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Experienced Defender

Basic principles of defending (an unofficial guide for tactical beginners)

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Amazing post! Thank you for that! Can’t wait to read what’s coming next!

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Excellent stuff. One slight quibble would be your suggestion that Get Stuck In should be paired with a low block. For me a more aggressive ball winning strategy would make more sense with a high block because a failure to deal with an opposition attack/break could be devastating. A high block is a pretty do-or-die strategy. If you're operating with a low block and you Get Stuck In there's always a danger that you give away freekicks in shooting distance or even worse give away a penalty.

Personally, if I was using a low block I'd want my players choosing to keep their shape rather than selling themselves, diving in and leaving us exposed or, as I said, gifting the opposition a chance to shoot from a set-piece. 

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3 hours ago, Atarin said:

One slight quibble would be your suggestion that Get Stuck In should be paired with a low block

Not that it should be paired in the sense that you have to use hard tackling (get stuck in) when playing a low block, but in the sense that it's less risky if used with a lower block and vertically compact shape, because if a player mistime a tackle, his teammates will be close enough to him to correct his mistake. The point actually was - if you want to employ the get stuck in TI, then a vertically compact low block is the safer option than a high block. It's all about balance, meaning you should be neither too aggressive (high block, high pressing, hard tackling all at once) nor to passive when defending (low block, low pressing, easy tackling all at once). And when I say a "low block", I do not necessarily mean lower/much lower d-line. It can also be a combo of standard DL and lower/much lower LOE.

3 hours ago, Atarin said:

If you're operating with a low block and you Get Stuck In there's always a danger that you give away freekicks in shooting distance or even worse give away a penalty

I agree, there are always pros and cons in any strategy. I personally prefer tighter marking to hard tackling when playing with a low block, but there are situations when I can make an exception and employ both. On the other hand, when you use hard tackling (get stuck in) with a high block, what if your (last) defender mistime a tackle on a fast opposition forward, who is thus gifted with a one-on-one situation with your keeper?

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I always found it much easier for myself to get an idea of how the attacking team instructions work and how they are interrelated to each other, but harder for the defensive team instructions. You describe these very clearly and give me a better idea of which to choose and when. Really looking forward to see (and learn from) part 3!

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This was a brilliant post. Thank you for it.

Ive been playing for over a decade and I still was never entirely clear about when to use tight marking or hard tackling.

Very clearly written and has really helped my mental model of how to construct my defence 

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Il 2/5/2019 in 00:52 , Experienced Defender ha scritto:

In the opening post, I inadvertently omitted two defensive transitional instructions

Another instruction you omitted is the offside trap, it would be interesting to know what you think of its use.

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1 hour ago, sovy666 said:

Another instruction you omitted is the offside trap, it would be interesting to know what you think of its use.

Spot on :thup: I'll correct the mistake in the final post :D

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1 minute ago, Rashidi said:

Nice simple short and sweet

Thanx mate, it' always nice when you receive commendation from one of the most prominent FM tactical gurus :)

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9 hours ago, DjangoSrna said:

Can't see a link, is there a download?

 

A download...for what?

He's offering some tips, not a tactic.

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Good post and very helpful. One slight issue is your use of "right" and "wrong" setup. Although the "wrong" setup is more risky it could still be made to work in some systems and with the right players. By saying there is a "right" and "wrong" way to setup a team I feel it can take away from the creativity we see on the forums. The more obscure formations etc often make for the more interesting threads to read. I'd hate to see a situation where we eventually whittle things down to most people using a slight variation of the same two or three systems. Maybe we're already there, who knows?

 

 

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Thank you very much for this instructive post. Some simple ideas are are forgotten sometimes...

 

Nevertheless, there is one point that is not clear for me : the width.

For a narrow width, the game description is : "concede space in wide areas".

But, if I want to play narrow and defend on wide areas (like, for example, Sacchi 4-4-2), is it possible?

 

Thank you!

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1 hour ago, rouflaquettes31 said:

Thank you very much for this instructive post. Some simple ideas are are forgotten sometimes...

 

Nevertheless, there is one point that is not clear for me : the width.

For a narrow width, the game description is : "concede space in wide areas".

But, if I want to play narrow and defend on wide areas (like, for example, Sacchi 4-4-2), is it possible?

 

Thank you!

There are two widths. Attacking and defending.

