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Getting wrecked by teams I should be dominating- weak defense.

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I'm having severe trouble getting things to work in Europe. I cannot get into Champions League Groups as Celtic. The tactic I use is presented below. Neither attacking nor counter mentalities allow me to go past teams that I should be beating. My defense leaks goals so damn much. Against a club from Georgia, I squandered a 2 goal advantage, after having won the first game 2-1 at home. I took the lead in the second game, too. This was just one of my attempts to get a decent season going.

--------------------------------GK (D)

FB(S)----------LD(D)----------------------CD(D)------FB(S)

-------------------------------DLP(D/S)

----------------------BBM(S)----------BWM(S/D)

IF/W(A)-------------------------------------------------W(A)

--------------------------------AF(A)

With this tactic I start off more cautiously: Counter/Standard, and Structured shape. Exploit the flanks, Run at Defense, and Be More Disciplined are on. Width is often set to Wide against these teams, as per my Ass. Manager's recommendation. I played this formation because the opposition mostly plays 5-midfield setups, or in Dila Gori's case, a 4-1-2-1-2 narrow diamond.

Any help/insight would be appreciated.

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The obvious issue is the flanks. Your wide midfielders are at AML/R and both have Attack Duties, so they won't track back very effectively. This will stretch the midfield as the BWM in particular will be dragged out of position trying to cover the left hand side. That in turn makes the DLP and BBM move over, so you become vulnerable to switches of play to the opposite flank. Also, a Counter style tends to work better with less aggressive Duty allocation up front; you won't trigger many counter attacks if you have 3 guys permanently up front.

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The obvious issue is the flanks. Your wide midfielders are at AML/R and both have Attack Duties, so they won't track back very effectively. This will stretch the midfield as the BWM in particular will be dragged out of position trying to cover the left hand side. That in turn makes the DLP and BBM move over, so you become vulnerable to switches of play to the opposite flank. Also, a Counter style tends to work better with less aggressive Duty allocation up front; you won't trigger many counter attacks if you have 3 guys permanently up front.

So, switching both to Support would solve the issue? Also, I was fearing my defenders with bad Concentration were the problem. How to reduce the impact of low concentration?

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What you aren't telling us though is how you are getting beaten. Where do you see the goals you give up coming from? At a glance I would suspect they are waltzing right up the middle third without much trouble. Teams that have packed midfields are going to exploit you like this because the roles indicate you only will have the DLP back much of the time to defend against 2-3 midfielders. Your BBM will help defensively, but if he's caught upfield when the transition starts he might not get back quickly enough. Your BMW is going to aggresively chase the ball in the midfield. One quality pass and he is bypassed and now you have just your DM. You probably need to look at a more conservative CM role for at least one of them when going up against teams with strong midfields that outnumber you.

EDIT: or what RTH just posted, which could also be a problem. Again, how are you conceding goals? Where do the moves start and finish?

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What you aren't telling us though is how you are getting beaten. Where do you see the goals you give up coming from? At a glance I would suspect they are waltzing right up the middle third without much trouble. Teams that have packed midfields are going to exploit you like this because the roles indicate you only will have the DLP back much of the time to defend against 2-3 midfielders. Your BBM will help defensively, but if he's caught upfield when the transition starts he might not get back quickly enough. Your BMW is going to aggresively chase the ball in the midfield. One quality pass and he is bypassed and now you have just your DM. You probably need to look at a more conservative CM role for at least one of them when going up against teams with strong midfields that outnumber you.

EDIT: or what RTH just posted, which could also be a problem. Again, how are you conceding goals? Where do the moves start and finish?

From the middle- there's often a through ball or a pass into the box. Also, strangely, headers. Especially in Scotland, where I also have some trouble. My defenders are tall, though. I also use this secondary formation:

--------------------------------GK (D)

WB(S)----------CD(D)----------------------BPD(D)------WB(S)

--------------------BBM(S)----BWM(D)-------CM(S)

-----------------------------AM(A)/AP(S)

----------------------CF(S)-------------AF(A)

Flexible, Standard or Control mentality. TI: Play Out of Defense, Look for Overlap, Play Wider. In many cases also high closing down and defense line.

