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How to approach breaking down those sides who park the bus at your place

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How would you approach trying to break down teams that come to your place more or less parking the bus/looking to hit counter attack? Is it best to push right up and patiently prob the ball around waiting for opportunity to open up or sit deep (low d line) and pass the ball around hoping to draw them out so we can hit the space that opens up?

Taking my second theory (sit deep and wait to hit the space) does this actually work? I mean let's say for example IRL that I am Swansea City playing away at Arsenal, I would be going there with the intentions of playing narrow and sitting deep, closing down the midfielders long shots around the box with our midfield. I would personally let Arsenal play around with the ball all day long in the middle of the park, thus not losing our shape as they cannot hurt us. Sorry this may sound a stupid question but Im a bit unsure how this ME actually works in respect to these types of play as I have always been under the assumption (in FM) that to attack means to either play high up the pitch and dominate possession or to play a normal D Line and play an attacking/direct game.

Just to add, I will be lining up with a 4231 formation this season changing from my last seasons 433 (DM, MC, MC, AML/R).

In respect to the 4231 formation what roles would you give to the mcl and mcr? I feel that this is the engine room of the side and needs to be correct if the team is going to stand any chance of being successful. I am torn between mcl being a BWM/Defend to win the ball in the middle of the park and the mcr MC/Support who will be a ball playing midfielder who can also tackle.

Now my other setting is to change the BWM/Support to a B2B/Support type of player. How do you guys setup these two positions as I really do not want to lose shape.

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The BWM has high levels of closing down and may lead to a loss of shape.

I like the 2 midfielders to sit deeper than the opposing midfielder. Defensively this provides a screen and is harder to break down. Offensively it allows them to try and draw the opposing CM's forwards and thus opening up space for the attacking midfielders. Sitting deep also allows them to ping long passes behind opposing FB's if you want to exploit space there. I think I use 2 deep lying playmakers for this but make sure that I set playmaker to none in the team screen (this is a personal preference as I don't want a specific playmaker in my team).

My personal preference is for breaking down defensive teams is usually to draw them out to create space for my athletic wingers/inside forwards although I often try to push up and probe at the defence. The 1st option generally suits my team better so you'll have to decide which way suits the players at your disposal. In your Arsenal example I would think that they would push higher and try to probe an opening as they have incredibly technical players, although if Walcott was on the wing then they might try and create space behind the FBs for him to exploit with his pace.

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When faced with teams who are prone to being ultra-defensive, I often tend to go for a "Defend" strategy myself and use the following shouts:

· Get the ball forward

· Pass into space

· Exploit the flanks

Tends to work quite well for me, mainly because my own team is sitting deeper, looking to draw opponents further forward onto me, whilst also encouraging my team to hit on the break, exploiting areas of space along the flanks and through channels.

There can be a certain element of risk, inviting teams forward, but defensively my team is sat deeper and should help cover the inevitable counter-attacking breaks a very defensive team will look to pursue. In the main though, it's about trying to create and exploit space. Playing very offensively may eventually wear teams down, but you always run the risk of the sucker-punch counter attack. That's the biggest single reason I see on these forums, when people complain they've dominated possession, had a large number of chances on goal, yet lose to the odd one or two chances the opponent has had on the counter.

It's impulsively natural for people to think "more attacking" when they're dominating a team who's playing very defensively, but that can easily play into your opponents hands. Sometimes you just need to be a little more conservative, draw them out, then punish them when they leave gaps.

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The BWM has high levels of closing down and may lead to a loss of shape.

I like the 2 midfielders to sit deeper than the opposing midfielder. Defensively this provides a screen and is harder to break down. Offensively it allows them to try and draw the opposing CM's forwards and thus opening up space for the attacking midfielders. Sitting deep also allows them to ping long passes behind opposing FB's if you want to exploit space there. I think I use 2 deep lying playmakers for this but make sure that I set playmaker to none in the team screen (this is a personal preference as I don't want a specific playmaker in my team).