A narrow defensive width means defending in a more compact shape around your penalty area. A wide defensive width basically means that your fullbacks are encouraged to stay wide even in the defensive phase in order to engage the opposition wingers. The Sacchi system (of which I'm no expert) is I imagine not disimilar to Ranieri's tactic at Leicester of forcing teams out wide only to then ambush them there, win the ball and start of a counter. I would say, that in that case its less about playing with  a Wide defensive width and more about player roles, duties, PI's and OI's. It wasn't Simpson and Fuchs doing the ambushing it was Kante+Albrighton+Drinkwater.

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Ok, but, in this example (Getafe defensive shape), what is the kind of defense?

getafe.thumb.PNG.990c03d7c14ccd1f9bad3c970328a4d2.PNG

Players are close each other, but in same time don't concede any space in the wide area.

That is narrow defensive shape?

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2 minutes ago, rouflaquettes31 said:

Ok, but, in this example (Getafe defensive shape), what is the kind of defense?

getafe.thumb.PNG.990c03d7c14ccd1f9bad3c970328a4d2.PNG

Players are close each other, but in same time don't concede any space in the wide area.

That is narrow defensive shape?

Okay, I see what you're saying. That's an example of the team shuttling across rather than parking in the central space. Truth be told, I'm not sure how to recreate that exactly.

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On 02/05/2019 at 02:52, Experienced Defender said:

Regroup does the exact opposite of counter-press - it tells your players to get back into their defensive positions and defend from there according to regular out-of-possession instructions and their individual player instructions. It's logically (much) safer than counter-press and is generally recommendable when playing against better sides

How do players act when you don't tick regroup (or counter-press)? Do they also get back but just with less urgency then with regroup? I wanted to play with counter-press because that's what I like but even though my squad is one of the best in league in stamina and workrate, they're very poor in aggression so I decided to play with regrouping. But now I'm usually the better side, maybe It is unneceserry to be so defensive minded in transition. I ticked regroup just because I didn't know what they do if I leave both unticked.

Same goes with counter and hold shape. What players do if you leave both unticked?

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4 hours ago, >LJ< said:

One slight issue is your use of "right" and "wrong" setup. Although the "wrong" setup is more risky it could still be made to work in some systems and with the right players. By saying there is a "right" and "wrong" way to setup a team I feel it can take away from the creativity we see on the forums

But I didn't use the term "wrong". I was talking about good (well-balanced) def setups and risky ones.

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49 minutes ago, yolixeya said:

How do players act when you don't tick regroup (or counter-press)? Do they also get back but just with less urgency then with regroup? I wanted to play with counter-press because that's what I like but even though my squad is one of the best in league in stamina and workrate, they're very poor in aggression so I decided to play with regrouping. But now I'm usually the better side, maybe It is unneceserry to be so defensive minded in transition. I ticked regroup just because I didn't know what they do if I leave both unticked.

They behave according to out-of-possession team instructions and their defensive PIs. And of course that you do not have to select either regroup or counter-press. Regroup is advisable when you are an underdog playing against a considerably stronger side, because it contributes to more disciplined defense (i.e. manner of defending) overall.

 

54 minutes ago, yolixeya said:

Same goes with counter and hold shape. What players do if you leave both unticked?

Basically the same "rule" applies as with the RG/CP. The counter TI encourages players to attempt counter-attacks whenever a good/decent opportunity is there. But even if you don't use the Counter TI, you can still play a sort of counter-attacking football if you set up the rest of your tactic so as to suit that style of play. Contrariwise, the hold shape TI can be useful when you want to play either patient possession football or a very defensive style in which you are concerned only about not conceding and not even slightly interested to try counter-attacks occasionally. But you need to know that both these instructions serve primarily to encourage a certain type of behavior from your players. In order to utilize them to full effect, you need to set the entire tactic so as to suit the style you want to implement.

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1 hour ago, rouflaquettes31 said:

Ok, but, in this example (Getafe defensive shape), what is the kind of defense?

getafe.thumb.PNG.990c03d7c14ccd1f9bad3c970328a4d2.PNG

Players are close each other, but in same time don't concede any space in the wide area.

That is narrow defensive shape?

This is narrow def shape (in FM terms). They do not concede the flank where the ball is at the moment because the entire team moves to that side according to the principles of zonal marking. But if the ball is suddenly switched to the opposite flank, they will immediately move toward that side accordingly. You also need to know that no instruction works in isolation, and so does not def width. And each instruction/combination of instructions has both pros and cons.

