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crusadertsar

Everything TOTAL Football (From Cruyff, False 9s, 4-3-3, to Guardiola's Overloads) - updated June 16, 2020

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Posted (edited)
47 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

I had both Carrilero the mark the AMR/AML positions of the opponent.

And put your fastest CB and the LCB and RCB. :lol:

That's what I'm thinking of doing with mind.

How do you see your carrileros behave on the pitch? Do you actually see them cover their respective side and closing down the opponent wingers? In the past it's been raised by @Cleon and a few others that carrilero won't behave like it's supposed to in a formation with wingers in MR/ML or AMR/AML positions.

 

Edited by crusadertsar

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I really like the carrilero role but I need them to act like they are supposed to for my tactic and not like a box to box midfielder.

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I do think the Carrileros have been fixed. Or atleast improved.

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yeah I havent used 2 in a system but I used 1 alongside a mezz in a 4-1-2-3 seemed to work really well, alot less gung-ho than a box to box. He seems to balance his responsibilities well whilst still contributing.

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i find you have to be true and have the wingers high up the pitch not ML and MR for the Carrileros to work, this system the old Van gaal system wont work against the very best teams there wide players will tear you apart, but you can get some great flowing football ive dominated the league but when it comes to Europe not so good PSG with Mbappe and Di Maria gave me a beating ill never forget.   

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13 minutes ago, latrell said:

i find you have to be true and have the wingers high up the pitch not ML and MR for the Carrileros to work, this system the old Van gaal system wont work against the very best teams there wide players will tear you apart, but you can get some great flowing football ive dominated the league but when it comes to Europe not so good PSG with Mbappe and Di Maria gave me a beating ill never forget.   

Yeah I presumed as much, though it does play some amazing football looking at that video :)

 

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A Carrilero I believe behaves like a central midfielder support but offers more cover down the flanks. The box to box midfielder can roam from position and has to get from box to box quickly hence the demand for good physical attributes. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, crusadertsar said:

That's what I'm thinking of doing with mind.

How do you see your carrileros behave on the pitch? Do you actually see them cover their respective side and closing down the opponent wingers? In the past it's been raised by @Cleon and a few others that carrilero won't behave like it's supposed to in a formation with wingers in MR/ML or AMR/AML positions.

 

I believe to be able to play the Carrilero perfectly, the player need to be good in Anticipation and Off the ball to predict where the ball is going and it fits the philosophy of Ajax/Total football.

 

This is my average position without ball.

average.jpg

 

My Wingers will drop deep and track the opponent's wide players when defending.

Edited by skyline72

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5 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

I believe to be able to play the Carrilero perfectly, the player need to be good in Anticipation and Off the ball to predict where the ball is going and it fits the philosophy of Ajax/Total football.

 

This is my average position without ball.

average.jpg

 

My Wingers will drop deep and track the opponent's wide players when defending.

Do you have the outer CB's instructed to stay wider? when I tried a 3 at the back, they were never THAT wide :p

 

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10 minutes ago, daveb653 said:

Do you have the outer CB's instructed to stay wider? when I tried a 3 at the back, they were never THAT wide :p

 

No, I did not set any PI for the CBs.

Probably due to my TI - extremely wide.

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5 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

No, I did not set any PI for the CBs.

Probably due to my TI - extremely wide.

Ah yeah you're right, I didn't use that for sure :)

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My team just scored this goal in the 86th min to seal the Premier League.

 

 

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Niiiice, out of interest who do you use for you're right winger? Im doing a Utd save and considering splashing out on sancho or chiesa? But can't decide, they need to be able to rotate with James ideally from the off

 

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4 minutes ago, daveb653 said:

Niiiice, out of interest who do you use for you're right winger? Im doing a Utd save and considering splashing out on sancho or chiesa? But can't decide, they need to be able to rotate with James ideally from the off

 

Im also managing Utd. :brock:

I went for Sancho. English and younger. :lol:

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3 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

Im also managing Utd. :brock:

I went for Sancho. English and younger. :lol:

Thats why I asked :D 

But nearly double the price :p Its a trade off as I think there both very very similar CA and PA wise. I like the idea of more english talent at UTD, but can't beat the italian wonderkids this year :p

 

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2 minutes ago, daveb653 said:

Thats why I asked :D 

But nearly double the price :p Its a trade off as I think there both very very similar CA and PA wise. I like the idea of more english talent at UTD, but can't beat the italian wonderkids this year :p

 

Sign both of them! :lol:

Retrain James to play on the left, rotate with Rashford(if you do play him there).

 

I had a hard time managing the right wing. James damaged his cruciate ligaments during an international friendly at November(out for the season). :mad:

Left with Sancho or Greenwood. Had to play Wan-Bissaka there at times too, interesting option though.

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@skyline72 yeah thats a rough injury! Im planing on rotating rashford/martial and james/sancho. Going to try and give greenwood gametime upfront as well as a youngster i bought.

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Does anyone have a tactic they would like to share that they are getting some success with? 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, skyline72 said:

Sign both of them! :lol:

Retrain James to play on the left, rotate with Rashford(if you do play him there).

 

I had a hard time managing the right wing. James damaged his cruciate ligaments during an international friendly at November(out for the season). :mad:

Left with Sancho or Greenwood. Had to play Wan-Bissaka there at times too, interesting option though.

If you want a good young English RW get Bellingham. He is quality out there. In one of my united saves I had him, Sancho, James and dalot playing out there at times. Sancho and Bellingham were beasts out there though. Good thing is all of them are versatile and can play either side and in Bellingham's case, multiple positions including the centre

Playing greenwood anywhere other than up top is madness in my opinion as he's one of the best strikers on the game. Regularly scores 30+ for me.

And chiesa isn't great. Looks good attributes wise but never really seen anyone getting him performing great

Edited by Powello

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Posted (edited)
On 08/05/2020 at 08:12, skyline72 said:

You definitely need players who are intelligent, have the technique to do so.

manutd.jpg

 

The roles and shape is what I got it from @Ö-zil to the Arsenal! from his fantastic 343 Diamond thread.

