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Possession with intent: Exploring tactical flexibility with the 4-5-1.

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How does it work: Espanyol vs Barcelona. 

Let's have a quick look at a game. At least to see how things come together. I choose the one I have just played as an example, because it shows some strengths and some weaknesses of this approach. And it is always vital to understand your own weaknesses, not just your own strengths. It is a derby match vs Espanyol away. Here is a summary of the game. 

1166463810_vsEspsummary.thumb.png.cd794294abb38156c9601b890dc9463d.png

You can see Espanyol have a very bottom heavy defensive setup. This immediately causes me a problem. As I noted, we will struggle to get huge pressure on a team who are going to pass the ball around the back with 7 players in the DC and DMC strata. So we have to think about how we can either get the ball, or minimize the threat they pose. On the flip side, I should have no issues getting the ball into their half. If I cannot pressure them, they will struggle to pressure me. What changes do I make here? Well, I play a much higher LOE, and a say press more. This is very aggressive, but with a team setup like this, I feel we can get away with it. Otherwise, I set up as above. 

As you can see, it ended in a comfortable 3-0 win. A look at the match stats. 

557792208_espmatchstats.thumb.png.822a01604b278356c4eea96d59278a6f.png

You can see we did not really create much. Only 12 shots and 5 on target. However we created and converted 3 CCCs. This is an example of quality over quantity. The fact we scored early also took pressure off the side. The longer it takes to score against a team set up like this, the harder it will be to score and the more you will have to make changes. You will see we only conceded 2 shots. One of these, the CCC, was a long ball that beat the offside trap. This is the risk you take playing like this. I fully expect to drop points because of this at some point. Right now, I am playing the risk game and it is paying off with goals. The second chance was a back post cross, which is a very common think in this ME and since it is not an issue in my team, I can ignore it as unimportant. 

For my goals, one was from a corner. Suarez unmarked at the back post to volley home. The other two came from crosses from the left. Short ones from inside the box to the near post. In both goals, the build up was down the right wing followed by quickly getting the ball to the left where the IW(A) and WB(S) had an overload and the AI defence had to scramble to cover. This is good, and what I want to see. 

You will also notice that possession is quite even and the number of passes are similar. This comes back to what I said before. A defensive team happy to play around with the ball out of the back are going to be difficult to get the ball from with this tactic. However let them keep the ball around there. The more they do that, the more chance they have to be pressured into a mistake. Or just lump the ball forward and lose it. Both work for me. However, let me show you why we actually won the possession battle here. The heatmaps of possession for both sides.

Barcelona:

1643435969_possvsespanyol.thumb.png.bb7b29c0e8e78e297863da54cc58421a.png

Espanyol:

1832604656_ESPpossvsespanyol.thumb.png.88e4fb10b17c13763cb72f969d88e05b.png

Espanyol have barely touched the ball in my half. They cannot get out consistently. If you cannot win possession, you can at least make the possession the other team has entirely sterile. This is defending by pressing and with a high line. Keep them in their own half and make them hit long balls all day. Most of which are unsuccessful. Even their penetration down my flanks was not working for them. The MCR and MCL are always available to help cover the flanks when Espanyol tried to enter there. We outnumber in midfield and they cannot break through.

Contrast this to my own possession. We are camped in their half. Dragging the team around and forcing them to be constantly reacting. You can see how we are probing the flanks, and then recycling the ball in midfield. And all this possession is outside the Espanyol box. We had equal possession, but we had the ball in much more dangerous places. This is why we won the possession battle even though it looks even. This is why studying possession statistics alone means nothing. The statistics make the game look even. It was not even close to even. 

Finally, to show how we drag teams from their defensive positions to create space, look at this screenshot.

229477083_goalbuildup.thumb.png.2187f80c4c6b7f4a9d63eb4ce9053f25.png

Here the numbers 4 and 10 are the two DMCs. The ball in this has just been played by my number 5 (the MCR) to Rakitic (the CM(A)). Look at the position of the DMCs. They are forced over to their left to deal with the imminent threat of a 3 man overload down that side. This is not a good defensive shape. Hell, even the 3 CBs are squished to their left. We have stretched them and now we can exploit it. Rakitic has all the space and time in the world. He plays a long, diagonal ball to 17 (the IW(A) who runs onto it. Now he can run onto the ball, has lots of space. He delivers a low cross to number 9, who has lost his marker in the confusion of rushing to deal with the new threat. It is a simple near post tap in, the 'keeper has no chance. 

