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sue_donym

Sterile possession and a lot of long shots

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Hello

I have what I suspect is a not uncommon tactical problem, and despite endless fiddling have frustratingly been unable to self-diagnose and fix the issues sufficiently well to sort it out. I play as Schalke, one of the bigger teams in Germany who go into most matches as favourites playing against teams playing relatively conservatively.  I attach a picture of my tactical set up. The idea is that we build up through the middle, with both centre backs reasonable on the ball and technically gifted midfielders. We play a relatively low tempo, and look to hold possession and finally for penetration from the midfield runner, the IF and the WB(A) overlapping.  

2121667003_SchalkeTactics.thumb.PNG.46a828fdef53c0622aaffc62c254103a.PNG1023862653_SchalkeMatchStats.thumb.PNG.a82a08e862fc5561c48ae933307dfbeb.PNG2047675018_Analysistab.thumb.PNG.54cbeba83b4a0b7e504ca47a3fc39ad4.PNG

 

The other screenshot shows what actually happens. We boss possession and do very little with it. This game was particularly frustrating (their equaliser came when their centre half hoofed the ball up the field and our CB and GK left it for each other) but a lot of games follow a not dissimliar pattern. We usually manage to win, but we score a lot of long shots and set pieces - I think last year we finished 4th and were 13th in chances created.

Looking at the analysis tab it seems painfully clear that we're over-congested in central areas, and I suspect the tactic has a lack of runners which means those central players end up running out of options and firing off long shots. But how do I remedy that without sacrificing control?  On a higher mentality the players seem painfully isolated and our build play is incoherent.  

The roles I'm particularly uncertain of are: 

  1. The striker - my aim in making him a DLF(A) is that he leads the line as an active part of build up play but is also sufficiently attacking to be the 'pointy end' of crosses coming from the wing back and through balls coming from the playmakers. However he's peripheral in matches, doesn't really get on the end of through balls (probably not helped by the fact that teams usually play deep against us) and really doesn't carry much of an attacking threat. 
  2. The AM(C). He's technically my best player but he misplaces a lot of passes, and a lot of games seem to pass him by. It might be because he's young, but I do wonder whether making him more aggressive might help. I want him to be involved in build play though. I suspect however that with their being two playmakers around him he needs to be more of a direct player.  
  3. the AM(R) - does having two playmakers make us too pedestrian? The guy I have here is on paper better than my alternatives at AM(R) but they're more direct players - would I be better served with a winger with a good cross on support duty sitting a little narrower, or an IF cutting inside? 

Some squad limitations: my D(R) is very good but I don't have a really good attacking D(L), I don't have have a really top drawer advanced forward or right winger.  

Any help very welcome.

Thanks

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Posted (edited)

Are you actually trying to play a Gegenpress or are you simply using the preset as a framework? Some of your institutions seem to go against the Gegenpress philosophy of pressing hard as soon as you lose the ball, winning back high up the pitch and attacking immediately.


FOR GEGENPRESS:

In Possession: Firstly, if you are a stronger side, usually favourite, opposition will defend deep and narrow - playing through the middle is playing into an already congested area of the pitch and exactly where your opponents want you to be. You also have the Wide attack - which will move your wide players away from where you you have told the team to play - if you want to stretch the defense the ball needs to go out there with them as well.

In Transition: Gegenpressing, does not allow time for your team to regroup or hold shape - as soon as an opponent receives the ball you want your nearest players pressing hard and and quickly, not retreating back to position. Holding shape as well tells them to drop back and stay there, or stay imn position when we win it back - in GGPres u really need to be more fluid and let players a: Close the opponent down and b: attack the space in front as soon as you win it back - too much positional discipline prevents this.

Out Of Possession: More Urgent pressing is OK, but does work a little against the above, Prevent short GK distribution is also pretty good as it can push your AMs further upfield,

How is Sewell as a Pressing Forward? When I play GGPress I want those front four players on the front foot, closing down the GK, DCs and FBs whenever the ball is in that area, I would rarely play fewer than three Attack duties in those front four, but the striker is nearly always a PF if not that then an AF.