After that, I watched the Ajax video from the same thread and tinker with the TIs.


Thanks for all the kind comments, and great thread! :applause:

I wanted to share a couple of newer videos I thought you might find interesting.

 

 

 

 

I recently re-read Brilliant Orange and inspired me to do some more research into the Ajax/Holland Total Football sides of the 1970s and I'd not appreciated that they were actually more attacking than the more recent possession-dominated iterations. Watching back older highlights it's interesting how attacking they were. There's still a focus on possession but less pronounced than, say, recent iterations of Barcelona. They were actually quite direct and sometimes had 7 players attacking the opposition box, particularly if you look at the Uruguay game at the 1974 World Cup.

My latest iteration of the 3-4-3 is:
 

6iz6uMB.png


Playing Centre Backs as Stoppers puts them on the same mentality as the wide Carrileros, and putting your Deep Playmaker at MC rather than DMC (lowers defensive line) makes your defence and midfield very compact; the classic "two banks of three" :lol: It's never going to be particularly solid, and it's the very definition of "attack is the best form of defence" but this is the most balanced iteration I have used. Carrileros are extremely important; examples of players used in recent saves are Gedson Fernandes (Braima Alves in the screenshot is a newgen), Alex Grimaldo, Adrien Rabiot, Leandro Paredes, Blaise Matuidi, N'Golo Kante and, actually, Dani Alves is great there.

I also much prefer a player in the AMC spot rather than advancing from MC. The AMC(S) allows you to use the Bakero role (see original Cruyff explanation), playing between opposition defence and midfield, holding the ball up for our midfield and attacking trio.

Glad to see people trying this with FM2020 and keep up the good work! :applause:

Edited by Ö-zil to the Arsenal!

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


Thanks for all the kind comments, and great thread! :applause:

I wanted to share a couple of newer videos I thought you might find interesting.

 

 

 

 

I recently re-read Brilliant Orange and inspired me to do some more research into the Ajax/Holland Total Football sides of the 1970s and I'd not appreciated that they were actually more attacking than the more recent possession-dominated iterations. Watching back older highlights it's interesting how attacking they were. There's still a focus on possession but less pronounced than, say, recent iterations of Barcelona. They were actually quite direct and sometimes had 7 players attacking the opposition box, particularly if you look at the Uruguay game at the 1974 World Cup.

My latest iteration of the 3-4-3 is:
 

6iz6uMB.png


Playing Centre Backs as Stoppers puts them on the same mentality as the wide Carrileros, and putting your Deep Playmaker at MC rather than DMC (lowers defensive line) makes your defence and midfield very compact; the classic "two banks of three" :lol: It's never going to be particularly solid, and it's the very definition of "attack is the best form of defence" but this is the most balanced iteration I have used. Carrileros are extremely important; examples of players used in recent saves are Gedson Fernandes (Braima Alves in the screenshot is a newgen), Alex Grimaldo, Adrien Rabiot, Leandro Paredes, Blaise Matuidi, N'Golo Kante and, actually, Dani Alves is great there.

I also much prefer a player in the AMC spot rather than advancing from MC. The AMC(S) allows you to use the Bakero role (see original Cruyff explanation), playing between opposition defence and midfield, holding the ball up for our midfield and attacking trio.

Glad to see people trying this with FM2020 and keep up the good work! :applause:

And playing attacking mentality :D 

 

Thats hardcore, but I like it. I actually tried the first tactic with the dlp in the dm slot. Its amazing how different he became from playing in my 4-4-1-1. Maybe its the change in formation, maybe its the instructions, who knows. But he was class in that system whereas in the 4-4-1-1, he was sluggish and seemed reluctant to do ..... well anything! :lol: 

 

I may try yours too, but I'd change down to positive I think, so I can use my beloved SS role and hopefully still have some solidarity.

 

This is a truly excellent thread.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Powello said:

And chiesa isn't great. Looks good attributes wise but never really seen anyone getting him performing great

Have seen more than one person doing very well with Chiesa including Robbo on this sub-forum who had Chiesa as his player of the season whilst winning the league as Fiorentina with Chiesa playing in the MR slot of a 4-5-1.

Fior.PNG

Edited by Crazy_Ivan

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35 minutes ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

Have seen more than one person doing very well with Chiesa including Robbo on this sub-forum who had Chiesa as his player of the season whilst winning the league as Fiorentina with Chiesa playing in the MR slot of a 4-5-1.

Fior.PNG

Fair enough 😜 just kept seeing people moaning about him and my personal experience with him where I sold him because he performed nowhere near as good as either Bellingham or Sancho or even dalot

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1 hour ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

Have seen more than one person doing very well with Chiesa including Robbo on this sub-forum who had Chiesa as his player of the season whilst winning the league as Fiorentina with Chiesa playing in the MR slot of a 4-5-1.

Fior.PNG

Good stats there. I have also had him hitting good numbers. Excellent player.

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2 hours ago, Ö-zil to the Arsenal! said:


Thanks for all the kind comments, and great thread! :applause:

I wanted to share a couple of newer videos I thought you might find interesting.

 

 

 

 

I recently re-read Brilliant Orange and inspired me to do some more research into the Ajax/Holland Total Football sides of the 1970s and I'd not appreciated that they were actually more attacking than the more recent possession-dominated iterations. Watching back older highlights it's interesting how attacking they were. There's still a focus on possession but less pronounced than, say, recent iterations of Barcelona. They were actually quite direct and sometimes had 7 players attacking the opposition box, particularly if you look at the Uruguay game at the 1974 World Cup.

My latest iteration of the 3-4-3 is:
 

6iz6uMB.png


Playing Centre Backs as Stoppers puts them on the same mentality as the wide Carrileros, and putting your Deep Playmaker at MC rather than DMC (lowers defensive line) makes your defence and midfield very compact; the classic "two banks of three" :lol: It's never going to be particularly solid, and it's the very definition of "attack is the best form of defence" but this is the most balanced iteration I have used. Carrileros are extremely important; examples of players used in recent saves are Gedson Fernandes (Braima Alves in the screenshot is a newgen), Alex Grimaldo, Adrien Rabiot, Leandro Paredes, Blaise Matuidi, N'Golo Kante and, actually, Dani Alves is great there.