You can see why this is a nightmare to defend. Look at the options Rakitic has here. He can play the ball he played. He could play the ball into space on my right flank. He can play the ball to the WB on my left, forcing the AI wide midfielder to choose between closing down and covering the flank. If there is nothing else on, he can play the ball to 21 (the DLP) and recycle and wait for the right chance. This is what you want to see from a tactic. Dangerous situations where a player can do many things. There is no way to defend them all here. 

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50 minutes ago, Obaaa said:

Nice thread. Surprised you've had no response. Using a similar philosophy with AZ currently.

I guess people have more on their mind at the moment! 

Care to share your style? I'm happy to turn this into a discussion thread where people can post their own ideas and critique my own. 

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This is great I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I don't often comment on things anymore as I don't have the time really but this caught my eye. I'm kinda at a crossroads with my Plymouth save and was wondering which direction to go in, system wise and this thread has given me a bit of a boost and a couple of new ideas and thoughts on where to go next. I'm trying to do it only signing British players and using the youth system but wasn't sure about the rest of it. Ill keep reading this it's very interesting well done on a great couple of posts.

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I really enjoyed reading this. 

Could potentially be applicable to Liverpool who sometimes alternate from their usual 4-3-3 into a 4-2-3-1. This would be a good way to do this whilst keeping 'familiarity' high. 

Did you use any PI's to create a 'split' block? 

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Really good read. I did a flat 451 thread with Villa on here a few years back but made it wholly pragmatic - so the other end of the spectrum to you.

 

Really enjoyed it though and may revisit thanks to this! 

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Leverkusen vs Barcelona.

This game is going to end up being a perfect example of the title of this thread. Possession with intent. Remember that my philosophy here is to win the possession battle. And that does not mean make 1000 passes and have 70% possession. It means when we have the ball, we possess it better than the opposition. Limit their chances, make them have sterile possession. When we have the ball, we have it in dangerous areas, and we use it well. 

Here is the summary of the game vs Leverkusen. A 1-0 win.

1304040637_vsleverkusensummary.thumb.png.bceb15de98c17f5a975d2735b37b97ec.png

Leverkusen have set up with a 4141 DM wide. It took one highlight for me to realise they were going to use a patient passing style and play the ball from the back. They were having around 70% possession for the first 15 minutes of the match. But all the highlights were for my attacks. What can this immediately tell you? Well, that we have possession with intent, and they have sterile possession. Indeed, we could have been 2-0 up in that time, as my high press  won the ball from defenders and left both Suarez and Messi 1v1 with the keeper. They both misses (Suarez shot wide, Messi had his angle narrowed by the keeper, who did well and made a good save). This is a situation where you can go one of two ways. Either you want to win the possession battle and so make a raft of chances, or you are happy because you are the more dangerous side.

In the end, I took a middle ground. We did not have a lot of possession partly because Leverkusen were passing around in defence, and partly because we kept winning the ball in dangerous positions, so we could be direct. I do not really want to see possession in those cases, I want to try to score. Still, I wanted to try to get the ball back a little more, and try to actually impose myself on the game. So I made 4 changes around 30 minutes. 

- Counter off. The attacking situations where we could counter from the counter press would be counters anyway. I do not need to encourage this. 

- DL back one notch to higher. Lets give ourselves a little more room to play in.

- Change the CM(S) to CM(D). Bring him deeper to I have a double pivot and always one more man available when in possession. This may also create space by forcing the Leverkusen midfield to push out.

- OIs on all central midfielders and defenders (including FBs) for more pressing and harder tackling. If they want to play with the ball in defence, make it as painful as possible for them. 

Here are the final stats from the match. 

