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Pairs & Combinations - The Ultimate Guide (Released)

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sure, I will send it :D Thank you very much :D

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@llama3 thanks for the guide, I have been following your work for the past few editions of FM. I have 2 questions:

1. You say the PF acts like an AF regardless of duty.  But wouldn’t the PF(s) play more similarly to a DLF(s), except with slightly safer passing? On that note, how as a manager are we supposed to know how deep the various support duty strikers drop? For example, will a DLF really drop deeper than a CF? Both roles indicate “dropping into space” and holding up the ball. Is there something under the hood that differentiates the extend to which various striker roles on support drop deep?

2. I have been running a 442 across FM 19 and 20 for many seasons now, the front 2 barely combine regardless of role and duty. I have tried various combos of support and attack, footedness to encourage cutting in etc, and it doesn’t work. Is this just an ME issue? 

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11 hours ago, kr10 said:

@llama3 thanks for the guide, I have been following your work for the past few editions of FM. I have 2 questions:

1. You say the PF acts like an AF regardless of duty.  But wouldn’t the PF(s) play more similarly to a DLF(s), except with slightly safer passing? On that note, how as a manager are we supposed to know how deep the various support duty strikers drop? For example, will a DLF really drop deeper than a CF? Both roles indicate “dropping into space” and holding up the ball. Is there something under the hood that differentiates the extend to which various striker roles on support drop deep?

2. I have been running a 442 across FM 19 and 20 for many seasons now, the front 2 barely combine regardless of role and duty. I have tried various combos of support and attack, footedness to encourage cutting in etc, and it doesn’t work. Is this just an ME issue? 

  1. I could have been clearer on that bit - the PF attacks like an AF, it still looks to lead to line, move into channels etc. What changes are how deep it moves without the ball, does it press the centre backs, holding midfielder, or drop right back and press their central midfield? So when your team wins the ball back, your PF will be deeper depending on the duties - this in turn means they may not be able to play on the shoulder on the break, but could be closer for short passes. Nothing under the hood that's different to what you see on screen.
  2. Probably helpful to look in the wider context of your other roles and duties, as well as your team instructions. I've recently been playing my Arsenal save and spent the first 6 months struggling to get my strikers scoring enough, before realising the issue was with my midfield instead. You can either post your own thread or post it here.

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, llama3 said:
  1. I could have been clearer on that bit - the PF attacks like an AF, it still looks to lead to line, move into channels etc. What changes are how deep it moves without the ball, does it press the centre backs, holding midfielder, or drop right back and press their central midfield? So when your team wins the ball back, your PF will be deeper depending on the duties - this in turn means they may not be able to play on the shoulder on the break, but could be closer for short passes. Nothing under the hood that's different to what you see on screen.
  2. Probably helpful to look in the wider context of your other roles and duties, as well as your team instructions. I've recently been playing my Arsenal save and spent the first 6 months struggling to get my strikers scoring enough, before realising the issue was with my midfield instead. You can either post your own thread or post it here.

Thanks a lot for the clarification. Point 1 makes sense now. Just to clarify, a DLF will drop deeper than a CF, even though both are on support?

My tactic looks like this - I have made a detailed post about it in the tactics sharing section, but I'll just show the key screenshot for now. My advanced forward scores plenty,and the support strikers scores a decent amount as well. My main issue is that when I look at the passing combinations and the in-game highlights, I rarely if ever see the bread and butter move I want - support striker dropping deep, receiving ball, and playing it through to the AF.

One potential issue is that the CM-s is pushing up, preventing the DLF from dropping (I have opted not to use a B2B for this reason). However, I can't really switch the midfield roles as I need a CM-d on the right side to give the WP space to drift centrally and cover for the attacking fullback. 

Both flanks work well in isolation, as does as the tactic as a whole - But I feel that stronger interplay between the strikers can take it to the next level. I also made sure to use a right footed support striker so he would cut inside with the ball, to play closer to the AF. 

Tactics in football/FM are a real passion of mine, so it frustrates me to see the combination up-front not working as I would envision it in real life. 

A.C. Milan_ Overview-10.png

Edited by kr10

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3 hours ago, kr10 said:

Thanks a lot for the clarification. Point 1 makes sense now. Just to clarify, a DLF will drop deeper than a CF, even though both are on support?

