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Manchester City Pep Guardiola Tactic Recreation

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Great job. Appreciated the effort. 

Just one thing, i cant see the closing up shot formation. Problem with the picture. 

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16 hours ago, coach vahid said:

Just one thing, i cant see the closing up shot formation. Problem with the picture. 

Thanks for letting me know,  Should be fixed now!

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On 31/05/2020 at 13:42, Columnarius said:

So that's what I've been able to figure out so far but I'm not sure its the best and most accurate way to reflect what City do.  Keeping in mind the quantitative stats, how else might you approach it?

Closing up shop doesn't need to mean you have to go defensive to be honest. If your side is really good, you could just stay on balanced or positive and slow down your tempo. Thats provided your team can keep the ball and move it around. Narrow will help you keep the ball, but you could also do different things.

For example, sometimes I like to lower my tempo, but maintain width in attack with direct passing. Again, thats because my team is good at passing and off the ball movement. Our passes are going to have the effect of moving defences around creating more chances caused by them chasing our players, you have 2 fullbacks on defend duty.  I do think that City typically play with an IW/IF combo, this does allow them to stretch the field quite a lot with their side.

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Posted (edited)
30 minutes ago, Rashidi said:

Closing up shop doesn't need to mean you have to go defensive to be honest. If your side is really good, you could just stay on balanced or positive and slow down your tempo. Thats provided your team can keep the ball and move it around. Narrow will help you keep the ball, but you could also do different things.

For example, sometimes I like to lower my tempo, but maintain width in attack with direct passing. Again, thats because my team is good at passing and off the ball movement. Our passes are going to have the effect of moving defences around creating more chances caused by them chasing our players, you have 2 fullbacks on defend duty.  I do think that City typically play with an IW/IF combo, this does allow them to stretch the field quite a lot with their side.

@Rashidi Thanks for jumping in.  While trying to achieve what you are describing in past FM versions, I often felt like I could do it with balanced or positive.  This year, it seems like the players play a bit more aggressive for what I want, which is to just keep the ball and only score if there's an obvious opportunity.  Also, in past versions, it seemed like Ultra Defensive caused teams to get rid of the ball pretty quickly while this year they seem able to patiently move the ball around for extremely long stretches even under some degree of pressure.

I'll go back and take another look at whether I can actually hold the ball better on balanced as that was what I originally tried to do.

Regarding the point about the IW/IF, I think you are getting at the idea that they often have one of the two players in the AML|R strata out wide and the other more narrow in the channel.  I agree and I've got that in the main tactic but not in the shut up shop tactic.  I'll go back and revise that.

---

Separately, one thing I'd love to hear your opinion on is how we might get closer to the average number of passes City achieve.  If you were to tinker with your recreation tactics to achieve it, what might you try?  Maybe something for a new Liquid v3/v4 2020 video?

Edited by Columnarius

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Posted (edited)

I'd really love to hear suggestions on how to improve these further to get closer to the stats.  I also think there are more "adjustments" based on in-game situations that we can standardize.  I see many "I sometime change X" comments but I don't feel like we have a well known standard list to employ.

  But in addition to that, things to still work on for me include:

  1. Common variations of the 4-1-2-2-1, such as:
    1. The DM drops back to become the third man of the 3 man defense and the FBR pushes up more aggressive alongside the FBL
    2. Both FBs play narrow and both AML|Rs play wide (Sane as the AML and Sterling as the AMR)
  2. City's less aggressive variation used in tough away games
  3. Alternative formations that City have played over the past couple of years, which include 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1, 3-1-4-2, 4-1-3-2 and 3-4-2-1
  4. City's common set pieces (please link to articles or videos if anything comes to mind)

 

Edited by Columnarius

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Posted (edited)

In-Match Adjustments

When playing a defensive team that is hard to break down, I:

  1. Set mentality to Attacking
  2. Setting Passing Directness to Shorter
  3. Set Tempo to Extremely Low
  4. Change the WB-S to an WB-A
  5. Change the DM-D to a DM-S
  6. Change the IWB-D to an IWB-S

When playing a team that presses aggressively (they could be playing anywhere from a Cautious to a Very Attacking Mentality, I:

  1. Set Tempo to Slightly Higher
  2. Set Dribbling to Dribble Less

Watching the match, I'm looking to see that my players stop clearing the ball and instead try to move it to the next player fast enough.

