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A Sacchi-Inspired Flat 4-4-2

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READ THIS FIRST

This thread contains detail and discussion of 2 Sacchi-inspired tactics. Jambo describes his in post 22, mine is contained in posts 1 and 2. Please read through both if you join the discussion !

BACKGROUND

Arrigo Sacchi was (still is) an Italian coach/manager who most notably took his AC Milan side to back to back European Cup (as it was then) wins - still the last manager to achieve this feat (1989 & 1990). I won't provide a history lesson, however if you wish to know more about him and AC Milan, Jambo provides a lot of detail in post 12, plus his Wikipedia entry is a good place to start http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrigo_Sacchi.

In essence, he played a 4-4-2 formation with a very high defensive line (the distance from forwards to backs no more than 25m) with a high intensity, essentially creating a natural heavy press. Very attacking, very fluid - 5 men ahead of the ball :eek:.

As the Bleacher Report reports (ahem), this:

t7e62q.jpg

PURPOSE

Unlike many threads started here, the intention of this thread is not to write up the step by step evolution of a tactic. The tactic is fully developed and has won my AC Milan side Serie A and the Champion's League in the space of 2 seasons, with the follow up back to back CL win in season 3. Neither is the intention to present it for download - I'm in the wrong forum for that anyway ;).

Rather, I'd like to share what I have found from the experience of developing the tactic, which may give people ideas of their own to help in their tactics.

This will give you an idea of the results I have been having:

5trrs0.jpg

And highlights from the CL:

Group Stage vs Bayern: 3-1 away win + 5-0 home win.

Quarter Final vs Man Utd: 8-4 agg win (6-2 home, 2-2 away)

Semi Final vs Barcedlona: 11-6 agg win (6-2 home, 5-4 away which was a jaw dropping match).

CREDIT

Before I go any further, the original inspiration for this tactic goes back to FM13 and a 442DM sacchi-esque tactic posted on the FM Base site and created by a friend of mine called seanhrfc. Not sure if I am allowed to post links to other sites here, but if you want to look it up (and I urge you to, it has a great write up there), just google "FM13 sacchi tactic" and follow the FM Base result.

Credit to seasnhrfc - this tactic merely follows on from his great work.

FORMATION & ROLES

2zz5ajd.jpg

As you can see, a flat 4-4-2. I'll explain the reasoning behind each role selection below (an explanation of Team tactical settings follows after). As the tactic is very tailored to my team, I'l also include some key attributes for each role - note that Team Work and Work Rate is required for every role (except perhaps the Poacher and Goalie).

Sweeper Keeper Defend

The tactic is played with an exceptionally high defensive line, so a Sweeper Keeper will help protect the acres of space between the keeper and defenders. I didn't want the keeper making risky passes out, so he has a defend duty.

Key Attributes: Decisions, Rushing Out

Fullback Support (left and right backs)

Most attacking wing play I want coming from the wingers - I'm not looking for lots of overlapping runs from the fullbacks. Their primary job is to defend in what is a really aggressive team set up, although I do expect them to provide forward support as well. The wingback role, even with a support duty, proved to be too attack minded and left large holes - the fullback support role made the best compromise.

Key Attributes: Nothing fancy - defensive ability, good mentals and lots of pace & stamina. Should be able to dribble and cross a ball.

Left Centre Back - Ball Playing Defender (defend)

With the defence, midfield and attack lines being so tightly compacted, there is room in the team for a central defender with vision and passing ability: someone who can knock the odd long ball over the top to my pacey forwards to run on to - I score several goals like this each season. The tactic could probably accommodate 2 BPDs, which is not something I have tried out, however just one is fine.

I chose a defend duty for both centre backs as I found a stopper would drift too far ahead, and a cover isn't aggressive enough. Plus I play the offside trap.

Key Attributes: Pace and mental stats are key to help with the offside trap. Passing and Vision.

Right Centre Back - Central Defender (defend)

Nothing fancy here, just a straight up centre back.

Key Attributes: Pace and mentals.

Left & Right Wing - Winger (attack)

Played in the ML and MR positions, which really helps with tracking back, these players not only provide width and crosses but will also get into the box for an additional goal threat. I favour some defensive ability in these players in addition to their attack - an attacking wide midfielder is also an option here, however I felt the pure Winger role offered more offensively and is probably a bit more in keeping with Sacchi's original.

Key Attributes: Crossing, dribbling, pace, stamina - some defensive ability is a bonus.

NOTE - one of my wingers (Bonaventura) has the PPM "Cuts Inside". I've found this PPM in no way inhibits the Winger attack role and in my opinion actually enhances it slightly by giving the player another option of how to behave. I'd be interested in people's opinion in this.

MCL - Roaming Playmaker

Something that I always felt was slightly missing from the FM13 original tactic was a playmaking role. A DLP or AP is just a bad fit into the overall theme of the tactic, and Regista can't be played in the MC strata. FM15's new Roaming Playmaker role is ideally suited, and the one role this year that I am most excited by. The overall tactical theme of hardworking, fluid movement is tailor made for the RPM and something I didn't even experiment with. Thank you SI ! The RPM will make runs into the box, play excellent passes and provide defensive cover.

Key Attributes: Passing, Vision. Defensive ability is great to have, as well as long shots and technique.

MCR - Central Midfilder (support)

This is probably the single most important role in the tactic, and the one that is the most sensitive to having the absolute correct player in place. You will note that there is no player at MC with a "defend" duty to help provide defensive cover - which is a generally accepted practise. With such a high defensive line, and using players with such high workrates/teamwork (more on those below) I found that a simple supporting midfielder provides both sufficient defensive cover and good help when in possession. That being said, an aggressive midfield tackler who can also pass a bit is a must have in this role. Any lack of aggression in this position can and will result in the defence being shot to pieces. It is absolutely critical to success.

