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Rashidi

Bust the Net - Football Manager Tactics

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Rashidi   

Edited 24/12/15

I believe very strongly that you can use one system of play for nearly every version of FM. There are certain small things here and there that are different for each version of FM, but between FM14 - 16, my play style has hardly changed. Maybe fullbacks were more attacking in FM15, than they are in FM16. Small changes like that don't make the game a deal breaker for me. This thread, my site and my youtube channel all deal with how you can play the game holistically. I don't have time to spend hours trying to decipher a game, my system is meant to play the game quickly and efficiently.

BusttheNet is the name of the YT channel, and addictedtofm.com is the site where I host all the information. The forum thread here is where I post articles that are cross referenced. If you don't find all the information you need here in this thread, then hop over to the site, if that;s not enough you have the Youtube channel, and yes I do try and cover queries on the show as well.

I've already started working on articles while I can, that cover the tactical creation process. The plan is to focus on everything I can in parts. I've already done some work on my blog and will be posting stuff up here. Its all part of a bigger project I have planned. I do believe that the process of making tactics is fundamentally very simple. So simple that it surprises me when people get the basics wrong, there are a lot of occasions when people over complicate the process, so while I have already begun work on looking at the training process I will also do one on tactics.

Part 1 - Making tactics: Defending, attacking and most importantly managing your transitions

Part 2 - Detailed look on creating tactics as broad templates. Basically, how do you take the best from one tactic and move it to another

Part 2a- Tactical Replication - Atletico Madrid

Part 2b- Final Analysis - Atletico Madrid

Part 3- Creating Bottlenecks

Part 4- Advanced tactical components - Setting up Offensive Pivots - Focusing attacks, identifying weak points in opposing systems

Part 5 - Player Instructions - High Block and Bypass Midfield custom shouts

Part 6 - The WBA Journey - The 4132 and Opposition Instructions

Part 7 - 4132, 4312, 41212, 442 Templates

Part 8 - Players roles and Spatial Control

Part 9- Getting Real - Adapting to tactical weaknesses of other systems - 424, 442, 4312, 4231, 4231N, 4231W (Ongoing)

Part 9a - Adapting to Sampdoria's 442

Part 9b- Adapting to Chelsea deep 4231 and 424

Part 9c- Adapting to Wolfsburgs 442

Part 9d - Adapting to Southamptons 41221

Part 9e - Adapting to Spurs 4231

Part 9f - Adapting to Man Utd 4141 and Shaktar 442

Part 9g - Adapting to Real Madrid 442 and Watford 4231

Part 9h - Failing to adapt to Arsenal 4141

Part 10 - BusttheNet has its own Youtube Channel

There is also a basic guide to tactics and training for FM15 here on the forums

I've had to bring this post in line with my blog, which naturally has more information on it since its easier to categorise stuff there than it is on the forum. The general goal of this thread is to take people through the creative process of making tactics. We start with some ideas in the game and then broken these down and applied them to various systems. We have replicated one system based on a request on the forums, and then used that as an example of how users can create their own tactics. It essentially lists out a methodology that one can use and how we would use certain roles, ppms TI's and PIs to get us there. Once that is done we deal with certain advanced factors that let users understand and apply. Where possible I have dumbed down the process as far as possible. There is also a section where I show how one can use opposition instructions to influence the course of a game. Once the Atletico journey is down, I get down to the crux of the game, and show how through the use of simple roles one can make a variety of systems, and I list these down as templates.

Finally we get down to the business end of the game, where I show how I use one tactic the 4312 to play the game. We have been using the system now for almost 9 seasons i think, and I show how we adapt to changes in a game, and as the journey progresses you will see that we make minimal changes. I lost count of the number of games covered, fair to say its almost 2 pages long at the moment and its ongoing. The whole goal of this thread is to show one can simplify the entire tactical process and make it almost irrelevant, you can enjoy the game without too much fuss, provided you understand the basics, and how to analyse where you've gone wrong. I hope you find this useful and if you have any queries please feel free to raise them within this thread.

rashidi edited: 24/12/15

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Rashidi   

When you sit down to make any system you need to ask yourself a lot of questions first.

  1. What style of football do you want to play?
  2. How many players do you want to attack with?
  3. How is your side going to attack with the ball
  4. How are they going to get the ball back?
  5. How are you going to set up your defense?
  6. Do you have the players to do what you want?
  7. How are the players going to move the ball around, where are my creative pivots?
  8. Who are my defensive rocks?
  9. What kind of refreshments do I need to eat while playing the game
  10. What excuses do I give my wife/girlfriend/mother for my continual obsession with Football Manager?

These are the very basic questions you need to ask yourself. Once you have analysed your squad and say you have decided that you want to mimic say Barcelona from today, then, go and do some research. Find out how which role can give you what you want as accurately as possible, in most cases, you may need to make some exceptions and minor modifications. Once you have done everything you can begin.

FMT - LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS

A tactical system sets up how you are supposed to behave, how you play is affected by who you put on the pitch. So one needs to be very clear on their player roles and what these can do.

As a manager you need to decide what attributes are critical to the way you want to play your game. There is so much information on player roles and responsibilities so I don't plan on going through each and every one of them, instead, I will be focusing on how we should be putting them all together into a cohesive package.

To start, establish your clubs style of play. I typically place a lot of emphasis on first touch composure and determination, across all my players. These are my vital attributes. Then I look at pace and passing. At its very basic level, these are the attributes my club has to have, and I focus my training to cover these areas, beginning in the youth teams.

Now that we have established the flavour of the team, we now need to see how these get served up in the way they play. Making a tactic necessitates that you think of the pitch in spatial terms. You need to see the system in an offensive and a defensive way. When you construct a tactic, its vital that you see how it attacks space when going forward, and how it controls it when you don't have the ball.

Time to deconstruct everything, and introduce some basic concepts which I have gleaned from reading voluminous information on tactics. Its a fluid area, concepts get introduced and they get refined, sometimes ideas become revolutionary and they influence how the whole game is played. Consider the 442 when it was first played, or how Rinus Michel and then Johan Cruyff applied the concept of total football, and finally, how Guardiola stunned Sir Alex with his 5 second press.

The game will always change, a 442 may have been in fashion in 1980, a few years ago, going striker less was the rage, today we are seeing the return of multiple pivots in formations so fluid defenders are having a nightmare picking up forwards exploiting lateral channels.

What we need to do before we embark on making a tactic is to begin with a general idea of how we want to play.

SETTING YOUR DEFENSE UP

A defense needs lines of cover. The most basic flat 4 defense will have everyone on defend, which will see them in one straight line. This will be considered as 1 line of cover. If you set it up with fullbacks on support and the 2 defenders on Defend, you get 2 lines of cover. Now if you drop one DC down to defend and another to cover you get 3 lines of cover. Finally if you opt to have a sweeper keeper, you can have another line of cover that rushes out to become a deep passer of the ball when you get the chance or one that rushes out if needed. Four lines of cover!

Great to have, but there are downsides, you need to know what they are whenever you make a system so you can create an effective screen for them in front., for instance, a flat back four can easily be caught out if you are playing a high line.

defiant1.png?w=607

Now looking at the diagram above, it looks solid enough but it has one obvious flaw, it puts a heavy burden on my DLP(D) who now needs to spend a fair bit of time covering for the absence of full-time protection on the flanks. One way of adding another line of cover would be to change him around to a halfback and then transfer the burden of creation to one of the the central midfielders. And to give this system better punch going forward I would actually turn my keeper into a sweeper keeper.

As it turned out, this formation was changed much later to include these changes including making it more attacking in strategy.

When you set any defensive shape up you need to pay attention to where the gaps in your formation lie. In this case the most obvious gap was the flanks.

Whenever those inside forwards go harrying up with the support of the attacking wingbacks we had issues down the flanks. In order to strengthen it I would later opt for the halfback. He would, in the absence of fullbacks drop deep and the backline would effectively become a three.

Understanding how your defense operates when the ball is lost is vital. Going back to the system above, there is another obvious area of concern: how do you win the ball back if your attacking force spends its time attacking?

This is what I like to call the High Press Strategy. Its frequently employed in real life and we can do this ingame as well. I see a lot of people doing this wrongly, even those who claim to know the engine inside out. Many people elect to use the "Close down much more" shout. Shouts don't override each other, they work with each other. They are contextual and they depend on a players role. If a shout being used, is contrary to a players role then his role supersedes the shout. For instance, a trequartista does not defend, if you use the shout "close down much more" as a Team Instruction, he ignores it. If you have players with such roles you need to adapt.

Instead of using that shout the way its set up, I elect to use Player Instructions. Some roles don't allow you to have them modified, and this is ALWAYS a good thing. In this system I go to the individual instructions for the front trio and I tell them all to close down much more.

If you are attacking the ball in the opponents half you will see them try and win the ball back, and if you are defending, they will lend support. If you want to take it a step further you could also set them to mark out the opposing fullback, but this would also affect their positional play when you are counter attacking.

Can you play a high defensive line doing this? Yes. What this creates is a camping team, smack in the opponents half. The danger is once again the counter, which is why this system was later modified to have a half back in the DM position.

Setting up a 5 man defense

The same principle that applies to a 4 man defense holds for a 5 man defense. Always think in terms of lines of cover. In this case I would set my 3 man backbone with 2 central defenders on cover and one on defend and have 2 wingback on support. If i elected to have them on attack then I would immediately look at my midfield to see what kind of screen I need.

The challenge with a 352 or a 532 lies not in defense it lies entirely in midfield, placing too many players on defense could result in a dearth of creative output, and this is where you need to focus your attention if things fail to work.

There are many ways you can organise a 3 man defense, the principle variants involve a zonal, man to man with sweeper or an orthodox man to man with sweeper defense. The subtleties inherent in all 3 systems will determine what roles the players will take.

Thinking of it in terms of lines of cover will allow you to set it up right. And remembering whether you want to play defensively or offensively will determine how you want to set up your support players. The key to making it work will lie in how you are able to interpret interceptions and transitions in a game.

Looking for imbalances in systems.

Whenever I play I am on the lookout for imbalances in a formation, my aim is to exploit them. First I do everything I think I can to make my system cover the pitch perfectly, then I look at what I am playing against.

When I play formations such as a 4132 which is currently my favorite in FM15 along with the narrow 4231 and 4312, I focus my attention on the areas of the pitch I know I don't have an advantage with. And to do this effectively I look at heat maps

You can find out more from my article on Tactical Zen here

GOING FROM DEFENSE TO ATTACK

Managing transitions is a vital component of tactic creation, once you understand the basic concepts and you want to eke out more from your team then you need to start considering how your team handles transitions. Transitions are essentially the changeover from defense to attack or from attack into defense.

Its how your team handles different phases of a game. Transitions are easier to understand if you try to create football within an attacking framework. For that one needs to ask themselves the question, is playing with a high dline good or bad. If anyone says its bad, then I feel sorry for them cos they are potentially missing out on some smashing football.

In order to appreciate transitions, one must already have a solid understanding of football and how it can apply to their games. Handling transitions is all about good organisational defense, the right instructions and choosing the players. If you don't understand the basic concepts you should read a bit more.

When you play with a high line you can camp in the opponents half and you are applying more pressure on the opponents. It was actually the game between Spurs and Arsenal and this very good article at thinkfootball that got the wheels in my head whirring. Arsenal was playing with a high line against a side with electric pace, twas a risk, but it was clearly evident that the defense struggled.

Both Spurs goals came from a throughball behind the defenders. The problem for Arsenal wasn't because they made a mistake with the high line, it was the poor positioning of their fullbacks that was giving them the problem. The two central defenders had acres to cover and their keeper was never comfortable rushing out to clear the lines. Playing with a high line is possible and can be an effective ploy but you need to get some areas covered first. The mistakes that

Arsenal make are the same mistakes people make in Football Manager. Its very easy to play a high line in FM, and one should attempt to do this if they have a team that has a decent attack. So where did Arsenal lose? They lost on the transition, Spurs was too quick in turning defense into attack, but had Arsenal's positioning been right on the day the result could have been so different.

a. Positioning

This is downright obvious and I shouldn't be talking about it, but so many people on the forums forget. The most vital part in positioning is making sure that your players are going to be around to defend. The engine does a good job of making sure the players are there, its your job to make sure the roles you put out don't make it even harder to get back. Looking at my 4411 - I tend to set one fullback on attack and another on support which means that I need to make sure their zones are covered when they go forward. For that reason alone I use a cover/defend pair for my central defenders and I make sure I use 2 players who can drop into holes when they are vacated by the fullbacks.