So if I were to use 2 DLP setup could I use this even though let's say for example one of my players is not really creative but really more of a defensive DM/MC? Would this still work?

When faced with teams who are prone to being ultra-defensive, I often tend to go for a "Defend" strategy myself and use the following shouts:

· Get the ball forward

· Pass into space

· Exploit the flanks

Tends to work quite well for me, mainly because my own team is sitting deeper, looking to draw opponents further forward onto me, whilst also encouraging my team to hit on the break, exploiting areas of space along the flanks and through channels.

There can be a certain element of risk, inviting teams forward, but defensively my team is sat deeper and should help cover the inevitable counter-attacking breaks a very defensive team will look to pursue. In the main though, it's about trying to create and exploit space. Playing very offensively may eventually wear teams down, but you always run the risk of the sucker-punch counter attack. That's the biggest single reason I see on these forums, when people complain they've dominated possession, had a large number of chances on goal, yet lose to the odd one or two chances the opponent has had on the counter.

It's impulsively natural for people to think "more attacking" when they're dominating a team who's playing very defensively, but that can easily play into your opponents hands. Sometimes you just need to be a little more conservative, draw them out, then punish them when they leave gaps.

Interesting points. So sitting deep yourself actually works then against these types of teams. I see you mentioned that you use the shout 'Get the ball forward', is this not a shout which means that the team will play a direct game thus hitting more long balls compromising our short prob passing? Are you selecting the CA option when using this strategy?

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Get the ball forward does not necessarily mean that you start booting it over the top. It means that you are telling your players to take more chances with their passes. Essentially they will be trying to get the ball forward quicker aka look for a more attacking or direct option than they were looking for before.

Sitting deep is definitely a good idea to try and draw out an opponent who has parked it.

If you really want to try and create space primarily down the wings, you might want to try the shouts 'play narrower' and 'exploit the flanks'.

By doing this, you will be keeping your side narrow and that should leave ample space on the wings for your wingers to utilise.

And you don't have to worry about your opponent exploiting this space because he will also be playing narrow....probably narrower than you.

You know, coincidentally, I faced a team last night who parked it right from the beginning of the match.

Simon Grayson, spurs boss, decided to do his best Mourinho impression. This is pretty much how spurs defended the entire match:

http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/7109/spurs1.png

http://img830.imageshack.us/img830/4188/spursr.png

To my frustration, it worked......until the 89th minute. My captain grabbed 2 goals in the last 3 minutes of the match and I showed the spurs boss why my side is 1st and his is 13th. Tottenham ended the match with 0 shots.

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Get the ball forward does not necessarily mean that you start booting it over the top. It means that you are telling your players to take more chances with their passes. Essentially they will be trying to get the ball forward quicker aka look for a more attacking or direct option than they were looking for before.

Would this not mean that the tempo of the side is then increased?

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Would this not mean that the tempo of the side is then increased?

I don't think so, I haven't got FM fired up at the moment but I think it just increases the passing length.

So if I were to use 2 DLP setup could I use this even though let's say for example one of my players is not really creative but really more of a defensive DM/MC? Would this still work?

Yep, a DLP is fairly neutral in instruction, most of his instructions are there just to stop him moving too far forward. If you use high creative freedom then the player's attributes will decide more how they play. I normally play more defensive minded players in these positions and they do just fine as DLPs.

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Yep, a DLP is fairly neutral in instruction, most of his instructions are there just to stop him moving too far forward. If you use high creative freedom then the player's attributes will decide more how they play. I normally play more defensive minded players in these positions and they do just fine as DLPs.

So how about their runs from deep? Would they both be set to rarely or would it be a better option to perhaps have one of them set to sometimes?

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Would this not mean that the tempo of the side is then increased?

It wouldn't mean that the tempo is increased. The tempo doesn't change, but the type of passes that are made changes.

