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How to break overly defensive AIs???

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Do you guys have any tips or advice how to break teams when you start dominating the league? Because I have teams playing against me with three at the back and two dms, and I really do not know how to break them, while they just kick the ball over the top and score. Do you have any tips how to create overloads against teams that play that defensive. They dont always play with three at the back, they also play with deep 4231. You have to give it to the AI this year, it is hard as hell. I get it know how Barcelona and other giants feel now. 

Please be free to correct any mispell or grammar error, I would like it to be correctly written.

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DLFs     AFa

                                       

IWs      DLPs      CMd       Wa

 

WBs      CDd     CDd      FBs

 

SKde

Team instructions are:

- Shorter passing

- Standard tempo

- Play out of defence

- Pass into space

- Focus down the left

- Counter

- Roll it out

- Higher defensive line

- Tighter marking

Mentality is attacking.

Player instructions are:

WBs - cross byline

Both CDd - fewer risky passes

FBs - sit narrower, cross from deep

IWs - close down more

Wa - close down more

DLFs - close down more, roam from position

AFa - close down more

I change them in game if changes are needed.

 

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Posted (edited)

OK, so you have an opponent who is packing there defence with 8 or 9 players, you have a higher defensive line - essentially, keeping them penned in.  Here's my thoughts on what might be happening, although I am simply looking at each instruction individually.

Team instructions are:

- Shorter passing - you players are closer to each other

- Standard tempo - you're not rushing anything - patient build-up is OK.

- Play out of defence - again, make sure your defenders are playing short, simple balls not hoofing it to the crowded area of the pitch.

- Pass into space - If the opponent is tight-packed defensively, there won't be much space to pass into.

- Focus down the left - good instruction if opponent is weaker on the right.

- Counter - is good instruction with a high pres IF the opponent are trying to break out in numbers, if not, then you will still run into the brick wall.

- Roll it out

- Higher defensive line - Kinda leaves space behind for their long ball over the top.

- Tighter marking - With the opponents all tightly packed together, this tells your guys to go stand nearer to them, adding to the congestion

Mentality is attacking. - Bet it seems like you are constantly running into a brick wall?

 

Those are my thoughts on the TIs. Your PIs also could encourage similar,

Your ML/R and strikers are pressing hard, closing down players. 

All your instructions are designed to keep the opponent pinned back, in a small area, which kinda plays into their hands as this is their strategy anyway. 

Let them out, -sit deeper, be patient and spread the play a little. They are parking the bus and closing off all the space, you are keeping them there and adding more bodies to the mix. You need to be able to create some space to play through, make them defend wider, or let them have the ball and press aggressively when they reach half way - there will be more space behind for you to exploit.

 

Your aggressive attacking and pressing, and marking, is leaving gaps for them to exploit when they win the ball, Your pressing doesn't give them time to build from the back so the long ball, a pacey striker and space in behind (possibly because your WB is at the by-line) is catching you out.

 

 

Edited by Snorks

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12 minutes ago, Snorks said:

OK, so you have an opponent who is packing there defence with 8 or 9 players, you have a higher defensive line - essentially, keeping them penned in.  Here's my thoughts on what might be happening, although I am simply looking at each instruction individually.

Team instructions are:

- Shorter passing - you players are closer to each other - good for keeping the ball, not giving it away too easy

- Standard tempo - you're not rushing anything - patient build-up is OK. - Depending on how your team copes with this, shorter passing is better with a slower mentality, or they rush and give it away. However, if they aren't giving it away too much try to increase the tempo, quicker shorter passes. 

- Play out of defence - again, make sure your defenders are playing short, simple balls not hoofing it to the crowded area of the pitch. again good for not giving it away

- Pass into space - If the opponent is tight-packed defensively, there won't be much space to pass into. I would say this goes against the short passing play. Pass into space is less likely to keep the ball, as the person says before, what space? 

- Focus down the left - good instruction if opponent is weaker on the right. - not really a fan of this, however if you have a strong left thats good, but dont forget this will lead to space on the right and is you right the side you want to leave the space for. 

- Counter - is good instruction with a high pres IF the opponent are trying to break out in numbers, if not, then you will still run into the brick wall. - this is good for taking advantage of Opposition out of  position. The press (i dont think makes a massive difference) you could argue, a lower press, means the opposition are further up field making the counter more effective. However i imagine the opposition will be passing it around their defence going for the draw. 

- Roll it out - Again good for keeping possesion. 

- Higher defensive line - Kinda leaves space behind for their long ball over the top.- it does leave space and this is where you will concede, but the higher your defensive line, the more men you have forward, closer you play to their net, and more importantly, the less space they have to keep the ball when they win it back. 

- Tighter marking - With the opponents all tightly packed together, this tells your guys to go stand nearer to them, adding to the congestion - Agree, tighter marking is more of a defensive tactic. meaning your players will man mark and move towards their shape, rather than staying zonal in your formation. Meaning when you win the ball you are also marked. 

