There are quite a few options I could use when facing stubborn sides who sit deep and are hard to break down. I could be relentless and do attack after attack in the hope that sooner or later I force them into a mistake and that they buckle under the constant pressure. This approach tends to have more shots but less accuracy because the higher you play and the more aggressive you are then the more cramped the final third becomes.
Another option would be to try and force them up the pitch more by going counter attacking and hope they had to push on more. You’d be surprised how many times this can actually work due to the opposition becoming more adventurous. The down side is they will still probably be solid at the back and set up well, normally narrow too. So it can still be tricky.
Or you can take the approach I’ve just used against Port Vale;
Port Vale lined up with a bog standard 4-4-2 so I knew I’d find space behind their midfield and with the half back I had the numbers advantage in the middle. So what I decided to do was switch from the attacking strategy to a control one so I wasn’t positioned too high and removed the push higher and faster tempo shouts so I could actually play at a slower pace. This meant that I’d be deeper than normal which in turn gives me more space to work with. Space and movement is the key for beating any side who sits deep and is happy to defend against you. For a bit of extra security I also used the retain possession shout and the exploit the middle one too. This was so I could impose myself on the game from a central position and force Port Vale’s midfield duo to mark my players which shouldn’t be an issue because the half back should be more like a central midfielder in this game so I’d always have a free man in the centre.
This automatically creates space without me doing anything because Vale’s midfield either drop off and sit deep to protect their defence and stop runners from my midfield. Which would mean my central duo would be more like AMC’s and would be in great positions to feed the wide men the ball, especially on my right side were the wide midfield cuts inside and supports, this would create an overlap on the inside.
Or they push up and try and hassle my midfield pairing which creates space behind them for the free midfielder or wide midfielder to run into. It could go either way and I’ll have to see how it goes during the game itself.
You can see once the game starts how deep I am compared to normal. The yellow line is roughly where we normally take up position. You can see already that my two central midfielders have space which means they can dictate the game and hopefully influence it more.
This screenshot shows Port Vale have 8 men back in this move. It also highlights my central three and the triangle they create giving whichever one of them on the ball a passing option. It might look like I don’t have any options but I actually do because any kind of long/direct/through ball now would split Port Vale open and put them on the back foot. It would be hard to defend against too because it would catch them out and make the defenders flat footed because they are still atm and 2 of my players are actually in movement. So I’d say this gives me the advantage and edge if the ball does reach one of the highlighted options.
The players actually took none of those options though and saw something which I didn’t which resulted in this goal;
That’s the deep lying playmaker, advanced playmaker and the half back all combining and doing exactly what I wanted them to do. I actually think this goal highlights how important it was for the player to have space to run into and make movement from deep. If I was more attack minded for this game then the space he ran into before the pass for the striker would have been congested and wouldn’t have existed.
The first real time Vale committed men forward moments after the goal above, this happened;
Do you see why I always bang on about space and movement? It’s so vital and important for winning games that the strikers have support, especially if you use a lone striker. Its a quick counter attacking move but it exposed their MC’s when they pushed on too far. It just allows me to dictate through the centre.
The third goal I scored came from a corner.
I’m not set up to create lots of chances but instead the tactic relies on creating quality good chances. You’ll get more of an idea when I post more about this at a later date.
The game played out as you’d expect, I had lots of possession, a few good chances and restricted them to just blocked shots.
The individual players actually had lots of passes between themselves;
And the heat maps looked like this;
I know some of you might be disappointed by this post and was expecting more maybe, but this is all the changes I did. I believe I play the game in a very simplistic way and don’t make drastic changes. My threads always seem more detailed than the way I actually play the game because I’m trying to translate how I play across. But I play at a very high speed and I truly believe that less is more when it comes to minor tweaks based on what is happening on the pitch.
The changes I made for this game took about 10 seconds to do and I just thought about it logically and looked at were I could do the damage from and how I can take advantage of that. Hopefully it comes across okay and you can see and understand why I did the changes, I’ve tried to explain it the best I can but it doesn’t always come across right when trying to write down the way you think