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So how about their runs from deep? Would they both be set to rarely or would it be a better option to perhaps have one of them set to sometimes?

I leave mine as they come which I think is both rarely for runs from deep as I don't really want them to move that much, I also favour symmetry in my sides. It seems pretty logical to have one slightly more attacking/creative than the other though so I don't think it would be a bad idea to have one with RFD on sometimes. I tend to be wary of players with the PPM 'gets forward often' for this position (certainly both midfielders with this PPM would be a recipe for disaster) and I think this PPM is linked to the slider for run from deep. Look for the 'Meet The System' post by SFraser, he doesn't discuss specific duties for players but goes into a lot of detail on how asymetry can be harnessed with this formation.

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I leave mine as they come which I think is both rarely for runs from deep as I don't really want them to move that much, I also favour symmetry in my sides. It seems pretty logical to have one slightly more attacking/creative than the other though so I don't think it would be a bad idea to have one with RFD on sometimes. I tend to be wary of players with the PPM 'gets forward often' for this position (certainly both midfielders with this PPM would be a recipe for disaster) and I think this PPM is linked to the slider for run from deep. Look for the 'Meet The System' post by SFraser, he doesn't discuss specific duties for players but goes into a lot of detail on how asymetry can be harnessed with this formation.

I had a bit of a read last night regarding that thread and also saw a post of yours somewhere regarding 4231 and the 2 holding MCs which is what got me thinking about changing mine to that setup. I think I might go with two DLP but one with Defend and the other with Support so he can go forwards sometimes. I am also going to set my side with the asymetry that you had mentioned thus being more creative down our left flank where our holding DLP will be.

Thanks for all the advice no doubt I will post to update how it's going and to see if I can get some help (no doubt it's gonna go pear shaped) :)

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Thanks for all the advice no doubt I will post to update how it's going and to see if I can get some help (no doubt it's gonna go pear shaped) :)

Hopefully it won't do, and I hope I have been of some help! It's a hard formation to get right, I still prefer the 433 you used to use with my players but the 4231 can produce some amazing football. Good luck!

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Hopefully it won't do, and I hope I have been of some help! It's a hard formation to get right, I still prefer the 433 you used to use with my players but the 4231 can produce some amazing football. Good luck!

On a side note, should I create 3 variants of it and if so what 3 variants would you reccommend?

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I don't as I think it makes a big difference if you can have your tactics selected in the match prep, so, in the match prep I have my usual 451/433, my back-up tactic of 4231 for specific situation and the trusty old 442 when I need a different option.

For each of these formations I have fairly neutral tactical set-ups that define my style of play (e.g. closing down, creative etc), I then use the shouts to change things as needed. Playing at home against the worst team in the league, I might start control/attacking (usually start on standard to 'test the water' though) and I might then increase through balls, exploit the flanks, look for overlap depending on how things are going - if I'm away at the league leaders then I'll play narrow, usually drop deeper and get stuck in (although I set OI's for hard tackling specific players) and sometimes play counter or defensive (counter tends not to work very well with my team, despite their blistering pace they just tend to lose the ball too often on counter).

I play fairly neutral tactically so the shouts and strategies really make a huge difference to the flavour of my team on a given day and I try to pick the right players for the right game (i.e. I have 4/5 midfielders who rotate in the 3 midfield slots in my team, if I want a midfield fight I'll pick the 3 more defensive players whereas if I need creativity I'll pick the 2 creative ones and have one fighter and I don't have to alter my tactics).

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I don't as I think it makes a big difference if you can have your tactics selected in the match prep, so, in the match prep I have my usual 451/433, my back-up tactic of 4231 for specific situation and the trusty old 442 when I need a different option.