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1 hour ago, Experienced Defender said:

They behave according to out-of-possession team instructions and their defensive PIs.

So basically they behave like in previous versions of FM where there was no in transition settings. I don't know, it makes sense to me that I don't have to use it, just like any other instruction. I guess I was just confused because it's the new thing on FM.

I feel like regroup can be useful even though I'm the stronger side, to deal with their counter-attacking. I might be tripping though, and there are other ways to deal with that of course.

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5 minutes ago, yolixeya said:

So basically they behave like in previous versions of FM where there was no in transition settings. I don't know, it makes sense to me that I don't have to use it, just like any other instruction. I guess I was just confused because it's the new thing on FM.

I feel like regroup can be useful even though I'm the stronger side, to deal with their counter-attacking. I might be tripping though, and there are other ways to deal with that of course.

Regroup alone is not going to help you against opposition counters if other instructions are not set up in a correct way. The same can be said for any other instruction. And then again, there is no fixed rule that tells you which particular combo of instructions you should use. Generally speaking, the better players you have, the more risks you can afford to take, but it still does not mean that you should be overly aggressive when defending. Finding the right balance is key when it comes to tactics, both in defense and attack. But what is that "right balance" will always depend on the quality of your team.

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55 minutes ago, Experienced Defender said:

Regroup alone is not going to help you against opposition counters if other instructions are not set up in a correct way.

I didn't mean alone, but in my current setup.  Occasionally I would see opposition player running down the wing and their other attacking player running to the box unmarked. But my players that are already in defensive positions would slow down ball carrier just enough to give time regrouping players to cover unmarked striker. I really feel that regrouping makes a difference in those situations. And usually if I see something like that and I'm already leading I'll look to play safer, by dropping mentality or a defensive line a notch.  But like I said, I can only compare it to counter-press behaviour so I might be wrong.

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1 hour ago, yolixeya said:

But my players that are already in defensive positions would slow down ball carrier just enough to give time regrouping players to cover unmarked striker. I really feel that regrouping makes a difference in those situations

That's great if your players behave that way when defending (especially against opposition counters). I don't know your tactic, so cannot tell you anything more detailed, but I like what you described (whether it is due to regroup or the overall setup). 

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15 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:
On 02/05/2019 at 08:53, Experienced Defender said:

So the difference between the "right" and the "wrong" is basically very similar to the one described in the Example No. 1.

But I didn't use the term "wrong". I was talking about good (well-balanced) def setups and risky ones.

Without wanting to be too pedantic but it is there. Again not really a criticism just a discussion point. I do enjoy your threads and you always offer excellent advice to people. Your tactical setups are very logical and make sense, I just have a personal preference for the more outlandish variants that crop up from time to time. 

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7 hours ago, >LJ< said:

Without wanting to be too pedantic but it is there. Again not really a criticism just a discussion point. I do enjoy your threads and you always offer excellent advice to people. Your tactical setups are very logical and make sense, I just have a personal preference for the more outlandish variants that crop up from time to time. 

Yeah, okay. You were referring to that particular "wrong" :thup: (though I put the quotation marks on both "right" and "wrong", to emphasize that it's relative)

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Am 2.5.2019 um 02:52 schrieb Experienced Defender:

Couter-press tells your players - except for defenders - to start pressing the opposition and try to win the ball back immediately as it's been lost. It can be risky because more players will simultaneously run at the opposition player on the ball to press him, so they may leave space behind them that can be exploited due to disruption of your defensive shape. Therefore, you need to be careful when using counter-press, especially  when you play against good sides that are able to take advantage of the extra space you have left between and/or behind  your lines. Advice: Do not use counter-press together with more (let alone extremely) urgent pressing, and vice versa. Or if you do - be prepared for potential troubles. 

Thanks for this very helpful thread. I amended my tactic to counter-press together with more urgent pressing and get stuck in for great results (won two finals in one week). Used higher LOE and higher DL before as well and it seems that was overkill. Your advice to avoid counter-press together with more urgent pressing is good but I don't see any problems with less risky mentalities like Balanced and Counter.

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It’s love to see you tackle the same type of post for attacking instructions. I think this type of things is very informative.

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1 hour ago, YasoKuul said:

Your advice to avoid counter-press together with more urgent pressing is good but I don't see any problems with less risky mentalities like Balanced and Counter

And that's why I also said elsewhere in the thread that you always need to consider mentality, as it affects everything else. Though, honestly, I personally would avoid using counter-press along with high pressing even on the lowest mentality. But I am of course glad that you have achieved great results nevertheless.