I love heatmaps so I will use this to explain: If you look carefully at the heatmap you will notice the relative positioning of my players its almost perfectly symmetrical. Since there is a big gap that can be exploited between my defenders and my keeper, its absolutely vital that I play a keeper who can rush out and play the pass. So composure and first touch are important as well for my keepers. In a previous post I spoke about how I train my players on ball control and tactics to get this covered. Another thing you want to spot in heatmaps is that it extends into the opponents box, this will show that we spend a good amount of time inside and around their penalty box. If the images don't come out well, then i guess you need to go to my blog ;-(.

screen-shot-2013-03-05-at-8-20-24-pm.png?w=470

b. Interceptions

Interceptions are vital for someone playing a high line. Your players especially the central midfielders and even your wingers should be able to break up play in the opponents half. This will allow you to develop transitions,which in my humble opinion are the single biggest source of success for a high dline setup.

screen-shot-2013-03-05-at-8-21-17-pm.png?w=470screen-shot-2013-03-05-at-8-21-08-pm.png?w=470screen-shot-2013-03-05-at-8-20-53-pm.png?w=470

Not counting my defenders, I am always looking for interceptions by my midfielders in strategic areas of the pitch. If I am playing a high dline then they need to be winning balls in the opponents half. So how do you put this all together:

Transitioning is all about the players you have, your tactical setup and how well you have put all the puzzles together.

Transitioning from defense to attack ( Your own half)

When you talk about building up play from the back, you want to have pivots in your side who can make the move from defense to attack. You can have as many pivots as you want, but its generally good to have a plan. In my formation, my pivots are essentially the double pivot pair in my MCs, my rampaging fullback on the right. When my lil maradona is available I get another player who can be the transition point. So whenever the ball reaches your pivots, and depending on the kind of player you have and the ppms he has he can switch play, dictate tempo or make a run at defense. They can also play good through balls provided your frontline can move in and out of space well.

Transitioning from defense to attack (your opponents half)

For me this is the fun part, when you play with a high line, what you want to look out for are interceptions, if interceptions aren't happening then there are several reasons why:

1. You are not pressurising the keeper (OI him)

2. You players lack concentration and anticipation

3. Lack bravery and acceleration

Its going to be either one or the two, you don't need to play tight zonal, loose zonal works better if you are in their half and will prevent your players from being skinned too early. What you want to see is your defenders camped in the opponents half with your dcs straddling the halfway line. Any clearance will be handled by them, and your attacking line must be closing down high. The downside of this is that your players are going to get tired fast, but if you have the right preseason then its all good.

Even if your players aren't great tacklers you need them to have the guts to stick their foot out or close down a player. I find that having pacey wingers who can tackle a godsend.

There are other transitions to look out for, such as those that see your side not carve out a viable striking chance, and they bring the ball back to their own half to build up again, looking for another transition. For these kind of transitions to work, you need players who can run at defenses to pull them apart. When these happen you create other kinds of chances.

If you want to play with a high dline its not hard, its fairly easy, but to make it work you need to make sure that:

1. You play a sweeper keeper

2. Your fullbacks have good anticipation, acceleration and concentration. They are going to leg it a lot

3. As a rule, all my players have good composure, I don't have any player in my side with less than 12. This means that if they are passing the ball in the opponents half and they come under pressure, they have the composure to play their way out of trouble

4. Conditioning. If you want to play a high dline then you need to make sure your players are fit.

5. Right tactical setup. Make sure, and this is hugely vital, that whenever a transition happens and if it fails you understand why. Transitions can fail spectacularly if a player wins the ball and can't play the pass, remember Lucas Leiva in his first season with Liverpool? So if you have good ball winners make sure there is always a player who can play the pass for them.

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Rashidi   

Templates and Building Blocks

I gotta admit, FM has certainly come a long way, we used to build freaking templates for roles in the game back in the day. It was such a piece of work, we would import these templates, I would upload them and people would go ahead and incorporate them into the game. The problem then was explaining why a few notches here and there could make a huge difference. Today making systems on the fly in the game is so easy, I am surprised there aren't many people doing it.

Granted the title is simplistic, but honestly its the way I think when I am making a tactic. Whenever I make any system I tend to think of it in general terms, then break it down into component parts and finally I put these all together. Before you make any system you really need to have a clear idea on what you want to achieve. You absolutely need to know what kind of players are best suited to the system you want to play. Frequently failure comes when you fit a round peg into a square hole. Know the roles, know what players can fill them and adapt your training to enhance their skills.

I've already covered the broader aspects of tactical creation here and focused on training systems elsewhere on the blog. So lets get down to the nitty gritty.

The first building block we want to focus on is the defense. And you can't limit your thinking to just the backline, because the responsibility of defending has to fall on the whole team. You have 11 players on the pitch, your goal has to be creating a system that allows you to be fluid going up and solid when you don't have the ball. This is where you need to think of it firstly in broad terms, then in blocks.

Do you plan on winning the ball back in the opponents half? Nearly everyone says yes, but what kind of mentality systems help you to do that? If you were to use a counter attacking system or a contain system, you need to realize the first priority of your team is to get back into their defensive shape. And, if you lose the ball in the opponents half they may be tracking back. Furthermore, if the ball is lost in the opponents half, there is also a strong possibility that your defensive line will be quite deep. So deep that when the opposition clears their lines, your defenders and fullbacks may not be high enough on the pitch to make their clearance. The ball then gets back with the opposing side and they will build again. One needs to temper their expectations. So know what you get when you decide on the mentality settings of your team. This is why they broad general mentality settings of your team are just as important as how you want your team to play. So now that we know the ball may be lost in the middle of the pitch, what do we do?

Now we look at shapes. If we have determined we want to make a defensive system, your shape becomes important. Lets say we are playing with a 451, which in itself is a defensive system, we need to know that 3 players may not come back to defend, so we have 7 to setup excluding the keeper.

Its easy to set the 7 up, but a lot of people ignore the 3 up front. In my systems I have PIs set up for all 3 of them to close down much more. PI works with TI, so for defensive systems I tend to stay on feet and close down on default, sometimes even less. The goal of any defensive system has to be about holding the integrity of your shape. Aggressive closing down settings in defense will tear you up. Here I would think of my team in 2 blocks. The attacking group which is individually set to close down more and the rest who are on default.

Then I focus in on my defensive backline, If I am playing 4 at the back and I have my 3 midfielders I know I can think of them as one group. I will look at my MCs to close down effectively, but I will be keen on making sure my two defenders don't get sucked in, so here's where I split my backline into a Cover/Defend set up. This way one CD covers and the other does the defending.

4manback.jpg

Once you have set them up, you really need to start tracking their stats. When I am playing I know my fullbacks are expected to do a lot of interceptions, my midfielders a lot of tackling and running and assists will come from a certain group of players depending on my system. If for any reason those are not within acceptable standards, something is wrong with my system. Almost invariably its either down a slight tweak that I need to make or a personnel issue.

Its really simple, and easy to do, most people can get this part done right without too much effort. The challenge comes in transitions, which I have already covered here. Now its time to think of your attack. And this is where people need to start paying attention to the roles on in the game. Understand what each role does and how its supposed to play. If you are not sure what the difference is between a shadow striker and a trequartista, go read the descriptions, or better yet, check the Player Instructions out. Some roles have pre-defined PI's that cannot be amended so you will know that a TQ never tackles compared to a shadow striker. There will be other differences and each one will help you understand what the role does. I can't really go into detail on each role because that will take too long.

You can build blocks in other ways as well. For example, if you have a successful 433 formation and your front line is doing well scoring the goals then you already have a 3 there, if you have supportive fullbacks thats another 2 players. Thats 5 players who have the creative nous to go get goals. Thats one block.

Now you can go build you other defensive block, this time you have 5 more : you could set up a 3 man defense with 2 MCs now..and it will work. All you now need to do is make sure the centre isn't too porous. Once you understand how to do this, making systems on the fly in games is so easy...especially now with the roles in the game.

So there I am, I just did an update on the blog, and I tell people to think of tactical creation like building blocks. Well time to put my money where my mouth is.

We have been rather successful with a 4132. Last season we romped to the Champs league with it, then midway through this season, I see poor Ryan Gauld and decide to show him some love and I go make a 4312. He's smiling and banging in the goals. There we are - banging the opposition in Portugal's Premier League and I decide hmm, time to see if I can do what I preach in practice. I take a look at my 4312 which is glorious in the way it creates goals up front....its so sexy at ripping sides up, that Gauld should be carrying a stave and standing at the Red Sea.

We take the attacking elements from the 4312, which were the attacking fullbacks and the 1+2 upfront, and I translate it to my 3412. First thing i do: save the 4312, and load it up in one of the other tactical slots ( we have 3 after all), and then on the slot that had the 4312 I make the 3412. I maintain the AMC+Striker slots in the tactic, move my fullbacks to WM. That recreates my wing attack and my central thrust.

Step 2, I look at my 2 MCs, now that we have attacking side midfielders, we really can't have two Box to Box midfielders anymore, so i maintain one and turn the other into ball winning midfielder so that one will always stay slightly further back then the other.

Thats my tactic and shape done. Time to look at my shouts. We are an attacking side, and there isn't much difference in how we should be playing so all my shouts stay the same. Sweet. Hmm I don't seem to have any MR/ML in my squad. Ah well, who cares, this is an experiment eh? If its really a bad idea, I will get hammered. Ah Ceefax the cat has asked whether a sweeper styled defense can use offside...well, I am not going to try it here..but they will use the offside trap and I set up my defense into Defend/Cover/Defend. I believe the trap won't catch too many rats, it'd be easier if they were a flat 3, but thats way too risky. Total time taken 1 minute.

Let's give it a run...we concede a goal early..but I can see some really good interplay going on on the screen, so I wait. Final score.....3-1. Its that easy..the bloody tactical creator has certainly dumbed down tactic creation to such a point that you can easily create a variety of formations and it gets even easier if you have successful builds to copy blocks from.

stats3412.jpg?w=660

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Rashidi   

atletic-real.jpg

Lets try and see how far we get trying to incorporate Atletico into Football Manager. Gonna use a fair bit of information from Michael Cox's analysis of the game, in general terms, and I will try and reinterpret it in my way. There is a strong possibility I may get it wrong, but I will try and keep to the spirit of it as far as possible.

You can find his full analyses here

This was easily Atletico's best performance in a Madrid derby in ages.

Defending

Atletico were compact, narrow, and would sometimes defend in their own third, the defenders did play with a high line that allowed them to press Real Madrid's midfielders and attacked. This happened at stages of the game, and was not a consistent feature throughout the game.

The side midfielders would cut in stay narrow and allow the fullbacks to make runs down the flanks, leading to frequent overloads. The workrate was outstanding. Their forwards played deep when they didn't have the ball, and when they did have the ball, they would go out wide dragging Nacho and Varane in the process.

Real played a 433, their forwards stayed deep and away from the atletico backline, probably due to the fact that Atletico were playing a compact formation where the backline and midfield were playing so close that this forced them to add numbers in midfield and get some service. The compactness of the Atletico side would force the Ronaldo and Bale out wide to look for service, in Ronaldo's case he was tightly tracked by the opposing fullback Juanfran

Early in the game, Atletico pressed high, making it hard for Nacho to play balls out of defense, he had a poor completion rate for passes as a defender in the first 30 minutes of the game making 11 out of 17 passes. That was due to the early pressure exerted by Atletico, he did get his passing back in the later stages when Atletico reduced their tempo.

