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Cleon

The School Of Defensive Arts 2015

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@Cleon

Apologies for that, I have read your write-ups thrice now and I'll try again. Initially I was just under the impression that the approach would work for most formations as for its only an approach to defending. I now know having to setup players in advanced positions/a route of penetration for attack is ideal for it to work.

As for the bullet points, thank you! I've jotted them down on my little notebook for any strategy I'm looking to create in the future, very helpful.

Anyway, I see that from the 451/4411 formation, it relies heavily on building the ball from deep/runs and if the opposition is pinning me hard in my box, without having my players in advanced positions, it's murder.

I used the narrow shout because I've read that it works in conjunction with shorter passing? Just like closing down with defensive line? The play out of defence shout was so that my defenders won't lump it upfield but play it short to Polanski (CMd) and build from there.

Lower tempo, was like you said, to hold on to the ball more while be more disciplined, in my eyes, would be an off-the-ball instruction, to force the players to go back into position quickly?

Maybe I'm hijacking your thread and disrupting the discussion further with my newbie-ish questions, so I ought to create my help thread soon, but I do really appreciate the responses!

The approach is like everything else, it can work with any side at any level. But you have to understand how it works and why rather than copying, if not then you won't know what to expect or why its set up that way. First and foremost the user has to understand why he's using something above all else, if not then how do you know what will go wrong or what can fix the issue that will arise during the season.

You don't need people in high positions for it to work but you need the right roles. You created something defensive and had the attacker drop deep too so when you do get hold of the ball who are the rest of the team playing the ball to? Your striker will be deep and so will the midfield so you have no-one pushing the oppositions defence back and keeping them busy.

I also saw in another thread that you said defensive line changes closing down, it doesn't :)

As for the defence that reasoning is all good and well but you didn't use roles that allow the players to play with the ball at their feet i.e ball playing defenders. So if you don't use the right roles they might still hoof it forward when you don't want.

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I don't really have any issues with them at all. I use more defensive minded players rather than attacking ones for the role, after all its their defensive abilities I want not the attacking ones. What kind of set up are you using them in?

I've been using them in a variety of roles. I've been trying to recreate Robben's role in Pep's 3 atb system and I didn't expect this player to be all that solid defensively (playing an inverted winger as a wm-a), but I've found the problem persists even when I play a fb as a dw-s or w-s. I understand the problem when playing with a wm-a as the players themselves usually aren't very strong defensively and the role itself is never going to be great defensively, but the problem persisted even when playing more defensive players as a dw-s. When playing a dw, I think the problem is related to usually playing on control and their consequently high closing down instructions. They would often get caught out of position closing down opposition players and that's why I was curious if they were better on a defensive mentality. Even when I played on counter, I would ask the players to push higher up and close down more. Hopefully, the problem was due to the players' mentality and high closing down instructions I'm going to give it a go with a deeper defensive line and see how it goes. Think I'm going to give this a try and see if it's possible to recreate the Robben role and still be defensively solid...

908d60e0-1944-4bcd-ad6c-646665526135_zpsix0m5zaf.png

EDIT: Looking at the tactic I posted, I'm probably going to make a couple of changes. I'm probably going to have to decide between the shadow striker and the advanced forward as they're probably quite redundant. My first instinct is to change the AF to a CF-s or maybe a treq and then also changing the AP-s to a am-s. I want the AM-cl to roam around and create overloads on the left flank as well as providing width when the WM-A cuts inside as he is going to be an inverted winger. I also want him to come deep and and provide a passing option when the wm-a and ss make forward runs. I'm also thinking changing the dm-d to a dlp-d to really encourage the cbs to build from the back. Anyway, I'll experiment with the tactic and post any updates when I have a better idea of how it's working.

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Cleon how do you deal with very aggressive pressing sides with these defensive, low tempo, short passing tactics?

I've always come undone against such sides and often struggle to find the right shouts or tweaks. I'm playing in the Skrill Premier (on FM14) which may have a bearing, using either a 442 or a 4141.

I've tried dropping short passing and upping tempo but this just seems to give the ball away but faster, as does pass into space, against weaker teams switching to control mentality seems to work well but against better sides I'm either struggling to win the ball, keep it or getting hit on the counter.

While I may well post the specifics of my team in a new thread I thought might be interesting to ask you for your more general thoughts on coping with aggressive pressing when you are trying to mostly play a short, low tempo passing style.

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Hi, i love the idea of this style of play on FM. Im very much trying to understand the game and as im a fairly new player im finding it tough at the moment, i think any success i have at the moment is more by luck than design.

some info;

tacs_zpsojadqnei.png

ins_zps6emqkbug.png

The games started ok(ish) but now seem to be going like this;

stats_zpsu0lqxhny.png

another game;

stats1_zpsqvk5ffdr.png

i had been thinking it was a home game issue, but this is away.

i really dont understand what im doing wrong here

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You've not detailed what the issues are? You're losing games you should be winning, so the balance is off. Where are these goals coming from - the Dumbarton game has them scoring 4 in a game where they've only hit the target 5 times - how were the goals scored?

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You've not detailed what the issues are? You're losing games you should be winning, so the balance is off. Where are these goals coming from - the Dumbarton game has them scoring 4 in a game where they've only hit the target 5 times - how were the goals scored?

Thanks for the reply, i think part of my problem is i cannot see what the issues are that cause me problems. The Dumbarton game, 1 was a pen (fair enough), 2nd was a worldy from 25 yards (guess that will happen from time to time) 3rd and 4th were both little passes from about 20 yards out that A, a midfielder ran onto and B, a striker picked up with back to goal slotted it across the 6yrd box to be tapped in by another midfielder. I should also say the Dumbarton scoreline is unusual, i mostly loose by 1 or 2 goals.

I have noticed that my players tend to dither on the ball a lot, resulting in losing the ball, mostly this comes from the mids and strikers. The team as a whole seems reluctant to shoot, they have the chance but seem to either dwell on the ball too long or look for another pass.

also, if a mod could delete posts #104 and #106, apologies, im new to this.

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Interesting thread, although I can't get these ideas to work for me. Just to test things I copied B2B's 4-1-2-2-1 (I know copying isn't the point of this thread, but as I got the players to play that formation, I figured why not...). Won my first game comfortably and the team played great, only for it to completely fall apart for the next six games (five losses where I was played off the park, one draw). Quite similar to the Rangers' image above my post ^^.

I'd rather not be relegated, so I've changed back to my original formation. :)

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How important is formation in a defensive system? Can you play 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 variants? Which roles for a striker are best suitable for one striker systems? Can you play with playmaker in AMC position?

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I will respond to these questions, I'm just so busy atm I've not really had chance to read them all yet.

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After reading this thread i'd thought I'd give a defensive, possession based tactic a whirl. Results have been pretty good so far, possession and defense have been pleasing. I've never played with a half back before and wanted to try and get this role working, he seems to be doing a good job so far and i've yet to be caught out with the centre backs still being too far apart while he transitions from deep to a DM position.

4z4v6O3.png

srWe99l.png

Still not sure I have the correct roles for the front three - there is bit of congestion at times and i'm unsure about the AP(S) with the MC(A) behind him, interplay can been neat at times but they can also be on top of each other.

I'm also not sure about the poacher with 2 players in AMC positions, he can be an outlet but when the build up play slows outside of the opposition box his lack of movement means i'm not creating great chances for him. Anyhow it's been fun so far and looking forward to tweaking it further - all feedback very welcome!

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To KingRoyston:

I had the phenomenon of players being on top of each other, and I ticked in "Stick To Positions" TI and it seemed to get better. I wa using Fluid though, and "Be More Expressive" TI, so this might not be relevant to your tatctic.

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Massive fan of both defensive football and your work Cleon, so decided to apply this to my new save. However, unfortunately I haven't been very successful. I've kept it relativly simple, with the aim try to try and slowly evolve the system, but have found it extremely frustrating at the way results have gone.

This was the shape/system that I have used:

Screen%20Shot%202015-03-13%20at%2021.47.42_zpsgolakzcp.png

I have the following TIs (4):

Retain Possession & Shorter Passing for the same reason that you chose them; to try and keep hold of the ball and prevent us needlessly giving the ball away. I also feel the 4-1-4-1 shape suits ball retention. I also applied Play Narrower; again for the same reason you did, to keep my players compact and minimise us being to 'open'. I then finally added Low Crosses as my strikers aren't the biggest, therefore any aerial balls played into the box will be fairly ineffective. Thats all I selected, like I said I wanted to keep it simple and not overly complicate it to start with.

I also added a few PIs:

GK: Roll it Out, Slow Pace Down & Distribute to Centre Backs for the same reasoning you chose.

MR: Sit Narrower to help encourage the overlap on the right flank.

ML: Dribble More as both my left wingers are strong dribblers.