1419615333_vsleverkusenstats.thumb.png.2cc875bb4b7655a5559cea8509c01c06.png

Let's take away two things from this. The first is that we absolutely limited them offensively. They had one shot, and I think it was from a freekick header. You will get those on this ME, nothing to worry about. All that ball, and they created absolutely nothing with it from open play. The definition of sterile possession. 750 attempted passes, and nothing to show for it. This is what some people want their teams to do. I will argue it is pointless. Why make 750 passes if you create zero chances? On the other hand, we had 10 shots on target from 14 total. The AI defended well, and the keeper saved a number of good chances. We should have won by more however. I am not concerned, because if you create this many chances you will win most games. 

The goal, when it came, was Leverkusen failing to clear their lines. A cross from the right was headed clear, straight to Messi (who is now occupying the CM(A) role, as I want him as involved as possible). The Leverkusen defence had started to push up, but that had left Griezmann in space from the IW(A) role. Messi found him with a pass and he volleyed home. At least it was not a far post header! We were good for this win.

Finally, just to hammer home the possession with intent thing, lets look at heatmaps. 

Leverkusen:

2135662156_leverkusenpossession.thumb.png.9fc492156fc231e75ee801c4b79d0346.png

Barcelona:

254077802_vsleverkusenpossession.thumb.png.1efeda265e5aaffed1ed4e12af6573f7.png

All that possession is in their own half, more or less. The highest passing combinations were between their defenders and goalkeeper. There could not penetrate my defence at all, as you can see by the absolute paucity of touches in my final third. This would be good if they were defending a 1 goal lead, because I would have to commit players to get the ball, and leave myself vulnerable. However here, it is pointless. What are they achieving except for pretty passing numbers. And let's stress that this is because of the way I am set up. I do not allow them to have the ball in my half. 

My heat map is nowhere near a pretty as last time, but again look at the areas where we have the ball. It is almost exclusively in the opposition half. You see a big not on the right and left which is build up through the CM(D) and the DLP(D). We probed down the right a lot because my RB kept getting tonnes of space on his overlap. 40% possession vs 60%. You tell me which you would rather have had in this game. 

One thing you may have noted from this is that if we are trailing and a team plays like Leverkusen did (and indeed as Real Madrid did in my loss to them), we are going to struggle because we cannot impose ourselves well enough. This is a flaw in the 451, I think. Not enough pressure. We will need a plan B for these situations where we have players higher up the pitch by default. It is always important to think about where you are weak, not just where you are strong and have done well. Seeing things work is gratifying and people like that. Finding where things did not work is, to me, far more important for the future development. We have noted this, let's see where it goes. 

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Again, great post! I would agree with the notion that a more top-heavy formation as plan-b would help apply more pressure, but of course this could lead to gaps elsewhere (risk vs. reward), I think it also depends on the other teams role and formation. In this case for example it would be interesting to know what kind of role the DM plays for Leverkusen. If it were a playmaker it could be possible to mark him out of the game by moving one of the midfielders to an AM position.

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Do you have problems with the midfield staying deep and the the striker pressing the opp. Goalkeeper like a maniac? I could never make the off the ball part of 4-5-1 work in FM20.

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3 hours ago, Vizzini said:

Again, great post! I would agree with the notion that a more top-heavy formation as plan-b would help apply more pressure, but of course this could lead to gaps elsewhere (risk vs. reward), I think it also depends on the other teams role and formation. In this case for example it would be interesting to know what kind of role the DM plays for Leverkusen. If it were a playmaker it could be possible to mark him out of the game by moving one of the midfielders to an AM position.

If I were to use this kind of plan B, it would be all risk over reward. I would use it when I really needed a goal or really needed the ball. I will play around with the number of central attack duties too. In principle I think a 4321 setup from the 451 would be better at getting pressure as there are 3 central attacking players then. Kinda hard with Barcelona though, as I would have to work out what to do with Griezmann if he stayed on a flank. It is something I want to explore, but I want to get a handle on the 4231 part first.