EdIT: I remember one more thing: If the opposition play 2 forwards, I have trouble if one of them drifts to the wing, regardless of my formation.

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I would suggest with either formation that you take a more conservative role for one of your CMs, especially that second one. I would use a CM(D) in both and that should help deal with the through balls and also leave you with an extra man deeper to take care of midfield runners. If the headed balls are coming from the more central areas, this should also help as your aim will be to cut down on the number of free passes/runs that are happening in your midfield area.

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I would suggest with either formation that you take a more conservative role for one of your CMs, especially that second one. I would use a CM(D) in both and that should help deal with the through balls and also leave you with an extra man deeper to take care of midfield runners. If the headed balls are coming from the more central areas, this should also help as your aim will be to cut down on the number of free passes/runs that are happening in your midfield area.

CM(D) in my second formation-do you mean the CM(S) should be changed?

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CM(D) in my second formation-do you mean the CM(S) should be changed?

Yes, and I would look to maybe change your BWM in your primary formation to that as well.

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Yes, and I would look to maybe change your BWM in your primary formation to that as well.

Thank you. Regarding the 2. formation, would you be against putting one of the central defenders to Stopper duty?

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Thank you. Regarding the 2. formation, would you be against putting one of the central defenders to Stopper duty?

That is a matter of choice and what you want your defenders doing. I only use a stopper/cover when I face lone striker formations and sometimes not even then. The stopper can get out and engage and close down a threat early, but it also pulls him out of position a lot an can leave his partner exposed. Again, a risk vs reward scenario. If you have a decently pacey man for the cover role, it helps a lot, and a good deal will also depend on he quality of attackers he is dealing with. The best thing would be to try it and click the stopper on the pitch so his name is highlighted and spend a few defensive sequences watching his movement. You'll get a good idea pretty quickly whether he is being too aggressive or leaving too much space, or if it is helpful.

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Reactivating this thread because the suggested changes did not help at all in Scotland. In Europe I did better, but in Scotland I often concede early goals. I cannot control the game. There's lots of cards as well.

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What sort of goals are you conceding? Not just the scoring shot, but how is the buildup to these happening? That will tell you a lot about where the problems are.

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I have found that putting an anchor man in dm helps break up the oppositions play more. Might work for you might not, just what has helped me concede less goals.

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What sort of goals are you conceding? Not just the scoring shot, but how is the buildup to these happening? That will tell you a lot about where the problems are.

Often times it's a mistake by a defender that happened- but the moves start with the opponent in possession. My team sometimes clears the danger incompletely, and often the killer (short, not long) pass comes from outside the box to a player that should be crowded out by defenders. I see lots of terrible marking- even when I set specific Opp. Instructions. Also, the mixups that occur after an incorrectly cleared corner have resulted in goals- shots from outside the box or on its edge. I do have players marking that area.

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The bad corner clearances are just not really fixable- it happens to me too, and I have yet to really find a solution, and probably there isn't one. The ball just sometimes travels to places where I haven't any men. If it is bad clearances that are getting you- I know the issue also- there are a couple of things to try. One is to clear ball to flanks. This will instruct your players to clear it out toward the touchlines, and while they won't do it perfectly every time, it is helpful. I tend to stick this on when seeing out a game in the last few minutes when the AI goes overload to help prevent the turnovers in the middle of the park. It is also helpful to make sure you don't have all your players collapsing low into the box, which can happen with some setups. If the ball is flying out to just beyond the area from a clearance, you should have someone out there to receive the pass. Where are your more attacking players setting up when the play gets into your area?