The thinking behind the roles was to try and get the best out of my three best players, Bodmer, Eysseric and Digard who play as the DLP, CM (A) and B2B respectively. I wanted Eysseric (CM(A) being a direct option along with the WM (A) attacking the space that the F9 vacates. I then hoped that the B2B and the WM (S) would be late runners but also link the defence and the DLP to the final third.

Hasn't really worked out for me and my start to the season has been really poor considering what I was expecting:

Screen%20Shot%202015-03-13%20at%2023.13.51_zpstwuxcr1m.png

As you can see, away games are just not working out for me. I only expected to lose one game when I initially looked at my fixture list and that was the away game to Marseille; in which I got absolutely battered:

Screen%20Shot%202015-03-13%20at%2023.12.43_zps1sgwdaun.png

So I was wandering if you can notice any gaping holes in my system so far?

One important aspect I have found is that I don't concede many CCCs or Half Chances during the matches however I'm still conceding a lot of goals which I find to be the most frustrating part so far. Can I put this down to just bad luck? A lot of the goals I have conceded are either crosses/direct balls into an un-marked player or long shots.

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Do you have any player stats from a game, not the ratings, but the stats? One of the best ways to see whether your system is working is to establish whether your players are doing what you expect. For instance;

If you expect to see your MC(A) to make runs into the box, does he dribble in and support? Does he have any key passes? Is his pass completion low? If his pass completion is low, its usually a sign that he;s not linking up well. The pass completion rates help us identify if they are playing well.

Generally I use these stats cos I have a good idea of what to expect. If certain things aren't happening you know a small tweak to their PI's or PPMs can help. Another good way to see things is by seeing if you can add Passing % for defense, midfield and attack to your stats.

When I am playing against a good side, I want to nullify the passing percentages from defense and midfield, to leave their attackers isolated. So I am always looking at these numbers to drop during a game. It looks just from the stats above that the pass completion rate from your side is low.

When playing a defensive system, I aim to have high pass %, unless I am exclusively building a counter attacking system. Your instructions give me the impression you are going for possession numbers so it would seem to me that you need to identify where on the pitch your pass % is failing. Broadly your stats suggest to me that there are 2 issues:

Your pass % isn't high enough and there may be a problem with transitions from defense to midfield. The latter is a wild guess, but it looks like your midfielders and attackers aren't linking well. Low corners suggests to me that your players aren't even getting down the flanks well, when you have specifically set up for overlapping play.

You need to isolate and find out where on the pitch you are failing, a snapshot from the player stats may tell an interesting story

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I'd have asked the same as Rashidi did above tbh :)

But on top of this, I've pointed out several times in the articles themselves and the comments in this thread and stated support strikers don't really work in defensive systems because they drop dee. You don't need them to drop deep as you are already deep, so if they drop even further then its hard to get out of your own half, you will be pinned back. You need someone to aim for up front to ease the pressure. When you're deep the last thing you want is players coming even deeper.

The 4-1-4-1 is a fantastic formation but it can really struggle to create chances at times especially if the strikers and midfield is disjointed and it seems that yours is.

Narrower; again for the same reason you did, to keep my players compact and minimise us being to 'open'.

I did this because I use a back 3, your shape is naturally wide so when attacking you are playing quite narrow, I believe this to be a negative thing for you in this shape. Your WM A and CM A aren't really going to attack the space vacated by the F9 as your playing defensive and being cautious. So the players will only make runs when they are sure they can pull it off, its a low risk mentality. Also, I don't think they'd get beyond the F9 that much and even if they did chances are they come up against the oppositions flat back 4 and possibly a DMC. It's not enough penetration to break them down or find space. The reason being, their defenders will have nothing to do so can stay compact, tight and in line with each other due to the F9 dropping off.

So the issues that stand out for me are;

  • The roles don't suit you being defensive because they don't link well or provide enough support.
  • Strikers with a support duty are a big problem in defensive systems
  • Far too narrow, this just makes it easier for the AI to mark you as you aren't using the full width of the pitch. Remember its a in possession instruction so you go narrow when attacking

They're probably a lot more too but the things Rashidi asked above should cover that if you could provide the additional information :)

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Do you have any player stats from a game, not the ratings, but the stats? One of the best ways to see whether your system is working is to establish whether your players are doing what you expect. For instance;

If you expect to see your MC(A) to make runs into the box, does he dribble in and support? Does he have any key passes? Is his pass completion low? If his pass completion is low, its usually a sign that he;s not linking up well. The pass completion rates help us identify if they are playing well.

Generally I use these stats cos I have a good idea of what to expect. If certain things aren't happening you know a small tweak to their PI's or PPMs can help. Another good way to see things is by seeing if you can add Passing % for defence, midfield and attack to your stats.

I did notice some interesting stats when I analysed some of the games, so I'm glad you mentioned this. I was so annoyed/disappointed after the Marseille result that when I did a little bit of analysis, I noticed the passing sticking out the most. My two central defenders were gifting the ball away a lot and the stats echo this:

Diawara: Passes: 41 Cmp: 25 Percentage: 61%

Genevois: Passes: 45 Cmp: 35 Percentage: 68%

However I would argue that this wasn't so much an issue tactically. A have a screenshot from the Marseille game where my Centre Back receives the ball from the goalkeeper and has time on the ball to make a sensible pass. Remember that I have both Retain Possession & Shorter Passing active at the time. Now initially he will look for the DLP who is being marked. (After my analysis I notice that this was a problem throughout the game, but I didn't notice during the game). He then in my opinion has a very makable pass to the B2B (no. 16); does he not?

Screen%20Shot%202015-03-14%20at%2014.48.10_zpskqgzjp21.png

He doesn't choose to play the pass and instead chooses to launch the ball forward towards my F9 (no. 14) who doesn't really stand a chance being so isolated. At least playing a ball to the left flank would make more sense?

As for the CM (A), his stats were as followed:

Toulouse: Passes: 56 Cmp: 49 Key: 3

Lorient: Passes: 67 Cmp: 55 Key: 1

Bordeaux: Passess: 47 Cmp: 39 Key: 5

Marseille: Passes: 20 Cmp: 16 Key: 1

Metz: Passes: 72 Cmp: 63 Key: 1

Nantes: Passes: 26 Cmp: 23 Key: 1

When I am playing against a good side, I want to nullify the passing percentages from defense and midfield, to leave their attackers isolated. So I am always looking at these numbers to drop during a game. It looks just from the stats above that the pass completion rate from your side is low.

How do go about nullifying their passes from defence to attack when I'm wanting to sit deep and stay compact? A key aspect that I have found in games that I have struggle is when the opposition plays and AMC. Obviously this is because he is taking my main outlet (DLP) out of the game.

When playing a defensive system, I aim to have high pass %, unless I am exclusively building a counter attacking system. Your instructions give me the impression you are going for possession numbers so it would seem to me that you need to identify where on the pitch your pass % is failing. Broadly your stats suggest to me that there are 2 issues:

Your pass % isn't high enough and there may be a problem with transitions from defence to midfield. The latter is a wild guess, but it looks like your midfielders and attackers aren't linking well. Low corners suggests to me that your players aren't even getting down the flanks well, when you have specifically set up for overlapping play.

You need to isolate and find out where on the pitch you are failing, a snapshot from the player stats may tell an interesting story

I'll give some stats of the game where I lost;

Here's the 3-1 defeat away to Lorient:

Screen%20Shot%202015-03-14%20at%2017.28.39_zps1ptujefn.png

Here's the 0-3 defeat away to Marseille:

Screen%20Shot%202015-03-14%20at%2017.28.19_zpskzy5cmrc.png

Here's the 3-1 defeat away to Nantes:

Screen%20Shot%202015-03-14%20at%2017.27.58_zpszwj8c92s.png

I'd have asked the same as Rashidi did above tbh :)

But on top of this, I've pointed out several times in the articles themselves and the comments in this thread and stated support strikers don't really work in defensive systems because they drop dee. You don't need them to drop deep as you are already deep, so if they drop even further then its hard to get out of your own half, you will be pinned back. You need someone to aim for up front to ease the pressure. When you're deep the last thing you want is players coming even deeper.

Without having a striker dropping deep, I struggle to see where I can create space? Surely having a Poacher type role would be easily marked out of the game and make my attack static and predictable? another factor is that both my striker's available to me are small, weak players who I don't feel suit holding up the ball. Hence why I have them a F9 role to try and utilise the ball at their feet. They could both play the poacher role very effectively but I constantly see people warning against using a Poacher as a lone striker, particularly in a 4-1-4-1?

The 4-1-4-1 is a fantastic formation but it can really struggle to create chances at times especially if the strikers and midfield is disjointed and it seems that yours is.

Could you expand on what you mean by disjointed? Are you referring to the movement between the lines? If so I thought this would be a positive aspect?