Mentality is attacking. - Bet it seems like you are constantly running into a brick wall? - Try different mentalities, from balanced upwards. If the fact you are conceding is the problem, try balanced, if its that you aren't scoring, try more attacking. 

 

Those are my thoughts on the TIs. Your PIs also could encourage similar,

Your ML/R and strikers are pressing hard, closing down players. 

All your instructions are designed to keep the opponent pinned back, in a small area, which kinda plays into their hands as this is their strategy anyway. 

Let them out, -sit deeper, be patient and spread the play a little. They are parking the bus and closing off all the space, you are keeping them there and adding more bodies to the mix. You need to be able to create some space to play through, make them defend wider, or let them have the ball and press aggressively when they reach half way - there will be more space behind for you to exploit.

 

Your aggressive attacking and pressing, and marking, is leaving gaps for them to exploit when they win the ball, Your pressing doesn't give them time to build from the back so the long ball, a pacey striker and space in behind (possibly because your WB is at the by-line) is catching you out.

Also agree with the above, but.....

sitting deep could lead to them keeping the ball at the back wasting time. Id try the highest possible press you can.

Try as wider attacking formation as you can (to create space) you need your full backs to overlap in terms of their role (support/attack/wing back/complete wing back.) i wouldn't always 'wait for overlaps'

Your formation is pretty rigid. 4-4-2 heres the thing. You need your full backs to overlap, leaving 2 at the back (not enough), if your full backs dont, get forward, you have 4 at the back (too many). You have 2 in the centre of midfield (not enough to win the battle), and two up front with wingers coming inside (in each others way). standard, 4-4-2 is very structured and not very versatile. a variation of 3 at the back, 5 at the back (with wing backs) or a 451 or 433. its important your fullbacks/wing backs get as far forward as possible. you have  two back with a least one person in front (Libero if you go 3 at the back) or some for of CDM. 3 in the centre of midfield, 1 cdm and 2 cms or 2 cms and a cam. makes it more fluid, when attacking you have 2(cb)-1(cdm/lib)-2(cms/cams)-2(fullbacks/wing backs)-3(winger/striker) they will concentrate on marking your centre mids, and only having to mark one striker, as you winger move inside they will take men with them leaving space for the full back. much more fluid. 

I would press as high as possible. 

Also depending on the height of your forwards, it may be better to work ball into box and low crosses. Also if you don't have height over all, take you free kicks short too.  

 

I will add to this, but not saying im any more right than the last guy.

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Posted (edited)

Hi @AverageJoe, saw this post and noticed that your system looked a lot similar to what I'm running with Racing Club in Argentina, and I figured I'd chime in regarding my experience with it. Necessary caveat, I have no idea what team you're managing, your quality relative to your league (though I'm assuming a top quarter team if you're seeing packed defenses), or your players' attributes and PPMs. I've attached my 442 for reference.

PIs are simple, the DLP/D has take more risks, as I want him hitting killer balls when he sees them, and the IW/S has sit narrower and roam from position. I like what I see from this role so far, drifting into the half spaces, creating room for the FB/A to move into and, at times, acting as a third central midfielder when we have control of the ball in the opponent's half. Allows the team to avoid one of the biggest potential issues with a 442, namely the lack of bodies in central midfield. 

Key PPMs to make this work for me are as follows. For the DLP/D, comes deep to get ball, dictates tempo,  and likes to switch ball to other flank are desirable, particularly switch ball. I'd consider it almost crucial to how I want him playing. In this system I'm expecting play to build up methodically on the left flank, dragging the opposing defense to that side and create lots of space for the attacking winger on the right. My DLP has to be looking for that long pass regardless of the shorter passing TI. For the RW, cuts inside from both wings/cuts inside from right wing is huge. It gives him more options when he's driving at the opposing defense, sometimes going wide and crossing, other times cutting in and driving to the top of the box for a pass or long shot. I can't reccomend it enough. My IW/S has gets into opposition area, so he gets forward quite a bit more often than one would think. On the DLF, I have comes deep to get ball. Perhaps unnecessary because a DLF/S will already do that, but Lopez drops seriously deep and creates all kinds of difficulties for opposing defenses. 

As far as your 442 goes, I would suggest the following.

1. Change your central midfield pairing to a holder/runner configuration. Right now you've got two roles in the DLP/S and CM/D that have the "hold position" PI hard coded and as a result neither of them are too likely to be making forward runs. DLP/D and CM/S works pretty well in my experience, but there are a number of combinations that could work. Look at your personnel and see what role combo works best for you.

2. Pass into space against a low block isn't a great idea IMO. The idea of a packed defense like you're describing is to restrict space in the attacking third. I use pass into space as a situational shout, mostly when I notice teams getting aggressive and pushing up their defensive line. Against a team sitting back it's only led to my guys giving the ball away more often. 

3. Try bumping the mentality down to positive or balanced. I think the higher mentality isn't really helping you here. 

 

Good luck!

