In keeping with the recent theme of finishing past projects off, this is another one of those articles that should hopefully complete The Art of The Brazilian 4-2-2-2 Box Formation. This article should tie up a few loose ends left over from the previous three articles about this. If you’ve still not seen the others yet, you can find them here;
If you can’t be bothered to read the previous articles then the short story is this;
That was the shape I was using and the exact roles. I didn’t (at least I don’t think I did) reveal what instructions I was using because I didn’t want people to copy something that was flawed and not finished. I will be revealing them later in this article though. The above system was then played for several games and I wrote about what issues I was facing and explaining what I might need to change. The gist of the changes needed are summed up in the third article but for those of you who aren’t bothered reading the good old stuff here are the issues I faced;
- Provide better midfield balance.
- Have a striker who stays higher up the pitch.
- Roaming, I need to disable this TI.
- The roaming could also be down to the role, as it’s set by default on the box to box midfielders.
- The complete wingback needs to have a cross aim set.Goalkeeper distribution is shocking.
- Defensive midfielder might need a defend duty.
- The regista doesn’t cover the space vacated by the complete wingback when he pushes forward.
With that said, you should now be up to speed at where I ended things currently minus a few important bits of analysis etc.
This article will now focus on what I did to improve these issues above and explain how the tactic currently works now (or how it worked at the time of writing this a few months back).
That’s the mentality and team shape. I also use two shouts;
Those two shouts are a constant. I do add others depending on how the game is going, for example, if I feel the game is getting away from me and that the opposition are having too much time on the ball, then I’ll add;
- Higher defensive line
- Close Down more
I move those to the maximum setting allowed. Obviously it’s not that black and white and the context of how the game is being played out is vital but as an example, that is what I’ll tend to use.
The roles in this current setup that I use, doesn’t change that drastically from the image at the very start of the article. However the impact that these roles now have inside the system I’ve created is huge and in a good way. So rather than my usual analysis were I focus on things that are wrong, we’ll look at what the roles do, how they link up and what they offer. This will help build the big picture in what is essentially a big jigsaw. The roles and duties on their own mean very little unless you understand how they interact with everyone else.
It’s taken quite some time over the season tweaking this and tweaking that based on how I’ve seen the roles and duties interact when watching games. When creating a tactic this is the place you should start first, finding the right roles and duties. The rest should come secondary I believe.
The Defensive Width
This was the easiest part of the tactic to get right. I simply needed the defence to function in two ways;
- When defending be solid and compact.
- When attacking the wingbacks have to provide width.
Due to the shape I’m using my only source of natural width comes from the wingbacks, it’s probably the most important part of the whole system. The attacking nature of this system is reliant on these two providing support to the front players, if not I’ll become very one-dimensional and narrow which is easy for teams to defend against. So it’s vital that the two players are doing as you expect if not you’ll tend to have a tough time and really struggle.
The shape is very versatile and can morph into many different formations depending on the phase of play. Remember than on Football Manager the overview of your tactic is your defensive shape and then the roles and duties you use change how it behaves when attacking. So it’s possible to turn your shape into a 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 4-5-1 and so on depending on the roles you’ve used. Let’s take a look at this box formation and see some of the other shapes it mimics at certain times of a game.
Straight away from the kick off you can see that the shape is already changing as the wingbacks push up and the two defensive midfielders drop deeper to offer as a passing outlet. The wingbacks are stretching play and offering width.
Seconds later in the move, Zeca receives the ball out wide as we stretch play. When he get’s the ball he now has options as to where he can run. He also has passing options in the form of the advanced playmaker, advanced forward and even the other wingback if he decided to switch play. Due to the opposition using a narrow 4-2-3-1 formation, it means play can be stretched even further as this is unmarked space that the oppositions full backs don’t seem to be covering. Their two central midfielders might attempt to come across and cover but realistically it’s an impossible task and will be far too late once they get anywhere close to the wingback.
This is still the same move just moments later. Zeca the left-sided wingback passed the ball infield to Lucas Lima who then switched play to the right hand side. I don’t want to dwell on what the midfield or attackers do too much here because we’ll be taking a look at them in a short while. For now I’m concentrating just on the wingbacks and showing how they offer width. So while the Brazilian Box formation may be narrow, we are making the full use of the pitch and creating space. A quick change of play to the opposite flank always causes issues for the opposition no matter how well organised they may be.
Here is the move in full;
That’s just one small example of what they do and offer but it should give you an idea of how important they are in the system. I’m not over selling them when I say they’re the most important aspect. Even if they don’t cross the ball you still need the width to stretch play so they can then pass the ball infield.
The Defensive Midfielder and Regista
The two roles here differ drastically from each other and both offer me very different things. The defensive midfielder is the player who keeps it simple. He doesn’t over play the ball, he isn’t that venturous. In fact it would be hard to spot what he does when you watch a game because he does all the little things that teams take for granted. There is a certain under appreciation to what he actually does because it’s all basic stuff that you’d expect him to do. That’s fine though because that’s what I need, this then allows the others players around him to be more extravagant if they wish. The defensive midfielder is the backbone of the midfield and without him the roles in front of him wouldn’t work as well. I didn’t bother showing any examples or grabbing any screenshots because it wouldn’t really show anything. When we attack, a lot of times he drops back in line with the two centre backs to form a back three though and I have a screenshot to highlight this;
The benefit of this is that when the wingbacks push on, I don’t get exposed at the back by quick attacks as most sides use two or three attackers at the very least. So by almost having three centre backs it keeps me solid and allows the wingbacks to push on. While it’s nothing ‘special’ that he does it’s one of the little things that makes the side tick the way it does and allows the system to play in an attacking manner without giving up too much at the back.