My tactic looks like this - I have made a detailed post about it in the tactics sharing section, but I'll just show the key screenshot for now. My advanced forward scores plenty,and the support strikers scores a decent amount as well. My main issue is that when I look at the passing combinations and the in-game highlights, I rarely if ever see the bread and butter move I want - support striker dropping deep, receiving ball, and playing it through to the AF.

One potential issue is that the CM-s is pushing up, preventing the DLF from dropping (I have opted not to use a B2B for this reason). However, I can't really switch the midfield roles as I need a CM-d on the right side to give the WP space to drift centrally and cover for the attacking fullback. 

Both flanks work well in isolation, as does as the tactic as a whole - But I feel that stronger interplay between the strikers can take it to the next level. I also made sure to use a right footed support striker so he would cut inside with the ball, to play closer to the AF. 

Tactics in football/FM are a real passion of mine, so it frustrates me to see the combination up-front not working as I would envision it in real life. 

A.C. Milan_ Overview-10.png

I've highlighted the section that really caught my attention above. A couple of thoughts as a result:

  • Firstly the balance of roles and duties overall is very solid, no major holes
  • Your instructions make me feel like it's a possession orientated team, although a counter instruction seems a little out of place against a high line and shorter passing at first glance - but it might work absolutely fine, I'm guessing here
  • The bit that really made me think was what if your DLF is on the right and your AF is on the left? Your AF can attack near post, drilled crosses from the byline on the left, your DLF can drop into space without a CM(S) in his way, as the CM(D) will not push so aggressively. This way, your CM(D), CM(S), WP(S) & DLF(S) will form an approximately diamond shape, good for ball retention. 

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il y a une heure, llama3 a dit :

I've highlighted the section that really caught my attention above. A couple of thoughts as a result:

  • Firstly the balance of roles and duties overall is very solid, no major holes
  • Your instructions make me feel like it's a possession orientated team, although a counter instruction seems a little out of place against a high line and shorter passing at first glance - but it might work absolutely fine, I'm guessing here
  • The bit that really made me think was what if your DLF is on the right and your AF is on the left? Your AF can attack near post, drilled crosses from the byline on the left, your DLF can drop into space without a CM(S) in his way, as the CM(D) will not push so aggressively. This way, your CM(D), CM(S), WP(S) & DLF(S) will form an approximately diamond shape, good for ball retention. 

Hi... But with this solution, is there no risk to see the half spaces right "congested"? 

Thanks. 

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52 minutes ago, coach vahid said:

Hi... But with this solution, is there no risk to see the half spaces right "congested"? 

Thanks. 

I don’t see a reason why. 

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7 hours ago, llama3 said:

I've highlighted the section that really caught my attention above. A couple of thoughts as a result:

  • Firstly the balance of roles and duties overall is very solid, no major holes
  • Your instructions make me feel like it's a possession orientated team, although a counter instruction seems a little out of place against a high line and shorter passing at first glance - but it might work absolutely fine, I'm guessing here
  • The bit that really made me think was what if your DLF is on the right and your AF is on the left? Your AF can attack near post, drilled crosses from the byline on the left, your DLF can drop into space without a CM(S) in his way, as the CM(D) will not push so aggressively. This way, your CM(D), CM(S), WP(S) & DLF(S) will form an approximately diamond shape, good for ball retention. 

Thank you again for the reply - I hope this discussion is aiding an understanding of the game and partnerships and building on your wonderful guide, rather than hijacking it into advice just on my tactic (I wouldn't want it to be the latter).

A couple of points on my side:

  • Both counter and counter-press to me are situational, as well as short passing. My overall vision is to build up play through the right flank, and then release one of the 3 attacking runners (making runs from 3 different strata), with an incisive pass - centrally to the AP, a quick switch of play to the winger, or the overlap to the attacking full back
  • In addition to your pairs and combinations guide, I had already tried to incorporate the principles of supply and demand, making sure that each attack duty player has at least 2-3 support duty players from different positions on the pitch supplying him the ball, ideally whilst ensuring horizontal and vertical depth in attack
  • I actually did try the DLF on the right striker slot, precisely as you had mentioned to create a diamond in possession and further aid to point 1 above - after watching a few games, I noticed an issue similar to what @coach vahid had mentioned above
    • The DLF and WP were constantly operating in very similar space which I didn't like, as I wanted both of them to be the creators of my side, and ideally not supply from such similar positions
    • More importantly - and something to keep in mind for everyone making a tactic - my attacking winger wasn't getting as much service - the DLF was one of the key supply providers for the winger (in addition to the full back and CM-S

