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Any Tips On Beating Top Tier Clubs?

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Normally this isn't the type of thing I would post about but I am genuinely puzzled right now.

I think I have developed pretty damn good grasp on this game. I've started numerous saves with varied levels of success with different types of clubs in different nations.

The one thing that has eluded me is being able to handle the TOP clubs in the world. Man United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Juve, Bayern Munich, etc.

I have tried a bunch of different things, all with very little success..

- As a "good team" (like spurs) playing on control, trying to be aggressive per usual as we would against anyone else. Big mistake.

- As a "good team" (like spurs) playing on control, but being rather cautious and patient. Standing off, dropping deeper. Get killed with set pieces, can't keep the ball. another bad result.

- As a "sort of good team" (like Inter) playing on standard/counter, trying to really reject space. Gets smashed. No possession at all. Embarassing # of shots against.

- As a "smaller" team (like Fulham) played defensive, standing off, staying on feet, etc. Results: getting smashed by top clubs. No chance at all.

So do the defensive mentalities even matter? I mean in my experience they simply have been horrifying. My tactics are rather bland so I'm not overwhelming my team with massive amounts of instructions or anything. Usually when playing a top team I keep it simple so.. nothing more than maybe 3 shouts. My roles / duties are always well balanced. Team is always very fluid with tactical familiarity. What happened to being able to set up shop and soak up the pressure? It doesn't seem to work.

I've found that being more aggressive against these teams CAN work to a degree, but it's a very fine line to walk on. In my Leverkusen save I was very aggressive with Dortmund and was able to draw them in both matches. Admittedly we were a bit lucky. But this doesn't make sense. What is the point of the lower mentalities if they aren't applicable to these types of matches?

How do you guys play against the top clubs? Have you had any success?

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This is the one part of the game that I just fall to pieces! Be interested to see what people's strategies are.

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This is the one part of the game that I just fall to pieces! Be interested to see what people's strategies are.

I mean I am totally lost when it comes to this.

I have tried literally everything. The thing about FM13 and FM14 is that it really moved away from the notion that the better team wins easily. In FM12 I could put together a team and have no real tactical knowledge and make it to the champions league final lol. In FM13 and FM14 I can barely make it past the CL round of 16! lol! I love that the game has gotten more realistic. But something has to give, no?

If defensive strategies do not work then what are you supposed to do? Pray for a result? There has to be something though, because I see people have had success against big clubs. I mean there are people posting tactics with like 1 loss in an entire season. That totally baffles me.

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I mean I am totally lost when it comes to this.

I have tried literally everything. The thing about FM13 and FM14 is that it really moved away from the notion that the better team wins easily. In FM12 I could put together a team and have no real tactical knowledge and make it to the champions league final lol. In FM13 and FM14 I can barely make it past the CL round of 16! lol! I love that the game has gotten more realistic. But something has to give, no?

If defensive strategies do not work then what are you supposed to do? Pray for a result? There has to be something though, because I see people have had success against big clubs. I mean there are people posting tactics with like 1 loss in an entire season. That totally baffles me.

I agree. I have no qualms when losing to better teams than me; however like you say, I hate the fact that I'm powerless against them! Even mediocre players like Victor Moses seemed to waltz through my Crystal Palace team.

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I agree. I have no qualms when losing to better teams than me; however like you say, I hate the fact that I'm powerless against them! Even mediocre players like Victor Moses seemed to waltz through my Crystal Palace team.

Right. But another thing is that if you look closely at the results, small teams beat big teams a decent amount! My most recent save is with Spurs, and during the first week of the Premier League Man City managed to lose 3-0 to West Brom. I was totally blown away. Then they drew 0-0 with Sunderland. I analyzed both of those games to see how these teams approached City, and what I found was that both teams were able to have a decent amount of possession, and likely were hard tackling and keeping shape. But the problem with that, is that I can't do that with my own teams lol.

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I just tell my team to park the airplane, then hit them on the break whenever possible. Route One ala Sam Allardyce seems to work fine if you a have giant target man the size of Peter Crouch upfront. Not foolproof though, if the opposing defender is as tall then I'm basically screwed as I need the big guy to win aerial challenges and knock it down to my midfielders.

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My best luck against top clubs has come using a rigid philosophy, defensive strategy, clear ball to flanks, direct passing, pass into space. Basically keep guys behind the ball and try to get it away from danger at the first opportunity. I don't use drop deeper or stand off though because defensive sits deep enough by default.

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Things like playing deep, narrow and getting stuck in is normally a good way to go, but, and this is the crucial bit, it entirely depends on your team.

If you've just got promoted and you play a fairly stoic direct game, you have solid big lumps in the CB, a decent goalie, quick attackers and a bit of luck then playing on the break is still very successful.

The problem I sometimes hear about is when managers are trying to build a smart, intricate team who play the 'best' football in the world but at present they are just off the top tier then when they come up against a top tier team, who basically want to play the same way, then they are butting heads. It becomes very much a case of both teams playing the same way and when both teams play the same way then invariably the best team comes out on top and as the teams you are playing are better than you with better players then they come out on top. Nothing in this paragraph is in any way surprising or novel, but it is often overlooked.