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The bad corner clearances are just not really fixable- it happens to me too, and I have yet to really find a solution, and probably there isn't one. The ball just sometimes travels to places where I haven't any men. If it is bad clearances that are getting you- I know the issue also- there are a couple of things to try. One is to clear ball to flanks. This will instruct your players to clear it out toward the touchlines, and while they won't do it perfectly every time, it is helpful. I tend to stick this on when seeing out a game in the last few minutes when the AI goes overload to help prevent the turnovers in the middle of the park. It is also helpful to make sure you don't have all your players collapsing low into the box, which can happen with some setups. If the ball is flying out to just beyond the area from a clearance, you should have someone out there to receive the pass. Where are your more attacking players setting up when the play gets into your area?

If you mean corners, I have 2 players on Stay Forward. One covers Edge of Area, and is typically a good passer so he could start counterattacks. If you mean general play- I have one of my attacking players on heavy Closing Down. He's a fast, aggressive forward. The others have standard settings according to mentality (most often Standard or Control ). If I play with 2 strikers, then the other one sometimes has reduced Closing Down. I am committing many fouls with the standard aggression settings, often several happen in succession.

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Just on the corners, I mean that it happens sometimes that the ball goes out to a spot where you have no one and it leads to a scoring chance. I don't think it's really 100% fixable, because the ball physics of the match engine can send it anywhere based on where it comes off of someone in the box. Impossible to cover every inch of space around the area.

The main thing is, is that you don't seem to have anyone out at the area to retrieve cleared balls in general play. If the AI is flooding your box in an attempt to grab a goal, that will drag your guys down there. That is why I recommended clear to flanks, so they can at least kick it out of touch rather than back up the middle.

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Just on the corners, I mean that it happens sometimes that the ball goes out to a spot where you have no one and it leads to a scoring chance. I don't think it's really 100% fixable, because the ball physics of the match engine can send it anywhere based on where it comes off of someone in the box. Impossible to cover every inch of space around the area.

The main thing is, is that you don't seem to have anyone out at the area to retrieve cleared balls in general play. If the AI is flooding your box in an attempt to grab a goal, that will drag your guys down there. That is why I recommended clear to flanks, so they can at least kick it out of touch rather than back up the middle.

How do I wrest control over the game, though? I have enough midfielders (especially central) who could win the ball back, but I rarely seem to be in control. If I am, then I'm not creating chances (retain possession is a passive team instruction).

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How do I wrest control over the game, though? I have enough midfielders (especially central) who could win the ball back, but I rarely seem to be in control. If I am, then I'm not creating chances (retain possession is a passive team instruction).

Against weaker teams you can definitely do it. Retain possession is a passive instruction of sorts, but I use it in my current save to help with a possession-based tactic that also scores a good bit. If you feel like you should be controlling more matches and that is a realistic idea, then you need to build a tactic that will aim to do so, and you have to watch your matches to see where the setup is breaking down.

One, the strategy you use will set the passing ranges- so start there. You also have to build from the back or settle down quickly after you win the ball back and there is no clear counter opportunity. Also be aware of what team instructions actually do as some of them will make your team play more direct. What setup are you currently using? Post up your latest tactic and let's take a look at it. We can look at any obvious issues you might have, but also areas where you need to watch to see if things are working as they should.

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Against weaker teams you can definitely do it. Retain possession is a passive instruction of sorts, but I use it in my current save to help with a possession-based tactic that also scores a good bit. If you feel like you should be controlling more matches and that is a realistic idea, then you need to build a tactic that will aim to do so, and you have to watch your matches to see where the setup is breaking down.

One, the strategy you use will set the passing ranges- so start there. You also have to build from the back or settle down quickly after you win the ball back and there is no clear counter opportunity. Also be aware of what team instructions actually do as some of them will make your team play more direct. What setup are you currently using? Post up your latest tactic and let's take a look at it. We can look at any obvious issues you might have, but also areas where you need to watch to see if things are working as they should.