Referring back to your guide, the DLF-s has a hard coded instruction "move into channels", as does the AF role. I can understand this on the AF, as he needs to lead the line and track wide at times to receive the ball, and play it across goal. But, having both strikers on move into channels to me creates a tendency for horizontal separation between the 2 strikers. I want the DLF to stay centrally whilst dropping deep (as you have mentioned in your guide) - which is why I tried the PF(s), as he doesn't have move into channels hard coded. 

In light of the above, I do believe that there is a role/behavior that should be added to FM - the vanilla "second striker" - someone who drops deep in central areas, and doesn't have "hold up ball" hard coded - players that come to mind our J.Felix, Angel Correa, Dybala. The current DLF in the ME seems to value physical, strong players who can hold up the ball - such as Dzeko, Giroud etc. I realize that a "False 9" has similar PIs hard coded, but it doesn't feel right using a F9 in a 2 striker partnership, as this is used in real life in a classic 433. 

Anyway, apologies for the long post, like I said I hope this is aiding to the quality of discussion that you have started. 

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On 12/04/2020 at 05:51, kr10 said:

Thank you again for the reply - I hope this discussion is aiding an understanding of the game and partnerships and building on your wonderful guide, rather than hijacking it into advice just on my tactic (I wouldn't want it to be the latter).

A couple of points on my side:

  • Both counter and counter-press to me are situational, as well as short passing. My overall vision is to build up play through the right flank, and then release one of the 3 attacking runners (making runs from 3 different strata), with an incisive pass - centrally to the AP, a quick switch of play to the winger, or the overlap to the attacking full back
  • In addition to your pairs and combinations guide, I had already tried to incorporate the principles of supply and demand, making sure that each attack duty player has at least 2-3 support duty players from different positions on the pitch supplying him the ball, ideally whilst ensuring horizontal and vertical depth in attack
  • I actually did try the DLF on the right striker slot, precisely as you had mentioned to create a diamond in possession and further aid to point 1 above - after watching a few games, I noticed an issue similar to what @coach vahid had mentioned above
    • The DLF and WP were constantly operating in very similar space which I didn't like, as I wanted both of them to be the creators of my side, and ideally not supply from such similar positions
    • More importantly - and something to keep in mind for everyone making a tactic - my attacking winger wasn't getting as much service - the DLF was one of the key supply providers for the winger (in addition to the full back and CM-S

Referring back to your guide, the DLF-s has a hard coded instruction "move into channels", as does the AF role. I can understand this on the AF, as he needs to lead the line and track wide at times to receive the ball, and play it across goal. But, having both strikers on move into channels to me creates a tendency for horizontal separation between the 2 strikers. I want the DLF to stay centrally whilst dropping deep (as you have mentioned in your guide) - which is why I tried the PF(s), as he doesn't have move into channels hard coded. 

In light of the above, I do believe that there is a role/behavior that should be added to FM - the vanilla "second striker" - someone who drops deep in central areas, and doesn't have "hold up ball" hard coded - players that come to mind our J.Felix, Angel Correa, Dybala. The current DLF in the ME seems to value physical, strong players who can hold up the ball - such as Dzeko, Giroud etc. I realize that a "False 9" has similar PIs hard coded, but it doesn't feel right using a F9 in a 2 striker partnership, as this is used in real life in a classic 433. 

Anyway, apologies for the long post, like I said I hope this is aiding to the quality of discussion that you have started. 

Sorry it's taken a few days to get to:

  • Looks like a lot of thought has gone in to who is supporting to who in the system. You've mentioned vertical and horizontal depth in attack and you're spot on - you need both. It's pointless having lots of the ball if you're not stretching opponents and creating gaps. 
  • Your observations on how the DLF and WP interacted are a good indicator for why watching your team is important! Good observation to realise what you aren't seeing that you expect, rather than just what you are seeing. 
  • I have the same beliefs in how I see a False Nine - a positional player, rather as a second striker per sé. I tend to use 1 striker systems a lot, but was recently playing a game as Chippenham Town, where I have had moderate success using a target man dropping deeper - this suits a more direct side, but obviously a target man is not a typical choice if you have a possession side.