Attacking Movement

Highly fluid is the best way to describe them as they would get into the opponents box quickly. Their transition from defense to attack was fast and cohesive. Their fullbacks would be far forward and drilling balls to the side midfielder to get players into goal scoring positions. The point from winning the ball to getting the ball in the box was direct and fast.

The forwards for Atletico Madrid played deep and their movement was generally to the flanks and they were playing the channels. Since they worked the flanks and the channels, the side midfielders would go narrow and find space between the lines. Since Real's forwards showed little determination in coming back, this allowed the fullbacks space to rampage forward. All 4 of Atletico's goals game from either a cross or a cutback.

Atletico killed the game with possession instead of deep defending, their forwards tracked back to tackle and win balls.

This is a different style of play..compared to last seasons' Atletico. In the 0-0 draw with Barcelona, they were narrow, deep and aggressive. They would win the ball near the halfway line, close down in pairs. Their forwards (Diego Costa) do a lot of pressing, You will also find them drop deep really deep to help form another bank of players. Pressing high, whilst it happened, was rare. They actually defend with 6 in midfield.

When attacking, Costa does not hold up the ball, instead he attacks the channels. They work the ball to their forward line, using quick one two direct passes. Aggressive play is a key part of their style of football.

Lets look at some in game screenshots to illustrate what they were doing against Real Madrid

1fmadridattackingflank.jpg?w=665

Clearly we see the 2 MCs in close support, the side play a lot of short passes in their buildup and a majority of their chances come from the wings. The two forwards do a good job of pulling the markers out while they create channels for the ML/MR or fullbacks to exploit.

1ghighpress.jpg?w=665

Typically the 2 forwards are pressing high up the pitch and they will drop deep into their own half to do tackles. In the screenshot Griezmann is closing down the defenders, the ball is hoofed upfield and it makes it way back to the other striker who by now has gone to the flanks opening up the channels for other players to exploit

1hforwards.jpg?w=665

1imadridpress.jpg?w=665

Following very closely how Guardiola got Barca to defend, Atletico make sure that whenever a player is shielding a ball or has a dodgy first touch they close him down. In this passage of play Isco was closed down and then then they followed this up with a quick counter

Looking at the stats, and this is the second time I am doing it, since the first draft got accidentally deleted!!!...

1cturan.jpg?w=665

You can see what an impact Turan has on the game with his passing, in the absence of Koke who was off injured, Turan took the main thrust by being the creative outlet for the team with his array of passing which included 2 clear crosses that ended up as goal scoring opportunities.

1dturan.jpg?w=665

Defensively he showed that tackles weren't limited to being defensive, he did put in a shift in the opposing half. Other top tacklers in the team included their 2 strikers.

1etackles.jpg?w=665

Tackles for the team weren't limited to being in their own third. During the first 30 minutes of the game, Atletico pressed high and tackled aggressively in the opponents third.

Drilling through the Opta stats and now I going on memory, the top performers in the side were easily the 2 fullbacks, in terms of tackling it was a team shift, however what was clear was how compact the team played when they didn't have the ball. Both fullbacks never played any other pass but a short pass throughout the game. The majority of direct long passes that were played belonged to the MCs and the two side midfielders, and there weren't many. You could safely call this side a short passing side. Take ons were common for the fullbacks, more like 3-5 on average. I had done a full list of stats breaking each player down..and will try to repeat it:

Fullbacks:

Sequeria 11/14 passes short., 1 cross, 5 RPOs, 2 tackles - 1 in final third another own half, 1 interception

Juan Fran, 27/35, 2/7 crosses, 1 RPOs, 0/2 tackles, 1 interception.

Clearly neither fullback was spending much time tackling, probably understandable since the targets included Bale and Ronaldo.

DCs

Godin 6/10 passes, 5/7 were short, 3 long passes, one long pass down the left flank. 1 tackle

Miranda - 13/23 passes, 3/4 long passes down right flank, all counterattacking direct passes?, 1/2 tackles

MCs

Tiago - 40/51 passes, 2 chances created, 3 shots on goal, 2/3 tackles, 1 interception, 2 headed clearances 1 foul committed, 4 aerial duels

Gabi - 51/61 passes, 1 chance created, 8/10 tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 aerial duels, 3 fouls

Side Midfielders

Saul (sub came on got injured) Not checking

Turan: 52/58 passes 2 long passes, 3/8 RPO, 4 crosses, 3 chances created, 6/7 tackles, 2 interceptions, 6 aerial duels, 6 fouls 5 in the opponent half

Forwards

Griezmanm - 18/23 passes all short, 2 RPOs, 2 crosses ( byeline and deep) 3 tackles (1 opponent half, 5 aerial duels (only 2 in opponent box), 1 foul

Mandzukic - 25/39 passes all short, 1 cross, 5/6 tackles, 2 fouls

I will be looking through more games as well, I did look at their barca game when Diego Costa was in the side, and it looked almost alike, there were some differences, but essentially the same characteristics of hard work remained. I have a decent idea of how I am going to translate this into Football Manager and will be using the stats earlier to baseline them so for instance I should see the same kind of patterns we saw from the opta stats I linked earlier. For now though

I am off on a vacation and will spend some more time gathering more information to get this done right. I will endeavour to make it as close as I can within the limits of what can be achieved through the match engine. Gotta make my second wife happy, or she could be like the ex to cite FM in a divorce case.

FOOTBALL MANAGER TACTICS

ATLETICO UPDATE

Ok, so there I am with my wife at church, I ain't even a Catholic, but I thought I'd hang out with her keep her company, and who knows I may find some inspiration. I had been cracking my head for hours thinking of how we could translate Atletico into the game. The biggest challenge with the system was Koke and Turan. These are basically the 2 creative cogs in the side along with their attacking fullbacks.

We do know that in real life Atletico Madrid aren't the greatest side in the world. In fact they have moments. Against Real Madrid they were magnificent, but a week later a Koke-less side, bereft of creativity struggled against Celta Vigo. When I took a look at the cup match with Barcelona, I got bored watching Atletico. Apart from that opportunistic goal from Torres, the madrid side were getting hammered on the flanks.

So there I am in church, staring at the tiles, and then with my wife laughing beside me, I start "shadow drawing" over the tiles in front of me. My hands are moving as I sit down and my wife jokes that people are gonna think I am ultra religious. I smile. I see Koke and Turan in a system on FM. Its still in its early stages but this is what we look like when we have the ball in our half, we are as narrow as we can get.

atletico-ball-in-own-half.jpg?w=665

The goal is to see those players move into the areas the blue arrows are indicating. 10 is Koke. 2 mins later.....

atletico2.jpg?w=665

And Koke has the ball, Griezmann is on the left peeling one of the defenders with him...I can't really get the DCs to move off with him as yet, and I may never be able to :-(, god was helpful but i reckon there are some things i need to figure out myself.

Koke and Turan have taken up the narrow positions the system demands with the 2 MCs sitting back, the fullbacks are out wide waiting to make their runs. I shall be testing it out a bit more, but its the local holidays, my wife is chinese and she is celebrating Chinese New Years and I get to launch some...erm...fun stuff into the sky :-) So I will test this out a bit more and then do a detailed update once the weekend is over. For now though Koke is NARROW!

For now though if people want to know how to set up stuff defensively, I won't repeat what Cleon has done in the Defensive Arts thread, cos I'd be doubling up on the work in the forums. The concepts are the same.

So which one do i go for, this is the one i tried first, and it has all the hallmarks of the weaknesses of the current atletico system, creativity is so dependant on players in wide positions O

QrCnpBT.jpg

Option 2 is for me to go with an asymmetric shape. When you look at the crosses in some of their games you can see that they favour the right side more. So this is another option, and in this one, you can get a bit more creativity going and you do have more options for Koke. Still testing things out, but i feel one or the other could work. Depends on how much creativity you want. In the former, the system has a lot of challenges scoring. I typically see up to 4 players in the box when Atletico attack, when they are camped in the opponents half the 2 MCs tend to come in late...

N4oyNY4.jpg

In both systems we have to use defensive/ structured/ and ask the players to be more disciplined to maintain the flavour of Atletico. If anyone has more insights that could be helpful.

Need some feedback from all the atletico fans out there.

Atletico System For FM

3 hrs before I fly off ...dead of the night...we've settled on a system for Atletico Madrid. This is my reinterpretation for FM. I wanted to maintain the vulnerability on the left flank, which Messi so exploited when Atletico lost to Barca, and I wanted to capture how Koke drives through the middle. Arda Turan's support allowing Juanfran was also carefully considered.

We've managed to capture as well, the counter attacking thrust of the madrid's side quick counters off breaks and we've settled for an asymmetric 442. When I get back from my trip I will list out in detail some of the PI's and TI's. For now, its a counter attacking, narrow system. First time out Atletico 2-0 Man City. Yeah we had to endure 30 shots on goal :-( 90% off target lol.

.atletico.jpg?w=173

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Before I get into the translation, lets set their overall theme of Simeone's system for Atletico.

Its generally accepted that he plays a counter attacking 442 with a high press, the system changes tempo as well, so whilst he may start a game with high tempo, they do not sustain it throughout, throttling it like one would with a gas pedal. This serves to give his teams high bursts at key periods of the game.

His system depends on two creative outlets principally, Koke on the left flank and Arda Turan on the right. Koke tends to cut inside and sit a bit narrower when attacking, Turan tends to drift and he acts as a pivot for both the strikers as well Juanfran their right fullback. Upfront, the two strikers are expected to harry the opposing side and drop down to midfield to support when they lose the ball. This by far is the hardest thing to replicate on FM. Its possible to get the creative outlets to do their roles, but for the front two, we are currently limited by the roles in the game, so its vital for us to get the essence right. Here I expect the two strikers to do everything they can to close the opposing side down when the opportunity presents itself. A key success indicator of this will be the passing percentage of the opposing sides defense.

Setpieces also play a vital role in the side, with goals coming from corners and direct free kicks. To get this going in FM we need to set this up as closely as we can to what they do in real life, but to ensure that this plays a large contributor to their goals I will tweak it slightly. The goal here would be to win the second ball if the corner is cleared, and to create goal scoring opportunities from them.

Testing this will be done on FMC, and because its done there, I won't have the benefit of heat-maps so I will be depending on in game stats.

To get this translated onto FM, we need to achieve these goals as closely as we can. It won't be possible to get a 100% rendition as this would be ludicrous, but we can get close, finally, we need to ensure that we come close to it via in game stats. This means that I will focus on defensive solidity above all else, since this is the Simeone way. My preferred option is Approach 1, however this also requires ingame tweaking at times, to change tempo or push a player forward.

There are essentially two approaches we can take:

Approach 1

assy1.jpgAtletico Simeone replication

This was my first approach, it features Koke in an attacking CM role which allows him to make central runs. The CM role is not available in an orthodox 442, on the right flank we have Turan playing as a wide playmaker. Upfront, we need to deploy one of the forwards as a F9 and another as a Defensive Forward. Based on the ingame descriptors they should be dropping deep to recover the balls and also fit for possession in the opposing third.

On the right flank we have Juanfran in a CWB role to allow him to attack the right flank, the other fullback has a support role because of the vacant space that can be exploited ahead of him.

The system is set up as a counter/fluid. Fluid because we want the attention to focus on the creative players in the side. It was fluid or Structured, both work with the former allowing for slightly more creativity in the side.

These are the shouts I use at the start of a game, they change during a game if needed. I am averse to putting this up, this is how I interpret they should be playing. Its a bit risky and it requires one to pay attention to the flow of the game, to make adjustments

ti.jpg?w=665

There are some unique Player instructions as well, I have some PIs for the fullbacks too, but those are basically focused on keeping possession.

Koke

assykoke.jpg?w=665

Koke has been told to close down more and to tackle harder, setting him on the MC role allows me to put him naturally on the inside, this has the added effect of making him drift occasionally.