Instructions vary since I get recommendation from my staff to change them. Maybe that's the issue? My staff are very good though. My Ass. Man. has Tactical Knowledge at 15. When I try keeping possession, I set to Mixed or Short range, Low tempo and Work Ball into Box. However, I feel that in such cases the opposition get too many blocks in. My team cannot get into clear chances. Retain Possession doesn't work that well. Mentality is Standard or Control. Width is often set to Fairly Wide. If I play 4-3-1-2, then it's always Wide. Team Shape is always either Structured or Flexible. I don't play Fluid because I don't have truly stellar players.

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Forget your staff, they are good for training and coaching the players, but I wouldn't listen to them for tactics. It could be an issue if you are constantly altering the way your team plays because of it. Decide how you want to play, what you want to see happen, and then stick to doing that. The staff recommendations will have you all over the map: they tell me to play a counter, rigid, look for overlaps etc. when my tactic is not designed to do any of that. So just make your style and play it, and tell them to sod off :D

I would encourage you to have a look at Cleon's possession thread up above- first of all, like pretty much everything he writes it is awesome, but it is also very pertinent for you. In terms of what you've posted, a couple of things are worth looking at here: if you you use control, that tends to increase width, and then you stick play wider on there, you are spreading out pretty well which is tough for a short passing possession game. Also if you work ball into box, that reduces cross attempts, but if you are playing with wide men, they will look for passes to the middle more often, which can be crowded. Another thing you can try if you have possession but are not getting chances, is to tinker with duties. Again, you have to watch the game and stop at points and see where everyone is. Finally, don't be averse to using the shoot on sight instruction if you are having trouble getting shots away. Gone are the old days where they just launch long shots at random. Often when playing a possession style game, players will look for passes when they could take a half decent shot. This instruction will prompt them to take more shots from the edge of area rather than looking for that perfect pass into a crowded box.

One helpful thing that I do in a match is pause it when a move starts or when a player receives the ball and look around at positions. Look for what passing option the player has, what space is around him etc. Do this a few times with different players and you will get start to get a sense of where the action is happening and what is not happening.

Team shape is fine- I have crap players and use very fluid. The thing here is creative freedom, and a bit more compactness of shape. The more fluid the more compact and more creative, but it isn't huge except for the creativity. If you don't want your guys taking too many risks with passes, dribbles, etc. your fine with flexible or structured.

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TBH, I don't particularly care about possession football, I just want to do better in Scotland, where my team should be dominating. Instead, I am getting embarrassed. In fact, I've done OK in Europe for the first time, getting into the CL groups. Although, it was still hairy. I am generally a player that favors crossing, but my initial results made me fear it was not going to work. So I tried giving possession a try, in my next attempt. Is there a point where some bad attributes in certain players could ruin an entire tactic?

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TBH, I don't particularly care about possession football, I just want to do better in Scotland, where my team should be dominating. Instead, I am getting embarrassed. In fact, I've done OK in Europe for the first time, getting into the CL groups. Although, it was still hairy. I am generally a player that favors crossing, but my initial results made me fear it was not going to work. So I tried giving possession a try, in my next attempt. Is there a point where some bad attributes in certain players could ruin an entire tactic?

If the players just can't do what you are asking them to do, then yes, it can be a problem, which is why simplistic approaches are always best to start with. One thing also you should try to do, even if it is painful is stick to something as a principle. Changing your tactics around from game to game is not generally helpful (by that I mean switching play styles drastically). Are you still persisting with the 4.1.2.2.1 from your opening post?

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If the players just can't do what you are asking them to do, then yes, it can be a problem, which is why simplistic approaches are always best to start with. One thing also you should try to do, even if it is painful is stick to something as a principle. Changing your tactics around from game to game is not generally helpful (by that I mean switching play styles drastically). Are you still persisting with the 4.1.2.2.1 from your opening post?

