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sporadicsmiles

A little game - Guess the tactical changes.

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I often see people on this forum who are unsure how what changes they could or should make based on what they are seeing in a match. While it is all very well and good explaining what I would do, it does not always help people to actually spot these things themselves. So I thought a nice idea would be to have a little game where people try to guess the changes I have made based on what is happening in a match I have already played. I will give details of the match, how the AI is playing, what things I have noticed. Then I will show you the way I was initially set up, tell you the number and types of changes I made, and people can try to guess what those changes were. Preferably giving the reasons why they would do this as well. After some time I will let you know what those changes were. It might be an interesting way to get people into the mode of thinking that I use. So let's go for the first match.

Milan vs Juventus.

This is the biggest game of the season for both sides. There are 5 games remaining including this one. Milan (me) are sitting top of Serie A by 6 points from Lazio (who have just lost earlier in the day). Juventus (the AI) are 7 points behind me. The next game for my side is away to Inter, so it is absolutely vital I take something from this game. I am not confident that I will beat Inter away. They have done poorly this year, but will be motivated in a derby and want revenge for losing to me earlier in the year. Losing two games in a row could see my advantage at the top cut to a single point. So I cannot afford to be entirely defensive and play for a draw here. The risk is too great that Juventus snatch a goal. 

Here are how Juventus are set up.

969508553_juventusformation.thumb.png.d5ac65ef1b2f090bf499ceb68973d1f0.png

What can we glean from this immediately? Well, for starters we know they are playing two attacking fullbacks. Their midfield does not look to have an attack duty in it, so they will keep them deeper to recycle the ball and try to create space for the forwards. Ronaldo has an attack duty while Dybala is support (you can tell from their relative position on the pitch). Higuain is probably playing as a CF(A) (again you can guess from the position on the pitch). 

This is how I was initially set up. 

1944105449_Milantactics.thumb.png.c601c578f8a41fef6ac787d5ff285297.png

People who read my thread from FM19 on tactic and squad building will recognise a lot of elements from this tactic. So I will not go into huge detail. I will make a few points. I have an IWB(S) on the right, which I want to use to outnumber Juventus in midfield. I am hoping this extra body will free space for the striker, the CM(A) and the IF(A) to move into. I am not playing with a counter press because I am worried about how good Juventus are and that they can easily bypass it. I am playing a split block though (which means the front 3 players have close down more), and I toyed with the idea of having my CM(A) also close down more, but decided against it in the end. I have a neutral DL and LOE, which is lowered from my normal settings of higher for this game. Again, because I do not want to give the very talented front 3 of Juventus space behind. They will hurt me. The distribute to CBs/FBs is to try to create a pressing trap if the AI tries a heavy press. That means I wan them to press my defenders, who play longer balls to bypass half the team. 

So lets talk about what I notice in the match.

The first thing is that indeed both Juventus fullbacks are pushing high up the pitch. This is slightly problematic as they are finding space, but their crosses are not dangerous. Dybala is cutting inside but my defender is dealing okay with the dual threat there. 

Second. Juventus are playing a very high defensive line. Their CBs are usually almost at half way. They are also playing with their midfield quite withdrawn, trying to draw out my players. My striker is pressing them a little, but we do not get a lot of pressure on them. But my midfield is compact and they do not really pose much central threat. 

Third, Ronaldo and Alex are interplaying very well, and it is causing me problems. My defenders keep losing one or the other of them. 

Both teams have had a couple of chances early in the game, before Juventus take the lead. They score from a cross on their left wing. Dybala pulls off his marker and slots home from a cross from Chiellini (of all players). The goal comes from a throw in, so that is why Chiellini is not accounted for. The goal comes in the 32nd minute. 

So here is the crux of the thread. As I said, I really need a result from this game. What changes did I make to come back in this game? Here is the final score. 

915215136_finalscore.thumb.png.3be81892ff840f664cd5faf9f671c232.png

To make it easier I will tell you something about the changes I made. 