I am fairly sure he was a DLP, although it is hard to tell. He was either a DLP or on defend duty in a different role, given how deep he would drop to get the ball. I would probably have just stuck the CM(A) to mark him, which achieves the same thing at the cost of the packed midfield. In the end, I was creating enough good chances in this game that I did not feel the need to make changes. Leverkusen were creating more problems than they solved with their style. I should have been more proactive against Real Madrid, but it was my second game so I was still feeling things out. 

2 hours ago, robot_skeleton said:

Do you have problems with the midfield staying deep and the the striker pressing the opp. Goalkeeper like a maniac? I could never make the off the ball part of 4-5-1 work in FM20.

The attack duty midfielders tend to press a little higher, so I usually have the striker, CM(A) and IW(A) pressing. This is the reason I have the CM(S) in most cases as well, since he will be higher up the pitch and more likely to press. Wanting to get pressure is one of the reasons I have maxed LOE and DL settings. This will push the midfield further up and you will see more pressing. I do not get a huge amount of pressure, it is true, but it is enough. It is a more measured press, it feels. Some members of the midfield go and press, others stay and do not. It means that there are less viable escape routes for the opposition defenders to get the ball forward in a controlled manner. Which is one of the reasons I think I am seeing so much sterile possession against me. Not quite enough pressure from the press to win the ball, but enough cover in midfield to stop them getting out anyway. Maybe we should call it a contain press.

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Wow, great topic!
I was just yesterday scrolling through THOG's Lines and Diamonds and noticed 4-5-1 with winger in AM strata. I started to think about the variability of flat midfield trio and BAM!, you made this post to give me more food for thought. Thank you and please continue to create content like this. It is absolutely awesome!

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1 hour ago, Elliath said:

I was just yesterday scrolling through THOG's Lines and Diamonds and noticed 4-5-1 with winger in AM strata. I started to think about the variability of flat midfield trio and BAM!, you made this post to give me more food for thought. Thank you and please continue to create content like this. It is absolutely awesome!

It is an interesting system, but it has it's issues, as I am learning. I will try to write something about that if I can work out how to mitigate those flaws. Well I will write anyway, but I would rather have a solution to hand!

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Great thread and I have set up with a 4-5-1 variant in my Hertha save with some different and some of the same aspects as yours but the absolute aim is the same, possession with intent and seeing some similar results to yours. Hamburgs heat map below.

 

 

Capture.PNG2.PNG

Hamburg.PNG

Edited by Crazy_Ivan

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How do you guys read/interpret heat maps exactly? I get the rough idea of them but not great at reading them with regards to my tactic and what it does/doesn’t do well

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38 minutes ago, Boss said:

How do you guys read/interpret heat maps exactly? I get the rough idea of them but not great at reading them with regards to my tactic and what it does/doesn’t do well

In this case I am using it purely to see where my side has the ball, and where the AI has the ball. In this case because the AI is tending to have high possession against me, I want to see if that is dangerous. Possession mostly in their own half is not dangerous, possession in my half is much more concerning. 

So in my heat maps for the AI sides, you can see that while they have the ball more than me, they have it close to their own goal. That is what I want to see here, because possession in your own half is generally not a threat and can give me chances if we can win it back. 

For my own heat maps, I want to see the opposite. I want to have most of the ball in the opposition half. Especially since we tend not to have a lot of it. I want my possession to be threatening, so that when we lose the ball we generally do it attacking the goal. This is the conclusions I can draw from the maps. If I am playing a game and I notice I have poor possession and the AI has it in my half, this is a cause for concern. And I would have to take steps to prevent that. The possession battle is not about pure numbers, but also where you have the ball. The Leverkusen game, for instance, the AI made over 700 pass attempts, but the vast were very far from my goal.

You can also look at passing combination here, which tells you who is going most of the passes and where. In most of the games I have played all the AI passing is between defenders, goalkeeper and deep lying midfielders. Which means they are trying to play from defence and simply they cannot. We have blocked them. Mine tend to show interplay either on the flanks in opposition territory, or between the two deeper midfielders. 

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Well, we are the most clinical teams on the planet.

I have decided we deserve this title. I have managed to turn myself into the anti-Barcelona. Giving up huge number of passes and possession for clinical efficiency. I will do one more game, and then I ask for some advice from you guys about how to proceed. 

