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Double Six - a tactical recreation of Ajax 2018/19


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There is already a similar topic from @Zendahl, but unfortunately it died an early death so that's why I want to revive it in this way.

 


In a final effort in FM20 for a personal favorite to succeed, I ask you to provide feedback on the following tactic.

It is a recreation of Ajax's 2018/19 season in the Champions League, where it reached the semi-finals. Typical of this tactic was the presence of a "double six", of which Frenkie de Jong was one of them. This was also the most important pivot of the team, together with a fantastic Hakim Ziyech on AMR.

A number of aspects that I want to see reflected in the tactic:
- emerging backs playing the space in the back of the AMR and AML (Dest/Mazraoui and Tagliafico);
- Frenkie de Jong is almost always the start of the attack, where he patiently starts dribbling in search of openings and plays almost all balls forward (the role I think that comes closest is Regista);
- in addition to Frenkie, a '6' who guards the balance in midfield but should certainly be able to play along well (so not a pure ball-taker, that season it was Schöne)
- a 'running' midfielder in the back of the striker, who shows up a lot in the box (van de Beek);
- Ziyech on the right who is in possession of the ball quite wide, and then dribbles in to go for the shot on goal, give a through pass or give a sharp cross to the incoming AML (Neres, or this season Promes);
- Tadic as striker who often plays with his back to the goal as a starting point and looks for the combination. But also drops occasionally and then leaves room for emerging players (CM and AML).


In terms of team instructions, it was noticeable that Ajax did not play an extreme gegenpressing. It characterized Ajax that season that they were very stable defensively and this was done instead of counter-press, so I turned on regrouped. Ajax did have an offensive playing style and view, which in FM20 terms can best be described as 'Vertical tiki-taka'. Also because that season Ajax was known to be able to break out dangerous by means of a counter.
 

Which brings me to the following set-up:

image.png.ade9f1b14d8625310a7d6bb22118815a.png


+ split block CM - AMR - ST - AML
+ DLF roam from position
+ AML sit narrower
+ AMR shoot more often, cross aim far post
+ CM move into channels
+ Regista dribble more
+ DM take fewer risks, tackle harder, mark tighter
+ WB's tackle harder, mark tighter
+ BPD tackle harder, mark tighter
+ CD take fewer risks, tackle harder, mark tighter


What do you think of the roles, duties, TI's and PI's? 

 

Edited by Karlo
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In my opinion LB Tagliafico plays like a CWB on the left flank in real football. Sometimes i see him going into opposite penalty area to score goals. He is a roaming WB i think.

I'm sure that a playmaker role best suits a player like Ziyech. I strongly suggest using him with an APs role in front of a WBa.

I'm not sure forcing CBs and WBs to tackle harder. This could give opposite side too much dead ball opportunities. 

"Take fewer risks" PI forces a player to clear the ball mostly. Your CB still has 4 short passing options around him; BPD, DM, REG, WB. When opposition presses him then he clears it mostly instead of passing these players.

Using "stay on feet" TI with "tackle harder" PI for WBs, CBs and DM on attacking team mentality? I wonder how many cards are given to your team and dead ball opportunities you give opposite teams per match or if it is good to use both at the same time.

Edited by zabyl
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2 hours ago, zabyl said:

In my opinion LB Tagliafico plays like a CWB on the left flank in real football. Sometimes i see him going into opposite penalty area to score goals. He is a roaming WB i think.

I'm sure that a playmaker role best suits a player like Ziyech. I strongly suggest using him with an APs role in front of a WBa.

I'm not sure forcing CBs and WBs to tackle harder. This could give opposite side too much dead ball opportunities. 

"Take fewer risks" PI forces a player to clear the ball mostly. Your CB still has 4 short passing options around him; BPD, DM, REG, WB. When opposition presses him then he clears it mostly instead of passing these players.

Using "stay on feet" TI with "tackle harder" PI for WBs, CBs and DM on attacking team mentality? I wonder how many cards are given to your team and dead ball opportunities you give opposite teams per match or if it is good to use both at the same time.


