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Experienced Defender

Possible tactics for top EPL teams (pt. 1 - Chelsea)

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Having noticed that quite a few people tend to struggle with creating tactics for top teams, I decided to try to help them get some fresh ideas by creating "tactics" I would likely use if I managed these teams. But let me first explain my approach when it comes to tactics creation...

What I do first is thoroughly analyze my squad. That helps me better assess where exactly both strengths and weaknesses of my team are, but also where I might be (potentially) lacking depth, which is important for dealing in the transfer and/or loan markets. Once I have familiarized myself with all this, I have a pretty clear idea about which tactical style (or styles) and formation(s) would optimally suit my players.

Then, based on that, I create what I call "primary" (or basic) tactic. By "primary tactic" I mean the tactic I intend to start most of my matches with. However, this primary tactic is not set in stone. I regularly make slight tweaks. Prior to the next match, these tweaks are based on analysis of the opposition. But there are also tweaks that I make during the match itself. These are, logically, based on what I observe while watching the match.

Therefore, my primary tactics have absolutely nothing to do with so-called plug-and-play tactics that you can find in the "tactics sharing and download centre" of this forum. I like to approach the game of FM in the same way real life managers approach real football. And given that no RL manager plays each match with an entirely identical tactic, why would I? 

Of course, the better a team you manage is, the less tweaking you'll need to do, because in most cases you'll be in a position to impose your style of football on the opponent. 

The team I will try to create the primary tactic for in this thread is Chelsea.

So, which formation would I use for "the Blues" following my analysis of their current FM squad (from the beginning of the season, not after the January transfer window)? It would most likely be a 4-2-1-3 DM Wide. 

Why this particular system? For two reasons:

1. because its bottom-heavy structure allows me to play a more adventurous style of football with less defensive risk

2. because the structure of players is such that it makes this system a good choice (though not the only one possible, of course)

Who would be my preferred starting 11 ?

GK - Arizabalaga (but only because he has better one-on-ones than Caballero; otherwise, Caballero might actually be the better choice)

DL - Emerson (there is little difference between him and Alonso, so this position would likely see a lot of rotation)

DR - Azpiliqueta (I think the choice here is logical)

DCL - David Luiz (the key reason I picked him - besides his mental toughness - is his ball-playing ability)

DCR - Rudiger (fast, strong and brave, with quite solid defensive attributes)

DMCL - Kante (a world-class DM, there is absolutely no question about who should play the more defensive of the two DMs)

DMCR - Jorginho (the main source of creativity from deeper areas of the pitch)

MC - Kovacic (has stronger attributes than Barkley overall, both defensively and attacking-wise)

AML - Hazard (who else?!?)

AMR - Willian (a bit more creative and technically gifted than Pedro, plus I need a good crosser of the ball on the right flank)

STC - Giroud (I suppose most of you would pick Morata as the faster guy, but Olivier's football intelligence and physical dominance in the box is what prevailed in this case)

Okay, so how would I set up roles and duties for these 11 guys?

PFsu

TQ                                            Wsu

CMat

DMde       REG

CWBsu     BPDco     CDde     WBde

SKsu

Which basic player instructions would I give to them?

GK/SKsu - no PIs

DL/CWBsu - no PIs

DR/WBde - take fewer risks, sit narrower

DCL/BPDco - stay wider, dribble less

DCR/CDde - take fewer risks

DMCL/DMde - mark tighter

DMCR/REG - mark tighter, get further forward

MC/CMat - mark tighter, move into channels, close down more

AML/TQ - no PIs

AMR/Wsu - cross from byline, close down more

STC/PFsu - shoot more often

What about mentality and team instructions?

Mentality - Attacking

In possession - (slightly) shorter passing, play out of defence, be more expressive, (slightly) narrower attacking width, work ball into box, overlap left, underlap right (optional/occasional TI - pass into space)

In transition - counter, distribute to CBs and FBs

Out of possession - higher d-line, higher LOE, use tighter marking, prevent short GKD

So this was a detailed description of my primary tactic for Chelsea. In the next post I'll try to explain the reasoning behind these tactical decisions.

 

 

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So let's pick up where we left off. The explanation of the tactic, that is.

As I said in the opening post, the bottom-heavy formation allows for more adventurous playing style with less defensive risk than otherwise could be the case, primarily in terms of mentality. It generally also allows for a bit more attack duties, but since I already opted for the Attacking (team) mentality, there was no reason to overuse them - because with such a high-risk mentality players will basically behave as if they were on attack duties even when they are on support. On top of that, more support duties make the system more fluid, which in turn facilitates a smoother build-up play, thus helping better keep possession.