I also much prefer a player in the AMC spot rather than advancing from MC. The AMC(S) allows you to use the Bakero role (see original Cruyff explanation), playing between opposition defence and midfield, holding the ball up for our midfield and attacking trio.

Glad to see people trying this with FM2020 and keep up the good work! :applause:

Glad to see you back with this fantastic football. :)

That ultimate press on the last video. :lol: Cant imagine it happening on modern football. 

Agreed that the Carrileros is the important link to this whole tactic. I tried playing my wingbacks there to experiment, need some fine tuning though.

Im guessing the PI for your AMC is Move into channels and Get Further Forward.

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10 hours ago, Powello said:

And chiesa isn't great. Looks good attributes wise but never really seen anyone getting him performing great

Here's Chiesa on my Milan save, the two highlighted players are the two I've played most at right midfield with the winger role.  The youngster coming on for the last 30 mins most of the time so that'd have cut down Chiesa's time on the pitch.

image.thumb.png.3af656cf7df1d7b5259451a488328bc4.png

My only frustration was him not scoring more of the chances he had.  I've been thinking of training him to be a right wingback in the Dani Alves mould...but as yet undecided.

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25 minutes ago, blackdevil said:

Here's Chiesa on my Milan save, the two highlighted players are the two I've played most at right midfield with the winger role.  The youngster coming on for the last 30 mins most of the time so that'd have cut down Chiesa's time on the pitch.

image.thumb.png.3af656cf7df1d7b5259451a488328bc4.png

My only frustration was him not scoring more of the chances he had.  I've been thinking of training him to be a right wingback in the Dani Alves mould...but as yet undecided.

Ok ok forget what I said about him haha

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7 minutes ago, Powello said:

Ok ok forget what I said about him haha

Just a thought but it might due to a low adaptability rating causing him to take time to settle into a new country as both the other example and mine are based in Italy.

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13 minutes ago, blackdevil said:

Just a thought but it might due to a low adaptability rating causing him to take time to settle into a new country as both the other example and mine are based in Italy.

Yeah maybe

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Posted (edited)

@Ö-zil to the Arsenal! Thank you so much for all those wonderful video suggestions. Haven't yseen two of them ever before. Always great to find new material to get more educated about Total Football. I agree that the way Holland played in 1970s was a lot more attacking than we now think. 

I'm really interested with your formation. It has many same elements that I have used in FM20 such as twin carrileros, supporting AMC, trio of CB on cover duty surrounded by two stoppers and two wingers to stretch the play and create space in the middle. But so far I have had mixed results with Benfica. I also thought (Grimaldo and Gedson Fernandes would be perfect carrileros) and am a little disappointed that it didn't work out.

It could be because I have only played on Positive mentality and my striker role i have had more trouble with. Initially I thought I needed someone to pin the opposition defenders back  and give more space for AMC. Like a pressing forward or false nine. This is how I thought Van Gaal played his diamond. But that hasn't exactly worked out. I was wondering how do your False9 and AMC work? Don't you see the deep striker getting in the way of the diamond. 

I realize that my troubles could also be due to FM20 ME not working the same as older versions. More unusual formations seem to be less viable now. Which FM are you using, FM18? 

Again thanks for contributing to this thread, it's an honour :applause:

Edited by crusadertsar

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14 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

I'm really interested with your formation. It has many same elements that I have used in FM20 such as twin carrileros, supporting AMC, trio of CB on cover duty surrounded by two stoppers and two wingers to stretch the play and create space in the middle. But so far I have had mixed results with Benfica. I also thought (Grimaldo and Gedson Fernandes would be perfect carrileros) and am a little disappointed that it didn't work out.


In Portugal I find extremely limited option to use 3-4-3, mainly due to attacking shape becoming so important in the league in order to break down all the 4-2DM defensive blocks.

The midfield diamond creating a 3vs2 on the opposition double pivot, leaving your DLP spare and creating a 3-1-6 shape in attack. Something like this:
 

W      F9      W
   MC  AM  MC
       MC
   DC  DC  DC


But given a lot of the time they'll pull everyone but the striker back, sometimes you need to attack in a 2-1-7 to break them; which requires either a 4-4-2 diamond or an attacking 4-3-3.

Via 4-3-3:
 

     IF    IF
WB  MC  F9  MC  WB
        DM
     DC    DC


Via 4-4-2 Diamond:

     CF    CF
WB  MC  AM  MC  WB
        DM
     DC    DC


Sometimes I find a False 9 and an AM can trip over each other a bit, so the other option is an out-and-out striker; Cruyff discusses in the 3-4-3 diamond video and was used by the 1995 Ajax side.

I actually recently played - and really enjoyed - a PSG save as I wanted to practice using an Advanced Forward and also to use Mbappe, for the first time, and Neymar, again.

..and, yes. Still on FM2018. The classic! :kriss:

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On 02/03/2020 at 18:15, crusadertsar said:
If you like to see my article in its original format:  https://dictatethegame.com/2020/03/02/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-love-4-3-3/

It seems that midway through the life-cycle of every Football Manager game there comes a time for change. It is usually when long-running saves start feeling stale. And a new challenge is needed to keep the game fresh. Sometimes it is a matter of changing up the tactics. The recent major Match Engine update has made me realize that my tactics were not doing what I wanted. We were winning games, but not in the way I wished. So I came to a hard decision. It is never easy to set aside a tactic, or club that you invested time into. So this is the kind of worrying that went through my mind, until I rediscovered the fun of FM20. Instead of recreating historic style or tactic I decided to take up the challenge of what I love most about football, scoring goals. All while fine-tuning my favourite 4-3-3 Formation.