Thank you for the feedback.

I don't really know why I had tight marking and tackle harder throughout the defense and DM. Kind of habit, but turned it off now. As well as stay on feet.

Also changed WBsu to CWBsu and IWsu to APsu :thup:


I've holidayed a season with your tweaks and I'm quite satisfied with the results.

 

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.c234fa95b8d7b26e1276d55141dd407a.png
image.png.fee5868c0e824a8b6e6ca29c80ce794d.png
 



 

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I agree with @zabyl's comments

In addition, I think Onana is definitely a SK on support, not defend. 

Blind is a BPD too. 

I'd drop the Regroup TI because it contrasts to your high block and high LOD & LOE. 

Perhaps tone down the tempo to standard, as attacking mentality already comes with fast play. 

 

I think this is an interesting formation which might offset the downside of 4-2-3-1 where the AMC is often underperforming. Could you share vdBeek's stats? Goals, assists, key passes? 

Edited by GianniM
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8 minutes ago, GianniM said:

I agree with @zabyl's comments

In addition, I think Onana is definitely a SK on support, not defend. 

I'd drop the Regroup TI because it contrasts to your high block and high LOD & LOE. 

Perhaps tone down the tempo to standard, as attacking mentality already comes with fast play. 

 

I think this is an interesting formation which might offset the downside of 4-2-3-1 where the AMC is often underperforming. Could you share vdBeek's stats? Goals, assists, key passes? 


Van de Beek: 
image.thumb.png.ca1f3735ac021e5923cfb493d669a226.png

In my opinion, still a bit too few goals and assists.

I've been toying with the idea of giving him a different role, the other closest (I think) is BBM, only then he commutes more up and down to the box instead of infiltrating it.

And the idea of this tactic is precisely to not make him an AMC, but to let 'come' from a deeper position.

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24 minutes ago, Karlo said:

Van de Beek: 
image.thumb.png.ca1f3735ac021e5923cfb493d669a226.png

Do you use roaming and take more risks PIs for him? If the answer is no than i suggest those to get his game more effective.

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3 minutes ago, zabyl said:

Do you use roaming and take more risks PIs for him? If the answer is no than i suggest those to get his game more effective.


No, I did not. I've added them now to the tactic. :thup:

 

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4 hours ago, Karlo said:

@Experienced Defender

@summatsupeer

 

Do you guys have anything else to add to the tactic based on the aspects I would like to see?

Seeing things that I am obviously doing wrong or should be doing differently maybe?

The problem is that I am not familiar enough with the real-life tactic you are trying to replicate, so cannot offer any suggestions in that particular respect. But your tactic from the screenshot looks decent to me in and of itself. I mean, nothing glaringly wrong. 

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I'd reconsider the TI Stay on Feet with PI to tackle harder.  It looks like your letting them get up field before then getting stuck in.  potentially giving fouls away in risk areas and not winning ball in dangerous areas upfield.

You put PI dribble more on REG and added TI to Run at Defence which does same thing plus adds it to DLF and WB-Su.

If want to be compact defensively I would probably drop LOE, especially with so many deep players so the front 3 aren't chasing ghosts.

Your van der beek issue I think will need to assess how the front 3 are working.  With both wide forwards (rather than wide midfielders) who are going to cut inside in final third and get into the box that might reduce spaces for van beek.

One thing that might help is remove higher tempo on attacking even with shorter passing the tempo will still be quite fast.  That might give him more time to make his runs BUT against defensive teams I tend to find pullbacks are more successful than central throughballs in terms of chance creation for CMs unless it's a full counter attack.  Maybe ziyech as AP and the slower more possession orientated approach could help?

Edited by summatsupeer
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7 hours ago, Karlo said:


Van de Beek: 
image.thumb.png.ca1f3735ac021e5923cfb493d669a226.png

A cursory glance at Wikipedia shows in 2018/19 he scored 17 goals in 57 appearances...4th top scorer for the club behind Tadic, Huntelaar, and Ziyech. So in terms of a pure recreation you've about nailed the production. What are the numbers from Ziyech, Neres and Tadic?

