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Everything TOTAL Football (From Cruyff, False 9s, 4-3-3, to Guardiola's Overloads) - updated July 6, 2020

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36 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

Im about to suffer the same fate as you soon.

Lost to Leicester 0-1

Lost to Bournemouth 1-2

be worth it when we crack it hahaha

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I think the current tactic I have is quite close, really wish I had the right players in every position to truly test it though. I've been liking a lot of what I'm seeing, players swapping, lots of quick 1 touch passing. If it wasn't for players making silly mistakes, that more intelligent players wouldn't, then we'd be on fire. Last 2 results 1-1 with Liverpool and 3-2 win against Arsenal, all 3 goals conceded were idiot players making mistakes, either not passing quick enough or not controlling the ball well enough.

But some good signs

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12 minutes ago, Powello said:

I think the current tactic I have is quite close, really wish I had the right players in every position to truly test it though. I've been liking a lot of what I'm seeing, players swapping, lots of quick 1 touch passing. If it wasn't for players making silly mistakes, that more intelligent players wouldn't, then we'd be on fire. Last 2 results 1-1 with Liverpool and 3-2 win against Arsenal, all 3 goals conceded were idiot players making mistakes, either not passing quick enough or not controlling the ball well enough.

But some good signs

Hows your tweak?

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1 minute ago, skyline72 said:

Hows your tweak?

Oh I did a lot haha. I did some more reading and watching cruyff videos and some other ones.

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2 minutes ago, Powello said:

Oh I did a lot haha. I did some more reading and watching cruyff videos and some other ones.

Which are the some other ones?

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1 minute ago, skyline72 said:

Which are the some other ones?

I can't remember them all but once I have tested it more, if it looks good I will post it up

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3 minutes ago, Powello said:

I can't remember them all but once I have tested it more, if it looks good I will post it up

Good luck!

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

Good luck!

Thanks, I'll probably need it knowing FM haha

One thing I htink we might have forgotten, is Cruyff made the 3-4-3 to take on the 4-4-2 formation as thats what everyone was using at the time, 

Edited by Powello

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16 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

Thats almost exactly what I went with, except for only having one BPD in the centre. All the duties were also the same except I had Pressing forward on Attack in middle (again for the elusive Kluivert role that was supposed to pin the opposition defenders back). It looks great on paper until you test in the game. With  the original 3-4-3 Diamond you have to realize that most teams that Cruyff and van Gaal were facing were 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 maybe. Those are easy to boss around once you control the midfield. On the other hand in the game, you will face a lot of parked buses. Because realistically if you are playing Total Football style, you are not an underdog. You probably have very technical world-class players. So you won't be able to create enough movement against side with multiple DMs and packed midfields. They will basically drop everyone back and play with one striker, like with 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1

So you have to think more along the lines of how do you break the game down. And its still with total attacking overload. The same as it in FM19. With the traditional 3-4-3 you will maybe have 3-4 players pushing into their opposition area all at once. But with the 3-4-3 Wingback version, I have at least 5, and sometimes all 7 with only my libero and centrebacks staying back. That kind of overload is key. It is what most top sides in Premiership like Liverpool and Man City do these days to break down all the parked buses they face there. Not a lot of teams can withstand 5-7 world class players penetrating their defence all at once. How do you mark everyone? You basically create overload on both sides and have players moving into all channels and stretching the wings. Wingbacks on the very outside and then the inside forwards and at least one of the midfielders occupying the channels. The shadow striker too, if he is a hard working one will put pressure on the defenders. It sounds "exploity" but I really don't think so. Its really how Total Football always operated. 

Yeah I see what you mean. Quite often I have found a lack of numbers in really threatening positions. I've been focusing on the roles of the AM and Striker. Maybe I need to look at the 2 CM's and the wingers. If I can get those players into more dangerous areas of the pitch, either through PIs or a change of roles, that could in turn 'free up' my 9 and 10 to have more of an impact.

It's a shame because in terms of a base shape the Carrilero role seems really well suited in that they can move laterally to defend the wide areas. But it's possible that I need more from them in an attacking sense, either to occupy defenders or make runs beyond the front men. I'm thinking I'll try them as BBMs or even Mezzalas? I think the latter would compromise my defensive structure a bit too much so I'll try BBMs first.

With the wingers, in your experience, how different is an inverted winger to a pure winger? I haven't used the role yet. Is their starting position likely to be much different, or is it simply a case of having a left footer on the right and vice versa? 

