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Suggestions on preventing inferior teams from maintaining long spells of possession in their defensive third?

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Posted (edited)

I've noticed that when playing against a weaker team, who comes out in a Cautious or Defensive mentality, they will sometimes be able to to dominate possession over the course of the match.

Even if I play with:

  1. A much higher line of engagement
  2. A much higher defensive line
  3. Tight marking
  4. GK distribution prevention
  5. Extremely urgent pressing
  6. Stuck in tackling

Relatively poor or average teams will still manage to pass the ball around for long spells in their own half, using what appears to be high tempo and less dribbling, resulting in +50% of the possession and ~85% passing accuracy against my 4-1-2-2-1 or 4-2-3-1 based aggressive defense.

When watching the whole match, I routinely see the opponent quickly fizzing some amazing one touch passes around their back line for long spells despite my heavy pressing.  In real life, it seems like players are more likely to lose composure and boot the ball more frequently than their FM counterparts.

How to get a clearly superior team to more effectively win the ball back?  Man marking?  Stay on feet tackling to focus on unsettling the ball carrier but keeping them in front of a mobile defender?  Less aggressive pressing until the opponent is further up the pitch so they are more likely to play adventurous balls forward?  Something else? 

Or is this just a limitation of this year's game engine and I should give up on regularly dominating possession?

 

Edited by Columnarius

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Assuming you've set up well enough defensively and since you're already aggressive, defensively speaking, the other issue is here:

11 minutes ago, Columnarius said:

resulting in +50% of the possession

If they're getting that much possession, you're surely not keeping the ball very well either? In the tactics I've done when in charge of one of the better clubs in the league, I've easily managed 55-60% and in my title winning team, managed ~65% across the entire season.

Have a look at your setup to see if you're not giving away possession too easily. In the case of very defensive teams, a common issue I've seen is working the ball forward too quickly against set defenses and only having 3 or so players to try and break through 9-10 players.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks.  I'm not so sure its my offense but would appreciate feedback.

Here's Man City playing a defensively aggressive tactic against Wolves at home.

image.thumb.png.07b8ca4c7a4e49dc65bd2018ff35c0bd.png

 

Wolves come out in a Defensive tactic.

Here's the final stats

image.thumb.png.24f535aa948268246bd7deb3ccf3b3d5.png

Note my 91% passing accuracy.

Drilling in, we can see where they had most of their 465 successful passes (with 85% passing accuracy):

image.thumb.png.33a908a32e30aeb28e5e241fc23bbf84.png

Basically it is a ton of short passes in their own third and a bit in the middle third.

This is pretty common for me.  So put another way, I'm mostly concerned with why they are able to move the ball around in their own third despite my heavy pressing.

WDYT?

Edited by Columnarius

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Tbf, you have 1 player trying to press a back three, plus it seems, a DM of some sort. Unless your ST is a certain Mr F. Gordon, you'll struggle to win it back.

If I were in your position, I would start thinking about something like a 2 striker formation, just for situations like this. Possibly even a diamond, where your AMC can mark the DM and the 2 strikers can rush the 3 man defence. 

There are other options, like switching your wide men to Attack Duties so they defend higher up, but that influences their play while in possession in a negative way against defensive teams. I don't like the idea of that at all, unless you maybe turn the striker into a Support duty, but I still wouldn't go for this idea.

The other way would be to assign specific man marking so that more players go after the centrebacks, but that's also something I wouldn't do here. Most likely route would be to take your 2 wingers and have them mark the outer DCs, but I'm afraid that it weakens your flanks too much.

I always see things like this - you can have a great tactic that works 90% of the time and against 90% of formations/tactical setups. In the 10% of cases where it doesn't work, you need to make changes or have a plan B and in the 10% of formations you struggle against - know why and (in my case) have a plan B setup. I think here you need a plan B tactic, especially if you're happy in general with this one.

I'm actually interested to hear how others tackle this situation. It's not something that's often discussed and the above is just how I cope with similar issues that crop up.

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I've encountered the same issue across multiple saves, playing in England, Italy and Germany.

It's just very strange. I don't necessarily agree that it is a logical function of playing that type of 4-3-3; with the right players and aggressive pressing you absolutely should be able to prevent opponents from making 400-800 passes in their own half. Even if this came at the cost of making you extremely vulnerable to a direct pass or ball over the top. As it is, you can embark on the most ridiculous kamikaze pressing regime ever seen and it won't tend to disrupt relegation battlers from their possession drills.