MENTALITY: Gegenpress works much better if you are Positive or Attacking - you need ot be on hte front foot all the time, chasing, harassing and attacking immediately possession is won. I want to see most of the action in the opponent's half, my defensive line will be Higher and only two D duties with my DCs, WBs on Support or FB-S and Support in the MC strata.

Play an offside trap and have pacey defenders to recover and you can camp in their half playing Heavy Metal until the wall collapses.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

To play a more balanced and measured approach, you aren't far off to be honest, your DLP and AP on the same side of the pitch looks a little unbalanced - they will roam a little to attract the ball , I would consider losing the AP on the right and using him as a Winger or Inside Forward (IF is my preffered).

Gomes as a WB-A I would be wary off - if I was playing you, I would focus my attacks down that flank as you are reducing his defensive responsibilitie and letting him advance forward too far for my liking. 

A lot here would depend on the opposition though, My 4231 cna tweak quite a bit - the DLP on Defend OR Support. Either a BWM or BBM next to him - if I am expecting to have to defend more, then a BWM, if I feel I have the edge then a BBM as partner. I prefer the DLP on Support though, it sits him nicely as the pivot - will come a bit deeper to get hball off the defence, and will step up a bit to help feed the forwards.

 

4231 really is a very tweakable formation depending on how you want your team to play.

 

Edited by Snorks

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When you're a bigger team and you're playing teams who are going to play conservatively, they're going to sit narrow and deep and pack the centre, usually with a defensive midfielder. By focusing play through the middle, you're asking your team to focus their attacking buildup through the part of the pitch where the defending team are strongest. This, combined with the fact that you haven't got 'work the ball into the box' selected, is why you're seeing lots of long shots; the team are getting the ball outside the 18 yard box, seeing that most players are being marked, and having a potshot instead.

It's a sensible way to try and encourage your team to play out of the back and through the centre, but since you have 'play out from the back' and a DLP in the central midfield already you should find they'll play this way without having 'play through the middle' selected.

You've done well to put the AP on the right flank and using 'wide' as a team instruction to try and offset this somewhat, but I'd imagine this is the root of the problem. 

I'd suggest removing the that team instruction and maybe even dropping the width a little bit to compensate, and also selecting 'work ball into box.' Maybe even the team instruction that adds creativity if you've got lots of good, creative players.

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Some great tactical points made above so I just wanted to focus on your player roles a bit more. 

WB(A) - I've always tended to find FB(A) more than adequate for getting forward and supporting attacks but not over committing. I would say that your opposition is probably targeting that as an area to exploit. To counter this, you could have your right CB set to 'cover' instead of 'defend' which will see then drop a little deeper and sweep up behind.

 

Looking further forward, I'm really struggling to see where your runners are coming from. I see two potential runners in your BBM and IF(A) but they are both on the same side and may well be making runs into similar areas. 

 

AM(S) - That's a pretty static role. They'll mainly sit in that hole and not venture too far from it. They won't get into the box much and mainly look to create for others. 

 

AP(S) - I've toyed with playing an AP out wide but struggled to get it to work (but I'm sure better FM players have done it effectively). What I have found is that an 'attack' duty gets more out of them. Also, on 'support' they are likely to be drifting central and occupying a similar area to the AM(S).

 

DLF(A) - I'm still messing with lone striker roles but I've found AF(A) to be the most effective. I too am trying to play possession based football but I want my forward players to help in the creation of opportunities. I went for the usual DLF or CF roles but with the AF(A) role, they just seem to be so much more involved (and scoring more). 

 

Not saying I'm 100% right on any of this but hopefully there is something there that makes sense and gives you something to think about.

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5 hours ago, Ugeine said:

When you're a bigger team and you're playing teams who are going to play conservatively, they're going to sit narrow and deep and pack the centre, usually with a defensive midfielder. By focusing play through the middle, you're asking your team to focus their attacking buildup through the part of the pitch where the defending team are strongest

Exactly :thup: 

@sue_donym If I knew your players, then I could give you more specific advice. Without that, I can only tell you what I would remove from your tactic (in addition to focus play down the middle, which has been already discussed):

- would not play 2 PMs close to each other (or even would not use 2 PMs together at all)

- would use split-press rather than more urgent team pressing

- would use counter instead of hold shape

- if playing the lone striker on attack duty, then would rather have a winger on attack than an IF on attack (unless my lone striker is a trequartista)

- in a top-heavy system without a DM, my attack-duty fullback (if I use him) would be in a FB rather than WB role

- would not use regroup, except (sometimes) against other strong teams

- would always distribute to both CBs and FBs if I insisted on building from the back (so that my keeper would have more options available, especially if the opposition are putting some pressure on my back-line)

If you are among the top teams in your league, Positive mentality would make more sense than Balanced, as that would - among other things - encourage your players to take more risks and would also give them some more freedom of both movement and expression. 