Key Attributes: Aggression, Tackling, Marking. Good mentals also.

STCR - Complete Forward (support)

Essentially how I see the Gullit role. A DLF(s) is another possibility here, however the Complete Forward seems to be the better all-round player to provide both a straight up attacking threat and possessional linking play.

Key Attributes: A great all-rounder. Someone who can finish, pass, dribble, decent mentals, flair, pace.

STCL - Poacher

My one "luxury" player, and someone who won't contribute much other than goals - and lots of them. Was van Basten anything other than a Poacher? I don't know, but a Poacher works really well with this tactic. An Advanced Forward is also an option and works almost as well.

Key Attributes: Finishing, composure, anticipation. If you are going to try swapping the strikers on occasion (see below), then go for a similar player to the CF(s) above.

PLAYER INSTRUCTIONS

Perhaps unusual to cover these before the Team Instructions, but as I have covered the player roles here I thought I'd add in the PIs. Not many !

Sweeper Keeper - Distribute to Specific Team Mate (the Ball Playing Defender)

I want the BPD fully involved.

Both Fullbacks - Shoot Less Often

When they do get forward, I want them to look for the pass or cross, not the shot.

Ball Playing Defender - Close Down Less

Both central defenders have this TI - with such a huge space behind them it is essential they don't get drawn further up and out of position.

Central Defender - Close Down Less + Pass It Shorter

As above, but I don't want him hoofing the ball long if he can help it

Both Wingers - Shoot Less Often

Yes they are both an attacking threat and a goal threat, however their primary purpose is to support the attack and this PI helps remind them of this. They still get their share of goals though.

Roaming Playmaker - Shoot Less Often

As above.

Central Midfielder - Shoot Less Often + Fewer Risky Passes

This is the holding midfielder and the midfield aggressor - he's isn't there to take risks.

Complete Forward - Close Down More + Move Into Channels

I want him aggressively pressing the opposition defence and even their midfield, so lots of closing down here. In possession, running the channels can help free up space for either the Poacher, wingers or midfield runners to move into.

Poacher - Close Down More

A bit of extra pressing on the opposition back line doesn't hurt - he won't do much but it can make a small difference.

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TEAM LEVEL TACTICAL SETTINGS

TEAM SHAPE (aka "Fluidity")

Team Shape here almost takes care of itself, and for once is relatively simple.

Sacchi's players were required to be competent in all areas of the pitch and in all fazes of play. Defenders had to be able to support the attack, attackers had to help with defence. Unless I am completely barking up the wrong tree (always possible), to me this requires a Fluid or Very Fluid Team Shape.

I settled eventually on "Fluid". Very Fluid seemed to have too much going on, especially where the central defenders were concerned. Having such a high defensive line, with central defenders venturing a little too far and a little too often away from their primary position made an already delicately balanced defence just a bit too unstable.

Pulling it back a notch to Fluid has helped although not entirely - I still have the odd heart stopping moment when a central defender takes it upon himself to go crazy. But hey, it just adds to the excitement :).

MENTALITY

Again, relatively straight forward - "Attacking".

The tactic requires an exceptionally high defensive line, lots of attacking movement and a very high tempo. This really only gives us 2 options - Attacking or Overload. I chose Attacking for no reason other than I wasn't brave enough to try Overload. Perhaps I should have, and that may be something I revisit in the future.

TEAM INSTRUCTIONS

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I'll go through each in turn.

Shorter Passing / Play Narrower - These are intrinsically linked. Whilst I want the team to play with an attacking spirit, I don't want attacking passing. Passes should be measured and preferably to a nearby teammate, therefore these 2 TIs go hand in glove.

Play Out of Defence - Primarily to help reduce the number of long passes and/or hopeful punts up field from the defenders. Natural turnover of possession is inevitable, so lets not give it away.

Much Higher Defensive Line - Add this in to the already high defensive line that an Attacking mentality automatically sets, and you can imagine how high my defenders are. To try to help illustrate, the following is a heat map of a 1-0 away win at Cesena we had. I chose a narrow win rather than a large win, as a large win would look skewed anyway. Milan is on the left.

http://i61.tinypic.com/kdwjkg.jpg[/img]"]kdwjkg.jpg

Use Offside Trap - Sacchi played with this, so it's a must have + it is absolutely required when playing such a high def line. Central defenders should have good mental attributes to be able to play the trap effectively, and ideally at least one of them to have good pace to recover quickly when they fail at it.

Higher Tempo - An attacking mentality comes with a high tempo by default, however the Shorter Passing TI will take out some tempo, so this adds it back in. "Much Higher Tempo" is always an option but in this case it is probably overkill.

Be More Disciplined - I'll be honest here, I don't really understand why this works in the tactic. It just does. Using an attacking / fluid tactic, which is supposed to promote creativity and movement, this TI seems at face value to be contrary to the ethos. I tried it out when I was experimenting and it just seemed to click, like the final piece of a jigsaw. As RTH mentioned below, it seems we can get away with some of the established assumptions and this seems to be another one.

PRE AND IN MATCH FIDDLING

Not much to say here, but I'll cover it for completeness.

Team Training

fdbrjd.jpg

This never changes throughout the season, regardless of opponent. I have nothing to back it up, but my feeling is that without Defensive Positioning as the constant match prep, results would be far far worse.

Opposition Instructions - never use them.

Team Talks -

Pre match: calmly I expect a win. (Change to assertive after a few months if players are starting to look complacent) This should be changed regularly to something similar to avoid repetitiveness. If playing a rival, tell them passionately "for the fans".

Half time: Drawing or Losing; be aggressive. Winning by one goal; assertively ok but could do better. 2 goal margin; don't get complacent. 3 or more goal margin; very pleased.

Post match: Draw or Loss; be aggressive. Win; calmly tell them well done (change to assertively if you like).

Note - I could be wrong, but I am of the belief that your reputation as a manager may affect how players respond to you.

