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mernild

3-5-2 problems when attacking

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This is not a "Nothing is working"-post. But a "Can you help me optimize my tactic"-post.
I have stuck with this formation since FM18 was released and I have gotten a lot of success with it. My team has gone from the 3rd best divison in Denmark to being title contenders in the best division in just 6 years. So I can't complain about that.
I'm playing with a standard mentality with a flexible team shape. Only TI is closing down more, and sometimes I'm using a slightly higher defensive live. Only PI's are the CM(A) to try more riskier passes and the keeper to play it to the Central defenders.

I used to score almost all of my goals on through balls to a quick striker (AF) who either scored himself or passed it backwards to the DLF. That was possible since we were always huge underdogs and teams would press high against us.
However, now that I have top players (compared to the divison) on every position, teams are playing much more defensive and we don't get those "easy" chances anymore. So most of my goals are now from set pieces or lucky long shots. We do not create many chances and often we have between 0 and 3 shots on goal in a game.
However the 3 man defence is really solid and we concede very seldom. 24 goals conceded in 36 league games. By far the best in the league. That was enough to secure us the second place in the league.

I can find some thing that is wrong with the tactic, but I might not be skillful enough to find a solution so that is where I hope to get help from the community.

Things I have found that coud be a problem:
* Average possesion is just below 50% (not necessarily a problem) even though the pass completion is the 3rd best in the league
* Cross completion is lowest in the league with 10%
* Chances created is 7th in the league out of 14 teams. Not good enough
* Shots on target is also 7th in the league
* We commited the least fouls in the league and won second least tackles (even though the tackles won ratio is really good) even though we had "close down more".
* My AF is still my top goalscorer even though he does not score like he did before. However he also has more than twice the assists (12) from my second best assist player (5). Ideally I would want the assists to come from the creative players (the DLF, the CM(A) and the DLP) but they only got 4, 2 and 1. And the attacking wingbacks only has 5 and 4.

So to summarize:
Since I became an actual good team, chances created has declined a lot. We often don't create anything and win most matches 1-0. We might not be aggressive enough, but I have tried with more aggressive roles to little succes. What can be done?
Thanks in advance to anyone who wants to give me some hints.

Edited by mernild

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If teams are playing deeper and tighter against you, you're not going to be getting much opportunity for the quick pinging through ball, so I'd drop "more risky passes" from your CM(a). You might also want more movement from the front (giving one or the other of your strikers "move into channels", perhaps swapping the DLF(s) for an F9 or Treq), and if crossing isn't working out, "Work ball into box". You could also drop your WBL to a WB(s) and set the CM(s) to a Mezz(s/a) to again give more half-spacey movement on the attack.

It's very hard to get runs in behind a team that sits deep and plays conservatively, but you might have more luck playing a probing game, using more varied off the ball movement between the lines or across the pitch to pull the opposition out of shape.

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@cregan
Thanks a lot for the answer.
Well, the AF has "move into channels" by default. I don't think I should have both of the attackers drift away.
I will give the mezalla a try. Thanks

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Since I wanted to engage more in tackles and create more chances I have changed my mentality to Control. While that has solved some of my problems, it has also created new ones. This is what I have noticed happening from my first 11 league games with control:

* We are now 2nd in the league in "Chances created" and "Shots on goal", which was what I wanted to achieve. So I'm happy with that.
* Tackles won is second to lowest in the league. That is not necessarily bad since that could mean that the other teams are trying to stop us more than we need to stop them. But I feel like my increased mentality (and thereby increased closing down) would have made us win the ball more often.
* Most of my players are getting nice ratings. All above 7 in average. However, my Wingbacks are doing very poorly with average ratings on 6.61 and 6.69. This is my biggest issue with the tactic as of right now. I'm not sure if the ratings is because they are too isolated on the wings or if it's only a matter of unsuccessfull crosses.
These are the cross completions from my four wingbacks:

15/146
18/212
12/107
11/124

That is A LOT of wasted possesion! My wingbacks are some of my best players and they all have good crossing and decision stats. My forwards are not the best headers, but they are not terrible for the divison. I have tried with low crosses for some games, but that didn't improve the succesful crossing rate.
It's obvious that I should just let my wingbacks cross less often, but to do that I will have to put them on support duties which also lowers their mentality. I'm not sure this is a good idea since my attack will then lose a lot of width. What can I do about this issue? Should I just let them bomb in unsuccesful crosses or should I instead put them further down the playingfield and thereby lose width in attack?
 

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I tried putting my WB's on support but as I suspected, that resulted in a lack of attacking width and we didn't create enough.
Would love some feedback here since I've run dry of ideas here :)

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Maybe give them "play fewer risky passes" instruction and short passing..maybe it helps.

Is there a problem playing without any DM players and defend duty in your midfield? I find it to be a big problem for me when I try to create any system without defensive duty mids or player in the DM strata..

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1 hour ago, luka_ said:

Maybe give them "play fewer risky passes" instruction and short passing..maybe it helps.

Is there a problem playing without any DM players and defend duty in your midfield? I find it to be a big problem for me when I try to create any system without defensive duty mids or player in the DM strata..

I have 3 Central defenders instead of a defensive midfielder. We are very solid in defence and concede rarely. When we do, it's from crosses caused by our wb being 1v2. 

I appreciate your advice, but their passes are actually creating chances quite often. And if I made them play fewer riskier passes they would just choose to go for a dribble and a cross even more often - and that is really the problem right now. 

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I still haven't figured this out quite yet. I have done a lot of experimentation. I think the Wingbacks may be too isolated. I have tried with mezalla's in the midfield but that makes defending through the middle more vulnerable. I have also tried using Complete Wingbacks, but when they roam from their wide positions we are lacking even more width. Still the WB's ratings are often terrible due to the huge amount of unsuccesful crosses. Maybe I need a big man as the AF.

As I said ealier, everything went very well when we were underdogs. Currently leading my UEFA Cup group by a huge margin since we are underdogs against those teams and my AF gets lots of CCC's. However against the small teams, we can't really break them down. Maybe because of lack of width. Can't really tell.

On another note - When is your new article coming out @Cleon :) Could use some inspiration.

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Have you tried 'work ball into box' In theory, this will encourage your players to retain the ball, probe the defense (who as you say, are more defensive) and look for the right pass. This will allow the wing backs to stay high and wide too but the team instruction should reduce the amount of crosses they are putting into the box as the instruction should mean they look for an easy pass.

If you don't want to lose them long shots (if a player is particularly good at them) then maybe use 'shoot more often' PI.

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