Racing 442.jpg

Edited by TheCheesemonger

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13 hours ago, AverageJoe said:

 

 

DLFs     AFa

                                       

IWs      DLPs      CMd       Wa

 

WBs      CDd     CDd      FBs

 

SKde

Team instructions are:

- Shorter passing - why? This closes the gaps between your players, you need to stretch the field of play, not constrict it. I'd recommend 'standard passing' at least

- Standard tempo - This might be giving the opposition too much time to keep their positions in order. If your players have the quality, it might be worth experimenting with upping the tempo

- Play out of defence - Why? This is giving time to the opposition to get back into position. You can have your GK distribute to your defence without having this selected, and that will enable your team to get the ball forward quicker which may disrupt the opposition.

- Pass into space - There isn't any space.

- Focus down the left - I'd use this in situational, game-by-game basis, or not at all if you try the formation changes I suggest below

- Counter - Yep, I'd use this too, but it's no use if you have the opposition trapped in their own 18 yard box. you have to draw them out for this to be effective.

- Roll it out

- Higher defensive line - Only really useful if you have fast defenders otherwise, as you've spotted, you leave yourself vulnerable to balls over the top.

- Tighter marking - Doesn't sound like you're doing much defending. I'd remove it if only for that reason!

Mentality is attacking. 

Player instructions are:

WBs - cross byline - Why? By the time he's got to the byline their entire team is back in the box ready to defend any crosses. I'd either leave this blank and use the 'hit early crosses' Team Instruction

Both CDd - fewer risky passes - It can be worth having one BPD on the side of the AF if you have somebody capable, and if you are going to go down the road of drawing the opposition out. They can hit great balls over the top for the AF to run on to.

FBs - sit narrower, cross from deep - There's no need for him to sit narrower.

IWs - close down more - I'd remove this from all of these players. You need their defenders to have time on the ball so the rest of their team gets further up the pitch to open the game up for you.

Wa - close down more

DLFs - close down more, roam from position - I'd remove RFP, I don't see what it's bringing to the table here.

AFa - close down more

I change them in game if changes are needed.

 

First thing I'd do would be to swap your midfield roles around so the more defensive one is on the left of centre, for two reasons. Firstly, that leaves more space for your IW to move inside into without bumping into a CM (though overloads can be useful, I don't think it would be here). Secondly, the support duty now on the right will be able to better support the attacking winger who i imagine could get quite isolated at the moment. I'd change from a DLP to RPM if you really want to have a play maker, or a MEZ or BBM if you're not that bothered. With their 'roam from position' instruction, that'll support the winger more than a DLP.

Edit: Thinking about it, I'd also swap your DLF and AF around. The DLF, Wa, and MEZ/BBM could make a potent force down your right overloading that side of the opposition.

Now your LB. I'd have an attack duty here to make the most of the space on the flank that's vacated by the IW. Maybe even with an overlap TI, as that pushes the natural position of the LB higher up the pitch.

Now you say the opposition just boots the ball over your defence, runs onto it and scores. So change your SK to an attack duty, play 'use offside trap' and use quick defenders with good positioning and anticipation at the least. If you don't have them, drop your defensive line. If you don't want to do that, accept that you're going to concede a few in this manner.

As for TIs, I don't think I'd have that many to begin with. As it's specifically to break down teams that are camping I'd probably go with;

Attacking width - Wider/much wider. Simple really, you need to use the full width of the pitch to pull the opposition about, disrupt their shape and get their players out of the box.

Passing - Standard/direct - With an attacking team mentality the passing is already more direct so I'm not sure you need more than standard, but the idea is to not give the opposition time to settle before you're on them again.

Tempo - Higher - Same thinking as above, you don'e want to give them time to get back into their shape when you've got the ball back.#

Overlap left - just so your attacking WB has an even higher starting position meaning he's able to affect the attack quicker.

hit early crosses - Same as above, it's all about getting at them before they have set again.

Counter - Same

Line of engagement and defensive line - I'd start with standard, But as they're naturally higher on an attacking mentality than on lesser ones, I may even try dropping them both to draw out the opposition further.

That's all I'd start with and see if anything needs changing on a match by match basis. I've no idea if it would work, it's only theory. I may experiment with it on my current save when I've got the league in the bag. There's more than one way to skin a cat though, it's fun to experiment with different ideas even if you only take a few parts of some, and none of another in the end. Good luck!

 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, AverageJoe said:

 

 

DLFs     AFa

                                       

IWs      DLPs      CMd       Wa

 

WBs      CDd     CDd      FBs

 

SKde

Team instructions are:

- Shorter passing

- Standard tempo

- Play out of defence

- Pass into space

- Focus down the left

- Counter

- Roll it out

- Higher defensive line

- Tighter marking

Mentality is attacking.

Player instructions are:

WBs - cross byline

Both CDd - fewer risky passes

FBs - sit narrower, cross from deep

IWs - close down more

Wa - close down more

DLFs - close down more, roam from position

AFa - close down more

I change them in game if changes are needed.

 

So you play with a 442, which is important to know when considering potential tweaks you could make when you struggle to break down an ultra-defensive opponent. Simply because each system has its own specifics, thus requiring different kinds of approach.