I did this because I use a back 3, your shape is naturally wide so when attacking you are playing quite narrow, I believe this to be a negative thing for you in this shape. Your WM A and CM A aren't really going to attack the space vacated by the F9 as your playing defensive and being cautious. So the players will only make runs when they are sure they can pull it off, its a low risk mentality. Also, I don't think they'd get beyond the F9 that much and even if they did chances are they come up against the oppositions flat back 4 and possibly a DMC. It's not enough penetration to break them down or find space. The reason being, their defenders will have nothing to do so can stay compact, tight and in line with each other due to the F9 dropping off.

This is definitely something that I noticed. Would you suggest that I should scrape the Defensive strategy in that case? I'm reluctant to as I really like the idea of dropping deep and staying nice and compact. I do agree with what you say about play narrower. I would ideally like to use a Winger role on the left flank, but I remember someone (might of been you) saying that the work rate of the Wide Midfielder's are good and they put in a good shift in defence. Could a Winger role be effective and be a good enough attacking presence?

So the issues that stand out for me are;

  • The roles don't suit you being defensive because they don't link well or provide enough support.
  • Strikers with a support duty are a big problem in defensive systems
  • Far too narrow, this just makes it easier for the AI to mark you as you aren't using the full width of the pitch. Remember its a in possession instruction so you go narrow when attacking

They're probably a lot more too but the things Rashidi asked above should cover that if you could provide the additional information :)

I don't want to sound completely useless, but I don't know why this is? I thought I managed to create a good balance :confused:

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Without having a striker dropping deep, I struggle to see where I can create space?

This is where you are going wrong and I mentioned this a lot above in the articles. Attacking football is about creating space because you are high up the pitch so movement is more important. Defensive football is not about creating space, it's about using the space that already exists. The space is always there as you attack from deep because you are deep so it happens naturally. This is why your roles don't suit, you are approaching it as though you have to create space when you don't. The whole point of defensive football is to hit teams on the break when they over commit against you. You don't need to have roles that create space, the space is already there.

Surely having a Poacher type role would be easily marked out of the game and make my attack static and predictable? another factor is that both my striker's available to me are small, weak players who I don't feel suit holding up the ball. Hence why I have them a F9 role to try and utilise the ball at their feet. They could both play the poacher role very effectively but I constantly see people warning against using a Poacher as a lone striker, particularly in a 4-1-4-1?

You have 9 outfield players already very deep mostly in your own half so when you do win the ball back, how are you to break fast or to give the players someone to aim for if the striker is deep too? You get penned down in your own half and struggle to get out of it. It also means the oppositions defence have no-one to mark if your striker is coming deep, so it allows them to stay in position and stay as a flat back 4 when needed. This is a bad thing, you need someone to occupy them when you are using a defensive mentality as it allows you someone to aim for up front or to play killer balls too from deep. And it also gives the opposition some actual defending to do.

Look at the screenshot you posted above and look how the oppositions defence can push that high up without your striker giving them something to do. It means that when you do get the ball they can easily step up and deal with the threat. However if they were already occupied by a striker then when a ball is played they'd have to react to what the striker does, so if he is playing on the shoulder of them he'd get in behind them. This would mean they have to drop off and so on. This then makes their midfield a lot further away from their defence, which is a good thing. You can isolate their defence.

Ignore what people have said before as none of them were playing defensive football. The rules are different because you are using different kinds of space from much deeper positions.

Could you expand on what you mean by disjointed? Are you referring to the movement between the lines? If so I thought this would be a positive aspect?

No I'm on about the roles used. I don't see how they all work consistently on a regular basis together. The DLP will come deep even when he is deep already, but ahead of him he has no real options to pass too and will be pressured quite easy by any kind of AMC the opposition use. The CM A is fine but for me the DLP isn't needed in the DMC position in a defensive tactic, he'd be better served as being a proper MC instead so he can be creative higher up and hold onto the ball more, so he play play others in running beyond him. Again looking at your screenshot you can see how deep the DLP is coming when there's no real need. Would be not be better suited to to either playing inline with the other MC's (by changing to a support role not pushing the DMC into MC spot) so he can then utilise the space in and around the number 10 and 25 of the opposition.

The thing is, you use a playmaker role so the players look to utilise them often and put as much play through them as possible. Looking at your screenshot the DLP is marked so he panics and clears the ball forward instead. If players can't initially find the playmaker then they can panic and rush their decision depending on how good mentally they are and will just hit it long. Which I believe is the issue you actually mentioned too. By having the DLP slightly more advanced he'd not be marked and the defender would be able to pick him out with the pass still.

This is definitely something that I noticed. Would you suggest that I should scrape the Defensive strategy in that case? I'm reluctant to as I really like the idea of dropping deep and staying nice and compact. I do agree with what you say about play narrower. I would ideally like to use a Winger role on the left flank, but I remember someone (might of been you) saying that the work rate of the Wide Midfielder's are good and they put in a good shift in defence. Could a Winger role be effective and be a good enough attacking presence?

You don't have to scrap it no but you do need to work on how everyone works as a team more. Remember that if you're using defensive mentality you are naturally deep so you need roles and duties that allow you to break forward when a natural counter attack isn't triggered under the ME. If not, then you'll struggle to get out of your own half at times and offer very little going forward.

I don't want to sound completely useless, but I don't know why this is? I thought I managed to create a good balance

If you was using something like control/attacking I'd be inclined to agree with you. However in a defensive set up its reversed and you aren't creating space or looking for players to drop deep. You are actually using space and looking for players to push forward instead. This is why I don't think the balance you currently have works.

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This is where you are going wrong and I mentioned this a lot above in the articles. Attacking football is about creating space because you are high up the pitch so movement is more important. Defensive football is not about creating space, it's about using the space that already exists. The space is always there as you attack from deep because you are deep so it happens naturally. This is why your roles don't suit, you are approaching it as though you have to create space when you don't. The whole point of defensive football is to hit teams on the break when they over commit against you. You don't need to have roles that create space, the space is already there.

So if was using a more aggressive strategy, where I attempt to pin the opposition back then my set-up (roles) would be more effective?

You have 9 outfield players already very deep mostly in your own half so when you do win the ball back, how are you to break fast or to give the players someone to aim for if the striker is deep too? You get penned down in your own half and struggle to get out of it. It also means the oppositions defence have no-one to mark if your striker is coming deep, so it allows them to stay in position and stay as a flat back 4 when needed. This is a bad thing, you need someone to occupy them when you are using a defensive mentality as it allows you someone to aim for up front or to play killer balls too from deep. And it also gives the opposition some actual defending to do.

Look at the screenshot you posted above and look how the oppositions defence can push that high up without your striker giving them something to do. It means that when you do get the ball they can easily step up and deal with the threat. However if they were already occupied by a striker then when a ball is played they'd have to react to what the striker does, so if he is playing on the shoulder of them he'd get in behind them. This would mean they have to drop off and so on. This then makes their midfield a lot further away from their defence, which is a good thing. You can isolate their defence.

Ignore what people have said before as none of them were playing defensive football. The rules are different because you are using different kinds of space from much deeper positions.

I do understand what your saying here. So perhaps the 4-1-4-1 where the striker is already isolated isn't perhaps the best shape to use when using this strategy? If I wanted to persist with this shape then I should be looking at using a poacher/advanced forward role; which should push back their defence line back and keep them more occupied. However does this make the CM (A) less effective as the space that is opened up by my striker dropping deep is no longer there? Therefore my set-up is heavily on counter attacks. I don't mind doing this, in fact that's exactly what how I want to play. However when we are in possession and not counter attacking, then are build up play wan't be effective as the roles are based around counter attacks. This is something I have never been able to get my head around for years.

No I'm on about the roles used. I don't see how they all work consistently on a regular basis together. The DLP will come deep even when he is deep already, but ahead of him he has no real options to pass too and will be pressured quite easy by any kind of AMC the opposition use. The CM A is fine but for me the DLP isn't needed in the DMC position in a defensive tactic, he'd be better served as being a proper MC instead so he can be creative higher up and hold onto the ball more, so he play play others in running beyond him. Again looking at your screenshot you can see how deep the DLP is coming when there's no real need. Would be not be better suited to to either playing inline with the other MC's (by changing to a support role not pushing the DMC into MC spot) so he can then utilise the space in and around the number 10 and 25 of the opposition.

I don't know why this. Surely the B2B and the WM (S) will be in fairly close proximity? Along with the two Wing Backs looking to get wide and up the pitch. The problem I have is that Mathieu Bodmer, is such a good defender in comparison to the rest of my team and also my most creative player therefore I feel the DLP (D) is the perfect role for him. He's also really slow, so having him further up the pitch would be bad as he could get caught out of possession and won't have the pace to get back into a defence position. I do see what you mean about having the DLP more forward so he can play the through balls, I did play with adding a Roaming Playmaker instead of the B2B? However I only have one player truly capable of it and even he isn't the most creative. I did ask both my WM (S) and CM (A) to play more risky passes in order to add some supply in the final third.

