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Changing the Game Around with a Tactical Substitution

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There are always those games in a season when you are on top, but just can't put away the opposition team. You may be creating the chances but can't put one in the back of the net or you may be dominating possession but can't create anything with it. I recently was struggling in one of those games. It was an away game against a struggling relegation candidate: AS Nancy Lorraine.

I had played a weaker team consisting of back ups and some promising youngsters in order to save my first team for the last Champions League group match against Man City. At half time, we were dominating and should have put the game away, but instead the match stood precariously at 2-1 RC Lens. I could see we were struggling to play our normal fluent movement based passing game in the last third. Rather than going to re-watch parts of the match straight away, I looked at the team stats and the analysis screen.

The Problems

I immediately saw that we were enjoying less possession than normal at about 55% rather than 60-65%. Also I could see that they had committed over 10 fouls but still had an impressive 70% tackling completion percentage. Not only this but they had only received one booking. This showed that they were closing down aggressively and trying to get into the face of my young team. The fouls they were committing were not due to desperation tackles or professional fouls to halt an attack but more petty fouls and an attempt to exert their influence on the game. This could be seen right from the start of the match with them committing 2 fouls straight in the first minute of the match.

Normally such aggressive pressing and tackling would not have affected my team as much but my midfield today was much weaker than usual. With only one player in the centre of the pitch with greater than 10 strength compared to my normal first 11 who are very physical and strong, my team could not deal with the physical nature of the game. This also hampered us in trying to win the ball back, losing several aerial battles and 50/50 balls.

In conclusion we were struggling due to our inability to keep quality possession in midfield and our inability to win the ball back

Their physical game had nearly paid off atleast twice with my team giving the ball away, misplacing passes in a dangerous positions, and presenting goal-scoring opportunities for Nancy Lorraine.

Looking at my team a player who was really struggling was my left winger, Chaouki Ben Saada.

He was being harrassed, fouled thrice in the first half and was guilty of a dangerous misplaced passed that nearly cost my side a goal. Despite this he was causing the opposition right back endless problems being able to dribble past him with ease especially after his booking. One of which led to a penalty (which of course hit the post).

bogomildyakovoverviewat.png

Half-time Rectification

Well basically I did nothing. Having seen their tactic, I knew that they could not keep up such heavy pressing for the entire match and that we would be on top at the end of the match. I expected Ben Saada to be overcome is poor first half now that the opposition right back was handicapped with a yellow card. I was essentially banking on my so-so defense from the first half being able to hold out for another 20 mins or so before we could cripple them in the last 20 mins.

In the second half more of the same occurred. We created more chances and missed but they were being far more gung-ho in their approach to get a goal back. In response to this I reduced the mentality from control to standard so we could receive more defensive support from my midfield in dealing with their attacks.

Chaoouki Ben Saada played better in the second half but the hard tackling was taking its toll on the ageing winger and after receiving a knock I subbed him on the 70 minute mark. (Although he received a knock, he was going to be subbed around now anyway.)

Since I had taken a look at the opposition right back at half time, I had seen that he was a dreadfully slow fullback and by the 70 minute mark he was shattered and performing really poorly; reluctant to tackle due to his yellow but too slow to just track my winger he was pretty useless. For some reason Nancy didn't substitute him off and so I proceeded to exploit that blatant weakness.

I had a choice of two players: Gael Kakuta and Jacques Meyer.

galkakutaoverviewattrib.png

jacquesmeyeroverviewatt.png

Gael Kakuta would be able to attack the outside of Dyakov and get crosses in. Kakuta's acceleration, agilty, pace and dribbling would allow him to ease round Dyakov and should therefore be able to produce dangerous crosses into the box.

The other option, Jacques Meyer, is more of a direct goal threat. He would attack the inside of Dyakov and get into goal scoring opportunities or lay the ball off to my striker or right winger.

I decided upon Kakuta since he's the safer option. With Nancy pressing hard and the centre of the pitch being congested I felt a player attacking that area would be risky and might not amount to anything whereas Kakuta would help us keep our width; allowing us to be dangerous on the flanks and through the middle if we caught a pocket of space.