Your setup of roles and duties looks reasonably balanced for a regular tactic with which you can start most of your matches (or an average match, if you will). However, against teams defending very deep and tight, you need more deep runners who should help flood the opposition box, so that their defense would be under as much pressure as possible. More precisely, it means adding a couple more attack-duties for players in midfield and/or fullbacks. Now that a 442 lacks a DM, it implies a bit more of defensive risk, which is something you have to be aware of. In other words, if you want to break down extremely defensive sides, you must be prepared to take more risks and accept that sometimes it may backfire.

I'll now give you an example of how you may set up a tactic in this type of situations. But remember that you should play in this highly risky manner only in these specific cases, and not from the beginning of a match.

Let's start with roles and duties. Here is one possible setup:

DLFsu     PO

 

IWsu      MEZat      DLPsu       Wat

 

IWBsu     CDde    CDde      WBsu

SKde/su

I changed AF to poacher because you need your more attacking striker to be primarily focused on sniffing out any potential goal-scoring opportunities. Mezzala on attack is there as both an attacking threat from deep and a creative role that can occasionally make something out of nothing in the final third. He is supported by 4 players from different areas and in different ways: IWB on support is supposed to not only cover defensively for the mezzala, but also act as an extra midfielder; IW on the left is a bit of both creator and latent goal-threat. DLP on support is the only holding midfield player, so his role is to link up play, help recycle the ball when needed and be the first to help defense if an attack breaks down and a potential opposition counter is on; and finally DLF on support is another role that should combine duties of a striker with those of a midfielder.

Now, what about the mentality and team instructions? You are playing on attacking mentality, but I would consider switching to positive. While this may sound counter-intuitive (since you are looking to break down ultra-defensive opposition), it actually makes sense. Because even though you need to attack from all available weapons, you don't have to rush the play too much lest you needlessly waste possession. Positive mentality is still high enough, but allows your players to attack in a more sensible way and have more time to make wise decisions when in possession. So the idea is to make your team more attack-minded by adding more attacking roles and/or duties, rather than via attacking mentality on the team level.

Then I would separate in-possession team instructions into 2 categories:

1. regular TIs, i.e. those you should normally use as part of this special tactic. These are: play out defence, whipped crosses and overlap right (to make the RB/WBsu as much attack-minded as possible and closer to his winger up front)

2. optional TIs, i.e. those you can add one by one if needed, depending what you observe watching the match. These include: be more expressive, higher tempo, hit early crosses

In transition, the Counter TI should definitely be on (as it already is), and in this particular case counter-press would be a logical choice, because you need to have as much of the ball as possible if you are to create chances and hopefully score. Distribution-wise, I would go with the Distribute quickly and either let the keeper decide how and to whom to distribute (if he has some vision, decisions, anticipation) or tell him to distribute to CBs and FBs.

And regarding out-of-possession TIs, your higher d-line makes sense, but tighter marking could be risky when coupled with a high DL, especially when the opposition has fast forwards (strikers and/or wingers). I am curious why did you opt not to use offside trap, given that you play with a higher DL? Is that because you don't have enough confidence in your defenders' qualities (especially intelligence) or for some other reason?

A tricky question is whether or not to use the Prevent short GKD instruction? On one hand, you need to dominate possession and control the play, so preventing SGKD should help you win the ball more easily against a lot weaker opposition. But on the other hand, you can deliberately opt not to use this instruction in order to encourage them to try and build from the back and then look to force them into a potentially costly mistake by applying highly aggressive pressing and tackling on their defenders and DMs. Here you can combine PIs with OIs:

- both strikers to close down more and tackle harder

- both attack-duty midfielders to close down more

- and OIs on all their defenders and DMs - always close down and tackle harder

P.S: If you are willing to take even more risks, you may even consider changing the RB to IWB on attack, so as to provide as much threat centrally as possible. In that case the winger can also remain on attack duty or be changed to support (if you fear there would be too much risk). But if you do this, then remove the Overlap right TI.

Before I tell you more on possible player instructions, I would like to know your reason for telling both CBs to take fewer risks? Are they too poor in terms of passing, vision, decisions... or what?

 

 

Edited by Experienced Defender

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 @Experienced Defender, I did not use offside trap because they were not very good, now they might be good enough. Fewer risk because they were making too many long passes which were no good so I tried to restrict them. 

Thank you for your advice and tips also, cheers.

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First of, if your tactic worked for now dont start chaning everything up. Work on your attack play for now until you start scoring again.

If not scoring / creating chances anymore there usually is lack of mobility and penetration in the final third which can be achieved and created several ways.