 

It all Began with a Goal

b7b261176f78d6df97bbd24616363174.jpg?fit Gabriel Batistuta - The Argentinian Goal Machine

I love to score goals in Football Manager. But not just any goals. I like to see a variety of goals that result from intricate build up. Not just lucky goals from scrambles caused by set pieces. After my initial attempts at recreating classic Dutch Total Football, I finally settled on 4-3-3 system by drawing some inspiration from one of Cruyff's students. And this time I do not mean Bielsa. The final 4-3-3 that I've settled on should to lead to varied goals from different players. By applying concepts of Guardiola's Positional Play, the overloads generated will create space for your players to exploit in interesting ways. You will see quick cutback goals, worldly long shots from midfield, and real "fox in the box" beauties.

The "fox in the box" poacher is one of my favourite roles in football. Legendary Serie A players like Inzaghi, Batistuta and Shevchenko, stood larger than life due to their goals-scoring exploits. These fantasistas especially impressed on this young Ukrainian boy watching football in late 90s. To this day nothing reminds me of Serie A's Golden 1990s Era as its absolute fascination with the pure goal-scoring strikers. The poacher acted as the perfect posterboy for the beautiful game, stripping it down to its absolute essence. At its most basic, football is about outscoring your opponent. Even if it's only by one goal. And scoring goals is not easy, although players like Fiorentina's "Batigol" Batistuta made it look easy.

In Football Manager, as in real life scoring lots of goals is not a simple thing. It's the reason why plug-and-play tactics and tactic guides exist. FM enthusiasts will always look for ways to "break" the game and set virtual goal-scoring records. Without going into tactical exploit territory, I tried my own hand at trying to define that magic formula for a goal-scorer in FM19. Since switching to FM20, scoring lots of goals has not gotten any easier. Or so many of the users on the popular Sports Interactive forums claim. In this article I would like to simplify the elements which I believe are essential to scoring goals within one of my favourite formations, 4-3-3. As I believe in FM20 it can be a real goal-machine formation.

Recipe for Success

Now I am going to take the less popular view and say that scoring goals is easy in FM20. Provided you know what you are doing. All it takes is having a clear plan and knowing your players. When you fit a player into his ideal role then you are half way to making a successful tactic. The other half comes from the tactic you play him in.

Firstly, your players and their attributes and traits will tell you who your goalscorers are and who will be the creators. In any successful tactic you will need at least two consistent sources of goals. The rest will need to focus on either support or defence. Initially attribute analysis will help you filter your attackers. Once you have a likely group, you will need to narrow it down further by carefully studying their attributes. The ones with the most well defined key attributes is what you are looking for. While well-rounded attackers are useful, they won't be your 20+ goals per season goal-machines. The best goal-scorers do not necessarily need to be central strikers. But like a typical poacher, they need to be exceptionally good in at least one thing.

B03BF85C27AE10E9E1A0F3CBE580C5EC20123F63

I always look for players with very high values in Off the Ball, Acceleration, and Dribbling coupled with strong mentals. They usually tend to be my best scorers. Players like Fiorentina's Federico Chiesa or Arsenal's Nicolas Pépé.

4A0106CB6659D8946C9C7F134D68166311E94C95

Cogs in The Machine

The second part of scoring goals, is knowing what kind of tactical system will get the best from your players. The saying that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts has never been more true. In football a collection of individual stars will never win anything. While a well-oiled machine of a team will almost always overachieve despite its individual limitations. Sticking with a well-honed balanced tactic will always overachieve more than an overly aggressive one. This has never been more evident than with Guardiola's Positional Play philosophy. At its height, it not only allowed Barcelona to win two Champions Leagues but helped Messi break world records. In 2012 under Guardiola, he scored 91 goals beating the previous record held by Gerd Müller (85 in 1972). Yet Leo played as a False9 support striker, while Müller was one of the deadliest poachers of his time.

muller-3.jpg?fit=662%2C406&ssl=1 Gerd Müller's record of 365 goals in Bundesliga could fit a goal-a-day calendar. It still stands.

From Center to Wing - Changing Striker Paradigm

"I like the ball, I love the ball. To score a goal you need the ball. So as much as you have it and your percentage is higher, you have more chances to score." - Pep Guardiola

Messi has always been the exception to the rule. If it hadn't been him spearheading Guardiola's Barca then Villa probably would have been the goal-machine of the 2012 campaign. Villa was one of the best strikers in Spanish history. But due to his speed and exquisite technical skills, Pep could play him wide. From the left flank, he would perform curved runs to the penalty box and finish attacks. He was exactly the kind of player that best exploited the overload that Guardiola would create on the opposite wing.

davidvilla-leomessi2.jpeg?fit=662%2C372& Messi-Villa - one of most productive False9-Inside Forward partnerships in Barca's history

The rise of a wide forward as the team's primary goal-scorer reflected modern football's increasing importance of midfield control. This control is generally won through aggressive pressing and Tiki-Taka-style short passing. Something that most average teams just cannot keep up with on a pure technical level. Top teams like Barcelona, and Man City play in the way that puts a lot of emphasis on winning games through winning the midfield battle. This led to dramatic decrease in free space for traditional central strikers to exploit in the middle of the field.

JPG_1582640881110-scaled.jpg?fit=662%2C5

On the other hand, the inside forward has prospered in the Europe's top five leagues. In recent years it has not been typical central strikers that score most goals at top flight. But it's inside forwards like Raheem Sterling, Mohamed Salah and Kylian Mbappé who dominate record charts. And it is a trend that has been going on for a while. Just look at the most prolific attacking partnerships in the last decade. Great pairing s such as Lewandowski and Thomas Muller, or Benzema-Ronaldo at Real Madrid.

karim-benzema-cristiano-ronaldo-cropped_

Similar to Villa-Messi partnership above, Ronaldo and Benzema had almost perfect chemistry during their years together at Madrid. Benzema, operating centrally as a False9, used his teamwork, tactical intelligence, and attacking movement to draw opponents out of position. This created spaces for Ronaldo to make dangerous attacking runs into the center of the area from the left wing,

4-3-3 and Guardiola's Progressive Possession Style

guardiola.jpg?fit=662%2C442&ssl=1

Now I am going to go ahead and repeat what I already said before. In my opinion, the 4-3-3 is the most versatile and balanced shape in FM20. And probably in football in general. It is due to the fact that 4-3-3 (and its 4-1-4-1 DM variant) unlike the 4-4-2, values the inside forward. In its embrace of the inside forward it is very much a forward-thinking modern formation. With the advent of modern tactics that favour heavy pressing and possession, the middle of the field becomes overcrowded. The only open space that can still be found is often on the wings. It's where inside forwards can take advantage of their superior speed and dribbling unlike the less mobile traditional Number9 strikers. At the same time, quick and creative False9 like Messi can have great chemistry with inside forwards.

