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Hi everyone, this is a series from my blog, hope you enjoy it :)

The Fantasista: Intelligence, Creativity, Technique - Part One

Image result for fantasista calcio

What is perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of football culture is the different interpretations of player roles and playing styles that various nations bring on to the wider football scene. The global football discourse often involves specific, almost trademark terms like the 'Volante' in Brasil - a term that has its roots in the name of Argentine player Carlos Volante, who was one of the first to play the position during the 1930s. It literally translates into English as Flywheel – a rotating device used as an energy store – or steering wheel. They are very much the fulcrum of attacks and the engine room of defence, and will use their technical ability to engineer attacks whilst also being able to garner the energy to break up opposition moves.

Then you have roles like the 'Raumdeuter' in Germany, based on Thomas Muller's style of play at Bayern Munchen - a term that means 'space investigator' when translated literally and provides a good account of the style of play it often employs.

When it comes to Italy, however, someone accustomed to the English football terminology would probably need a dictionary to make sense of pretty much anything they're talking about. Italian football culture is deep-rooted in history and has often been described as the nation that focuses most on the tactical side of the game. The trouble is, there are different words for similar things, however....not quite similar. For example, a 'mezz'ala' would be regarded as the equivalent of the 'box-to-box' midfielder in the UK, however that isn't necessarily true: the mezz'ala role entails more horizontal movement rather than vertical, box-to-box coverage, and its' literal translation actually means 'half-wing', which relates to the player operating in the 'half-spaces' and covering the wings (mostly relevant in 3-man midfield systems, such as the 4-3-3 or 5-3-2).

This is of great importance when trying to make sense of specific football terminology. As mentioned above, a lot of these 'trademark' roles entail definitions of specific players and how they interpret the roles, as well as the context of the football culture they are part of. Along with the 'regista', One of the Italian terms that gained a wider recognition in world football as well as in English football culture is... 'the trequartista'. Literally translated as 'three quarters player', the term refers to where the player would likely play on the pitch

trequarti.png

As Roberto Mancini points out in his Master's Thesis that is based solely on analyzing the trequartista, "The magic of the number 10 comes from the trequartista's feet, the player of inventiveness, the one who is capable of wrong-footing “everyone with a piece of skill perhaps he is not even fully aware of.”

He also breaks down his definition of the 'trequartista' into two aspects, which highlight the importance of football culture and the context it creates:

From the point of view of “football culture”:

The trequartista is a player with great technical skills and specific characteristics:

  • sublime unmarking qualities;
  • great basic technical skills and good applied technique quality;
  • unpredictability;
  • ability to serve the strikers with ease in various ways;
  • predisposition to dribble and individual play;
  • poor attitude to the defensive phase.

 

From the point of view of the “position on the field”:

The trequartista is a player who places himself in the central zone between the defensive midfielders and the strikers' lines.

His analysis covers a lot of aspects about this role, and I strongly recommend giving it a read here - Roberto Mancini Master Thesis. Perhaps the most relevant part of his research to the objective of this article however, is his observations on how the 'trequartistas' of Serie A (in year 2000) show very different styles of play, and how much of it is down to the player's particular characteristics and how he interprets the role. For example, you'd have a player like Juan Sebastian Veron, who drives forward from the deeper area of the pitch, or someone like Locatelli (Bologna 2000) who mainly drifts laterally behind the strikers.

schema-gioco 3  schema-gioco 1

The tactical set-up, the player's personal style of play and his general characteristics can result in a variety of interpretations of what is a 'trequartista'. In fact, so different where the styles of football that different trequartistas employed, that a new term was coined out in order to refer to a particular type of player that derives from the more traditional interpretation of a trequartista:

fantasista(article).png

The Fantasista, as the name itself suggests, is a role that implies artistry with and without the ball. Sparks of magic that vow the crowds, an imaginative ability to think about football and the technical ability required to execute it. The fantasista has traditionally been the main star of the show when it comes to exciting, creative pieces of play. Some of the names that made the role famous are undoubtedly - Roberto Baggio(pictured above), Diego Maradona, Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero, amongst many others.

Image result for Maradona Image result for del piero 10 Image result for tottiJust to illustrate how mind-twisting Italian football terminology can be, I will quote the author of this fantastic piece.

"Fantasista is usually or mostly a trequartista, but trequartista is not always a fantasista. Simone Perrotta, Thiago Motta, are one of the players who have been put as a trequartista but not fantasista. They interpret trequartista as hard working attacking midfielder who spread the pass and shoot at the goal when the opportunity knocks out.

In Italy, fantasista is being described as the one who wears no 10, in which every little italian kids dream to wear no 10."

 

What differentiates him from the traditional trequartista is a combination of:

a) tactical intelligence - the ability to read the game, position himself favourably, make decisions that unlock stale pieces of play, trick the opposition, anticipate the opponent's collective/individual moves

b)imagination/creativity - the 'fantasy' brain that comes up with pieces of skill or finds unconventional solutions to complicated situations of the pitch

c) technical ability - the ability to execute the combination of the above two points with the feet: ball control, dribbling, technique, first touch and so on.

Roberto Baggio is truly one of the first players that helped bring even more weight to what a 'fantasista' means:

 

In a nutshell, we are talking about a football player with complete abilities in the attacking/creative department of the game. With less focus on physique and with limited defensive responsibility, the fantasista conserves his energy and focus on creating play in the final third, or more appropriately... in the third quarter. Unlike the trequartista, however, he will look to get involved even more in the box and be there to apply the final finish or curl the ball into the top corner, as a certain man did on numerous occasions only to get that finish trademarked as the shot 'a la Del Piero'.

In the next parts of this series I will look at how this role can be translated into Football Manager and how different players or tactical systems can result in interpreting it differently.