TURAN

assyturan.jpg?w=665

Turan has more PIs, these came in large part to certain requirements that are needed for the CWB to be more effective. Getting him to roam fulfils a requirement of how he plays, and getting him to cut inside leaves room open for the CWB to exploit.

Playing the two like that does pose some interesting challenges, for one, the two MCs can be dropped down to BWM, and MC(d) which I was doing a lot in games to get more defensive solidity. The left flank was also occasionally weak with the vacant ML position. I wasn't too thrilled with having to do a lot of tweaking in every match, but it got the flavor essentially. Against better sides I started playing a bit differently, and this system has evolved slightly now

APPROACH 2

costa442.jpg?w=484

This is what to me seems like the Costa 442, back when Costa was in the side, they tended to play with one forward nearer to the opposing defensive line. A deeper striker could frequently find the "Costa" striker with a simple pass. That goal Torres scored earlier in the season in the cup came to mind when I was working on this.

This is defensively a lot more solid than the asymmetric 442. In this system, we still get the flying fullbacks, but the left flank is a lot more solid in defense. The formation plays narrow and with some other PI's to influence the Simeone shape.

Koke

koke442.jpg?w=665Koke 442 Costa System

The Wide Playmaker role for Koke is set with a cut inside instruction, by adding Tackling Harder and close down much more I get the aggression settings we need. Getting him to push up higher allows me make sure he's closer to the attack than the midfield when we are in the opponents half. The first time we used this system Koke created two goals. He drifts inside a fair bit when we are in the opponents third and he is in key positions when we need a telling pass into the box.

kokedefn.jpg?w=665

Here we see Koke hustling the ball in a key area of the pitch where I need him, based on opta passing charts Turan tends to deliver balls from inside as well as down the flanks, and I wanted to get this done with this formation, so for him..

Turan

turan442a.jpg?w=665Turan Costa 442

We need to get him to dribble more cut inside, thus freeing up the right flank, and because he has a tendency to pop up in different parts of the pitch, we added roam.

The two central midfielders are set slightly differently as well. Up front, I elected to use the Costa version, where we have one of the forwards nearer the defensive line and another playing much deeper. The goal here is to keep the defense on their toes and to win possession higher up the pitch. To get that done..we added these PI's to Griezmann

Griezmann

griez442costa.jpg?w=665

He's been told to tackle harder, roam from position, run wide with ball and close down much more. In the Real Madrid game, Griezmann would frequently be found in wide positions with the ball, dragging defenders with him, so this was a vital part of getting that done right. We used almost the same PI's for his striker partner, but F9s have roam as a default.

That covers the main PIs for both systems chief creators. Now lets take a look at the set pieces. Atletico are heavily dependant on these, in my system I rely on these heavily, to such a point that I am actually expecting a goal from either a corner or a throw in. So we set up our corners

cornera.jpg?w=665

cornedefe.jpg?w=665

These are our corner settings, the key thing we do is making sure that Koke is taking out swingers, and that our free kicks go to our best headers. Atletico started out doing near post corners, then changed to a short corner routine, we have elected to follow that to some extent, and can vary it during a game. Essentially the settings remain, but the goal above all is to still win the second ball.

Results

So far we've only played 9 games in the league and 3 in ECL, thus far our performances have met the goal, with both systems with the the latter outshining the former for defensive solidity and we have also managed to score nearly a set piece goal in every game, and in games where we don't score from the corner, we sometimes score from the ball recovery following the corner.

statcosta442.jpg?w=665

In our latest match against Getafe, my focus was spent on making sure my forward line didn't give them time to build up any kind of consistency from the back, their passing % in defense was bad. I was really please to see that we scored two goals in this game from set pieces, Koke played an important role in the game with his key passes till he was subbed and the front duo pressed hugh and tried to tackle, this pressure helped to keep the passing rates of the opposing side down.

stat4422.jpg?w=665

We did the same against Espanyol, they only managed 47% completion of passes from defense

statespa.jpg?w=665

Koke played an integral part in the game, with 2 assists and Jimenez who played in the F9 position, getting 5 tackles and winning 3 in the opposing half.

stats442costa.jpg?w=665

Top of the table and have scored 18 goals, 6 of them from set pieces, and this doesn't include the 2 we had from throw-ins and the other 2 we did from winning the second ball. If we include those goals then I am dangerously overdependant on set pieces.

Conclusion

Overall I'd say both flavours work, one works better defensively (Costa 442) than the other, both require a manager to make some hard decisions during a game, whether to release one of the MCs as a box to box midfielder, or better still, who the heck do you get your goals from set pieces in either Koke or Mandu are injured. It may only be 9 games into the season, but what I like about his little attempt was how much it made me feel like I were a real manager. It made me adapt my system slowly to my players, make adjustments based on their abilities and finally react in matches to events forcing me into slight changes. As always things could change slightly as I spend more time with this team, but I feel that this is fairly close, getting like 33% of all goals from set pieces, we just scored 3 goals in our last game - 2 from set-pieces, if I don score i cuss

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PART III - Creating Bottlenecks

Whenever I set up a system, my immediate focus is on the control of space. I begin with several systems of play but am aware of what the strength and weakness of each system are. With WBA I have been using basically two tactics the 442, and the 4132

.wbasystem1.jpg

wbasystem2.jpg

Once I know what shapes and roles I expect during a season, I look at where my weak links are going to be. Bravery isn't a strong stat in the team, so I doubt the strikers will track back very much, furthermore, unlike Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon, my left back isn't nearly as good in anticipating play as they are, which makes the left flank vulnerable.

In our friendly matches, my strikers haven't; been converting cccs as well as other teams. One on one, i doubt Berahino and the rest of the strikers are going to score very many. And this tells me that I need quite a few players in the box, to pick up the loose ball. We are not going to score a lot of beautiful goals. We will also be depending a lot on set pieces.

To reiterate, goals are going to come if I can get more bodies in a box, and I will be depending on set pieces. We have 2 pacey strikers so going direct with risky passes will be an option from the fullbacks.

Setting up my defense is going to be a lot more challenging. My fullbacks are low on anticipation so setting up one flank with an attacking fullback is going to be a big risk. My central midfielders however are better at stopping attacks. We aren't very good at passing, so we will be staying narrow, keeping passes short when the opposition is better and we want to hold possession, and going direct if we need a goal. That will mean several changes to PIs during a game.

So we set up my fullbacks with direct passing and take more risky passes, and use the pass into space TI. So if I want to launch counters, I will go counter, switch on these PIs. For most games I plan to start control and play short. Its a big risk and as I found out in quite a few games with WBA I had to change to counter, direct to come back from a goal against the better sides.

The match against Manchester City became a classic demonstration of creating bottle necks. They elected to play a 442, we started with a 442, but then when I realised how flaky my wings were, I switched to a 4132, locked down my flanks and went through the middle. We kept a narrow shape, funnelled their attacks down the flanks where we two manned their wingers and soundly beat them 2-0.

In our game against Spurs they began with a 4231, we conceded a goal from a set-piece, and whilst we managed to get into the box, we hardly proved a threat. Our goal was simply to keep them from scoring, something during the second half, I switch to a 4132 to counter the AMC and to funnel their attacks down the flanks where we had locked down fullbacks, It allowed us to keep them from building on the lead, we managed to equalise from a set piece.

When we want to set up bottlenecks we need to pay attention to what the other side are playing. Your system is only as good as the space it controls, and these kind of things need to happen during a game, or come with a lot of match preparation. You analyse the teams performance and look at what they do when they are a goal down.

In a league cup match we were up against a Leeds side that played a narrow diamond. For the first 30 minutes of the match we couldn't get one shot on goal using our 4132. Both formations were playing narrow but they had the extra man playing as an AMC, first 30 minutes Leeds had 6 shots on goal we had none. We hardly threatened them. They had created a bottle neck for me that I was playing into.

wba-heatmap.jpg

Our heat map shows where we spent most of our time. We hardly threatened. I promptly went wide and started going down the flanks with a 442. By the time the game ended, we had won by two goals, and our heat map was drastically different after the change.

wbaheatmap3.jpg

Using our asymmetric 442 narrowed the playable area they had, we compressed the field of play and took our game to the flanks, this stretched Leeds and by the time the game ended we had overturned a lacklustre start. Before the change they had 8 shots to our none, by the time the game was over we had 15 to their 12.

Our next game against Chelsea who playa 4231 in this game. I don't have high hopes for this match, but I know that typically a 442 is a good system to play against a 4231. Here my goal is to lock out their two MCs, and funnel play down the flanks. Eden Hazard will see plenty of the ball, but its a lot safer than seeing the play go through the MCs.

vchelseaoi.jpg?w=665

The goal here is to make sure that while we keep our fullbacks on support, we want them to try and come through the middle, where we have players closing down their MC's with our fullbacks instructed to make direct riskier passes, its our hope that we can get to the strikers via a quick counter. Ten minutes in our fullback finds Berahino with a deep through ball, only to see him fail to control the ball. And then Willian scores a fluke from the halfway line. 70 minutes later we are up 4-1, and I think that we have the match done and dusted.

With around 20 minutes to go, I don't notice that Chelsea have changed formations, within 10 minutes they score 3 goals, the match is now 4-4. I look at Chelsea who are playing a 424, and I make the necessary changes. Fullbacks are told to stay back, the MCs are told to close down the opposite MCs and we lock down the flanks, and punch through the middle. With 5 minutes to go we score, West Brom win 5-4 at Stamford Bridge. We had scored 2 goals from set pieces and 2 from counter attacks, our last was a sweet passing move through the ball after their midfielders lost possession of the ball in their half.

Sometimes when you are up against a better team, no bottleneck can be created, purely because the opposite team is better than you. The best you can do is to funnel their play through what would be your best area to defend. For the first 80 minutes our strength was our midfield, and thats where we concentrated their play, breaking up their player and scoring off counters. When they changed their system I was too slow to react, by now, we had more people in the centre and didn't have enough on the flanks, where Chelsea overloaded. By switching my system around slightly we were able to lock them out.

8 games played one draw in the league away to Spurs, the rest - glorious 3 points.

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Part 4 - Offensive Setups

Being adaptable is an important aspect of over performing at Football Manager, One thing I've noticed with the AI manager is a distinct lack of complementary systems. Usually you will find the AI manager go from a 41221 to a 424 or a 442 to a 424 if it wants to get a goal, and usually if you play well, the AI manager will fall flat.

I tend to prefer to create systems in game, the penalty isn't high, if you flip a system you are using already. The systems need to be complementary. For example you could flip a 532 to a 343, or a 4132 to a 4312. These are slightly advanced ways of playing the game, I have been doing these for ages, and its actually very easy to do. There are times you can do these and there are times you shouldn't.

Flipping a system essentially maintains most of the tactical shape you currently have and enhances another aspect of your game. A 4132 can be a defensive system or it can be offensive, but it can't be very offensive. To be offensive you literally need your players to have a lot of technical skill to hold onto the ball. If you are a poor side, you will usually score off the counter or if you are lucky and the offense fumbles around the penalty box. The best you can do with a 4132 is make your fullbacks attacking in orientation and get them to play more direct passes to your frontline who will either score on the break or bring others into play.

What if you are faced with a side that's parked the bus, a 4132 will find it hard to break them down simply because you need to be camped further up the pitch and during moments like this you will be wishing your central MC was further up the pitch making late runs into the box or stringing passes near the edge. Its times like this that I flip the 4132 into a 4312, What are the advantages and disadvantages of flipping?

Advantages

a. Increases the potency of a system, and gives you an added dimension whether you are attacking or defending.

b, Gives you more options for player development. A 4132 has no AMC, but a 4312 has, so you could use this chance to develop an AMC

Disadvantages

a. Leaves you open, if you were using a 4132 and you flip to a 4312, you need to accept certain things have changed. If its a halfback role you are removing then you need to understand what it does. It means certain lines of defensive cover are gone, and these will need to be replaced.

b. Failure to understand where the gaps will happen can create problems in managing space

Know what you want to achieve

When I make a 4132 my principal line of attack will ALWAYs be the flanks, thats my personal choice for a 4132, hence the use of a halfback freeing up my fullbacks. My secondary pivot will be one of the strikers or even both, using them as fulcrums to drop back and bring others into play. This way I can either have a counter attacking direct style via my fullbacks and defense or a more patient possession orientated passing style created whenever my strikers drop deep. It can play narrow or wide, but since I am a side thats not the best in England, I elect to go narrow to compress available space.