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51 minutes ago, Powello said:

Thanks, I'll probably need it knowing FM haha

One thing I htink we might have forgotten, is Cruyff made the 3-4-3 to take on the 4-4-2 formation as thats what everyone was using at the time, 

It's sorta explains why the classic 3-4-3 with wingers like one Cruyff and Van Gaal used were made specifically to counter those 2 striker systems . And there's not a lot of teems that use 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 in the game. It's probably to model modern football.

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4 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

It's sorta explains why the classic 3-4-3 with wingers like one Cruyff and Van Gaal used were made specifically to counter those 2 striker systems . And there's not a lot of teems that use 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 in the game. It's probably to model modern football.

Yep which means getting it working is going to be a ball ache :D 

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23 minutes ago, Powello said:

Yep which means getting it working is going to be a ball ache :D 

Yeah, I'm sticking with the hybrid 3-4-3 with wingbacks for now. So far it allows me the nicest total football that I've seen in the game even if it's not the exact role for role recreation

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Yeah, I'm sticking with the hybrid 3-4-3 with wingbacks for now. So far it allows me the nicest total football that I've seen in the game even if it's not the exact role for role recreation

Im sure Johan Cruyff will agree to the evolution of his formation.

The philosophy is still there!

Edited by skyline72

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Posted (edited)

@ElJefe4 the version with dual BBMs might actually work nicely, eventhough I never tested it. But you will need two very hardworking all-rounded players for it obviously. The inverted wingers I find are a nice creative role but not really a replacement for traditional wingers, especially when you need to stretch their defenders and occupy the fullbacks. Even with PI to stay wider they never really stay that wide for me. Their tendency to cut in with the ball is too strong.

Edited by crusadertsar

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1 minute ago, crusadertsar said:

@ElJefe4 the version with dual BBMs might actually work nicely, eventhough I never tested it. But you will need two very hardworking all-rounded players for it obviously. The inverted wingers I find are a nice creative role but not really a replacement for traditional wingers, especially when you need to stretch their defenders and occupy the fullbacks. Even with PI to stay wider they never really stay that wide for me. Their tendency to cut in with the ball is too strong.

I have been noticing with Inverted Wingers, playing Sancho there, he tends to dribble all the way from the right to the left and pass it to the midfield. :idiot:

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7 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

I have been noticing with Inverted Wingers, playing Sancho there, he tends to dribble all the way from the right to the left and pass it to the midfield. :idiot:

I noticed those cross field dribbles from some of mine too. Sometimes it results in a spectacular goal but it's mostly annoying. Could it be the result of PPMs? Which ones does Sancho have? Dribble more with the ball?

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7 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

@ElJefe4 the version with dual BBMs might actually work nicely, eventhough I never tested it. But you will need two very hardworking all-rounded players for it obviously. The inverted wingers I find are a nice creative role but not really a replacement for traditional wingers, especially when you need to stretch their defenders and occupy the fullbacks. Even with PI to stay wider they never really stay that wide for me. Their tendency to cut in with the ball is too strong.

I'll give it a go for a few games. I'm a bit concerned that not having the same lateral cover that the Carrilero provides might mean the winger drops a bit deeper, either to receive the ball or due to defensive duties. Ideally I want the wingers to start very wide and very high, and make runs into the box when the play progresses down the opposite flank. Similar to the movements of Sane and Sterling at City in real life. They make the pitch huge and create plenty of space in the channels. At the moment, on Winger (S), they stay very wide but aren't high enough to make those out to in runs in behind the full backs. I've already added 'Get Further Forward' to their PIs but they still seem to spend a lot of time standing a couple of yards in front of the full backs.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

I noticed those cross field dribbles from some of mine too. Sometimes it results in a spectacular goal but it's mostly annoying. Could it be the result of PPMs? Which ones does Sancho have? Dribble more with the ball?

Yes, its really ridiculous!

Sancho has Moves ball to right foot before dribble attempt. 

Doesn't make sense for him to dribble all the way to the left.

Inverted Winger has Cut inside and Dribble More hardcoded.

