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Greetings, and happy Korean Independence Day to you all. Yesterday I came across a thread here where a guy wanted input on his Real Madrid tactic and I thought I'd try to replicate a very fancied tactic these days, the midfield crowded 4-1-2-1-2 that Zinedine Zidane uses for the top matches. We don't need to go into a full blown wall of text on ZZ and Real, let's just say that this tactic is one of three or four you'll see him use over the course of a season. We should add that Real Madrid is the most lethal counter attacking team today and this should absolutely be a part of our arsenal. The tactic itself relies heavily on the two wingbacks to provide width and provide crosses/passes; as evidenced in the annihilation of the rock solid Juventus in the CL final. 3 of the 4 goals came from Carvajal/Marcelo directly or indirectly. Furthermore, ZZ has removed all fancy play syndrome from the squad and instead uses a very pragmatic and straight forward approach. That means there are no playmaker roles in midfield; instead the passing play is quick and in a forward direction, with zero dallying on the ball. For instance, Marcelo had 89 touches in the Madrileno Derbi, more than any other player, including Kroos. The whole idea of this tactic is to have bodies in central areas, both going forward and defending. Should be well suited to the current ME, no? Let's have a look at those stats from Opta and 11tegen11: Image to the left is against Barca in the Spanish SC some days ago. Center image is the match against United and to the right is the image of the official submitted team pre game. As you can see by the REAL stats there is only one striker at any given time. Against United it was Bale, against Barca it was Benzema. Isco drops deep(er) and helps the team when out of possession and links up with the attack in possession. An Isco heatmap will show that he plays slightly on the lefthand side, somewhat withdrawn from the two attackers. Let's have a look at how this translates into FM17: Mentality: Unpopular answer; it depends. The default setting is counter, but like real life we are very flexible and likely to change during a match. I can go to control or attack, depending on the opposition. IRL, when using this RM plays with low risk. Shape: Like above, likely to change. When starting out in control we always play fluid. The thing is that being Real a lot of teams will come with a very defensive outlook, or a counter attacking setup. In these instances there is no point in going super compact (fluid), as you'll be closed down and blocked 95% of the time. In these cases we go highly structured and we can change the mentality to control or attack (take more risks). Roles, duties, team instructions and player instructions: GK: Standard, with PI's 'fewer risky passes', 'distribute to CBs'. CWBs: These are your most important roles in order for this to work and the roles are self explanatory. Added PI's: 'tighter marking', 'fewer risky passes'. CD-Co: The Varane role. On cover as his overall quickness is superior to that of Ramos. 'Mark tighter'. BPD-De: The Ramos role. The born leader and distributor from the back. 'Mark tighter'. CM-Su: The Modric role, on the right side of the three midfielders. Technical, hard worker with PPMs 'Dictates tempo' and 'Switch to other flank'. His only PI is 'mark tighter'. CM-De: Casemiro. The best DM in the world at the moment, a physical enforcer with good technical abilities, albeit not in the Kroos/Modric class. PIs 'mark tighter' and 'fewer risky passes'. PPMs 'simple passes'. CM-Su: Kroos. We give him slightly more passing freedom than the other two. He will launch some wicked counters when we add 'more risky passes'. He is also on 'tighter marking'. SS-At: Now it's get sticky. This is first and foremost Bales role in a normal setup. It can also be Asensio, Benzema or Ronaldo. Bale PPMs: 'Run w/ball often', 'shoot from distance' and 'knocks ball past opp' ++. Add 'tight marking' and 'roam' to get that Bale free running style. DLF-Su: Benzema, Ronaldo or Bale, in that order. CR will score for fun here, but you will not get that link-up play that Benz offers with 'plays one-twos'. No added PIs. AM-Su/AP-Su: The role that Isco made his own and sent James packing. Asensio and CR/Bale/Benz can also play here. When AP, use PI 'sit narrower'. When AM, use 'roam\, 'channels' and 'mark tighter'. We need him to track back. The Isco role is by far the most difficult one to replicate. It is most correct when using him as an AP out wide, with sit narrower PI. Then he will link up nicely with Marcelo and the DLF. The heatmaps below illustrates it better: Leftmost image is Isco against United in the ESC last week and the right one is in-game against Barcelona in the league: The team instructions are few. The only ones that are absolutely set in stone are 'dribble less' and 'closing down sometimes'. Too much closing down will pull the midfield all over the place. Less dribbling goes into the whole directness of the system. I normally use shorter passing and then change it up once in a while with mixed. If you want to see some devastating counter attacks, try highly structured on attack and pull the d-line all the way back. It's probably not sustainable for a full 90 mins, but against the likes of Barca it's extremely efficient once in a while. How did it work? Too well I fired up a single league save and used the current squad, no signings and no sales. I have also had a fair share of luck; no major injuries (zero injuries to Bale), Navas saved a few pens late on in two games, there seems to be a good amount of goals from set pieces using this system. Other than that it looks extremely solid. Will not work with any other team as you rely a lot on having three world class players up top though. Sorry for the long post, they always become so friggin long when you are dead set on making a to-the-point type OP. Hope you enjoy it and maybe take something from this.