The choice of Kakuta was a good one:

[video=youtube_share;00jlmuLXQMc]

It's clear that Kakuta gave the team the edge to win the match more comfortably 4-2.

This shows that when you are struggling in a match don't overcomplicate. There are times when a tactical change is needed but sometimes a simple substitution is required to exploit an opposition weakness.

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Very good analysis of your game and the subtle change made. You made it very clear why you made the changes and how they worked. If I think of any questions then I'll fire away but for now I have nothing. Good work :)

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It's easy to get bogged down in trying to analyse your defense build up play etc. When sometimes that's better left for after the match or not at all since its easy to forget that players have off days. Dealing with it can be as simple as a sub to remove the poor player or tilting things in their favour by exploiting somewhere else.

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Excellent post mate :thup: Im the same really, during the game I dont like going really in depth apart from looking at match stats as you said you could see you were down on possesion and there were a lot of fouls. Im more of the "try and change the game with an inspired sub" than trying to tweak my way into the game. Granted I do make tweaks using shouts but the majority of the time I change things with a sub, my most used one is swapping my DM pass master playmaker for a more steely defensive player who can help close out a game.

I notice your playing a back three, how is it set up if you dont mind me asking? Looks like a DC/DC/DC looking at how tucked in the wider defenders are? Am I right, I do love a back three :)

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I'm currently using 3 sweepers. SWL, SWC, SWR. I read somewhere it works better than 3 dcs or a wider 3 man defense: Dr dc dl. It works better for possession since they widen in possession and narrow in defense but being sweepers they have a tendency to stand off not mark tightly. Really annoying when dealing with crosses and closing down AMs and deep strikers.

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I'm currently using 3 sweepers. SWL, SWC, SWR. I read somewhere it works better than 3 dcs or a wider 3 man defense: Dr dc dl. It works better for possession since they widen in possession and narrow in defense but being sweepers they have a tendency to stand off not mark tightly. Really annoying when dealing with crosses and closing down AMs and deep strikers.

Ahhhh right yeah, I started using a similar system a couple of weeks back, although it was a 3 SWC setup rather than the SWL/SWC/SWR. What is the full tactic if you dont mind me asking? Yeah I found that, they never really got tight even if tight man marking was setup, a slight annoyance but it still works a hell of a lot better than a back three DL/DC/DR

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The tactic is inspired partly by guardiola's Barcelona during their injury crisis. They played a 343 diamond but it moved to a 325/235 in possession. It is still in progress and isn't tiki taka by any stretch (quite purposefully) since only the formation and movement is inspired by barca. The rest is my creation and tactical developments from fm10/11 onwards.

The roles are

SWL/R Libero support

SWC Sweeper defend

DM Deep lying playmaker defend

MCL Deep lying playmaker support

MCR Central midfielder attack

AM Advanced playmaker attack

AML/R Winger support

ST Trequartista

Some of the roles are minorly edited. Mainly long shots and roaming.

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Yeah was something similar I played with except with 3 SWC's and wing backs instead of the DM and I think it was a lot more narrow. Something like

SWCL/R: Liberio Support

SWC: Sweeper defend

WB's Wing Back Support

MCL: Deep Lying Playmaker Suppoer

MCR: Advanced Playmaker Support

AMCL: Treq

AMCR: Attaking Midfielder

STC: Poacher/Advanced forward

Very narrow but because of the three man defence the wing backs have the license to fly forward. :)

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Nice summary of a very underrated management point. I guess we are all a little guilt of letting those type of matches slide from time to time. Hence my focus will be on turning them around.

Great post!

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Nice summary of a very underrated management point. I guess we are all a little guilt of letting those type of matches slide from time to time. Hence my focus will be on turning them around.

Great post!

Thanks. It's very easy to lose or draw these types of matches. I find in my current save as RC Lens, I've worked harder than ever to try to get a result from every match and to also keep a very tight defense. By doing this I was able to overachieve once promoted purely by having one of the best defenses in the league and drawing lots of matches I really ought to have lost.

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