 

Edited by Columnarius

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Posted (edited)

I just wrapped up a full season.  Let's compare to reality.

image.thumb.png.3fdb32beced67809ef1b24e535e6265b.png

104 points broke the 2018-2019 title winning side's record for most points and wins in a season.  80 goals meant I had 2.1 goals / game, which was a bit below the 2.37 they averaged so far this season.  20 goals allowed meant I had .52 goals allowed / game, which is substantially lower than the 1.1 average.  So it looks like I can be a bit more aggressive in order to get closer on this.

image.thumb.png.dc75b016ca06a732c4dead4b137f874a.png 

I came in at 15.9 shots / game, which was a bit under the 18.6 they've averaged this season and matches up with the lower goals / game number.

image.thumb.png.a1934c3c03ada642d785ad267e36361a.png

Average Possession of 56% is lower than the 61.2% I was targeting.  I attribute this to the amazing degree to which teams can keep the ball in their own third when playing defensively in this year's version of the game.  I've made progress but still can't fully crack "Setting Traps" for these teams that force them to clear the ball sooner.

image.thumb.png.9fa998ea5082f867c2f497c2d4e417c2.png

Average Passing Completion Ratio was spot on.

image.thumb.png.29f5c9adfa124534f6d8bf3882cdaca3.png

If my math is right, I averaged 573 passes per game.  So even with my shut up shop tactic, I wasn't able to get that close to the 674.6 number.  Maybe I need to increase the tempo?

image.thumb.png.4543b1faa83ef7783b892f23208c9074.png

20 Dribbles per Game far eclipsed the 13.1 average in real times.  Reducing dribbles and increasing passes would help get closer to the desired balance.

image.png.55912f42e37500230aa071e26a9a62cc.png

The AML/AMR players are clearly where all the extra dribbling is happening and are way over the ~1.7 dribbles / game they average in real life and so this looks like something to adjust.  the CF is also roughly double Aguero's actual 1.1 dribble / game.

----

So it feels pretty close!  I guess I need to go back and look at a few adjustments and give it another shot?

 

 

Edited by Columnarius

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Posted (edited)

has anyone been able to get the two midfielders + striker to link up and play off eachother? I have had success achieving the 2-3-5 with the inverted wingbacks tucking in to support the DM, however my striker feels non existent the entire game. Additionally, both midfielders refuse to pass the ball to the striker under any circumstance and opt to play the ball to the wingers 100% of the time.  

Thanks 

Edited by Experienced Defender
pointless remark

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, l9s5 said:

has anyone been able to get the two midfielders + striker to link up and play off eachother? I have had success achieving the 2-3-5 with the inverted wingbacks tucking in to support the DM, however my striker feels non existent the entire game. Additionally, both midfielders refuse to pass the ball to the striker under any circumstance and opt to play the ball to the wingers 100% of the time.  

Thanks 

Yes it's possible. I was able to achieve good central passing play with 2-3-5 in my Total Football tactic but it required switching to a Strikerless formation with shadow striker or sometimes an attacking midfielder on support up front.

Edited by crusadertsar

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Posted (edited)

I've revised the tactic and gone through another season and I think It is pretty close!

As a reminder, I outlined various real-world stats for Man City and the average position per player as the basis for what I wanted to emulate starting here: 

 

As I highlighted above, I really wanted to further improve the Average Possession % and Average Number of Passes / Game, which was significantly below City's real-world average.  To do this, I improved both the offensive approach and the defensive approach.

Offensively, my focus was on looking at ways to reduce the chance of me losing the ball, which most happened either by failing to dribble past a defender or being too aggressive in the attacking third.

Defensively (meaning not a transition to defense moment), my focus was on both further compressing the space around the opponent's ball carrier while cutting off obvious passing outlets to induce a clearance.  A key takeaway from re-reading some of the excellent linked media was that City focus more on forcing the defender to clear the ball than on actually tackling and winning the ball off of the opponent's ball carrier.  Man City have one of the fewest number of tackles but the highest tackle success %, which I found interesting.

To get an idea about this, I recommend reading the Pressing section of https://spielverlagerung.com/2018/01/02/how-peps-citizens-have-taken-over-england/ and watching the following:

What I take away is that successfully replicating Man City's pressing relies on the following:

  1. The way supporting players positions themselves to deny passing options, mark opponents tightly and compress both the horizontal and vertical space to restrict off the ball movement options
  2. The angles players take when they press to keep opposing players in their cover shadow
  3. The direction they press players towards (back inside or towards the side lines) in order to reduce passing options
  4. The decision making of when to Press (this one is challenging to replicate so instead we make the players decide to press very frequently)
  5. The decision making of whether to Tackle when Pressing (this one also challenging to replicate and so instead we tackle aggressively)

With these points in mind, I set about resetting my approach to their defense to reduce my opponents' Passing Accuracy and Possession %, particularly in their defensive third by trying to find ways to get them to clear the ball.  If we win the ball, great, but that isn't the actual purpose.