I changed it and 4-3-1-2 according to your advice. My defenders generally have poor Concentration.

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I changed it and 4-3-1-2 according to your advice. My defenders generally have poor Concentration.

That will cause you to concede some late goals from time to time. At these lower levels, if I have a low concentration defender (in this context, under 9 or 10) I try to keep a sub CD on deck to throw in at 70 or 75 minutes as a replacement. That will help.

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That will cause you to concede some late goals from time to time. At these lower levels, if I have a low concentration defender (in this context, under 9 or 10) I try to keep a sub CD on deck to throw in at 70 or 75 minutes as a replacement. That will help.

I concede early goals, often around the first 15 minutes.:( Question: setting wide defenders to Stay Wider- is that a massive mistake if I set width to Wide?

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I concede early goals, often around the first 15 minutes.:( Question: setting wide defenders to Stay Wider- is that a massive mistake if I set width to Wide?

It's an in possession setting which determines how wide they will position themselves when you attack. It may mean that they are less effective at narrowing when you retreat into your defensive shape.

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It's an in possession setting which determines how wide they will position themselves when you attack. It may mean that they are less effective at narrowing when you retreat into your defensive shape.

Even when I play narrow in the other tactic, I concede goals- it seems as if every team I play adopts Barcelona-style passing and just knock my defense out in 2-3 passes. A through ball often kills me when I play on counter...basically I get countered after losing the ball.

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Something springs to mind when looking at post #5 - why Look For Overlap? There's a natural overlap in a narrow formation. That TI actually could exacerbate your wide issues by encouraging the WBs to make more forward runs. Try and see if there's a positive change if you remove that TI.

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Something springs to mind when looking at post #5 - why Look For Overlap? There's a natural overlap in a narrow formation. That TI actually could exacerbate your wide issues by encouraging the WBs to make more forward runs. Try and see if there's a positive change if you remove that TI.

Will try this, but I just had an idea pop into my mind: would having a Sweeper help solidify the defense against ground passes?

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Even when I play narrow in the other tactic, I concede goals- it seems as if every team I play adopts Barcelona-style passing and just knock my defense out in 2-3 passes. A through ball often kills me when I play on counter...basically I get countered after losing the ball.

I'm having some frustration at the moment, where I can't for the life of me actually get into the opposition box, yet they happen to waltz in quite often, usually immediately after I've lost the ball. Counter attacks are simply tremendous.

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So, switching both to Support would solve the issue? Also, I was fearing my defenders with bad Concentration were the problem. How to reduce the impact of low concentration?

Following the post from Cleon with regards to counter attacking formations I have switched both of my AM L/R roles to support and have noticed that while my attack potency has not suffered, my defence has been getting much better support from the AM players and the team has been better overall. The key point I noticed was that I was less vulnerable to switches of play as the crossfield pass was being contested by my retiring AM wide player. They are not as defensive minded as Midfield strata L/R players but they do help - I have noticed that it helps if they are reasonably hard-working.

They won't solve the problem when the opposition gets behind the defence when you are counter attacked, but it does help you defend better when you stop the initial attack and the opposition then looks to switch to the other flank while you are still short staffed.

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Following the post from Cleon with regards to counter attacking formations I have switched both of my AM L/R roles to support and have noticed that while my attack potency has not suffered, my defence has been getting much better support from the AM players and the team has been better overall. The key point I noticed was that I was less vulnerable to switches of play as the crossfield pass was being contested by my retiring AM wide player. They are not as defensive minded as Midfield strata L/R players but they do help - I have noticed that it helps if they are reasonably hard-working.

They won't solve the problem when the opposition gets behind the defence when you are counter attacked, but it does help you defend better when you stop the initial attack and the opposition then looks to switch to the other flank while you are still short staffed.

It's better than with attacking wingers, but I still copncede a bit too much for my tastes. Lone forwards can sometimes end up being completely free to receive the ball and shoot it into the net.

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