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Counter Attacking for a Noob


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Hi Guys

I've read a few of the recommended posts for tactic building as well as pairs and combinations, applying all that knowledge isn't that easy. I'm not used to playing counter but want to try it out. I'd like some constructive criticism of my tactic, if you feel its total rubbish I'm not averse to changing it drastically as its a work in progress. I envisaged a counter system where a central striker would link with the midfield and also hold the ball while pacey wide men would make runs beyond the defence after the striker draws the defenders away. I'm playing with MUFC so I thought that giving Pogba the RPM role would allow him to move freely and pop in the box occasionally as well. I haven't put in any specific team instructions because I didn't want to overcomplicate things I just added overlap since the wide men will cut in a lot and the wing backs will have space.

 

Some problems I've identified:

  1. Players tend to play too many long balls and defenders are overly ambitious with passing leading to very low possession
  2. Lack of movement causes players to shoot from distance too often
  3. Lack of clear cut chances
  4. Midfielders don't track runners, although this may just be down to individual player stats

The few positives I found were:

  1. The defensive line is relatively stable
  2. Opposition generally don't create many chances despite lots of possession
  3. Goals conceded are low and generally aren't from shots in the box.

Any help will be appreciated thanks. If you feel I should read a post by one of the experts or re-read something feel free to point it out.

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I'm not an expert or anything but with just a quick look, I see why you're lacking of movement upfront. When your team has the ball, only the Raumdeuter and the Roaming Playmaker are making runs. On the left side you should either put your IF as IF - A or your fullback as WB - A. 

The defensive forward is quite interesting to play but you need to have THE player with the right stats to be effective.

 

For your problem with defenders loosing the ball, you could try the TI "Play out of Defence" and see what happens.  

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I'm sort of in between striker roles I'd use either a DLF, DF or possibly CF need to test which will be best. I don't know if play out the defence would work because midfielders lose the ball playing long balls and defenders lose it both using long ball but also attempting through balls instead of just the simple pass. I'll give the attacking wing back a go since it;s natural for my players.

32 minutes ago, CRN711 said:

I'm not an expert or anything but with just a quick look, I see why you're lacking of movement upfront. When your team has the ball, only the Raumdeuter and the Roaming Playmaker are making runs. On the left side you should either put your IF as IF - A or your fullback as WB - A. 

The defensive forward is quite interesting to play but you need to have THE player with the right stats to be effective.

 

For your problem with defenders loosing the ball, you could try the TI "Play out of Defence" and see what happens.  

 

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I would drop the wide players back a notch to get more players back when defending, because for a CA tactic to be really effective you want your opponent to overcommit players forward. That's often best done defending deep. You can still set them up as wm with the same pi's as rmd and if.

Consider changing the bwm to a cma or bbm, to get another runner from midfield. If you do this you might want to change your dm duty to defend.

Drop the overlap shout. This can cause good CA chances to break down, because the wide man holds up play waiting for a fullback to overlap.

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10 hours ago, jdreyer said:

I would drop the wide players back a notch to get more players back when defending, because for a CA tactic to be really effective you want your opponent to overcommit players forward. That's often best done defending deep. You can still set them up as wm with the same pi's as rmd and if.

Consider changing the bwm to a cma or bbm, to get another runner from midfield. If you do this you might want to change your dm duty to defend.

Drop the overlap shout. This can cause good CA chances to break down, because the wide man holds up play waiting for a fullback to overlap.

Thanks for the advice. This tactic used to be exactly that 4-1-4-1. I think the main issue there was I wasn't sure of the roles for my wide players. I knew winger probably wouldn't work because they will rarely have lots of targets in the box. I tried wide midfielder but the players stayed too narrow and didn't try to beat the defensive line and I had the long shot problem. Any suggestions for wide player roles? I could explore wide player but I'm not sure.

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You are on Counter mentality which is low risk... but your players positions lend themselves to more risky, direct passes to space... and more risky runs forward into space etc.

If you genuinely want to counter, you need more players behind the ball, don't worry so much about your possession (you want the opposition to attack and have plenty of the ball).

If you want that tactic to work, up your mentality and add a central runner i.e. cm attack instead of BWM d ...give Pogba more options.

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49 minutes ago, westy8chimp said:

You are on Counter mentality which is low risk... but your players positions lend themselves to more risky, direct passes to space... and more risky runs forward into space etc.

If you genuinely want to counter, you need more players behind the ball, don't worry so much about your possession (you want the opposition to attack and have plenty of the ball).

