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Diego Simeone -

Marcelo Bielsa - http://www.fm-base.co.uk/forum/share-download-fm-17-tactics/363445-revolutionary-marcelo-el-loco-bielsas-3-3-3-1-a.html

Thread Inspired by -

Jorge Sampaoli's 4-2-3-1 Sevilla
Welcome to another tactical discussion were I analyse one of Europes greatest manager and tacticans and implement it into FM, The Sampaoli band wagon has made it's way across the globe to Europe and is now regarded as one of the best managers in the continent with his fluid and precise systems, the theme of using very fluid tactics and a team of hard working and technical footballers to recreate the style of football made famous by the famous Marcelo "el loco" Bielsa and has had a strong influence on other great managers and their style of play.

In this thread, I am going to analyse Jorge Sampaoli's 4-2-3-1 formation employed by his his current Sevilla team who currently sit 4th in La Liga.

Sampaoli's style of play stems from the genius of Marcelo Bielsa and he is now regarded as one of the 5 disciples of his ideologies each playing a similar type of football with different players, different formations and in completely different leagues and footballing cultures, the most notable Pep Guardiola implementing this style in the Premier League.




    Key Characteristics to this style of play -

  • A high defensive line to compress the space the opposition have to play
  • Aggressive pressing all over the pitch to reduce the time the opposition have on the ball
  • An attacking mentality where the teams main goal is to score goals
  • Fluidity and rotation amongst players so the team are more flexible in transitions
  • A controversial managerial personality and an active contribution on the touchline



Sampaoli, in an interview after a 0-3 lose to Uruguay despite having 73% possession, when the stat was revealed to him in an interview after the game Sampaoli compared it to trying to bed a woman -

One night, I went to a bar, I was with a woman. We talked all night. We laughed, we flirted, I paid for several drinks of hers.

At around 5am, a guy came in, grabbed her by the arm and took her to the bathroom. He made love to her and she left with him. That doesn’t matter, because I had most of the possession on that night.


      Jorge Sampaoli's Major Honours


 Universidad de Chile

Torneo Apertura (2): 2011, 2012

Torneo Clausura: 2011

Copa Sudamericana: 2011


    Chile International Team

Copa América: 2015


The Philosophy



Jorge Sampaoli has been extremely successful as manager of Sevilla to date currently sitting 4th place in La Liga, Sampaoli is an expert in unlocking opposition defences in a typical South American fashion allowing his team a lot of creative freedom and fluidity commanding players to keep the ball whilst being direct and passing with a purpose, due to his success Sampaoli has been linked with prestigious managerial jobs such as Argentina and Barcelona but currently this season has sworn his loyalty to Sevilla.

Under Sampaoli Sevilla play a very fluid 4-2-3-1 formation which transitions to a 3-4-3, 5-3-2, 4-1-3-2 and many other different shapes throughout a game depending on opposition strength and the players at his disposal. His team try to control the space in the oppositions half with smart and precise player positioning, high intensity pressing whilst taking advantage of opposition mistakes is the main play maker in his side.

Many people have misconceptions of this particular style of play, some people have a simplified script in their head that this is to keep possession play tiki taka football whatever the case may be ...

But no successful manager plays to one simple script or encourage one set approach of football, Sampaoli even stating that he doesn't believe in formations as teams often play in unorthodox shapes as players carry out specific roles on the field, Sampaoli gives his players a certain amount of freedom which allows them to improvise on the field and able to think for themselves and deal with unexpected circumstances.


Can not be emulated 100% accurately due to ME restrictions but includes all the fundimentals off Sampaoli's system.


Sampaoli's Team shape and how they transition








  • Jorge Sampaoli one of the 5 disciples of Marcelo Bielsa integrates some of his ideologies into his playing style
  •                                                                                                                                                                Highly creative, free-flowing football.
  • Lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation - defence, midfield and attack highly integrated with each other.
  • Playing style inspired by Marcelo Bielsa's influence also playing a style in the Chilean National Team.
     Half back drops in between centre backs, Centrebacks drift wide also known as  a salida lavolpiana
    Wide Playmakers get into the channels and control the half spaces allowing wing backs to overlap
    N'zonzi the most important player in the squad dictates the tempo and distributes the ball to the wide areas.
  • Attackers triangle leads the pressing whilst one of the front 3 comes deeper to recycle possession.
    pressing as a unit (Fluidity)
  • superiority and taking advantage of quick transitions from defence to attack.
  • Focus on pressing and unlocking opposition defences
  •  Team is usually structured horizontally with emphasis on rotation and adapting to press certain opponents
  • High block defensive line controlling space.Emphasises on attacking the flanks with most of the goals coming from crosses.