Edited by LPQR

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 Luan in the Sky with Diamonds - Part Two

fantasistatwo.png?w=760&h=1&crop=1

Before I go on any further, I want to clarify a few things as per the purpose of me writing these articles, given the nature of recent interactions with a few fellow FM-ers: my aim is to explore various tactical concepts, understand football as a game through FM as well as to encourage debate and thought around the above issues. I do not 'present' game-breaking tactics, and neither do I have to justify anything to anyone but my own morals. Please try to think of what I post in this perspective and I am open to any discussion that will reflect that. There... rant over :)

In the last part of this series we discussed the importance of understanding how player roles are conditioned by a number of aspects such as football culture, the team's tactical set-up and the player's individual characteristics. The first out of these three is probably the one that has the greatest weight in the widely understood definition of the fantasista. As it is a popular culture term that got molded into the tactical language of the game, that definition is by no means fixed, or referring to an exact set of player qualities. To sum up that overall impression of what a player would need to qualify for the fantasista role we established three key aspects in the last part:

a) tactical intelligence – the ability to read the game, position himself favourably, make decisions that unlock stale pieces of play, trick the opposition, anticipate the opponent’s collective/individual moves

b)imagination/creativity – the ‘fantasy’ brain that comes up with pieces of skill or finds unconventional solutions to complicated situations of the pitch

c) technical ability – the ability to execute the combination of the above two points with the feet: ball control, dribbling, technique, first touch and so on.

The role that I will try to emulate in Football Manager will be based on these three key aspects. Apart from them, I want to integrate the goal-scoring aspect in the role's style. If you think about players like Del Piero or Baggio, they're by no means attacking midfielders. Nor are they 'shadow strikers' or 'false nines'. Study closely their movement on the pitch and you will see that these are strikers, however, with a defining aspect in their play that see them roam around the pitch looking to influence the game as much as possible: tactical intelligence. When talking about a technically gifted player, there is no use for him to have a fixed position in an advanced area of the pitch if he can drop deep in the defensive phase and look to link-up players. Alternatively, if the situation created on the pitch allows him to be more efficient in more advanced pockets of space, the fantasista has no restrictions in advancing forward and looking to force a goal-scoring opportunity. As a result, you will have undoubtedly seen Baggio or Del Piero sometimes play behind the main striker, or in front of him, or out wide, or even between the defensive and midfield lines. Remember that most teams rarely stick to their actual 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 (or whatever formation is) shapes over the course of the match, thus the game will present an enormous variety of positional set-ups in different moments. The Fantasista's role is to assess the situation on the pitch and position himself where he would be most useful.

This is why I used the 'total attacking' player term in the last post, as he rarely fulfills defensive duties and his only focus is on having an intelligent, creative and technical impact in the attacking/build-up phases of play. 

As this part aims to observe how the three issues mentioned in the opening paragraph (i.e. the context) influence the Fantasista role (i.e. style), let me list the tools that I have at my disposal in FM and how they can help me translate that into the game:

1.football culture - the number 10: the creative, intelligent player that has magic in his feet and brain and roams between and outside the midfield and attacking lines looking to create space, feed team-mates and finish off chances.

Here I have the player's attributes to help me identify the player for the job. What I would be looking for in terms of stats above everything else: 

  • technical ability: first touch, dribbling, finishing, technique, passing
  • tactical intelligence/creativity: FLAIR :) anticipation, decisions, composure, off the ball, team-work, vision

 

2.individual characteristics - a fantasista can play in different ways, according to his  personal preferences/style/qualities. 

Here I would look for a set of specific PPM's that I believe are the most characteristic to the role I have in mind:

  • Tries killer balls often
  • Plays one-twos
  • Moves into channels
  • Comes deep to get the ball
  • Curls ball

 

These are the ideal ones, however I will not use that as a filter for the players/teams I will experiment with as I want to show that fantasistas can be of different profiles.

3. tactical set-up - probably the most important aspect that will condition the player's role and style of play. For example, if the team is more aggressive, adventurous as a whole, the fantasista will have different responsibilities than in a more conservative set-up. So here we have the whole range of options that the tactical creator allows in order to set-up a playing style. What I would look for above everything else are the following issues:

  • maximize the fantasista's involvement in the attacking phase of play
  • adapt the set-up to the player's characteristics

Apart from these two points, I will look at how the fantasista performs in different shapes/playing styles, as promised in the previous part.

To start with, there is a range of available roles in FM for creative attacking players, however very few fit the bill of my quite complex requirements. As previously mentioned, the role of the Fantasista isn't a SS,  F9, AM or even DLF for that matter. There is however one role that describes pretty much everything I want my player to do in that position:

423708c01b5b92c747c6821be348cce5.png

Although that doesn't fit all of my criteria - it is the best option I get out of those available. Mind you this is the Trequartista in a striker role. What I've found a bit strange is that the TC screen shows him as having a more advanced position than roles like the DLF or even the CF. That needn't be an issue, as you will notice how deceiving the TC screen can be in terms of telling you where your player will be on the pitch, and most importantly....when. 

There are a number of players in the game that fit the role I have in mind, perhaps, ideally we're talking about Paulo Dybala. Now usually I don't respond well to or even consider criticism from the FM-base bandwagon that only classify winning the PL with Burnley a tactical success, but for the next experiments I will choose players and teams that are reasonably average just to prove a point. Oh yeah, and if you've read until this point and are still waiting for a download link, you can close this tab ;)

The choice for our fist experiment: 

the club

948d4f7663c3c4c00d273e421c2e936e.png

the player:

879d6af8dc5b42eb17a30c22d316da4e.jpg

Gremio are a reasonably strong team in Brasil, with more than a couple of really good players in their squad. With a media prediction of 6th, however, they're not league favorites by any chance. Their key player, and our main man for this project is the above pictured Luan. What makes him so special for this experiment is his unique combination of PPM's and technical/tactical attributes. All the attributes that I've mentioned as being key for the role can be found in abundance on Luan's profile. Additionally, his PPM's are the following:

  • places shots
  • comes deep to get the ball
  • plays one-twos
  • cuts inside from both wings
  • runs with ball often

 

All in all, we have an interesting profile for the Fantasista role. Straight away, his 'cuts inside' and 'runs with ball' PPM's mean that I will look to adapt my set-up to make use of that movement. 

Okay, so after a bit of squad analysis, I've decided I will play a Diamond 4-1-2-1-2, given that I have really good, hard working midfielders and wing-backs. Additionally, I've got a young talent in the name of Lincoln, which I will play in the AM spot with the view of converting him to a trequartista much much later on. (if I will keep playing this save that long, that is) 

5a7837001533b50adaf73dd0768fbf68.jpg

And on the last note, I chose to employ a diamond to show that the 'fantasista' isn't necessarily the attacking midfielder behind the strikers, as so commonly assumed. Think about Del Piero and Zidane playing together.... which one is the fantasista and which one is the trequartista? :)

My tactical set-up will aim to create a style of football that will prioritise passing, work-rate and of course... the Fantasista's input into the system.

