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The Triple Pivot - A Footballing Carrousel of Brilliance

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Afternoon everyone, I have wrote threads and started threads before but this is going to be my first proper attempt at writing an in depth formation thread. Decided I wanted to properly contribute after seeing some of the excellent work being done recently by other formation threads so thought Id give my own a go. Go easy on me please, any advice will be greatly appreciated

The Triple Pivot – A footballing carrousel of brilliance

Introduction

The 4-2-3-1 is one of, if not the most, popular formation in world football at the moment, brought into the limelight by current World and European Champions Spain, although they did deviate ever so slightly in the Euros deciding to not field a recognised striker. A very versatile and effective formation that there have been many a thread on throughout these forums, and the single biggest question that I see is whether to use two MC’s or two DM’s. My simple answer for this, use both.

triplepivot.jpg

A pivoting system is extremely effective, it helps break up a man marking system as the players are constantly switching positions and is excellent for recycling possession and keeping lots of passing options open. This is a basic line-up which should be most effective to create a pivoting system, the shape itself is taken from Lucatonix’s thread back in FM11 around a similar triple pivot system. This system is best described by Arsenal in the 10/11 season where they had the central midfield spine of Song, Wilshire and Fabregas. Three outstanding players who can all play in almost any position throughout the midfield. Looking at the formation screenshot above Song would take up the DM role, Wilshire in the midfield and Cesc the Treq. The three midfielders are given the freedom to almost do what they want to help create something, an excellent understanding between the three is imperative so that they cover for each other, less important for the AMC but vital between the MC and DM. The pivot works so well is the options it gives the team, it can become a 1-2 or a 2-1 triangle midfield, both effective when attacking and defending respectively.

In Attack

triplepivotattack.jpg

SIDE NOTE: Green: Defenders, Blue:Midfielders Red:Attackers

As you can see in attack it almost becomes a 1-2 the DM hanging slightly further back and the MC pushing slightly further up. The AML could be deployed as a winger to help stretch the opposition but going back to the Arsenal team I’d consider Nasri more of a playmaker than a winger.

The reason this midfield is most effective as the opposition will not know who to mark. They may set up with a DM to pick up Cesc but if Cesc ends up dropping back almost to DM and is replaced by Song who is a completely different player it is a whole different ball game. It confuses the opposition but also helps movement in the midfield and encourages the three central players to find space and keep moving.

[video=youtube;J_UIuzAaPwE]

Skip to around 1:18 in that video and you will see Song is striding forward with the ball but is being covered by another midfielder (not entirely sure who due to the quality of the video sorry) behind him. The rest of that video shows how the DM will get forward, but will always be covered by another one of his midfielders, usually the MC rather than the AMC. For this system to work there should be two midfielders forward and 1 back (The 1-2 Triangle midfield). This also in effect gives 5 players attacking at once, supported by the full backs and the midfielder who has hung back ever so slightly.

In Defence

triplepivotdefence.jpg

Defensively it becomes a 4-2-3-1. As you can see there is the very hard to break down defensive box of the DC+DC+DM+MC made into a point by the AMC sitting just in front of them. Firstly this creates that very hard to play through “box” in the centre of the pitch, the area directly in front of the net is the most dangerous area of the pitch, so packing four men into that one area can only be beneficial. Playing against another 4-2-3-1 it will be exceptionally strong due to the fact that the AMC has two defenders in his area, the lone striker has two centre backs and the wide players should be covered enough by the full backs to stop them causing to many problems. Secondly the point created by the AMC almost funnels the ball out to the wings, which is the least dangerous attacking area of the pitch. The ball would be played out to an opposition winger whose options would be to play in a cross which in theory should be dealt with by the sheer numbers back in the box, of played backwards away from goal. Which in itself is a dangerous option as the wide attackers should be loitering around that area, giving a huge opportunity for a quick counter. I’ve highlighted the run of the AMR for exactly that reason; a quick determined winger would have a field day.