Let's look at another tough game. Home to Sevilla. We should win, but this is not a poor side. Can we continue to reproduce our style? Well, you all can guess that answer. Let's look at a summary.

982230457_Sevillasimmary.thumb.png.b6bc2d99d1689f9d6e2d287bc727c80f.png

A 1-0 win is quite disappointing, but Sevilla defended very well in this game, and our finishing was not great. It happens, I guess. We won, and that is what matters. Sevilla will set up with a cautious 4141 DM wide. We know what that means by now. Since apparently everyone in the game tries to play out from the back (that is what I have seen so far anyway), they are going to pass the ball around at the back, and we will try to make sure they do nothing with it.

386102048_Sevillastats.thumb.png.c3c897b2e99ab543f13f2ea74eb0d342.png

Match stats show you we absolutely dominated this game while definitely making the most of our possession. Again, the possession stats are an entirely misleading way to discuss what happens in this match. We gave up 63% possession and 875 passes. And they had one shot on target, which was a header late on (naturally, I rarely concede a goal that is not a cross or set play). By this point, you can tell what is coming. When we look at the heat map for Sevilla, this is what we see.

455301085_sevillapossession.thumb.png.269cb91a9d64347e3b0a53393655d32c.png

Now they did manage to get a small amount of possession in my half, but mostly they were passing the ball around their end of the pitch. Sterile possession, the very definition of it. You can almost count the number of touches they had in my third of the field. This is a wonderful way to defend, I have found. We have built a wall, and you will not cross it. 

1575894024_vssevillapossession.thumb.png.ba3ffa1886919690d3c98e4028425192.png

Here is our heat map. It is again not that pretty, but we have the ball in their half almost as much as we have it in our own. We keep the ball around the edge of their defensive third. You will notice we tend to attack down the flanks. That is part of FM20, and is also helped by the fact we play wider and we are attacking both flanks. 

And now I ask for your advice.

So here are a summary of the results so far..

937879239_resultssummary.thumb.png.ab2637a02a27e063ea6599f05e6921c1.png

Safe to say, this is a successful experiment. Perhaps a little too successful (although I am still second in the league because Real Madrid have only dropped 2 points). This is not to brag, but I want to see how well this works for teams who are not Barcelona. So I want to branch out, and I wondered what you guys would like to see? 

  • Which team would you like to see me try this tactic with? 

Let's be aiming for someone who is not at the top of their league. Preferably with players who can actually play in the positions I use. Let's hear your ideas.

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Firstly fantastic thread mate, you do come up with the goods time and time again. I'll definitely be taking elements and ideas from you into my save for sure

And I've got a few ideas:

Arsenal could be interesting, they seem to be ideal for this and aren't quite at the top of the league but could still get there. Ozil in the more attacking midfielder-esque role and Pepe coming in off the one side and Aubameyang off the other with Lacazette up top, or Aubameyang up top and someone else wide. Although they might be too top end. Sides like Wolves and Sheffield United could be good fun too. Similar could be said in the Championship, although there the more top end teams would probably suit best. I think it would be most interesting to see this in a more competitive league (as in the Premier League, Serie A or the Bundesliga), where more sides are looking to beat and match you than in Spain. This would be true of the Championship too, its probably one of my favourite leagues to manage in as its so competitive and almost every side is trying to play their game and take points from you. Sides such as Brentford, Bristol and Blackburn would be good as they seem to suit the shape and generally style quite well and could quite conceivably be anywhere in the middle to top third of the league, oh and obviously I have to recommend Derby too...

It would also be interesting to see the development of the 4-1-4-1 type variation as well, wherever you end up

And once again cheers mate for a great thread!

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2 hours ago, sporadicsmiles said:

386102048_Sevillastats.thumb.png.c3c897b2e99ab543f13f2ea74eb0d342.png

I love this! It perfectly demonstrates the meaning of the thread title "Possession with intent". 

Keep up the good work :thup:

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8 hours ago, OJ403 said:

Firstly fantastic thread mate, you do come up with the goods time and time again. I'll definitely be taking elements and ideas from you into my save for sure

Cheers. I wanted to try something different and extract a little joy from the game for myself an others. And this is something I rarely see people trying to achieve and misunderstanding how to use possession to win. I will admit I never expected it to work quite this well. 