In attack, 4-3-3 can offer both dangerous width and plenty of chances for overloads with the right roles. And most importantly with the correct balance of roles, defence can easily cover for the forwards' adventurous attacking movement. It is surprising how defensively solid it can be even with as many as 5 players going into attack.

Therefore it is no surprise that 4-3-3 has been favoured by some of the most attack-oriented managers. Both Pep Guardiola in his Positional Play philosophy and Maurizio Sarri (Sarriball) played with some type of 4-3-3. Both are also staunch practitioners of Vertical Tiki-Taka, or progressive possession style. And if you are a top team and not playing progressive possession, then you are doing something wrong. Progressive Possession is possession with an attacking intent. It is not possession for the sake of possession that the classic Tiki-Taka has erroneously become known for. Progressive Possession is key to Guardiola's Positional Play.

JPG_1582568042847.jpg

Guardiola never cared about possession alone. Pep is unique among football managers, is that he is not just looking to win but to win in style. In his case, it is Progressive Possession style. Possession numbers in themselves are not important to him. What is important to Guardiola is keeping the ball long enough to enforce his vision of football on the game. Pep's vision of a perfect game is that of the constantly forward-moving attack. In this the other side has no choice but to play by his rules. And what are these rules you might ask? Read on.

Taking Control of the Half-Space

At Manchester City, Pep has revolutionized the traditional role of the #10 advanced playmaker. He made it a hybrid of the #10 and central midfield runner #8. Pep's two hybrid 8/10s David Silva and De Bruyne start in midfield but then as the ball is gained, move up to occupy half-space positions, just below the striker. While Silva holds back more to act as a traditional playmaker, De Bruyne uses his physicality to drive forward and link-up with attackers at the edge of the penalty area.

With the two wide attackers stretching the opposition defence on the wings and the False9, Sergio Aguero, dropping deep centrally, Man City's deadly 5-Pronged Attack is formed. You can see it in action in the image below. There De Bruyne is moments away from delivering a pin-point cross to Aguero. The False9 can then make the decision to shoot on goal or quickly pass to one of the wingers. As the ball shifts opponent's attention to Aguero, the wingers find themselves with plenty of open space. They can cut in unopposed towards goal and shoot.

0_kdb.png

This beautiful play of quick passes and one-twos is only made possible through the occupation of the half-spaces. When the midfield is congested with players moving into half-space channels, there is bound to be a lot of space created on the wings. There we have quick wingers to take advantage of the 1v1s created.

Overloads, Cutbacks and Runners

Guardiola always instructs at least one wide players to stay on the far-side from the overloaded side. At Barcelona he used players such as Thierry Henry, Villa, and Alexis Sanchez to generate cutbacks. The width generated in this way, created space for the midfield diamond of the likes of Messi and Iniesta. Many wrongly accuse Guardiola's Barcelona of seeking possession for the sake of possession. They could not be further from the truth. Guardiola uses midfield ball possession as a way to attract the opposition there. This in turn overloads the center and frees the two wingers. They can then get isolated against their respective fullback in, usually favourable for the winger, 1v1. At its core this simple concept is the central tenant of Positional Play and key to Pep's success. Simply, overload and isolate.

Origins of Positional Play

Guardiola's Positional Play or Juego de Posición is the tactical philosophy behind three of his most successful clubs. He first developed it at Barca, where he won everything he possibly could. His next Bayern stint was as impressive, even without Champions League glory. Finally moving to England, allowed Pep a whole new playing field and footballing culture to bend to his will. Arguably he has not reached City's full potential. But anything is possible now after he spent a few years assembling his perfect team.

At the Camp Nou, Guardiola had The Perfect Team. He knew that his best players were his midfielders, Lionel Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets. So naturally Guardiola developed a tactical system to get the most of their collective strengths. Thus Juego de Posición was born in Barcelona in 2010. By shifting Leo from his natural attacking midfield position into that of a creative False 9 striker, Pep changed everything. Leo became the crucial centerpin to Pep's 4-3-3 system just like Cruyff was to Ajax 4-3-3 of 1970s.

leo-messi-128019.jpeg?fit=662%2C372&ssl=

Undoubtedly the key was Messi. Pep chose him as the team's unorthodox central striker. Leo did not fit the typical central striker role of a targetman who holds up the ball and bullies defenders. No, instead he amazed the world with his dribbling and mastery of the ball. Both of which drew opponents to him like flies to raw meat while his teammates were left free to attack. In midfield behind Messi there were the playmaking talents of Xavi and Iniesta. Completing the bottom of this diamond was Sergio Busquets who with his positioning and passing linked the midfield with defence.

The Perfect Team, Perfect Roles

So to summarize, in order to play by Guardiola's Rules of Positional Play, you will need:

  1. Control the Half-Spaces (or channels if you will)
  2. Overload the midfield through numerical superiority
  3. Use inverted wingbacks to help in the midfield control and overload
  4. At the same time free up space on at least one flank and have your most dangerous attackers exploit it.
  5. Keep the ball as much as possible and if you lose it win it back immediately. Thus high defensive line and aggressive pressing are needed.
  6. Start attacks from the back, getting the centrebacks involved in the buildup.
4-3-3.jpg

These should give you the rough idea on the team instructions that we will need. The next part is making sure that each player performs a specific role on the field. Again, like cogs in the machine. You will need a perfect player for each role. By this I do not mean the absolutely best, world-class player. But one that is perfectly suited to play that role due to his key attribute distribution. I will go into more detail on this in the next article where I will present the final tactic. For now these are the player roles you will need. I am using the legendary 2010-2011 Barcelona team as an example of the basic archetypes.