The only way I've been able to turn the tide with possession is to largely mirror the opposition's backline with my attacking players. As HUNT3R mentions, a diamond with two strikers and an AMC can do it, but I've found that a 4-2-1-3 (three central forwards) generally does the trick against particularly weak teams. It's not a system I'll typically start a game with but it's one I'll turn to if the opposition is "dominating" possession early without posing any sort of attacking threat.

 

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for single striker formations do not use the prevent short GK distribution. Your striker will end up running rings between their 2 CB and GK because your striker is outnumbered 3 to 1 there. Think about this if you ask to prevent short GK distribution which CB do you want your striker to mark? For single striker formations you want your striker to screen central and start pressing from an initial position around the opponents deepest midfielder. 

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Also can you show us some clips or screenshots so that we have a clearer idea of the problem?

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9 hours ago, Columnarius said:

image.thumb.png.07b8ca4c7a4e49dc65bd2018ff35c0bd.png

You need to know that the way in which FM calculates possession stats is different from how possession is calculated in real-life football.

But even apart from that, you can improve your own possession by some tweaks to your tactic. Let me give you some food for thought:

- Playing wingers (role) on both flanks is not possession-friendly

- Playing 2 crossing-heavy roles - a winger and FB on attack duty - on the same flank is also not something you want to do in a possession-oriented tactic

- The Counter instruction in transition makes it even more likely that you'll lose possession needlessly and prematurely, especially when you are a top team that regularly play against inferior opposition that defends deep and thus do not leave you the space needed for those potential counter-attacks to be effective (btw, counter-attacks will occasionally happen even if you don't use the counter instruction, but in a far less rushed fashion)

- Attacking mentality inherently entails both higher tempo and more adventurous passing, so it can also prevent you from getting more possession (either drop it to the Positive or tone down tempo and/or passing)

- Wide attacking width is also not a possession-friendly instruction, especially under the attacking mentality where it's already wide by default (and even more so when coupled with using the winger role on both flanks)

On top of the above - and not associated with possession - I don't see any point in using the "Dribble less" TI with a team like City, when dribbling and technical superiority is one of the greatest advantages your players have against most opponents. I don't say that you should (necessarily) do the opposite. But you should definitely remove the "Dribble less". 

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Thanks for the feedback and perspective.  I'll experiment with turning off GK distribution prevention and if I play with two or even three forwards in terms of their # of passes in their own third and overall possession stats.  

8 hours ago, zyfon5 said:

Also can you show us some clips or screenshots so that we have a clearer idea of the problem?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lPK3-0VlPC-idR2lHfgVN3_VwqFgqYOd/view?usp=sharing is a good example.  @HUNT3R makes a good point about 3v1 (it also happens with 2 CBs), which the clip= showcases.

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Are you winning the games? I based an entire tactic around letting the AI have sterile possession in their own half and then just using the ball properly when you attack. You can easily win games if the AI is not using the ball well. Do not get too hung up on possession if you are winning. Just exploit the fact they have no out ball and hurt them when you attack with directness. 

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15 hours ago, Columnarius said:

Or is this just a limitation of this year's game engine and I should give up on regularly dominating possession?

Its a good point made in the opening and it has been a problem within the game for a few versions now.  I don't want to bash FM or SI, it's a great product.  I also think you have had some excellent and very helpful replies that are useful whatever the circumstances.  But I do think it's okay to say (only every now again) that this is a small problem that I would like to see makers of FM improve a little.

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Posted (edited)

 

3 hours ago, Robson 07 said:

ts a good point made in the opening and it has been a problem within the game for a few versions now.  I don't want to bash FM or SI, it's a great product.  I also think you have had some excellent and very helpful replies that are useful whatever the circumstances.  But I do think it's okay to say (only every now again) that this is a small problem that I would like to see makers of FM improve a little.

@Robson 07 Thanks for mentioning that.  I personally think its fine to acknowledge limitations in the Match Engine.  The amazing team at SI are doing an incredible job.  With any software, there will always be limits to what its capable of.  It isn't a knock on the team to admit that.

I'm going to move this discussion over to the Man City recreation thread to push forward on some points that @Experienced Defender brought up, but just to put a pin in this one, according to Who Scored, Man City seem to have no problem against 3-5-2 formations while playing their classic 4-1-2-2-1 formation as opposed to 2 or 3 CFs.

Look at this one:

https://www.whoscored.com/Matches/1376095/Live/England-Premier-League-2019-2020-Manchester-City-West-Ham

In this match, West Ham had:

  • 254 Passes
  • 22.7% possession
  • 70% passing accuracy

Man City had:

  • 896 Passes
  • 77.3% possession
  • 92% passing accuracy

By all accounts, they played 4-1-2-2-1 based on the data that depicts avg. position and heat maps.