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Within FM

pivotteaminstructions.jpg

So here we are within the FM Tactics creator screen. Im not going to run through every single role Ive chosen as most of them are pretty self explanatory and I want to center around the midfield pivot. I will give a brief overview of some of the more important roles:

1)The full backs I have an attacking full back for a number of reasons really, first of all I have Dani Alves in the team who is probably the best attacking full back in the world. Secondly the IF is going to be cutting inside leaving a lot of space free for an attacking full back to exploit. Adversely on the other side Abidal is a little more conservative to help try to keep some sort of defensive solidity, esecially because Busquets may end up pushing on further rather than sitting back in front of the back four as he does for Barca IRL

2)The Striker I want the striker to play the false 9 role, dropping deep to link up play but also turning and driving at the defence. Messi is perfect for this role, picking the ball up in space vacated by Cesc turning and driving at the defence with his excellent dribbling, agility and pace

The short passing and fluid philosophy are to help with ball retention and probing for a chance rather than trying to force it. Retaining the ball lots and not trying the spectacular. The roaming is upped to encourage the players to find space and make themselves available for a pass, which again will help with ball retention. The time wasting and tempo are moved to keep things slow and not rush things, I may tweak this to a high tempo high time wasting to try and re-create Barca's ability to quickly move from slow short passing into a fast flowing move, but that will evolve with time.

The Pivot

This is my starting point for the midfield trio, this will probably be tweaked massively but I think this is the best possible starting point to create what I am trying to create.

Busquets

busquetspivot.jpg

Busquets main job is to sit infront of the defence and sheild them, but also give a passing option when there is nothing going forward. He is a fall back option and vital to the system. I have tweaked his mentality to stop him straying to far from his base position, but then upped his forward runs to sometimes so that he is licensed to get forward. Coupled with his intelligence and high CF should mean he will only get forward when it is safe to do so. I have also shortened his passing style to make sure he keeps things simple, he doenst have the ability to play an accurate "hollywood pass" and I want to keep the ball on the floor. I have positioned him in the DMCR slot to cover for the attacking Dani Alves. An error on my part but I have switched him to zonal marking, I want him to mark the space in front of the defence not an individual player. I may change this in cases when the opposition field a strong AMC.

Xavi

xavipivot.jpg

Xavi runs the show, he is the main man in the centre of midfield. I expect him to have the highest amount of passes played, he is the hub of the team. I have brought his mentality down to try and get him more in line with Busquets but again coupled with the high CF and forward runs he will still be very much part of most attacks. I expect to find him the furthest midfielder back on the odd occasion when Busquets has pushed up. I did think about setting them two up with switch positions on but thought that may be to definitive, rather than giving them the license to switch as they see fit. Again a mistake on my part as Xavi is also set to zonal mark so that he marks the space rather than the player, especially being a one man center midfield and playing against two opposition midfielders, trying to mark one man will more often than not leave the other one free.

Cesc

cescpivot.jpg

Cesc is the most creative out of the three midfielders. I expect to find him all over the pitch, out on the wing coming deep, finishing off moves. Very much how he plays in real life, he has got the license to do whatever he wants. I dont expect to see him in Busquets position but I expect to see a lot of movement between him and Xavi, constantly switching around. Ive brought his mentality down slightly to again try and bring the midfield trio closer together and have also upped his closing down as I like a high press game and don't want him to not be as pressing as hard as the players around him.

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An extra couple of bits to add in now, was planning on doing more over the weekend but illness and a football tournament got in the way

pivot21defensivetriangl.jpg

So first of all ive got an ingame example of the 2-1 defensive triangle I mentioned earlier. This is exactly the defensive midfield shape I was after. Cesc sat slightly infront in space ready to pick up anything that is won. Xavi and Busquets sat almost exactly in line. Busquets is picking up the opposition midfielder and we have spare men all over the midfield. Im extremely happy with the positioning of the midfield. Although other areas have give me cause from concern. The two full backs are not goal side of their man and if the ball was to be picked up by the opposition AMC we would be in massive trouble as he would be running at the two center backs, almost creating a 4 on 2 situation. To counter that I have manually tweaked the mentalities to just bring them slightly more in line with the centre backs.

barcavscityxavitackles.jpg

Ive highlighted Xavi's tackles here. The central midfielder who I did expect to contribute defensively did a sterling job against City and quelling their considerable attacking threat. All three tackles are at the left hand side of the pitch and all seem to be in the DMCL position which is exactly where I wanted him to slot in.

barcavscityshots.jpg

Chance creation is excellent, every attempt bar three that could maybe be counted as edge of the box are inside the box. Now im a firm believer in trying to score from inside the box rather than long range audacious efforts so im very impressed with this.

barcavscityiniesta100pa.jpg

Ive highlighted this from the City game as well, it has nothing to do with the midfield pivot but I was still very impressed. Iniesta playing AP at AMR finished with 100% passing accuracy, I first expected them to be all simple little passes but on further inspection there are some pretty impressive passes. There are a couple of crosses which I dont want them playing, but with that sort of accuracy i dont actually mind. As well as the three key passes I was very very impressed.