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1 hour ago, ericstpeter said:

It’s love to see you tackle the same type of post for attacking instructions. I think this type of things is very informative.

I think there is already plenty of more than useful stuff on the attacking side of the game, especially from our mods (Cleon, Herne, Rashidi) as well as a few other people. Plus a lot of Rashidi's videos on Youtube. I am more of a "specialist" for defense :D

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On ‎07‎/‎05‎/‎2019 at 16:07, Experienced Defender said:

And that's why I also said elsewhere in the thread that you always need to consider mentality, as it affects everything else. Though, honestly, I personally would avoid using counter-press along with high pressing even on the lowest mentality. But I am of course glad that you have achieved great results nevertheless.

A couple of observations , maybe questions, regarding counter-press.

What are people's views on formation?  To work optimally would you say that there is a minimum of players required in the top two tiers?  I have a save at the moment using two tactics depending on who is available.  I favour a 4231 that works really well with counterpressing.  4 players in the top tiers making it top heavy.  However when my AMC is unavailable I use a 4141, just the 3 players in top 2 tiers and it seems a little less effective.

*****

Also when saying counterpressing can become risky with more urgent pressing.  I just wanted highlight a small observation that any movement of the pressing intensity bar makes no impression on the overall tactic intensity.  To make that clearer, this ->

Untitled.png.5d2e602660dd5015a8bf6dc37719fa7d.png

has no impact on this ->

1917042009_Juventus_Overview.png.d4e592f7e96ade2963ead2dcd6e27035.png

However moving the 'line of engagement' line up makes your tactic more intense.  Moving it down makes it less intense.  So I wondered whether where the LOE is positioned when counterpressing is just an as important consideration as pressing intensity? 

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5 hours ago, Robson 07 said:

What are people's views on formation?  To work optimally would you say that there is a minimum of players required in the top two tiers?  I have a save at the moment using two tactics depending on who is available.  I favour a 4231 that works really well with counterpressing.  4 players in the top tiers making it top heavy.  However when my AMC is unavailable I use a 4141, just the 3 players in top 2 tiers and it seems a little less effective.

I can only tell you what is my personal approach to counter-press. Two basic preconditions are inevitable for me to consider using CP in a match:

1. a formation with a least 3 (e.g. 4141dm wide), ideally 4 (4231, 424) players up front (including the AM strata), but not a narrow one (like 442 narrow diamond)

2. that my team is considerably stronger than the opposition

Otherwise, I look to avoid CP.

6 hours ago, Robson 07 said:

Also when saying counterpressing can become risky with more urgent pressing.  I just wanted highlight a small observation that any movement of the pressing intensity bar makes no impression on the overall tactic intensity.  To make that clearer, this ->

Untitled.png.5d2e602660dd5015a8bf6dc37719fa7d.png

has no impact on this ->

1917042009_Juventus_Overview.png.d4e592f7e96ade2963ead2dcd6e27035.png

That's strange IMO. Because pressing intensity should logically affect tactic intensity. 

 

6 hours ago, Robson 07 said:

However moving the 'line of engagement' line up makes your tactic more intense.  Moving it down makes it less intense.  So I wondered whether where the LOE is positioned when counterpressing is just an as important consideration as pressing intensity? 

For me personally, LOE is more about vertical compactness (in tandem with DL of course) and whether I want to create more space for potential counters (lower LOE) or to impose my game on the opposition (higher LOE). So in theory, I could use (or not use) counter-press with any LOE setting. 

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Isn’t tighter marking more risky as you run the risk of your defender just getting turned by a quicker and faster player also is a low dl and loe to to passive? 

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5 hours ago, Breezybaby1 said:

Isn’t tighter marking more risky as you run the risk of your defender just getting turned by a quicker and faster player also is a low dl and loe to to passive? 

It can be risky when you are not vertically compact (DL vs. LOE) and/or when you play with a higher d-line. Otherwise it's risky only if you have really crappy players compared to the opposition, but in general should not be. And notice that we are here not talking about specific man or position-related marking, which can be risky, but marking as a general team instruction, which means that players are told to stick closer to whoever enters their zone in order to make it harder for them to receive the ball. Context is very important.

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Excellent read, really helped me setting up my defensive instructions, I always create my own tactics and love the learning curve involved in that.