In Match

I'm not much of a tinkerer, and in all fairness the tactic doesn't seem to require much, however some things do seem to make a difference when required:

o If your central defenders are really up against it, change their PIs to Close Down Much Less.

o 30 mins to go and someone has parked the bus? Substitute one of your wingers and immediately use the Touchline Shout "Get Creative" (assertively).

o One or both strikers having a poor game? Swap their positions every 15-20 mins. That is to say play the Poacher as the CFs and vice versa (hit the Substitution button and simply drag their names over each other). This works best if your Poacher also has a degree of team work and work rate.

o If someone is sent off, take off the Poacher and don't change anything else.

I think that about covers everything. What I will do next is add on some screen grabs of in-match attacking and defensive plays to help illustrate the tactic in use.

Hopefully I haven't bored you all too much and you have found it useful :).

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Ah beat me to it lol. I had a couple of pages on sacchi typed up before i went to the gym but didnt post it :p I shall instead post some thoughts/reflections shortly. Once you have laid out your other tactical aspects.

If those results are season 1, thats pretty insane. The Milan squad is pretty poor and not balanced to start with.

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can you upload tactic

Can you read the post at least. It wont be uploaded, that is not what this forum is for.

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just out of curiosity who was the one team that beat you and when was it? If that was near the end of the season I'd have probably started crying :(:cool:

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Ah beat me to it lol. I had a couple of pages on sacchi typed up before i went to the gym but didnt post it :p I shall instead post some thoughts/reflections shortly. Once you have laid out your other tactical aspects.

If those results are season 1, thats pretty insane. The Milan squad is pretty poor and not balanced to start with.

Season 4 ;), the screen shot at the top of players in formation is season 1. I actually quite like the starting squad, a little weak for back up down the left, and the poacher could be better, but overall it's alright. Honda retrained to play at ML as a winger is incredible. I'll be interested in your take on the sacchi style :).

just out of curiosity who was the one team that beat you and when was it? If that was near the end of the season I'd have probably started crying :(:cool:

We lost 2-1 away at Catania in April. It was a case of the manager being complacent ;). The draw was 1-1 away at Juventus near the start of the season. Juve have been a thorn in my side since I started the save - Guardiola is managing them lol.

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We lost 2-1 away at Catania in April. It was a case of the manager being complacent ;). The draw was 1-1 away at Juventus near the start of the season. Juve have been a thorn in my side since I started the save - Guardiola is managing them lol.

APRIL!!! As I said, I'd have been in tears!!

Juve when playing with their default wing back system used to trouble me but I found playing that formation Van Ghaal's United play on FM15 really hurt them. Was playing a Champions League Semi Final with Dortmund against them and lost the first leg 1-0 at home playing my usual 4231 and I'd been tinkering with a 4312 with the same TI's and roles (where they matched) anyway decided to use it for the 2nd leg in Turin and it worked a treat as I won 3-2 (Was 3-0 up at HT and they pulled 2 back late)

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It's an interesting system - thanks for posting :thup:

What is becoming apparent is that you can "get away with" challenging some of the established assumptions about Duty allocation in FM15. I'm not sure if that will always remain the case, but ordinarily you wouldn't typically be advised to play with symmetrical Duties on each flank, or two Support Duties in the middle of a 4-4-2.

Out of interest, what Team Shape (Fluidity) do you use?

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If you dont object herne, i will post my entire build up about Sacchi etc just in here? Almost like a second OP, because its very much based on the same. Then i will post my current setup, which is much more of WIP

edit - ah to heck with it, i shall post it all anyway. Im sure herne wont mind! It all adds info about Sacchi and the team/formation in question :)

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So after a bit of brief discussion in another thread, i thought i would post this to reflect and share something i am working on at the moment in a save. Also, of course, and as always, to use the wisdom and knowledge of the forum to improve it and "get it right".

A lot of us take pleasure or spend time on FM trying to recreate real life tactics, past or present. A scan down the forum will show you threads on Ancelloti's 442, the 361 of Liverpool lately, Van Gaal's 3412 and even Van Gaal's AZ 442. Then of course there is Cleon's wonderfully detailed thread on probably one of the greatest teams to walk the earth - Brazil 1970. I am following the trend, but picking another of the teams often selected among the best of all time (although i think that is slightly romanticised - more later!). Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan side of 1989/1990. Strictly speaking, the great team i suppose was 88 to 90, given the way the European cup runs over 2 calander years. The groundwork was also partially laid in 87/88 with Sacchi's first Scudetto.

I will give some background on the manager, the team and the tactic, but a disclaimer here. I am not a fan of simply copying text from Wiki or anywhere else - You all have google (with due apologies to anyone reading in China!) and can find that info yourself. My writing here is based on my own memory (which is hazy - i was barely 10 years old at the time of this team), my own readings since (web and books - in particular the excellent chapter in "Inverting the Pyramid" devoted to Sacchi) and various tv programs, reruns of games which i may have seen over the years. As such, feel free to point out anything i have wrong :)

The Manager - Arrigo Sacchi

Sacchi is a name revered throughout the world of football management, which is somewhat ironic as, despite the brilliance of his Milan side, his success there only lasted 3 years and was never replicated elsewhere, despite coming close at USA 94. He is credited with being a major influence on many of the top managers in the world today, including Guardiola, Benitez and Klopp.

The other somewhat unusual thing about Sacchi, is that he had no professional football career. He never played above amateur level and sold shoes for a living before moving into football management full time.

He managed at several lower clubs, including Cesena and Rimini before getting his first real break at Parma. During his time at Parma, he beat Milan twice in the same season (despite being in Serie B at the time) and caught the eye of a certain flamboyant (later to become complete buffoon) media tycoon/owner of Milan. In 1987 he became manager of AC Milan, ironically he technically replaced one Fabio Capello, who had been "caretaker" for the last few games of the 1986/87 season. Capello, of course, would go on to replace and in many ways out-do Sacchi in the mid 90's.