In my own personal attempt at recreating that side (on FM19, but more looking at the general shape and numbers than absolute specifics) I got him to 13 goals in consecutive seasons, but I definitely found it easier to create chances as a CM than an AM. 

I agree with the above advice to remove Stay On Feet and Run At Defence, as well as possible Higher Tempo as even with that shorter passing your mentality is giving you a good pace to the game anyway, but the latter I would say depends on your results - if it works, don't alter it.

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19 minutes ago, sejo said:

Split block is "high pressing + tighter marking"?

Split block is when you tell your 3-5 most advanced players to close down more in their PIs instead of increasing the pressing urgency for the entire time. So you use the Close down more PI rather than the More urgent pressing TI. That's it.

Tight marking (PI) and/or hard tackling (PI) are optional. 

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12 hours ago, Jean0987654321 said:

PS: Regroup makes no sense to me as they usually pressed immediately to get the ball back so CounterPress should be a must there

Thank you, I will have a look at them later. Now I've based it mostly on own interpretation and a long-read at VI Pro (in Dutch - https://www.vi.nl/pro/analyse/zo-speelt-het-ajax-van-erik-ten-hag/share/8246573fc4)

About the regroup. Are you sure you're not mistaking the Ajax under Peter Bosz (Europa League final against Man Utd) and the Ajax under Ten Hag? :) I'm pretty sure they intend to win the ball back quickly, but are not doing this relentlessly and with immediate gegenpressing. They made sure that de defence was properly organised and then they started pressing. But correct me if I'm wrong.

But anyway, I've already deleted that instruction on the latest version I have now and it's going pretty well. I will post it later and tag you :thup:
 

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13 minutes ago, Karlo said:

I'm pretty sure they intend to win the ball back quickly, but are not doing this relentlessly and with immediate gegenpressing. They made sure that de defence was properly organised and then they started pressing. But correct me if I'm wrong.

I think you need to read that part again. 

 

Quote

Doordat bij balverlies collectief naar voren gedrukt wordt, kan de ploeg van Ten Hag ook tegen de beste teams ter wereld op de helft van de tegenstander voetballen en resultaat halen.

Quote

Gegenpressing is niet alleen massaal jagen op het moment dat een aanval gestuit wordt, maar ook het hebben van een plan voor de momenten waarop het niet lukt om zo de bal snel te heroveren. Waar voorheen op dat soort momenten vaak alarmfase één uitbrak, verdedigen onder Ten Hag de overgebleven spelers achter de bal slechts de centrale zone voor het strafschopgebied. Daarbij lopen zij achteruit in plaats van vooruit, waarmee Ajax hoopt om de aanval te vertragen of de tegenstander naar de zijkant te lokken en zo het directe doelgevaar weg te nemen.

So what they're saying is that while they are collectively pressing at first, when that isn't working the defense is moving backwards to defend the centre.

I think it's a combination of the TI's counter press and a lower or standard LOD with defend narrow

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31 minutes ago, GianniM said:

I think you need to read that part again. 

 

So what they're saying is that while they are collectively pressing at first, when that isn't working the defense is moving backwards to defend the centre.

I think it's a combination of the TI's counter press and a lower or standard LOD with defend narrow


I think you are right. I've adjusted it in the tactic. :thup:

I am testing at the moment with Barcelona, to play with Frenkie de Jong as a Regista. 

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Het is bijna een tweede natuur geworden voor de backs en buitenspelers van Ajax: als de één naar de binnenkant beweegt, gaat de ander naar buiten en vice versa. Het idee dat een vleugelaanvaller in de Johan Cruijff Arena krijt aan zijn schoenen moet hebben, is ver verleden tijd. Soms staat Tadic nog aan de flank om het veld breed te maken, maar dan zien we Nicolás Tagliafico vaak aan de binnenkant verschijnen om controle over het middenveld te houden.