Of the 4 examples you give I'd expect only 1 to have any sort of consistent traction (by consistent, I mean you may get a few draws and even a few wins but you should still be losing more often than winning against the big boys, if you are winning more often then you are a big boy and things are different again):

Both top two options are basically playing your 'normal' game, where, as a good team you expect to be the better team on the pitch most of the time. It almost relies on you just being better than the opposition and when you are it works and when you arent you lose. 'Bland' tactics are great, dont get me wrong, I normally play with a fairly neutral setup (augmented with shouts, so I guess a little more complex), but it does mean you are reliant on picking the players to get the job done, if the opposition are just better than you then its tricky.

The bottom option, with Fulham as an example, sounds like suicide. You'd need luck to absorb pressure for 90+ mins. Teams in the cup, playing vastly superior opposition, can get away with this occasionally but the result normally relies on sloppiness by the better team. What normally happens in a 'normal' game where the weaker team is ultra negative is that things get edgy when it is still 0-0 after 70 mins but if the better team keeps their nerve then it'll end up 2 or 3 to 0.

The 3rd example, with Inter, is the example I'd expect, logically, to have the most appeal.

You sit tight and put pressure on the opposition and then strike when/if that pressure creates some weakness. It is sometimes misconstrued as negative (as Mourinho often is) but it is far from it.n Negativity entails creating nothing, it is purely reactive - a negative team is only attempting to negate the attacking prowess of the other team. If they get a goal then that is great but the negative team does not set up to do so, it is purely opportunistic (and often contrary to the setup) if they do score. In contrast, the setup you describe with Inter does attempt to 'break' the opposition, it is not only negating their threat but also applying pressure in order to 'open them up' or create a moment of weakness.

When we think about beating the opposition we normally think of a 'perfect' setup that constantly hits a weakness in the opposition but the game is transient. Another way of looking at it is that you only need to create openings for very short amounts of time in a game, but you need to make the most of them. So you absorb and absorb, but apply pressure (through both negating the opposition, the Rocky Balboa style, but also through putting them under pressure), this pressure is supposed to create a weakness which you then exploit.

If you are playing against better opposition you can expect to be 'dominated' by them (of course, they may be off their game, and you on yours) but that is fine so long as that domination is not total. In the moments when you have the upper hand, and that may be only 5/10 mins total in the game, you need to strike.

I can only guess that in your 'Inter' test your team weren't equipped to play like you wanted or the opposition just played better on the day and surely you'd expect to lose if a better team plays better than you. Sure, you might get lucky and win, but thats it, luck.

Its about hitting weaknesses. Always about hitting weaknesses and negating strengths, whilst negating your own weakness and harnessing your own strength.

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The strategy is totally wrong. Do you think spurs can play a "control" game against top clubs IRL?

Depending on context and for some periods of the game: yes. It might not be a wise starting strategy against an in-form Chelsea, for example, but depending on how the game evolves, it seems feasible - based on my experience - for Spurs to play some of the game using a Control strategy.

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You sit tight and put pressure on the opposition and then strike when/if that pressure creates some weakness. It is sometimes misconstrued as negative (as Mourinho often is) but it is far from it.n Negativity entails creating nothing, it is purely reactive - a negative team is only attempting to negate the attacking prowess of the other team. If they get a goal then that is great but the negative team does not set up to do so, it is purely opportunistic (and often contrary to the setup) if they do score. In contrast, the setup you describe with Inter does attempt to 'break' the opposition, it is not only negating their threat but also applying pressure in order to 'open them up' or create a moment of weakness.

How would you achieve this with FM? I love the whole Mourinho philosophy and sounds exactly what I'm trying to achieve.

Heres what I have been thinking something along the lines of:

• 4-1-2-2-1 Formation (Very Rigid/Rigid & Counter)

Drop Deeper, Play Narrower, Get Stuck In, Be More Disciplined and maybe Tighter Marking.

I feel I'd be able to play this considering my players. I have a lot of strong central midfielder and central defenders.

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The strategy is totally wrong. Do you think spurs can play a "control" game against top clubs IRL?

IRL maybe not, but in-game with the squad they have is a whole different story. Their squad gives alot of options going forward and their defensive choices aren't bad, Capoue and Sandro can form a solid defensive duo in front of defence and they can certainly play the ball abit.

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Oddly enough, with my current team and tactic, I don't find the "top clubs" per se that much of a problem. It seems to be specific tactics / teams that cause me problems.

Playing a fluid, control 4-2-3-1 I don't get scared playing many teams, but I do have my bogey teams. For some reason I struggle away against Reading and Spurs. And yet I easily beat Bayern and Barcelona at home (Barca was 5-1, Bayern 3-0). I also fare reasonably well against the top english sides (arsenal, chelsea, man city), even away playing contol. Man -U was the only top team I regularly got frustrated by. I noted their formation. They played 3-3-2-2 (3 CBs, 2 WBs, 1DM, 2 MC, 2 ST). Noone else plays like that against me. Antonio Conte is the manager.