The Regista gives me a different option, he is actively seeking the ball and linking the defence to the more advanced players from central areas. He’s also more creative with his passing compared to the defensive midfielder. It’s not unusual for him to try a longer range of passing or even through balls during a match. And while he might be in the defensive midfield strata it’s not unusual for him to clock up the key passes throughout a game. Normally Thiago Maia is my Regista but in this game I used Alison because I wanted more bite defensively from the Regista.
In general though the Regista is the main playmaker in the side and the one player who keeps everything ticking over.
When he gets the ball he generally tends to have a lot of space and time like in this example. This means he can pass sideways, backwards or turn while on the ball and be more proactive in his passing. It’s not unusual to see him hitting the ball into the channels for the advanced forward to run into and work, which he does in this instance.
If like above he plays it down into the channels this opens the whole of the midfield up and allows me to have late runners into the box unmarked. This creates short-term chaos because who picks up late runners to mark? Normally no-one because the opposition are already retreating into their defensive positions or even deeper. The most important aspect of a good system for me is options, movement and space. Without these things you’ll struggle to break sides down eventually. That’s why I try to incorporate these things naturally into the system because it’s what separates an okay tactic from a very good one.
In the above screenshot both strikers are the decoys forcing the opposition back which opens up the space for the advanced playmaker and central midfielder to run into. Then all I need is the striker to cut the ball back across the box and I should create a chance and possible score from it. I score so many goals in this fashion throughout a full season. And it all starts with the Regista……..
The Advanced Playmaker and the Central Midfielder
These two players are often the late runners we touched upon above. That’s not all they do though but that is one of the main aspects of their game. My two central players here, chip in with a few goals from time to time. In fact the advanced playmaker scored 17 goals in 48 games which isn’t a bad return for a midfielder.
I didn’t really have a settled central midfielder though and used four different people in that position over the season. However between them they got 11 goals between them over 50 games. It was more about me just using players to fill the role until I find someone suitable to hold the position down as their own.
One of the main differences between the advanced playmaker and the central midfielder is their positions when attacking. While both do run from deep, the central midfielder is slightly deeper out of the pair which gives me a staggered midfield. This is a good thing as it means I have players attacking from different angles and arriving in and around the box at different times. Although at times the central midfielder can be one of the highest people up the pitch. My midfield is quite unpredictable and versatile.
Due to the advanced playmaker (Lucas Lima) having the player preferred move of tries killer balls often it impacts his passing accuracy at times but it’s also a good thing. He can hit the channels like in this screenshot and put the opposition on the back foot or he can see other options that haven’t happened yet just to him being very forward thinking. I love this PPM on players in the attacking third, it automatically creates space and opens up the game. It can be annoying if it fails though but I’m a firm believer of risk vs reward. I speak more about this in the articles I posted last year called Enganche vs Enganche which you can find on the blog.
In this screenshot we can also see what I was on about with the central midfielder taking up very advanced positions and almost playing as the second striker. Him and the deep-lying forward have basically swapped roles for this move which makes it hard for players to be marked because they’re always interchanging positions.
Once Lucas Lima passed the ball he then bursts a gut trying to support the attack and catch back up with play. Again this is good stuff because it gives me another passing options and supports the player if he isn’t able to get a cross off. If you look at the image above, if Lima doesn’t support play then the wingback has no option but to cross the ball and this could be wasteful. Instead by having someone keep up with the person on the ball it opens up more options and gives the player on the ball other things to consider. Which hopefully means you are less wasteful and keep the ball moving about and allows for you to probe and build from the middle again if he gets picked out. It’s all about support and options 🙂
The Two Strikers
These are here to simply score the goals and finish off chances that others create. That’s not to say they don’t create for themselves because they do, but with the players behind them they get gifted chance after chance whether it be from crosses like at the start of the article or from being picked out by the Regista or advanced playmaker. Over the season I used 3 strikers and they scored a combined 103 goals between them. It seems simple but in this set up it is, just finish the chances you get. These are the two players who make what the rest of the team do actually mean something.
Here we don’t have the ball but it’s still important to show you how high they stay initially because it gives me options for what happens next. The deep-lying forward does normally drop much deeper at times but that’s normally when play is actively around the areas he’s in and not the other side of the pitch. By having one attack minded striker it means he stays high up the pitch and occupies the opposition’s defender. So if we do get the ball back we can immediately be direct and look to get in behind them. I don’t care for possession or anything in this system, I just want to score goals and win while being solid.
This is seconds later and you can see how we’ve sprung into action and how the advanced forward is positioned ready to swivel and run in behind the defender.
This is the end of the move and you can see that the deep-lying forward is just about to run into the box and slot the ball home. A lot of people like to have strikers who drop deep and focus too much on link up play but here I focus on one staying high up the pitch to give me these exact type of scenarios. Having someone high up the pitch who is attack minded gives you a direct outlet, which can give you a great advantage at times. I know I use two strikers here so can afford to have both. However if I was using a lone striker formation I tend to follow this logic and it serves me well;
I tend to prefer support strikers against teams who defend deep because the space isn’t there to push up. So you have to drop off the front to find or create the space. Against sides who push up I do the reverse and use an attacking role/duty because they space you have to play in is in behind the back of them.
My strikers do give me other dimensions as well that I’ve not mentioned but the article is starting to drag on now and becoming close to 3k words which is overkill. I’ve explained how the system works generally now anyway so hopefully this ties up and loose ends that were left from the previous few articles.
I might be tempted to upload the save game towards the end of the week when I get access to it again (I left it in Sheffield) if people are interested. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series 🙂