Edited by skyline72

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26 minutes ago, ElJefe4 said:

I'll give it a go for a few games. I'm a bit concerned that not having the same lateral cover that the Carrilero provides might mean the winger drops a bit deeper, either to receive the ball or due to defensive duties. Ideally I want the wingers to start very wide and very high, and make runs into the box when the play progresses down the opposite flank. Similar to the movements of Sane and Sterling at City in real life. They make the pitch huge and create plenty of space in the channels. At the moment, on Winger (S), they stay very wide but aren't high enough to make those out to in runs in behind the full backs. I've already added 'Get Further Forward' to their PIs but they still seem to spend a lot of time standing a couple of yards in front of the full backs.

I've noticed that too, sometimes they even let the wb dribble past them before they start moving.

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Ok now the tactic has more familiarity, almost full, the team is starting to fire.

Last 17 games since I did a big overhaul of it:-

12 Wins 3 Draws and 2 Defeats Scoring 36 conceding 13

But it really kicked in properly in the last 8 games where we have won every one including beating City 2-0, Liverpool 4-0(Carabao Cup Final) and 3-2 plus Arsenal 3-1

Loved this game, only had 6 shots and scored 4 when they had 21 and nothing.... lol Liverpool

screw-liverpool.jpg

And there is something about newcastle not being able to handle Bruno in the Libero role as he scored pretty much the same goal against them again haha

Still needs a few tweaks I think, not actually sure you can call it Total Football, but I am liking it

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The below is a good example of what I mean with my wingers. Here, because we've just restarted with a free-kick, the opposition backline is actually fairly high up the pitch. Ideally, I'd like my wingers to be really pinning back the full backs, ready to make runs behind them, or inside and towards goal. Instead, they're playing in the same horizontal zone of the pitch as my #10, and as such are not as much of a threat. Any ideas on how I can get them to position themselves more aggressively?

Ced9X7S.png

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6 minutes ago, Powello said:

Ok now the tactic has more familiarity, almost full, the team is starting to fire.

Last 17 games since I did a big overhaul of it:-

12 Wins 3 Draws and 2 Defeats Scoring 36 conceding 13

But it really kicked in properly in the last 8 games where we have won every one including beating City 2-0, Liverpool 4-0(Carabao Cup Final) and 3-2 plus Arsenal 3-1

Loved this game, only had 6 shots and scored 4 when they had 21 and nothing.... lol Liverpool

screw-liverpool.jpg

And there is something about newcastle not being able to handle Bruno in the Libero role as he scored pretty much the same goal against them again haha

Still needs a few tweaks I think, not actually sure you can call it Total Football, but I am liking it

Awesome 👍 way to humiliate Liverpool! Are you using libero on attack duty or support?

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Awesome 👍 way to humiliate Liverpool! Are you using libero on attack duty or support?

Yeah was fun haha even better if you look at my players positions lol

I'm using him on attack

Edited by Powello

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10 minutes ago, Powello said:

Ok now the tactic has more familiarity, almost full, the team is starting to fire.

Last 17 games since I did a big overhaul of it:-

12 Wins 3 Draws and 2 Defeats Scoring 36 conceding 13

But it really kicked in properly in the last 8 games where we have won every one including beating City 2-0, Liverpool 4-0(Carabao Cup Final) and 3-2 plus Arsenal 3-1

Loved this game, only had 6 shots and scored 4 when they had 21 and nothing.... lol Liverpool

screw-liverpool.jpg

And there is something about newcastle not being able to handle Bruno in the Libero role as he scored pretty much the same goal against them again haha

Still needs a few tweaks I think, not actually sure you can call it Total Football, but I am liking it

You played Rashford as WBL and Shaw as inside forward?????

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

You played Rashford as WBL and Shaw as inside forward?????

Kind of, many players are set to swap positions

I was watching a cruyff tactical analysis video where they said many of his players would swap positions and could play in most of each others roles, so I made that happen in mine

Edited by Powello

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1 minute ago, Powello said:

Kind of, many players are set to swap positions

Ohhhh.

I thought they are they permanently. hahahah

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, Powello said:

Kind of, many players are set to swap positions

Real Total Football sir :applause:

Ideal would be if you had players with similar attributes playing in all those positions.

Edited by crusadertsar

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1 minute ago, crusadertsar said:

Real Total Football sir :applause:

Thank you chief, I'm still deciding whether to have the libero and the bbm swap or not though haha. But then Cruyff used Koeman there soley, I haven't seen anything where he would swap with any one, was kind of his role only.... Unless it' happened I just haven't seen that?