This match is also in-line with City's averages over the 2019-2020 season though on the high end compared to the average.

Setting aside the offensive side for City for the moment, it seems strange that teams can keep possession and complete so many passes in their own third even against a high press / high defensive line tactic...

If anyone has some suggestions on how'd they'd set up a 4-1-2-2-1 to achieve something similar to the opponent's possession , # of passes and passing accuracy stats I highlighted, I'd love to learn your approach.

Edited by Columnarius

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7 minutes ago, Columnarius said:Setting aside the offensive side for City for the moment, it seems strange that teams can keep possession and complete so many passes in their own third even against a high press / high defensive line tactic...

 

If anyone has some suggestions on how'd they'd set up a 4-1-2-2-1 to achieve something similar to the opponent's possession , # of passes and passing accuracy stats I highlighted, I'd love to learn your approach.

Sorry to be "that guy" and provide no real helpful advice here but the problem is with engine and you can't really do anything about it unless you change formation or make minor tweaks that could give you a bit more possession.

In single striker formations in FM20 you will see that the striker lacks any kind of intelligent positioning and awerness, he will recklessly press the keeper even on lower mentalities and lower pressing, he will press the keeper alone (of course the rest of team just jockeying around not following) who will have no problem passing the ball to the defenders around the halfway line. You will see the bug section with reports of this exact issue.

If the striker presses the back line and the keeper without the midfield close enough, your first line of press is broken, you are on the back foot and the opponent can advance easily. 

It means that you are always trying to play a short build up possession game by going up and down the pitch trying to chase the ball because if you are advanced you can't get the ball back, so you fall more and more back and if you get the ball back deep you have to get to the final third again with this slow possession based style and the opponent will have all the time in the world to reorganize.

I disagree with the idea that you can tell the striker to mark the holding player, tried it multiple times, never worked.

But I want to offer something that you can keep an eye on.

1. Watch the first 10 minutes of games on "full match mode": do you see that your defenders/midfielders have enough space/passing options? Can they bring the ball out?If not why? Are they booting the ball long? Is there a specific place where you lose possession?

Then you can make small adjustments.

This can mean dropping the playout of defence instruction and go direct, or tell Ederson to throw the ball out to someone who is always free, change the def mid to half back who drops deeper and doesn't congest space or change the line of engagement and def line etc

2. Who do you expect to recycle possession in this team? How does your midfield link up?

3. Who is going score goals and get into goalscoring positions other than the CF, who is providing support, supply, movement?

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, robot_skeleton said:

Sorry to be "that guy" and provide no real helpful advice here but the problem is with engine and you can't really do anything about it unless you change formation or make minor tweaks that could give you a bit more possession.

In single striker formations in FM20 you will see that the striker lacks any kind of intelligent positioning and awerness, he will recklessly press the keeper even on lower mentalities and lower pressing, he will press the keeper alone (of course the rest of team just jockeying around not following) who will have no problem passing the ball to the defenders around the halfway line. You will see the bug section with reports of this exact issue.

Thanks and no worries!  After 450 hours with FM20, I've come to similar conclusion to you.  We've probably all read about how Man City approach pressing and positioning themselves defensively when not in counter pressing situations but in pure defensive situations, including:

  1. Waiting until there is a side / back pass
  2. Positioning yourself to take away the left and right pass outside if you are the second defender, which is common for the AML | R when the ST is presing.
  3. Pushing up in the middle to take away the longer ball to the DM / CMs from the GK / CBs / FBs

I've tried the different defensive widths and different positions AM L | R vs. CFL | R and I can't recreate this.

My hope was that someone else had cracked it.

52 minutes ago, robot_skeleton said:

But I want to offer something that you can keep an eye on.

1. Watch the first 10 minutes of games on "full match mode": do you see that your defenders/midfielders have enough space/passing options? Can they bring the ball out?If not why? Are they booting the ball long? Is there a specific place where you lose possession?

Then you can make small adjustments.

This can mean dropping the playout of defence instruction and go direct, or tell Ederson to throw the ball out to someone who is always free, change the def mid to half back who drops deeper and doesn't congest space or change the line of engagement and def line etc

2. Who do you expect to recycle possession in this team? How does your midfield link up?

3. Who is going score goals and get into goalscoring positions other than the CF, who is providing support, supply, movement?