5-768x432-1.jpg
  • Valdes was the classic sweeper keeper. His role was essential when playing with a high defensive line. He also acted as an extra player to help in maintaining possession and building attacks up from the back.
  • Piqué and Mascherano were the ball-playing central defenders who were comfortable carrying the ball closer to midfielders or fullbacks to gain better passing angles. They were also mobile enough to drop back and cover. So you typical slow and strong defender who can only hoof the ball cannot apply.
  • Alves - was the complete wingback with freedom to roam forward. Especially when both Xavi and Iniesta joined the attack. At the same time Abidal was his more conservative partner on the left. He acted like a third centerback at times. Thus defensive balance was kept.
  • Busquets - Pivot - the only real specialist role in the whole formation. He was the all-important defensive midfield pivot. Busquets fit into Barcelona’s system perfectly and was the key defensive foil to Messi's free "Cruyff" role. His timely interceptions coupled with exquisite composure and positioning contributed greatly to maintaining possession and shielding the defence.
  • Xavi - Controller- also an important role in the midfield. He was basically a classic #10 who dictated the team's tempo. He was also key in recycling possession towards areas that opened up after the opposition would overload his side of the field. It helped greatly that he was always able to control the ball even in the face of the most intense opposition pressure.
  • Iniesta - Needle Player - who will thread the whole between your midfield and opponent's defence. As a #8 Iniesta acted like an attacking midfielder who carried the ball forward into dangerous areas. In this he was helped by his unrivaled dribbling skill and low stature (and centre of gravity).
  • Pedro - was the versatile winger who hugged the touchline and provided width on the side Guardiola wished to overload. It also allowed Alves cut inside from his fullback position. Sometimes he would cut inside to support Messi and leave room for overlapping Alves on the wing.
  • Villa - Shadow Striker - would also stay wide on the left, seemingly harmless as the second winger. But the moment that there was an overload created on the right, his more dangerous side would emerge. Then he would drift inside in a difficult-to-mark curved run toward the penalty box. His reputation for finishing attacks made him into one the best strikers in Spanish history.
  • Messi- "Cruyff" Role - Catalyst. Those who read my previous article on Total Football, are probably familiar with Cruyff's all-important role to Dutch 4-3-3. Best player on the team and the brain of the formation. Guardiola gave him the full freedom to drop deep, drift to the wings or just roam around. The opposition defenders had no choice but follow him. By his mere movement, Leo created space for his teammates. What a real False9 must be.
Barca-1.png?fit=662%2C714&ssl=1 You can find the download for the preliminary version of this tactic at the end of the article. Mind you, it is bound to change as I test and report on in future articles.

Again these roles are not meant to be exact replication of 2010 Barca but rather an inspiration for my Total Football 4-3-3 Tactic's Roles. It's more of a general amalgam of styles from three of Guardiola-led clubs. For instance, while Alves did a lot of roaming, he did not really act like an inverted wingback. Guardiola did not start using inverted wingback until his Bayern days. What all his tactics between 2010 and 2020 have in common is that 4-3-3 shape (4-1-4-1DM wide if you will). As well as his constant drive to create overloads. That is something that he learned from his great mentors, Cruyff and Bielsa. And is also something that I myself too cannot stop doing. Once you seeing Total Football everywhere, it is hard to go back to playing football any other way.

jg7xlre3opcyh5ln4o463bhuh9gxpw4l.jpg Dutch 4-3-3 - Passing Triangles Everywhere

Hopefully you enjoyed this rough overview to Guardiola-style 4-3-3. It also happened to be Dutch Total Football formation of 1970s. The formation that brought a lot of success to both Ajax and Dutch National Team. It was eventually brought to Spain and Barcelona by Johan Cruyff, where it was learned by Pep Guardiola. Thus it has been refined over two generations. Currently it is a very versatile shape that can bring the best out of your attackers. And help you score lots of goals of course. It is not every formation that provides passing triangles everywhere. And no other shape is easier for keeping possession with short passes. Hopefully I will be able to prove this in the future entries in this 4-3-3-inspired series. Until then happy testing and thank you for reading! And feel free to follow us @ Dictate The Game’s Facebook and Dictate The Game’s Twitter!

NEXT ARTICLE: I will be following in the steps of Bielsa and Guardiola, as I revive Dutch 4-3-3 one Role at a time. Also, I'll have a Royal time unveiling the club for this challenge.

2b017022-3ed5-444d-897f-558451cba796t3w1

Tactic In-Progress Download: https://ufile.io/y5tcz3wn

 

 

 

Absolutely love this post, been playing something similar for a while. 4-3-3 is been my preferred shape since FM10. What are your thoughts on the F9. Had long conversations with SI, and Jack Joyce in particular about the role. I think it's improved but still disagree about how it works in FM. I think in my opinion they have perfected the concept of the False 9, but in the role of the AMC Shadow Striker, which is how my 4-3-3 operates, though sometimes I push it back into the CF position and play F9 or CF/S

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20 hours ago, daveb653 said:

@skyline72 yeah thats a rough injury! Im planing on rotating rashford/martial and james/sancho. Going to try and give greenwood gametime upfront as well as a youngster i bought.

Get Grealish!

He is a beast for me.

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17 minutes ago, skyline72 said:

Get Grealish!

He is a beast for me.

To late! I ended up buying Sancho :D 

 

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1 minute ago, daveb653 said:

To late! I ended up buying Sancho :D 

 

I had both.

No regrets!

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1 hour ago, Ö-zil to the Arsenal! said:


In Portugal I find extremely limited option to use 3-4-3, mainly due to attacking shape becoming so important in the league in order to break down all the 4-2DM defensive blocks.

