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jeesh

David & Goliath Strategies

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You are David (A second division side, or lower, or a top team for a lesser reputation league). You are about to take on the mighty Goliath (A Real Madrid, or Man Utd or Bayern Munich or any big team). You are about take on them in a Cup tie or Champions League or Champions Cup (If you are from a lesser reputation European league qualifying for CL). The odds are heavily stacked against you. How can you pull off an upset? What are some David and Goliath strategies that someone can utilize to upset a more powerful team?

I have had some luck, but still dont have a concrete strategy to take on a big team. I play with Hibernian from the Scottish League. Although i can dominate in my own league i usually struggle to progress in CL and Cup. Occasionally i upset a few big teams here and there. How do i do it?

Maximize Home Advantage

80% of the time the upsets are in home legs-so its the best place to strike. The ground dimensions have to suit your strategy. You can also afford to play with a more attacking philosophy as even big teams play more conservatively away from home. So usually i focus my efforts on these matches, keep the best players fit and select the best possible XI.

Be Brutal

From the onset i play with the hassle opposition and get stuck in option. For opposition instructions i usually decide on man handling the more creative players. If you are lucky you end up injuring a few opposition players and upsetting their rhythm. Might not be the most fair strategy, but is certainly effective when you are the weaker side. The downside of this is you might pickup yellow and red cards. Closing down opposition more means you need players with stamina.

Be Direct

No point playing short passing football against a stronger opposition. Possession really doesnt matter, but what you do with the little possession you have matters. This means more direct passing-get ball forward. Also pump to box helps. Useful to have a target man who is good in the air.

Take Advantage of Set piece

Classic strategy of lesser teams. Make use of free kicks, corners. Good to have a player who is good in corners and set pieces. You also will need 3-4 players good in the air and strong enough to challenge the opposition. If you have someone like a Nakamura he can win matches on his own

Defend Like Crazy

Drop deeper, play ball out of defence, very rigid philosophy, defend or contain strategy, clear ball to flanks, hassle opposition-so many things you can do to park the bus and make it difficult for the opposition to score. If you have somehow managed to take the lead you will have to do this. Towards the end time wasting is an effective strategy.

Sign Players With Certain Attributes

When you are a smaller team you may not be able to sign the best technical or physically able players. But lookout for players with some mental characteristics which can give you an edge in big matches. Bravery comes top of the list. Determination comes next. Teamwork, workrate, aggression are other useful attributes to have.

These are some of the strategies that have worked for me. But definitely not a guaranteed formula for success. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just doesnt work. What are your David & Goliath Strategies?

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I prefer playing beautiful football so I focus on building teams for that and don't care much about physical abilities. But sometimes I do it like you describe, rigid, direct and stick the boot in. Sometimes simplicity is great thing if you have few strong guys.

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also set match preparation on high or very high for defensive positioning or defending set pieces

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I park the bus and play counter, to maximize the number of set piece opportunities, which really is a great way to bag a few goals vs the big teams. 1 set piece specialist + 1 powerhouse header will do the trick. Basically you have your header attacking either far or near post and all other players somewhere else, and then you try to connect to him. Both corners and freekicks. - Works like a charm.

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The following tactic managed to get my relegation-candidate team Excelsior (Dutch Eredivisie) to reach Europa League and I currently am pretty sure of qualifying for Knock-Out stage.

I play a "balanced" 41221 / 433 formation with counter strategy.

I feel this formation works very well for counter football. And transforms very quickly in a 433.

Here are my roles:

GK - D

CD - D

FB - S

Anchorman - D

DLP - S

BBM - S

Defensive wingers - S

Advanced Forward - A

Team Instructions:

Philosofy - Balanced

Strategy - Counter

Passing - Default or Long

CF - Disciplined

CD - Default

Tackling - Default

Marking - Zonal

Crossing - Default

Roaming - Stick to position

Some skills I feel my players must have to play Counter football:

All players: Stamina! Teamwork! Workrate! Acceleration!

Attackers: Crossing, Dribbling, Finishing and Long Shots; Bravery, Off the Ball, Agression; Pace

Defence and Midfield: Tackling, Marking, Heading; Anticipation, Concentration and Positioning; Balance, Strength, Jumping

Good luck!

Edit1: My Advanced Forward is a quick dribbling finisher. I don't need him to be best at heading because often he will run onto the ball or is alone at front.

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@ Grimness. Its very difficult playing beautiful football when you are David.

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This thread has inspired me to load up new game and kick rich teams around if I can't beat them. Bolton and Sunderland examples from TT&F used to work nicely for that purpose.

I'm sick of going seriously with my every save and loosing my nerves. Time for some fun :D

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If you're interested in David vs. Goliath, try to catch the Real Madrid v Granada CF game tomorrow.

I'm quite sure that Granada manager Fabri will provide a perfect tactical example of the sort of things discussed here. They've managed to work against the likes of Villarreal, Sevilla, Athletic Club Bilbao this season with wins, plus very narrow 1-0 defeats against Valencia and Barcelona.