I also wanted to have supply from deep; as I know that's an important aspect when looking to launch counter attacks.

The thing is, you use a playmaker role so the players look to utilise them often and put as much play through them as possible. Looking at your screenshot the DLP is marked so he panics and clears the ball forward instead. If players can't initially find the playmaker then they can panic and rush their decision depending on how good mentally they are and will just hit it long. Which I believe is the issue you actually mentioned too. By having the DLP slightly more advanced he'd not be marked and the defender would be able to pick him out with the pass still.

Yet surely the AI would be able to mark a DLP in the MC slot just as easily? or are you just referring the game in the screenshot I gave as a one off?

I was worried that if the DLP does get taken out of the game then I would struggle to have any meaningful supply; so I have considered either adding a Roaming Playmaker instead of the B2B or a Wide Playmaker instead of the WM (S)? or maybe go Fluid (instead of Balanced)?

You don't have to scrap it no but you do need to work on how everyone works as a team more. Remember that if you're using defensive mentality you are naturally deep so you need roles and duties that allow you to break forward when a natural counter attack isn't triggered under the ME. If not, then you'll struggle to get out of your own half at times and offer very little going forward.

I would of thought that the WM (A) and CM (A) are perfect examples are players who get forward enough? I chose them specifically so I direct runners.

If you was using something like control/attacking I'd be inclined to agree with you. However in a defensive set up its reversed and you aren't creating space or looking for players to drop deep. You are actually using space and looking for players to push forward instead. This is why I don't think the balance you currently have works.

So my roles are set-up to create space; which I don't need to do as the space should already be there? This may explain why some games at home I completely outplayed Toulouse and comfortably beat Bordeaux as they were perhaps more defensive; therefore set-up was more suited as I needed to create the space more?

---------------------------------------

Edit:

Just found a new website for myself, so thought I use it to try and demonstrate my train of thought. This is how I imagine the setup to play out, just making sure I'm getting it right?

Screen%20Shot%202015-03-16%20at%2000.11.11_zpsl2gms1a8.png

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amazing thread!

I always liked the idea of playing with very low tempo, deep line and still having great ball possession waiting for that killer pass in the space - all very south american. Obviously I always failed to replicate this in FM and this thread is (starting to) show me some of the things I was doing wrong...

Would a Trequartista in AMC slot work behind a Poacher/Defensive Forward duo upfront in a setting similar to yours? I know your idea was not giving too much freedom to any role, and not having players coming too deep inside an already deep shape; on the other hand a drifting Treq could be a potent weapon with all the space already there, and an assist provider for the poacher? Also, in this modern world of false 9's and shadow strikers, I still like the idea of a pure poacher and a real No.10 ;)

thanks for sharing all this knowledge!

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I do understand what your saying here. So perhaps the 4-1-4-1 where the striker is already isolated isn't perhaps the best shape to use when using this strategy? If I wanted to persist with this shape then I should be looking at using a poacher/advanced forward role; which should push back their defence line back and keep them more occupied. However does this make the CM (A) less effective as the space that is opened up by my striker dropping deep is no longer there? Therefore my set-up is heavily on counter attacks. I don't mind doing this, in fact that's exactly what how I want to play. However when we are in possession and not counter attacking, then are build up play wan't be effective as the roles are based around counter attacks. This is something I have never been able to get my head around for years.

When your striker drops deep he isn't opening space for the CM to begin with, you can see this in the screeenshot you posted. There is no space that he is creating because the defenders are not following him. When he drops off he's just taking up the space that the CM could run into. Why do you keep saying the striker creates space? He isn't, he's dropping into clear space himself not creating it as there is no-one close enough to him for him to create space for. Plus I keep telling you, defensive strategies are not about creating space its about using the existing space. Attacking strategies and defensive ones are different things, they both work with different types of space and utilise it differently. So you can't approach this from an attacking point of view as it won't work.

The problem I have is that Mathieu Bodmer, is such a good defender in comparison to the rest of my team and also my most creative player therefore I feel the DLP (D) is the perfect role for him

Doesn't mean its the best role or duty for the team though.

He's also really slow, so having him further up the pitch would be bad as he could get caught out of possession and won't have the pace to get back into a defence position

I'm sorry but this is nonesense, why will he get caught out of possession and not get back to cover? Just because he's slow doesn't mean he can't defend. Plus he'd only be slightly higher than normal which wouldn't make that much difference. But when trying to get the ball to an unmarked playmaker would make a huge difference.

I did ask both my WM (S) and CM (A) to play more risky passes in order to add some supply in the final third.

Why? You only have a striker really to aim for and he's dropping very deep, so there really isn't anyone to do risky passes to in the final third.

I also wanted to have supply from deep; as I know that's an important aspect when looking to launch counter attacks.

Your whole team is deep so exactly who are you supplying further up the pitch? Your only option is the striker and he has the wrong role for that. He needs a role that allows an attacking duty but excluding TQ as he also drops deep.

Yet surely the AI would be able to mark a DLP in the MC slot just as easily? or are you just referring the game in the screenshot I gave as a one off?

The example you gave but it happens frequent with anyone you face who uses a AMC, that much is clear to see. Well if you used him as a MC with the same duty a defend one then he'd drop and he'd be positioned between the MC and DMC spot rather than his current position between defence and DMC spot. The AI's MC's are less likely to pick him up as he will still be deep but slightly higher.

I was worried that if the DLP does get taken out of the game then I would struggle to have any meaningful supply; so I have considered either adding a Roaming Playmaker instead of the B2B or a Wide Playmaker instead of the WM (S)? or maybe go Fluid (instead of Balanced)?

But who is he supplying? Your whole team is deep. This is the thing I don't get, you keep saying this and that player are supplying but I don't see who is positioned high enough to supply? Anyone in any role can still spread the passes about and get the ball to the other players. I currently don't see the need for someone creative to be a DMC in this set up as the team as a whole is too deep and all you are doing is funnelling play through the DLP as much as possible. You use a naturally wide formation so that's not always the best idea.

I would of thought that the WM (A) and CM (A) are perfect examples are players who get forward enough? I chose them specifically so I direct runners.

The WM A isn't going to hurt many teams from outwide and due to the striker being deep then the oppositions defence can easily deal with his threat I feel and push him wide if they want or allow him to come inside on his weaker foot etc. Remember you use a DLP too so first play generally has to go through him before it reaches the CM or WM's. That's not always a good thing and slows down the game at times and you can lose some of that early running they'd make. Plus the DLP isn't always going to be able to get the ball to them when he's so deep and camped near his own area is he?

So my roles are set-up to create space; which I don't need to do as the space should already be there? This may explain why some games at home I completely outplayed Toulouse and comfortably beat Bordeaux as they were perhaps more defensive; therefore set-up was more suited as I needed to create the space more?

Possibly yes. Or it could be because of the shape they used perhaps and the roles you use suited playing against that formation?

Just found a new website for myself, so thought I use it to try and demonstrate my train of thought. This is how I imagine the setup to play out, just making sure I'm getting it right?

That is how you'd expect them to play in theory but you've missed a few key points I believe. Remember you are defensive so the whole squad will be naturally deeper this means when do regain possession it's likely to be from deeper positions and you'd probably look more like this;

SI-formation-tactics.png

You see the issue? You'll struggle to get the DLP to make regular easy passes to the attacking players or runners because he is naturally too deep and the attacking players will look to make runs meaning the gap betweem them and the DLP is increased even further. This means against certain teams you'll struggle to get out of your own half and when someone who isn't the DLP gets the ball they will panic and lump it forward if they can't use the DLP as they're naturally inclined to utilise playmaker roles as frequent as they can. Basically you are strikerless and deep in your own half.

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amazing thread!

I always liked the idea of playing with very low tempo, deep line and still having great ball possession waiting for that killer pass in the space - all very south american. Obviously I always failed to replicate this in FM and this thread is (starting to) show me some of the things I was doing wrong...

Would a Trequartista in AMC slot work behind a Poacher/Defensive Forward duo upfront in a setting similar to yours? I know your idea was not giving too much freedom to any role, and not having players coming too deep inside an already deep shape; on the other hand a drifting Treq could be a potent weapon with all the space already there, and an assist provider for the poacher? Also, in this modern world of false 9's and shadow strikers, I still like the idea of a pure poacher and a real No.10 ;)

thanks for sharing all this knowledge!

Possibly the key would be how you set up the rest of the midfield to get the ball to the TQ so he could be the creative outlet and provide the assists. However you might find he drifts around far too much and isn't in the places you'd expect him to be or want to him to be. Maybe an Enganche would be the better choice?