The midfield diamond creating a 3vs2 on the opposition double pivot, leaving your DLP spare and creating a 3-1-6 shape in attack. Something like this:
 


W      F9      W
   MC  AM  MC
       MC
   DC  DC  DC


But given a lot of the time they'll pull everyone but the striker back, sometimes you need to attack in a 2-1-7 to break them; which requires either a 4-4-2 diamond or an attacking 4-3-3.

Via 4-3-3:
 


     IF    IF
WB  MC  F9  MC  WB
        DM
     DC    DC


Via 4-4-2 Diamond:


     CF    CF
WB  MC  AM  MC  WB
        DM
     DC    DC


Sometimes I find a False 9 and an AM can trip over each other a bit, so the other option is an out-and-out striker; Cruyff discusses in the 3-4-3 diamond video and was used by the 1995 Ajax side.

I actually recently played - and really enjoyed - a PSG save as I wanted to practice using an Advanced Forward and also to use Mbappe, for the first time, and Neymar, again.

..and, yes. Still on FM2018. The classic! :kriss:

Thanks mate, thats some great advise and food for thought for me to chew on. I actually went back and checked the draws that i had in the last two months of the season (its crazy but actually had 7 from August to November) and its true most of the formations were fielding 2 DMs and sometimes with 3 defenders! Talk about parking the bus. No wonder my 3-4-3 was doing so bad. It had everything stacked against it. I will now try to react more to opposition. Usually I am not one to change my formations from game to game, rather preferring to always play my way and force the opposition to adapt. But now so as not to get sacked I may have no choice. Using 4-3-3 with attacking wingbacks sounds about right. 

Also another question, was just wondering what your logic is for using 3 BPDs? I always thought that would be a bit too direct for Total Football style where you generally want to build up from the back. So I always went for only fielding one BPD. But maybe your way is better. 

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21 minutes ago, crusadertsar said:

Also another question, was just wondering what your logic is for using 3 BPDs? I always thought that would be a bit too direct for Total Football style where you generally want to build up from the back. So I always went for only fielding one BPD. But maybe your way is better. 


I get asked this alot and it's one of the most common misunderstandings on the forums.

In a possession based system, Ball Playing Defenders are not direct at all:


p8aXglV.png


This is a Very Fluid, Control mentality with Build up from the Back and Retain Possession.

I like the role because you can ask them to dribble more, which means - with the right player & traits - they'll advance until they get opposition pressure. All they need to do is invite opposition pressure by advancing until someone presses and leaves a gap, then they play a simple short pass and so the cycle of build-up begins..

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


I get asked this alot and it's one of the most common misunderstandings on the forums.

In a possession based system, Ball Playing Defenders are not direct at all:


p8aXglV.png


This is a Very Fluid, Control mentality with Build up from the Back and Retain Possession.

I like the role because you can ask them to dribble more, which means - with the right player & traits - they'll advance until they get opposition pressure. All they need to do is invite opposition pressure by advancing until someone presses and leaves a gap, then they play a simple short pass and so the cycle of build-up begins..

Oh wow thats what I thought they were supposed to do according to the description but I think I thought the agreement on the forum was that they actually would launch too many risking long passes instead. 

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Posted (edited)

I think they get more directness at 20. @crusadertsar @Ö-zil to the Arsenal!

 

BPD: 

s7Wd4oN.jpg

 

In this system:

QLnaknf.jpg

The away version of my tactic

 

For me the BPD and passing directness has never been a problem though..

Edited by Djuicer

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


I get asked this alot and it's one of the most common misunderstandings on the forums.

In a possession based system, Ball Playing Defenders are not direct at all:


p8aXglV.png


This is a Very Fluid, Control mentality with Build up from the Back and Retain Possession.

I like the role because you can ask them to dribble more, which means - with the right player & traits - they'll advance until they get opposition pressure. All they need to do is invite opposition pressure by advancing until someone presses and leaves a gap, then they play a simple short pass and so the cycle of build-up begins..

@Ö-zil to the Arsenal!, whats your PI of the latest iteration?

 

I can think of AMC - Get Further Forward, Move into channels.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, themadsheep2001 said:

Absolutely love this post, been playing something similar for a while. 4-3-3 is been my preferred shape since FM10. What are your thoughts on the F9. Had long conversations with SI, and Jack Joyce in particular about the role. I think it's improved but still disagree about how it works in FM. I think in my opinion they have perfected the concept of the False 9, but in the role of the AMC Shadow Striker, which is how my 4-3-3 operates, though sometimes I push it back into the CF position and play F9 or CF/S

Thanks friend :) 4-3-3 has always been my top formation to go back to. Even when experimenting with others, i constantly try to improve my 4-3-3. Lately i coincidentally arrived at same conclusion, shadow striker is a better False9 than that role is in the game. For me this is simple, it's because of defensive positioning. As soon as ball is lost my shadow striker tends to drop down into his natural position closer to midfield. This really contributes to the solidity and compactness of the tactic and that's especially important for possession tactics or Total Football. While False9, whether due to Match Engine or other factors, I notice is not dropping as deep and often stays high up like a regular striker.

Edited by crusadertsar

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10 hours ago, themadsheep2001 said:

Absolutely love this post, been playing something similar for a while. 4-3-3 is been my preferred shape since FM10. What are your thoughts on the F9. Had long conversations with SI, and Jack Joyce in particular about the role. I think it's improved but still disagree about how it works in FM. I think in my opinion they have perfected the concept of the False 9, but in the role of the AMC Shadow Striker, which is how my 4-3-3 operates, though sometimes I push it back into the CF position and play F9 or CF/S

 

3 hours ago, crusadertsar said:

Thanks friend 🙂 4-3-3 has always been my top formation to go back to. Even when experimenting with others, i constantly try to improve my 4-3-3. Lately i coincidentally arrived at same conclusion, shadow striker is a better False9 than that role is in the game. For me this is simple, it's because of defensive positioning. As soon as ball is lost my shadow striker tends to drop down into his natural position closer to midfield. This really contributes to the solidity and compactness of the tactic and that's especially important for possession tactics or Total Football. While False9, whether due to Match Engine or other factors, I notice is not dropping as deep and often stays high up like a regular striker.

