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The Art of Attacking Football – The System

For this project I wanted to create a new formation that I’d not written about yet this year and there were two choices. Both of them were loosely based on the club I had chosen, the second best club side of 2011 without a doubt, behind Barcelona. Both choices were similar to how they played during the 2011 season depending on your interpretation. I also liked the idea of using a back three or a back five.

The options were;

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A 3-4-1-2 is what I used a lot in FM15 but never actually wrote about it, so this was an option. The second option was;

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I couldn’t make my mind up which to use so I did a Twitter poll for twenty four hours. After almost 300 votes it finished with equal votes for both. But judging by the comments I was getting on Twitter, it seemed people wanted to read either about both (which was never an option as I don’t have the time) or about option two. So option two it is.

The Team

Have you managed to guess what club I selected for this project?

Club Universidad de Chile

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On December 14, 2011 they defeated Liga De Quito from Ecuador 3–0 (4–0 on aggregate) to win the Copa Sudamericana, becoming the third Chilean team to win a South American tournament, behind Colo-Colo’s 1991 Copa Libertadores and Universidad Catolica’s 1994 Copa Interamericana. In the tournament, the club had an excellent performance (undefeated, and winning all their matches in Chile), and was nicknamed the “South America’s FC Barcelona”

During the season Jorge Sampaoli used many different shapes as you can find out from Joel Sked’s blog https://chileanfootball.wordpress.com/ ;

Joel has lots of in depth fascinating articles about all Chilean football and updates regular. I suggest people spend a bit of time looking around on this wonderful blog.

I could have quite easily decided to use several shapes that was used during the season but as you all know, I tend to prefer just one formation rather than changing. Using one formation will also show people you don’t always have to make changes to the way you play as a lot of people suggest you have to make endless changes or change shape regularly. Which just isn’t true.

Team Instructions

Before I start showing you all how I’m playing, I recommend you all to go and read this by Rashidi;

http://www.addictedtofm.com/shape-mentality-and-the-theory-of-relativity/
As it will answer a lot of questions that you might get from this series. I could repeat what he’s already wrote but that would be pointless 🙂

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The mentality is straightforward. after all, what would an attacking arts article be if I didn’t use an attacking mentality eh?!

For the team shape I’ve used, I’ve over simplified things here and I think this quote from Rashidi’s excellent post above explains it best;

Basically Shape affects the depth of a team. How far each player is from each other and how each player’s roles in turn affect them. A structured shape will typically create more lateral gaps, whereas a fluid one will reduce those. In other words, a structured shape is more disciplined. Each broad role focuses on their jobs, but Shape, affects transitions. This in turn has a knock on effect on systems.

So I’ve gone for something bang in the middle so my side has no preference one way or the other.

The team instructions I use will likely change from time to time but for now, those are what I use. I play out of defence as I don’t want to be wasteful and want to build from the back. Using a system that uses defensive midfielders naturally sees the defensive line drop deeper than systems without a defensive midfielder. In this case, this is why I’ve decided to push even higher up to negate that effect. Plus I want to create a super aggressive system. This also explains why I close down much more. It’s hard to be aggressive and assertive if you don’t close down heavily, so this shout goes hand in hand with super aggressive systems. At least in my opinion anyway.

Player Roles

The roles I have selected for now could change at some point but first I want to explain why I’ve chosen what I have to give you a better understanding.

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Goalkeeper – Just a standard keeper for now but depending on what I see happening in matches I might be inclined to make him a sweeper keeper. He would fit better with an aggressive style but for now a standard keeper is more than adequate.

Defenders – The central defender is deeper than the rest hence why he is set to a cover duty. I think this will provide me balance at the back and allow him to the one who sweeps up and mistakes or balls the other two stoppers can’t win.

Wingbacks – Both these wingbacks are to provide width, this is why both of them have individual instructions to stay out wide. This should allow them to always stay wider when in attacking situations and should provide some excellent link up play with the wide players, who are both set to drift inside.

Regista –  He should offer me the creative drive forward than I need which will allow for a nice steady build from deep situations at the back. He can be the one driving forward with the ball at his feet while everyone around him is running or creating movement.

Box to box midfielder – Every side needs runners from deep and he is this player in this set up. He will also provide support for the players cutting inside or be a decoy and give the opposition and headache on whether they should move to pick him up or not. It’s hard to mark players who move.

Inside Forward – His job is to provide support to the striker. He is doing it from a deeper area though that’s why he is on a support duty. I want to be aggressive but I also want variety and to attack space and the opposition from different areas of the pitch.

Raumdeuter – A very unappreciative role amongst many FM’ers. I wanted to show they can be hardworking and a great role to use. I expect lots of goals and assists in this kind of set up.

Deep Lying Forward – Because I have two wide players who like to come inside then it makes sense to have someone dropping deeper to create space and drag the centre backs with him. This will create space for the wide players to then run into and hopefully exploit.

In the first article I listed five basic things that you need to create attacking football. Those were;

  • Penetration
  • Support
  • Mobility
  • Creativity
  • Width

Do I have these things in the above tactic? I believe I do, at least on paper and in theory. We will need to see the tactic played out in a proper match to be sure though. But in general I see it like this;

The penetration will come from the front three and the box to box midfielder. I have enough variety in attacks to create and break through sides. The opposition should have a hard time staying compact when I’m hitting them from all different kind of angles and players running from various different areas of the pitch.

I have lots of support too. I’m not talking about duties, I mean in terms of what a player will actually do. I have attacking wingbacks who will provide the width for the players cutting inside. This will mean the wide players will not only have players in support centrally but outside too. This improves their options available to them and makes play less predictable. Not only this but I have  late runners from midfield in the Regista and Box to box midfielder. They should both provide a deeper threat and allow us to impose ourselves in deeper areas. Then up front we have the striker who is supporting the wider players and the wide players are supporting him. So we have lots of options.

Mobility is also covered by the above.

Creativity can come in many different forms and doesn’t have to mean what a player does with the ball. Some types of movement can be creative as can little partnerships or small groups of players working in tandem. I believe I have lots of this just based on the roles selected above and how they all link together.

The width comes natural from the shape I use but the wide players are cutting inside. This is why I asked the wingbacks to stay wide to provide the width and allow me to use the full extent of the pitch during a game. Rather than finding out I am too narrow at times.

So in theory we have all the elements needed. Putting it all into practise can be a different thing entirely though no matter how sound something seems on paper. Players preferred moves, their attributes and personality types can all impact how they play out their roles. This is why it’s almost pointless saying ‘this is fine on paper’ or asking for tips for something you’ve not actually tried yet. Which is why in the next article we will focus on if the tactic is giving me the five important factors I think it does, above.

10 thoughts on “The Art of Attacking Football – The System”

  1. One question – do you give Regista any PIs or do you want/expect him to be stationary esp bearing in mind that his “partner” is so mobile?

  2. Does pushing the defensive line up rob you of space at all, or is it the case that the TI only kicks in once you’ve lost the ball?

    I know you’ve written on several occasions about creating space by having runners come from deeper positions so I’m surprised that you would (to my eyes) be pushing your whole team closer to the opponent’s goal…

    1. I spoke about this in the article. When you use DMC’s the defensive line naturally drops deeper than it would if you use MC players. It automatically drops considerably deeper. I’m not really reducing space at all, except for in my own half making the DC/MC positions closer.

      1. Ah, OK. I didn’t realise the presence of a DM had that much impact on the defensive line – I thought it would only be a marginal difference.

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