want our player to be hesitant, when he makes a move, we want him to follow through. Positioning – The accuracy of a players position This attribute controls how well a player positions himself, depending on what’s going on around him. Positioning (do I recognize the various options available to me) is linked with Decisions (do I opt for the right position out of the various options available to me) and Anticipation (do I predict the movement of others well enough to read the game). In our eyes, these three attributes make up most of the footballing intelligence our Libero should possess. b) mobility - the player's ability to position himself efficiently and find space in both defensive and attacking situations is of great importance to this role. As the Libero will shift up from behind the defence all the way into midfield and back in pretty much all of the defensive/attacking transitions. A few key areas the player needs to excel in: Acceleration – How fast can a player reach top speed Whilst the Pace attribute determines the actual top speed a player can reach, Acceleration determines how long a player needs to reach that top speed. In the split-second decision-making world of the Libero, getting there fast is mostly about accelerating rather than top speed. Agility – How easily a player moves A low attribute means the player is “sluggish”. A high attribute means the player is nimble and light-footed. We prefer the former to the latter. Sluggish players commit fouls, which is generally not a smart idea if your Libero is the last field player between an opponent and your own goal. Pace – Decides the top speed a player can reach The Pace attribute determines the top speed a player can reach whilst sprinting. If the system entails a defensive set-up that frees the Libero from covering large distances, he doesn't need to have more than 11-12 for these stats, as long as he’s intelligent enough. * massive kudos to Guido at strikerless.com, whose work articulates these issues perfectly and has given me a good foundation on which I could further develop my ideas So why did they stop using this role? One of the key reasons for the Libero/Sweeper's demise in modern times is strictly related to the offside trap rule changes. One of the fantastic videos from tikitakatactics gives us a good visual description of how and why modern football transitioned from Libero to Ball-Playing-Defender What this means is that in order to make this role work more efficiently we will have to play with a slightly deeper defensive line, as the high press with the use of a Libero will be very problematic. Okay, so after a fair bit of analysis, let's see how we can fit all of this criteria into the FM match engine. Considerations - the complexity of all of the criteria listed above plus the chosen formation require a squad that has distinctive characteristics: a) a leading player for the libero role as the whole defensive set-up will rely on him b) good work-rate, speed and defensive know-how throughout the team, especially wide players and wide CB's in order to cover space efficiently and be able to fill in for each other's mistakes c) pseudo-total footballers (if you wish), or players that aren't limited to one side of the game and are comfortable contributing to most of the phases of play d) good overall strength and physique as well as reasonable tactical awareness for defensive minded players in order to be comfortable with absorbing pressure while defending deep Case Study A: Juventus One might say that going with Juve is overkill as they are the dominant force of Italy and are favorites for every match in the league, however in this specific case study I will focus on the ideal scenario rather than inspiring underdog stories of overachievement. And the squad Juve have presents options that indeed, fit the criteria for the ideas I want to implement to almost perfection: The Libero - Leonardo Bonucci probably the most suited player for the Libero role in FM, Bonucci's stat distribution as well as PPM's make him a perfect choice. He excels in pretty much all the attributes listed above as being key for this role Key Squad Attributes Defensive Players (CB's & DM's) Wide Players (wingers&fullbacks) acceleration - as we plan to play fairly deep I need most of my players to be fast enough to move forwards or backwards without being outrun passing - essential for the 'total defending' concept as we plan to defend intelligently using passing and movement work rate - the above mentioned ability to cover space relates strictly to how much a player is willing to commit to attacking/defending space bravery - as we are looking to defend deep we need our players brave enough to commit to challenging the opposition as often as possible strength - key for defending deep, we need our players to be strong on their feet and avoid being out-muscled Formation&Roles this is how the team will look to move from a defensive shape most common positioning in attacking shape the formation&roles reflect some of the key concepts mentioned above: - articulated block of defensive players responsible for outnumbering the opposition in own half - defensive compactness achieved through concentration of numbers in defensive area - width covered through the use of wingers as well as wider team shape that allows defenders and DM's to drift to the flanks - pressure in midfield achieved through DM's getting forward and Libero advancing high up the pitch in attacking situations - the left side is slightly more attacking than the right as we aim to create an imbalance in the way we cover space. This makes this opposition defenders get drawn out of position and enables us to add a dimension of variety to the way we create and attack space Team Instructions, Shape&Mentality The choice of team instructions reflects all of the above discussed points about how I want my team to interact as a unit as well as cover space. Additionally, I've decided to add the 'pass into