I feel like my play out of my own third is great!  Passing accuracy for Ederson, Laporte, Stones, Rodri, Mendy and Walker are all around 94% and they are doing fine to get the ball into the middle third to De Bruyne / David Silva or out wide to Sterling and Bernardo Silva / Mahrez.  Here's a visual on passes in my third from a typical match.

image.thumb.png.8f2b844826303b7ae2b3dd1c031238cc.png

That's 169 successful passes out of 178 total passes for a passing accuracy of 94.9%.

For this thread, I hoped to hone in on how to improve when we don't have the ball as opposed to when we do have the ball.  But I agree that if one is looking at overall possession %, one has to look at all sides.

 

Edited by Columnarius

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3 hours ago, Columnarius said:

 

@Robson 07 Thanks for mentioning that.  I personally think its fine to acknowledge limitations in the Match Engine.  The amazing team at SI are doing an incredible job.  With any software, there will always be limits to what its capable of.  It isn't a knock on the team to admit that.

I'm going to move this discussion over to the Man City recreation thread to push forward on some points that @Experienced Defender brought up, but just to put a pin in this one, according to Who Scored, Man City seem to have no problem against 3-5-2 formations while playing their classic 4-1-2-2-1 formation as opposed to 2 or 3 CFs.

Look at this one:

https://www.whoscored.com/Matches/1376095/Live/England-Premier-League-2019-2020-Manchester-City-West-Ham

In this match, West Ham had:

  • 254 Passes
  • 22.7% possession
  • 70% passing accuracy

Man City had:

  • 896 Passes
  • 77.3% possession
  • 92% passing accuracy

By all accounts, they played 4-1-2-2-1 based on the data that depicts avg. position and heat maps.

This match is also in-line with City's averages over the 2019-2020 season though on the high end compared to the average.

Setting aside the offensive side for City for the moment, it seems strange that teams can keep possession and complete so many passes in their own third even against a high press / high defensive line tactic...

If anyone has some suggestions on how'd they'd set up a 4-1-2-2-1 to achieve something similar to the opponent's possession , # of passes and passing accuracy stats I highlighted, I'd love to learn your approach.

This is the best I could do this season. Too much possession is useless to me. I can probably further choke the opponents into less possession if I want to but it is not going to get me good results.

20200530114933_1.jpg

20200530115015_1.jpg

20200530115253_1.jpg

20200530115609_1.jpg

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3 hours ago, robot_skeleton said:

Sorry to be "that guy" and provide no real helpful advice here but the problem is with engine and you can't really do anything about it unless you change formation or make minor tweaks that could give you a bit more possession.

In single striker formations in FM20 you will see that the striker lacks any kind of intelligent positioning and awerness, he will recklessly press the keeper even on lower mentalities and lower pressing, he will press the keeper alone (of course the rest of team just jockeying around not following) who will have no problem passing the ball to the defenders around the halfway line. You will see the bug section with reports of this exact issue.

If the striker presses the back line and the keeper without the midfield close enough, your first line of press is broken, you are on the back foot and the opponent can advance easily. 

 

In single striker formations you can reduce the frequency of the striker pressing the goalkeeper if his mentality is low enough but that might not be good for your overall attacking play. Pressing is always a team game. The whole team will need to press together to win the ball back and not just rely on the striker.

From these screenshots my striker has gone to press the goalkeeper and the gk pass the ball to the CB. My two more advanced midfielder immediately press the two CB while putting their midfielder in their cover shadow. my right winger also move inside to cover and cut off passing options. if you can see i already cover 5 players with 3 of my own men. does my striker has a job here? Yes he absolutely has even though he is still returning from the GK position. He cuts off the backpass option to the other CB and the GK resulting in the opponents CB with no choice but to punt the ball upfield.

20200530121936_1.jpg

20200530121958_1.jpg

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Posted (edited)
52 minutes ago, zyfon5 said:

This is the best I could do this season. Too much possession is useless to me. I can probably further choke the opponents into less possession if I want to but it is not going to get me good results.

 

@zyfon5

So this is looking really close to what I'm trying for! 

Not only do you have 65%+ possession but you've limited your opponents to around 350 or fewer passes and a ~75% passing accuracy while hitting ~600 passes yourself with a ~90% passing accuracy.  That contrasts with my matches where although I have a similar passing accuracy, I have fewer passes while my opponent makes more passes than me with an ~80% passing accuracy (again, mostly in their own third).  We can quickly see that this your opponent's lower passing accuracy and lower total passes translates into that higher possession % for you.

