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FM17 - Rafa Benitez tactical development

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Every season I do my usual save with Newcastle and develop the club as a whole with inspiration from certain clubs of different era’s. I don’t normally write about them as I am probably at a primary 3 level of creative writing and putting my thoughts into words is painful for me. The last one I wrote about was becoming Barcelona over at FM base. 

Following the  appointment of Rafa Benitez at Newcastle and the inspired Rafalution under his guidance I have been working towards replicating his tactical set up into my Newcastle side on FM.

The major inspiration Rafa has is the Arrigo Sacchi AC Milan side of the late 80’s early 90’s. Many would argue one of the best teams ever and may be instrumental in the development of modern football. He is known as a defensive coach, partly due to his belief that fixing defensive issues first is easier than attacking. Bentiez’s teams usually stay compact in defence, pressing in wide area’s, and make the pitch big in attack, creating width and moving the ball forward quickly.

References

http://eplindex.com/22342/rafa-benitez-faces-chelsea-tactics.html

http://eplindex.com/30418/chelseas-tactical-progress-benitez-in-depth-analysis.html

http://www.rafabenitez.com/web/in/blog/teaching-tactical-concepts-football-during-the/59/

https://newcastlestats.com/2016/04/25/rafa-benitez-philosophy-tactics-and-methods/

http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/01/29/teams-of-the-decade-11-valencia-2001-04/

 

From my research the preferred formation used under Benitez is the 4231, with his Valencia team being one of the first to use 4 lines, four at the back, two holding players, three players lining up behind the striker. There is more to it than that however, off the ball the team lines up in two banks of four and 2 fron players in the amc and striker.

  valencia_benitez_aimar_mista_joaquin.jpg   rafa_4231.png

 

An extract from one of the articles which outlines the basic foundations of putting together a successful tactic

Attack

Defence

Don’t lose the ball, protect it, keep it away from opponents, control the distances, pass quickly and unpredictably, create lines of pass

Get as many players behind the ball as possible

Create and occupy free spaces, play wide and deep , fix defenders in a zone and play to another one, channel the attack through the weakest areas of the opponent, alternate between short and long play, direct and indirect play, switch of play

Cover and strengthen the central channel forcing opponents to less

Create doubt in the opposition, alternating direct and indirect play, draw opposition to one zone to finish in another, change of tempo, numerical overload, disguise etc

Reduce or prevent lines of pass

 

Keep defensive cover and occupy spaces

How to apply this in football manager?

:

Formation, Shape & Mentality

Formation – As football manager uses our defensive formation on the tactics creator I have opted to go with a 4411 as this allows us to defend in 2 banks of 4 with the two front players.

Newcastle United_  Overview.png

Shape – Flexible : I will be slightly sticking to wwfan’s guide regarding this, as you see in my team formation screen shot I only have 1 “speciality” role, However I have player instructions on both the amc and the cm(s) to have them do a certain job. So we can call these sort of specialists and I will go into more detail in the player instructions section.

Mentality -Standard: An advocate of balance, standard seems like the most appropriate choice based on the description. Balancing our defence and attack is key to the concept. It might be worth reducing the mentality to improve compactness but I think standard will give us the correct level of balance and we can change depending on the match situation ie alternate between direct and indirect play, alterations of tempo.

Team Instructions

Shorter passing – part of our basic foundations, don’t lose the ball, protect it, keep it and control distances.

Be more disciplined – makes the team a more collective group and keep its tactical shape.

 

Player Roles & Instructions

Most of the player roles are generic and simple, however in the centre of the pitch Benitez believes that the 2 central midfielders must be diverse and posses different strengths or the tactic will become broken.

GK Defend, is a standard goalkeeper

FB's Support, they will support the midfield when appropriate keep the defence compact and provide crosses from deep.

CB's Defend, Simple pair of center backs

I have opted for a midfield pairing of a deeplying playmaker on defend who will hold the space between the defense and midfield and a centre midfielder support with instructions to close down more, tackle harder and hold position. This should give me 1 player who will control the ball from deep and one who is dominant in the tackle and can bring the ball forward when needs must. One of my other "speciality" players will provide the diversity in CM that I hope to achieve.

Newcastle United_  Player.png

The other player instructions I have is the AMC(s) I have asked him to dribble more, shoot less, play more risky passes and roam from position, the only person in the team with licence to do so. This should make him our main playmaker in attacking moves and is the last of my speciality players.

Newcastle United_  Player-2.png

RW - Wide Midfielder on attack, This is going to be my extra workman player, Matt Ritchie will hopefully be ideal for this role

LW - Winger Attack, generic wide player who will use his pace and get crosses in.