  • 1.) properbly the most simple option is to increase passing directness (if you want to keep shorter passes, try the other options)
  • 2.) get more "runners" who actually penetrate the spaces given by your opponent. You can do this while setting up more Attack Duty players or Support duty players with PI "Get further forward" (if you end up with a structured or very structured fluidity use "be more expressive" to equalize the lack of creative freedom in the final third)
  • 3.) increase tempo to not allow the opponent to anticipate your next moves on the pitch. this one is properbly tied to your teams ability to make proper decisions.
  • 4.) increase dribbling / shooting / crosses which is also some kind of penetration in the final third

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Sometimes all you need do is add a little creativity.  Sub on a more creative player; change a role to something more creative; or add "Be More Expressive" for example.  Any of those can add that little spark of magic to unlock even the most stubborn of defences.

Alternatively a simple player position change can help - drop one striker back to AMC/L/R or drop your AMC down to MC for example can help create a little extra space and cause confusion in the opposition defence.

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OK, so I got the league won and started experimenting with a 442, and as a dominant team I too would come up against defensive teams so my experience should be somewhat similar. Interestingly, my theory has worked so far. But too well. The thinking behind my tactical suggestions was to pull the opposition team forward out of their defensive positions, then win the ball back and get at them quickly. What I've actually created seems to be pure counter attacking rather than teasing them out, in the style of Leicester or Burnley, complete with low block! I've only used it in a few games so far (including a 5-1 hammering of Everton with mostly U23s players. I was trying to export the highlight reel from because every goal was a perfect counter attack, but it made the game crash and now I'm raging!) but the goals from them show that I am definitely encouraging teams to open up a bit. 

As you can see, I stuck with your formation, other than the few changes I suggested. I've got rid of most TIs, the one's I've gone for all have explanations that I gave in my first post. (Don't pay attention to the line up, I've a game against Barcelona in 3 days that I was resting up for lol)

I'll see what my other games produce (and hope the Everton game is equally as eventful this time around) and let you know. One thing I've already done is up the line of engagement from deeper to standard, to see how that effects things, hopefully giving me more possession, as you can see I'm below 40% in both games.

 

Football Manager 2019 04_06_2019 18_57_32.png

Football Manager 2019 04_06_2019 19_20_54.png

Football Manager 2019 04_06_2019 19_21_18.png

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Well the Everton game was poor in the first half, I was still far too pure low block counter attacking even after upping the line of engagement. So in the second half I dropped the team mentality from attacking to positive, the thinking behind that being that we'd be a bit less gung-ho with our passing and directness. It worked, so I'm going to try using that going forward. My next step is to see whether I can get more goals like my third here, winning the ball back a bit higher up than I have been and doing more of what I'd call a 'short counter'. I'm running out of games remaining though!

(I'm pretty happy though, considering my line up)

 

Football Manager 2019 04_06_2019 19_57_01.png

Football Manager 2019 04_06_2019 19_57_20.png

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9 hours ago, AverageJoe said:

@Tom8983, nice mate, like the videos, did you use some PIs or nah?

 

Not as of yet. I'm still fiddling when I can though, just didn't have the games left in the season to carry on. People had stopped playing DMs against me too, so it became a bit irrelevant. Until Wolves anyway, they were ridiculous. Narrow flat back 5 with 2 DMs and a ML/R. They took some breaking down and I had to get a bit extreme. In keeping with the principles of stretching play and drawing them out though.

I'm thinking of sticking with the 442 next season, my current save is meant to be one for experimenting with tactics anyway.

In this highlights vid the first goal shows just how ridiculously Wolves had set up, and the second goal shows how my extreme measures worked.

 

Football Manager 2019 04_06_2019 22_43_28.png

Football Manager 2019 04_06_2019 22_43_45.png

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I won't take over your post any more though lol, you've seen the basic principles mostly working, so just fiddle around with it yourself. Different players will give different results anyway, because of player traits and attributes. :)

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Posted (edited)
On 03/06/2019 at 22:54, AverageJoe said:

Do you guys have any tips or advice how to break teams when you start dominating the league? Because I have teams playing against me with three at the back and two dms, and I really do not know how to break them, while they just kick the ball over the top and score. Do you have any tips how to create overloads against teams that play that defensive. They dont always play with three at the back, they also play with deep 4231. You have to give it to the AI this year, it is hard as hell. I get it know how Barcelona and other giants feel now. 

Please be free to correct any mispell or grammar error, I would like it to be correctly written.

In my view, there are 4 key ingredients that need to be right in order to break down sides which set up defensively against you.

1) Good Width

This is important as it forces the opposition to engage over the full width of the pitch. Defending is about controlling space, the more space you force the opposition to attempt to control the more disruptive it is to their shape. Having good width also creates space in the central areas which is what you want to achieve as that is where you are going to create your best opportunities to score.

2) Good Depth

An often overlooked aspect of breaking sides down but arguably more important than having good width. What I see a lot from players posting in the tactic section is the notion that piling men forward through the middle and attempting to overload is the way to get through parked buses. I think this thinking is flawed as it plays right into the hands of the defending team. Having good depth is necessary as it not only allows you to recycle possession which can be used to shift the focus of an attack (for e.g. shifting the ball to the other flank). It also forces the opposition to constantly make decisions which is important when it comes to disrupting their shape. The opposition has to decide whether to step forward out of their defensive position to engage an opponent or allow them to have space.