I'm guessing this implies you prevent a lot more passes in the opponent's third than I've been managing and your example showcases how this can happen in a 4-1-2-2-1 really nicely in my opinion.

Looking at the screenshot of your tactic, I see you are playing with "More Urgent" pressing intensity.  You've got a DLF-A, an IW-A and a W-S with an AP-S and a CM-A behind them.  It appears you are on a standard defensive width to complement your higher line of engagement and higher defensive line (each one tick below the most aggressive settings).

From an individual mentality standpoint, this looks really similar to what I've often played but the results are different.

What can we attribute the difference to? 

  1. Something with your personal instructions? 
  2. Poorer attributes for your opponents' defenders? 
  3. Something about their tactics that are different from what Premier League and Champions's League managers would employ? 
  4. Something else?

Do you see the same results if you play with a top Premier League Club with the same tactic?

Edited by Columnarius

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You are playing wider on top of using wingers. Besides i'm not sure your front 3 and midfield are that press happy in terms of attributes. The main issue however is the choice of formation, roles and instructions.

against a back 3 you can try a 442 diamond and force them wide and isolate the wingback.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Columnarius said:

 

@Robson 07 Thanks for mentioning that.  I personally think its fine to acknowledge limitations in the Match Engine.  The amazing team at SI are doing an incredible job.  With any software, there will always be limits to what its capable of.  It isn't a knock on the team to admit that.

I'm going to move this discussion over to the Man City recreation thread to push forward on some points that @Experienced Defender brought up, but just to put a pin in this one, according to Who Scored, Man City seem to have no problem against 3-5-2 formations while playing their classic 4-1-2-2-1 formation as opposed to 2 or 3 CFs.

Look at this one:

https://www.whoscored.com/Matches/1376095/Live/England-Premier-League-2019-2020-Manchester-City-West-Ham

In this match, West Ham had:

  • 254 Passes
  • 22.7% possession
  • 70% passing accuracy

Man City had:

  • 896 Passes
  • 77.3% possession
  • 92% passing accuracy

By all accounts, they played 4-1-2-2-1 based on the data that depicts avg. position and heat maps.

This match is also in-line with City's averages over the 2019-2020 season though on the high end compared to the average.

Setting aside the offensive side for City for the moment, it seems strange that teams can keep possession and complete so many passes in their own third even against a high press / high defensive line tactic...

If anyone has some suggestions on how'd they'd set up a 4-1-2-2-1 to achieve something similar to the opponent's possession , # of passes and passing accuracy stats I highlighted, I'd love to learn your approach.

Kept it as simple as possible, I have a split block with the front 3 and one CM pressing and tackling harder. Average possession was 59%, I am not sure how to pull up historical team stats as I am just starting a new season but you can see a typical game against weaker opposition. The only times we might have slightly lost or slight;y won the possession battle was against teams that themselves were good at dominating possession so teams like PSG, Liverpool etc. Not going to lie though my main aim was a 90% or higher pass percentage in matches and I did a lot of analysing and adding ti's to players that were trying to be too expansive and were not equipped to carry it out. We ended top of the league in passes completed and possession and for me switching to a balanced mentality and keeping it simple was key. I also added the goalie distribution tis because this particular goalie thought he was the second coming of Ederson and he is not. Normally play out of defence is good enough for the goalie to keep it simple and sometimes at an opportune time to take a longer kick but this one is not capable of hitting those longer passes.

 

FM1.PNG

fm2.PNG

Fm3.PNG

FM4.PNG

Edited by Crazy_Ivan

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10 hours ago, Columnarius said:

 

@zyfon5

So this is looking really close to what I'm trying for! 

Not only do you have 65%+ possession but you've limited your opponents to around 350 or fewer passes and a ~75% passing accuracy while hitting ~600 passes yourself with a ~90% passing accuracy.  That contrasts with my matches where although I have a similar passing accuracy, I have fewer passes while my opponent makes more passes than me with an ~80% passing accuracy (again, mostly in their own third).  We can quickly see that this your opponent's lower passing accuracy and lower total passes translates into that higher possession % for you.

I'm guessing this implies you prevent a lot more passes in the opponent's third than I've been managing and your example showcases how this can happen in a 4-1-2-2-1 really nicely in my opinion.

Looking at the screenshot of your tactic, I see you are playing with "More Urgent" pressing intensity.  You've got a DLF-A, an IW-A and a W-S with an AP-S and a CM-A behind them.  It appears you are on a standard defensive width to complement your higher line of engagement and higher defensive line (each one tick below the most aggressive settings).