So far so good and not had much to tweak really, got tough games coming up against Madrid in the super cup so that will be the true test.

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So another quick little screenie here that really shows what I wanted to acheive.

pivotattackingdm.jpg

So there it is, Javi Martinez playing DM infront of BUsquets just for fitness in pre season, looking at that screenshot it is very plain to be that it has almost been a complete switch of roles. Cesc is where you would expect Xavi to be, Xavi is sitting where Martinez should be and Martinez is firing in shots from the edge of the box. Unfortunately he didnt score but he did test the keeper. Xavi has used his intelligence to sit back and cover for Martinez. Just another quick update, only a little one but at least it shows the tactic is working.

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Obviously nobody is very interested in this haha ;)

Oh We are, Just watching this unfold first.

In regards to your full backs being too high up the field, they should drop back once the gk distributes the ball. If they don't a lower mentality should see that they do.

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Obviously nobody is very interested in this haha ;)

I'm interested :)

The idea of a triple pivot midfield is a fascinating idea and something that I've tried implementing with my Arsenal and Swansea saves. With Arsenal, my triple pivot is in a standard 4-3-3 formation. I use Song in a defensive midfield support role with a roaming instruction as I find that helps, my role for Arteta is virtually the same as you have Xavi's whilst Wilshere is slightly more advanced attacking wise.

For Swansea, my midfield shape and roles almost mirrors yours although my set-up is a lot more rigid. Britton plays deep, Allen supports and Sigurdsson plays an attack-minded play-making role. I'm rather cautious of whether a triple pivot system could be successful as Britton is rather limited offensively.

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Oh We are, Just watching this unfold first.

In regards to your full backs being too high up the field, they should drop back once the gk distributes the ball. If they don't a lower mentality should see that they do.

Oh well thats good to know :) yeah its improved since I dropped the mentality so thats all good

I'm interested :)

The idea of a triple pivot midfield is a fascinating idea and something that I've tried implementing with my Arsenal and Swansea saves. With Arsenal, my triple pivot is in a standard 4-3-3 formation. I use Song in a defensive midfield support role with a roaming instruction as I find that helps, my role for Arteta is virtually the same as you have Xavi's whilst Wilshere is slightly more advanced attacking wise.

For Swansea, my midfield shape and roles almost mirrors yours although my set-up is a lot more rigid. Britton plays deep, Allen supports and Sigurdsson plays an attack-minded play-making role. I'm rather cautious of whether a triple pivot system could be successful as Britton is rather limited offensively.

I find it works brilliantly, got an excellent screenshot to put up but may not be untill tomorrow night as im absolutely knackered now :p

driving me to get it finished now knowing people are interested

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Great thread jimbob,

I was contemplating something anyway, but after reading this, I've decided to go through with it, so hopefully it works. Thank you.

One thing I would watch out for, is how far your DM pushes up because you don't want him leaving AM's that open in open play.

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Great thread jimbob,

I was contemplating something anyway, but after reading this, I've decided to go through with it, so hopefully it works. Thank you.

One thing I would watch out for, is how far your DM pushes up because you don't want him leaving AM's that open in open play.

Yeah I found that playing Real Madrid in the super cup, Kaka ran the show. May slightly tweak instructions for games like that, although I have found in pre season friendlys my MC has done a pretty good job of dropping in the gap when the DM gets forward, ive got a superb screenshot on my home computer. Ill get it up tonight :)

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Yeah I've been watching along too.

You always have to watch out when a team use an AM against you, particularly the 4231 shape City employed against you. By allowing Busquets to push up further forward (as he is in the screenie) it will always leave the AM free, whether the ball can get there or not is a different matter though.