Possible Formation&Roles

a4ee21e8a650c382863552203b4e6ba4.png 9bd59a659c0565cd7b68b8a3bb606a51.png

The Diamond is a formation uniquely suited for passing football due to the number of triangles it naturally forms, and it can actually be very versatile in its' applications. The choices I will make in adjusting player roles/positions/instrucions will depend on what I will see on the pitch in my first few matches. 

Possible Team Instructions&Shape

bac5d3d8a9f809e48f159d6dbccff0ab.png

The structured shape aims to leave the creative responsibility to the DLP/RGA and the Fantasista (Treq). It is important to remember the effects that team shape has on allowing individual/collective creativity. @Ö-zil to the Arsenal! gives the perfect explanation of this issue in one of his wonderful tactical articles:

Quote

"My  interpretation is that shape relates most to how far individual player's mentality will deviate from your base mentality rather than "compactness / depth".

    Very Fluid = Very low deviation 
     Fluid = Low deviation
     Flexible = Standard
     Structured = More deviation
     Highly Structured = Much more deviation

There are a few reasons I prefer considering deviation to compactness / depth: 

  • Compactness is a positive term - who doesn't want their team to be compact?
  • Team Shape is not the only way to achieve compactness.

 

An example of a common confusion would be wanting to play a compact, defensive system. Logically, you could select a combination of Defensive mentality for the low-block and mentality, then Very Fluid for the compactness. Given that Very Fluid organises your team as one unit, this sets every player - including strikers and attacking midfielders - to a significantly lower mentality. Very Fluid also gives a higher creative freedom to every player. If you're playing a defensive system, you've probably got more limited players - do you really want to give them a "licence to thrill .... slowly". Not saying it could never work, but it's extreme to say the least."

 

In that sense, a structured shape benefits us in the following ways:

  • allows the more creative players (regista&treq) to express themselves more, i.e. deviate from the team mentality and look to stamp their individual quality on the game
  • allows for a more spread-out and fixed shape on the pitch, which benefits the passing style I want to create, also allowing me the decision to choose/individually instruct which player I want to be more conservative/adventurous in their style of play

 

As the wing-backs advance forward, I aim to have the numbers and the shape to create numerical superiority and passing options, as well as having players make themselves available for the pass, hence the 'roam from position' instrucion. The 'use tighter marking' option aims to bring the AM and the CF/DLF/DF back in our own half when defending, although I will see how that works out. I really want to make the most of Luan's PPM's so I will see if I can combine the passing style I want to achieve with having a fair bit of space in front of us for him and the other forward to run into occasionally.

All in all, a pretty Italian way of playing... in Brazil :) When it comes to the Fantasista's involvement/role, these are the things I want to achieve in this initial experiment:

 - connect him with as many players on the pitch as possible while retaining individual attacking threat

- have a set-up that compensates for his lack of deffensive efforts

- make use of his PPM's in a way that favors the team

It is important to consider that a role like the fantasista is efficient when he has players that he can support as well as the other way around. There is no point having a creative player without other players who will look to make use of his service, so the set-up needs to be mutually beneficial in that sense.

Initial Analysis

Having run a few matches with the first set-up shown above, I can already see a few things that need addressing:

1a8c760278b24ca98b722ef7a0546b75.jpg

The BWM and Regista occupy the same area on the pitch in both attacking/defensive phases of play. Even worse, the BWM on a defend duty tends to drop down into a central position and leave the left side of the pitch completely depleted of support. Additionally, the Regista, who has a 'Roam from position' PI drifts around way too much, given that the TI 'roam from positions' enhances that kind of movement even more. What I want for that position is a Pirlo-type of player, as well as someone who doesn't venture too far forward and stays central to act as a deep passing option. This should enable the left sided CM to offer more support to the left as well. Okay, so first changes are:

  • Changed the Regista to a DLP(D)
  • Changed the BWM(D) to a BWM(S)

 

Straight away, I get the desired shape:

1bf8c085bac2aee4dfa5296031799f87.jpg

What this screen also shows, however, is the BBM not being advanced enough to get involved in the box, as well as not being able to connect with the Fantasista(Treq). Additionally, given his role already has the 'roam from position' default instruction, he occasionally drifts out wide, occupying the same position as the RWB at times. Based on that and the fact that I'm noticing us being very susceptible to crosses from wide areas, which means my WB's are often caught high up the pitch by the opposition wide players, the following changes are made:

  • move WB's to FB position and change role to CWB - this allows them to come back deeper when defending, however maintaining their attacking exploits
  • change the left CWB to an 'attack' duty, so that he overlaps the DF who has a 'hold up the ball' instruction. The space he leaves behind will be covered by the energetic and hard-working BWM
  • add 'get further forward' instruction to the BBM. This way he connects much better with the Fantasista and the AM, as well as poses another attacking threat. The right CWB, who remains on support duty, maintains a wider and slightly deeper position, thus balancing play nicely on the right flank

 

These changes have another important effect. As the BBM is now instructed to advance forward, this complements very well with our Fantasista's tendency to drift out wide and then cut inside from the flank:

a8f161903f1a72fcc81f721bfb54f1f4.jpg

The PPM 'cuts inside' from both wings is crucial in influencing this type of movement, and having implemented the above changes now we have Luan occasionally drifting out to the right and freeing up space for the BBM and the AM to run forward into. This lateral movement from our fantasista also means our right CWB is much better supported.

Apart from the above mentioned issues, there are another few things that need addressing:

  • we perform too many transitions than I would have liked. I want my team to exploit both, the pass&move as well as nicely executed counter-attacks, but I want to focus on the first out of these two, as I feel that would benefit the Fantasista's tendency to drift around, spray passes and create/exploit space
  • the structured shape as well as the BBM getting forward up the pitch result in us being over-stretched at times, leaving the midfield vulnerable to counter-attacks
  • the side CM's aren't as close to the wings as I want them to be. I want them to perform the mezz'alla role - operate in the half wings and offer support to the CWB's and the central players.
  • we have too many long-shots and I suspect this relates very much to the first of the issues I have mentioned- transitions and support options. We're often in situations where our most advanced player is still far away from goal and yet he chooses to shoot from distance.