1. I changed the mentality. (one change)

2. I changed the role and duty of a single player. (two changes)

3. I added two team instructions, and changed another one. (three changes)

Can you work out what those changes were based on my description of the match? Have fun! 

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Sounds like your having a good season there and also a very good result and turn around against a dominant Juventus side, who interestingly I've never beat so fun fact there. And also this looks like an incredibly fun game. So anyway, heres my guesses:

1. Balanced to positive? You said the game was pretty even so I'm thinking you tried to push onto the front foot slightly more to try and assert dominance over a balanced game. However cautious would also make sense here in my head for the same logic just this time to try and prevent Juventus becoming dominant, but my guess is up to positive

2. This is a tough one. I feel like its something down your right hand side to counter Ronaldo and Telles. Gut instinct wants to say Paqueta onto a support duty, but the roles the issue. Mezzala is perhaps a touch attacking. Any playmaker wouldn't make sense in my head. Maybe a box to box? But I'm not sure it is Paqueta now. I'm ruling out Calhanoglu, no changes there would make sense given the information. So Im going to go with something to Conti. Im thinking a defend duty, either FB or WB. I'm going FB. Nothing more than pure gut instinct and relatively wild guessing. So Conti from IWB-S to FB-D.

3. This ones the hardest for sure. I also have a question. By

1 hour ago, sporadicsmiles said:

and changed another one

 do you mean you removed an instruction to replace it with another (e.g. higher tempo to shorter passing) or changed the level of one (e.g. higher to lower tempo)? Those aren't guesses by the way, just examples.

So you've added two, I think you did one of two things, you said:

1 hour ago, sporadicsmiles said:

My striker is pressing them a little, but we do not get a lot of pressure on them. But my midfield is compact and they do not really pose much central threat. 

From that, I think you either pressured them more with two of a higher LOE, more urgent pressing and prevent short goalkeeper distribution.

 

1 hour ago, sporadicsmiles said:

They are also playing with their midfield quite withdrawn, trying to draw out my players.

If I also think about this, its possible that you maybe went "oh go on then" and preceded with more pressurising instructions. However I don't think you'd do this. Instead I think you've gone "erm no thanks. Two can play at that game" and drawn them out. I'm thinking definitely counter and one of pass into space and a lower LOE. However, I don't think there is much space to pass into, hence I'm guessing you've added counter as a transition instruction and a lower LOE (as in down one from normal).

I'll reserve guessing about the change til you've cleared up my question. 

So in summary I'm saying you did the following:

• Balanced mentality to Positive

• Conti from IWB-S to FB-D

• Added counter and lowered your LOE by one notch to lower

Fingers crossed I've not made a tit of myself...

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10 hours ago, OJ403 said:

do you mean you removed an instruction to replace it with another (e.g. higher tempo to shorter passing) or changed the level of one (e.g. higher to lower tempo)? Those aren't guesses by the way, just examples.

Yes, I already had an instruction active, and I changed it to be a different one. So for example I could have had counter and replaced it with hold positions.

10 hours ago, OJ403 said:

Sounds like your having a good season there and also a very good result and turn around against a dominant Juventus side, who interestingly I've never beat so fun fact there. And also this looks like an incredibly fun game. So anyway, heres my guesses:

 

Me either until this game. They battered me 5-0 in the first league game. It was 5-0 at half time so I did not have the chance to make changes. In the cup I scraped a 1-0 defeat. Juventus has such a good attack and defence, they are very difficult to play. Milan are interesting in this game. Their defence is awesome, so you can be more adventurous to try to cover for the abject nature of most of the rest of their team. Without Donnaruma we would be mid table I think. 

I will leave off on discussing your points for the moment. I do not want to give extra hints or say if anything is right. Give people chance to have some guesses and then post about the changes!

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What a great idea for a thread, will have to take a better look at this once I get home and give an answer. 