If I choose to flip it to a 4312, I will have to compensate for the loss of my halfback if i want to maintain defensive shape, in such a situation, i have 2 options. I could choose to go with a Ball Winning midfielder in my Central Midfielder slot or I could use a DLP. This all depends on what i have in my AMC slot. If i have the player available for my TQ, then I will set up as a BWM. Flanking the central midfielder will always be 2 Box to Box Midfielders - by far my favourite class, or I will use a central midfielder in support duty, but with some slightly modified PIs. This system will be played more through the middle and my TQ will be playing alongside a F9 and an advanced forward. Since the F9 will always drop deep this gives space for the TQ to attack, and he will always have passing options with an advanced forward or he could come in late and go it alone.

Since we have 2 B2BMCs they will come in late to support and if we are camping so will the two fullbacks.

The only position I would have flipped from my 4132 would be the MC to a TQ and my halfback to a BWM. Its that easy. The fullbacks get a change from Attack to Support or defend depending on the quality of the threat on the flanks.

You can flip any system during a game, if you don't change roles outright or mentality outright the effect to your systems cohesion is minimal. I would recommend doing this in preseason and when you are doing well, to experiment. Making yourself a bit more adaptable to changes in a game isn't hard it just needs a bit of practice.

Football Manager Tactics - Flipping A System Part II

Granted I have always been an attacking manager, I've never really seen the use for any kind of defensive system, whether I was managing Stafford or Barcelona. After years of criticising SI for poor defensive systems I was pleasantly surprised that FM15 had made some fundamental advances in terms of defense.

Doing away with sliders has freed SI's developers and giving them more scope to go work on facets of the engine that used to be limited by notches on a scale. Today a players role determines what he does on a pitch and with some slight modifications to Player Instructions one can set up a myriad of subset roles that create a lot more dynamism in the game.

I am not a big fan of sitting back and waiting for a side to leave gaps for me to strike on the counter, whilst its certainly possible I am more fascinated by this: Making a system so defensively solid that ball retention allows us to launch devastating attacks on the counter and gives us the option to control space more efficiently to build up attacks.

Sometimes you just need to flip it. We had a big trip to Old Trafford, United were lined up as a 4312 and we had a 4132. They had set it up to be narrow but both their fullbacks were hugging the lines. This was our initial formation. I had plans to hold back and defend, cos all we need was a draw and we would hold onto top spot in the league. In my save United are phenomenally good, they have such good passing between the lines that its almost an achievement getting a point. At least SI got this one right, and if they played like this in real life they would be hammering everyone asunder.

The game started and I hardly got a look in. For the better part of 40 minutes all I did was repel wave after wave, they eventually passed a ball into the back of the net. Before the game started I knew Michael Carrick was the key in this 4312. If his passing numbers get reduced we may be able to win the midfield battle.

During the first 40 minutes we were woeful, I couldn't even get a tackle on Carrick, my halfback was too deep and my MC was too far forward. We tight marked who we could without tearing ourselves apart but their narrow 4312 was having a field day. Thus far this season WBA have yet to get 3 points against any side playing that system and I was prepared to see this happen again.

wba-4132.jpg

On the 40th minute I decide to flip my 4132 to a 4312, effectively mirroring them...almost.

formations.jpg?w=665

The 4132 plays great defensively, but in this one instance I had a choice: change the halfback and get him higher or drop the MC and make him less attacking orientated. Both had their drawbacks, the 4312 on the other hand would effectively give Juan Mata more space, but it would reduce Carricks.

In the first half Carrick was averaging 94% pass completion and United were trouncing me for ball retention, by the end of the game Carrick was down to 74 and we had edged the possession

stats.jpg?w=665

The key lay with Carrick, nullifying his effect on the game helped me cut down on the chances United were getting, in fact they didn't get any more cccs in the second half, all their chances coming in the first

muchance.jpg?w=665

We took a big risk flipping in such an important match, but if we allowed United the win, the title shot was good as gone, and we are close to winning the title with less than a third of the season left.

We went from zero chances in the first half to 4 in the second with one being a clear cut chance in the box. We managed to score a goal in the second half and walk away with a point from Old Trafford. Oh and we scored 5 minutes from the restart :-) Hows that for a response!

Flipping a system is a good plan, some of the time. The challenge is actually doing it, one needs to be able to recognise the spatial constraints in the game, and to understand which opposite roles need to be nullified. In the first half, Juan Mata was free to get near the box, and hardly had to put in a challenge to defend, By the second half we had progressed to winning the midfield battle forcing Carrick and Juan Mata onto the wrong foot.

Defending is all about winning space. If we deny the opposition space and time on the ball, thats a form of defending. We flipped the 4132 and put pressure on their midfield whilst still maintaining a defensive posture.

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FOOTBALL MANAGER TACTICS - PLAYER INSTRUCTIONS

High Block and Bypass Midfield

Football Manager currently offers you a multitude of roles to choose from, gone are sliders so people need to adapt. When you start any game you are take to the tactical creator and once you've chosen the formation you want to play, you make decisions on roles and your team instructions.

The history of the tactical creator comes from all the templates that used to be put on the Sports Interactive forums, by posters who would set up unique styles of play which offered a multitude of roles that could only be set up via some detailed configurations of the sliders. For many it was a complicated process. The tactical creator in fact is a graphical user interface that makes it easier for people to get the same kind of utility but with less complication.

So we now have a variety of mentality settings and an option to set the shape (which I will simplify later). These broadly set your system up. Lets keep things simple. Mentality affects risk and shape affects how much creativity you want your side to have. Don't try to bog your mind down and ask stuff like how many notches does that translate to, cos you'll end up in a gurney.

As you shift mentality up you can elect to turn creativity down, so if you have an attacking setup and you can't find the goals, just shift your shape up, more players get involved, there's different passing variations, and you still maintain your risk posture. If you choose to use very fluid which is the extreme settings of shape, you run the risk of giving everyone too much freedom to do what they think they should.

This brings me to my next point. Shape is something you can afford to experiment with. Personally I like higher shape settings for poorer sides, since they are technically not so good, so I am encouraging them to try something different. For stronger sides I will elect to go more rigid since these sides are loaded with creative talent I don't want everyone to play like Messi.

There is so much to master in FM, that its vital to keep things simple on this broader spectrum, because what I am about to list further, adds greater complexity to how you play so its important not to get too bogged down by something I consider trivial.

Since Mentality = Risk, it follows that you can have very attacking systems way the risk tolerance is so low it forces as many dots back to defend as possible. Hence, its possible as well to create defensive systems where the ball possession is high, at times this can be abnormally high.

When we use the TC, we are offered a whole bag of roles to choose from. At its most basic level we are asked to choose between, Auto, Defend, Support and Attack. I have never liked Auto, since it leaves the entire decision making process to the AI, when you are attacking, the Auto setting just encourages the dot to decide based on a variety of variables what action it should take. I just hate this. None of my systems have ever used auto, I stopped the moment the TC was introduced. For every system you have defend, support and attack. Each of these serves to modify the risk appetite further. Lets assume if the mentality scale was 1-6 with 1 being the most risk averse, and you had chosen Counter which is say 3 on the risk meter, then the players with defend will be slightly less than 3 and those on support would be 3 and those on attack would be higher than 3. Thats what these settings do, they slightly modify their risk appetite.

You can play with the basic roles on the tin, nothings going to stop you from having a decent game, but the AI is probably doing the same. So its an even game. This is how I kick the AI's butt. We have the ability to offset a lot of these settings via Player Instructions and Player Preferred Moves. And this is what you need to do, to make things even more dynamic.

Lets use a very simple example. Say we are playing a 4312. When you set up the system as a defensive system, you could set it up with. 2 Fullbacks, 2 central defenders, say 2 B2BMC, 1 DLP and a DLF and an AF, thats pretty much a basic setup. The average player will then go to Team Instructions and choose his shouts.

Defensive

  • Short Passing
  • Retain Possession
  • Work ball into box
  • Play ball out of defense
  • Play Narrow
  • Stay on Feet

Now these are all very basic, fine and dandy. You could play the game as is, and do ok. Here's some advanced ideas kicking in:

  • High Block
  • Bypass Midfield

These are 2 shouts that are not in the game. And you can get these done easily via Player Instructions.

Looking at my 4312, I realise that whilst my midfielders are doing the basic stuff of winning the ball, I could launch deep attacks from my fullbacks, and I want them to bypass my midfield, in this case I go to my fullbacks Player Instructions and choose:

  • Play more Direct
  • Take more risk

To get the high block settings I go to my front two strikers and set them to :

  • Tackle harder
  • Close down much more

Player instructions allow you to create unique effects on your game and give you the option of creating more dynamism in your game, and is easily the best way of kicking the AI's butt

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Rashidi   

Ever since I picked up the first edition of Championship Manager, my goal has been singular, beat the AI and humble it into submission. Making super tactics back in the day wasn't hard because the game was simple, it had all kinds of arrows all over the place, and this made the engine frighteningly predictable. The continued success of the super tactics that ruled the 90's allowed the game to be challenged, and this forced the game to evolve into what it is now, a much harder beast. The thing is, the game hasn't changed very much, the basis of the game is still the same, its a numbers game. All you need now isn't a super tactic, but a system of play, one that is built on a firm logic and something that you can replicate. If you want to humble the game again, the initial work you do will be time consuming, but once you have sorted things out and laid the foundations you will be on auto-pilot. And, when, your players retire, you will need to start looking for replacements that fit into your supersystem. The whole goal will then be creating a sustainable model.

To get this done, you need to follow some simple steps, and we will use a simple formation to begin with.

There's plenty of discussion and debates on getting a 4132 to work. Its a fairly basic tactic I don't even consider this to be an exotic tactic. This page will list out how you can set up a 4132 system that works.

Before we begin any system we need to establish broadly how we want it to play, and then list out what kind of attributes the TEAM should have and finally how the pivots in the side operate for you to get ahead.

STEP 1 - IDENTIFY A TACTIC

Every tactic is about control of space, remember that each position on the tactical screen shows you one piece of vital information : where the players will be when they defend. Its no use building an attacking 4231 and then moan that the 4 upfront don't do enough defending. You need to know why they don't and how to make them defend. Each system has a starting point for defending, and these positions can be adjusted via Player Instructions. A player who is an AMC in a 4231 won't defend in the box, unless he has been giving Player Instructions that ask him to close down much more, hard tackle and PPMs that encourage him to drop deep. So understanding your tactic is the first step. From here, we will be using a 4132 to illustrate the rest.

How does it play

The 4132 we will be discussing is the narrow version, one can modify this to make it into a wide one, but I do believe it loses a lot of its potency. A narrow 4132 is a lot better at defending the space. The starting points are clear, and can be adjusted via PIs and roles. If you want the CWB to sit deeper just tell him to go defend, instead of attack. If you want him to punch forward then set him to attack.

The DM position is important, too deep and you have issues because he will only challenge when the ball is in your third, too high and a gap results. Knowing that there is a space that can be exploited between the DM and the MC forces me to tell the MC to close down much much more. The two MCs won't go to the flanks unless they are encouraged to as well. If you are setting this as an attacking formation, you need to bear this all in mind. Player attributes are vital and important.

ry4132final.jpg?w=665

This is the 4132 that West Brom uses. When I created this formation, it was for the explicit purpose of being defensively solid. The goal, score on the counter, and if thats not possible at least have possession of the ball and allow for play to develop patiently around the box. The tactic I made could only be done on two shape settings Rigid or Fluid. Both of these essential divide the team up into basic defend/attack components the only difference between both being the level of creative freedom with the latter having more.