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The most annoying thing is for some reason both the youth facilities and recruitment thingy needed improvement and I didn't know until it was too late and this years intake was shockiing. Weird thing is I have never had to upgrade all that on a United save before, it's always started as perfect so no idea whats happened there

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6 minutes ago, Ö-zil to the Arsenal! said:

Another interesting video, you guys might find interesting. Using positional play to breakdown a deep double pivot.

 

 

Thanks mate! That's great stuff.

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Posted (edited)

How are people finding scoring lots of goals?

Just finished the season and we only scored 56 goals in the league, we only conceded 24 though, main reason why we finished 3rd, thats the one thing I am looking to get out of this tactic now, more goals

Edited by Powello

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4 minutes ago, Powello said:

How are people finding scoring lots of goals?

Just finished the season and we only scored 56 goals in the league, we only conceded 24 though, main reason why we finished 3rd, thats the one thing I am looking to get out of this tactic now, more goals

Surely by having your players rotate positions you're sacrificing goals? For example, Shaw finding himself in a 1v1 as opposed to Rashford is likely to cost you a goal. That as well as your constant tinkering with your tactic likely lead to less goals being scored.

I scored more than that with Leicester in my first season. 

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1 minute ago, retrodude09 said:

Surely by having your players rotate positions you're sacrificing goals? For example, Shaw finding himself in a 1v1 as opposed to Rashford is likely to cost you a goal. That as well as your constant tinkering with your tactic likely lead to less goals being scored.

I scored more than that with Leicester in my first season. 

Yes true but it's needed for this style, that's why I am training players up and bringing in replacements for the players that don't fit the style. Shaw has already been sold.

I shall be bringing in more technical and intelligent players and carrying on with the retraining of certain players.

I've scored more goals with many teams than this but I am trying a style and tactic I haven't really used before to any effect so it's still a WIP

I didn't tinker in the second half of the season, I like how it is now, just needs some kinks ironing out

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8 minutes ago, Powello said:

Yes true but it's needed for this style, that's why I am training players up and bringing in replacements for the players that don't fit the style. Shaw has already been sold.

I shall be bringing in more technical and intelligent players and carrying on with the retraining of certain players.

I've scored more goals with many teams than this but I am trying a style and tactic I haven't really used before to any effect so it's still a WIP

I didn't tinker in the second half of the season, I like how it is now, just needs some kinks ironing out

Is it really that necessary for this style? Remember, you're trying to recreate something on FM, it's never going to be perfect. I would imagine something on positive / attacking with a very fluid team shape (lots of support roles) would get very close to what you're looking for. 

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5 minutes ago, retrodude09 said:

Is it really that necessary for this style? Remember, you're trying to recreate something on FM, it's never going to be perfect. I would imagine something on positive / attacking with a very fluid team shape (lots of support roles) would get very close to what you're looking for. 

Its easier said than done.

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I known for defensive football now. :(

Untitled.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Seeing signs of improvement with the 3-diamond-3 now I've changed the roles of the CMs. I managed to put together a couple of moves similar to below: 

(Not sure how to post gifs but the link should take you to it)

https://i.imgur.com/XYuQtGO.mp4

This was against a 4231 (2DMs). For reference, in the above Fischer (17) is the striker, Babel (19) is  AML, Marin (18) is MCL. These 3 have taken up positions in the 'left half space'. Van de Beek (8) is AM, Gravenberch (16) is MCR and Promes (11) is AMR. These 3 have taken up positions in the 'right half space'.

When Marin plays the ball out to Promes, you can see that the oppo 8, 6 and 17 (2 DMs and AM) have been dragged into the right half space. Leaving us with an overload on the DCL/LB.

Promising signs as this is typically a formation I have struggled to break down. 

@crusadertsar

Edited by ElJefe4

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5 minutes ago, retrodude09 said:

Is it really that necessary for this style? Remember, you're trying to recreate something on FM, it's never going to be perfect. I would imagine something on positive / attacking with a very fluid team shape (lots of support roles) would get very close to what you're looking for. 

Yes because it was those you mentioned, but once Iset players to swap it looked more like a cruyff tactic which is what the aim is. It's a fun save trying to recreate, as best as you can, one of the legends of the game's tactics within the limits of FM.

I think everyone knows not everything is going to be perfect or exact but that's not the point.