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16 hours ago, sue_donym said:

2047675018_Analysistab.thumb.PNG.54cbeba83b4a0b7e504ca47a3fc39ad4.PNG

Your attack seems pretty stacked, an indication for not enough penetration or in other words it looks too easy for your opponent to set up defensively. Obviously there are many ways to go on from here. 

  • Check if actually enough players move into the box to actually get into scoring positions. If not, increase number of attack duties or mentality, or even both.
  • If you got enough attacking players in position increase tempo to make it harder for your opponent to set up. be careful though your players can handle this (decisions)
  • if a proper tempo and number of attacking players is set up, increase passing directness to create more forward passes and penetration.

Remember: A slow tempo play without taking too much risks will not be successful against teams who primarily want to defend. This style of play you can choose against team who actually want to attack. Also playing on a higher tempo with a rather direct passing style doesnt mean you will play long ball low possession football. You will still be able to set up a dominent style of short passes and 55-65% posssession if set up correctly. (also depending on the general dominance of your team obviously)

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Thanks for all the tips, much appreciated. Answering some Qs/specific comments:

@Snorks the Gegenpress set up was what was the model I initially used but have gradually moved away from it - the fact that there are still some surviving TIs I guess shows that my tactical thinking has't been very joined up. In terms of pressing I tend to press better teams and those that look to play out of the back much more aggressively and higher up the pitch, the more defensive teams I want to hold my shape and generally let them hoof the ball away.  I like your suggestion of a PF(A) - Sewell though isn't great at it (see screenshot) - but nevertheless it's change I'm definitely not ruling out.  

@PinkSpeedos thanks - I think you're right insofar as  a lot of my players end up occupying the same space (BBM & IF, AM & AP).  I think that's really borne out by the third screenshot above - hopefully my new iteration below will resolve some of those issues.  

@Ugeinethanks - you're absolutely right I do get jammed up in the middle. I've adopted your suggestion to drop build through the middle as part of a general attempt to be more direct and less predictable in attacking.  

@Experienced Defender - I've attached some key attacking players profiles for info (Goretzka is Leon Goretzka, come home after all these years).  Have adopted some of your suggestions below.  

@CARRERAFully agree with your comments - hopefully below has rectified that to an extent, interested in your thoughts. 

Based on the above (and from reading Cleon's 4231 article OH GOD WHERE IS CLEON COME BACK GUIDE ME THROUGH THE WILDERNESS...), I have tweaked it to the below system.  This is also influenced by the fact that I bought a new AM(R) who is a very direct player and lacks subtlety.  

685130177_SchalkeTacticsv2.thumb.PNG.f8c8486d394e503df32d2a6562f5e927.PNG

Notes: 

  • I'm hoping that changing my AM(C) to Trequarista will enable Freitas to make use of his excellent off the ball movement and allow him to be more penetrative and a less static presence in my attack.  
  • Spann comes in as a winger on attack - I want him to stretch defences and use his superb pace/dribbling to drag men away from central areas, freeing up space for others.  
  • I've decided against moving up a mentality setting as I feel that the changes in mentality in my players has already made my set up more aggressive and I'm concerned that the underlying mentality increase will stop my attacking player contriubting defensively, but I've increased tempo to prevent defensive teams from being able to settle - decision making across the board is sufficiently high that we shouldn't lose the ball too often. 
  • Out of possession/pressing settings will largely depend on opposition/match situation.  

Will report back...

Bramham.PNG

Christensen.PNG

Freitas.PNG

Sewell.PNG

Shakespeare.PNG

Spann.PNG

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Update - it works! Or at least I think it does.  I've played three games (screenshots of match stats attached) and in each we looked much better as an attacking unit than we had previously. Crucially we're getting more shots on target and completing more crosses, which I always take as a positive sign of a functioning attacking unit.