Sacchi's strongest tactical belief, and his entire approach to the game, was based on the premise that Football is a team game. This was not his invention, it was rather a further interpretation of the "total football" thinking of Rinus Michels. Sacchi believed that the team was the most important thing. He had no time for the traditional "Trequirtista" in his teams (although somewhat ironically, he very nearly won a world cup thanks to the efforts of a player of that ilk!). He disliked specialist players and felt that each player should be multi-functional and able to perform more than one task. His Milan side were very much built on teamwork and drilled incessantly in it.

Sacchi was also a fan of attacking football, and zonal marking - two things which were almost unheard of in Italy (although neither were entirely new). He arrived at a time where Catenaccio was still king. Sacchi had a different vision. Another irony would be, that despite building one of the great teams of his time and winning back to back European cups, his legacy did not last long. Within 2 years Capello had moved to a defensive/counter based system, based around the anchor of Desailly and the brilliance of Savicevic (NB - there was much more to Capello's system than that, i appreciate).

The tactic - 442

So the tactic itself. I have already summarised some of the principles which drive Sacchi, but to detail it some more:

  • Sacchi wanted a flat 442 shape, 3 banks of players
  • A key principle was that the 3 lines should be no more than 25 metres apart. This was achieved mainly through a high defensive line
  • Zonal Marking was employed, against the grain in Italy at the time (although not a first, despite the fact that Sacchi still claims it in effect was!)
  • The offside trap was practiced, and some would say perfected, to compliment this high line
  • The reason for the above, was the principles of reducing space. Sacchi believed that if he could do this, teams would have to break through 3 layers before they could be through on goal. Attempts to go over the top would be thwarted by the offside trap.
  • Pressing was applied, but perhaps not in the terms we think of pressing today. There were different types of pressing at different phases - more later
  • Each player, with the possible exception of the CB, had to be able to be functional both in defense and attack. They had to understand each side of the game tactically and know where to position themselves at all times.
  • There was no single attacking style - Sacchi wanted variation in his attacking play. It could be a through ball, a short passing build up in the middle, a cross from wide. He wanted to be competent at all aspects
  • The lack of allowance for a "flair role" should not be confused with an avoidance of "flair". Players like Gullit, Donadoni and Rijkaard were more than capable of moments of individual genius, it just should not come at the cost of the overall teamwork principle.

The Team - Milan 89/90

This is where one warning about slight romantacising comes in - It is easy to remember/read about the 89 semi final against Real, then final against Steaua and think that was the team that always brought success. Indeed the team for the final against benefica showed only 1 change, which is quite incredible. It should be noted that Milan rode their luck several times throughout both campaigns (The fog abandoned Belgrade game in particular, where Donadoni very nearly lost his life on the pitch).

It is also worth remembering that this particular 11 did not actually manage to play together for large parts of the Sacchi era. Costacurta was initially a squad player. Rijkaard spent a lot of time in central defense and injured, Van Basten and Gullit of course also spent significant time out. However, this is the "iconic" line up(s) which i am basing this tactic/approach on:

AC Milan v Steaua - European Cup final 1989 (NB - the exact same 11 achieved the 5 v 0 win over Real in the semi second leg)

2000px-AC_Milan-Steaua_1989-05-24.svg.png

AC Milan v Benfica - European Cup final 1990

2000px-AC_Milan-Benfica_1990-05-23.svg.png

The Players - 1989/90

GK - Giovanni Galli - Regular Goalkeeper, despite high line he wasnt a sweeper keeper, probably because of the different rules in 1989 (offside and passback)

RB - Mauro Tassotti - A right back who was mainly defensive, but capable of moving forward a bit. Solid and dependable, made his International debut at age 3

LB - Paulo Maldini - What needs to be said? One of the finest defenders ever. In this team, he was again a defensive first LB, but could move forward when required. Technically a wonderful all round player

CB - Franco Baresi - If Maldini was great, how do you descibe this man? A complete legend, an organiser, captain, could manage a D-Line like no one else. A true legend again

CB - Alessandro Costacurta - Possibly an underappreciated defender. Was part of 5 European cup winning squads (although has only 3 winners medals I believe). Also holds the record still as Serie A oldest goalscorer

RM - Roberto Donadoni - A pacey and tricky wide man, but also more than capable of playing as a playmaker or passer. He also spent time on the left flank at times for Milan. A real "Sacchi" player with his ability to do many different things

LM (1989) - Angelo Colombo - Probably the least heralded of this side, but a solid left sided player, who would often cut inside. Also the only one of the squad who was not an international

LM(1990) - Alberigo Evani - More of a solid type on the left, more noted for this ability to work hard and retain possession than be a "winger" type. Another Sacchi favourite

CM - Carlo Ancelotti - A very good technical player, probably overshadowed by his impressive managerial career. Anceloti was mostly asked to be the one midfielder staying behind the ball, but could really pass and spot a gap. Occasionally got forward and scored a cracking first goal in the 5 v 0 Real Madrid game.

CM - Frank Rijkaard - The complete modern midfielder? Could play anywhere, could tackle, pass, run, finish. Real classy member of the dutch golden generation and probably the main "playmaker", as far as Sacchi would allow i nhis teams

ST - Ruud Gullit - The second of the brilliant dutch trio. Immensely talented and could drop off the front and pick up the ball in space. A great player with the ball at his feet and also a goalscorer.

ST - Marco van Basten - What a striker. He could score in the air, overhead kicks, poachers goals, long range. You name it, van Basten could do it. Sadly injury robbed Milan of him too often, but he was a real goal machine.

So that is a breakdown of the 1989/90 team, next post i will detail how i recreate both the tactic and roles/duty in current day FM15 with the current Milan squad.