 

One of the more encouraging parts is the 'action area' of the fantasista:

fbe87f3e4145930f3651c9086814bf44.png

As you can see, pretty much all of his touches happen in the 'Tre-quarti' area. Given his PPM's, he has a tendency to mainly operate in the centre-right. He is involved in the midfield passing to great extent and does exactly what I want him to do in terms of movement too: occasionally dropping deep, or drifting to the flanks, or springing forward to apply the final finish. Now remember why I said the tactical creator screen can be deceiving? :)

In the next part we will look at how I will address the above mentioned issues. Hopefully, by the time I get to writing it, I will have played through the State Championship which isn't much of a challenge for a team of our level. The First Division should be where everything comes under the magnifying glass and when mistakes start to matter more, as well as.... well, success :)

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy this series and don't forget to follow me on twitter @LPQR_FM or my blog - fmasymmetric.wordpress.com

Edited by LPQR

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The Fantasista: King Kasper - Part three

Image result for kasper dolberg

 

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

taken from my blog

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

Hello and welcome to the latest and last instalment of this series. In the previous two parts we've looked at what are the key traits of a fantasista and how it can be interpreted as well as translated into FM. Here are the previous two parts if you haven't had a chance to go through them: Part One and Part Two.

To briefly sum up the essence of this project, my aim was to try and recreate a role that has perhaps faded away from the modern football vocabulary - the role of the creative forward that can defy the traditional confines of the game and offer that little bit of magic that turns the game in his side's favour. Part one covers a few important aspects - why the fantasista isn't the same as a 'false nine' or a 'second striker' for example, or in short... what are the traits that make up to define its' style. In part two we've looked at Luan and Gremio as an experiment. We've covered how important it is that the overall design of the tactical set-up benefits from a fantasista and how to make the best use of his qualities.  Unfortunately all my saves from before a couple of months back vanished and I don't have the luxury to show the screens but Luan finished as the top scorer/top assist holder in the Brazilian top division as well as holding the record for the most key passes executed in the league. 

As mentioned before, there are a few ideal characteristics I would look for in a player in order to get him to play as close to a fantasista as possible and that included a few PPM's:

  • Tries killer balls often
  • Plays one-twos
  • Moves into channels
  • Comes deep to get the ball
  • Curls ball

Whilst the style of play/movement these would help create would definitely ease the implementation of this role into FM, I wanted to show that different types of players can perform the fantasista role differently just as much as Del Piero was a different kind of fantasista from Totti or Baggio. At the end of the day what you want him to do is ... well... 'the magic'. 

Now I've chosen a bit of a challenge for this part. Having looked through Ajax's roster I just couldn't resist managing that squad full of young talent that just recently made the headlines by getting to the Europa League final. Plus... what better candidate for the 'fantasista' role can I possibly ask for than a young, talented and 'open to moulding' Kasper Dolberg?

d8b85bbb7738989c35c856688133379a.jpg
 
A fantastic talent, no doubt, and with bags of potential as well. His attribute spread is well rounded and offers us an interesting mix of physique & intelligence and technique. Afterall... core elements of the whole Ajax football philosophy. Still, un-impressed by his personality I brought in Didier Drogba on a free to help tutor Kasper and increase some of his mental attributes as well as change the 'fairly sporting' personality, which isn't really the best you can get. The result?
 
 
Six months later, Kasper is a 'perfectionist' and his determination went through the roof thanks to the tutoring spell he's had:
 
 
047b09089d6c41765aea2ee230d9a0b9.jpg
 
Perhaps less great is the fact that he's also managed to 'inherit' a PPM from Drogba that isn't really what I had hoped for: runs with ball through centre. Still, this only adds to the challenge that I have set out initially - different players with different styles of play can still perform the fantasista role in their own style. 
 
 
Over to the system now - I've recently covered a 3-2-2-2-1 with Gladbach that focused on the half-spaces and exploiting them through mobility & intelligent play. On a second glance, Ajax have the perfect squad for that system and a fantasista could add some interesting dimensions to its's style. Now initially I used a 'defensive forward' for the striker role in that system - a role that hassles the opposition backline when not in possession and a pivot that holds up the ball and looks to support play when in possession. In the same line of thought, the previous task could be performed much, much better by a fantasista. As for the first... well, the complete opposite - I can't expect a fantasista to run miles and hunt the opposition aggressively for the ball. Still, the benefit of having a much more creative role performing a task that has creativity as the main requirement could definitely outweigh the loss of 'aggressive forward pressing'. 
 
 
So here is how the set up would look like with the addition of a fantasista upfront:
 
 
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Straight away, what jumps on the eye is the number of attacking duties present in the final third. Now there are a number of 'influential' guides out there to help you create a tactic and most of them would classify this as illogical. Why? The legend says you need a good ratio of support/attack duties in order to have a balanced system with players that connect in their movement and technical feats. This is sound as a basic principle, however, this system shows one particular dimension that I've always though to be a bit of a nuanced one, or at least tough to classify as 'fundamental truth' or you know... '10 things you need to do in Football Manager' kind of thing. The connectivity of the players on the pitch isn't always about support/attack/defend duties. What matters is how each role with its' given instructions/duty and in conjuction with the overall instructions of the system makes him behave in relations to the others around him. 
 
 
So what would that mean in our scenario? It means that the front three (Treq + SS + AM) are each performing duties that complement each other and that result in constructive/creative movement upfront with an increased level of urgency. Part of the reason why I chose all of the roles on attack duty is because the very formation we employ guarantees a high number of bodies in the midfield strata, which already helps us maintain good pressure on the opposition for winning back possession as well as the numbers to circulate and retain the ball in midfield.
 
 
Same would go for the defensive side of our style: the most problematic area we can face (the wing) is well covered by the pressing triangles formed by the side CB's, one of the DM's and the respective WM on the same side of the pitch. For more detail, have a look at the above link on the Gladbach System, where I explain the ins and outs of the system in more detail. Finally, the only aspect of our style that could be problematic would be not having enough incisive intent in the final third.
 