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Possibly the key would be how you set up the rest of the midfield to get the ball to the TQ so he could be the creative outlet and provide the assists. However you might find he drifts around far too much and isn't in the places you'd expect him to be or want to him to be. Maybe an Enganche would be the better choice?

yes an Enganche as the main creative outlet operating in the middle sounds great - and it's also very south american which is always good :)

I was thinking a 3-4-1-2 based (copied?) on all the ideas you explained, only with a Box-to-box Midfielder instead of the Roaming Playmaker so that the AMC will be the main offensive playmaker, and BBM providing another option mostly moving off the ball. I'd keep the DLP (defend) as the one who brings the ball out from deeper position, and basically exchange the DLF with the Enganche at AMC.

Also if that's not too much hassle, what would you think would be an ideal setting (inside this defensive philosophy) to make the most out of an Enganche+Poacher combination, so that they are the focal points of whole offence (the Enganche as main playmaker/occasional goalscorer, and the poacher as goal hunter)? 3-4-1-2 seems a pretty good base for that, though maybe one striker formations could also put more emphasis on the lone poacher?

thanks for all the help!

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yes an Enganche as the main creative outlet operating in the middle sounds great - and it's also very south american which is always good :)

I was thinking a 3-4-1-2 based (copied?) on all the ideas you explained, only with a Box-to-box Midfielder instead of the Roaming Playmaker so that the AMC will be the main offensive playmaker, and BBM providing another option mostly moving off the ball. I'd keep the DLP (defend) as the one who brings the ball out from deeper position, and basically exchange the DLF with the Enganche at AMC.

Also if that's not too much hassle, what would you think would be an ideal setting (inside this defensive philosophy) to make the most out of an Enganche+Poacher combination, so that they are the focal points of whole offence (the Enganche as main playmaker/occasional goalscorer, and the poacher as goal hunter)? 3-4-1-2 seems a pretty good base for that, though maybe one striker formations could also put more emphasis on the lone poacher?

thanks for all the help!

3-4-2-1 could also be good for that with the other AMC being a runner from deep. Tbh the possibilities are endless in which way you want to take this, they all achieve the same end result its just how you come to that end product that slightly differs. But there's no real difference between 3-4-3, 3-4-2-1 and 3-4-1-2 :)

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3-4-2-1 could also be good for that with the other AMC being a runner from deep. Tbh the possibilities are endless in which way you want to take this, they all achieve the same end result its just how you come to that end product that slightly differs. But there's no real difference between 3-4-3, 3-4-2-1 and 3-4-1-2 :)

thanks, will try tinkering with the three attackers positions to accomodate my 'need' for a star AMC. I have the feeling that the defensive style you have described in this thread could provide an ideal tactical environment for a classic No.10 :)

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Really interesting thread and i love some of the goals you scored in the videos above. Especially that lovely little composed cut back and tap in.

I am trying to create a fairly balanced 442. I thought i had the balance right with a DLP (s) and AP (s) in CM but that leaves me exposed sometimes with the the AP not getting back into position quick enough and counters happening on me quickly.

New setup:

beb360b3bd1b042325d6923074d6257d.png

The F9 is a abit of a worry because in my eyes it needs someone who is very good technically. Freddie sears has it as his preferred role but he just doesn't look good enough to play it. DLF (s) may be better for the championship unless i can pick up a player who is more technically sound. So many options for tactics, thats why we love this game so much. I was at work earlier thinking about how to play Luke Hyam. :)

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Really interesting thread and i love some of the goals you scored in the videos above. Especially that lovely little composed cut back and tap in.

I am trying to create a fairly balanced 442. I thought i had the balance right with a DLP (s) and AP (s) in CM but that leaves me exposed sometimes with the the AP not getting back into position quick enough and counters happening on me quickly.

New setup:

beb360b3bd1b042325d6923074d6257d.png

The F9 is a abit of a worry because in my eyes it needs someone who is very good technically. Freddie sears has it as his preferred role but he just doesn't look good enough to play it. DLF (s) may be better for the championship unless i can pick up a player who is more technically sound. So many options for tactics, thats why we love this game so much. I was at work earlier thinking about how to play Luke Hyam. :)

Have you read this, it's all about the 4-4-2 and the different styles etc;

http://community.sigames.com/showthread.php/403153-Building-A-Tactic-From-The-Beginning-And-Maintaining-It-Long-Term

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The Basics

What I wanted to achieve was something that was the complete opposite of one of the current buzz words that the hipsters love ‘Gegenpressing’. Gegenpressing is based on pressing the opposition as soon as you lose the ball to stop any kind of counterattacks and in an ideal scenario winning the ball back as early as possible. That style of football is all about winning the ball back quickly as possible and pressing as a unit. I liked the idea about pressing as a unit but what I wanted to create was something that defended late rather than early and can sit back and counter attack when the opposition over commit men forward. The idea is to sit back and be patient when winning the ball back. I’m happy to give the opposition space in the midfield and even inside my own half. If I stay compact and well organised then this isn’t an issue as they should find me hard to break down and struggle to get in behind my defence.

Does this make me defensive? Well not really no because in isolation any strategy can stand-off if they wish.

Some teams like to defend without the ball by working hard without it to ensure they cover space and defend well, like Stoke under Tony Pulis. While other teams like Swansea under Brendan Rodgers liked to defend with the ball to try to limit the time the opposition have with the ball. Both strategies can and do work but does this make me defensive? No it’s just means we work hard with or without the ball (or possibly both!). I’ve tried to incorporate both in the sense that we stay compact and work as a unit by being strict with our positional play and leaving no gaps while at the same time working on ball retention and not giving it away easily. I’m well aware that keeping possession doesn’t equal possession and I can differentiate between defensive and possession football.

So what does make a defensive set up? Well its everything you do and not just certain things in isolation. The defensive style I wanted to create was based around;

  • Retain possession
  • Stay compact
  • Stay disciplined
  • Keep the opposition at distance
  • Not to take many risks
  • Keep the opposition in front of the defence
  • Have patience and don’t rush
  • Stay on our feet, if we dive into challenges then gaps and mistakes can appear
  • Defend deep
  • Focus on attacking via counter attacks

Every single thing I do in isolation isn’t defensive but add it all together and it does create a defensive style. Remember though, you can have many different variations and there isn’t a one fits all approach.

The way I see it is my strikers (excluding the poacher) will defend around the halfway line and deal with threats around that kind of area. My midfield will then defend a bit deeper in and around the defensive midfield positions and then the defenders will be defending the areas around the edge of my box. I have three solid lines of defence for the opposition to try to breakthrough which will be very hard for them to do. This kind of set ups gives me nine outfield players between the opposition and my goalkeeper. Don’t get me wrong, I expect them to have chances against me still but I’d like to think the chances they get aren’t quality ones and are more focused on shooting from distance or due to having a lack of options in behind my defenders, meaning they shoot out of poor frustration.

I mentioned in the very first article I introduced the defensive 3-4-3 in, that I would use certain shouts for certain situations. So now I’ll expand on that a bit and show you why I do it and how it works. This is a heat map from recent games against a stronger side;

HM1.jpg?resize=209%2C300

The first heat map is from a game against strong opposition and a side who attack me and don’t fully sit back. In that game I used the default shouts I highlighted in the last article, but for those who can’t remember here they are again;

  • Retain possession
  • Shorter passing
  • Much lower tempo
  • Be more disciplined

Those are all that are used for that game. Let’s take a look at how we played during the game to give you a sense of how it worked out. We played Cardiff who are a much stronger side and a division higher. In fact, at the time of playing them, they were top of The Championship.

12.jpg?resize=300%2C132

I’ve just lost the ball high up the pitch just before this was taken and now Cardiff are attacking me. You can see how deep my midfield is and how deep the defence is. I’m happy to concede this type of space and possession in these areas as they can’t hurt me if the team stay disciplined and are switched on. I can’t really see how they’ll get in behind the team. It’s important that I keep the opposition in front of the midfield and defence and don’t really give them options other than sideways or backward passes. Even if the ball is played to the strikers in this screenshot, I don’t really see where they could go with the ball apart from backwards.

21.jpg?resize=300%2C115

In this screenshot it again shows Cardiff attacking but with no real passing options. Their winger only really has two choices, he can either try a long ball to the player inside the box which I’d expect my defenders to deal with quite easy nine times out of Ten. Or the second option is to drive down into the channel with the ball as he’s been crowded out of coming inside with the ball, he has nowhere to run with it other than staying out wide.

31.jpg?resize=300%2C133

This screenshot touches upon what I mentioned earlier in the article, they have no forward options to pass the ball too here. They only realistically have sideways options which I’ll take all day long as they can’t hurt me from out wide because centrally I have the numbers advantage. So even if they go wide and stretch me, because we are disciplined in our positional play any cross would be cut out.