This perfectly describes the IWB by the way. Although in my experience in FM a WB is more effective with top teams like Barca and Ajax, because they provide more width. 

 

Regarding vdBeek as CMa in your Ajax set-up, if you want him to get into the box more you could train him the player traits 'Gets into opposition area' and 'Moves forward whenever possible'. 

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3 hours ago, GianniM said:

This perfectly describes the IWB by the way. Although in my experience in FM a WB is more effective with top teams like Barca and Ajax, because they provide more width. 

 

Regarding vdBeek as CMa in your Ajax set-up, if you want him to get into the box more you could train him the player traits 'Gets into opposition area' and 'Moves forward whenever possible'. 

 

Maybe adding 'sit narrower' to the CWBsu? Or underlap?

About the CMat, right now I'm Barcelona and rotating between Rakitic and Puig. Rakitic has 'arrives late in opponent's area' and also 'shoots from distance' which I think are two very bad traits for this tactic, am I right?

And when I suggested for Puig 'gets in opposition area' my coach said it would be a waste of time, because he's not a natural born goalscorer. I've put it on anyway, but I'm curious to see if it works.

 

(P.S. Donny van de Beek has that 2 player traits already, so he fits it perfectly. Other players who already have those 2 are Milinkovic-Savic, Bellingham and Moro.)

Edited by Karlo
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3 minutes ago, Karlo said:

Maybe adding 'sit narrower' to the CWBsu? Or underlap?

Not really, because that would mean they'll do that all the time. While the IWB will base his movement on the position of the player in front of him. 

For example I've used a IWBa with an APs in front of him on the right flank. The IWB mostly stayed on the flank because the AP was situated more centrally. But then when he's on the ball out wide he has the PI to 'cross less often'. So he'll have to be very good with the ball to cut inside into the congested area, beat his opponent and get a pass into the box. Whereas a WBa has the PI to 'cross more often' so he'll just stay out wide mostly and get a cross in. 

I haven't used a CWB or underlap though so I wouldn't know how exactly that works. 

 

13 minutes ago, Karlo said:

'arrives late in opponent's area' and also 'shoots from distance' which I think are two very bad traits for this tactic, am I right?

That sounds like the exact opposite of what you'd want here. 

 

17 minutes ago, Karlo said:

Puig

Looking at his attributes, I think he's more of a playmaker rather than a scorer. He'll get himself in good positions, but might just fail to score more often due to low finishing. But he has decent decisions and composure so it won't be all bad. 

I think you're better off with Griezmann as a shadow striker here though. 

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4 hours ago, Karlo said:

 

Maybe adding 'sit narrower' to the CWBsu? Or underlap?

About the CMat, right now I'm Barcelona and rotating between Rakitic and Puig. Rakitic has 'arrives late in opponent's area' and also 'shoots from distance' which I think are two very bad traits for this tactic, am I right?

And when I suggested for Puig 'gets in opposition area' my coach said it would be a waste of time, because he's not a natural born goalscorer. I've put it on anyway, but I'm curious to see if it works.

 

(P.S. Donny van de Beek has that 2 player traits already, so he fits it perfectly. Other players who already have those 2 are Milinkovic-Savic, Bellingham and Moro.)

This won't just apply to the CWB. It was a misconception that it was the opposite of overlap with regards to the fullback position. @Rashidihas a video about it on his YouTube channel and I believe @Experienced Defenderalso raised this point in another thread. 

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1 hour ago, EnigMattic1 said:

This won't just apply to the CWB. It was a misconception that it was the opposite of overlap with regards to the fullback position. @Rashidihas a video about it on his YouTube channel and I believe @Experienced Defenderalso raised this point in another thread. 

 

Yeah I know underlap speaks of a 'player' who makes the run, not just the wingback. I was just thinking out loud for some ideas that would make the leftback roam in that area where @GianniMwas referring to.

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On 26/10/2020 at 15:32, Karlo said:

Maybe adding 'sit narrower' to the CWBsu?