Ok so we actually lost the first one - but it was one of our hardest games of the season away to Leipzig, and we were arguably unlucky to lose. More importantly we had far fewer long shots, and generally looked much more cohesive - the passing network was so much more positive.  

We then absolutely battered an admittedly awful Dynamo Kiev team 5-0 away with a second string, before dispatching FC Koeln 3-0 at home, exactly the sort of game we struggled with before. Admittedly of our three goals  in that game one was direct from a corner and one was a long shot, but we looked better.  Freitas (Treq) has three assists in two games (matching his tally from the entirety of last season), and the first goal against Koeln was a textbook passing move resulting in Goretzka making a classic Segundo Volante late run and blistering finish. 

I still have some concerns: 

- One of the goals against Leipzig came down that right flank where my FB(R) was left completely isolated by the AM(R) - I've changed the D(C) to cover as per @PinkSpeedos suggestion to try and rectify that to an extent. It's perhaps exacerbated by the fact I moved the SV over to that side, but I felt that when he was on the opposite side my AM(R) was too isolated.  

- Still not entirely convinced by the striker role, though my stand in striker got two goals v Kiev. Will give it some time before changing though.  

I now have Leverkusen away, who are champions. Probably my hardest game of the year, so am thinking I'll lower base mentality to cautious but play a lot higher and press more aggressively, whilst trying to stay compact and narrow. Let's see how I get on. 

Schale Leipzig.PNG

Schalke Kiev.PNG

Schalke Koeln.PNG

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17 hours ago, sue_donym said:

- Still not entirely convinced by the striker role, though my stand in striker got two goals v Kiev. Will give it some time before changing though

With a TQ behind him, IFsu on one flank and Wat on the other, I would play the lone striker either as a poacher or PF on attack (my "rule" is - if the AMC is creator, the striker should be runner/scorer). In the case of Sewell, I would likely prefer PF on attack (because his anticipation is too low for a poacher).

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On 21/06/2019 at 00:15, sue_donym said:

interested in your thoughts.

If it works its great :-)

In terms of your striker you have to ask yourself if you really need a deep dropping player when already having an AMC who is lurking around the box in central areas. Properbly try other linking roles like CF or PF

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On 22/06/2019 at 23:08, CARRERA said:

If it works its great :-)

In terms of your striker you have to ask yourself if you really need a deep dropping player when already having an AMC who is lurking around the box in central areas. Properbly try other linking roles like CF or PF

A deeper role for a striker can be an excellent opportunity for the AMC to score goals. One classic example of this is an F9/DLF coupled with a Shadow Striker. If the striker is coming deep to receive the ball, they can take a defender or DM with them which creates space for the AMC. 
 

But the roles in that scenario are absolutely key. 

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On 21/06/2019 at 00:35, sue_donym said:

- One of the goals against Leipzig came down that right flank where my FB(R) was left completely isolated by the AM(R) - I've changed the D(C) to cover as per @PinkSpeedos suggestion to try and rectify that to an extent. It's perhaps exacerbated by the fact I moved the SV over to that side, but I felt that when he was on the opposite side my AM(R) was too isolated.  

Leaving 4 players high up the field, especially those in the attacking midfield area on attack duty will put a lot of defensive responsibility on those deeper players. once passed them they'll be balancing the risk/reward of staying in position or tracking back to help based on individual mentality + attributes.  You can tell them to be more urgent and aggressive to try to break up attacks early or against teams causing you can issue might have to be more pragmatic and give your deeper players more help through duty or formation change.

On 21/06/2019 at 00:35, sue_donym said:

- Still not entirely convinced by the striker role, though my stand in striker got two goals v Kiev. Will give it some time before changing though

DLF-A drops to link then tries to get forward.  With an AM who isn't trying to get past him and will link play himself, does the lone forward need to link?

AF-A, PF-A and P-A are all roles that look to link less which could give an earlier threat (if there's space) and more space for the midfielder.  Have a read of the descriptions and see what you think fits your system, hopefully it will fit the player.

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