Formation, Position, Roles and Duties

image.thumb.png.2176fa47673c5e6dd211082e16201d79.png

Changes from my previous iteration, which you can see details on in the last few posts, include:

  • CF-A becomes a PF-S
  • IFL-A becomes an RMD
  • IWR-A becomes an RMD

These changes reduce Avg. # of Dribbles / Game while still maintaining the off the ball movement patterns City exhibit in this particular instance of their variants.  These changes also raise the Average # of Passes / Game, the Average Possession % towards the target numbers.  Finally, we get some beautiful forward runs onto through balls from the AML/Rs deep in the opponent's third and that classic cross or cut back from the end line that City use so effectively. 

The down side is that we do not see the ideal width from the AML/R as frequently as I'd like but the RMD role will roam outside sometimes and the average positions remain acceptably realistic given the other benefits these roles and duties provide.  I hypothesize we can further affect this with Personal Player Traits.

It is critical to use roles that do not have dribble often in order to achieve the desired Average Number of Passes / Game and get closer to the desired number of Average Dribbles / Game.  We simply cannot use the Winger Roles or the F9 and do that from my experience so far.

  • DM-D becomes a DM-S

The more aggressive personal mentality translates into just a bit more threat and support play from the DM.  In particular, the DM will switch play from one side to the other not just in their own defensive third but in the attacking third, which City often need to do to create space against a defensive-minded opponent.  I think it also adds a bit more compactness to the defensive positioning of the vertical lines, reducing space for the opponent to make forward passes into.

  • WBL-S and IWBR-D move fro the FB to the WB strata.

This is not an offensive-oriented change but more of a defensive one.  By moving up to this higher strata, these players can more effectively tightly mark opponents' AML/Rs when the opponent has the ball deep in their own third, which increases the chance that the opponent will decide these players are not available and will instead clear the ball.  I believe this significantly improves Average Possession %.  Second, Man City is more likely to contest long balls to the wings due to closing down triggering further up the field.

  • SK-S becomes a SK-A

This increase in the GK's mentality results in them playing further out of the box to sweep more balls over the top, which improves our Average Possession %.  I did not notice a major reduction in the GK's Passing Accuracy for Ederson.

All other positions remain the same to what I posted previously so please take a look at those posts for more explanations on why I chose those roles and duties.

Mentality and Team Instructions

If you review my previous testing, you will see that I was:

  1. Considerably low in Average Passes / Game
  2. Slightly low on Average Possession % / Game
  3. Considerable high on Average Dribbles / Game 
  4. Slightly low on Average Shots / Game

These team tactics improve the areas that were most off and while Mentality remains Positive,  there are a number of TI changes.

In Possession Team Instructions

image.thumb.png.576798b7671d2609715aff9ba7eb96b2.png

We adjust and use Fairly Narrow Attacking Width, Shorter PassingStandard Tempo and add the Dribble Less team instruction.  This combination increased Average Passes / Game and Average Possession % much closer to our targets while reducing Average Dribbles / Game.  It also slightly improved Average Passing % / Game.

In order to not turn into a team that keeps the ball but never scores, we add the Pass into Space instruction.  As @Rashidi has mentioned on many occasions, this TI is situational and not great against highly defensive teams defending deep but defaulting this to on often works with this variation of the tactic and is key to increasing Average Goals / Game above 2.

We keep Play out of Defense and Work Ball Into Box to preserve the replication of the attacking play and ball movement in both our defensive and attacking thirds.

Transition Team Instructions

image.thumb.png.bf6c4e8bd41e2d76dc838d89a6605d10.png

For transitions, we add Distribute to FullBacks and Distribute to Centre-Backs as this slightly improves Passing Accuracy for our GK although honestly you could leave this off and not notice much of a difference in my view.

We keep Counter-Press but leave the defaults on for when possession has been won to reduce the chance over over aggressively counter attacking while still doing so in obvious moments.

Out of Possession Team Instructions

image.thumb.png.01d6ee486ba825fd99a64ca901b3bd05.png

We adjust the Line of Engagement to Much Higher in order to start our press earlier.  We adjust our Defensive Width to Narrow to reduce passing options in the middle, particularly when we've forced the ball to one side of the field.  We add Extremely Urgent Pressing and Prevent Short GK Distribution to reduce time on the ball.