Since WBA wasn't exactly the best in the land with creative freedom I opted to use fluid, this encourages the side to exercise a bit more creative freedom, across the pitch, I wanted the team to defend and attack as a group. Now I could get the same out of Rigid, and in some games where I require a lot more discipline I do occassionally either tell them to be more disciplined or I would go rigid. We went fluid simply because I needed a lot more imagination in fashioning chances.

When you set up a system as a defensive system, you are telling the same to take lower risks when going forward this does have the undesired outcome of reducing the risk taking of your team, and in doing so sometimes you can have loads of possession, and yet not create anything that even remotely looks like a great clear cut chance. This is something people need to understand about defensive systems.

These kind of systems while, they are solid, depend on a host of factors to create goals, and you will need to look at each player to determine how they fit into your system.

STEP 2 IDENTIFY THE PLAYERS

The attributes that define your quality

This by far will sink or float your boat. FM is a numbers game, simple as that, stop getting emotional about why a person fails to perform and start looking at numbers. When you create a defensive system you absolutely need to get these attributes nailed down tight:

  1. Concentration
  2. First Touch
  3. Composure
  4. Determination

Concentration is important because you are defending for long periods, any lapse will lead to conceding a goal. This is especially vital for midfield and defend roles. First Touch without a doubt the most vital cog on the wheel. If you receive a pass and can't; control it, especially when you are playing narrow, you could lose possession, and if you play a ball wide, that early cross only comes if the first touch was perfect. Finally composure, is so important for defensive systems, ignoring it is as good as giving up. When you are passing the ball around, the one attribute that sees you misplace a pass is composure. Furthermore, playing narrow means that more than just your strikers will find goal scoring opportunities, composure as a whole is a good attribute to have.

Defensive Pivots

There are basically 7 players you defend with. Defending happens in zones. We are going to break the pitch down in thirds: last third, middle third and final third, with final third being the area in front of and including the penalty area of the opposing side.

  • Last third

In this zone you expect to see all 8 of you players defending, These will include, fullbacks, central defenders and all midfielders.

  • Middle third

In this zone you expect to see ONLY your midfielders challenging

  • Final third

When the ball is in that zone and you have your team in the final third, you expect to see everyone pressing the ball and your defenders holding back.

These are the things I expect to see, to get this to happen, your players need these attributes'

For all players

Workrate, Anticipation, Marking, Tackling, Concentration, Stamina, Pace, Acceleration

These attributes allow your side to work hard in all areas of the pitch, now its natural for strikers and wingers not to have marking and tackling, but mine are still set to max closing down and hard tackling, regardless of whether they can tackle or not. The only time they are held back is when their aggression is over the top (strikers).

Attacking Pivots

These are any players that have a role to play in my system that are central to how we get goals. These include my fullbacks, my central midfielder and my 2 strikers.

How do they attack?

You need to know how your team is going to score you the goals you want. In this system I am entirely dependant on my fullbacks. If they have a bad game, I will probably lose, so they need these attributes without exception:

Pace, Acceleration, Crossing, First Touch, Passing, Composure, Anticipation, Determination

These are always my priority attributes, I tend to look at these first once these are within my acceptable levels (14 is my very least), then I start looking at:

Marking, Tackling, Stamina, Natural Fitness, Concentration

These attributes allow my fullbacks to bomb forward and make telling crosses, because their anticipation levels are high, they are usually cutting out passes. Seeing them with high interceptions is commonplace.When you look at the narrow 4132 you KNOW, that because of the position of the side midfielders, the open space ENCOURAGES them to move forward, so having ppms like switch play to other flank and get forward whenever possible are just going to give them that bit extra.My fullbacks are my first attacking pivot, vital and central to how I want my 4132 to play. Since its a system thats narrow, you get the natural width from the attacking bias of the fullbacks.My second attacking pivot is the central midfielder and the two strikers. My central midfielder is the tip of my attacking diamond of three, and he WILL bring the other MCs into play and he is the SOURCE of switching play when we are patiently building attacks in the final third, because he sits so deep, he's been given the attacking set of instructions that make him go a bit forward, and as a further cop-out we have him with go forward ppms, dictate tempo, make killer pass, and run with ball through centre.This means he has to have the necessary attributes of:

Pace, Acceleration, Off the ball, Passing, Dribbling, Decisions, Determination, Flair, Vision, Stamina, Composure, First Touch

Since he is moving forward you need to give him space and have some players do some one touch passing to get a lot of vertical movement happening. So the 2 upfront are set to DLF and F9. Now False 9 can be a bit of a debate, you can elect to use a Advanced Forward too if you want, but I like the uncertainty of not knowing where the goal is coming from. So I prefer the F9. An AF can work as well.

STEP 3 - TRAINING

So you've created your tactic, and chosen your players. If you've been paying attention you would have noticed that some attributes seem to run through the team like a thin red line. This is the lifeblood of my team, and I make absolutely sure their training guarantees this development.

To strengthen your odds, you now focus training on areas that affect the attributes you desire, I have a very specific training schedule: BALL CONTROL and TACTICs, with specific individual training. Once its set I only change this once in 6 months. In fact, training is so easy, its forgettable. We do focus on ppms for the crucial pivots but thats about it. The growth of my players development in key attributes then only serves to propel us forward year on year.

STEP 4 - Match Day

When it comes to match day, all you need to know is how the other system lines up against yours. Begin with identifying your formations weaknesses.

The 4132 is soft on flanks, and strong in the middle. So I know that any formation with AMs is going to give us trouble. So if I am faced with a really strong 4231 I tell my wingbacks to go more defensive. I remove the Player instructions that they have: Play more direct and Take more risks, and tell them to play short and take less risks. I then look at how another team lines up, if they have a DLP I tackle him hard, if they have an attacking fullback I tackle him hard. If they are playing with a 3 man defense I close the defenders all down.

We increase our odds even further by ensuring that my set pieces are done right, I do have man on posts. I understand the argument people make that suggest that not seeing them clear a ball off the line = the need not to put any players on posts. Well I find that the best way to defend is to have men on posts, because the game is still defined by collision physics. If there is a dot there, there is something to collide into, so from a numbers programming point of view, just cos you don't see them blocking doesn't mean its not happening, remember the 3d rendition is only a rendition of whats happening in terms of number crunching by the AI. By far the most important aspect of defending set pieces is man marking the threats. I have players man marking and marking tall players and one defending the edge of the box and another closing down the corner. Its worked fine for me, and I will be sticking to it.

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Jambo98   

Very much looking forward to reading more of it. Particularly different examples or ones where you create from scratch - The Sporting achievements are admirable, but it is much easier to take a side who already highly successful and introduce new ways of playing for them. Doing it with a side you have just taken over is where i think a really interesting challenge lies.

Also hoping you will do some more detail around systems which do not employ a high line, or which try to rely on the counter attack and pace. It is an area that a great many people struggle with (myself included). I can make a pressing/higher line system with a few varieties and different roles/formations, but to create a genuine counter system - a "sit deep and counter at breakneck speed" seems to be very very difficult.

I recently inherited a side with one of the fastest players in Europe as a key player (Victor Ibarbo). I also signed up Bruma, a Portugese winger who is also probably amongst the top 10 or so players in europe speed wise. I wanted to create something which really plays to the strengths of explosive speed. I find it very hard to do. The logical things around dropping deeper, using more direct passing, ensuring i have lines of supply set up for the explosive pace, they seem to operate differently in practice than in theory, and low block defence just quite simply seems much harder to get to work :)

I am hoping your Athletico post might give some insights, at times they do sit very very deep as a team, and whilst they are not really pace based, the defensive side should be interesting to read about :)

Again though, great reading already. The stuff about setting up different blocks in the team, and in particular on focusing on transition is great reading.

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Rashidi   

Thanks Jambo. Making a pure counter attacking tactic can be quite a challenge, because we are all so dependant on how the match engine translates it. And to be honest, sometimes it defends too well to be realistic, at other times it produces a 90 minute game of pressing thats unbelievable, teams can play with a high line without any ill effects, thats probably the reason why the easiest systems to play are control to overload systems at the moment.

We are tied to a game world where we need to operate within its strict rules, and sometimes that means we need to play a certain way to succeed there hence the challenge of making the pure counter attacking tactic. And that brings us to an interesting point - in real life there are loads of teams that seem to play a counter attacking system, but with qualities that suggest otherwise. Take the 4-0 hammering Atletico handed to Real Madrid.

Atletico were playing narrow, they played a 442 where the 2 forwards essentially played like false 9s who careened to the wings allowing the side midfielders to cut in. They had fullbacks shadowing and tight marking Ronaldo, yet were able to rampage down the wings. They even played with a reasonably high defensive line. Thats not something you typically see with a counter attacking side, but thats what they did. Real helped of course, Bale, Isco and Ronaldo hardly helped defensively. Atletico attacked with 8 players and defended with 10. Now rewind 2 seasons ago to Southampton, another side that played defensively with 10 men back and a high defensive line. Pure counter attacking tactics are slowly fading away, individual players are now fitter, faster and have tight ball control. My feeling is more and more sides are now stepping it up and taking it to the better sides. Lets not bring Bayern up, they were playing direct football against Hamburg, not the counter attacking style one would expect with Pep, but more like a Jupp Heyneckes recipe.

I will start trying to make a counter attacking system with one side, the challenge is not to do it with a non league side and get them promoted. That makes no sense, cos my LLM side will always have better players in relation to the league. I think this time I will just grab a side like Atletico with their players and try and replicate Diego Simeones style, and try and use the Madrid derby as a template. Sporting is boring. The only time I really have fun is in the ECL, everyone else is getting hammered 4-0, so once the patch comes I will need to pick a team again. A team that gives me the chance to develop youth and someone who is a dark horse...atletico and...me heart is saying liverpool.

My wife is gonna be so pissed, my first wife cited FM in our divorce, my second wife is now looking at it funny too, but I've already given her a baby, with the kit flown in from Anfield, so she knows me heart lies with football and she's a glorified substitute, here's hoping she doesn't get the ref to throw me a red card.

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Ha Ha, I like the last sentence, my first wife said I loved Walsall F.C more than her in our divorce papers, couldn't wait to sign it. I also left word with my solicitor to inform hers that I thought more of the Wolves than I did of her :-)

Great thread by the way, will be following.

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Jambo98   

Hmm i am very much look forward to this :) particularly interested in Manduzic as AF. I must admit i dont see that at all. I often see both forwards well inside Athletico's own half. But i have learned not to underestimate your tactical ability so will wait and see how you create it :)

Also, one thing that is always hugely missed in analysis of Athletico, and how they achieve "success", is the massive reliance they have on set pieces. Its easy to think they are a great machine which defends in packs then scores goals through the wings and strikers. Well.......43% of their goals this season (20 out of 47) came from set pieces. I cant place the exact stats for last season, but i am certain it was around the same %. I recall an article at the turn of the year which showed that since Simeone took over, over 40% of Athletico's goals come from set pieces. Thats pretty extraordinary, and very hard to recreate in FM. So if you suddenly can only score, say 20% of goals from set pieces, that leaves a massive gulf you have to make up, which the Athletico style is not designed to "score".

If i look at the latest la liga season in my save (i am playing it in full detail), the stats are:

Barca (AI managed) - 77 goals - 16 from set pieces - 21%

Real (AI managed) - 70 goals - 10 from set pieces - 14%

Athletico (AI managed) - 58 goals - 11 from set pieces - 19%

Athletic (human managed) - 58 goals - 8 from set pieces - 14%

This might seem like a minor point, but basically if you achieve 20% of goals by set piece (which seems high even based on that smallish sample), you are still coming up some 15 goals short of what Athletic managed last season, and are on pace for similar this season. That is a massive difference to make up from open play.