Ideally, what you want to do is to create as many situations as you can where either choice is punished. For e.g. in the 4-4-2 system that has been posted with a DLF(S) and AF(A). If the ball is fed into the DLF(S) the closest defender can either close him down which creates space for the AF(A) to use or stay in line which then allows the DLF(S) to have time and space on the ball in a dangerous area. Either way, the defence is going to have a problem. If on the other hand there was no depth and both strikers were looking to run in behind at all times then the defence could always be right with the decisions they make. If you had both strikers looking to run in behind all they would need to do is sit deep and compress the space they want to attack. If you had both strikers looking to operate from a deeper position again they could push the defensive line up safe in the knowledge that nobody is trying to run in behind and again compress the space they want to use.

3) Good Tempo

If the buildup play is too slow and laboured this is going to have a negative impact on your ability to disrupt the oppositions defensive shape. If I am a defender the one thing I don't want to do is continually move out of my defensive position. If the opposition forces me to do that as they have good depth and width then my next concern would be how I recover my position. This is where having a good tempo comes into play. The situation that you should be trying to create is one where the opposing defence doesn't have the time to recover their defensive position as that creates space.

For e.g. In a 4-4-2, my attack duty winger has the ball on the right flank, his attempt to dribble the ball has pulled the opposition left back out wide to engage him which has created space in the channel, the idea would be to get the ball fed into that channel for my AF(A) to attack before the LB has time to get back and close that space off. This could be done with my winger passing inside to my CM(S) who would then pass into the channel for my AF(A). The concept is being able to do that quickly enough that the space in the channel still exists.

4) Variety

Without variety in the way you attack you can become predictable and easy to defend against. Having players arrive in their attacking positions at different times and from a variety of different angles is hugely detrimental to the opposition's defence. The whole purpose of this is to once again force the opponent into making decisions it doesn't want to. Having roles in the team which have different movement patterns can prove disruptive especially when that movement creates space for other attacking players. For e.g. You have a winger on one flank and an inverted winger on the other flank. The movement of the winger pulls the opposition on that side which creates space on the opposite flank for the inverted winger to exploit. If on the other hand, you played with two wingers or two inverted wingers that creation of space wouldn't happen.

There are other factors which are important such as the mentality of the players when going into games where you are heavy favourites.

Are the players determined enough to keep plugging away while attempting to break through or are they weak-willed and become frustrated if things aren't going their way?

Are they complacent and just expect to turn up and win?

Are they consistent enough to put in 7/10 performances every game regardless of the opposition?  

Do you have players on the substitutes bench which offer something different or are all your player similar?

Good luck

Edited by pheelf

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I've got a problem with this at the moment. Playing 4-1-4-1 with plenty of attacking variety, overloading one side with a mezzala, wingback and WM(s) and leaving space for an attacking winger on the other. Got a BBM roaming in the middle and occasionally getting into the box and a complete forward up front. I have absolutely LOADS of shots, usually a winger steaming in unmarked at the far post or a midfielder shooting from the edge of the box. None of them ever register as clear-cut chances and I drop lots of points getting either mugged on the break or via a set piece for a 0-1 or enduring a 0-0 with me camped in their half. I press high (otherwise they just keep the ball in their own third and then hoof it over the top anyway) but not as high as can be. Passing is at standard on positive mentality. I'm running out of things to tweak tbh

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Posted (edited)

Hmm and right on cue, after 24 hours of constipated straining on the 18 yard line, I seem to have broken the seal a bit

Key changes:

- not crowding one side of the field, letting the wingers get on with it

- less overlapping (bit counterintuitive tbh, since overlapping fullbacks are the number 1 way of getting around massed defences in modern football)

- relieving the wingers of marking duties

- having my half back close down a bit less and mark tighter, so he's more apt to fill space and make interceptions than leave the defence exposed on the break

...and that's about it. The whole crowd-one-side-and-isolate-the-other thing does work, I find, but it's the kind of thing you have to use sparingly.

Edited by ceefax the cat

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23 minutes ago, ceefax the cat said:

I've got a problem with this at the moment. Playing 4-1-4-1 with plenty of attacking variety, overloading one side with a mezzala, wingback and WM(s) and leaving space for an attacking winger on the other. Got a BBM roaming in the middle and occasionally getting into the box and a complete forward up front. I have absolutely LOADS of shots, usually a winger steaming in unmarked at the far post or a midfielder shooting from the edge of the box. None of them ever register as clear-cut chances and I drop lots of points getting either mugged on the break or via a set piece for a 0-1 or enduring a 0-0 with me camped in their half. I press high (otherwise they just keep the ball in their own third and then hoof it over the top anyway) but not as high as can be. Passing is at standard on positive mentality. I'm running out of things to tweak tbh

The 4-1-4-1 is a rather defensive formation and has a starting point for building attacks which necessitates a patient approach in order to get the best out of it. That is required in order to give the opportunity for deeper players to get up the pitch and contribute to supporting attacking moves. This runs contrary to what is required in my view when it comes to breaking down teams which pack the defensive areas.