 
Hence three attack duties, which however support each other well and perform different tasks that ensure good connectivity and interplay: A shadow striker that gives us aggression, verticality and that very incisiveness in the final third, an attacking midfielder that acts as an offensive playmaker whilst also having a fair share of defensive responsibility and an important positional pivot for maintaining possession, and finally the fantasista: moving into channels horizontally and vertically in front of these two, dropping deep to help in possession, one-twos, a killer ball, a diagonal pass... everything you could possibly want from a fantasista. In order to make sure the player does what is best for the system, here is how I instructed Dolberg to play:
 
 
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Essentially he becomes a different kind of pivot by holding up the ball, a task that is very suited to him due to his good physical stats (balance + strength). So, here is the typical scenario when the team performs attacking transitions:
 
 
57528f7ff44369183f71433acba1bb0f.png
 
- the fantasista (treq) looks to hold up the ball and spray an important finall ball for the on-running options. The yellow lines outline the offensive passing options Dolberg can perform providing he can make use of his balance + vision + passing in order to execute a turn & pass. There are four potential openings that can be on the receiving end: SS, AM & the WM's. The two blue lines show the 'safe route' in case Dolberg is pressured by the opposition to the extent where he can not turn/pass. This duty of holding up the ball, spotting the opening and providing the final ball is a task the trequartista is much better equipped to perform compared to the previous role of the defensive forward. 
 
 
- given that the Trequartista is a playmaking role, in current FM dynamics, that means that he will attract the ball and team-mates will look to him as the main source of creativity upfront. We only have two playmaker roles in this system: the DLP, responsible for organising and creating play from deep and the Trequartista/Fantasista himself. This makes attacking build up much easier, because the Trequartista is a role that makes himself available for a pass almost every time. This comes at the cost of him denying his defensive duties, but that is why this role is so special: when the team is defending / in the process of winning back the ball, the Trequartista will ignore that and instead look to find the best possible position to receive a pass and break play forward. Pure fantasista style. This is why you will find him lingering on the touchline at times, upfront, near the last man or deep down in midfield - he is simply roaming around assessing the situation on the pitch according to his own tactical intelligence (why mentals are so important for the role!) and finding the best position to receive a pass and create an attack from it. 
 
 
- On a last note, I mentioned before that the fantasista is different from a false nine or a withdrawn striker. He is much more aggressive (risk-wise) with the ball compared to a false nine - he will look to attack the goal just as much as supporting his team-mates, if not more. Compare to the withdrawn striker, the fantasista does not have a 'fixed' position behind a specific player and does not rely on him to create space for him. As mentioned before, you will see him be far up the pitch at times, as high up as a poacher, and as deep in midfield as a CM at other times. Of course, there are hundreds of systems employing various styles of fantasistas, some even behind two strikers, but I'm trying to get as close as possible to the ideal definition of the role that I have in my head. On this note, the trequartista in the striker role is still a role on an 'attacking' duty, and his charge in the final third is much more aggressive compared to a false nine or a DLF. 
 
 
Here is an example of how the fantasista helps us create space for the other attacking options in the team: the play is focused on the right wing in this very instance, with our RWM looking to initiate an attack from the wing. Whilst the situation unfolds, our fantasista drags with him four opposition players, as he is the only striker we have, as well as our primary creator - so definitely danger no.1 for the opposition. This in turn, leaves our shadow striker with an incredible amount of space to receive the ball, assess the situation and take a decision. 
 
6ff8260769271d600e8214b57379718b.png
 
Here is an example of how the player assesses the best position to adopt when building from the back: as you can see, he left the initially central position in order to drift all the way to the wing, as Veltman (our CB) has the ball and is looking to build from the back. Dolberg drifts all the way to the touchline, which gives Veltman a free passing lane to find him, whilst maintaining the possibility of supporting the four attacking options he would have ahead of him once he would receive the ball:
 
 
c107513ccfecec7fd30fbc6c9e238509.jpg
 
Finally, the way that the Trequartista always move around into 'pockets of space', looking to stamp his mark on the game make him perfect for the style of play I am (was) trying to achieve in this system. As mentioned before, it's quite the mistake to start building a system for the sake of one player or trying to chop and change too much just to make sure you can exploit a specific player. The ideal situation is when the role/qualities of the player and the objective of the system are mutually beneficial. So for a system that seeks to exploit the half-spaces with intelligent movement and creativity as well as have enough attacking dent in the final third, the way Dolberg interprets the role make him a perfect fit for us. As for his 'fantasista' responsibilities....
 
53a9bec39ea1f21c996bb54899c97e46.png
 
We finished our first season as champions and Kasper topped both the goalscoring and the assist charts in the league. He also holds the highest rating for key passes in the league:
 
99e820e0ab811ac49e26645ce8574468.png
 
I couldn't resist playing this save further due to how invested I became in developing Ajax's youngsters as well as seeing Kasper develop further. Four years later, Kasper's Ajax career looks like this:
 
e0db3bc8cbad2dcbca41ff2c8cd4519f.png
 
Already a club legend, alongst the likes of Cruijff and Van Basten, he helped us win three consecutive Champions League titles (2018, 19, 20) and absolutely rocked the Eredivisie in each and every season, perhaps with a slight drop in form in the last, for which he was injured 6 months. With 93 goals and 43 assists in 105 league appearances to date, I believe we've successfully converted King Dolberg into an effective fantasista of the modern game. I might consider doing a write-up on this Ajax save due to how well we've managed to develop the youngsters there, but that remains to be seen.
 
For now, and on a conclusive note, I believe both this and the previous part show that the fantasista can be of various profiles and can perform various duties in different systems. Apart from assigning the player to the role of a 'trequartista' one needs to make sure that makes sense in the design of the tactical system and that the fantasista can offer as much support to his team-mates as he receives it by them. Inter-connectivity and correct distribution of responsibility can make the fantasista a fearsome outlet of goals, assists, key passes and well... creativity. 
Edited by LPQR

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Great work again, I think player traits are something than can really elevate systems tactically but they're something that I often don't consider.

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My favorite player growing up was Roberto Baggio. This along with the fact I haven't used the Trequartista role since forever makes this so interesting for me, so I'm following. It is a great read as well, fantasista writing :D.