The thing is that in those situations where they are using an AM (and one you think could hurt you) it's perfectly acceptable to say I'll not use a triple pivot today, I'll let Busquets sit on the AM and mark him out of the game and fire my offensive bullets through Xavi,Cesc & Iniesta wide right. Nothing wrong with that. You're still playing to a strength whilst reacting to a very real threat and key offensive strategy of the opposition. Clever managing in my book.

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Yeah I've been watching along too.

You always have to watch out when a team use an AM against you, particularly the 4231 shape City employed against you. By allowing Busquets to push up further forward (as he is in the screenie) it will always leave the AM free, whether the ball can get there or not is a different matter though.

The thing is that in those situations where they are using an AM (and one you think could hurt you) it's perfectly acceptable to say I'll not use a triple pivot today, I'll let Busquets sit on the AM and mark him out of the game and fire my offensive bullets through Xavi,Cesc & Iniesta wide right. Nothing wrong with that. You're still playing to a strength whilst reacting to a very real threat and key offensive strategy of the opposition. Clever managing in my book.

Cheers for the input Furious. I didnt realise that at first in the City game but after seeing Silva create a few chances I set Busquets to tightly mark him on his player instructions. That in itself restricted his forward runs a lot he played a lot like Busquets IRL against City just sat in that space and played it off to Xavi/Cesc to start an attacking move. Kept Silva completely out of the game from when I tweaked, almost changes to a double pivot with just Xavi and Cesc moving between themselves.

Its ok with a team like Barca because as you said there is Cesc/Xavi/Iniesta/messi to play through. After ive mastered it with Barca im going to try it with Swansea, which should give me a completely different, and considerably more difficult challenge. Especially to try and keep the triple pivot moving, without sacrificing defensively as 90% of the teams are of a higher quality.

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I've seen some games where Song charges forward but chooses his time poorly. Either Wenger likes this (possible but unlikely) or Song doesn't have the discipline to sit and do 'nothing' for the whole game. It boils down to a choice professional sportsmen always have to make:

"Do I want to play poorly but the team wins? Or I don't care about winning, I just need to play well"

Choosing the 2nd option isn't anywhere near as damaging as it sounds but choosing the 1st option is far far more difficult than you might imagine. There have been times when I believe Arsenal would of won if their DM could just sit and plug the gap and totally negate the main threat of the opposition - in FM terms he'd get a poorish rating because he doesn't make tackles and he doesn't make many interceptions as the opposition don't even pass in that direction but that is because he is there, doing a constant vigilant marking job and being the most important chap on his team despite seeming to do nothing.

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I've seen some games where Song charges forward but chooses his time poorly. Either Wenger likes this (possible but unlikely) or Song doesn't have the discipline to sit and do 'nothing' for the whole game. It boils down to a choice professional sportsmen always have to make:

"Do I want to play poorly but the team wins? Or I don't care about winning, I just need to play well"

Choosing the 2nd option isn't anywhere near as damaging as it sounds but choosing the 1st option is far far more difficult than you might imagine. There have been times when I believe Arsenal would of won if their DM could just sit and plug the gap and totally negate the main threat of the opposition - in FM terms he'd get a poorish rating because he doesn't make tackles and he doesn't make many interceptions as the opposition don't even pass in that direction but that is because he is there, doing a constant vigilant marking job and being the most important chap on his team despite seeming to do nothing.

Yeah exactly, but I think due to playing as Barca and being the dominant team in 99% of my games it isnt as noticeable when the DM goes runabouts. Going to need some huge tweaks to the DM I think once I start off trying to get it working with Swansea, going to have to make him a lot more subdued going forward but I still want him to end up in and around the box scoring goals, going to need some very fine tuning I think. Its almost like trying to create a deep 4-2-3-1 and a normal 4-2-3-1 at the same time. As you said problems arise when the DM goes charging forward and the oppositions biggest threat is playing in AMC. Although I think it would only be a problem against AMC formations, against say a bog standard 4-4-2 I dont think it would cause to much trouble.