We also add Use Tight Marking as this is key to Pep's strategy of forcing a long clearance.

Lastly, although I wanted to actually use Stay on Feet in order to increase the chance that I can harass the ball carrier until they clear it, I felt I had to go with Get Stuck In, to effectively cause my opponent the clear the ball frequently, which seems to rely on the defensive player attempting to tackle as opposed to pressing but not tackling.

We keep a Higher Defensive Line and use of the Offside Trap to compress the vertical space.  So in summary, we are HIGHLY AGGRESSIVE on Defense.  What makes this setup work is what we do with Opposition Instructions and Man Marking Personal Instructions, which denies passing options and increases the number of clearances.

Personal Instructions

We make numerous PI changes, both offensive and defensive.

PF-S

  • Pass it Shorter - This improves our ball retention in the final third, affecting our Average Passing Accuracy / Game and Average Possession %.
  • Mark Specific Position: DM - This is all about setting up the PF to better keep a DM in their Cover Shadow.  With the use of the own body, a player can position himself between the ball carrier and an open man, covering the latter in his fictive shadow. Therefore, the defender can prevent a pass while pressuring.  By marking a DM, it reduces the chance that the DM will be open to receive a pass when the PF presses a GK, CD, or FBL/R.  No need to adjust if the opponent is not playing with a DM.

RMD L/R

  • Mark Tighter - These reduce the chance that the FB L/R or WB L/R or CD L/R is considered open, which in-turn increases the chance of a clearance.  Combined with opposition instructions, this also improves the chance that these players are in the Cover Shadow of the RMD L/R.x

MEZ-A

  • Pass it ShorterShoot Less Often - These improve our ball retention in the final third, affecting our Average Passing Accuracy / Game and Average Possession %.

RPM-S

  • Shoot Less Often - This improves our ball retention in the final third, affecting our Average Passing Accuracy / Game and Average Possession %.
  • Move Into Channels - This creates the desired movement and average positioning and facilitates the 2v1s and 3v2s on the wings in addition to creating nice angles for crosses and through balls.

WBL-S

  • Pass it ShorterShoot Less Often - This improves our ball retention both in terms of how we move the ball out of our own half and how we are patient with the ball in our opponents defensive third.  This improved our Average Passing Accuracy / Game and Average Possession %.
  • Close Down MoreTackle Harder - These improve our ability to fight for long passes down the wings and denies our opponent's wide players from easily progressing up the field.  It also helps balance out our narrow defending in our own defensive third and reduces the time our opponent has to cross the ball into our box.
  • Mark Specific Position: AMR - Per the comment in the Position, Role and Duty Section, man marking of the AMR makes an incredible difference, both in terms of marking out the opponent so that opposing players are less likely to pass to this player as well as increasing the likelihood that the WBL will challenge for long balls out wide by starting closer to the AMR.  No need to adjust if the opponent is not playing with an AMR.

IWBR-D

  • Pass it ShorterShoot Less Often - Same reasoning as above with the WBL-S.
  • Close Down MoreTackle Harder - Same reasoning as above with the WBL-S.
  • Mark Specific Position: AML - Same reasoning as above with the WBL-S.

DM-S

  • Pass it ShorterShoot Less Often - These improve our ball retention, affecting our Average Passing Accuracy / Game and Average Possession %.
  • Close Down  - This helps shut down counter attacks given the DM is further up the field due to their Support duty.

CDL-ST

  • Pass it Shorter - This improves our ball retention in our own defensive third and the middle of the field, affecting our Average Passing Accuracy / Game and Average Possession %.
  • Stay Wider - This helps the team achieve its 3-Man Defense when in attack by getting out wider to more closely mirror the IWB-D while the CDR-D stays central.

CDR-D

  • Pass it Shorter - This improves our ball retention in our own defensive third and the middle of the field, affecting our Average Passing Accuracy / Game and Average Possession %.

SK-A

  • Tackle Harder - This helps defend counter attacks by increasing the chance that the GK is going to come out of the box aggressively to defend 1v1.

Opposition Instructions

image.thumb.png.fac9427112ff4ee6743da0b53db3e05b.png

Opposition Instructions, specifically closing down defenders onto specific feet, is key to pressing when in the defensive phase of the game and both forces ball carriers into uncomfortable situations where they are more likely to clear the ball and improves cover shadow positioning.