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Good stuff Jambo, looking forward to more. :thup:

RTH - I'll be posting the completed write up soon - short answer is "Fluid" :).

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By all means correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Sacchi heavily influenced by Paisley's Liverpool?

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By all means correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Sacchi heavily influenced by Paisley's Liverpool?

Not something i have ever seen him mention either in interviews or print, his main influence was Michels dutch team. Thats not to say he never said it, i just haven't come across that :) Google seems to suggest some people mention it, but no specific example.

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Not something i have ever seen him mention either in interviews or print, his main influence was Michels dutch team. Thats not to say he never said it, i just haven't come across that :) Google seems to suggest some people mention it, but no specific example.

I think he went to see them train and people drew some conclusions from that.

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I think he went to see them train and people drew some conclusions from that.

Doesnt seem likely he went to see Paisley's team? Paisley retired in 83, Sacchi didnt take his first real managerial job until 85? Although i did read that he travelled a lot in his days before management, but not football related?

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http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/liverpool-will-spring-shock-says-milan-legend-sacchi-6145450.html

"Sacchi defines the modern game as "the harmonic movement of 11 players, who are always active, with or without the ball." That, he said, was "the real revolution in modern football and few have been able to pull it off". Among the few teams that did, he said, were the great Liverpool sides of the 1970s and 1980s.

"Liverpool were up there with Brazil, Holland and Ajax as the teams that most excited me. They were one of my main reference points for the way they married individual ability with collective ability to create a marvellous continuous style of play."

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Doesnt seem likely he went to see Paisley's team? Paisley retired in 83, Sacchi didnt take his first real managerial job until 85? Although i did read that he travelled a lot in his days before management, but not football related?

I'm almost certain he went to see them train. Although it may not have been during Paisleys reign.

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The thing that always struck me about the 'great' Liverpool sides, above the quality of players, or the tactics which obviously were both very important, was the professionalism, and the sheer hunger to win at all costs. The hunger to win every game no matter which competition it was, or who the opposition were. Started by Shankly, and the continuity they had for years that kept it going, meant it just kept on going. I'm fairly certain but for Heysel, it would have continued for many more years. 5 years without European football did a lot of damage.

That Milan side were bloomin awesome though, Van Basten is the best striker I have seen in my lifetime, truly amazing.

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The thing that always struck me about the 'great' Liverpool sides, above the quality of players, or the tactics which obviously were both very important, was the professionalism, and the sheer hunger to win at all costs. The hunger to win every game no matter which competition it was, or who the opposition were. Started by Shankly, and the continuity they had for years that kept it going, meant it just kept on going. I'm fairly certain but for Heysel, it would have continued for many more years. 5 years without European football did a lot of damage.

That Milan side were bloomin awesome though, Van Basten is the best striker I have seen in my lifetime, truly amazing.

I think the evolution from Shankly to Dalglish (Mk1) via Paisley & Fagan is a whole other thread. Personally I think the club never fully recovered from Hillsborough and was left behind by the Sky revolution and has been playing catch up ever since.

Anyway... get back to Saachi's Milan - it's a very interesting subject.

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Ok, so my take on trying to recreate the Sacchi tactic:

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3447182BFB43FC13CD7ABD9075F48D8CBB86210E

What i did, and why?

Mentality - I was a little torn between Control or Attacking. On one hand, there is no doubt that Sacchi was an attacking manager. He wanted 5 men ahead of the ball, and lots of attacking options. It has to be said thought, that his attacking was built on a solid defensive base. In part this was because he had 4 of the best defenders in the world. For now i have gone bold and gone Attacking. I have my doubts if this can be a success in the long term, but lets try and honor his principle belief!

Fluidity - Very Fluid. It has to be. The description of this is almost made for Sacchi. His attackers must be able to defend, his defenders must be able to attack. Its a team game. One unit, working together.

Team Instructions -

Work ball into box - This one i cannot specifically link to Sacchi, but he his players were of the type to produce flowing and teamwork based moves rather than long range shots.

Play out of defence - Sacchi liked his defenders to be able to play football, and feed the ball into his talented midfield

Push Higher Up - This is a core principle, Sacchi wanted to play very high. Because i have "Attacking" Mentality, i am already high and this just compounds it. "much higher" creates a crazy effect when matched with "attacking" - This is the most realistic choice

Close down more - Again pressing was a key principle, but it was not ultra high energy pressing, hence not choosing the max setting. Infact it changed throughout the game, which is not easy to reflect, but this is my starting point. I will use PI to augment this somewhat as i find that creates a less drastic effect.

Stay on feet - An important instruction for any pressing game and his defenders were game readers rather than the type to dive in

Use Offside Trap - This was a huge part of Milan's defensive approach, and one that i find very hard to replicate in game, but i will continue to try as you cant really have the Sacchi tactic without it :)

Roles/Duty and PI

GK - Sweeper Keeper (Defend) - This one is a touch tricky. I said above that i didnt see Galli as a sweeper keeper, as such a thing rarely existed back then. However with the change in rules making offside traps harder, i need some form of sweeper keeper. The defend duty ensures his passing is cautious and short - PI - "pass it shorter", "roll it out", "distribute to fullbacks"

DR/DL - Fullback (Support) - Neither Maldini or Tassotti were well known for bombing on, but could move into midfield when needed. Support duty fullback appears to best fit this description. They were not wingbacks, but neither were they over cautious. I added the PI to make them a touch more adventurous, and also to close down high which creates the "arc defence" which Sacchi preached - PI - "Get further forward", "Close down much more"

DC - Central Defender (Defend) - Nothing fancy here. There was no stopper/cover at Milan, and i do not see that either were true "ball playing" defenders, although Baresi in particular was very comfortable with the ball at his feet. There is an argument to be made that he could be BPD, but i have not gone that way so far. The PI is because these are the 2 who would not press other than pressing by moving the Dline up. - PI - "pass it shorter", "Close down much less", "Ease off tackles"