For each of these formations I have fairly neutral tactical set-ups that define my style of play (e.g. closing down, creative etc), I then use the shouts to change things as needed. Playing at home against the worst team in the league, I might start control/attacking (usually start on standard to 'test the water' though) and I might then increase through balls, exploit the flanks, look for overlap depending on how things are going - if I'm away at the league leaders then I'll play narrow, usually drop deeper and get stuck in (although I set OI's for hard tackling specific players) and sometimes play counter or defensive (counter tends not to work very well with my team, despite their blistering pace they just tend to lose the ball too often on counter).

I play fairly neutral tactically so the shouts and strategies really make a huge difference to the flavour of my team on a given day and I try to pick the right players for the right game (i.e. I have 4/5 midfielders who rotate in the 3 midfield slots in my team, if I want a midfield fight I'll pick the 3 more defensive players whereas if I need creativity I'll pick the 2 creative ones and have one fighter and I don't have to alter my tactics).

Oh right, I was under the impression that for players to learn the tactics it would take much longer if we had 3 different shapes. I have just had my budget slashed (190k down to 155k) so bang goes any hopes I had of signing a quality MC in on loan. Thanks for all the advice and I will be back shortly no doubt to say how it's going and things that could be improved upon.

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If you're still in pre-season, stick one tactic in the match prep screen and wait til they have learnt it and then add a 2nd, wait until it is learnt and add a 3rd if you like. It'll probably take a few weeks (4231 took my players longer as I hadn't used it before but I had 3 tactics in there, although 442 they knew extremely well and the 451/433 they knew fairly well (despite playing it for 4 years!!)). Don't have anything else selected in there and add team blend at some point (probably a good couple of weeks before the start of the season), should get the guys up and running. Oh, and they'll learn it far faster if they are playing it of course!

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If you're still in pre-season, stick one tactic in the match prep screen and wait til they have learnt it and then add a 2nd, wait until it is learnt and add a 3rd if you like. It'll probably take a few weeks (4231 took my players longer as I hadn't used it before but I had 3 tactics in there, although 442 they knew extremely well and the 451/433 they knew fairly well (despite playing it for 4 years!!)). Don't have anything else selected in there and add team blend at some point (probably a good couple of weeks before the start of the season), should get the guys up and running. Oh, and they'll learn it far faster if they are playing it of course!

What if I then remove a learnt tactic from that screen then add it at a later date, would they still remember it or would it have to be totally learnt again?

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If you're using three tactics or formations that utilise mostly the same positions and roles, then you could actually have all three match prep slots taken up... they should all become "fluid" at the same pace.

I use a combination of a 4-2-4, 4-2-3-1 with wingers and a narrow 4-2-3-1 with 3x AMC's. The bulk of the roles and positions remain the same throughout the side, so little is different apart from the shapes of the formations. When I first introduced these three tactical setups, they were "fluid" within a couple of months. This was no doubt helped by me using all three regularly during matches.

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What if I then remove a learnt tactic from that screen then add it at a later date, would they still remember it or would it have to be totally learnt again?

I have a bone of contention with the game here, whilst I'm the first to defend it when something doesn't go as planned this module of the game, for me, doesn't work right. I haven't extensively tested it so I hope that I am doing something wrong (rather than the game doing something wrong) but I've removed a tactic, navigated away from the page and realised I'd made a mistake, gone to re-add the tactic without any in-game time passing only to find that my players are no longer fluid with it. This can not be desirable behaviour and logically it makes no sense that players lose fluidity in a system just because I've clicked a button wrong.

I'll add though that I'm hoping this error is purely cosmetic, I didn't notice any diminishing of performance or any other indicators that they were anything but fluid with the tactic in the next game. The match prep module clearly does something in the game (probably as planned) but I'm skeptical if the user interface portion of it works exactly as SI had planned. I have the same issue with the recent form tab in the player screen, if I click it to find out who has been playing well, navigate to the top person and praise them, when I back-up or go back to the team screen the list is jumbled and I can't get it corrected without advancing time (actually, ditto for the two news items about back room meeting and pre-match meeting but I'm going off on one here).