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On 1/22/2017 at 09:44, Fosse said:

Great work again, I think player traits are something than can really elevate systems tactically but they're something that I often don't consider.

thanks :) funny thing, I was having a conversation with @Ö-zil to the Arsenal! yesterday, we were talking about how the general FM player tendency to go for fluid and very fluid systems blurs the importance of specific player characteristics/roles. Yes, it's a different approach that can be successful given there's enough attention to detail.

26 minutes ago, fmjeros said:

Nice write up and i hope you find success. I recommend reading this excellent article about the decline especially in europe of the classic No 10's http://www.zonalmarking.net/2010/03/26/trequartista-engance-classic-no-10sstruggle/

yeah, there are loads of articles on the number 10 that pretty much say the same thing - how modern football tendencies have changed from the individually brilliant to the collectively fit :) 

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Im looking forward for the next parts, very interesting topic, mainly because I'm struggling to get the best of Ante Corić, who seems like to have great skillset for Treq.

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Not gonna lie... i had a bit of willy dribble over this thread! 

 

Classic 10's are my favorite types of players, you named the two who for me are the greatest Italian 10's of either side of their careers. Baggio and Totti, sorry Del Piero fans but Totti edges it for me.

 

I have tried to recreate a classic 10 player before i find on this FM i use Treq's differently to what a classic 10 would be. 

 

Im going to try a new formation using raumdueters and a treq in the AM strata.

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@craigd84 classic 10 is a very vague term :) that was one of the key arguments I tried to illustrate in this project. be it Totti, Del Piero or Baggio, they all had different playing styles and most importantly they all had different tactical roles designated to them in the systems they were used. Hence, much of what comes to define a classic 10 comes down to popular culture rather than tactical parameters. 

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See i think Totti and Baggio are similar, Del Piero is different. I know what you were getting at with your illustrations but classic 10 players be it Fantasista's or Riquelmes are still my favorite players to watch. Watching a magician of the ball like Totti is something iam lucky to have done in my lifetime!

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another season played in this wonderful Ajax save and I'm calling it quits. this is Dolberg's career so far :)

 

ebeb04806897f68fb2564e2cd162648c.png

 

08fa13fe7ac2da478ec0869fc1b171cb.jpg
 

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Great work, really enjoying reading this. Quick question if you don't mind me asking: In your first tactic you used a structured team shape to allow the Treq (Fantasista) to enjoy more creative freedom and stamp his authority on the game. Now your Gladbach system uses a very fluid team shape, so I'm wondering how this impacts how the he plays on the pitch and why you opted against using a structured team shape? 

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I'm surprised that his attributes aren't higher, obviously he's very well rounded but with such high professionalism I'm surprised there's not more 16s and 17s. Not that it matters really as he's scoring and assisting loads.

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10 hours ago, jc577 said:

Great work, really enjoying reading this. Quick question if you don't mind me asking: In your first tactic you used a structured team shape to allow the Treq (Fantasista) to enjoy more creative freedom and stamp his authority on the game. Now your Gladbach system uses a very fluid team shape, so I'm wondering how this impacts how the he plays on the pitch and why you opted against using a structured team shape? 

great question :) and indeed one of the key points that I forgot to explain in the write-up. 

Think of shape/mentality and the specific nature of the role as three key things mutually affecting each other. So, for example, with Gremio I opted for a structured shape, control mentality. What does this mean for the trequartista? It means that he will look to contribute less to collective efforts of pressing/defending and he will be more likely to focus on his own thing - his attacking/creative responsibilities. Given that the mentality is set to 'control', that will emphasise his attacking/creative intent even more, as the high risk mentality in a structured shape will tell attacking players to attack more than it will tell that to defenders or midfielders.

Consequently, with a standard/very fluid set up: in this system the Trequartista will look to contribute more to collective efforts and will perhaps be less 'individualistic' in his style of play, something that I want him to do given the very nature of our football style (something close to total football if you wish, where there is a high emphasis on collective pressing and interactive movement). Now given the fact that fluidity also increases creative freedom we still get a fantasista with a reasonable 'creative license', however much more oriented towards collective intent. As you can see in the post above, his very position and tactical duty in this formation implies a 'pivot-like' role for the team, where he acts as the connecting dot for a high number of players around him. The risk (mentality) is set to standard so he will be less direct in his runs/passes/movement, which again favours our possession-based style of play. 

The parameters of fluidity/mentality combined with the role are a very tricky thing and offer very nuanced options. Assessing them correctly is the key thing, though :)

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9 hours ago, Fosse said:

I'm surprised that his attributes aren't higher, obviously he's very well rounded but with such high professionalism I'm surprised there's not more 16s and 17s. Not that it matters really as he's scoring and assisting loads.

his PA is capped, there's not a lot you can do about that, high professionalism or not :)

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53 minutes ago, LPQR said:

his PA is capped, there's not a lot you can do about that, high professionalism or not :)

I didn't word it well but I meant that I thought his PA would be higher

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@LPQR

In true FM press conference style... I'm 'running our of superlatives'. :D

Awesome as always and thank you for the time and effort to put this things together. :applause::onmehead::applause:

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4 hours ago, davehibb said:

@LPQR

In true FM press conference style... I'm 'running our of superlatives'. :D

Awesome as always and thank you for the time and effort to put this things together. :applause::onmehead::applause:

;)

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Really interesting topic. I was coming to similar conclusion without reading your experience, while creating and using formation that supposed to create move an pass mentality, but with high degree of creativity in certain roles as well.

ST - TREQ-att - In theory, if you have ENG in team, your counter attacks will not be so effective. I guess this is reason why, besides unawareness on how ENG really works, is the reason why there just a few tactics with ENG. But TREQ make this line of thought outdated. As you all know by now, he is creative and playmaking role as well, so there is natural magnet that pulls ball over from ENG all the time, but you have one natural balance in team with two true creative players (or at least, roles). This is the reason why counter attacking football with this formation is not only possible, but it is great, and one of best parts of watching games. 
Treq is sometimes moving towards the ball, sometimes is exploiting space behind defenses. In both cases, he is creating, just by moving like this, tons of options. Your players can decide to find him behind defense, and if he is fast enough, you might have your one-two punch in FM. Or in same situation, they may decide to pass it to RMD or ENG. Either way, because of Treq pushing back D-line, both of them now have space to run into with ball, and usually in situation 3-3 where player with ball and one other player are unmarked, this is PARTY TIME!
Or, he may come towards the ball, in which case, RMD can push forward and exploit space left behind, or if D-line does not move, he will be in space with the ball without marker. Once again, PARTY TIME!
And, in attacking zone, he will move all over the place, creating havoc in defensive line, and combined with RMD and ENG, but do not forgot our BWM, it is just question how good is he in scoring and assisting, not will he ever have opportunity to do it.