You also don't appear to have anybody in the roles you mention that is what I would consider an offensive pivot. The closest you have to an offensive pivot is the WM(S), everybody else is going to be roaming around or in the case of the winger staying out wide. It is important to have a stationary (not literally) focal point in order for you to be able to take advantage of all the movement you have going on around that player. Players which roam struggle to provide this consistently and are often not where you need them to be when you need them to be there.

As for the reasons why you don't create clear-cut chances and are getting a lot of shots. I can't definitively answer that without you posting your tactic but if I was to hazard a guess it is likely a consequence of you not having as much attacking variety as you perhaps think you do. If there is no alternative action that a player can perform to progress an attack you will find they will resort to shooting.

Who is tasked with consistently being a threat in the areas where they can take advantage of any clear cut chances that are created? You don't appear to have anybody and that's the issue.  

Why do you feel that it is important for your team to overload one side? How does that fit into your overall strategy when trying to break down defensive teams? 

I also don't feel that the 4-1-4-1 is well suited to be played on the Positive mentality especially against defensive opposition as it encourages isolation of your lone striker. The positive mentality seeks to work the ball forward with an elevated tempo but you only have 1 player that is guaranteed to be high up the pitch early so it doesn't really make sense in this context. Unless you have superman upfront who can literally take on and beat one defender after another single-handedly in order to create and score goals for themselves you are going to have problems. Even Messi would struggle in a system where that was the expectation.

I think it's going to take more than just tweaking things in order to provide a permanent solution to this issue. You need to take a root and branch approach to this and really think about how the AI is setting its teams up to face you. Thankfully, that isn't an arduous task given that they can only use the same tools that are available to us so the information is available. Once you understand how they are set up to play then you can devise effective strategies in order to counter them.

All the best and good luck

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Posted (edited)

re 4-1-4-1 requiring patient buildup. Yes, you'd have thought so. You'd also think that playing against a massed defence in general would require a slower tempo and shorter passing. However it was only when I set passing to standard / normal tempo that I started to break through because the ball was covering greater distances and finding teammates in more space. The match engine is, in so many ways, not set up the way you'd expect and 'direct', it turns out, doesn't really mean 'direct' but 'ping it about more'.

Re attacking pivot. False 9 or CF(s) seem to do the job. He can kind of play as a target man too but that would provoke his teammates into lumping it at him

Re alternative action to shooting. They do have alternatives in the form of through balls and one-two's into the box, however the ME doesn't allow these, so my goals are practically all from a switch of play and a cross, a shot from the edge of the box or a cross from deep to the far post.

Who is a threat? Wide midfielders getting into the box + the striker. I overloaded one side because it worked a couple of times - I have a good RWB, a relatively defensive LB, a rapid LW who can dribble and a technical RM who can work in tight spaces. The way it would work (and does IRL) in terms of breaking down defensive teams is that it overloads their LB, forcing their defence to shift across to help him and leaving my LW in open space, so when I switch the play he's either 1v1 against their RB in open space, with an excellent chance of getting a cross in, or arriving at the far post to score.

Re isolation of the striker on positive mentality. Yes, maybe it'd work better if I used Balanced. The ME is perverse in that way and 'positive mentality' is a very poor label for what it actually does. However, 4-1-4-1 as a defensive shape when pressing high (so the midfield 4 are all trying to win the ball back well inside the opposition half) makes perfect sense, and if you do win the ball in those areas, you already have 5 players in great positions to attack. It only becomes a weaknesses if you're pushed back with the striker on halfway and the midfielders protecting their defensive third.

Re the final paragraph, I tweaked, I scored. I don't think there was anything fundamentally wrong with my tactics, and the way the AI set up to play was obvious all along - clog their own half and wait - but the ME is a fickle and sometimes rather contrary mistress, offering not a lot of clues as to what is wrong, so a certain amount of trial and error is required. If you can look at a passage of slightly scratchy, disjointed play in the ME and identify which of Passing, Tempo, Mentality or Width needs to be lowered without fiddling around a bit, hats off to you!

Edited by ceefax the cat

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I don't agree that to play against a massed defense requires a slower tempo and shorter passing, in fact, I think it's the exact opposite which I mentioned in a previous post. That is the reason why I suggested that a 4-1-4-1 isn't well suited to playing against teams which set up to defend against you given the bottom heavy nature of the formation and the need for it to be patient. It doesn't surprise me that allowing your players more freedom to play longer passes has resulted in an improvement given the separation of players in the formation.   

I don't feel that either of those two roles are an attacking pivot when played as the lone striker. For my definition, an attacking pivot is a player that acts as a link between the midfield and attack. Given they are likely to be the most advanced players for the majority of your attacking play and they don't have players seeking to run ahead of them on a consistent basis I don't feel they fulfill that criteria. The roaming of the CF(S) is also very problematic as it makes him an unreliable option to funnel play through in the right areas.