FM as a game is very easy to win everything, it's boring without a decent challenge, have a look in the United thread and you'll see I love challenges more than anything on the game and especially recreating tactics :D

 

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@ElJefe4 nice play indeed! And remember any tactic takes long time to get fluid. You usually don't start seeing plays like this right away. So this is a good sign that you  probably have the right players for it and they are responding well. Keep it up!

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So my testing is mostly finished with this tactic. And finishing my article earlier than expected so will put it out tomorrow with the usual historical trivia and role break down. Hope you guys will enjoy it :)

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12 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

So my testing is mostly finished with this tactic. And finishing my article earlier than expected so will put it out tomorrow with the usual historical trivia and role break down. Hope you guys will enjoy it :)

Can't wait! Hope all the photos work too, haha :D

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Posted (edited)
If the pictures don't work then you can look at the original article here:

https://dictatethegame.com/2020/05/13/total-football-journeyman-diamonds-will-break-anything/

I pick up where I left off last time. Searching for the central striker role to complete my 3-4-3 Diamond formation. For this I will take a step back and look at the original inspiration for Louis van Gaal's 3-4-3 formation. That is, Johan Cruyff and the Barcelona team of late 1980s and early 1990s. Also I will take a somewhat unorthodox approach to constructing my 3-4-3 Diamond Tactic. We will deconstruct the attacking formation by looking at defensive positioning. What is that you might ask? Stick around, we will get there eventually. But first lets take a look at how to break even the most stubborn defences in FM20. Diamonds are the hardest things known to man, after-all.

 

Part 3 is here:

Historical Background

He got a blackboard and drew three defenders, four midfielders, two out-and-out wingers and a centre-forward. We looked at each other and said: ‘What the hell is this?!’ This was the era of 4-4-2 or 3-5-2. We couldn’t believe how many attackers were in the team, and how few defenders. He single-handedly introduced a new way of playing football in Spain. It was a revolution.

Eusebio Sacristán in reference to Johan Cruyff introducing his 3-4-3 Diamond to Barcelona squad in July of 1988, when he first became its manager.
jpeg.jpg Since his first day as Barca's manager, Cruyff's presented as an iconic figure, especially in his eternal grey trench coat.

The now legendary Cruyff's 3-4-3 was indeed revolutionary and weird at the time of its introduction. It came in the era when most teams played with some kind of 4-4-2 or 3-5-2. Both were popular in England and Italy respectively. There these formations had a major advantage in attack and defence with their 2 strikers and 4-3 defenders. But Cruyff being Cruyff, saw to the heart of the matter.

Johan Cruyff had a clear vision of how to win in football. That is because he realized that to win any match, you had to control the ball in the midfield. It was not so much about controlling possession, as it was about simple geometry. The most efficient way to get the ball up the field was via the midfield. And if you had a numerical advantage in the midfield you could do this easier than your opponent. While the three defenders nullified any advantage the opponent had with the dual strikers. Thus Cruyff's Diamond was born.

Untitled2.png

Johan Cruyff adapted his 3-4-3 from the Dutch 4-3-3 used by Rinus Michels with Ajax and Holland in the 1970s. And if you think about it, Cruyff's Barcelona did not play all that different from 1970s Ajax. Similarly to Cruyff in his False9 role, Laudrup dropped deep while the three midfielders, spearharded by Bakero, bombed forward into the space liberated by the withdrawn forward. At the same time Guardiola, dropped back to help out Koeman in defence. At Barca, Cruyff used wingers to stretch the opposition wide, while at Ajax this task was done by the wingbacks. In the end, the result was the same, as the opponent had to contend with at least five, and sometimes seven, players moving in on goal. Total Football, Total Chaos for most organized defences of the time.

barca-dream-team-91-93.jpg

To recreate either tactic was rather tricky in Football Manager games prior to FM19. But now I believe we have the right tools to not only recreate them but also combine the two strategies. But to do this, we need to understand how Cruyff's diamond worked. And to understand the diamond in 3-4-3, it is probably best to hear it from Cruyff himself. For this, we are fortunate to have videos like the one below.

Attacking and Defensive Formations

So it's a little known fact in Football Manager, the formation in your tactics screen is actually your defensive shape. What we think of as the team's actual formation, and the images TV pundits and journalists use, is in fact its attacking formation. When in possession and your team is attacking up the pitch, we see that attacking shape. So when you want your team to play in a 4-2-4 shape, it's best to set up as a 4-4-2. This will be the "defensive formation", and what you will see in the tactics screen. While attacking 4-4-2 can be recreated as 4-2-2-1-1 in defence (with two DMs, wingers in MR/ML strata and a shadow-striker).