8 hours ago, OJ403 said:

Arsenal could be interesting, they seem to be ideal for this and aren't quite at the top of the league but could still get there. Ozil in the more attacking midfielder-esque role and Pepe coming in off the one side and Aubameyang off the other with Lacazette up top, or Aubameyang up top and someone else wide

Arsenal could be fun. Although Ozil does not really fit in too well (I can just try to sell him). Maybe as the CM(A), which extracted excellent football from Messi. I used to always do an Arsenal save since they were always underachieving and usually gave you a good transfer budget. 

8 hours ago, OJ403 said:

Sides like Wolves and Sheffield United could be good fun too. Similar could be said in the Championship, although there the more top end teams would probably suit best.

You could pretty much choose any mid table English side I guess for this! I do like Sheffield United this season, they have been a joy to watch and the best story of the Premier league. A sadder story for me than Liverpool not winning the title would be Sheffield United not getting into Europe at the end of the season. And as a Huddersfield fan, I could always try to bring them back from the downward spiral they are in (this also takes Leeds off the board =D). Bristol is the biggest city never to have a team in the Premier League, I think (I could be wrong there?). Which would also be fun, as it is a challenge and an achievement if it worked. I have many things to consider!

8 hours ago, OJ403 said:

It would also be interesting to see the development of the 4-1-4-1 type variation as well, wherever you end up

I have plans for a 4141 variant, and also a 4321 variant. The former is probably similar to set up to this one, I would just have to work out the midfield balanced. I'd expect similar results. The 4321 would demand quite conservative and narrow wide roles, which does not suit Barcelona at all (where you want Dembele and Griezmann attacking the box). This would be the most challenging to set up as well, since I have never used a regular 4321.

 

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Again, great thread and again I am using a slight variation on yours with Hertha Berlin but the goal is exactly the same and it is giving the media in my game fits as I am bottom of the league in possession but went in to the winter break top of the league by a point. What I am seeing a lot of with this is the balance of very good defensive solidity with very basic defenders compared to the more gifted teams and some great attacking play that carves teams up. I remember a couple of years back someone on here started a thread called "4-5-1 The Swiss Army Knife of Tactics" and I can't find a more apt description to be honest.

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For my big game with Bayern who are far superior to me I wanted to play my style but would happily have settled for the draw away from home. Their goal and only CCC came early and from a brain fart from me not dropping my defensive line a tad and after I did did that they were strangled to only 3 shots for the rest of the match and 3 of their six shots were outside of the box. I had serious issues creating myself but were it not for my silliness we would probably have taken all three points.

bayern.thumb.PNG.5df7198e36a4a47f82fe198d60ce0276.PNG

 

For my first foray in to the Champions League I have topped my group conceding 3 goals and having scored 14, 2 of those goals conceded were in a game where I rested most of my team. The results have been the same albeit I only faced Ajax, Porto and Galatasary so none of the really big boys yet. Only one team below me in possession stats made it to Group Stages and that was Krasnodar who were  in the Group of Death.

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Capture.thumb.PNG.f4619186ae9c0081d574d96c0c00fd2d.PNG

 

Edited by Crazy_Ivan

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2 hours ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

I remember a couple of years back someone on here started a thread called "4-5-1 The Swiss Army Knife of Tactics" and I can't find a more apt description to be honest.

Maybe someone wants to read that thread. 

Although, I tried with Liverpool (I know is maybe the better team in the game?) in the last part of the first season and it works great! 

 

Edited by chiani.ignacio

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4 hours ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

it is giving the media in my game fits as I am bottom of the league in possession but went in to the winter break top of the league by a point.

I love the questions you get about "do you feel bad about conceding so much possession? You must be amazed you won after being dominated" or some such statement. To which I want to politely smile and point out that we won 3-0 without conceding a shot. The game sure does not expect you to win comfortably without possession. Although I have to say the AI is very accommodating in this, it does not give up the idea of playing from the back no matter how much it gets them nowhere. This would be a lot less effective if the AI actually were like "yeah you know what long ball over that stupidly high press and to hell with possession". 