space' TI as the slightly asymmetrical nature of our system will create space that can be exploited by the deep creative roles such as the Libero and the RPM. As we look to create pressure in midfield through a high number of players congested in that area, I've instructed my team to 'work the ball in the box', given that in most cases we will have considerable numerical advantage near the opposition box which can be exploited through clever movement and passing. Passing has been set to short as we aim to have our players close to each other and look to keep it simple as a team. The more creative roles - Libero, RPM have a 'more risky passes' PI as default in their roles and the DLP has the 'more direct passes' PI ticked, as I aim to use the first two as the main creative outlets of the team as well as the latter to create verticality in our passing game. Our team is set to position itself 'fairly wide' as I want my DM's to be close enough to the wings to help the WM's defensively, as well as avoid being overly congested due to the already high number of players that will look to attack the midfield area. The 'very fluid' team shape along with the instruction to 'be more disciplined' aims to combine compactness, mobility and defensive responsibility, all key concepts of this systems mentioned above. The 'high tempo' relates to the quick passing game achieved through either build-up through the middle or flanks I want to achieve, as the team will need to transition quickly from defence to attack given that we will defend relatively deep. The instruction to 'play out of defence' relates to exploiting the Libero and the DM's in the build-up phase of the game. example of defensive situation - notice good coverage of width as well as number of players committed to action area (in this case - central) example of defensive situation - here you can notice the mobility of the team defending as a unit as we have 6 players drifting to the left, committing to the action area vs. the opposition 4. In this screenshot you can also see how deep the WM drops in order to maintain good defensive coverage of a potential threat out wide example of build up from deep - the libero starts an attacking move from deep and has a number of passing options at his disposal. The variety of player roles available for the pass means that the attacking build-up will unfold in a number of ways, depending on who is given that responsibility example of attacking situation - notice the large number of players in midfield helped by the RPM and the Libero advancing from deep positions as well as the number of players making attacking runs in the final third. Here you can also see our wingers attacking width efficiently and our DLP and DM sitting deeper and holding their positions in order to offer protection to the CB's example of attacking situation - the Libero advances high up the pitch and looks to dictate play from that area. The team is positioned favorably for maintaining possession and pressure high up the pitch given the triangles formed with the DLP, RPM and DM. We have the DLF and SS dropping deep and drifting around to pick up a pass and look to enter the final third, combining with each other or the wingers in the process. example of flexible play - in this situation you can notice two key issues: a) how high we are able to press even though we start with a 'normal' defensive line and the number of players we are involving in the possession phase of the game b) the suitability for counterpress that this system offers - the red arrows indicate the movement of the players in a potential situation where let's say our RPM is dispossessed by the opposition. Notice that we have a number of players who are positioned slightly deeper than any of the opposition's potential on-runners. Relying on the Libero's anticipation and decision making as well as on his speed, we are able to cut out opposition counter-attacks high up the pitch and transition back into attack without covering too much ground. Here you can also see that our RCB is positioned wide enough to deal with the threat of the opposition winger if the case arises. We've had some really good results so far, including a sweet 5-0 demolition of AC Milan, although the system with the exact set-up as described above was used after our defeat at Udinese the analysis of the types of goals we are scoring shows that we are successfully exploiting the midfield and that we are able to 'work the ball in the box' to great effect. Additionally we've had a couple of 'long shot' types of goals from our Libero and DM's which is, of course, a bit of a bonus analysis of assists - as discussed above, the set-up planned to have the left side of the pitch slightly more attacking then the right and you can see the successful implementation of that here. Our LW has been one of the most efficient players in the team in creating chances from the left flank. While the RM's contribution is slightly disappointing, his main duty is less about support and more about defensive responsibility and space coverage. Additionally you can notice we have 15 assists from relatively deep locations, which means that creating play from deep with the help of the libero and the DM's is working well. the location of the goals conceded is mostly central, which could make me re-evaluate some of the marking instructions of the defensive players. Still, the encouraging part is that we have not concede a single goal from wide areas apart from a fluke cross from Nacer Barazite that somehow ended up in our net when we played FC Kobenhavn. This means that we are managing width incredibly well and that we are successful in achieving that horizontal mobility as a compact defensive unit. Part of this is down to the great all-round wide players that Juventus have in their squad, particularly Alex Sandro and Cuadrado. These two players are key to the system as their work rate and defensive ability helps the team in all the phases of