I'm not sure how a CWBsu behaves in game, but I watched Tagliafico in particular yesterday and he behaved exactly like an IWBsu. Getting into midfield (MCL area) to create an extra man there, sometimes advancing into the final third also centrally and sometimes moving wide. 

In one of the videos @Jean0987654321posted it was mentioned that Ten Hag likes to keep the distances between the players small, so they can keep their passing short and fast. So if you want to replicate the tactic, you may want to try either a slightly more narrow width or play through centre. However in FM this is difficult to pull off if you're a top side because it's easy for the opposition to just defend narrow. Actually this proved difficult in the second half yesterday as well :P Just thinking out loud here, maybe it's already enough having wide players cutting inside because of their roles (IF, AP, IWB). 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Picked this up again, in the dying seconds of FM20.

Currently the set-up look like this

image.png.6c4eaf425d46bb8aec60a66047d906d6.png

+ split block CM - AMR - AML - ST
+ DL sit narrower
+ CM take more risks, move into channels
+ AMR roam from position, cross aim far post


Still not completely satisfied with it. I've tried altering mentality (attacking > positive) and switching TI's on and off again and then played a series of matches with it. The football is sometimes pretty okay to watch, but all in all too much draws and too few goals.

 

Spoiler

image.png.4c9c8f521d6ade65c4287e3f47191eff.png

image.png.060de154b53f14674d2dc1e0f9b59b1d.png
 


As you can see, the Regista (Blind/Eiting) does get the highest average rating. 


One last final round of feedback of you guys of what you think could benefit the results? 

@zabyl @NotSoSpecialOne @GianniM @Experienced Defender @summatsupeer @zlatanera @Jean0987654321 @EnigMattic1

 

Edited by Karlo
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10 hours ago, Karlo said:

image.png.6c4eaf425d46bb8aec60a66047d906d6.png

Considering that you manage a top team (at least in the Netherlands), this setup should work fine. For a weaker side however, it would likely prove a bit too risky defensively. But overall, it's well-balanced for the most part :thup:

The only problem that I personally see is using 2 BPDs behind the regista. I mean. what's the point of employing a regista (playmaker) if you put not just 1 but even 2 BPDs immediately behind him? In that respect, I would change at least the left CB into a standard CD.

Om the other hand, I cannot tell you if your tactic represents a proper replication of Ajax or not, because I am not familiar enough with how they play in real life. Instead, I can only comment your tactic from a purely FM perspective. And I basically like what I see in that screenshot :brock: :thup:

 

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Blind as the replacement of De Jong, never understood why Ajax didn't try that in real life... :thup: Then they can get a real center back instead. 

As said before, DM on defend duty and LCB as a normal Defender on defend. 

I wouldn't drop WBIB, but I would add Be More Expressive to offset the negative impact it may have (too complex and slow attacking play). And because Ajax fans like to be entertained :) It might help with getting more goals. 

I'd teach Mazraoui the player trait of 'gets forward whenever possible' if he doesn't have it already, and Van de Beek 'Gets into opposition area'. Maybe even for Mazraoui as well. 

Edited by GianniM
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Used something similar on FM19 and the changed it on FM20. If not used it much on FM21 but sure will need some tweaks.

ten Hag is a continuation of total football. Not read every comment so not sure what tweaks you made.

You need most players on same mentality. I prefer lower tempo direct passing with wide width, counter pressing with high DL on LOE. and i dont use counter, want to move players around then make nice passes to the players in space

Treq will drop into midfield and roam more, will offer more that an CM, same as CF s i want his roaming. I like wingers for there mentality, there LW in particular links up really well with the regista

I find IF even on Support to be 2 higher mentality.

 

 

Football Manager 2021 23_11_2020 20_01_40.png

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12 hours ago, JarheadFM said:

Used something similar on FM19 and the changed it on FM20. If not used it much on FM21 but sure will need some tweaks.

ten Hag is a continuation of total football. Not read every comment so not sure what tweaks you made.