From an individual mentality standpoint, this looks really similar to what I've often played but the results are different.

What can we attribute the difference to? 

  1. Something with your personal instructions? 
  2. Poorer attributes for your opponents' defenders? 
  3. Something about their tactics that are different from what Premier League and Champions's League managers would employ? 
  4. Something else?

Do you see the same results if you play with a top Premier League Club with the same tactic?

Player attributes is going to be important. Every player in my tactic I have carefully picked over a few seasons so that they would suit the playstyle. The formation and how the opposing team defend and attack is going to be important too. Playing against a back three and a more traditional back four is going to be different. For example I played against a 442 who tried to press high with their two strikers. If I still play out of defence the same way my CB will be in a lot of pressure. I will have to set to distribute to full backs to get around the two strikers and find the extra man in midfield. This tactic is similar to the one I used for my Man City test save and the results are pretty similar. The key is having a striker that starts from a deeper position and have two more aggressive midfielder to join the press when necessary. The two wide attacking midfielder should also be close enough to the middle to provide cover if necessary.

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7 hours ago, KyleHyde said:

You are playing wider on top of using wingers. Besides

Thanks.  I'm assuming you mean I am playing with a wider attacking width as opposed to a defensive width?  Do you think this is affecting my team's ability to successfully press or close down passing lines when the opponent has the ball in their own third compared to if I played more narrow?

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57 minutes ago, zyfon5 said:

Player attributes is going to be important. Every player in my tactic I have carefully picked over a few seasons so that they would suit the playstyle.

Perhaps @KyleHyde is right about the Man City player's attributes?  In a situation where we're pressing high up the pitch in the opponent's third and cutting off the passing lines to the opponent's DL|R and DM/CMs, I'm assuming for the player pressing, key attributes include:

  • Tackling
  • Aggression
  • Anticipation
  • Bravery
  • Composure
  • Concentration
  • Decisions
  • Teamwork
  • Work Rate
  • Acceleration
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Strength

For players denying passing lines and/or preparing to be the next player who needs to press if the opponent gets past the first presser, I'm assuming key attributes include:

  • Marking
  • Anticipation
  • Composure
  • Concentration
  • Decisions
  • Teamwork
  • Work Rate

Does that sound right?

 

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6 hours ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

I have a split block with the front 3 and one CM pressing and tackling harder.

@Crazy_Ivan Thanks for the example!

I'm particularly interested in your experience with your tactic in situations where your opponent has the ball and what you saw in terms of common patterns that led to denying them possession, reducing their passing accuracy and winning the ball back.

If you look at a few past matches, what do you see in terms of the possession distribution between action zones?  Different than the following, which is what I often see?

image.thumb.png.f3d047b75792bc841818d28c360765aa.png

I'm assuming you increased pressing intensity and ticked Tackle Harder for the DLF, IF and W?  And was that the Mez role in the CM-L slot you also increased pressing intensity and tackling for?

Per some of the feedback in this thread, and looking at your tactic, I'm wondering if actually the key to reducing their possession in their own third is to press less and draw them up the field a bit more so that they have fewer easy options to keep the ball.  You went with Higher Line of Engagement as opposed to Much Higher Line of Engagement.

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I pointed out this issue a few weeks ago and was told that my team might not be good enough at pressing or that I was doing something wrong tactically. I don't think either is the real issue. The issue is that bad teams are too content to try to waste time by passing back to their GK again and again. Some GKs can accrue 70-80 passes in a match, which is just ridiculously high. Most teams don't do that in real life because when they lose the ball they concede a great scoring chance. To be fair to FM20, this does also happen in the game. It is common to steal the ball from a dawdling defender and score an uncontested goal. That happens so often that you would expect AI underdogs to be too afraid to keep passing it backward, and yet they still do it.

Underdog teams should be moving the ball out and up, not back and to the middle.

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13 minutes ago, Columnarius said:

@Crazy_Ivan Thanks for the example!

I'm particularly interested in your experience with your tactic in situations where your opponent has the ball and what you saw in terms of common patterns that led to denying them possession, reducing their passing accuracy and winning the ball back.

If you look at a few past matches, what do you see in terms of the possession distribution between action zones?  Different than the following, which is what I often see?

image.thumb.png.f3d047b75792bc841818d28c360765aa.png

I'm assuming you increased pressing intensity and ticked Tackle Harder for the DLF, IF and W?  And was that the Mez role in the CM-L slot you also increased pressing intensity and tackling for?