Both of these players are on attack to simulate the 4231 in attacking phase and will provide the width which is exactly what we want to make the pitch bigger.

Deeplying forward on attack, Benitez normally utilizes a more mobile striker than mitrobitch, but this will allow him to link with his team mates and help support attacks aswell as hold the ball up when needed.

 

Next up to find out if it works.... I will watch matches in full over the next few days and provide my best insight into analysing this. Hopefully we can generate some discussion and interest in this :D I am also 

 

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Nice opening post. That middle triangle of DLP (D), CM (S) and AM (S) has been my go-to choice in this formation so far in FM17. The use of Hold Position on the CM is a good idea, as they hold a nice, balanced shape as attacks develop.

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I'm doing exactly the same as you mate, I'll be a frequent visitor to this page.

Happy to share my ideas and thoughts as we progress.

Incidentally, I've found that 4-2-3-1 Wide worked better for me than 4-4-1-1 but early days.

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21 hours ago, RTHerringbone said:

Nice opening post. That middle triangle of DLP (D), CM (S) and AM (S) has been my go-to choice in this formation so far in FM17. The use of Hold Position on the CM is a good idea, as they hold a nice, balanced shape as attacks develop.

 

Thanks :)

I am moving through pre season and can see what you say about the shape this combination holds, with the cm on hold position.

 

21 hours ago, tlm_77 said:

I'm doing exactly the same as you mate, I'll be a frequent visitor to this page.

Happy to share my ideas and thoughts as we progress.

Incidentally, I've found that 4-2-3-1 Wide worked better for me than 4-4-1-1 but early days.

That'll be really interesting mate, definitely keen to know how you get on.

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Pre-season

Not much to do analysis wise in pre-season as these matches are more about getting match fit etc however I noticed something I was not expecting in the shape we take.

 

Without the ball, we seem to defend in a 4141 which looks ok and is compact in areas, but there is gaps between the wingers and the midfield trio.

Grasshoppers v Newcastle_ Analysis Teams-2.png

With the ball, again it looks like we are playing more narrow 4141 which is a very compact shape, good for keeping the ball and difficult to break down.

Grasshoppers v Newcastle_ Analysis Teams.png

 

another thing to note is that the deeplying forward on attack was becoming isolated and although he scored 6 in 3 in friendlies he wasnt involved in much else. I opted to change him to a defensive forward on support and he became more involved in build up, helped defend and held the ball up well all the while remaining potent in front of goal bagging 3 in his next two matches. This being the only change i made resulted in a much more accurate shape to what I was hoping to achieve in the opening post.

 

Without the ball, we are defending deep, two banks of 4 with men behind the ball. The striker is also doing his shift closing down much more. We are also compact from front to back and not too much space in the channels.

Old Boys v Newcastle_ Analysis Teams-2.png

 

With the ball, we looks alot more like the 4231 we were looking for, although it looks narrow still the wide players stretch the play well, the full backs play more inline with the holding midfielders and the combination plays are brilliant to watch. If this continues in competitive games I will be happy. I will do more in depth analysis when the competitive matches start though.

Old Boys v Newcastle_ Analysis Teams.png

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Newcastle United_  Senior Fixtures.png

 

Season so far looks good, 5 competitive games, 0 goals conceded so far :s was not expecting this. will give it another 5 matches that will be the 10 game point and a good place to evaluate what can be better.

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Newcastle United_  Senior Fixtures-3.png

 

10 games in 1 goal conceded. :/ This is going too well.

10 game point I will look back through the matches and try to find bits and pieces to look at.

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Interesting thread. Some thoughts from me...

I will use two DMC to control the play from a deeper position. DMCL is the playmaker in a DLP (S) role (Jonjo Shelvey). The DMCR is DM (S) at home (Jack Colback) and BWM (S) away (Isaac Hayden).

Mohamed Diamé in a AMC (A) position, always looking to attack and score goals.

One of the central defenders and in this case the DCL (Ciaran Clark) will be assigned as a BPD (D).

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hmmm, my pictures are being skipped due to being larger than the max file size of 2mb :(

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Are you using an OI's ?? 

 

Cant wait for some more in depth analysis of some games finding this thread really interesting 

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2 hours ago, Asmart01 said:

Are you using an OI's ?? 

 

Cant wait for some more in depth analysis of some games finding this thread really interesting 

I've not used any ois yet.

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I've tried something similar with Leicester but it didn't work out that well. Similar midfield instructions too. So I'm interested to see how this thread goes. When I get a chance I may share my version.

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Sky Bet Championship_ Stats Team Detailed.png

 

quite frustrating, 9 goals conceded in 20 matches 4 from corners 1 from indirect free kicks. i can get back into photo bucket so will be able to start the analysis as the file size of screenshots wont be an issue

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Interesting thread. I've just been promoted playing as Newcastle but drew a frustrating amount of games due to conceding late goals. Struggling in the premier league now so going to tinker with formations and player roles to see if I can get something to click.