Playing Style.


  • Highly creative, high tempo attacking football.
  • Team working together, attacking and defending as a unit.
  • exploiting opposition flanks attacking with direct forward passes.
  • Higher Defensive Line & Pressing.

Team Shape: Very Fluid


Mentality: Control

  • The main evolution to playing style.
  • Moving from Standard to a Control mentality offers several benefits:
  • Higher collective mentality.
  • Quicker tempo.
  • More width.
  • Higher defensive line.
  • More aggressive closing down.


Team Instructions





  • Tempo left on normal as the control mentality is already aggressive enough team will look to attack and a high tempo will lead to us forcing attacks and giving the ball away.
  • Fairly wide - make the pitch wider allowing more space to play aiding our formation and exploiting the flanks.
  • Prevent short GK Distribution, Press more and Slighly Higher Defensive Line - Playing on a control mentality already increases our defensive line and aggression towards pressing, these TI's compliment eachother and aid our high press.
  • Roam from position - Allows us to be fluid in our play and unlock defences, team works for each other and covers for another players mistakes.
  • Be More Expressive - Adds extra vision and flair to our game playing a Jorge Sampaoli style with flair in abundance.
  • Dribble Less -  I feel playing on a control mentality with the roles included in our tactic aim to run at the defence to often and ruins some of our attacks.
  • Whipped Crosses -  Sampaoli's side usually fire low crosses into the box when at the byline and whipped balls from deep due to the lack of height in the box.
  • Look for overlap - Increase amount of runs the wingbacks do and allow them to get a cross in our a cutback to one of the playmakers.


Player Instructions -

GK/ - Distribute to Centrebacks,More risky passes

WB/A - Close down more

BPD/D - Dribble more * encourages centrebacks to build from the back and drive forward*

BPD/C - Dribble more

CWB/A - Close down more

HB/D - Tackle Harder, More Direct Passes, More Risky Passes

BBM/S - Close down more ***Must set position swap with Half back***

AM/S - Close down more, Get further forward, Roam from position

Left AP/A - Close down more, Tackle Harder, Cross from By-line, Stay Wider, Get further forward

Right AP/A - Close down more, Tackle Harder, Get further forward, Cross from by-line

DLF/S - Close down more, Tackle Harder, Roam from position, Move into channels



Opposition Instructions




  • Encourages pressing all over the field with emphasise on winning the ball on the flanks and high up the field
  • Minimises opponents potential to exploit certain positions with hard tackling and showing onto weaker foot.
  • Minimises time strikers and wingers have on the ball.






Tactical Analysis -


The build up



  • Ball playing defenders push out wide offering a passing option to other players
  • The half back drops deep into a CB spot creating a 3 man defence
  • Wingbacks get further forward into advanced positions.




In the build up Iborra and N'zonzi rotate in their roles, one takes the half back role and sits as a central defender

whilst the other gets further forward and offers a passing option whilst the wingbacks take advanced positions upfield and provide width.


58fad082923d3_IborraHB.thumb.png.0b84932421b93a7cb07ca72221c96529.png        58fad0fb71400_IborrareallifeHB.thumb.png.57556c5f0201d7e8472c04d9e2fa7329.png


The same concept takes place only the players have swapped positions this concept which was mentioned earlier on is called

a salida lavolpiana 




Here is the concept in action :brock:



Rotation In attack




Sevilla play two wide AP's on who stays closer to the flank and one who roams into the centre of the field, in these 2 seperate games it is Nasri and Jovetic vacating these positions, notice how

the wingbacks have so much space to put a cross in, an overload is created in the centre of the field and the opposition full backs come out of position to press in turn leaving their position completely unvacated for the

Wingbacks to run into.




The same thing takes place only on seperate flanks


Notice how many goals have come from situations such as this, almost 1 goal a game.



Defending from the front


Sampaoli's side have many, many different shapes and positions to press and defend from the front most unachievable to include within FM so there is no need to go into too much detail, but one common them in Sampaoli's pressing is having 3 men charge down the ball and another 4 waiting to either recycle possession, press forward if the ball breaks through the first line or surge forward on the attack.


Here is an example of this -


Front 3 charge down the ball whilst the other 4 remain in shape to come and recycle possession when the ball has been lost



Here Sevilla have pinned the opposition back into their own half, the ball has went out for a throw in and the same positional co-ordinations are present.