Per some of the feedback in this thread, and looking at your tactic, I'm wondering if actually the key to reducing their possession in their own third is to press less and draw them up the field a bit more so that they have fewer easy options to keep the ball.  You went with Higher Line of Engagement as opposed to Much Higher Line of Engagement.

You are correct on the split block settings and the split block(and it's benefits) is my go to since Rashidi introduced it to me in one of his excellent vids. I would say that the balanced mentality coupled with turning the counter press and relentless pressing off and allowing them to bring the ball out to then challenge them a bit lower has helped me yes, in turn I think this has helped breaking down those stubborn defensive teams and I have seen a lot more intelligent pressing from my players which allows the two midfielders who aren't pressing to win second balls. 

Here are a few of the breakdowns. Amiens were a very possession hungry team, in fact coming in to the match they were 2nd in the league for possession ahead of me so I was fine with the 54% the team managed to get.

FM1.PNG

fm2.PNG

Fm3.PNG

FM4.PNG

fm5.PNG

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7 minutes ago, Overmars said:

I pointed out this issue a few weeks ago and was told that my team might not be good enough at pressing or that I was doing something wrong tactically. I don't think either is the real issue. The issue is that bad teams are too content to try to waste time by passing back to their GK again and again. Some GKs can accrue 70-80 passes in a match, which is just ridiculously high. Most teams don't do that in real life because when they lose the ball they concede a great scoring chance. To be fair to FM20, this does also happen in the game. It is common to steal the ball from a dawdling defender and score an uncontested goal. That happens so often that you would expect AI underdogs to be too afraid to keep passing it backward, and yet they still do it.

Underdog teams should be moving the ball out and up, not back and to the middle.

@Overmars 

Thanks for jumping in!  I agree that that AI seems pretty confident about being able to keep the ball in their own third despite a heavy press from a highly favored opponent!  And as this thread is exploring, they are confident because they are successful.  That said, some of the points here are opening my eyes in terms of the drawbacks of pressing too aggressively.   

 

2 minutes ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

I would say that the balanced mentality coupled with turning the counter press and relentless pressing off and allowing them to bring the ball out to then challenge them a bit lower has helped me yes, in turn I think this has helped breaking down those stubborn defensive teams and I have seen a lot more intelligent pressing from my players which allows the two midfielders who aren't pressing to win second balls. 

@Crazy_Ivan

Those screen shots really tell the story, don't they?  In every case, you have the same or more possession than your opponents in their third. 

I've been doing some testing over the past 12 hours and I'm starting to see this as well.

Okay - I think we're on to something here.  I'll post my latest revision shortly.  Then I'd like to dig in regarding defensive width.

 

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3 hours ago, Columnarius said:

Thanks.  I'm assuming you mean I am playing with a wider attacking width as opposed to a defensive width?  Do you think this is affecting my team's ability to successfully press or close down passing lines when the opponent has the ball in their own third compared to if I played more narrow?

Your team attacking width is wide and since you have wingers (who have stay wider instruction as PIs) probably dribbling near or by line, they will keep the overall team width very wide. Now imagine or, better, watch ingame where your players are when you lose possession.

Are your wide attackers near the CBs or FBs? is any of your mids near their DM or key CM? When you set your attacking instructions and roles you should always consider where they may be once you turn into a ball winning transition.

Notice how the gegenpressing 433 preset has IFs and a narrower team width. It's not just to force play in the middle but so the attacking trio is near CBs and DMs once they lose the ball and thus start the gegenpressing. If oppositon has less space to play in the middle they will be forced to play wide and have their options reduced. You must then be able to deal with that!

Klopp in real life has his wide forwards between CBs and FBs blocking the passing lanes and forcing them to play to a CM/DM who are quickly marked and closed down or a long ball forward which, now, is easily dealt by Van Dijk.

 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, KyleHyde said:

Notice how the gegenpressing 433 preset has IFs and a narrower team width. It's not just to force play in the middle but so the attacking trio is near CBs and DMs once they lose the ball and thus start the gegenpressing. If oppositon has less space to play in the middle they will be forced to play wide and have their options reduced. You must then be able to deal with that!

I see your point and I can imagine how AML|Rs playing in the channels between CDs and FBs would help them more quickly position to take away those outside passing lanes.

How to balance that with the well known Man City desire for at least one, if not both AML|R to get very wide when in possession?  Would you say that playing with a more Narrow Attacking Width, combined with an AML|R role that instructs, or at least permits, the individual player to get wide allows more of a balance where the AML|R on the side that the ball is on may be wide but the player on the far side stays in the channel between the CD and FB?