Just some food for thought :)

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Rashidi   

Yeah the forward further up shld b Griezmann. I should have fixed that last night. Just missing one role in FM and it's theirs. Time for my jet flight

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Rashidi   
Hmm i am very much look forward to this :) particularly interested in Manduzic as AF. I must admit i dont see that at all. I often see both forwards well inside Athletico's own half. But i have learned not to underestimate your tactical ability so will wait and see how you create it :)

I agree, they play with one forward usually further ahead of the other, one of the options was AF, problem with AF is he doesn't track back very much. For me it was either the F9x2 combo which I don't really like, f9/AF which isn't ideal, or f9/dF, which is what I much rather like. Yeah and if you look at atletico's games, a players role does change from time to time.

Also, one thing that is always hugely missed in analysis of Athletico, and how they achieve "success", is the massive reliance they have on set pieces. Its easy to think they are a great machine which defends in packs then scores goals through the wings and strikers. Well.......43% of their goals this season (20 out of 47) came from set pieces. I cant place the exact stats for last season, but i am certain it was around the same %. I recall an article at the turn of the year which showed that since Simeone took over, over 40% of Athletico's goals come from set pieces. Thats pretty extraordinary, and very hard to recreate in FM. So if you suddenly can only score, say 20% of goals from set pieces, that leaves a massive gulf you have to make up, which the Athletico style is not designed to "score".

If i look at the latest la liga season in my save (i am playing it in full detail), the stats are:

Barca (AI managed) - 77 goals - 16 from set pieces - 21%

Real (AI managed) - 70 goals - 10 from set pieces - 14%

Athletico (AI managed) - 58 goals - 11 from set pieces - 19%

Athletic (human managed) - 58 goals - 8 from set pieces - 14%

This might seem like a minor point, but basically if you achieve 20% of goals by set piece (which seems high even based on that smallish sample), you are still coming up some 15 goals short of what Athletic managed last season, and are on pace for similar this season. That is a massive difference to make up from open play.

Just some food for thought :)

I plan to get a goal a game from a set piece, hopefully we come close. So far we have scored 1 goal every match thus far.

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dirkTLB   

What set piece instructions do u use? I've tried loads of combinations that I think should work in theory without success. Im pretty much had to settle to just making sure I don't concede on the counter with a very defensive set up

up

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Bert44   

Have been tweeking my atletico tactic and have found some things that are working now but still some problems with yellow and red cards and defending in general. I play a flat 442 flexible and standard with pl out of def, float crosses, close down more and higher tempo.

Wb att cb def cb def wb att. Wp att bwm def bwm sup wm att. Def fw def dpl fw sup. Koke on the left side has picked up his play but arda turan on the right has struggled. Mandzukic def fw is really playong well goals and hard work tracking back when defending also griezman dpl fw is banging in goals. I feel that my widemen dont come in narrow as much as i like to open up space for my wingbacks. But the biggest issue is my middle men alot of cards and not so good defending, how can i fix this?

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Rashidi   
Not sure if you've seen this Rashidi but it's a corner analysis of Simeone;

http://13steps.co/2015/01/30/diego-simeones-atletico-corner-analysis/

Thanks, certainly helps. There are limitations with what we can do with SI, we can't really overload the near post like Simeone does. So its still a target for Near Post, Near Post flick ons, Far Post. One to challenge and 2 back , 3 forward, 1 lurk and another to give short option. Atletico started with a focus on near till they were sussed out, then the changed.. and added variety including the short option

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Rashidi   
Have been tweeking my atletico tactic and have found some things that are working now but still some problems with yellow and red cards and defending in general. I play a flat 442 flexible and standard with pl out of def, float crosses, close down more and higher tempo.

Wb att cb def cb def wb att. Wp att bwm def bwm sup wm att. Def fw def dpl fw sup. Koke on the left side has picked up his play but arda turan on the right has struggled. Mandzukic def fw is really playong well goals and hard work tracking back when defending also griezman dpl fw is banging in goals. I feel that my widemen dont come in narrow as much as i like to open up space for my wingbacks. But the biggest issue is my middle men alot of cards and not so good defending, how can i fix this?

Atletico play aggressive by nature, but you can get by by having them stay on feet, instead of lunge...you can also make sure you use OI to specifically target players who have low bravery and set hard tackling to them.

In my setup Arda Turan and Koke are the standout performers I keep my atletico system true and pure :-) counter...cant believe I am playing counter..i never play counter. You can avoid cards by getting players to stay on feet and also use PI to tell em to ease off.

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Rashidi   
What set piece instructions do u use? I've tried loads of combinations that I think should work in theory without success. Im pretty much had to settle to just making sure I don't concede on the counter with a very defensive set up

up

Actually that isn't half bad a strategy, you can frequently win the ball back and build something up

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Jambo98   
I agree, they play with one forward usually further ahead of the other, one of the options was AF, problem with AF is he doesn't track back very much. For me it was either the F9x2 combo which I don't really like, f9/AF which isn't ideal, or f9/dF, which is what I much rather like. Yeah and if you look at atletico's games, a players role does change from time to time.

Yup, sounds like maybe an example where you have used an FM TC role to create something which doesnt reflect "advanced forward" in real life. I cant see anyway that Manduzic or Griezmann play as "Advanced Forward" in most Athletico games in real, but as you say the ingcame combos might not give you what you need. Maybe the AF role with some PI or PPMs will give you an overall reflection?

I plan to get a goal a game from a set piece, hopefully we come close. So far we have scored 1 goal every match thus far.

That is massively impressive!:eek: Love to see some of that in action. I cant locate any sources (other than the excellent corner's one that Cleon linked to), but i seem to recall a good number of the set piece goals Athletico score also come from free kicks. Almost always indirect (eg cross and header) rather than CR7 type stunners, but again tends to show that they focus so much on team work over individual brilliance. Raul Garcia has scored a couple of headed goals from free kicks that i have seen.

Really looking forward to seeing the detail of how this is playing out :)

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Rashidi   

been doing all this testing on FMC, so I don't get a chance to use PPMs for players to set things up with a bit of tweaking. On FMC I have to take the roles as they are laid out, make some minor adjustments to PI's and off we go. I am fairly certain PPMs will really change the way the players react to your instructions, mine drop deep to defend with Sporting.

Its the two players up front that I am trying to fix,

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been doing all this testing on FMC, so I don't get a chance to use PPMs for players

Why not? You can train PPMs in FMC this year.

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Rashidi   

Yeah I realized after making that post when I tried to retrain one of the strikers. First time FMCer :-(

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Rashidi   

3 set pieces 3 goals, maybe its just Atletico. This is crazy, the game doesn't track throw in set pieces i reckon, but i just scored 2 from throw ins, and another from a corner. We have scored 26 goals so far 8 came from set pieces that the game tracks, and there are like 3 now throw ins. I have scored 3 from IFK, 2 from penalties, 3 from corners, and 3 from throw ins. And for throw ins I didn't do anything different, just land them on the best head.

The corner routine I have already listed above. Now i worry if Atletico don't score a goal from a set piece. I just wish i could make my DF defend in our own half as well. He does a good job of winning the ball in the opposing half, but he doesn't do as much when the team is w/o ball in their own half.

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Rashidi   

Big games coming, still top of the table without a loss. We were up against Barca in the next match

ryMsrbv.jpg

Even though they had the higher number of shots, we controlled the kind of shots they had, nearly every highlight featured was an Atletico attack, and it went according to script.

syK0tWq.jpg

Koke may have had a quite game, but Garcia who stepped in for Turan had a blinder on the right flank.

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Cleon   

Quality thread this mate, finally had the chance to read it. Shame it's not got more people engaged though, all the really good useful topics lately that people post seem to fade away after a while as people aren't getting involved. I really hope people do get involved with this though as they can learn so much from posts like this :thup:

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Rashidi   
Quality thread this mate, finally had the chance to read it. Shame it's not got more people engaged though, all the really good useful topics lately that people post seem to fade away after a while as people aren't getting involved. I really hope people do get involved with this though as they can learn so much from posts like this :thup:

Thanks Cleon :-) Missed doing these kinda threads been away too long.

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Jambo98   

One of the quirks of possibly partly why people miss this thread, is the way you reserved the posts then edit them in - I did the same in my DNA thread and of course what it means is that no one actually see's when you have updated - It doesn't pop up to the top of the thread lists unless someone adds a new post.

Missed a couple of the updates myself because i hadn't noticed you had updated the early posts :) Post #5 is excellent though - Full explanation of why each aspect is chosen and some great examples of how it works.

Looking forward to more of course, particularly more around the actual ingame stuff, not just the results. The "why" it works as well as it does - I think thats what people can learn from and relate to. Lots might look and say "hey, i am set up almost the same and i am 9th in the league and out the cup already" - Its the almost that is key - Some of the detailed decisions you desribe making are excellent :)

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Cleon   
Thanks Cleon :-) Missed doing these kinda threads been away too long.

One of these days we'll get around to doing that FM Tactics Bible we always planned :D

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Rashidi   
One of these days we'll get around to doing that FM Tactics Bible we always planned :D
Yeah we certainly will

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Rashidi   
One of the quirks of possibly partly why people miss this thread, is the way you reserved the posts then edit them in - I did the same in my DNA thread and of course what it means is that no one actually see's when you have updated - It doesn't pop up to the top of the thread lists unless someone adds a new post.

Missed a couple of the updates myself because i hadn't noticed you had updated the early posts :) Post #5 is excellent though - Full explanation of why each aspect is chosen and some great examples of how it works.

Looking forward to more of course, particularly more around the actual ingame stuff, not just the results. The "why" it works as well as it does - I think thats what people can learn from and relate to. Lots might look and say "hey, i am set up almost the same and i am 9th in the league and out the cup already" - Its the almost that is key - Some of the detailed decisions you desribe making are excellent :)

Yeah I wanted to make sure all the content was in one place instead of all over the place, and that has a price, but I felt it was probably the best way to show continuity. I do make some changes, early on I was making a fair bit, cos I wasn't getting what I wanted, but once the football started to flow I pretty much settled into a system. At the moment I rarely make changes to the system.

We are on a 30 game unbeaten run atm. Hardly made a change, there has been the odd one here and there where I change the Box to Box to a CM (S)but those two are so interchangeable as roles it doesn't really make that much of a difference. Its almost always down to personnel changes. I make some changes in a game when it appears to me that a certain player isn't performing to par. Other than that, hardly anything changes...and its on FMC where I am limited to no OI.

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Jambo98   

Yup i think the posts all at the top is a good way to structure a thread, just something i noted when doing the same in my threads that it doesnt show you have updated.

Another bit of feedback i might offer as to why some threads by the likes of yourself and Cleon are perhaps not getting the attention they deserve - No easy or nicer way to say this.......but perhaps some people see it as "too easy" for you. You guys are clearly brilliant at understanding the ME and TC, and doing so very quickly. Your tactical threads are great, and explain in finite detail how you create something and then show it being mega successful.

I guess a lot of people maybe relate more to a process whereby you try a few things and they dont work. You lose a few games, you have a season where you finish 5th as part of the evolution of creating something. A lot of posters can maybe relate a lot more to that, going by some of the threads we have seen started - Most people think of a concept and lay out how they want it work, and its actually quite rare that the first vision is correct. I look at my 451 and look back through my posts on it and i had the idea, but it took a few iterations to get right and in those times i made some wrong choices, lost some games, and i documented those parts. I think that is as important as to showing the final choices you did make in order to achieve success?

Its a tricky one - Clearly you cant "invent" tactical mistakes when you just quite simply dont make them! I know Cleon did highlight one, i think in the Brazil thread, where he choice one option and realised he had it totally wrong and a few people posted that they related a lot to that sort of thing :)

Not sure you can do much with that feedback to be fair!