If you want that tactic to work, up your mentality and add a central runner i.e. cm attack instead of BWM d ...give Pogba more options.

I understand how counter should work, but realistically even on counter if the team has 70-80% of the ball the tactic plays more as parking the bus rather than counter-attacking. I'll try more conservative roles and see if the passing improves.

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8 minutes ago, ObservingGuardian said:

I understand how counter should work, but realistically even on counter if the team has 70-80% of the ball the tactic plays more as parking the bus rather than counter-attacking. I'll try more conservative roles and see if the passing improves.

The difference between counter and park the bus (contain) is how your team reacts when they win the ball... not the defensive stage. So you want to park the bus... and then spring the attack (counter) you still need the opposition to commit...then you win it and overload them.. (whereas on contain the team would settle with the ball and eventually clear or try and keep possession)

You are right though, with Man Utd you don't want to be giving up 70% possession... so you shouldn't really be using counter mentality. You can create a bottom heavy formation, but with attacking mentality (win the ball deep and then attack with high tempo).. or a top heavy formation with defensive mentality (win the ball high up the pitch and then stage maintained attacks).... or have more conventional roles for a big club and go with standard/control...

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13 hours ago, ObservingGuardian said:

...

I'm not used to playing counter but want to try it out.

...

I'm playing with MUFC

...

Even if you sit deep and allow teams to push up, they aren't really going to commit players forward and leave you space to attack with "all out" counter attacks that get triggered.

Assuming the above is true, how do your roles+duties play out?  You have one player looking to make runs behind the opposition, the rest are either staying deep to collect the ball or to cover, with later runs from the WB-S.  Your then telling the wide forwards to hold up the ball and wait for the WB's. There is nothing counter attacking about it, its all covering + possession and runners from deep.

If you want to (counter) attack quickly as a big club you can't really rely on the triggered "all out" counters where roles+duties don't come into play.  You need to setup your roles + duties in a way that allows for fast attacks.  Once the roles + duties are sorted you can use the mentality + team shape as required, you could play Attacking but tell the team to Drop Deeper etc.

I would focus on re-balancing the midfield trio so you have a runner from CM, with his partner linking (RPM can do this) and the DMC sitting.  You won't need two wingbacks if your attacking quickly, i'd have a FB-A / WB-A overlapping the IF-S and just a cover/support WB-D / FB-S behind the RMD-A.  Finally the forward can probably contribute more than just being a DF, you can always add PI to another role to make him close down more.  Don't be afraid of using an attack duty, with an IF-S + RMD-A and runners from CM he should have support.  Get rid of Look For Overlap, if you want a (counter) attacking style you'd be better off using Pass Into Space and letting the wide forwards attack space quickly instead of waiting for deeper players, which allows defenders to get organized.

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2 hours ago, summatsupeer said:

Even if you sit deep and allow teams to push up, they aren't really going to commit players forward and leave you space to attack with "all out" counter attacks that get triggered.

Assuming the above is true, how do your roles+duties play out?  You have one player looking to make runs behind the opposition, the rest are either staying deep to collect the ball or to cover, with later runs from the WB-S.  Your then telling the wide forwards to hold up the ball and wait for the WB's. There is nothing counter attacking about it, its all covering + possession and runners from deep.

If you want to (counter) attack quickly as a big club you can't really rely on the triggered "all out" counters where roles+duties don't come into play.  You need to setup your roles + duties in a way that allows for fast attacks.  Once the roles + duties are sorted you can use the mentality + team shape as required, you could play Attacking but tell the team to Drop Deeper etc.

I would focus on re-balancing the midfield trio so you have a runner from CM, with his partner linking (RPM can do this) and the DMC sitting.  You won't need two wingbacks if your attacking quickly, i'd have a FB-A / WB-A overlapping the IF-S and just a cover/support WB-D / FB-S behind the RMD-A.  Finally the forward can probably contribute more than just being a DF, you can always add PI to another role to make him close down more.  Don't be afraid of using an attack duty, with an IF-S + RMD-A and runners from CM he should have support.  Get rid of Look For Overlap, if you want a (counter) attacking style you'd be better off using Pass Into Space and letting the wide forwards attack space quickly instead of waiting for deeper players, which allows defenders to get organized.