This year when looking at other tactics I see quite alot have counter press and extremely urgent pressing something which you discourage to have these too selected. In my own tactic I have conterpress and urgent pressing, should I drop the TI to less urgent pressing, my 433 tactic is working quite well, 1 defeat and 2 draws in 18 games. 

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1 hour ago, Redrummed said:

n my own tactic I have conterpress and urgent pressing, should I drop the TI to less urgent pressing, my 433 tactic is working quite well, 1 defeat and 2 draws in 18 games. 

You need to post a screenshot of your tactic, so that I could see the whole setup, not just the formation and pressing. Context is important (including the quality of your players).

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2 hours ago, Experienced Defender said:

You need to post a screenshot of your tactic, so that I could see the whole setup, not just the formation and pressing. Context is important (including the quality of your players).

Here you go, in previous FMs I had a very successful 523 tactic, I liked the mezzala role so decided to try it this year.

I didn't want to jump on the gegenpressing bandwagon as lesser teams just sit back and its nearly impossible to draw them out and break them down. I wanted a fast counter tactic once we won the ball back. 

I'm in the 4th season with arsenal so have quite a strong side, won 2fa cups, europa league and one PL, Man U have been formidable!! 

 

mezzalas2.JPG

mezzalas.JPG

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7 hours ago, Redrummed said:

mezzalas2.JPG

Based on this screenshot, your results are very good (even though your tactic is not my cup of tea, but that's irrelevant).

 

7 hours ago, Redrummed said:

Man U have been formidable!! 

You have a very good record against Utd - a 3-0 win, a draw and a 1-2 loss. 

I would not recommend changing a tactic that obviously works (judging by the results).

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On 26/06/2019 at 16:00, Redrummed said:

Here you go, in previous FMs I had a very successful 523 tactic, I liked the mezzala role so decided to try it this year.

I didn't want to jump on the gegenpressing bandwagon as lesser teams just sit back and its nearly impossible to draw them out and break them down. I wanted a fast counter tactic once we won the ball back. 

I'm in the 4th season with arsenal so have quite a strong side, won 2fa cups, europa league and one PL, Man U have been formidable!! 

 

mezzalas2.JPG

mezzalas.JPG

Any Pi's ?

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Just "mark tighter" on the mezzalas and dlp.   

I have since changed the right winger to inside forward as I was drawing too many games away, been successful so far.

Finished season by losing title on last day by a point,. Utd scored in 94minute in their game. Got revenge against them in champions league final coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2

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21 minutes ago, poobington said:

You should do one of these for attacking principles

When it comes to the attacking side of the game, my principles are pretty much simple:

- do not be one-dimensional with roles and duties

- make sure each player has enough safe passing options during attacking build-ups

- do not use too many instructions; i.e. use only those that basically define your desired style of play and then just make small gradual tweaks as you see fit

- no matter how attack-minded your approach is, never disregard the importance of being defensively solid

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Posted (edited)

First of all, thanks for a great write-up. Very clear and straight to the point.

On 02/05/2019 at 02:52, Experienced Defender said:

- Defensive line and LOE work in conjunction in the sense that they together define how vertically compact your team is.

What would be some cases, where you would look to stretch your defensive shape instead of making it vertically compact (e.g. Lower Defensive Line + Higher Line of Engagement or Standard Defensive Line + Much Higher Line of Engagement)? Are there any such scenarios?

Edited by Zemahh

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Zemahh said:

First of all, thanks for a great write-up. Very clear and straight to the point.

What would be some cases, where you would look to stretch your defensive shape instead of making it vertically compact (e.g. Lower Defensive Line + Higher Line of Engagement or Standard Defensive Line + Much Higher Line of Engagement)? Are there any such scenarios?

There are some benefits to not being vertically compact, but it can be risky as your effectively surrendering space between the lines of your team.

Firstly you're not compressing the opposition and your allowing them more space. So when you win the ball back, they themselves aren't compact and in turn allows you more space too attack in the transition. This can help when they park 11 players behind the ball (parking the bus).

It can also be really effective for a counter attacking team. It increases the depth of your team when defending. So when you win the ball back in your own, there is greater distance between your players and your using more of the pitch (vertically).

For me it comes down to two things. What your strategy is (Win the ball back with a high or low block?) and what then opposition are doing in game, as you may need to adjust if it's not working (ie. They're getting behind your high line consistently).

Edited by Luizinho

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