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Rashidi   

Thanks Jambo, the challenge for us, is actually making these kind of systems - translations or replications..we can never get them to be as close as we want, and this asymmetric system is actually the first one I've ever created. Its actually not hard, but theres a lot of work that needs to go into preparing a tactic, and people need to be able to interpret whats happening on the screen. My first vision of the system wasn't very accurate but it got better through observation and slight tweaks. And my thread went massively off tangent...I was supposed to deal with pivots lol

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Jambo98   
Thanks Jambo, the challenge for us, is actually making these kind of systems - translations or replications..we can never get them to be as close as we want, and this asymmetric system is actually the first one I've ever created. Its actually not hard, but theres a lot of work that needs to go into preparing a tactic, and people need to be able to interpret whats happening on the screen. My first vision of the system wasn't very accurate but it got better through observation and slight tweaks. And my thread went massively off tangent...I was supposed to deal with pivots lol

Yup i hear ya. I tried, with herne79, to create the Sacchi 442 in a longish thread here. It was incredibly hard, particularly given we are talking about a system from so long ago. I also had an attempt to create the Capello 3412 from Roma which was so unsuccessfull and brief that i did not even document it on here. There are lots of challenges to recreating real life tactical systems on FM.

I had a total love affair with asymetric formations throughout FM14 and even into the early days of 15 - I find them great fun, but harder to get working this year.

I think people would like seeing/hearing a bit more about how it was when it wasnt working so well - and how you observed that and fixed it :)

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Rashidi   
Yup i hear ya. I tried, with herne79, to create the Sacchi 442 in a longish thread here. It was incredibly hard, particularly given we are talking about a system from so long ago. I also had an attempt to create the Capello 3412 from Roma which was so unsuccessfull and brief that i did not even document it on here. There are lots of challenges to recreating real life tactical systems on FM.

I had a total love affair with asymetric formations throughout FM14 and even into the early days of 15 - I find them great fun, but harder to get working this year.

I think people would like seeing/hearing a bit more about how it was when it wasnt working so well - and how you observed that and fixed it :)

Its not always possible to recreate a system perfectly, you may watch one game where they play brilliantly and then try to work off from there, and in another game they could vary the way they play so much that it won't even look the same anymore. When Pep ran Barca during his last season, at times, his side would change things around, players would change roles or the whole system would morph in a game. IMHO we need to get the overall flavour done right, if the system favours a certain style, then thats what we should aim for and then accept that there can be slight variations. For me getting Atletico to work accurately was simply a case of ensuring that most of the goals would come from crosses, cut backs, set pieces. I have scored goals where my MCs in the middle of the park suddenly start acting imperiously, something I wasn't planning on, but it kinda happened. You just need to look at one game, identify the theme or general approach, and then do your best. You will make errors.

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Rashidi   

Here's a bit more detail..to the earlier post.

I wanted to stay true to the spirit of Simeone's system, but at the same time it had to do well within the restrictions imposed by the FM match engine. Any successful translation of the system would depend on how much we understand it, and this would be a litmus test for the engine to see how well it can be used to create real life systems. I do feel that the match engine is restrictive in some ways, but there are always little things we can do.

I was always an opponent of dumbing the game down too much, and whilst I felt the inclusion of roles was a good thing, too many would make it too confusing. Roles really need to be effective; as it stands now there are quite a few roles that do the same thing to some extent. The only way we can make new ones is via the player instructions screen. I had a good idea what I wanted to achieve within the style that Diego Simeone has used, and we would be need to assess the success of that tactic within his philosophy. The first thing that challenged me and which caused me to chop and change was the shape. Simeone isn't Pep Guardiola, from what I can see the team does not play a tight tactical game built on specific instructions for players. Instead I see a more dynamic fluid approach. However the biggest challenge lay in funnelling play to the two side midfielders in Koke and Turan, to do that we needed either a structured shape which would have reduced the dynamism somewhat or a fluid system. Furthermore, the biggest headache I had was the front two strike pair.

Its not always possible to recreate a system perfectly, you may watch one game where they play brilliantly and then try to work off from there, and in another game they could vary the way they play so much that it won't even look the same anymore. When Pep ran Barca during his last season, at times, his side would change things around, players would change roles or the whole system would morph in a game. IMHO we need to get the overall flavour done right, if the system favours a certain style, then thats what we should aim for and then accept that there can be slight variations. For me getting Atletico to work accurately was simply a case of ensuring that most of the goals would come from crosses, cut backs, set pieces. I have scored goals where my MCs in the middle of the park suddenly start acting imperiously, something I wasn't planning on, but it kinda happened. You just need to look at one game, identify the theme or general approach, and then do your best. You will make errors.

My biggest mistake I did with this system was the front pairing, and how they should work. I have tried quite a few combos, in one game I changed the combo six times to get it to look the way it did, but I only did that once i felt assured I could make those kind of changes. In fact my preseason was a XDWDWW, and then the first match of the season was against Real Madrid a 1-1 draw, which didn't go according to script.

This is how we started our supercup first leg match. I was specifically targeting Koke and Turan at this point. First I needed to make sure those two clicked the way they were supposed to. In what turned out to be a near disaster that was only saved by a set piece, I had ended up isolating my front strike pair.

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We had just survived. Playing FMC means I have no heat maps, in a way this makes it harder for me cos I can't see individual performances nearly as well. So I had to drill down to the player stats, and what I saw was disturbing. I had made a crucial error of judgement. I had isolated my players. For a counter attacking system to work well, just recall how Pep did it with Barca, he reduced the distance between the strikers and the defenders to such a point that passing between lines would make it super easy. The challenge was to maintain the Atletico spirit and not blindly copy Barca of 2011.

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I had opted to go with a front strike partnership that ended up failing as a pivot with my midfield, I played Gabi as a BBM, we managed to hang onto a 1-1 draw. I wasn't very happy with that set up as it felt different from what they do irl, but what worried me more was the frailty of the system. The two strikers were far too isolated from a midfield that was being packed close to the defense. So in our next game i changed it by turning Manduc into a DF(D) and lo and behold the two went from 30 passes in total to 100 in total between them. Koke entered the game more and now had targets to play to.

In our second game we were away to Rayo Vallecano, the lesson learnt in the first game would have to be applied in the next. So it was time to modify.

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This would be a good test, Rayo were playing a 4231, and we stuck to the structured system because I still wasn't convinced I needed more creativity yet. I wanted to reduce the X-factor.

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The difference was glaring, this time Mandzukic, Koke and Arda Turan had become more influential on the game, bringing the attackers closer to midfield had the effect of increasing passing opportunities, and this more than doubled the passes for the striker pair. It was working, but I still wanted to see more, Mandzukic had only completed one tackle.

Our next match would be the return leg of the Supercut.

Me never satisifed, decided to try something different up front again.

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This time setting Griezmann up as a shadow striker, but even though he produced an impeccable performance, I still wasn't happy cos I really wanted Mandu to be the deep one. We won that game. 2-1. The side may have won the match, but we still hadn't found what we were looking for, cue Bono.

---------

In our next game, I was back trying to get Mandu to be more influential opting to go for this shape, and all the while knowing that my shape was one notch too high...just a tad too much creativity for us.

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The problem here I realised later was that my front pair wasn't in asymmetric harmony with my midfield so I was back to requiring play to be funnelled through specific key players. And so we took a big risk by changing our formation and shape in the next game.

---

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We were up against Real Madrid and I was worried bout my right flank, so I decided to go to a more orthodox shape, but with essentially the same instructions. Would this fare any better? The logic in my head at this point suggested it would after all, we were away, they would be more attacking and I would strengthen my left flank.

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It was a game that was tight, denying R Madrid any easy chances. This was the game Koke became a god. He played beautifully centrally, scoring one, and then getting an assist with an IFK. This was a match where Koke and Cani who was playing as the MR ruled the pitch with their passes. We managed to create better chances than Real Madrid.

This system stayed for a few games, it proved resilient and did a good job of winning us a fair few games, by now i kept the formation, but starting testing the side on fluid, because I believed strongly that it would be the shape that suited Atletico. During that time I experimented with a F9 Pair, a DF and an AF pair, but I still wasn't satisfied. the solution would lie with Koke.

A goalless draw against Bayer Leverkuesen and I started considering the asymmetric 442 again. After all, that system came to me @church. In our next game we narrowly edged Getafe 3-2, and by then I was already planning to return to that system in our next home game.

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My first goal was making sure Mandzukic was playing a bigger role in games. He does that in real life but always less than Koke, Turan and the central midfielders.

In our next game, Koke was jaded, and Turan was out injured. Up stepped Saul and Raul, and they showed that we were close to getting it right

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I did make some mistakes along the way most notably with the shape settings, starting with structured, then to very fluid, then back to structured and finally settling on fluid, which is really just structured but with a bit more creativity. We have eventually settled on a system, a style which doesn't see me make any drastic changes in the game. Our biggest test would come a few weeks later, an away trip to Barca.

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It was a game, that would be decided in midfield, so i made a few changes, this time electing to have a more ball winning orientated side in midfield. I knew we would give up some chances. We would need to work harder and win more challenges, get in more crosses and essentially try and win the possession war.

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While the player stats showed how prolifically Koke played, i was even more happy with the general performance of the team. It had embodied the hard working, dynamic ethos I was aiming for.

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Defensively we were a rock. I may make some minor changes here and there, but we learnt our lesson. Focus on what you want to achieve, and work on it in stages. Doing it on FMC just makes it a lot easier, to test concepts out.

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Rashidi   

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We had a tough week, still unbeaten, there was every chance we would start losing the plot. At this stage of the season, I needed to pay attention to the flaws in my system. If you need your players to deal with this kind of intensity, you need to prep yourself.

1. Quite a few players are being told to tackle hard and close down aggressively, and these are all the prime pivots in the team. Koke, Turan, Juanfran and Sequira (fullbacks), both my strikers are made to work very hard each having a tonne of PIs that emphasize defense above all else.

2. I typically leave my side on high tempo, electing to play a fast paced short passing game, but some of the players have direct passing, and this means that quite a few of my players are going to be prone to lethargy and injury. As it turned out, by this time, we needed a regular ambulatory service. Injured included: Turan, Torres, Saul, Raul Garcia. This effectively meant that my ML/MR and strike groups had little to no cover.

Looking at the schedule I knew a heavy rotation was needed, so we started resting key players, the first leg of the Spanish Cup saw us take a 2 goal advantage back home so player rotation began, I started promoting any player from the B sides who had the potential to cover, as it turned out we only had 2. Key players were now being sat out, for some games. Leg 2 of the cup quarters saw, Koke and Griezmann being rested. I elected to rest Griezmann and Koke cos they are the major set piece takers in the team. Their delivery is worth a goal to me. We struggled against Eibar fielding primarily a weakened side, the same side took to the field in our first leg away cup semi which we lost 1-0. It turned out to be our first defeat in all competitions. There was a bigger match on the horizon the Madrid Derby, there was no way the best were gonna rest.

They took to the field a set piece goal and a great individual effort saw us comfortably beat them 2-1, we had 30 shots they had 11. They also had 10 men ;-) The same team took to the field in the next match, this time I knew i needed to slow things down..

So we went to training, and I gave them 2 days off, one pre game and one post game. We had to plan for the Roma ECL game. We also started playing with a lower tempo game, i would throttle up at the start of a game and by the 20th minute I'd take my foot off the pedal. We would repeat that with 5 minutes to go and pick up the tempo at the start of every game. If we scored the tempo would stay for 10 minutes before i took my foot off again. Levante fell and so did Celta. Its now time for the Romans.

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Rashidi   

My assistant is a genius

PWyMhJm.jpg

Following my 1-0 defeat away to Roma, I decided to speed through the game, this being FMC, you have Instant Results. And, thats a great way to find out if your tactic is decent. I have no clue what kind of an assman i have, I didn't fire anyone so I decided to select the teams lineup and press the magical button. Where i was getting 8s he's getting 9s. He's an annoying dude beside me who has figured out that he should be the full time manager. He hammered Roma at home 4 nil. I better start managing the side in games or i could be out of a job. FMC is so fun :-)

ps. he's being managing the team in games since Almeria.

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MR11   

Results looking good, but possession percentage seems a way too high to look like real Atletico. Maybe it's the only flaw I've noticed. Great read, though.

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Rashidi   
Results looking good, but possession percentage seems a way too high to look like real Atletico. Maybe it's the only flaw I've noticed. Great read, though.

Thats true, its down to a personal preference, but its easily fixed, all i need to do is change one shout

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