41.jpg?resize=300%2C137

This shows us attacking and how close the midfield and strikers play with each other. The midfield have a little triangle going on as do the strikers. There are players around them and numbers back but we have movement from deep so have the advantage as people don’t like people running at them they are much harder to mark and tackle and the opposition risk giving free kicks away.

52.jpg?resize=300%2C134

One simple pass seconds later changes the whole picture. The player on the ball is actually the deep-lying playmaker and now he has quite a lot of options. He even has space and time to stop and turn around if he wants. Remember my play isn’t rushed and is focused on ball retention and defending with the ball rather than giving it away easily. So here I can attack or retain the ball, what happens is down to the playmaker and what he chooses at the time. You’ll also notice the space and time the players have, they are all basically unmarked because we are moving up field rather than dropping off from the front. This is why it differs from attacking set ups and creating space isn’t a priority as the space already exists to begin with.

61.jpg?resize=206%2C300

This is where Cardiff had their shots from and nothing of note to worry about. I won the game 0-2.

The second heat map shows a slightly different story;

HM2.jpg?resize=214%2C300

This is taken from playing a side who are happy to sit back and show little intent on attacking me. For this game I used these shouts;

  • Push higher up
  • Close down more
  • Higher tempo

Can you see how much more aggressive we look in positional play already just from the heat map compared to the Cardiff game above?

71.jpg?resize=300%2C135

Even though I’m in possession here and attacking you can see how more advanced I am and the side are looking to make things happen much quickly due to the tempo change. You can even see the defence is higher too with them being on the half way line, normally when attacking in these kind of situations, without these shouts, they’d be more in line with the beginning of the semicircle in our own half rather than being this high.

81.jpg?resize=300%2C136

Due to the opposition being quite deep and their midfield also deep when they try to get forward they are resorting to long ball or direct high balls into their lone striker. My defence is pushed up quite high again making the space they have to play in limited. By playing a higher line my defence can pressure the lone forward straight away and try to win the ball back by making the pitch smaller and being closer to the midfield. It would be pointless playing like I did against Cardiff because Yeovil aren’t attacking me and are happy to sit back themselves. I’m still playing a defensive game like I did in the Bristol City and Cardiff games, it’s just now a different type of defensive game, a more aggressive one with slightly more risks as the onus is on me to attack now. I don’t want to change strategy and stray from what I am building and working towards here, that’s why I made only slight changes to the shouts I used. It’s all still the same just a bit more aggressive than normal with a bit more pace about my game looking to make things happen that bit quickly or being the slightly little bit more sharper.

91.jpg?resize=300%2C136

A different bit of the game but the same result, nowhere for the opposition to really go. My defence is high and so is my midfield but my midfield isn’t too high so should be able to deal with any kind of counter attacking threat or quick changes of play. The opposition has nine outfield players deep in their own half, they’re not going to get out of it easy because their own midfield is so deep which is only isolating the lone striker should they even be able to get the ball to him. By the time they have any support anywhere near him, my midfield should have dealt with any kind of threat and come deep themselves due to them not being overly aggressive in their positions.

Now I could go on and on and show more examples but instead I just wanted to give a little bit more insight into how it works and how you can play the same style but mix it up slightly based on the opposition you are playing. I’ve had a lot of questions about how the different shouts would impact the overall style so hopefully this sheds more light on those questions asked icon_smile.gif?w=474

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Basically you are strikerless and deep in your own half.

I see why this is problem; so is my set-up much more suited to be a more aggressive strategy?

The example you gave but it happens frequent with anyone you face who uses a AMC, that much is clear to see. Well if you used him as a MC with the same duty a defend one then he'd drop and he'd be positioned between the MC and DMC spot rather than his current position between defence and DMC spot. The AI's MC's are less likely to pick him up as he will still be deep but slightly higher.

I can how this is a problem when he's under pressure by an opposing AMC or forward player. However within this set-up/shape, if I do place him in a MC position then am I not going to lose an extra runner going forward with the absence of the B2B?

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I see why this is problem; so is my set-up much more suited to be a more aggressive strategy?

I can how this is a problem when he's under pressure by an opposing AMC or forward player. However within this set-up/shape, if I do place him in a MC position then am I not going to lose an extra runner going forward with the absence of the B2B?

I believe you are set up to be a more aggressive strategy yeah :)Also you won't really lose a runner because when a counter attack is triggered all players involved will be given max tempo, max mentality and max forward runs :).

I've just added some analysis in the post above you might find interesting too :)

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Post 127 contains an update

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I believe you are set up to be a more aggressive strategy yeah :)Also you won't really lose a runner because when a counter attack is triggered all players involved will be given max tempo, max mentality and max forward runs :).

I've just added some analysis in the post above you might find interesting too :)

Okay :thup:

Just having a little play and trying to incorporate the things that you've said. Here's something that I've come up with which I think might address some of the factors that were hindering me?

Screen%20Shot%202015-03-16%20at%2018.15.59_zpsvlawgrly.png

I feel I'm now attacking the space a bit more?

Really want to get the best out of Eysseric, who was initially playing as the CM (A). He's your typical Attacking Midfielder who can dribble; therefore I feel an AP (S) is a good shout for him?

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I feel you've gone from one extreme to the next, you didn't need massive changes just subtle changes. Your defence was fine I felt before. I don't see the need for 2 playmakers in the centre, what's the logic/reasoning behind that? None of them are likely to get in or around the box, why couldn't you keep him as a CM A?

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I feel you've gone from one extreme to the next, you didn't need massive changes just subtle changes. Your defence was fine I felt before. I don't see the need for 2 playmakers in the centre, what's the logic/reasoning behind that? None of them are likely to get in or around the box, why couldn't you keep him as a CM A?

Well I thought that I now have 3 'direct' runners with the 2 WMs (A) and the AF (A); therefore thought the CM (A) might be 'overkill' when we aren't on the counter attack? I thought having him slightly deeper and closer to the DLP would give him a closer passing option. However I realise that were already 'deep' so perhaps the CM (A) would be a better option. :thup:

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Well I thought that I now have 3 'direct' runners with the 2 WMs (A) and the AF (A); therefore thought the CM (A) might be 'overkill' when we aren't on the counter attack? I thought having him slightly deeper and closer to the DLP would give him a closer passing option. However I realise that were already 'deep' so perhaps the CM (A) would be a better option. :thup:

Well you have 2 playmakers playing a similar role next to each other. I feel a CM would benefit more from the passing the DLP will provide rather than AP and also be more of a goal threat. I think the WM support and WB attack on the right would have been fine as it was too.

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I'm starting to think that the 4-1-4-1 isn't the greatest shape for this defensive style? What you say about not having anyone high up the pitch; expect for the striker when we turn over possession, is very true. It's a massive problem and I'm constantly struggling to get out of my half and retain the ball. Would you agree with this?

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I'm starting to think that the 4-1-4-1 isn't the greatest shape for this defensive style? What you say about not having anyone high up the pitch; expect for the striker when we turn over possession, is very true. It's a massive problem and I'm constantly struggling to get out of my half and retain the ball. Would you agree with this?

In addition, I don't want to sound crude, but I am also waiting for reply to my question asked few days ago, so if anyone knows...

How important is formation in a defensive system? Can you play 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 variants? Which roles for a striker are best suitable for one striker systems? Can you play with playmaker in AMC position?

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In addition, I don't want to sound crude, but I am also waiting for reply to my question asked few days ago, so if anyone knows...

Not to speak for Cleon, but I'd say if it's well built, any formation should work. He's been picking formations(3-4-3, 4-1-2-1-2 diamond) that are naturally weaker defensively to prove that it's possible.

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Not to speak for Cleon, but I'd say if it's well built, any formation should work. He's been picking formations(3-4-3, 4-1-2-1-2 diamond) that are naturally weaker defensively to prove that it's possible.

I don't necessarily agree with that. For me it's about the balance. a 3-4-3 and to a lesser extent a 4-1-2-1-2 narrow diamond are formations that naturally keep a fair few players higher up the pitch - the 3-4-3 in particular(and even more so in the latest patch where strikers are a fair bit too unwilling to track back where previously they tracked back a bit much). For me, even though the mentality is defensive, and the tactic is without a doubt defensively more than solid, the approach to games isn't really defensive in the sense that most people associate with defensive tactics. Player positions (for the 3-4-3), player roles (4-1-2-1-2) and TIs suggest possession football to me, in particular both systems commit a fair amount of players forward. The defensive mentality + role selection offsets the defensive weaknesses of the systems chosen - I'd overall call both tactics balanced rather than defensive overall. a 4-1-4-1 is a rather defensive formation so it's going to be a fair bit harder to emulate the style Cleon creates - it will be hard to have enough bodies in advanced positions to really keep defences on the back foot unless they go all out attack on you - at least that's what I found when I tinkered with a mre defensive setup for my own 4-1-4-1.