I tried a similar tactic a midfield trio of an RPM BBM and a DM(D), WB(A) and FB(S) in wide areas. I used a CF(S) or a DLF(S). In general the tactic didn't work. The counter-attacks never got started because players always chose to play long balls to the striker instead of to players in space. Players would be in space but both wide players would ignore them and pass backwards or inside. The biggest issue was we never got into the final third to shoot, we'd average 4-7 shots per game with maybe 2 inside the box. I'm not sure what the flaw in that system was. I can't play 4-1-4-1 because I don't have the personnel and don't want to sell good players just for a tactic.

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17 minutes ago, ObservingGuardian said:

I tried a similar tactic a midfield trio of an RPM BBM and a DM(D), WB(A) and FB(S) in wide areas. I used a CF(S) or a DLF(S). In general the tactic didn't work. The counter-attacks never got started because players always chose to play long balls to the striker instead of to players in space. Players would be in space but both wide players would ignore them and pass backwards or inside. The biggest issue was we never got into the final third to shoot, we'd average 4-7 shots per game with maybe 2 inside the box. I'm not sure what the flaw in that system was. I can't play 4-1-4-1 because I don't have the personnel and don't want to sell good players just for a tactic.

If you were on Counter Mentality then the defend duties will have quite direct passing, but they won't be risky passes into space. They're keeping it safe getting it away from goal and aiming for someone.

If your only attack duty was the RMD i'm going to guess you lacked a presence in the box.  The IF-S, DLF-S, RPM and BBM all working more outside the box with occasional runs into the box. Without seeing the play for myself I would assume a DLF-A, AF-A or P-A would of helped, any would of offered more of a presence in the box, just in different ways.

Apart from that it sounds like you need some combination of: 

  1. a higher mentality - changes passing patterns, increases tempo and forward thinking / risk taking (less lateral / recycling passes).  pushes up the d-line so might need to adjust it so you don't camp opponents in.
  2. more Risky Passes PI'S and/or Pass Into Space TI - Both do the same thing, it depends if you want particular players or the team to try those passes.
  3. adjust passing distances - mentality does this but you can tweak it through PI screen.  Play Out Of Defence can get the deeper players to go through the midfield rather than going long.
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I think people are overthinking it a little here.  you don't HAVE to make the opposition press forward to initiate counters, even defensive teams can be hit on the break with fast, direct football.  You'll get a few more opportunities to do so IF they do, but no point in bending over backwards and inviting unnecessary pressure just for a couple of more instances.  The point in the counter option of mentality is to be cautious but break when that moment arrives.  For sure you'll want to limit hold up play when it comes about but that comes down to game intelligence of the players.  

You have loads of specialisations in that team and playing structured meaning they will be close to robots in their roles. the RPM will look to link play in the final third wandering between your front 3 looking to receive the ball and move it on but will ultimately slow them down.  Even on support, not really going to provide much cover when you lose possession because he's going to be advanced when you lose the ball and not bust a gut to get back.

It wouldn't hurt to have a full-back/wing-back on attack duty provided that he's paired up with a support role ahead of him and preferably a defensive role for the CM on his side of the pitch.  There's a lot of people chiming in with options so I'll throw mine in the mix too.  It's all options and I'm sure everyone's is tried and tested as is mine but will ultimately come down to whether you can get the right players performing the right roles.

central 3 in your midfield,  BBM (make sure he's quick and good stamina of course) gets forward on the break but will work back and help keep the centre fleshed out when you don't have the ball.  BWM(d) to do exactly what his role says in order to give the ball to the 3rd man, a DLP(d) preferably with Dictates Tempo to intelligently decide whether that break needs to be triggered or to hold of and retain the ball for you.

This is yet another thread I've talked up DLP(d)'s, I'm in no way a fanboy, honest.

 

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6 hours ago, ObservingGuardian said:

Thanks for the advice. This tactic used to be exactly that 4-1-4-1. I think the main issue there was I wasn't sure of the roles for my wide players. I knew winger probably wouldn't work because they will rarely have lots of targets in the box. I tried wide midfielder but the players stayed too narrow and didn't try to beat the defensive line and I had the long shot problem. Any suggestions for wide player roles? I could explore wide player but I'm not sure.

I usually play the 4-1-4-1 with either a Wa or a WMa with IFa PIs on one side. On the other side a WMs either set up as a IFs or a pseudo WPM (pi: sit narrower, more risky passes, dribble more). Ordinary FBs and FBa behind them.

A good dribbler with cuts inside ppm is awesome as a Wa. This type of winger, at least for me, gets in between the fb and dc and make crosses closer to the area.

Playing on a less risky mentality such as counter, the build up play is relatively slow. If you have sufficent support/runners from midfield you can indeed have enough players in the box for your winger to make a cross to.

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