I cannot even think who this style would represent in real life. 

4 hours ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

I remember a couple of years back someone on here started a thread called "4-5-1 The Swiss Army Knife of Tactics" and I can't find a more apt description to be honest.

That was also the thread that inspired me (and is linked below your post now). My next task is to start using this flexibility a bit more. Right now I have not needed to do anything other than think about how to win, because Barcelona are a bit too good.

4 hours ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

Capture.thumb.PNG.f4619186ae9c0081d574d96c0c00fd2d.PNG

This is a thing of beauty. You must have been delighted with this. That is absolute domination of a game. 

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2 hours ago, chiani.ignacio said:

Maybe someone wants to read that thread. 

Although, I tried with Liverpool (I know is maybe the better team in the game?) in the last part of the first season and it works great! 

 

Hah man that notification took me down memory lane..... 2014!! How has that happened...5 and a half years ago. I have no idea how you even found that thread but fair play. 

Man i loved that tactic. Every FM since, i try it out early doors in some way. I remember it off by heart - Central CM was an attempt at a "central winger", lots of dribbling, striker always F9 to bring the lines close. 2 other CMs both DLP to drop back and create the staggered 4231 shape. Wide guys were.......hmm i dont think we even had the IW position in the game back then, so WM i guess, but basically the IW before it existed, attacking the box at an angle, and the fullbacks were CWB to take then replace them on the flanks.

It has never worked since, or more likely in recent years i have not been willing to put in the effort. With the new types of roles available on FM now, i assume you could be even more creative and versatile. 

For me, i fell out of love with the tactical side of FM a couple of years ago. I felt like they added way to many options and that it reached the point where i was no longer seeing the effect of things i changed in a a clear way. I also felt like the game became about how could throw together the best random selection of options to try and beat the ME. In about 2016 i posted some feedback on the beta about how i felt the game lacked in a key area - i always felt like i was playing against an algorithm, not another team / manager. Now, dont get me wrong.....its a computer game, i am always playing an algorithm......... :D But what i meant was the game lacked realism in some important ways. Example, lets say i am managing Athletic (I am...) and i have a game against Valencia. I have an injury crisis. My 3 first choice LBs are injured, so i have to play a youth, or a winger out of position. In that situation, Valencia should target that spot in my team. They should overload the right hand side on attack, at least initially. That is just one small example but the game never has any of that realism..... 

Nowdays i play FM like a DoF most of the time. Whack some basic tactics on and rarely watch the games (i refuse to instant result but i just dont look at the FM tab when the match is on. THat is only made worse this year by the ME being absolutely terrible to watch. The times i do watch a match i just cringe throughout at what they have done. Maybe i should watch in 2D or something, but its horrible to watch how chances are created on FM20 for me.

anyways, rant over........ great thread, really nice read, well thought out and good to see you puting the amount of effort and thought into this :)

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22 hours ago, sporadicsmiles said:

Which team would you like to see me try this tactic with?

Thanks for a great thread!

How far do you think you could take this system with a lower league underdog, for example? I imagine it requires very technical players (sharp passes with players stretched wide and thus little room for error).

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9 hours ago, Zemahh said:

How far do you think you could take this system with a lower league underdog, for example? I imagine it requires very technical players (sharp passes with players stretched wide and thus little room for error).

The main place for error would be the very high defensive line if you were playing with weaker players. Giving the ball away could be deadly. Honestly, I have not got that far ahead in my thinking (and I rarely play in the lower leagues).

You would probably just want to mitigate some of the risk inherent here. A lower defensive line (which means the AI will get closer to your goal on average), less possession oriented instructions.You would want to be more direct and have simple plans for scoring. Indeed, one thing I can see working for lower leagues is playing with a standard DL and a lower LOE, drawing a team in and then winning the ball from them as they attack you (it will always be hard to attack a solid 4-5 bank of players) and using a pacy striker and wide players to counter attack. 

You should not read this thread as this is the only way to set up. It puts the building blocks in place for you expand around and play with different ways to set things up. 

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