Against the bigger teams this season, Granada have placed an emphasis on defence and looked for opportunities to counter, mainly from the flanks or aiming for the target man up front. Certainly more "direct" and looking to make the most of rare opportunities to catch opponents on the break, or from set pieces.

To watch such a strategy in action, have a look on youtube for highlights of Athletic Club Bilbao vs. Granada CF from this season. Bilbao attacked... and attacked... but the Granada defence managed to frustrate Llorente and Munian. A headed goal from a corner won it for Granada, after a rare break into the Bilbao half.

In FM terms, much of the strategies employed this season can be achieved with touchline shouts.

Defend or Counter strategy, plus shouts such as:

- Get the ball forward.

- Pass into space.

- Pump the ball into the box.

- Clear the ball to the flanks.

- Get stuck in.

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@ Grimness. Its very difficult playing beautiful football when you are David.

Completely disagree. Mind you I would not consider a club in the nation's top league as a 'David'. I always start in the lowest league and create a side that plays beautiful football which can also be perfectly successful - in that club's league.

Once or twice a season I might get drawn in a cup game against a Goliath - my record is very pleasing - we often draw or lose narrowly and come away with great credit (and gate receipts!). I don't abandon my beautiful game principles entirely but do adjust - defend very deeply, parking the bus and looking for counters, match prep on max defensive positioning and other tactics as already mentioned.

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Swansea IRL, always the smaller club this year, usually the underdogs, but play some of the best football in the league at the moment. Even if they don't get the result they play the beautiful way. Blackpool were very similar last year.

I normally play defensive-counter against stronger teams but there's definitely a strong case for throwing caution to the wind and taking them on.

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Swansea IRL, always the smaller club this year, usually the underdogs, but play some of the best football in the league at the moment. Even if they don't get the result they play the beautiful way. Blackpool were very similar last year.

I normally play defensive-counter against stronger teams but there's definitely a strong case for throwing caution to the wind and taking them on.

Swansea know how to pass and move, they were same in the Championship. They've been one of the best actual football sides I've watched over the last 4 seasons or so. Always knew they'd do well due to how they play.

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Swansea know how to pass and move, they were same in the Championship. They've been one of the best actual football sides I've watched over the last 4 seasons or so. Always knew they'd do well due to how they play.

Yeah they've been great and are proving to be a real exciting addition to the Prem and also prove that the underdogs don't have to rely on negative football to win. They're on track to stay well clear of relegation this season, so long as they do there will be other teams from the Championship and below that will really invest in the beautiful game. The Championship is getting stronger and stronger and there are a number of 'big' teams who are surviving on Premiership TV money, well, they won't survive for long as there are teams emerging that know how to balance the books and know how to balance winning and beauty.

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Two words:

Hull City

Vorm is probably the only reason Swansea wont go down this season, because defence counts. I recall the F365 mailbox trying to come up with a non-title winning Premier XI. There were lots of options in the midfield and strikeforce. Quality defenders were harder to find though, which makes me believe that even quality teams are built around good strong defenders and GKs (even Barcelona have Puyol, Pique and Valdes).

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Two words:

Hull City

Vorm is probably the only reason Swansea wont go down this season, because defence counts. I recall the F365 mailbox trying to come up with a non-title winning Premier XI. There were lots of options in the midfield and strikeforce. Quality defenders were harder to find though, which makes me believe that even quality teams are built around good strong defenders and GKs (even Barcelona have Puyol, Pique and Valdes).

Vorm is a superb GK indeed, sad he left FC Utrecht (along with Mertens, Strootman, Van Wolfswinkel etc.) but for him it was a great move. Still you can't just say Swansea has only their defense to thank for their great league standing. Their confidence on the ball and movement when in possession have certainly been a big part to their good performance as well.

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I'm not saying they only have their defence to thank for the current position, I'm saying at the end of the season what's going to prevent them being another Hull is their defence.

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Two words:

Hull City

Vorm is probably the only reason Swansea wont go down this season, because defence counts. I recall the F365 mailbox trying to come up with a non-title winning Premier XI. There were lots of options in the midfield and strikeforce. Quality defenders were harder to find though, which makes me believe that even quality teams are built around good strong defenders and GKs (even Barcelona have Puyol, Pique and Valdes).

Hull never played good football though, unlike Swansea. They still might go down, but they play good exciting football and know how to pass the ball. Which is what we was on about.

I'm not saying they only have their defence to thank for the current position, I'm saying at the end of the season what's going to prevent them being another Hull is their defence.

No one said different. We are on about quality of football they play.

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Sign Players With Certain Attributes

When you are a smaller team you may not be able to sign the best technical or physically able players. But lookout for players with some mental characteristics which can give you an edge in big matches. Bravery comes top of the list. Determination comes next. Teamwork, workrate, aggression are other useful attributes to have.

Bravery and aggression aren't that important if I'm honest. Well they are, but not on the same level as Determination, workrate or teamwork. They all rank a lot higher in terms of what they actually do. Those 3 attributes are always in play while agression and bravery aren't. Determination should be the first thing on the list, as a determined team is more likely to come back from been a goal down.

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