play. Juventus vs. Man City in this match we produced one of our most typical performances - great possession management and efficient attacking display, while defending through player positioning and fluidity. The average positioning of the players shows that we have limited space between our lines and that we stay compact as well as that we maintain good coverage of width. The heat map shows that the focus of our play was the opposition's entire central area as well as City's right (our left) side of the opposition half, which highlights again why playing with the Libero is so special - you can achieve high pressure football while defending deep. average team positioning heat map the Focus of our attacks shows good overall distribution of attacking locations, which means we are involving all of our players in that side of the game. The focus towards centre-left is by design and the proportions seem very balanced. The interceptions map shows that we make a very good number of successful recoveries high up the pitch, which shows that the counter-pressing element of this system is working really well. attack focus interceptions map in this match, our Libero, Bonucci, produced a fantastic all-action display. Here you can see how his passing game alternates from deep-long range passes to high up the pitch-shorter but incisive passes. Bounucci was all over the pitch, focusing on central areas but covering the wide areas when needed, averaging 60% of the match spent in own half and 40% in the opposition half. Libero Passes Libero touches ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ hope you enjoy reading this, and please take note that this is a system that heavily relies on players being able to perform specific, specialized tasks, particularly the Libero. I will gladly answer your questions but make sure you have read the OP as I'm sure you'll find your answers if you pay enough attention. I will try to implement a similar system with a team of lesser ability in the next case study, but that might take a while. On a final note, I would like to give credit to Guido at strikerless.com for his fantastic work which helped me articulate a lot of the issues I had in mind as well as triggering some lightbulb moments in my design of the system.
  5. Hi all, in this thread I will post any tactical ideas or 'revelations' that I come across in my career thread with Stuttgart To start with, Here's a system I managed to put together that brought some great success with der VfB. Tactical revelations So, my computer crashed and I had to start the season again. I thought I'd implement something different this time, and after considering the players I have at my disposal I decided to implement a very fluid system with a 3-4-1-2 base shape Main issues considered - My fullbacks are decent but far from world-beaters - I have a lot of talented DM's, and most of them have high workrate, stamina and strength - I have the best defensive trio in the league with Orban, Hesse and Grunenberg, and it would be a shame to leave one of them on the bench - Same goes for the attacking trio of Eggestein, Avdijaj and Rapp, although using Rapp as a shadow striker allows me to exploit his creative prowess in midfield - There's plenty of strength, pace, work rate, stamina and tactical intelligence in the squad to be playing deep, absorbing the pressure and create quick transitions - I have a shortage of wide, winger-style players, Gnabry being the only one that stands out *the left midfielder cuts inside and is more of a defensive playmaker *right midfielder attacks the wide space *normal defensive line so that we can exploit our speedy midfielders *two DM's - both physically astute, one of them them running forward to support attacks, the other sitting deep and dictating tempo *maximized width so we do not concede the flanks too much *very fluid shape for compactness, creativity and team-play Half season results: Best defence, best attack, still going strong in all competitions and some amazing player performances: Attacking trio apps gls ass mom say what you want, but 33 goals and 8 assists by December is pretty impressive Overall Let's see where this gets us this season I will make a few points about how important it is that you figure out how you want to/can play and adjust accordingly. I notice a lot of people thinking any tactic could work with any team or any team can play any style of football, which I believe to be the reason for their struggles. At the end of the day, if football would be that simple it wouldn't actually exists in its current competitive form. It's a very complex game with infinite amount of variables, however the one thing that you can or have to do as a football manager is know how you will play. And when I say that I don't mean being 100% sure from the start about each movement you want your players to make, everybody adjusts and learns along the way exactly because of the complexity of the game that i mentioned earlier on. You're bound to be faced with unknown scenarios in the game one way or the other. The one thing that you can do is analyse your squad, try to understand the parameters of the tactical creator and what options it gives you and then come up with a solution to implement an idea. For example, team shape is a key thing in this FM I believe as it influences pretty much every aspect of how you play. So it's important that you understand the implications of playing a flexible or fluid approach before deciding which one to use. With the team above, employing a very fluid shape makes sense because I have very all-rounded players and a lot of what they do on the pitch is more down to their own talent rather than my specific tactical instructions. However, that is an instruction in itself! It is a decision you have to make whether you want your players to be free in making those decisions or not. My advice is to not tick things left and right and expect for a magical cocktail, keep it simple and, most