Just realised it sounds like I'm slating the game - I'm not, it really is fantastic and pretty much all of the problems I have with it are down to me (even if it appears otherwise)!

In answer to your question, they should remember it, or at least be close to fluid, but don't bet on it! They might be better at it than the match prep bars show though.

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I was just playing against West Ham. I went 1-0 up after 10 minutes, a goal from a corner. This prompted West Ham to abandon their 4-2-3-1 and change to a 4-1-4-1 and there you have the backdrop to this thread!

West Ham's change of shape was literally cake to a fat kid, they basically begged me to employ my favourite tactical quirk. Let me explain a bit further.

What West Ham did in essence was Isolate there main goal scoring threat:-

alessiogaspariniprofile.png

Now as you can see he's quick, and he can finish. He'll do well with the ball played into feet or with a ball played in behind. It's my job to now neutralise this threat and he is a threat.

In order to this what i did was first of all change my defensive roles. I started out with a flat back four 2 full back's on automatic and 2 CB's on defend. The Cb's in question are more naturally stopper and cover players 1 is natural very quick and has good mental stats. The other being Phil jones a aggressive stopper who loves to attack the ball Perfect! I then changed them to Cover and Stopper and manually Tweaked the Stopper's mentality increasing him to the final notch of attacking. Hard tackling and closing down all over the pitch. I figured if Jones missed anything Vazquez is quick enough to sweep up behind him.

I also increased the pressing level for the entire team. The reason is 2 fold to isolate gasparanini effectively it was imperative to limit West Ham's time on the ball, so hard pressing all the way throughout the team lead to a big gulf emerging as i pressed there entire team and made them play long balls which Jones gobbled up like the fat kid with the cake.

Now usually I'd go hard tackling throughout the team as well. However the referee was laid his marker out by booking my winger for a inocious challenge within 2 mins of kick off so i decided against this for this particular game.

I'd also usually push higher up but with gasparini's pace and me not needing a goal i decided against going any higher risk in this game.

So to summarise the shouts i used were:- Hassle Opponents, Push Higher up & Get stuck in.

**Borrowed from another thread i posted**

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ROca - I've seen that post before, it's that sort of attention to detail that really makes the difference and it's a testiment to the game that such sound footballing knowledge transmit so well. Great example of proper tweaking

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Thanks buddy, Yup i couldn't agree more with what you said the balance of this game is nothing short of genius in my opinion it really is. And i think it's a testament to the TC and how it's been designed. It's like anything with the proper players and a sound tactical theory which suites the players a lot can be achieved within the ME.

In terms of detail that came from enjoying the game, i got sick and tired of clicking continue and watching games on extended highlights paying no attention what so ever. I now view all games in full detail and try to decipher whats going on and what i need to do to fix it.

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It's going well so far throughout the friendlies and 1st match of season notibly losing 1-0 at home to Arsenal matching them for possession and drawing 1-1 at home to Liverpool. We are absolutely murdering sides in the possession department and creating a decent amount of CC's. However I would like to ask how would we go about setting our side up when the opposition are playing with 2x MCs and 1xAMC. If we have on of our DLP which is set to defend to man-mark the AMC this will leave his usual marker free to run riot so Im thinking I somehow need to get my AMC to track back to shut down that particular MC. But how?

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It's not easy is the answer. What role have you set for your AMC?

I generally use my usual 451/433 which is counter-intuitive as the a major reason behind 4231 is to beat the 451/433 formation that was becoming prevalent a few years ago. My tactics use tight man marking for the core 5 players (DCs, DMC, MCs) which matches the major threat of STR,AMC & MC's with my FB's picking up the opposing inside forwards and it generally works ok (Man City normally run riot over me tho with 4231 but they are always likely to with the players they have).

If your AMC is primarily a 2nd striker then I think you're always going to struggle. If he is not quite so attacking then he'll drop deeper and should help out defensively.