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My guess would be:

1) Mentality change from balanced to positive because, quite simply, you've gone a goal down and you want something from the game.

I also thought about cautious because your left hand side is very attacking and positive would only increase that, possibly creating an imbalance. 

2) I'm also gonna say you switched the RB from IWBs to FBd so he's in a better position to deal with the problems you were having on that side.

3) I'm going to say you lowered the LoE one notch to draw them out further (and retained counter).

Then maybe you made the passing more direct to go with the above.

In terms of the one existing instruction that got replaced, that's a tough one. I can't say you'd remove higher tempo because that would tend to contradict what I've said above about hitting them on the break. So maybe you got rid of distribute to centre backs and added the one that has the keep distribute quickly (forget the exact wording, the opposite of 'slow pace down.')

Edit: Great idea for a thread by the way

Edited by Lumbertubs

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Should'nt we be provided with a description of your goals as well?

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31 minutes ago, Os said:

Should'nt we be provided with a description of your goals as well?

If I provided you with a description of my goals, this would be an easy exercise. 

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Great idea for a thread @sporadicsmiles, it's proven to be a thinker!

1. I feel like going against the grain here by saying you've gone from balanced to cautious. Main reason being, this is something I do and have had loads of success with. I don't know the reasoning behind it, but it always seems effective.

22 hours ago, sporadicsmiles said:

My striker is pressing them a little, but we do not get a lot of pressure on them.

2. I think due to this statement, plus the fact your striker has bagged a couple, the DLFs became a PFa.

3. If it was me I'd add pass into space and lower LOE due to this 

23 hours ago, sporadicsmiles said:

Juventus are playing a very high defensive line. Their CBs are usually almost at half way

This implies to me there's space in behind to attack, so pass into space plus lower LOE, and the newly appointed PFa would take advantage of this. I also think you changed distribute to full backs (and kept only distribute to CBs. As you have a BPD, he would also take advantage of pass into space, and hit long balls over the top of their defence to the on rushing PFa).  I was struggling with the change, but a total guess would be slightly more direct passing? Kinda ties in with the rest of the changes.

I'm probably miles away, but these make sense to me and are changes I make regularly to exploit a high opposition defence. The problem of Alex and Ronaldo was also a conundrum, but I think changing mentality to cautious would help this slightly.

Fingers crossed I've not made an arse of myself!

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So let me just preface this by saying even if what you said does not agree with what I did, it does not mean you are "wrong". Most of the things people have said here are reasonable responses. I will try to talk about as many of them as possible. The idea is to get people thinking in general, not thinking like me. 

So here is what we looked like after I made the changes (ignore the squad selection, I lost the original image so this is my current lineup).

1913931463_Milantacticchanges.thumb.png.d898be201c7b7985178eebf6995f9a36.png

What did I change? 

DLF(S) to AF(A).

Standard to Cautious mentality.

Added the TIs:

- More direct passing

- pass into space.

Changed from distributing to the CBs to distributing to the flanks. 

Now I have said that, can you all see why I made those changes?

First lets think about the suggested changes I did not make. I did not try to shore up my defence at all here. Why? Because I am already losing a game I need to win. I do not care if I lose 1-0 or 15-0. A defeat will hurt me (and it would, because I lost 2-0 to Inter in the next match, but that would be an entirely different analysis - Inter were lucky), so I need to make proactive changes. 

So I noted that Juventus were pushing their FBs very high up the pitch and playing a very high line. There are two things you can do here. Retreat into yourself and try to defend everything. This is what I would do if I wanted to preserve a lead or just park the bus for a draw. But this is exactly what I cannot do now. The other way is to exploit what Juventus are giving me. They are giving me a huge amount of space on their flanks and behind their defenders. So my plan was to use that. This is a general point to remember when you come across situations like this. Do not always make reactive changes, make proactive ones too. As the situation requires. 