4itle.png

In possession, the wingers will quickly move up as wide attackers while the shadow striker acts as a second striker. Its a little counter-intuitive but its worth it to think of your tactics in terms of defensive positioning first. Thus the movement that you see on the pitch will more closely reflect your initial tactical plan. Initially, It is very important to view the games on at least comprehensive highlight mode. The attacking formation is the one you see in the little screen below. And depending on what you see, some adjustments to the defensive shape might need to be made.

Analysis-300x291.png Team analysis screens will show your team's attacking shape which is dynamic and will change with the roles and team instruction changes during a match.

The above image is actually the snapshot of how your players position themselves when they attack. The effort of understanding this and setting your tactic up accordingly will yield benefits on the pitch. Especially when it comes to more accurate historic tactic recreation or just improving how well your players defend. As another example, lets examine the classic 4-2-3-1. Both of the formations below will attack the same, except the one on the right will be more defensively solid. All it takes is deeper starting positioning on the wingers and midfielders to ensure that they drop back to defend. While their roles will still ensure that they get up the field during attack.

compare.png?fit=662%2C422&ssl=1

And adding Attack duty on the wingers or an appropriate Team Instruction (like focus play down the wings), will ensure that wingers in MR/ML strata will still attack like AMR/AML wingers. So that the 4-4-1-1 you see above will actually evolve into a 4-2-3-1 once you get the ball.

Learning From Mistakes

tactic-3.png

When it came to recreating Cruyff's (and van Gaal's) 3-4-3, I initially tried using the attacking formation variant above. And for the first two months the results were less than satisfactory.

3E16778C93F3B0E742652EF7A680C8E7F7422008

This was especially disappointing considering the status of the team I tested it with. Given their dominant status in Portugal, I expected Benfica to have more goals and wins at the start of the season. Finally getting crushed 0-5 by Man City in Champions League was the last nail in the coffin of that tactic. Something went seriously wrong and somethings had to be changed for me to keep the job. Now lets fast-forward time and look at a seemingly different formation, but with almost the same Team instructions.

diamond.png

The main difference in the 2nd formation was in the roles. I changed them to reflect their actual defensive positioning and not their "future" attacking positioning. Again, I cannot stress how important careful role selection is in Football Manager. Whereas pre-FM2014 the game was all about sliders, it is now ALL about the roles. Your attacking formation's movement is completely dictated by your players' roles, their duties, personal traits and attributes. So to create a successful tactic you must look at your tactic screen (as it shows the defensive formation) and try to predict how the players will move and position themselves during attack. This is dependent on the combination of all of the above factors. And even then what we see on the virtual pitch might not completely mirror what you visualized in your mind. That is the beauty of the game.

The Benfica Test

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Ultimately, my experience with Benfica taught me that sometimes recreating historic tactics too faithfully, doesn't result in optimum game experience. It also made me realize that some of these tactics were mostly successful within the context of their era. So for the 3-4-3 Diamond, the advantage was in shutting down the predominant two striker formations of the 1980-90s. Both Cruyff and van Gaal knew this when they went against the grain of popular tactical systems of their time. But this might not work in modern football and in FM20 especially, because it is a simulation of modern football. Historically, people learn from their mistakes. Most current managers learned from the experience of previous managers such as Cruyff, to give more attention to their midfield. The more traditional "hoof it and forget about it" 4-4-2 is a tactical dinosaur as much as the managers practicing it.

Tony-Pulis1.jpg Sorry Tony Pulis! Also how I felt during my first month in Portugal. Aye Caramba!

And who is not using some kind of defensive 4-1-4-1 DM or 4-5-1 these days? Parked buses everywhere.

So it is not surprising that in Portugal I faced a lot of formations fielding multiple Defensive Midfielders. It's a classic parked bus strategy, to sit deep and try to outnumber your opponent in defence and midfield. For how else do you overcome the overwhelmingly stronger team, except by denying them their midfield advantage? I learned this the hard way as Benfica with my old 3-4-3. In the screenshot below I am actually using its strikerless variant, out of desperation.

Results.png?fit=662%2C372&ssl=1 One of the many parked buses I faced during the first half of the season at Benfica. Despite maintaining +60% we just couldn't overcome Boavista's 2 DMs and 3 CBs.