Edited by Columnarius

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Posted (edited)

City play with inverted wing backs quite a lot too don't forget. The beauty of this being they join the central midfield area. So you could potentially utilise these and keep your width so that you've got your players out wide but also extra bodies in the central areas to press the opposition and give you greater ball retention.

IRL Kyle Walker is City's 5th best player this season in terms of passes completed (1,418 compared to 1,470 from De Bruyne).

Edited by TheGoodRebel

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9 minutes ago, TheGoodRebel said:

City play with inverted wing backs quite a lot too don't forget. The beauty of this being they join the central midfield area. So you could potentially utilise these and keep your width so that you've got your players out wide but also extra bodies in the central areas to press the opposition and give you greater ball retention.

IRL Kyle Walker is City's 5th best player this season in terms of passes completed (1,418 compared to 1,470 from De Bruyne).

@TheGoodRebel Thanks for pointing out that is often where the player ends up vs. where they start the attack phase.

I agree that if the AM L|R end up more narrow than the opposing FB when transitioning from attack to defend, they can cut off the passing lane more easily than if they end up wider.

 

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Posted (edited)

First off, thank you to @HUNT3R, @el_tgv, @zyfon5, @Experienced Defender, @sporadicsmiles@Robson 07, @robot_skeleton, @KyleHyde, @Crazy_Ivan and @TheGoodRebel for the engagement and feedback.

After consideration of the discussion and testing of numerous tactical instruction combinations, here's the best I've been able to come up with.

image.thumb.png.5dcfe1814c96745e0a68eaf3120c226f.png

PIs are as follows:

CF, IF, W, Mez

- Close Down More

- Tackle Harder

RPM

- Move into Channels

DM, WB, CDL, CDR, IWB

- Take Fewer Risks

---

There are numerous things here related to the larger tactic but if we hone in on the topic of preventing weaker teams from possessing the ball in their own third, I think the keys to the improved results are:

  1. We are not pressing so aggressively.  This lures the opponent into playing the ball a bit further up the field before we press, which complicates their passing options.
  2. We are not playing so wide, putting our players in the AML|R strategy in better positions to deny passing lines out wide to the FB L|R.
  3. One of our two CMs (the CML) more aggressively presses when the ball gets past the CF, allowing the CF to block off the easy back pass.
  4. We are not counter attacking quite as frequently (because Counter is no longer ticked in Transition Team Instructions), meaning we have more players near our opponent when we lose the ball in the opponent's third who can press and cover.
  5. We are a bit less aggressive with our mentality by switching from Attacking to Positive, resulting in more players closer together when we move into the final third, meaning we have more players near our opponent when we lose the ball in the opponent's third who can press and cover.

With the setup above, I often see lower overall possession for my opponent but more specifically, lower possession in their own third.  It tends to look like this:

image.thumb.png.a95f73e8d7b459349015d9a755359f7a.png

image.thumb.png.fb3646bd5461cff581266c7ca740ffbc.png

There's still some things to work out in terms of overall replication of Man City but I'm happier with the improved tactics leading to reduced possession of weaker opponents in their own third.

Let's take the broader Man City conversation over to here:

 

Edited by Columnarius

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Well done bud what is your average possession in the league?

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9 hours ago, Columnarius said:
  • We are not pressing so aggressively.  This lures the opponent into playing the ball a bit further up the field before we press, which complicates their passing options.
  • We are not playing so wide, putting our players in the AML|R strategy in better positions to deny passing lines out wide to the FB L|R.
  • One of our two CMs (the CML) more aggressively presses when the ball gets past the CF, allowing the CF to block off the easy back pass.
  • We are not counter attacking quite as frequently (because Counter is no longer ticked in Transition Team Instructions), meaning we have more players near our opponent when we lose the ball in the opponent's third who can press and cover.
  • We are a bit less aggressive with our mentality by switching from Attacking to Positive, resulting in more players closer together when we move into the final third, meaning we have more players near our opponent when we lose the ball in the opponent's third who can press and cover.

I don't know if they all play out the way you've described them but makes sense.

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13 hours ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

Well done bud what is your average possession in the league?

image.thumb.png.342cc81d2553a8075cb2dc0824698cf9.png

12 hours ago, Robson 07 said:

I don't know if they all play out the way you've described them but makes sense.

They don't all work out like that for sure!  Some look like this:

image.thumb.png.6b8efc6fdccd1800d1c6a5d8a07c7a0d.png

 

But some still look like this:

image.thumb.png.d8afec6b9af855f8f5e5dc6fe284150e.png

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