I've played 4-3-3 basically in every FM/CM edition and I can never let go of that formation. Of course by 433 I mean the one with DM & AMRL.

I think SI have gotten close with the F9 role in FM20 - it works better than before but still not quite I think or like. I want it to drop more deep into midfield in the build up like AMC would, but get into the penalty box to finish off moves - a la Messi. Also, defensively with Support duty it is quite involved in the coming deep and defending - I don't like that. 

On FM17 and FM18 the SS role was the way to go in terms of recreating the Messi False 9 role at Barca. However, I don't find it working that well in FM20. I've been using either Trequartista or F9 at STC. For some reason I don't think the Treq drops that deep - I've been using Messi for 3 seasons btw. He drops deeper as F9 with roaming PI added. 

I can't quite judge, does the F9 role drop more with Roaming or without. What are your observations about all that?

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8 hours ago, Ö-zil to the Arsenal! said:


I get asked this alot and it's one of the most common misunderstandings on the forums.

In a possession based system, Ball Playing Defenders are not direct at all:


p8aXglV.png


This is a Very Fluid, Control mentality with Build up from the Back and Retain Possession.

I like the role because you can ask them to dribble more, which means - with the right player & traits - they'll advance until they get opposition pressure. All they need to do is invite opposition pressure by advancing until someone presses and leaves a gap, then they play a simple short pass and so the cycle of build-up begins..

 

8 hours ago, Djuicer said:

I think they get more directness at 20. @crusadertsar @Ö-zil to the Arsenal!

 

BPD: 

s7Wd4oN.jpg

 

In this system:

QLnaknf.jpg

The away version of my tactic

I've never had problems using 2 BPDs in my back 4 in terms of risky passes and giving the ball away. 

I think in FM20 the role works brilliantly - player carries the ball and plays lovely passes. Of course it is very important to have a defender with the right technical and mental attributes for the role. I think the only attribute that matters the least is Vision - I've had Joe Gomez play brilliantly as BPD even though he has Vision below 10. 

As long as the player has the following he's gonna do well:

first touch, passing, technique, anticipation, composure, concentration and decisions

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19 minutes ago, yonko said:

 

I've never had problems using 2 BPDs in my back 4 in terms of risky passes and giving the ball away. 

I think in FM20 the role works brilliantly - player carries the ball and plays lovely passes. Of course it is very important to have a defender with the right technical and mental attributes for the role. I think the only attribute that matters the least is Vision - I've had Joe Gomez play brilliantly as BPD even though he has Vision below 10. 

As long as the player has the following he's gonna do well:

first touch, passing, technique, anticipation, composure, concentration and decisions

 

Thats interesting! Because I had this newgen come through my academy at Sociedad, at first I thought he could be a new Busquets but now I'm thinking that he might be a decent BPD according to your criteria.

His Vision is really low but the rest are high enough. Maybe train some PPMs like "Brings ball out Defense", "Tries Short Passes" and get him mentored by someone with  "Tries to Play out of Trouble". What do you think. he is a keeper?

E2683F5DEC6793386C0DE9300E4F1B7A4CD1063C (1600×900)

 

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30 minutes ago, yonko said:

 

I've played 4-3-3 basically in every FM/CM edition and I can never let go of that formation. Of course by 433 I mean the one with DM & AMRL.

I think SI have gotten close with the F9 role in FM20 - it works better than before but still not quite I think or like. I want it to drop more deep into midfield in the build up like AMC would, but get into the penalty box to finish off moves - a la Messi. Also, defensively with Support duty it is quite involved in the coming deep and defending - I don't like that. 

On FM17 and FM18 the SS role was the way to go in terms of recreating the Messi False 9 role at Barca. However, I don't find it working that well in FM20. I've been using either Trequartista or F9 at STC. For some reason I don't think the Treq drops that deep - I've been using Messi for 3 seasons btw. He drops deeper as F9 with roaming PI added. 

I can't quite judge, does the F9 role drop more with Roaming or without. What are your observations about all that?

I know that Supporting Striker movement was a problem on earlier versions of FM20, like them not dropping deep enough. One of the reasons I started experimenting with strikerless systems. Roaming might help them. It could be one of the reasons why Treq supposedly drops even lower than False9, because it has Roaming selected by default. But I havent really experimented much with Treqs in Striker Position as never really had a suitable player for this role. 

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So my game decided to crash and can't be loaded anymore.

Restart to my journey to Total Football once again.

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8 hours ago, yonko said:

 

I've never had problems using 2 BPDs in my back 4 in terms of risky passes and giving the ball away. 

I think in FM20 the role works brilliantly - player carries the ball and plays lovely passes. Of course it is very important to have a defender with the right technical and mental attributes for the role. I think the only attribute that matters the least is Vision - I've had Joe Gomez play brilliantly as BPD even though he has Vision below 10. 

As long as the player has the following he's gonna do well:

first touch, passing, technique, anticipation, composure, concentration and decisions

Im not having issues with the role, that was not my point. Sorry if it was unclear. Its just that from what I see that directness has been increased from FM18- to -20.

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2 hours ago, Djuicer said:

Im not having issues with the role, that was not my point. Sorry if it was unclear. Its just that from what I see that directness has been increased from FM18- to -20.

I think you are right they are a bit more direct but what I love more about BPD than ever before is how they are more willing to take risks, at times dribbling or holding on to the ball to bring it closer to your midfield. And they will do this even in the face of pressure from opposition. They won't hoof it to the sideline like a regular CB when faced with danger. But for this reason playing with a good SK who will come forward to receive a back pass from BPD is key. But of course like with any role you need a special player for BPD, so in this case creative, intelligent and comfortable on the ball.

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I'm even wondering if you have Ball Playing Defender with above average dribbling (+12) would be a good strategy to tell them to dribble more as a PI? It would be like if they had "Tries to play out of trouble" or "Bring the ball out of defence" Trait?

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