So we have an AF(A) for a DLF(S). What is this going to do? Pressurise the CBs of Juventus by standing right up against them. He is now waiting to get behind (or around) them at the drop of a hat. So I will not press them by having a guy run around like crazy, I will simply put pressure on them by having a player ready to run behind them. I played Rafael Leao in this role. He is pretty quick (pace 16) so he can definitely hurt them. 

Now we will look at the TIs (leave the mentality to the end). You can now see what my new game plan is? I have identified space, and I have put one of my players in a position to use it. I do not need to change my IF(A) to put him in space. He is there by default due to the way Juventus plays. I want him to also get the ball and to attack that space too. I was playing Rebic here. Another player with pace. The idea is simple. Get the ball passed into space on the flanks. If it is the left, Rebic runs onto it. If it is the right, Leao can try to get there. Both players are quick enough to stop the AI getting back into position. They then are 2v2 against the defence. I will keep the other attack duties to get forward and support any counter attacks. So direct passing to encourage us to get the ball forward, well, directly (and coupled with the tempo it is fast and direct). The pass into space is just to get the ball into the space I have identified. Clear ball to flanks is a bit more nuanced. I noted that the Juventus midfield is pretty deep. So I was worried that clearing the ball over the defence would on occasion just gift the ball back to the Juventus midfield. Either by a short clearance or a defender winning a header and it going to the midfield. Plus Juventus have their FBs very high, so there is always wide space. 

That leaves the mentality change. Standard to Cautious. This is my one acknowledgement that the Juventus attackers are burning me. Cautious should make us a bit more compact. A bit more risk averse. Hopefully a bit more solid defensively. It also serves a second purpose. We will retreat ever so slightly. Not a huge retreat, but a small one. This will help to draw the AI players in that little bit further. This is a good thing, because everything I described above works better the more space we have, and the further the AI FBs have to run to get back into position. 

Here are the goals from this game.

No great analysis here, because this post is already long. The first goal, as you can see, is because Chiellini is unaccounted for during the throw in, and good play by Dybala. 

My first goal is kinda lucky, because the goal kick is crappy and my player does well to get the ball. From there it is a ball over the top and Leao does his job. 

The second goal is a thing of beauty. Look at all the space in the Juventus half there. Absolutely loads of it. The ball is perfect, and the finish is excellent. 

So my plan paid off, and we went on to win the league. I actually suspect I would not have done if I lost this game. I should note that often you can make these well thought out changes and they do not work because the AI is also good. This was just one example where it works. Plenty of time is does not. 

 

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On 09/02/2020 at 00:38, OJ403 said:

• Balanced mentality to Positive

• Conti from IWB-S to FB-D

• Added counter and lowered your LOE by one notch to lower

This would have been reasonable, but I would probably have exposed myself to counter attacks a little too much. Plus we were not really in control of the game enough for me to want to be positive. The switching of Conti would probably have been a good idea in any case, and something I should have done. Given that I transitioned into a direct style, there was little point in an IWB(s). The first part of the comment got the idea of what I was thinking though. Hit them on the break.

On 09/02/2020 at 11:50, Lumbertubs said:

1) Mentality change from balanced to positive because, quite simply, you've gone a goal down and you want something from the game.

I also thought about cautious because your left hand side is very attacking and positive would only increase that, possibly creating an imbalance. 

2) I'm also gonna say you switched the RB from IWBs to FBd so he's in a better position to deal with the problems you were having on that side.

3) I'm going to say you lowered the LoE one notch to draw them out further (and retained counter).

You had the right idea in (1), cautious to try to minimize the risk and also be more defensive compact and mitigate some of the more attacking aspects of my game.

For number 2, as I noted above, I definitely should have made this change too. There was little point in an IWB(S) with the tactical changes I made. I got away with that one.

For number 3, this again essentially grasps what I was thinking of doing. You notice they are leaving space, so you try to make the space they leave bigger. This is the essence of my plan, although I drew them in by going cautious.