But in my frustration, I learned a valuable lesson in how to best break down such parked buses. Enter my new and improved 3-4-3 Diamond!

It may look dramatically different from the historic one, but in practice it preserves the essence of Total Football. High pressing, possession, relentless attacking, dynamic rather than static defending and multi-touch passing. It's also my attempt to marry the best aspects from the 1970s 4-3-3 Total Football and its 1980s 3-4-3 version. So if you rather experiment yourself and figure it out as you go, then go ahead and download it here:

Download Link - https://ufile.io/p535f4xu

Important Note Before Trying

But if you are interested in the nitty-gritty details then keep on reading below.

Also as a word of caution, I must say that this formation is not for the faint of heart. It is a Total Football system through and through. Meaning that it puts attack before defence. Basically you play so aggressively that you shell-shock your opposition into submission. At the same time because you dominate possession, you don't give them time to mount any serious threat. That requires a pretty specific team of well-rounded, highly technical players. It is definitely not one to try with a mid-level club or one that just got promoted. Although it could be successful with a team that is not world-class, I would only try it if you are sure your players have the attributes and the traits for it.

Attack Before Defence

While setting out on this tactical experiment, I had a few things in mind. Things that I would not change no matter what.

  • Playing with a three men defence. I believe that it was key to both Cruyff's and van Gaal's formations. It allowed them much more freedom with their attack. One must remember that Totaalvoetbal started as a predominately attacking strategy, and not as slow in its build-up like its modern cousin, Tiki-Taka. As you can see below, it was more direct than we like to think today.
  • Secondly, I needed a striker that dropped deep and aided with the compactness in the middle. One that would work hard to help out with defence and the midfield battle, freeing my midfielders to be more offensive. But at the same time I wanted him to make forward runs to contribute to our attack. At first, this might seem a bit contradictory or a bit too much to expect from one role. But then you have to keep in mind that Cruyff did exactly that in his role as False9 for Ajax and the Dutch National team in 1970s.
  • Finally, between the central forward and my defence, the core of the tactic, its midfield diamond, was key. It was an essential requirement, no matter what formation I would choose.

Shadow Striker and Libero - Keys to the Tactic

Before settling on Shadow Striker, I tried several other supporting roles for the striker. The False9, Trequartista, and Pressing Forward seemed to make sense on paper, but none worked as I envisioned Cruyff operating. Either they would not go forward enough (False9) or drop deep enough (Trequartista) for my taste. And Shadow Striker interestingly enough is a role completely build on mental attributes. Similarly to Raumdeuter, it is primarily a role for an ultra intelligent and hard working player to excel in. Although of course having good technique and decent physicals is always of bonus. Coincidentally, AS Roma just happens to have the best young Shadow Striker in the game. And his name is well know to most football fans in Europe by now.

68762127_371333680231848_194316600458749 Nicolo Zaniolo - New World-class talent emerging out of the shadows. In more ways than one.

His attribute distribution is perfect (check those mentals!). And he is only 19 at the start of the game. He might not be the new Cruyff, but he does possess the intelligence and determination to operate well in both attack and midfield as only the best shadow strikers can.

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So with Zaniolo as the spearhead of my diamond, we must now turn to its solid base. This is where my libero comes in. Before settling on the libero, I also had several choices for this part of the diamond. My two main choices were the Half-back dropping from DM strata or Deeplying Playmaker (Defend). But Half-back I found to be not as creative nor aggressive as I needed for this role. And DLP while creative enough would not drop deep enough to cover defence as a third centreback. There is really only one role that starts in defence and then quickly transitions into midfield while in possession, libero.

Libero comes in two flavours, on support or attack duty. I decided to play it to the max. This way we can maximize his presence in the midfield. Hopefully we can rely on the role's natural tendency to still retreat to its starting position when defending. For this, a player with good acceleration and pace is always best.

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For my next article, I plan an experiment of retraining a midfielder for this role and see how he fares. Roma's Amadou Diawara seems like a perfect candidate. He has equal measures of technique, intelligence and physicality required for the role. And most importantly he still has a lot of untapped potential to grown into this demanding role.

Midfield Partners in Crime

The two corners of the diamond, CM(S) and BBM, are two players who are both very similar and very different.