ML - Wide Midfielder (Attack) - I see the roles that Sacchi had for his wide men as more WM than winger. He wanted multi-function. His wide men had to be able to pass, to tackle, and to get into the box as well as dribble and cross. WM, with some PI, best reflects that. Colombo, in the clips i have watched, and to a lesser extent Evani, tended to cut in and be narrower when playing on the left, the PI reflect this - PI - "Close down much more", "Cut inside", "Cross less often"

MR - Wide Midfielder (Attack) - Same explanation as above, only Donadoni was probably more apt to stay wide, without being a true out and out touchline hugging winger. PI to reflect that again - PI - "Close down much more", "cross less often"

MCL - Deep Lying Playmaker (Defend) - This one i struggled with. The Ancelotti role. BWM means too much closing down out of his own area, which doesnt reflect the technically brilliant game reading that he had. He was so often in the right place at the right time and was also very clever at keeping possession, which led me to this role and duty. I am not settled on it yet, but at the moment no PI for this role.

MCR - Roaming Playmaker (Support) - As someone else mentioned, this role is perfect for how Rijkaard played the game. He was all over the pitch and gave the team drive and flair. No other role even considered for this. The PI is to increase his movement. - PI - "Close down much more", "move into channels"

STLC - Deep Lying Forward (Support) - The Gullit role. I considered F9, but i think this is a more accurate role (F9 really cant properly exist when there is a strike partner). He drops off a lot, almost into midfield, can dribble and get into the box for a fair return of goals - PI - "Close down much more"

STRC - Advanced Forward (Attack) - The one role which possibly could break the "25 metre" rule, but necessary i think. Van Basten was a penalty box man, but was not one dimensional which is why i didnt choose Poacher. There is an argument that he was indeed the Complete Forward, but i am less sure. I think his instincts were in the box, lead the line. PI - "Close down much more"

So thats it, thats how i interpret the Sacchi system and how i have tried to replicate it. I will post up some detail on the players used, and PPMs as they are important. Then of course, importantly, does it reflect the style of play that Sacchi had (not only results - does the tactic achieve it via his principles?)

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just a couple of wee comments...

1 - have you considered CF(S) for the Gullit role - personally it's a role I really like and has a bit more to it IMO than a DLF.

2 - re. PooD - as I understood it, Saachi was about the "right" ball and believed in having varied attacking options. Surely this limits/removes the option for a passing CD to play a through-ball into space for the front man (or a wide man cutting in diagonally). I've made similar comment in another thread that actually PooD could be seen as over restrictive where you have good passing defenders who don't need that level of instruction and should be given the freedom to play.

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just a couple of wee comments...

1 - have you considered CF(S) for the Gullit role - personally it's a role I really like and has a bit more to it IMO than a DLF.

2 - re. PooD - as I understood it, Saachi was about the "right" ball and believed in having varied attacking options. Surely this limits/removes the option for a passing CD to play a through-ball into space for the front man (or a wide man cutting in diagonally). I've made similar comment in another thread that actually PooD could be seen as over restrictive where you have good passing defenders who don't need that level of instruction and should be given the freedom to play.

Thanks for the feedback, interesting thoughts. My views:

1 - I had thought about it briefly when first selecting my role, but i prefered DLF to drop him even deeper as Gullit often did. That said, i saw the OP has used CF(s) and it could certainly be alternate choice for Gullit role. However at this point, my DLF(s) has 8 goals and 9 assists in 12 games, and is performing exactly as thought - Getting into the box late and also creating a lot. The combo between him and the AF is a joy to watch. I will keep CF(s) in mind though.

2 - Interesting one and i might experiment. I think Sacchi was about variation in attack, but that did not tend to mean long balls. Partly as he had such talented midfielders. A through ball certainly wasnt out of the question from Baresi in paticular, so you might have a very good point. One other option might be to either make one of the DC a BPD, or to increase the passing range. Costacurta was much more "safe" and less likely to make such a pass, but its one i will certainly think about and may experiment by taking off this TI for a game.

I will post up the player details and the initial analysis/results in the morning :) - Hopefully see what Herne has done then too - since his tactic is crazy good!

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All missing info now posted in #2 above :).

Now to read through Jambo's take on things :).

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Nice Jambo, very nice. :thup:

It's good to see we are broadly similar in approach whilst having a bit of variety in our interpretations, love it :).

Just realised I haven't included any info on the type of players needed, so I'll add that in at some point (although "work rate" pretty much covers everything).

I agree the Ancelotti role is a particular head scratcher - for me having the ultra aggressive de Jong (with Muntari as back up) helped make my mind up when choosing Central Midfielder support: in essence a fairly neutral role for a very aggressive player. Coupled with such a high def line means I can be pretty confident in not playing a more generally accepted defend duty to provide defensive cover. This is probably the one main area where the players available forced me down a route, rather than looking at the pure Sacchi role.

Apart from that, I think the only other main difference is your use of Close Down More. I didn't actually use this TI at all as I felt the attacking mentality plus the ultra high def line would provide enough of a press, so I never experimented with it. I notice you tell your central defenders to close down much less, which is spot on - how do the rest of the team perform? Any noticeable gaps appearing?

One other thought, I'd encourage you to try Adil Rami as a BPD. With such a compressed formation, the occasional long ball to the forwards from the back actually isn't that long a pass, and Rami has enough ability to pull it off (Albertazzi as his back up isn't too shabby either). Oh, and try them on an individual training plan for Quickness. 15+ pace can be really useful for the centre backs.

Top stuff :applause:

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I've now added in what I consider to be some key attributes for each role in the OP.

Do please remember this completed tactic and my squad of players are extremely tailored to each other and one small piece out of place can bring the whole thing crashing down. I highly doubt this tactic if replicated would work with any other team - but that isn't my intention with this thread anyway, merely to try to give some new ideas. There's quite a lot of non-conformist stuff here which hopefully will also give some food for thought :).