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Been doing ok with my 4-2-3-1. I'll do more work and post my findings.

Using 'control' and 'flexible' atm...seems to work best for me.

Have LB on attack, RB on support.

CM's are DLP/support and CM/defend

AML is Winger / support

AMR is Inside Forward / Attack

AMC is Advanced Playmaker / Attack

ST is Complete forward / support

2 instructions only, 'pass shorter' and 'play out of defence'

 

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I am a Liverpool fan and Rafa admirer so I have been following this thread with high interest. Every year I try to integrate Rafa Benitez' tactical methods in the game. Defending with high intensity whilst remaining compact seems hard to replicate in this year's game.

In my view, the team shape should be fluid, because it narrows the space between attackers and defenders, which is especially important in defence to remain compact. Also, the 5x5 philosophy fits Rafa Benitez, with 5 players given the freedom to attack, while the other 5 hold the fort.

To replicate Benitez' tactics, I mainly experimented with a 4-2-3-1 formation with 2 players in CM position and 3 in AMC position. One position I struggle with in my 4-2-3-1 is the AMC. He often finds himself too close to the central midfielders, while essentially he should be part of the attack. Even when I give him an attack duty this is often the case. Any suggestions to overcome this?

I hope I can give this thread some renewed activity with this post.

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I enjoy a good old Rafa tactic, and mine ended up very similar to yours, as it happens. The minor differences were...

I used a BWM/D DLP/S combination in midfield.

I used an AF up front.

I can't quite remember, but I think I had it on Control, rather than Standard. I always remember that one of the first things Rafa did was to get Liverpool playing 10-15 yards higher up the pitch than they did under Houllier. The 2008/9 team also moved the ball very quickly from back to front when the opportunity presented itself. It's a tough one, because Rafa used to love talking about 'controlling the game' which often meant passing the ball around between defence and midfield and waiting for Alonso or Gerrard to spot a pass no-one else could see.

I think you could say it's a 'Control' against weaker teams and 'Standard' against stronger teams. I don't think 'Shorter Passing' really represents a Rafa team though. They kept the ball, but they were quite direct. The key to this tactic is a combination of two excellent passers of the ball (Alonso/Gerrard), with very good movement off the ball (Kuyt/Benayoun/Torres, and yes, Gerrard). As you noted, you also need that solid two banks of four when out of possession.

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Did any of you have luck with this? I'm starting as Newcastle after the January update so looking for people to bounce ideas off.

 

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On 10/28/2016 at 13:17, RTHerringbone said:

Nice opening post. That middle triangle of DLP (D), CM (S) and AM (S) has been my go-to choice in this formation so far in FM17. The use of Hold Position on the CM is a good idea, as they hold a nice, balanced shape as attacks develop.

I second this. DLP-d next to my CM-s with hold position have been the backbone of everything I do going forward.

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Defence seems to be my issue. Scoring 2 goals a game on average but giving a lot of stupid goals away, from set pieces specifically. Will setting pre game training to Defending Set Pieces sort this, or will I need to change some settings?

 

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I myself have been trying to recreate Benitez tactics of the 2008/9 season referring to the lineup in the picture at the top.  I have done this with Fulham.  Here are some screenshots of my progress so far.  P.s does anyone know how to show last seasons player stats.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 18.47.13.png

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 18.48.02.png

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With regards to the tactic I normally take retain possession instruction off to encourage fast passing moves.  I start with CMs but change to DMs if i feel opponents are creating to many chances or I have a 2 goal lead so I can counter.  

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Here is a pic of my zonal marking.  I make sure the 2 in the centre have good heading.  I hardly concede goals from set pieces with this setup. 2 up top helps with the counter attack.  The person on edge of area has to be a good passer so we can counter effectively. 

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 19.02.54.png

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On 4/6/2017 at 14:06, femizzle said:

If someone wants this tactic let me know and I can send it to you.

What are your player choices for the roles?

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Love a Rafa tactic & I think the OP has gotten pretty close to recreating Rafa. the 4-2-3-1 is tempting but that's how it plays in attack, so I think the 4-4-1-1 is right as it gives the correct defensive shape. I agree with most of the roles too, though I'd have been tempted to give the AM an attack duty, this role definitely played differently between Aimar & Gerrard though, you wouldn't give Gerrard the shoot less PI,  so the correct thing to do is tweak it according to personnel, it's what the man himself would do. The striker role is up for debate too but then there is quite some difference between Torres & Mitrovic, so again you need to tweak it.

Edited by Old No7

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