It hasn't been my experience that through balls and one-two's are impossible in this ME as I see my teams performing these actions even in a tactic which isn't designed to exploit this aspect of buildup play but I do agree that there are issues with the ME that need addressing. 

What you have said about overloading makes sense. A False 9 or a CF(S) isn't a role designed to be a regular threat in the box early and the WM and winger even on attack duty is only likely to be a threat in the box late on in attacking moves. My concern would be that the attack developed to a conclusion before they managed to find themselves into those dangerous positions which I highlighted before.

I definitely agree that the nomenclature in the tactic creator could be made better and more transparent. I don't see how you are going to be able to press high consistently with your midfield 4 when the opposition is likely playing on the defensive mentality and hence sitting deeper. In my view, if you want to press high then you need more than your ST up the pitch doing that.

I am not able to view an isolated event in the ME and make my decisions as to what to tweak from that, it would require an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the ME which I don't have. What I do instead is to look for patterns and often isolate a player for analysis to assess whether they are doing what I expect during the course of the game. You state that you don't see anything fundamentally wrong with your tactic but in your previous post you were saying that you weren't creating clear cut chances and dropping points against opposition you expected to beat which is what I was working off when I composed my reply. However, as you seem satisfied that the changes you made have solved the problem there is no reason for me to add anything further.

Best Regards

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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, pheelf said:

I don't agree that to play against a massed defense requires a slower tempo and shorter passing, in fact, I think it's the exact opposite which I mentioned in a previous post.

Actually its more about a higher tempo as usually less space given by the packed defense your players need to make quick decisions. Passing tho is more a matter of philosophy and your players ability of passing. Do you rather want to take lower risks of loosing the ball by passing it short and safe or do you want to take more risks and always try to pass it forward. So both shorter and more direct passing are able to break down a defense if set up correctly. Slower tempo tho will always have problems of breaking a defense down because it allows the enemy team set up in their defensive shape. On the other Hand a slower Tempo might help you against a very pressing opposite to not loose the ball and exploit the space given of palyers pressing movement.

Edited by CARRERA

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2 hours ago, CARRERA said:

Actually its more about a higher tempo as usually less space given by the packed defense your players need to make quick decisions. Passing tho is more a matter of philosophy and your players ability of passing. Do you rather want to take lower risks of loosing the ball by passing it short and safe or do you want to take more risks and always try to pass it forward. So both shorter and more direct passing are able to break down a defense if set up correctly. Slower tempo tho will always have problems of breaking a defense down because it allows the enemy team set up in their defensive shape. On the other Hand a slower Tempo might help you against a very pressing opposite to not loose the ball and exploit the space given of palyers pressing movement.

Shorter passing has the effect of lowering the tempo further while making the team play narrower which works against what I feel is needed in order to break down defensive teams. I agree that passing is a matter of philosophy but it can't be viewed in isolation. Breaking down a defensive team with short precise passes I feel needs greater numbers of players in central areas to make work and would be suited to formations such as a narrow 4-2-3-1.

The overarching point I'm trying to get across is that there needs to be a coherent strategy and all aspects of a tactic need to work in tandem in order to consistently break through stubborn defenses. In my view, trying to play a short passing game while adopting a formation with massive gaps between players isn't coherent but then again if someone can show me evidence which shows that being successful I'd be willing to revise that opinion.   

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11 minutes ago, pheelf said:

Shorter passing has the effect of lowering the tempo further while making the team play narrower

It does lower the tempo in some cases yes, which can be adjusted seperatly anyway and will allow you to play on any Tempo you wish and think your team will be able to execute. but it doesnt make the team play more narrow by default. Though a more narrow formation / width might provide your players more passing options which could compliment that style of play but not nessecarily. Saying that its hard to break down a defense with short passing option enabled simply is wrong. 

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2 minutes ago, CARRERA said:

It does lower the tempo in some cases yes, which can be adjusted seperatly anyway and will allow you to play on any Tempo you wish and think your team will be able to execute. but it doesnt make the team play more narrow by default. Though a more narrow formation / width might provide your players more passing options which could compliment that style of play but not nessecarily. Saying that its hard to break down a defense with short passing option enabled simply is wrong. 

Shorter passing perhaps doesn't impact width directly in the tactical creator but indirectly it must otherwise it wouldn't work as an instruction. It's essential that the players are closer together to make a shorter passing strategy work. 

I don't believe I said that it's hard to break down a defense as a result of short passing being enabled. What I said was that if you are trying to break down a team using short passing then everything needs to be geared around that style of play which is why I suggested that playing a 4-1-4-1 isn't the best formation to use when trying to do this. I have no doubt that given the right tactic that it could be made to work.

All the best

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1 hour ago, CARRERA said:

but it doesnt make the team play more narrow by default.

It kind of does.  Your players can end up standing a little closer together in all directions including width - kick the ball shorter and your teammate needs to be closer to you in order to receive it.  So Shorter Passing may not adjust the width TI per se but it can have a similar effect in as much as it can make your team a little more compact.

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