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I don't necessarily agree with that. For me it's about the balance. a 3-4-3 and to a lesser extent a 4-1-2-1-2 narrow diamond are formations that naturally keep a fair few players higher up the pitch - the 3-4-3 in particular(and even more so in the latest patch where strikers are a fair bit too unwilling to track back where previously they tracked back a bit much). For me, even though the mentality is defensive, and the tactic is without a doubt defensively more than solid, the approach to games isn't really defensive in the sense that most people associate with defensive tactics. Player positions (for the 3-4-3), player roles (4-1-2-1-2) and TIs suggest possession football to me, in particular both systems commit a fair amount of players forward. The defensive mentality + role selection offsets the defensive weaknesses of the systems chosen - I'd overall call both tactics balanced rather than defensive overall. a 4-1-4-1 is a rather defensive formation so it's going to be a fair bit harder to emulate the style Cleon creates - it will be hard to have enough bodies in advanced positions to really keep defences on the back foot unless they go all out attack on you - at least that's what I found when I tinkered with a mre defensive setup for my own 4-1-4-1.

Are you still using your 4-1-4-1? If so are having success with it?

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Are you still using your 4-1-4-1? If so are having success with it?

Naturally playing with Bayern München yes I do. I am doing my own little Pep impersonation at the moment and use a fair few different setups including the 4-1-4-1, but also try to get a 3 at the back type setup working (unfortunately the bloody Libero doesn't get forward enough ánd can't play on the left/right side to emulate Alaba's/Boateng's role). However, I've gone back to a control strategy for the time being and even then regularly get outpassed by way weaker opponents... different story though.

I never could get the 4-1-4-1 to work in a defensive setup the way I wanted to.

used G(d), WB(a) , CD(d), CD©, WB(a), HB(d), WM(a), RPM(s), B2B(s), W(s), DLF(a) with TIs around keeping possession and closing down more. Some PIs as well (Ribery playing the WM role with dribble more, roam from position and cut inside with ball).

I got results (again, more down to the team I use) but got passed off the park even more heavily than I am with the new control tactic. I'd expect this is largely due to having too many players running with the ball often (WBs, RPM, WM, W), but less dribbling base systems didn't improve the situation a lot either.

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I'm starting to think that the 4-1-4-1 isn't the greatest shape for this defensive style? What you say about not having anyone high up the pitch; expect for the striker when we turn over possession, is very true. It's a massive problem and I'm constantly struggling to get out of my half and retain the ball. Would you agree with this?
In addition, I don't want to sound crude, but I am also waiting for reply to my question asked few days ago, so if anyone knows...

Any shape can work with defensive mentality, it's all about the roles you use and what you are wanting to create. Like I've highlighted above there are many different styles of defensive football, it just depends on what you want to create. As for what's the best role for a striker there is no 'best' because it depends on the rest of the set up.

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I don't necessarily agree with that. For me it's about the balance. a 3-4-3 and to a lesser extent a 4-1-2-1-2 narrow diamond are formations that naturally keep a fair few players higher up the pitch - the 3-4-3 in particular(and even more so in the latest patch where strikers are a fair bit too unwilling to track back where previously they tracked back a bit much). For me, even though the mentality is defensive, and the tactic is without a doubt defensively more than solid, the approach to games isn't really defensive in the sense that most people associate with defensive tactics. Player positions (for the 3-4-3), player roles (4-1-2-1-2) and TIs suggest possession football to me, in particular both systems commit a fair amount of players forward. The defensive mentality + role selection offsets the defensive weaknesses of the systems chosen - I'd overall call both tactics balanced rather than defensive overall. a 4-1-4-1 is a rather defensive formation so it's going to be a fair bit harder to emulate the style Cleon creates - it will be hard to have enough bodies in advanced positions to really keep defences on the back foot unless they go all out attack on you - at least that's what I found when I tinkered with a mre defensive setup for my own 4-1-4-1.

The 4-1-4-1 is actually easier to recreate the style I do because the players are better positioned in deeper areas compared to the 3-4-3 and its the players position that is vital when creating this particular style. The 4-1-4-1 is also better defensively and a lot more solid to begin with. People struggle because they get the striker role wrong and for some reason seems to always favour a link or creative type of striker but like I've pointed out throughout the thread that sort of player doesn't suit because they drop off or stray from their positions quite often. The 4-1-4-1 also naturally keeps possession due to having a midfield triangle with the two MC's and DMC.

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I'm really surprised no-one has mentioned or asked a single question about the analysis in post 127 especially as a lot of you have been asking how to be a bit more aggressive at times.....

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I'm wondering about 3-4-1-2s.

I've been experimenting a little with one, and I've felt like there are huge amounts of space between the defensive midfielders and the strikers/attacking midfielder. With a Defensive/Flexible setup, the ball rushes up front, either the attacking midfielder or one of the forwards runs with it through the space in the midfield, then loses it because the forward players are outnumbered 2-1. I can't seem to get either the ball to slow down enough for wingbacks and defensive midfielders to advance ahead of it, or to keep the ball long enough that those players can join the attack. On one hand, I scored three times in my most recent match. On the other hand, I didn't really have much possession, and the slower, patient buildup play wasn't there at all.

I'm playing 3-4-1-2 Defensive/Flexible:

GKd

CDx BPDc CDx

CWBs DMs* RPMs CWBs

Ta

AFa DFd

*My DMs has the Get Further Forward instruction.

My attacking 3 are set up as if they were 3 central strikers, with the T withdrawn into the AMC-left position.

Team Instructions are:

Retain Possession

Shorter Passing

Hit Early Crosses

Lower Tempo

Be More Disciplined

My most recent match was against Everton - stats will be a little off because I switched to my standard defensive 4-2-3-1 on about 65 minutes to try to salvage the game.

Fortunately, Everton took 11 long shots. Unfortunately, they had 23 total with 14 on target. One of the goals came from a corner right in the middle of the six-yard box, one came from a deep cross on their right wing and the third was a shot from the center-edge of the area.

Part of the problem was passing accuracy. My goalkeeper attempted 22 passes and completed 12. All 10 incomplete passes were deep punts; I'm not sure how to restrict these any more than I did - Roll Ball Out, Slow It Down, Distribute to Center Backs, Shorter Passes.

My BPD made 28 passes and completed 20, 71.4%. My other two attempted 45 and 20; the second was removed 23 minutes from time as I shifted to a back 4. NOne of the 3 were above 72% accuracy.

The wingbacks seemed to struggle to complete passes forward and occasionally sideways balls inside. Despite both playing 90 minutes, they only attempted 5 crosses total, completing 1. In 23 minutes of 4231, my support Winger attempted 5 by himself. Play was very confined to the middle, partially because the ball was being lost before the fullbacks could join the attack. Only 4 corners, mostly generated after my formation change, speaks to the lack of involvement from the wide players. That being said, my WBL made seven attacking runs.

The Trequartista in the AMC position was extremely involved, with two assists, a goal, three key passes and the most passes attempted of any Arsenal player.

Both of the forwards completed most of their passes, but most of their passes were sideways. Not a lot of penetration. Technically only 2 long shots, but 9 of the remaining 16 were inside the D or on the edge of the penalty area.

Lots of mistakes and very few tackles from the central defenders. All 3 had 3 tackles each, with 2, 3 and 6 mistakes.

Everton put in a lot of crosses. Like a lot. 56 total. The wingbacks were too far back to be involved in attacking play, but too far up to be effective in cutting out passes to the wide plays, especially Everton's right midfielder, who put in 30 crosses. Most were dealt with, but I guess he made up in volume what he lacked in efficiency. Everton also had success on the other side with a wide player cutting inside and shooting.

So ultimately I'd like to stick with the 3-4- part of the 3-4-1-2. I'm hoping to use the formation for the second generation of my team, as it were, and the best young players in the team are wingbacks and defensive midfielders. I'd like to build around that. So the questions are: how can I get the wingbacks and DMs more involved in the attack, and how can I make the wingbacks more effective in defense? How can I keep the tempo slow enough to maintain possession as a defensive tool?

Edit: It's a bit frustrating how much I've struggled with this given my go-to tactic is a Defensive 4-2-3-1 with the Drop Deeper and Much Lower Tempo instructions.

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With a Defensive/Flexible setup, the ball rushes up front, either the attacking midfielder or one of the forwards runs with it through the space in the midfield, then loses it because the forward players are outnumbered 2-1. I can't seem to get either the ball to slow down enough for wingbacks and defensive midfielders to advance ahead of it, or to keep the ball long enough that those players can join the attack

I'm confused by a few things if you don't want this to happen. Why would you then use;

  1. Hit Early Crosses

  2. Use a TQ

  3. Use a RPM

Seems a bit strange to hit crosses early if you don't want ball rushed up front doesn't it? Also why would you use a TQ and RPM which are playmakers and both run with the ball a lot, its one of their traits? What you see happening is a direct result of your role choices and the settings you use, so why use them if you don't like what they do?