You need most players on same mentality. I prefer lower tempo direct passing with wide width, counter pressing with high DL on LOE. and i dont use counter, want to move players around then make nice passes to the players in space

Treq will drop into midfield and roam more, will offer more that an CM, same as CF s i want his roaming. I like wingers for there mentality, there LW in particular links up really well with the regista

I find IF even on Support to be 2 higher mentality.

 

 

Football Manager 2021 23_11_2020 20_01_40.png


Interesting. 
 

When making a replica its always a matter of:
- I literally copy it exactly the same, or
- I produce something that resembles it and also works well.

I think you did the second with the above tactics, and I respect that. Although I think that Donny van de Beek is not a Trequartista and the wingers are not pure wingers.

In addition, I have doubts about a few TIs, such as more direct passing and lower tempo. What is your idea behind this?

Do you also use specific PIs for this tactic? :)

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7 hours ago, Karlo said:


Interesting. 
 

When making a replica its always a matter of:
- I literally copy it exactly the same, or
- I produce something that resembles it and also works well.

I think you did the second with the above tactics, and I respect that. Although I think that Donny van de Beek is not a Trequartista and the wingers are not pure wingers.

In addition, I have doubts about a few TIs, such as more direct passing and lower tempo. What is your idea behind this?

Do you also use specific PIs for this tactic? :)

Yeah you always have to get the balance between a replication and what actually works on FM.

There is not a role on FM that plays like de Jong did so already its not a replication how ever you play it. So its just a case of taking as many principles as you can and applying it to the game.

Its defo the case here, what started out as a replication in FM19 has changed with engine and players if had.

I took a lot of principle from Rinus Michels and Cruyff also as it is Ajax philosophy to play total football.

Treq drops into midfield, roams and gets into box to provide goal scoring threat. So offers more than any other AM role in this set up.

Creating Space or overloads, I still get short build up play but will move players around and then make nice direct passes. 

All my total football tactics use wingers on support. There mentality for one and they will stretch play, I always make sure they have the trait cuts inside so have they have option of going wide or inside without the hardcoded movement some roles have. 

This way they will be wide but cut in and wing backs go wide, positional switching a common theme.

I need to experiment a bit this year as focus play has changed for the better so might change things slightly.

Use PIs in pic for wingers. Close down more on CF. 

Ajax Total Football tactical analysis - YouTube

This shows how its an adaptation of Rinus Michels team.

Football Manager 2021 24_11_2020 13_11_52.png

Edited by JarheadFM
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On 24/11/2020 at 17:28, JarheadFM said:

Yeah you always have to get the balance between a replication and what actually works on FM.

There is not a role on FM that plays like de Jong did so already its not a replication how ever you play it. So its just a case of taking as many principles as you can and applying it to the game.

Its defo the case here, what started out as a replication in FM19 has changed with engine and players if had.

I took a lot of principle from Rinus Michels and Cruyff also as it is Ajax philosophy to play total football.

Treq drops into midfield, roams and gets into box to provide goal scoring threat. So offers more than any other AM role in this set up.

Creating Space or overloads, I still get short build up play but will move players around and then make nice direct passes. 

All my total football tactics use wingers on support. There mentality for one and they will stretch play, I always make sure they have the trait cuts inside so have they have option of going wide or inside without the hardcoded movement some roles have. 

This way they will be wide but cut in and wing backs go wide, positional switching a common theme.

I need to experiment a bit this year as focus play has changed for the better so might change things slightly.

Use PIs in pic for wingers. Close down more on CF. 

Ajax Total Football tactical analysis - YouTube

This shows how its an adaptation of Rinus Michels team.

Football Manager 2021 24_11_2020 13_11_52.png

 

I've took your tactic and mixed it up with mine, to give this formation a chance.

image.png.d367be84269ac331e73eb9051a4a0be6.png
(still FM20)

Had a decent season, not really special

image.png.ef50a7d85e0a3c11c8cbe4162f740477.png

image.png.bae4bfe85c1217d924b2477a283bc3e2.png

image.png.3b2c491656898f85f965b9c30550dd72.png

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