I appreciate not all of it may be pure Sacchi re-creation, however hopefully I have kept the spirit alive while trying to shoe horn it into the confines of the TC and ME.

I'll post some in-match screenies when I get a few minutes spare to help illustrate how things tie together, in the mean time keep the discussion of both Jambo's and my tactics coming :).

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OK, adopted this tactic with AC Milan and played it exactly as you had set out. First friendly game against Shaktar and I was 6-0 down at HT!

11-0 after 70 minutes.

So it finished 13-0 to Shaktar.

Every attack they had they scored. I checked to make sure it was Diego Lopez who was in goals, but he was. The players were in their correct positions.

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OK, adopted this tactic with AC Milan and played it exactly as you had set out. First friendly game against Shaktar and I was 6-0 down at HT!

11-0 after 70 minutes.

So it finished 13-0 to Shaktar.

Every attack they had they scored. I checked to make sure it was Diego Lopez who was in goals, but he was. The players were in their correct positions.

Did you read anything that was actually said? Its not a tactic to simply copy to your own team. It needs much more thought than that.

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Did you read anything that was actually said? Its not a tactic to simply copy to your own team. It needs much more thought than that.

I've read this thread from top to bottom, used the same team instructions, player instructions, mentality and team shape. You can read and think about any tactic as much as you like but when you go the same team as the OP member, play the same tactics, same TIs and PIs yet there's a ocean sized difference in the way the team play.

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I've read this thread from top to bottom, used the same team instructions, player instructions, mentality and team shape.

Seems like you missed this bit:

Do please remember this completed tactic and my squad of players are extremely tailored to each other and one small piece out of place can bring the whole thing crashing down. I highly doubt this tactic if replicated would work with any other team - but that isn't my intention with this thread anyway, merely to try to give some new ideas.

I believe the OP is 2/3 seasons in with his Milan side by now.

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Also, no tactic works well from game one. Part of the focus of all these threads it to get people thinking, not copying. Sure re-use ideas but when you just try to basically download the tactic (by recreating every step) then your in the wrong forum. Downloads forum will have plenty for you :)

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I've read this thread from top to bottom, used the same team instructions, player instructions, mentality and team shape. You can read and think about any tactic as much as you like but when you go the same team as the OP member, play the same tactics, same TIs and PIs yet there's a ocean sized difference in the way the team play.

I wasn't using this tactic from the outset of day one season one with AC Milan. It wasn't even a 442 :p. What you see above is the end result of 4 seasons of tactical development and squad evolution. I'm not surprised you got stuffed 13-0 by shaktar in a season 1 pre-season friendly using a copy of this tactic, I probably would as well.

Sure, I won Serie A first season, and the CL 2nd season, but the tactic was different then and has changed each season I have been playing. Before I even created that first tactic at the start of season one, I stepped back for it all, looked at what players I had available and mapped out a 3 year plan of change to get to where I wanted to be - and it actually took me 4 seasons. Winning the silverware was not what I set out to achieve (although it did keep me in a job ;)) - the complete managerial control of tactic and squad to play with a certain style (ie., Sacchi) was my target.

As I stated above, "Do please remember this completed tactic and my squad of players are extremely tailored to each other and one small piece out of place can bring the whole thing crashing down. I highly doubt this tactic if replicated would work with any other team - but that isn't my intention with this thread anyway, merely to try to give some new ideas."

With the exception of some key players, The AC Milan at the start of the game is a different team to the one I have ended up with. Even those key players (eg., el Shaarwary) are different as I have developed them.

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Seems like you missed this bit:

I believe the OP is 2/3 seasons in with his Milan side by now.

You believe wrong. Like I said, I read the post from top to bottom. I'm Milan as well so it should work, it at least not be as bad as a 13-0 humping at home to Shaktar.

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You believe wrong...

I'm Milan as well so it should work.

Sorry Buddy, it's you that is wrong. Read my post #35 directly above yours and you'll see why ;).

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You believe wrong. Like I said, I read the post from top to bottom. I'm Milan as well so it should work, it at least not be as bad as a 13-0 humping at home to Shaktar.

Why should it work? You've copied his tactic thinking it should work yet fail to grasp the thinking behind it and understanding exactly why it works and the strengths and weakness. Then there's how he adapt for different opposition and what changes are made. Then we've got how he's tailored the team and bought/trained specific players for this over time so long term squad building was also a factor. The fact that you copied the formation and expected to have the exact same success suggest you totally misunderstand every single aspect of the post regardless of whether you are the same team or not.

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The tactic is quite risky with some extreme settings and many little things could go wrong, I had some success this year with similar settings, even if the shape was different from yours, anyway the theory behind your framework is interesting and can surely work.

@herne79 Never considered to instruct your players (Dc's apart) to close down their opponents more?

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I wasn't using this tactic from the outset of day one season one with AC Milan. It wasn't even a 442 :p. What you see above is the end result of 4 seasons of tactical development and squad evolution. I'm not surprised you got stuffed 13-0 by shaktar in a season 1 pre-season friendly using a copy of this tactic, I probably would as well.

Sure, I won Serie A first season, and the CL 2nd season, but the tactic was different then and has changed each season I have been playing. Before I even created that first tactic at the start of season one, I stepped back for it all, looked at what players I had available and mapped out a 3 year plan of change to get to where I wanted to be - and it actually took me 4 seasons. Winning the silverware was not what I set out to achieve (although it did keep me in a job ;)) - the complete managerial control of tactic and squad to play with a certain style (ie., Sacchi) was my target.

As I stated above, "Do please remember this completed tactic and my squad of players are extremely tailored to each other and one small piece out of place can bring the whole thing crashing down. I highly doubt this tactic if replicated would work with any other team - but that isn't my intention with this thread anyway, merely to try to give some new ideas."