This is the classic example of saying 'I want to play this way' yet then settings up completely different to what you actually want to do.

My BPD made 28 passes and completed 20, 71.4%. My other two attempted 45 and 20; the second was removed 23 minutes from time as I shifted to a back 4. NOne of the 3 were above 72% accuracy.

Considering you use a BPD that's an incredibly low amount of passes he does in general. Why? Have you looked back over the match and seen why they gave away so many passes? You use a TQ and RPM which are playmaker roles so this means your players look to play the ball to them and use them as much as possible. Is this what happened? Have you even watched the match back to see the issues and see why they happened?

The wingbacks seemed to struggle to complete passes forward and occasionally sideways balls inside. Despite both playing 90 minutes, they only attempted 5 crosses total, completing 1. In 23 minutes of 4231, my support Winger attempted 5 by himself. Play was very confined to the middle, partially because the ball was being lost before the fullbacks could join the attack. Only 4 corners, mostly generated after my formation change, speaks to the lack of involvement from the wide players. That being said, my WBL made seven attacking runs.

Again it comes back to the playmakers, you use two of them in a similar area. Plus remember players look to play through them as that's what a playmaker is, so you want more crosses yet use roles that attract the ball in deep central positions.

Both of the forwards completed most of their passes, but most of their passes were sideways. Not a lot of penetration.

What was you expecting? You have no players getting beyond the two strikers so who exactly are they going to pass to who are more further forward?Of course they'll pass sideways more often as that's where the players in support are.

So ultimately I'd like to stick with the 3-4- part of the 3-4-1-2. I'm hoping to use the formation for the second generation of my team, as it were, and the best young players in the team are wingbacks and defensive midfielders. I'd like to build around that. So the questions are: how can I get the wingbacks and DMs more involved in the attack, and how can I make the wingbacks more effective in defense? How can I keep the tempo slow enough to maintain possession as a defensive tool?

Keeping the ball is easy anyone can achieve that but what you actually do with the ball is important as you still need to be a threat going forward. Your philosophy and style that you are trying to create differs drastically from how you've actually set up with the TI's and roles/duties selected.

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I'm confused by a few things if you don't want this to happen. Why would you then use;

  1. Hit Early Crosses

  2. Use a TQ

  3. Use a RPM

Seems a bit strange to hit crosses early if you don't want ball rushed up front doesn't it? Also why would you use a TQ and RPM which are playmakers and both run with the ball a lot, its one of their traits? What you see happening is a direct result of your role choices and the settings you use, so why use them if you don't like what they do?

I'm using Hit Early Crosses as an effort to stop wide players delaying passes long enough for defenders to cover. Ultimately the problem seems to be more that the ball isn't going wide. The Trequartista dropped much deeper than I had hoped, but did more to carry the ball forward than other players. I don't inherently have a problem with dribbling and moving the ball that way, I just didn't see the wingbacks advancing as the ball did; by the end of the game there's not much difference between the average positions of mine and Everton's. I had a RPM because I'm looking for a player to make supportive runs from deep, a BBM with a deeper default position. Ultimately I didn't see much difference between the RPM and the DMs.

Considering you use a BPD that's an incredibly low amount of passes he does in general. Why? Have you looked back over the match and seen why they gave away so many passes? You use a TQ and RPM which are playmaker roles so this means your players look to play the ball to them and use them as much as possible. Is this what happened? Have you even watched the match back to see the issues and see why they happened?

Generally when one of the outer central defenders picked up the ball, Everton's forward players were pushed up and the BPD wasn't available to receive a pass. Since I have two defensive midfielders, one or the other, or one of the wingbacks, was unmarked. The BPD simply doesn't have as much time with the ball and was aggressively closed down when he did get it. As for why passing stats are so low... a lot of it is clearances. With 56 crosses and 14 corners, there are a lot of clearances out of play or simply hit as far away as possible.

Both playmakers were sought out a fair number of times. The trequartista in particular did a lot of good things and was involved in all three goals, as well as winning more tackles than any of the non-DM players. A pretty typical passage of play involves the ball moving to the RPM, then to the T, then up front. Most of the time that transition happens quickly.

Again it comes back to the playmakers, you use two of them in a similar area. Plus remember players look to play through them as that's what a playmaker is, so you want more crosses yet use roles that attract the ball in deep central positions.

I think the crosses will come naturally if I can get the wingbacks into advanced positions. In situations where players were in the opposition half already - broken down set pieces and corners, times when the ball moved slowly - I was seeing playmakers making passes to wingbacks for runs inside or down the line.

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The 4-1-4-1 is actually easier to recreate the style I do because the players are better positioned in deeper areas compared to the 3-4-3 and its the players position that is vital when creating this particular style. The 4-1-4-1 is also better defensively and a lot more solid to begin with. People struggle because they get the striker role wrong and for some reason seems to always favour a link or creative type of striker but like I've pointed out throughout the thread that sort of player doesn't suit because they drop off or stray from their positions quite often. The 4-1-4-1 also naturally keeps possession due to having a midfield triangle with the two MC's and DMC.

I don't disagree with that the 4-1-4-1 is more defensively solid, why wouldn't it be. my own attempts at "defensive football with a punch" with that formation though all never made me feel that my team was consitently a threat going forward. The team in general was too deep (which somehow seemed to worsen when I used an Advanced forward or poacher. I can see one issue which is that playing s Bayern you have a really really hard time getting the opp to commit players forward most of the time. My defensive style 4-1-4-1 got me a 4-0 away win at Dortmund and a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge (which really should've been more like 5 or 6-1).

Against the teams sitting back and playing contain from minute 1 I generally hardly was able to regain possession and once we got it back either ran into a deep wall (yes, players running at defenses helps, but seeing players disrupt an ultra deep 4-5-1, 4-1-4-1 or 4-4-1-1 which are the most common formations you'll face in the Bundesliga with some running from deep has unfortunately been a rare sight. As said, my general feeling was that a lack of bodies in higher areas of the pitch prevented any sort of danger from unfolding before the other team was back in position as the lone striker was not able to mak the opp make decisions with all the defenders around him and no midfielder or winger was supporting early enough to make them pay for staying "home".

Again, I might've just used the wrong roles or shouts, maybe both. Maybe I was just not patient enough I don't know.

I had also tried the defensive approach with a flat 4-4-2 and it worked a lot better with the additional forward being there making runs and helping to pull away whatever defenders stayed back to allow the runners from deep to really attack space.

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My questions regarding your 'aggressive' post are:

1) You often talk about doing the opposite against teams who defend deep. So instead of going attacking, you go counter, slow it down, try and play around them and draw them out. I'm guessing that since you are playing defensive already that your set up to do that... so why the need to be more aggressive.. how do you know where the sweet spot it. (btw, I've done exactly as you've said with my side and it seems to work well now that I'm top of the league and most sides are deciding to hold back)

2) The other thing was that your midfield looked quite narrow and your front line looked narrow against them, so I didn't really see where you could be getting goals from. Surely in that situation you want to be using width? Was that not an option?

3) Also, at times they seem to only have one striker up front, but you've held back 3 defenders against him. Did that worry you?

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With all due respect Sun you are still confused in my opinion.

I'm using Hit Early Crosses as an effort to stop wide players delaying passes long enough for defenders to cover.

But you are instructing him to be delayed in passing. The whole point of being defensive is to play low risk, safe football. The whole strategy is based on risk free play, deep in your own half and then playing on the counter attack. So this means players dwell on the ball at times or don't move it around fast enough, that's what the strategy is about. Then add to this things like;

  1. Retain Possession
  2. Shorter Passing
  3. Hit Early Crosses
  4. Lower Tempo
  5. Be More Disciplined

You are instructing them to be even lower risk and play at a very slow pace than what defensive instructs. You are instructing them to be safe and extremely cautious, you are telling them to be extreme in what they do. Yet you are saying you don't actually want this which begs the question why defensive and not something more appropriate? It seems like you want 2 completely different things from the way you are currently set up.

I don't inherently have a problem with dribbling and moving the ball that way, I just didn't see the wingbacks advancing as the ball did; by the end of the game there's not much difference between the average positions of mine and Everton's.

You aren't going to see rampaging fullbacks taking massive risks to get forward, you are using a defensive mentality. Plus add to this you are set up to focus all your play centrally with the two playmakers, the team is instructed to utilise those players as often as possible meaning width and wideplay will suffer due to the roles you've used in the Treq and RPM. Also the oppositions average positions don't matter in any comparison as you're not both playing the exact same way or using the same roles etc.

When you use playmakers the play is channelled through those players more often than not. What you are seeing happen in matches is a by product of the roles, strategy and settings that you have gave them. From everything you've said so far though I can't see why you ever choose defensive as its clear you want to play at a faster pace with more width and risks.

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