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It's not easy is the answer. What role have you set for your AMC?

I generally use my usual 451/433 which is counter-intuitive as the a major reason behind 4231 is to beat the 451/433 formation that was becoming prevalent a few years ago. My tactics use tight man marking for the core 5 players (DCs, DMC, MCs) which matches the major threat of STR,AMC & MC's with my FB's picking up the opposing inside forwards and it generally works ok (Man City normally run riot over me tho with 4231 but they are always likely to with the players they have).

If your AMC is primarily a 2nd striker then I think you're always going to struggle. If he is not quite so attacking then he'll drop deeper and should help out defensively.

My AMC is set to Playmaker/Support. Should I have him man-mark their MC and have my DLP man-mark their AMC? Would this work or would we lose all shape?

For the record I have my DCs, DLPs and AMC all set to Zonal/Tight with my FBs set to Zonal/None.

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I've just uploaded an analysis of my average shape whilst playing 4231, it's roughly as I'd like my team to play

astonvillavsouthamptony.png

Your core of 4 + AMC on tight marking sounds good (given that those players have some defensive ability), as your AMC will probably normally be a creative player I'd probably suggest playing a hard working, stronger AMC who is probably equally suited to MC to try and dominate the midfield. This would put a slight additional strain on your attacking 3 players but is probably worth it for additional defensive stability (note that in the above example Adam Lallana is definitely NOT a defensive AMC, hence why the score is 2-2 after half an hour).

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Your core of 4 + AMC on tight marking sounds good (given that those players have some defensive ability), as your AMC will probably normally be a creative player I'd probably suggest playing a hard working, stronger AMC who is probably equally suited to MC to try and dominate the midfield.

Thank you for all your help. If/when I come across it I will post what happened although I tend to find that most Championship sides are using 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1 and virtually always seem to be playing defensive CA according to my scout.

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It's a rare formation below the top level. It's hard to find proper players for. Mind you, I'm not convinced the AI pays attention to the players at their disposal, rather they fall back on their preferred formation and as not too many managers prefer a 4231 in the standard database you won't come across it too often.

Good luck with your save though, I hope you have success

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It's a rare formation below the top level. It's hard to find proper players for. Mind you, I'm not convinced the AI pays attention to the players at their disposal, rather they fall back on their preferred formation and as not too many managers prefer a 4231 in the standard database you won't come across it too often.

Good luck with your save though, I hope you have success

Cheers as for the past 2 seasons (now in 3rd season) we have lost on teh playoff finals (but won on a reload) :(

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Hi!

I have played for a couple of seasons a 4231 (deep, 2DMCs) formation, and now swtiched to 451, and I think for the time being I prefer 451.

The downside of the 451 is that it's not very easy to find a good box-to-box or adv. p/m to play in the CM position (unless you play top teams), but... on the other hand it gives you limit-less options as someone said before in this thread.

You can tweak the roles/mentalities of all 3, to go from more defensive to more attacking, and to me the midfield looks more solid.

On the other hand... the 4231 has the downside that very few AMC have good defensive stats, so they are not very useful when you need to disturb the opposition CMs

The upside is that it's relatively easy to find good DMC.

But I don't really like the 4231 because the DMCs sit too deep when attacking. I have used one DMC with "gets forward" PPM and it was slightly better, but he didn't have good attacking stats, so not that useful. Maybe I didn't have the right players, or maybe I didn't set the detailed instructions well enough for it to work.

(I don't have experience with the 4231 with 2 MC but I don't like the idea of playing without a DM, I feel like naked :) ).

To stop a talented AMC I have been usually successful using an anchor-man, with specific marking. Also if you face a talented winger (esp. inside forward) using the anchor man slightly to the left/right can be helpful. If you have the typical "workhorse" it's very funny to see how he tracks his guy around like a dog.