I was combining three roles Treq as most advanced player, RMD out on wide and ENG as creative player in order to achieve Capello s three man counter attacking system. 

My true goal was, however, to add a little flair to otherwise completely pass and move style of play. I believe i did achieved this, but interaction with this trio is incredible... Although, it comes with price tag, my defense is not really best in world, but who cares when you get to watch truly beautiful movements and creative passes... This formation even made me to watch whole games just for fun :lol:

Anyway, great tread, and waiting for follow up impatiently. 

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21 minutes ago, duca015 said:

I was combining three roles Treq as most advanced player, RMD out on wide and ENG as creative player in order to achieve Capello s three man counter attacking system. 

sounds interesting, have you got any write-ups on it?

I'd only use that combination of roles in a flexible/structured system, tbh. The Enganche is a fantastic role if used properly, but many people get put off by the fact that it doesn't close down at all and can't be used in collective pressing, which is the main form of defending in this year's FM - you'll notice nearly everyone plays with either a Fluid or Very Fluid shape. The Enganche is a different kind of pivot and you're right, it would excel in a set-up where your attacks are based on creativity/flair. I think @Cleon did a couple of pieces on the Enganche, well worth a read 

As for the follow up, the third part has been the final one of this series :) 

 

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Yes, but I dont know if is allowed to put links to this tactic... 

I apologize in advance if it is not allowed to put links to other forums:

http://www.fm-base.co.uk/forum/share-download-fm-17-tactics/366212-adaptation.html

I agree with you for Enganche, it is become my favorite role in FM... I did took notice after reading few of Cleon s write ups.... 

And, yes, I  had to change to structured formation to keep some team shape and to have little more defensive stability, you are right. If I did not, it would be disaster... 

I am currently trying to achieve same game play experience as with this tactic, but in different shapes... I am trying to do the same with withdrawn ENG, to try to replicate this role in CM strata, and then to do the same with RMD role in wm position, just to have different options against different opposition and setup, and as part of reactive strategy against very defensive opponents I am facing currently... 

Edited by duca015

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3 hours ago, LPQR said:

As for the follow up, the third part has been the final one of this series :) 

 

Is the BMG save still active mate? Is the thread likely to have further updates?

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Just now, davehibb said:

Is the BMG save still active mate? Is the thread likely to have further updates?

aye, I've finished the second season with them, just don't have time to write :D Mad Max pt.2 pending as well

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20 minutes ago, LPQR said:

aye, I've finished the second season with them, just don't have time to write :D Mad Max pt.2 pending as well

Cool. :thup::)

You know how much I like a German save! :lol:

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I have just signed a 32 year Mesut Ozil for my Ajax save. He has all the desired PPM's including "prefers pass than shot" so he will be a different kind of Treq to Rafal Navarro.

 

I have my Treq set in the AM slot with a Poacher uptop works very well.

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Great read. Brings back memories about regen I had in my Genoa save in FM14. He spanned with 18 in flair, vision, technique en first touch and most other attributes pretty decent as well, only rather slow. I reformed my whole tactic around him. He created, he scored, I guess he was a fantastica as well. The magic of the number 10 shirt.

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just a quick bump on this - out of pure curiosity, what are the Fantasistas of FM18 that stuck with you the most? Feel free to spam with screens :D

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1 hour ago, LPQR said:

just a quick bump on this - out of pure curiosity, what are the Fantasistas of FM18 that stuck with you the most? Feel free to spam with screens :D

I got all excited when I saw you'd posted mate. Was hoping for updates, articles and careers from your good self! :D

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18 minutes ago, davehibb said:

I got all excited when I saw you'd posted mate. Was hoping for updates, articles and careers from your good self! :D

ah, maybe soon mate, haven't had time to delve into experiments for a long time now :) 

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On 26/01/2018 at 10:14, LPQR said:

just a quick bump on this - out of pure curiosity, what are the Fantasistas of FM18 that stuck with you the most? Feel free to spam with screens :D

I'm gonna start a save as Roberto Baggio as manager of Inter and Italy, so I need a Fantasista (and a tactic to get the most of him!) Any ideas?

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1 hour ago, BadAss88 said:

I'm gonna start a save as Roberto Baggio as manager of Inter and Italy, so I need a Fantasista (and a tactic to get the most of him!) Any ideas?

Wayne Rooney?

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2 hours ago, BadAss88 said:

I'm gonna start a save as Roberto Baggio as manager of Inter and Italy, so I need a Fantasista (and a tactic to get the most of him!) Any ideas?

Cassano? van Persie?

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8 hours ago, BadAss88 said:

I'm gonna start a save as Roberto Baggio as manager of Inter and Italy, so I need a Fantasista (and a tactic to get the most of him!) Any ideas?

For Italy, Veratti sounds perfect. Other options are Insigne and Franco Vazquez. For Inter, I've heard Felipe D'Amico turns into a brilliant one.

Edited by FlairRA

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3 hours ago, FlairRA said:

For Italy, Veratti sounds perfect. Other options are Insigne and Franco Vazquez. For Inter, I've heard Felipe D'Amico turns into a brilliant one.

Veratti is far more of an aggressive regista rather than fantasista - his primary qualities are 1) work rate 2) short / long pass accuracy 3) space awareness and mobility 4) Anticipation 5) Effective combat contact 6) technique

 

He is nowhere near in terms of attacking / technical / creative ability to play upfront. His off the ball movement is great behind the midfield and in front of defense - in the FREE ZONE. Not the same can be said of his OTB movement in the final third.

 

Vazquez is an excellent example though. In his days in Sicily, Palermo was basically playing with two Tequartistas / Fantasistas: Dybala in a more advanced position and Vazquez more withdrawn.