importantly, make sure you can observe and understand the results of your decisions! so, key question: What are your squad characteristics? so, let's say you have good to excellent players, let's say defenders that can pass the ball 7 out of 10 times and midfielders that can tackle successfully 7 out of 10 times, which is how I would describe my squad at the moment. This enables me to focus on a style of play that involves much more fluidity in player movement. I have decided to field my strongest 11 and see which one performs best in which position and how I can fit it all into a system. - So I have 3 CB's that can do a decent job on the ball, one of them slower than the other two, who have 15 for acceleration and 13/14 for pace. This means playing a back three should not be problematic as the 2 side CB's are quick enough to cover a lot of ground on both the wide and central areas of the pitch. Additionally, they are tactically intelligent enough to cover for each other and again, quick enough to come back to a central position from a wide position(for example challenging an opposition winger). - I have 4 DM's in the squad that are very strong, fast, hard working and good in individual duels. This enables me to have them deep enough to protect the backline and rely on their speed to support the team high up enough in transitions. The choice of roles is tied to a different issue: the overall style of play. So I have a normal defensive line and a standard mentality and a normal tempo, which means I will usually sit pretty deep and absorb pressure looking for an opportunity to either break away at speed or build up play in a favourable area (pass into space TI). Anyway, this is what I want. Why? Because: - I have Rapp (16Acc 18Pac), Gnabry(17Acc 16Pac), Eggestein(15Acc 14Pac) and Avdijaj (16Acc 13Pac) that are all really quick players with good dribbling that can break away at speed as well as having high attributes off the ball which means they are intelligent enough to find space and exploit it. - So why DLP(D) and RPM(S) for the DM's? I decided I want two playmaking roles that will decide how the transition unfolds from deep. There are mainly two scenarios: We win the ball back and the DLP is responsible for picking up that long ball that opens up space or the RPM drives forward with the ball looking to initiate a more dynamic attack. I do not want any playmaking roles in the final third as that disrupts the flow of the movement, as players will look to pass to the playmaker even if another player is in a better position to pass to. - Naturally, in this system, I would rely a lot on the work-rate and stamina of the 2 wide players to cover the wide areas. Luckily, both at my disposal have really good attributes there. However, I decided that it would still be too risky to solely rely on those two, so I adapted the tactic to ease off the pressure on them. How? I maximized the team width. How does that help? It means that when the team is defending we have a bank of 5 players defending looking like this: Here you can see my RPM challenging Atletico's forward for the ball whil the DLP marks the other forward while covering the space between the LCB and CB. You can also notice that the RCB and LCB are wide enough to challenge the wide players if needed (that is if the LWM and RWM fail in challenging or marking them), and the space they leave is covered by the two DM's, both instructed to tackle hard and mark tightly. The Very Fluid team shape also plays a big part in how this system works. It's effect on this particular aspect of play(defending) is obvious: look at how close the lines are to each other. The team is very compact and allows little space to the oposition. - The Shadow Striker and why is it working so well in this system: Matthias Rapp is a player I picked up when he was 15 and developed him in what many believe to be the finest German player of his generation. - notice the high work rate and the good tackling and marking stats - Comes Deep to Get the Ball PPM The combination of these factors play a decisive role in how Rapp interprets the SS role. In defensive situations he will come deep and help the midfield(see picture above) while his speed helps him transition quickly in attack and join the two forwards in no time. - what I mean by adapting and suiting your system to the players you have: If I didn't have a player like Rapp I would have probably gone for a CM(A) in the midfield strata. This could turn out to be a viable solution if your side is weaker as well, as that would solidify the defense with a bank of 5 midfielders in the defensive stage of play. Additionally, if my 2 DM's wouldn't be so good in both challenging for posession and creating play I would probably have to change their roles and the whole idea of the system would change as a result. Off the ball and passing are also very important in this kind of system, as a very fluid shape means the team relies on the player's ability to fill in for each other's positions and not waste passes when in critical situations. Overall stamina, work rate, good tactical attributes(anticipation, decisions, concentration) of the players also play a massive part in it as I rely on the players ability to cover ground due to the width mentioned earlier on. Also, my left midfielder cuts inside, and if he wasn't as technically gifted as the WM's I've got at my disposal I would probably instruct the team to exploit the right flank. I have opted not to for two reasons: one of them is the one above and the second is because I rely on the overall tactical intelligence of my team to 'pass into space' correctly, i.e. I leave the decision whether to exploit one side of the pitch or the other to their ability to read the game and interpret the right call. An overall weaker squad might struggle with that. See how it's all interconected? Link to part II - Adapting Link to part III - Bringing back the Libero
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