I think Ill pull the mentality right down to try and keep him in the DM strata, leave forward runs on sometimes to encourage him to get forward sometimes. I think a tweak to CF will also be needed just to give him that little less freedom. Against any teams with an AMC It'll be strict man marking duties and probably tweak his forward runs to never, just so that he stays vigilant. I think that will quell the threat of the AMC but will also really damage the triple pivot im working torwards. Tough one :/

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It's just something to watch out for. Certainly against formations without an AM then he can have more license to move as the primary threat the opposition are presenting to you is probably handled elsewhere. Similarly, if all a team are doing is nullifying you then a surging deep run made intelligently from DM can drastically alter your shape and break the opposition out of their defensive rhythm and hopefully open some gaps for you.

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It's just something to watch out for. Certainly against formations without an AM then he can have more license to move as the primary threat the opposition are presenting to you is probably handled elsewhere. Similarly, if all a team are doing is nullifying you then a surging deep run made intelligently from DM can drastically alter your shape and break the opposition out of their defensive rhythm and hopefully open some gaps for you.

Thats exactly what Im aiming for with the rotation of the tiple pivot. Constantly giving the defence something new to worry about. Xavi may drop deeper dragging the opposing DM/MC with him leaving a whole available for the DM to bomb into. Thats the general idea of how I want this tactic to work :)

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Thats exactly what Im aiming for with the rotation of the tiple pivot. Constantly giving the defence something new to worry about. Xavi may drop deeper dragging the opposing DM/MC with him leaving a whole available for the DM to bomb into. Thats the general idea of how I want this tactic to work :)

How is it working?

I've always put the mentalities the other way round: i.e

DM - high mentality

MC - normal/low mentality

AM - low mentality

This means they are more fluid as the DM will look to push forward, the MC stays still and the AM drops into the midfield rather than separating himself from it (infact, I normally have 2 MC's but the theory is the same, just with one MC pushing forward rather than a AM pulling back). I also have MC set to FWR-none, the DM to often and the AM to sometimes. This pushes them away from their formational position again so that they move a little bit. But, it does prescribe their movement more than your way so I'm interested to hear if they really are moving as you wanted yet.

The use of loads of CF I think is pretty essential - not so that they'll ignore your instructions but so that they'll use their incredible intelligence to cover for each other and to move into smart positions. The only way I've found to have a player cover for the movement of another is to have the player have immense decision making ability (I'm talking 18+ to really get this behaviour).

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Jimbob, where does your main build up play happen? Through the center?

I play a similar system to yours, but with slight changes. My attacking fullback, for instance, was on the left. So with my system I effectively had a 3 + 1 (or 2 + 2) at the back (2 DC, DR and DMRC). What that meant was that all my build up play happened through the center or left.

On the left especially, I completely overrun and outnumber my opposition. Play then switches to the right where my AMR would smash the ball across the keeper with his right peg.

Basically the defence just cannot cope with the numbers and movement on the left and the center. They get sucked in and that leaves either my AMR free against a single fullback to take on, or he just passes it to my ST who has all the time in the world to pick a spot.

A link to the screenshot: ( I don't know how to post it here directly )

http://s1256.photobucket.com/albums/ii498/HUNT3R1369/?action=view&current=2012-07-09_00001.jpg

Edit: The issue I had, was that my DM would sit just in front of the defence, so there's no real combination play between him, the DR and the AMR. The gap between DR and AMR is usually too much anyway.

Your system doesn't seem to have that problem, but as someone else said, you might be vulnerable against an opposing AM because there's a bit of a gap between midfield and defense.

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furiousuk, you do that with your 4-3-1-2? So you do manual adjustments?

jimbobBRFC very nice thread!

No the 4312 is completely different.

I do it with my 41221 when I want to change the midfield from a 1-2 configuration to a 2-1 setup and, yes, I've found I have to make manual adjustments to get it working as I don't think TC defaults will elicit this behaviour (its mainly run from deep instructions that get tweaked although I also tweak elsewhere if setting the correct duty to get the mentality right changes other things). As I use the MCl to move forward to be the top point of the triangle I have my AMl as a playmaker and I also focus play down that left side. It's not a true triple pivot, more a rotation of the midfield, so I'm interested to see how jimbob gets on in creating a really fluid midfield 3 who all cover for each other and move intelligently.