You are right, the post adds to the discussion - keep them coming.

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Hey @llama3 sick guide! This type of resource is something that I and others can always go back to when making a tactic. That's what makes it such a great asset to the community so thanks for taking the time. I have a couple of questions for you if you don't mind. I'm using the 4-3-1-2 formation btw

  1. You spoke about midfield roles that can provide some width (mezzala, carrilero, trequartista), what would be striker roles that are also comfortable moving wide? What I'd like is for my 2 strikers to move width when necessary aswell.  
  2. My formation is both narrow and top heavy which places a lot of responsibility on the FB. They obviously need to get forward and provide width but don't have a DM or 3rd CB to cover them like other narrow formations, so if they get too far forward we could be vulnerable to counters. What role would you recommend to provide this balance at FB? On the guide you recommend using FB(S) with caution, is this the type of situation that this role/duty could work?

Thanks in advance

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Great guide @llama3!

 

If you intend to update this in the future, maybe a suggestion is to look at how different areas can combine with each other.  I know you have looked at this in 'wide partnerships' and 'building a team', but I wonder if adding the same great analysis that you have in the wide partnerships to other areas would really help us, eg::

Wide midfielder + central midfielder

central midfielder + forward

forward + wide midfielder

Full backs + central midfield

etc

 Anyway, thanks again for the guide.

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For sure this is a must read for anyone struggling with tactics. Only a short read but completely changed the way I think about creating systems and was super helpful.

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On 23/06/2020 at 22:26, who_is_it said:

How many specific and generic roles it adviced to use ? 

I don’t, it’s about everything working together in a balanced system.

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In regards to the WB roles and a winger you put an ! does that mean going into the PI and set cut inside or stay wide for one of two players on that flank? 

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No mention about any flat trio attacking combinations?

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On 15/07/2020 at 23:00, tamertunatt said:

How is complete forward (Support) and Target Man(attack) partnership in STC?

You've got one player dropping off and attacking from deep and one pushing up - that's fine. It's a pairing that are quite direct in style - so I'd basically say to use it in the right circumstances. For example, I can imagine a Wing Play 4-4-2 being ideal - TM to attack crosses and a CF(s) dropping off and can pick up knock-downs, receive the ball off central midfield and act as a creative hub.

On 16/07/2020 at 16:54, Hammy_Alpha said:

In regards to the WB roles and a winger you put an ! does that mean going into the PI and set cut inside or stay wide for one of two players on that flank? 

Use with caution... So it's one you need to watch carefully and see if it behaves in the right way. If it works well, you could have a very aggressive flank, overloading the full back. If it works badly, an organised defence just sits there and stifles it, removing a potential outball because they occupy the same space.

On 20/07/2020 at 13:20, Daniele77 said:

No mention about any flat trio attacking combinations?

I don't use them ever, so not placed to give advice on them really! Principles are the same - who is providing width, are they all doing the same thing, or providing different angles/routes of attack? 

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5 hours ago, llama3 said:

You've got one player dropping off and attacking from deep and one pushing up - that's fine. It's a pairing that are quite direct in style - so I'd basically say to use it in the right circumstances. For example, I can imagine a Wing Play 4-4-2 being ideal - TM to attack crosses and a CF(s) dropping off and can pick up knock-downs, receive the ball off central midfield and act as a creative hub.

Use with caution... So it's one you need to watch carefully and see if it behaves in the right way. If it works well, you could have a very aggressive flank, overloading the full back. If it works badly, an organised defence just sits there and stifles it, removing a potential outball because they occupy the same space.

I don't use them ever, so not placed to give advice on them really! Principles are the same - who is providing width, are they all doing the same thing, or providing different angles/routes of attack? 

Thank you for answering my question sir.I am thinking of using this two striker roles on 4-4-2 formation.By the way I consider that choosing the midfield duo's roles is the most crucial stuff in this tactic.For instance my preferred midfield duo,Central Midfield(Attack) and Deep Lying Playmaker(Support).

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