Different people have different approaches. I am a sort of (rather) defensive-minded manager, so I always take care to be as tight in defense as possible. It does not necessarily mean playing on low-risk mentalities - and this Chelsea example clearly demonstrates that. What it means is - no matter what my primary playing style is, defense must never be neglected. And when I say "defense", I don't mean just defenders (and defend-duty midfielders). Rather, I refer to the defensive performance of the whole team, where each player has his part/area of responsibility. For example, strikers (and more attack-minded midfielders) can be told to do more pressing, in order to make it harder for the opposition to build from the back. The midfield can then be asked to mark tighter for the same basic reason. The goal is to help the defenders - including the keeper - have as little work to do as possible. And the more attacking/adventurous your tactical style is, the more important it will be how effective your midfield and attack are in performing their defensive duties

Now that we sorted out the defensive side of the game in general, let's focus on this particular Chelsea tactic. 

The basic idea is to try and dominate the opposition in such a way that they would be constantly under pressure, while having enough "bodies" behind, both to help recycle possession and prevent occasional counter-attacks when needed. 

Would I use this tactic against other strong/top teams? No. In those instances it would need to be reasonably more conservative, but certainly not defensive in a literal sense. 

Even against weaker opponents some tweaking might be needed. I haven't tested the tactic, so it's quite possible that I would need to adjust a couple of instructions. For example, if I noticed that players are making mistakes and frequently give possession away cheaply, the first thing I would do is - lower tempo down a notch. The reason I didn't include (slightly) lower tempo in the initial version of the tactic is that Chelsea players should (arguably) be good enough - both technically and mentally/tactically - to build the attacking play up smoothly on the default tempo setting, which on the attacking mentality means a relatively high speed of play even if it nominally is not labeled as such in the tactics creator. As for other settings, I believe no tweaking would be needed.

And if anyone of you decides to actually test the tactic with Chelsea - because I made it specifically for the Blues, and for these starting 11 - please let us know if (and how) it works and whether you had to make any adjustments :thup:

NOTE: If Highuain is played instead of Giroud up front, his role should be a DLF on support.

Edited by Experienced Defender

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Looking forward to it. Curious to see how Hazard plays as an Trequartista instead of an IF like most people tend to play him.

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@Experienced Defender nice thread, it's quite an interesting system. Lots of variety and very inspiring.

I have one question though. When using two DMs and the TI 'Play out of Defence' means that you will have 4 players in the first line in front of the GK on a goal kick, because the CD's will split really wide and the two DMs will drop into the line with them. I hate that; using 4 players in the first line of posession means you might lack bodies further up the field to progress the play nicely and vertically. What is your thoughts on that? :)

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12 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

STC - Giroud (I suppose most of you would pick Morata

With the winter update, your choices are Giroud and Higuin.  Still depends on how you want to play

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3 hours ago, Gegenklaus said:

I have one question though. When using two DMs and the TI 'Play out of Defence' means that you will have 4 players in the first line in front of the GK on a goal kick, because the CD's will split really wide and the two DMs will drop into the line with them. I hate that; using 4 players in the first line of posession means you might lack bodies further up the field to progress the play nicely and vertically. What is your thoughts on that?

I haven't tested the tactic, but even if the DMs drop between the CBs (as you said), it's only for a moment, i.e. in the initial phase of development of attacks. I play a system with 2 DMs with Southampton, but haven't seen the DMs dropping when the POD TI is active (perhaps because I use 3 CBs?).

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This is a great idea for thread series, and something I think would be really useful for most players. :applause:

 If I find some time, I will contribute with some testing.

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On 12/04/2019 at 14:39, Experienced Defender said:

I haven't tested the tactic, but even if the DMs drop between the CBs (as you said), it's only for a moment, i.e. in the initial phase of development of attacks. I play a system with 2 DMs with Southampton, but haven't seen the DMs dropping when the POD TI is active (perhaps because I use 3 CBs?).

Yes, that would be why. :)

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I will try to contribute with some testing.

Premier League loaded with small database, disabled first transfer window. Best manager possible, with max Tactical Head coach preference. Most of the tasks, except for some of the team talks will be delegated to the assistant.

 

Community Shield and everything before was simulated, so the first game was against West Ham.

Spoiler

kfpUscf.png

 

First half showing was poor. After an early lead, West Ham were the better team. I wouldn't say they were dominant (Arnautovic's goal was a fantastic solo effort, and the second goal was from a free kick), but we didn't look dangerous at all.

Second half was a different story. Giroud was insane, as you can see, and Loftus-Cheek also made a huge impact.

Spoiler

rak012A.png

 

note: Giroud was used as a Pressing Forward on support.

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9 minutes ago, OWD said:

A poor game against Leicester...

  Hide contents

9flUKHe.png

RT3sEhx.png

 

As I said in the OP, this is not a plug-and-play tactic, so some tweaking would need to be made, as well as a reasonable level of rotation. If I had time to run yet another save (besides the 3 I already manage), I would test it with Chelsea and see - by watching the matches - where the room for improvement potentially is.

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Of course, this is just a general showcase. In a real game, much more could be done, not only by tweaking, but also by paying attention to team talks, morale, etc.

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