Offensive Corners Sevilla usually have 5/6 Men in the box with 2 outside, sometimes the AMC in this photo goes short depending on the score of the match, A fast fullback and a defensively solid player is usually left at the half way line to make sure no opposition players can break away with the ball.



Defensively Sevilla usually have either 7/8/9 Men in defence depending on the score, to put emphasise on counter attack one man leaves the post with 2 central players waiting on the half way line, this usually creates a 3 vs 2 on the the opposition defence usually a striker and the CAM left forward with a Winger waiting to carry the ball.






**Player Prefered Moves **-

The Wing Back -  Gets forward whenever possible, Plays one Twos, Knocks Ball past opponent


The Complete Wing Back- Gets forward whenever possible, Places shots, Plays one Two's, Knocks ball past opponent





The Ball Playing Defenders- Tries long range passes, Switches ball to opposite flank






The Half Back  - Most important position in the team Useful PPM's = Dictates Tempo, Long range passes, Shoots from distance (Longshots atleast 14)


The Box to Box Midfielder- Comes deep to get ball, Arrives late in opposition area, shoots from distance, Moves into channels



The Attacking Midfielder- Tries Killer balls, ***Comes deep to get ball***, Shoots from distance




The Advanced Playmakers- Moves into channels, Plays one Twos, Comes deep to get ball




The Deep Lying forward- Plays one Twos, gets into opposition area, cuts inside from both flanks



Overall Team Shape


Shape in Attack




Tactic tested for 2.5 Seasons with Osasuna and half a season with Sevilla



OPTIONAL DOWNLOAD ( Leave thread in Discussion forum please!)

4-2-3-1 3-4-3 Sevilla Sampaoli _8616D29E-9F63-4C19-A9B4-E0B150158D75.fmf



fm defence.png

pressing 3-4-3.png

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Interesting choice of roles. But, I'm concerned for the front four as it violates the "un Enganche y tres puntas." I watch a ton of Sevilla games and the Wingers are definitely IF (s). The Am is an AP (a), IMO. Ganso and Nasri are the quintessential meaning of the Enganche. Of course the role called Enganche in the game is a bit too lazy for my liking. Moreover, on the TIs, I think the d-line can be pushed higher. I'm not too sure about the Dribble Less TI as well. Sampaoli let's his team dribble a bit more than that

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24 minutes ago, Jean0987654321 said:

Interesting choice of roles. But, I'm concerned for the front four as it violates the "un Enganche y tres puntas." I watch a ton of Sevilla games and the Wingers are definitely IF (s). The Am is an AP (a), IMO. Ganso and Nasri are the quintessential meaning of the Enganche. Of course the role called Enganche in the game is a bit too lazy for my liking. Moreover, on the TIs, I think the d-line can be pushed higher. I'm not too sure about the Dribble Less TI as well. Sampaoli let's his team dribble a bit more than that

I had the wide players both set as IF's but I felt they were less effective and didn't create enough space for the wingbacks, the AP's got onto the ball more and created more chances with get further forward and cross from byline they also roamed out wide and got crosses in because of this I didn't want to use an Enganche as there would be too much play makers in the side and I can't stand seeing a tactic on FM with more than 2, although what you said makes more sense on paper there isn't much difference in the game except for the AM doesn't attract the ball as much, I left the AM on support as in the match against Granada a few days ago I noticed Ganso very deep in his own area and I personally don't like my team winning the ball in their own half and using a playmaker (Ganso) as a pivot slightly slowing down the transition rather than counter attacking with better options ahead. I also decided to select dribble less as with a high line on a control mentality my attack minded players seemed to take too long on the ball and trying to take on opponents when they easily could have passed the ball, with such an attacking mentality players will still dribble when they need to but I feel this shout removes the unnecessary dribbling that seemed to ruin 1 in every 2 attacks.

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Great thread!

I haven't watched enough of Sevilla this season to comment more but it's a great read. 

How are you finding the HB working, with him being offset to one side? There seems to be an uneven spread of the back 3 when he drops in. Are you finding that space gets exploited by the opposition?

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8 hours ago, davehibb said:

Great thread!

I haven't watched enough of Sevilla this season to comment more but it's a great read. 

How are you finding the HB working, with him being offset to one side? There seems to be an uneven spread of the back 3 when he drops in. Are you finding that space gets exploited by the opposition?

Depends who you have in the role as long as the backline has decent positioning it should be okay.

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  • 4 months later...

This tactic is really strong. I'm having huge success with this even on the new update with SL Benfica, the players just seem to suit this down to the ground. A few small additions to the squad and I am really succeeding. Thank you for this!

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