The DLP role... I'm not a big fan of it if you want to defend, unless you have the right player for the role, I prefer Anchor or DM roles. DLP only when I play the right guy in that position and if I don't need to defend tightly (my reasoning is that I have a more talented player up the pitch to do the "playmaking" thing, I want the DM to defend/win the ball, and then make a simple pass). On major teams I guess it's easier to find a DLP that is able to defend very well.

These are opinions of course, I stand to be corrected, as I'm not very experienced and I still don't understand the ME/tactics fully.

Have a nice weekend!

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For some reason, I've never had the dual DLPs work well for me, or as I'd like them to work for me. I'm either setting up my AMC and/or my AMR/L wrong. Having my AMC roam from position just sees him run forward, and with no roaming, he's easily marked out. I've been using the BWM/B2B combo, and while it has worked okay for me, it usually has my B2B MC running into my AMC far too often for my liking.

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Have you tried reducing the "Run from deep" setting on those players that tend to go forward too much/too often?

Maybe reducing the mentality?

Could it be also that your AMC has poor off the ball/work rate/anticipation and in fact is he the "wrong player". I wonder... maybe the MC is expecting your AMC to move and drag thus creating space for him?

Cheers

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'Run from deep' for AMC and AMR/L are on sometimes and on rarely for Both MC.

There's just two clicks separating the MC's mentality from the AMC and 2 clicks separating the AMC's from the AMR/L and FC.

Off the ball and anticipation for both my AMCs are good/decent, though Pastore has a work rate of 9. Sometime I play Mata in the AMC slot as he has an off the ball of 19, but not much difference.

Thanks anyway. Will keep trying and testing till I eventually find one that works well for me.

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To break down teams that park the bus you need two things:

1. The Ball.

2. Effective threats. The more the better.

The first point requires a good defence, good defensive ability, so that you can quickly win the ball or atleast minimise the time the opponent has it. It all means that you need a good core of players that can keep the ball, pass it around under pressure, and get the ball to wherever your threats are. Some teams may take this core group of passing players and turn that into the threat by making the whole team really lethal at pass and move football but that's a stage above first of all building an effective team.

The second point seems harder than it actually is. Take a good old fashioned English 4-4-2 as a starting point. You have your big man upfront for sticking crosses into the net, bullying defenders and knocking the ball down to your poacher. Your poacher/pacey guy is sharp to sweep up any loose balls in the box, or take up good positions un-noticed inside the box, or make dangerous runs behind the defence as it pushes up to deal with the targetman. You have your more attacking midfielder that is generally the playmaker for playing good throughballs to your striker or sweeping the ball wide to your wingers. Your wingers tend to be a mixture of crossers and dribblers that can deliver a good ball or skin a few players and score a peach. But you also have your defensive midfielder, and a lot of these players in the old school English 4-4-2 have a heck of a shot from range to bury a screamer from 25 yards when the defence has left him un-noticed due to the immense pressure of dealing with your winger/targetman combo. The fullbacks in the English 4-4-2 like to play a bit more possession with the DM/midfield but also have a good cross on them.

Simply putting together a proper old school 4-4-2 will furnish you with a vast amount of attacking options. Get your holding midfielder to blast rockets, your wingers to dribble and cross, your targetman to bully defences, your poacher and playmaker to float around and look for space and your fullbacks pushed up to assist the midfield and flanks. This is huge range of attacking options coming from all over the pitch, in multiple different ways from multiple angles and from deep as well as high up the pitch. So long as your midfielders are capable of decent passing, ideally good quality passing, then you should be able to move the ball around and shell the opponent from all over the pitch.

Once you understand these "basic rules" of threat, of making sure all your players in your team can contribute something no matter how little to the attack, then you can start being more creative without ever ignoring or altering these "basic rules". Having a DM or holding midfielder or defensive CM that has a left peg like Koeman is always a great attacking option in any team in any system against any opponent in any match.

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