On 09/02/2020 at 22:43, TheresOnlyTwoFilipSebos said:

I feel like going against the grain here by saying you've gone from balanced to cautious. Main reason being, this is something I do and have had loads of success with. I don't know the reasoning behind it, but it always seems effective.

On 08/02/2020 at 22:41, sporadicsmiles said:

My striker is pressing them a little, but we do not get a lot of pressure on them.

2. I think due to this statement, plus the fact your striker has bagged a couple, the DLFs became a PFa.

3. If it was me I'd add pass into space and lower LOE due to this 

You got the cautious spot on. In this case the idea is to draw Juventus in a little more by being slightly more defensive, and at the same time shoring my defense up to cope with that. With the goal being to create even more space to attack with direct passing.

A PF(A) would also have worked here. I think any attack duty attacker would have been a good choice. Although it was a losing game to put pressure on Juventus. Their midfield was too deep for it to be effective. They were trying to draw me out by encouraging a high press. Which I declined to do! So the poor striker ended up chasing around like mad.

On 09/02/2020 at 22:43, TheresOnlyTwoFilipSebos said:

This implies to me there's space in behind to attack, so pass into space plus lower LOE, and the newly appointed PFa would take advantage of this. I also think you changed distribute to full backs (and kept only distribute to CBs. As you have a BPD, he would also take advantage of pass into space, and hit long balls over the top of their defence to the on rushing PFa).  I was struggling with the change, but a total guess would be slightly more direct passing? Kinda ties in with the rest of the changes.

I'm probably miles away, but these make sense to me and are changes I make regularly to exploit a high opposition defence. The problem of Alex and Ronaldo was also a conundrum, but I think changing mentality to cautious would help this slightly.

Fingers crossed I've not made an arse of myself!

This absolutely hit the nail on the head. You grasped my thinking almost exactly. I notice space, so I set up to exploit it.

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59 minutes ago, sporadicsmiles said:

This would have been reasonable, but I would probably have exposed myself to counter attacks a little too much. Plus we were not really in control of the game enough for me to want to be positive. The switching of Conti would probably have been a good idea in any case, and something I should have done. Given that I transitioned into a direct style, there was little point in an IWB(s). The first part of the comment got the idea of what I was thinking though. Hit them on the break.

Tell me about it 😂😂

We basically had the same ideas and logic, just the opposite execution. There's more than one way to skin a cat I guess and yours seemed to work in this instance

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2 hours ago, OJ403 said:

There's more than one way to skin a cat I guess and yours seemed to work in this instance

That was one of the things I hoped to highlight with this thread as well. Everyone who replied pretty much spotted the same things I did. We just all came up with different ways to exploit it. 

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19 hours ago, sporadicsmiles said:

I notice space, so I set up to exploit it.

This is a tactic I try to employ regularly. If it's not obvious through watching highlights, then checking analysis frequently during the game to see if there are any glaring gaps.

Quick question, if you notice there is space to exploit on one particular side (a marauding wing back and work-shy-not-keen-on-tracking-back type winger) would you add the TI to exploit that wing? It seems obvious to do so, but occasionally I have tried that with little success, yet have had some success doing the opposite and focussing the play down the other wing.

Eg space down their left flank, I will focus play down our left side. This seems to provide more opportunities for the right FB/WB and right W/IW/IF, with crosses/cross field balls from the left side I'm exploiting. Hopefully that makes sense! 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, TheresOnlyTwoFilipSebos said:

Quick question, if you notice there is space to exploit on one particular side (a marauding wing back and work-shy-not-keen-on-tracking-back type winger) would you add the TI to exploit that wing? It seems obvious to do so, but occasionally I have tried that with little success, yet have had some success doing the opposite and focussing the play down the other wing.

Overload the left and get players attacking the box from the right would work nicely. It depends on the players you have. If I had a lightning fast dribbler with good flair, I would try to get him the ball quickly and see what he can do with the space. He will certainly force defenders to commit.

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