The CM (Support), originally Mezzala (S) in the early version, is basically the old #10 playmaker transported to the midfield. I put Lorenzo Pellegrini here. I'm fortunate because he is more suited to this role than any other attacking central midfielder. Lorenzo started his career as a centreback, before making his way up the field to attacking central midfield (where he plays under Fonseca). Naturally he is more at home as a typical Box-to-Box Midfielder.

0BCEF07421CFAA2C3409658B781E0B23F1401300 Lorenzo “The Magnificent”. At the start of FM20, probably the most complete playmaker in the game, who is still 23 y.o or younger.

A former central defender in his youth, he is also an effective ball-winner, which enables him to break down possession. While his vision and technical skills allow him subsequently to carry or distribute the ball and provide assists for his teammates. His wide range of skills thus enable him to contribute at both ends of the pitch, and make him effective in linking both the defensive and offensive aspects of the game in a box-to-box role.  

Lorenzo Pellegrini's unique style of play according to his Wikipedia entry.

But I want him to have a more creative job than just shuffling between the two boxes, maintaining possession. I want Lorenzo to act like a playmaker, in everything but name. A creative link between midfield and attack. Meaning he cannot roam as much as a typical BBM, and instead make himself available for passes from teammates. It's essentially a Recycler role from my earlier 4-3-3 tactic.

On the other hand, Pellegrini's midfield partner, Jordan Veretout, is a more standard Box-to-Box Midfielder. He provides equal measures of defensive grit and offensive spark, backed up by world-class Teamwork, Workrate and Stamina. Your typical tireless dynamo should go here. Think Johan Neeskens in his prime. And for those born after 2000, N'Golo Kanté.

Dt6IpwXXcAEOZ5V.jpg Many speak of how great #14 Cruyff was, but #13 was not far behind. Where Johan Cruyff was the brain of 1970s Total Football, the other Johan were its tireless lungs.

In Totaalvoetbal fashion, the typical workhorse BBM is also the mold that I use to scout for my two wingbacks. Essentially, the player that I use as my BBM should be able to play in my wingback slot, and vice-versa. Similar Player Trains would apply to both positions too, eg. plays one-twos. In fact, as I mention in my previous articles, plays one-twos is my sort of universal Total Football PPM. I make sure to teach it to all my attacking and midfield players, including the wingbacks. When you have a bunch of smart, technical players, it is one of the best ways to break down stubborn defences and pass your way to goal.

First Results

Speaking of breaking down stubborn defences. The new tactic is doing just that. Since the switch it allowed Benfica to dramatically improve their rate of winning against parked buses. For instance, remember that Boavista 0-0 draw from earlier in the article? In our first meeting they stifled our attack with their 2 DMs and 3 CBs. This was the result of our rematch. A much different score! Not only did we dominate them though possession (as was case before) but created more chances against their packed defence. And most importantly four out those five goals were from open play.

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But one game cannot be enough proof of tactic's efficacy. Right? So let's take a look at the rest of the season. Keep in mind that the switch to the tactic happened after the Rio Ave 1-3 loss. Since then Benfica's results improved greatly, with only 2 loses, and 1 draw in 14 games.

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While we can still lose occasionally, Benfica has mostly been walking all over the weaker teams. And in all, the libero (Ferro) has rose to the occasion, getting several key passes every game. The same could be said for the shadow striker (Pizzi). By the end of Januray he has scored 17 goals. The early signs are encouraging. So far the tactic did I needed, turning my season around and saving my job at Benfica. But it is still early to tell if it can take Benfica, or Roma to the next level.

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Edited by crusadertsar

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

You sure? I click on it and it's right. I changed the title before posting to make it more clear just. Used to be called Diamonds Will Break Anything

At the top, you put the old link ajax 1995. 

 

Omg. Im sorry. Saw you put part 3.

 

Im so sorry. 

Edited by skyline72

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This is awesome :thup:

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Awesome read @crusadertsar

Looking forward to the next part 😁

I think you'll love ve what I'm doing with mine now after building up from your base. I think we may have settled on something quite similar I'm just using iwb instead of wb

Oh and my squad has been ripped apart. I got rid of loads and spent a fortune for the new season. I'm retraining everyone to play multiple positions. Cms are being trained as CBS and iwbs and so on  Best part is rashford and greenwood playing as iwbs lol although they are training as cwbs.

I also have literally just managed to sign de Jong so Bruno will no longer be my libero unless injuries make it necessary.

Loving this save so thanks for the ideas and work you've put into this thread ☺️

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