With the exception of some key players, The AC Milan at the start of the game is a different team to the one I have ended up with. Even those key players (eg., el Shaarwary) are different as I have developed them.

Thanks for taking taking the time to explain.

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Why should it work? You've copied his tactic thinking it should work yet fail to grasp the thinking behind it and understanding exactly why it works and the strengths and weakness. Then there's how he adapt for different opposition and what changes are made. Then we've got how he's tailored the team and bought/trained specific players for this over time so long term squad building was also a factor. The fact that you copied the formation and expected to have the exact same success suggest you totally misunderstand every single aspect of the post regardless of whether you are the same team or not.

I understand it his tactics and reasoning behind it. I'm new to FM (2013) so see myself as a beginner who studies countless threads about tactics etc so I'm no expert, I know that. You attempting to patronise me without knowing my background is poor and sheer guesswork on your part.

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I understand it his tactics and reasoning behind it. I'm new to FM (2013) so see myself as a beginner who studies countless threads about tactics etc so I'm no expert, I know that. You attempting to patronise me without knowing my background is poor and sheer guesswork on your part.

It is normally relatively straightforward to grasp someone's tactical knowledge by the questions they ask or comments they make in these threads - Cleon has been moderating around here for years so is pretty sharp at it.

What we were saying is you just copied a tactic from someone else, expecting it to work. Tactics don't work like that, and the OP said so himself. So the posters were quite right to point out you hadn't read the thread, as if you had, you would have noticed the quoted piece, advising this isn't for download/copying.

If you need some help with your own system, you can always open up a thread and provide us the information, we can then help discuss your team and give you any pointers if you are struggling.

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He's not trying to patronise you mate, he's just explaining why it didn't work for you. I think you might have the wrong idea about this section of the forum. It's not a forum that shares downloadable tactics but rather a forum that you can learn from and contribute to peoples' ideas or your own.

So let's try not to derail the thread any further? :) You could always ask the OP what kind of players he bought and why. You're likely to learn more that way.

EDIT: Sorry llama, didn't realise you had already replied.

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The tactic is quite risky with some extreme settings and many little things could go wrong, I had some success this year with similar settings, even if the shape was different from yours, anyway the theory behind your framework is interesting and can surely work.

@herne79 Never considered to instruct your players (Dc's apart) to close down their opponents more?

I did more than consider, I tried it out - as well as Close Down Much More, and to be fair it's possibly more in keeping with a pure Sacchi tactic.

Ultimately I dismissed the TI as I felt it dragged too many players too far out of position too often for my liking. I want my 3 lines close and orderly, not being pulled around too much. Also, an attacking mentality is already set to have a quite aggressive press throughout the team - this plus the extremely high def line and fluid shape which really helps to compress the action is enough overall.

Thanks for taking taking the time to explain.

You're welcome ;).

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@herne79

I noticed in your pics above that you have Honda playing as a winger on the left wing,and also that he is a natural in this position...i'm Milan myself and Honda is ineffectual in this position from the start..

Can i just ask if you trained him for a while to play here,and did he play well while you did this?

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@herne79

I noticed in your pics above that you have Honda playing as a winger on the left wing,and also that he is a natural in this position...i'm Milan myself and Honda is ineffectual in this position from the start..

Can i just ask if you trained him for a while to play here,and did he play well while you did this?

He's not natural in that position, just "Accomplished".

I retrained him at ML from the start of season 1, took a couple of months to become accomplished if I remember correctly. He was ok during this period and proved to be fantastic once complete. He has a great left foot, excellent work ethic and because he is really a playmaker has great creativity. He'll also score too.

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@herne79

I assume you made signings, and the screenshot with the original 11 Milan players is from season 1? Or have you moulded it without signings!

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@herne79

I assume you made signings, and the screenshot with the original 11 Milan players is from season 1? Or have you moulded it without signings!

Yup season 1. Changes made in subsequent seasons.

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Ah that makes sense. But presumably then the roles and duties never changed, you only developed the TI/PI over the seasons (as well as the squad).

I have played though to end of Jan, and its time for a review of my tactic i think. I am second in the league but Juve are gone. I am slowly trying to rebuild the squad at the same time as adapting the tactic, so need to get it to all come together to be "Sacchi like".

Shall post any changes to my previous set up. I am finding the offside trap troublesome, in that we dont seem to execute it well. That may be personnel related, i need to look more closely at my defenders.

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@Jambo

Season 1 was just about getting into Europe to help fund the squad building program I had. In that season I started playing a 4312 or 4132 system which was far less risky than the ultimate tactic. There were however some similarities and experimentation, as well retraining some players into new positions (eg., Honda to ML). For example, I started with a CF(s) + Poacher combination right from the get go (I did experiment with DLF(s) and AF but came back to my original pairing); an RPM was always involved as was a BPD/CD combination in defence.

The basic 442 formation, which was still much more conservative than the end product, didn't really debut until mid way through that first season - and only then against weaker opposition and mainly at home. Roles and duties didn't really change much from that point, although I started out by using a CM(defend) rather than the CM(s) I ended up with.

Season 2 saw an evolution of the 442 and I played 2 versions of it - a more aggressive one where I felt we could dominate (although still not as aggressive as the end version) and a more conservative 442 against better opposition. I used the more aggressive version in the CL final vs Bayern which I think took them a bit by surprise and we won 1-0.

The final tactic debuted in season 3, which told me where I needed to strengthen the squad - mainly in central defence by this point which needed an injection of pace. I didn't win Serie A that season, although I did win the CL again. Some of the Serie A results that season made me question whether the tactic would work out, but it did show me where I was weak. So in season 4 I stuck with it, brought in a couple of new players and the Serie A position I posted in the OP is from that season - although I missed out on a 3rd successive CL thanks to Juve beating me in the semi final.

Looking forward to your season so far review :).

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