By closing down the CDL/R on their inside foot, a pressing player forces them back inside where we often have a PF or a CM lurking.  Also, by positioning themselves to the opponent CDL/R's outside, which improves the chance that the opponent FB/WB on that side is in the pressing player's cover shadow.  This concept also applies to DMs when the opponent plays with two of them.

By closing down the FB/WBs on their inside foot, it forces them to face wide and makes use of the side line to help us reduce passing options and encourage the ball carrier to clear the ball long.

This, together with the TIs and PIs has made a big difference in reducing the opponent's Average Possession %, particular in their own defensive third and increased clearances.

----

image.thumb.png.278b941bf0d282b85736611aefabe98a.png

The Ultra Defensive Version, used to shut up shop by remaining highly aggressive on defense but patiently moving the ball around on offense, was also updated.  It now looks like this:

 

All PIs are the same as the primary tactic.

 

Edited by Columnarius

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Posted (edited)

Here's a full season:

image.thumb.png.64324f0643cd3f5f6a3eacc69493aeb6.png

Average Possession % climbed to 61%, which was spot on to the 61.2% real-life average.

image.thumb.png.57103fdb4f483ea6c83c2c4007cd0885.png

Average # Passes / Game also climbed to 639.8 (The math on that is 22126 / .91 / 38).  This is still below the 674 / game but quite a bit closer.

image.thumb.png.ca5c3aeffb1f4825eb93c1e7ce21af47.png

Average Passing Accuracy % increased to 91%, which is above the real-world average of 89%.  Let's look more closely at this in terms of passing accuracy by player.

image.thumb.png.16848704eabd312da1ba936d4bdfc8a8.png

Ederson's 91% was well above his real-word average of 86%.

Stones (CDR) was spot on at 94% while Laporte (CDL) was lower at 91% than their real-word average of 92.1%.

Walker and Cancelo (the IWBRs) were higher at 91% / 92% than their real-life averages of 88.9% / 89.4%.

Mendy and Zinchenko (the WBLs) were lower at 87% / 88% than their real-world averages of 88.3% / 91.5%.  This may reflect that I didn't alter the mentality for Zinchenko, who I think usually plays with less aggressive personal instructions than Mendy in real life.

Fernandinho and Rodri (the DMs) were higher at 95% / 94% than their real-world average of 89.8% / 92.2%. 

David Silva and Foden (the MEZs) were higher at 89% / 91% than their real-world averages of 87.3% / 88.7%.

De Bruyne (the RPM) was significantly higher at 90% than the real-world average of 81.7%.  This suggests the tactic did not encourage him to be adventurous enough.  This is confirmed when we look at his Assists / Game, which are .41 compared to his incredible real-world average of 1.65.  This is an area that requires some tweaks in the tactic!

Sterling (the RMDL) was significantly higher at 88% than than their real-world average of 81.8%.  This either suggests the tactic did not encourage him to be adventurous enough or reveals a disconnect between the game's ratings where Sterling has a passing of 13 compared to reality.

By contrast, Bernardo Silva (RMDR) was lower at 86% than their real-world average of 89.3%.

Finally, Aguero (the PFS) 94% than their real-world average of 80.7%.  This suggests the tactic did not encourage him to be adventurous enough.

image.thumb.png.fe6877649ad6905ae271316e3c30da94.png

Average Shots / Game increased to 17.3, which got a lot closer but still fell short of the real-world average of 18.6. 

image.thumb.png.61c59209c67b269813655bc97bcbb0fb.png

Average Goals / Game increased to 2.13, which got a lot closer but still fell short of the real-world average of 2.37.

If we consider these last three points together along side the details of the player passing percentages, we can hypothesize that increasing the aggressive passing a bit more of De Bruyne, Sterling and Aguero (while figuring out how to account for Bernardo Silva's more conservative passing) may get us the rest of the way however we will have to consider that against the desire to maintain the overall Possession %.

image.thumb.png.f930982ae3478fcfc9160f563befc315.png

Even with the role and duty changes, we only reduced Average Dribbles / Game from 20 down to 18.  Let's look closer at the dribbles by player.

image.thumb.png.35cb5ad19d3b74e79f3a43651b50bf56.png

We had a more substantial reduction for the RMDL/Rs than the PFS but these remain high.  I think the last think to try here is to append Dribble Less PIs to a number of roles and see if that further reduces beyond what the Dribble Less TI is already doing.

 

Edited by Columnarius

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