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I just don't think that in 75% of FM games it could be possible. It will happen at times, sure, but to really implement a fluid concept like the triple pivot in midfield in a religious way seems very, very hard. Luckily for Barcelona their midfielders are the most intelligent in modern football, it's just a fact and means that they can operate with such freedom. Of course we can create things like Furious's example where you can switch to a 1-2 midfield, 2-1 or what have you and as you've said it isn't a true midfield pivot. Unless you have that intelligence like Barcelona do and, of course, like you can buy with teams like Madrid or City then it is going to be very very difficult.

A fluid attacking concept, sure. An ever changing midfield that covers for one another while remaining robust and strong at the back -- plausible but very hard.

I'm feeling pessimistic today :thup:

Edit Best of luck though Jimbob!

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No the 4312 is completely different.

I do it with my 41221 when I want to change the midfield from a 1-2 configuration to a 2-1 setup and, yes, I've found I have to make manual adjustments to get it working as I don't think TC defaults will elicit this behaviour (its mainly run from deep instructions that get tweaked although I also tweak elsewhere if setting the correct duty to get the mentality right changes other things). As I use the MCl to move forward to be the top point of the triangle I have my AMl as a playmaker and I also focus play down that left side. It's not a true triple pivot, more a rotation of the midfield, so I'm interested to see how jimbob gets on in creating a really fluid midfield 3 who all cover for each other and move intelligently.

I understand now. Thanks

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I just don't think that in 75% of FM games it could be possible. It will happen at times, sure, but to really implement a fluid concept like the triple pivot in midfield in a religious way seems very, very hard. Luckily for Barcelona their midfielders are the most intelligent in modern football, it's just a fact and means that they can operate with such freedom. Of course we can create things like Furious's example where you can switch to a 1-2 midfield, 2-1 or what have you and as you've said it isn't a true midfield pivot. Unless you have that intelligence like Barcelona do and, of course, like you can buy with teams like Madrid or City then it is going to be very very difficult.

A fluid attacking concept, sure. An ever changing midfield that covers for one another while remaining robust and strong at the back -- plausible but very hard.

I'm feeling pessimistic today :thup:

Edit Best of luck though Jimbob!

I do agree, it will be very difficuly. I imagine it to work very well with Barca, but I think most tactics you could think of would work well with Barca. Once I perfect it and move on to Swansea I think that is when the real challenge will begin.

Jimbob, where does your main build up play happen? Through the center?

I play a similar system to yours, but with slight changes. My attacking fullback, for instance, was on the left. So with my system I effectively had a 3 + 1 (or 2 + 2) at the back (2 DC, DR and DMRC). What that meant was that all my build up play happened through the center or left.

On the left especially, I completely overrun and outnumber my opposition. Play then switches to the right where my AMR would smash the ball across the keeper with his right peg.

Basically the defence just cannot cope with the numbers and movement on the left and the center. They get sucked in and that leaves either my AMR free against a single fullback to take on, or he just passes it to my ST who has all the time in the world to pick a spot.

A link to the screenshot: ( I don't know how to post it here directly )

http://s1256.photobucket.com/albums/ii498/HUNT3R1369/?action=view¤t=2012-07-09_00001.jpg

Edit: The issue I had, was that my DM would sit just in front of the defence, so there's no real combination play between him, the DR and the AMR. The gap between DR and AMR is usually too much anyway.

Your system doesn't seem to have that problem, but as someone else said, you might be vulnerable against an opposing AM because there's a bit of a gap between midfield and defense.

To be perfectely honest it varies, majority of it comes through the center but I do see a fari amount of goals come the same way you describe. Overloading down the right then a quick switch to the other side of the pitch and the opposition is pulled to pieces, especiialy when you have a team with talent like Barca do. Regarding the AM as I mentioned above Im going to start twreaking the DM's insturctions to make him sit in more of an Anchorman role than a actually get involved playmaker role. That should help directly combat the gap between midfield and defence.

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This threads gone on hold for the moment sorry people, really busy at the moment so not had much chance to play FM. Will pick it up again probably towards end of next week :) sorry for the delay, would love to hear from anyone else who has tried to set up this system, simply to stop the thread completely dying

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Im going to continue this post here rather than having lots of different threads open it will be easier to keep everything together in one thread. If a MOD could close this thread it would probably be worthwhile

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