I completely predicted my results against Napoli in the CL after looking at their formation and players. 0-0 at home and a narrow loss away. I *knew* their formation and the quality of the players in the 4-1DM-2-2-1 formation would frustrate my tactic at home. I was right.

So in short. What am I saying? If you are struggling against top sides, then you have to find a way to play past their tactics. Sometimes you'll do this by luck because your standard tactic and players compliment the oppositions. Other times you have to work on it. I've had some *immense* tactical battles in matches sometimes as I try to tweak things to combat specific threats and then the opposing manager counter tweaks. Its not just the team instructions and mentality that you need to tweak, but the actual formation and the players in each role. Look at opposition weaknesses and strengths. Where are the goals going to come from? Counter it.

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Things like playing deep, narrow and getting stuck in is normally a good way to go, but, and this is the crucial bit, it entirely depends on your team.

If you've just got promoted and you play a fairly stoic direct game, you have solid big lumps in the CB, a decent goalie, quick attackers and a bit of luck then playing on the break is still very successful.

The problem I sometimes hear about is when managers are trying to build a smart, intricate team who play the 'best' football in the world but at present they are just off the top tier then when they come up against a top tier team, who basically want to play the same way, then they are butting heads. It becomes very much a case of both teams playing the same way and when both teams play the same way then invariably the best team comes out on top and as the teams you are playing are better than you with better players then they come out on top. Nothing in this paragraph is in any way surprising or novel, but it is often overlooked.

Of the 4 examples you give I'd expect only 1 to have any sort of consistent traction (by consistent, I mean you may get a few draws and even a few wins but you should still be losing more often than winning against the big boys, if you are winning more often then you are a big boy and things are different again):

Both top two options are basically playing your 'normal' game, where, as a good team you expect to be the better team on the pitch most of the time. It almost relies on you just being better than the opposition and when you are it works and when you arent you lose. 'Bland' tactics are great, dont get me wrong, I normally play with a fairly neutral setup (augmented with shouts, so I guess a little more complex), but it does mean you are reliant on picking the players to get the job done, if the opposition are just better than you then its tricky.

The bottom option, with Fulham as an example, sounds like suicide. You'd need luck to absorb pressure for 90+ mins. Teams in the cup, playing vastly superior opposition, can get away with this occasionally but the result normally relies on sloppiness by the better team. What normally happens in a 'normal' game where the weaker team is ultra negative is that things get edgy when it is still 0-0 after 70 mins but if the better team keeps their nerve then it'll end up 2 or 3 to 0.

The 3rd example, with Inter, is the example I'd expect, logically, to have the most appeal.

You sit tight and put pressure on the opposition and then strike when/if that pressure creates some weakness. It is sometimes misconstrued as negative (as Mourinho often is) but it is far from it.n Negativity entails creating nothing, it is purely reactive - a negative team is only attempting to negate the attacking prowess of the other team. If they get a goal then that is great but the negative team does not set up to do so, it is purely opportunistic (and often contrary to the setup) if they do score. In contrast, the setup you describe with Inter does attempt to 'break' the opposition, it is not only negating their threat but also applying pressure in order to 'open them up' or create a moment of weakness.

When we think about beating the opposition we normally think of a 'perfect' setup that constantly hits a weakness in the opposition but the game is transient. Another way of looking at it is that you only need to create openings for very short amounts of time in a game, but you need to make the most of them. So you absorb and absorb, but apply pressure (through both negating the opposition, the Rocky Balboa style, but also through putting them under pressure), this pressure is supposed to create a weakness which you then exploit.

If you are playing against better opposition you can expect to be 'dominated' by them (of course, they may be off their game, and you on yours) but that is fine so long as that domination is not total. In the moments when you have the upper hand, and that may be only 5/10 mins total in the game, you need to strike.

I can only guess that in your 'Inter' test your team weren't equipped to play like you wanted or the opposition just played better on the day and surely you'd expect to lose if a better team plays better than you. Sure, you might get lucky and win, but thats it, luck.

Its about hitting weaknesses. Always about hitting weaknesses and negating strengths, whilst negating your own weakness and harnessing your own strength.

This was all very helpful, thank you Furious!

A few things I'd like to mention:

- soaking up pressure is DEFINITELY suicide in FM, at least in my experience. So yeah that approach with fulham never worked. I ended up deleting that save (was one of my first for FM14)

- if soaking up pressure is suicide, then the alternative would be a middle ground between soaking up and pressing hard, right? So sort of like picking the "standard" mentality right?

- My whole issue is that I have yet to see tactics that work in my own experience where teams are much more patient and able to withstand some pressure. It feels like if I'm not pressing the other team then I'm just inviting trouble. In the beginning of my Leverkusen save I would use "counter" and we would give away ~60% possession but win games 1-0 or 2-1 you know? As soon as I ratcheted up the mentality to "control" we would get to ~45/50% possession but we were having much more trouble remaining solid at the back.

So I guess my point is, where is the middle ground?

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