 

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29 minutes ago, LPQR said:

Veratti is far more of an aggressive regista rather than fantasista - his primary qualities are 1) work rate 2) short / long pass accuracy 3) space awareness and mobility 4) Anticipation 5) Effective combat contact 6) technique

 

He is nowhere near in terms of attacking / technical / creative ability to play upfront. His off the ball movement is great behind the midfield and in front of defense - in the FREE ZONE. Not the same can be said of his OTB movement in the final third.

 

Vazquez is an excellent example though. In his days in Sicily, Palermo was basically playing with two Tequartistas / Fantasistas: Dybala in a more advanced position and Vazquez more withdrawn.

 

image.thumb.png.57ed449afb8a4228298b9beac0abb2cd.png

Ah my bad, I mixed up the fact that you're using a TQ in the ST position and not the AM position. That being said I don't think he's a particularly hardworking player, with his 13 work rate. 17 teamwork does help though. However he definitely has the attacking and creative ability, look at his PPMs (has Dictates Tempo and Plays Killer Balls Often), mental and technical stats. Almost all of them have 17 and 18 ratings. While he can play the regista role well I can see him playing as a TQ too, though his off the ball is disappointing as you pointed out I believe he can make up for that with his incredible technical skill when he does get the ball. 

 

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14 minutes ago, FlairRA said:

image.thumb.png.57ed449afb8a4228298b9beac0abb2cd.png

Ah my bad, I mixed up the fact that you're using a TQ in the ST position and not the AM position. That being said I don't think he's a particularly hardworking player, with his 13 work rate. 17 teamwork does help though. However he definitely has the attacking and creative ability, look at his PPMs (has Dictates Tempo and Plays Killer Balls Often), mental and technical stats. Almost all of them have 17 and 18 ratings. While he can play the regista role well I can see him playing as a TQ too, though his off the ball is disappointing as you pointed out I believe he can make up for that with his incredible technical skill when he does get the ball. 

 

I agree he'd make a fantastic Treq or Enganche in the AM position. Maybe better at Eng. to make up for his lack of OTB movement and pace.

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2 hours ago, FlairRA said:

Ah my bad, I mixed up the fact that you're using a TQ in the ST position and not the AM position. That being said I don't think he's a particularly hardworking player, with his 13 work rate. 17 teamwork does help though. However he definitely has the attacking and creative ability, look at his PPMs (has Dictates Tempo and Plays Killer Balls Often), mental and technical stats. Almost all of them have 17 and 18 ratings. While he can play the regista role well I can see him playing as a TQ too, though his off the ball is disappointing as you pointed out I believe he can make up for that with his incredible technical skill when he does get the ball. 

 

Fair point regarding work rate - I only judged regarding what I've watched about Veratti :) did not know FM rated him so low in workrate which is, frankly ridiculous. 

Considering the FM stats he was given, he could perform in a number of roles, including in the AM strata. I would go for a role that makes him sit deeper and track back in midfield rather than getting into the box, considering his low OTB and Finishing stats. Examples could be EG, AM(S) and AP(S) with personalized PIs

2 hours ago, westy8chimp said:

I agree he'd make a fantastic Treq or Enganche in the AM position. Maybe better at Eng. to make up for his lack of OTB movement and pace.

Agreed, would be much more fit for Enganche than a Treq

Edited by LPQR

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It's funny that this thread got a bump, as the last few weeks, I really wanted to develop a tactic that utilised a fantasista and have got a 4-3-1-2 working decently whilst testing it with PSG and Juve. But then again, they do have Neymar and Dybala. :D

And I signed Fekir in both saves too. :D

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2 hours ago, davehibb said:

It's funny that this thread got a bump, as the last few weeks, I really wanted to develop a tactic that utilised a fantasista and have got a 4-3-1-2 working decently whilst testing it with PSG and Juve. But then again, they do have Neymar and Dybala. :D

And I signed Fekir in both saves too. :D

try it with some lower league teams, I remember having a beautiful system with Artium Firenze which featured a fantasista upfront next to a DF in a 3-4-1-2 WB . Both forwards were serie B level and the DF got into the top 5 scoring charts of Serie A as well as the fantasista scoring highest in the league for chances created, key passes and assists. 

Whilst in the Gremio and AJax saves I've shown how Fantasistas can fare in posession-based systems, the Artium save showed that Fantasistas can perform in counter / defensive / structured approach too, which re-inforces what I wrote in the first posts:

 

On 22/01/2017 at 03:56, LPQR said:

For now, and on a conclusive note, I believe both this and the previous part show that the fantasista can be of various profiles and can perform various duties in different systems. Apart from assigning the player to the role of a 'trequartista' one needs to make sure that makes sense in the design of the tactical system and that the fantasista can offer as much support to his team-mates as he receives it by them. Inter-connectivity and correct distribution of responsibility can make the fantasista a fearsome outlet of goals, assists, key passes and well... creativity. 

 

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@LPQR I am just so wary of 3 at the back systems.

That said, my 4-3-1-2 is basically 2 at the back, with a DLP-D shield, because my wingbacks bomb forward so much. :D

I just feel that 3 CBs is a waste of a 'skill' player further forward.

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I'm going to be creating a formation that uses two trequartista in the AM strata to replicate the Cassano Totti combo at Roma, the freedom and link play was fantastic to watch.

Play's one two's 

Moves into channels 

Curls ball

Killer balls

I think these would be the core PPMS so far. 

 

Cassano would have rounding the keeper.

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8 minutes ago, davehibb said:

@LPQR I am just so wary of 3 at the back systems.

That said, my 4-3-1-2 is basically 2 at the back, with a DLP-D shield, because my wingbacks bomb forward so much. :D

I just feel that 3 CBs is a waste of a 'skill' player further forward.

well, it depends on the team you are playing as well as their quality. I could not afford 2 centre backs with stats for heading, marking, tackling, positioning and bravery between 11 and 13 playing in the serie A  :) 

the system above was the best thing i could use in order to maintain stability at the back (half back was our best player in the team) as well as having fire power in attack - we had 5 people in attack (the two wb's bombing forward, the two strikers as well as the AM getting into the box) supported by the Roaming Playmaker as well as the HB drifting to the M-line.

 

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