The Five 10’s – The Defensive Side

So far I’ve only concentrated on the attacking side of the tactic as that for me is the most important factor of the Brazilian’s 1970’s playing style. But I think I’ve nailed that side of it now which I’ll be talking about in a future update so thought I’d talk you through the defensive side of things to see how it actually works. In fact it’ll also be useful for me as I’ve not changed anything or paid much attention to it at all so I’m not quite sure how it works either. When watching games I see they do what I want to an extent but I’ve not looked at it in depth its just been a passing glance really so this article will help me as well, I’ll be learning as I go along.

If I spot any issues I’ll list the possible solutions but you have to remember I’m trying to create something specific here so I can’t always make the change that I will mention as then I’ll stray away from replicating Brazil 1970’s tactic to something else which isn’t what I want to do. But at the same time I do want this to work so it’ll be a fine balance between how strictly I stay to original idea and how functional it really is. However I’ll talk about any possible changes and if I do make them I’ll update you about them in a future update. So let’s dive straight into the analysis.

This is taken straight from the kick off;


The advanced playmaker is tucked into the middle like I was wanting. I’m a bit worried that the ball winning midfielder and deep lying playmaker haven’t picked up the two opposition players though.


The above screenshot is similar to the first one but this one is more problematic as it highlights a couple of issues here;

  • The two opposition strikers are unmarked.
  • The ball winning midfielder was caught out of position.
  • The DLP is too advanced he should be dropping back further.

The two strikers not being picked up shows the downside of playing with a flat midfield with no defensive midfielder. Any striker or attacking midfielder who drops off will have lots of space to play in. This isn’t helped by the fact my ball winning midfielder was actually caught out of position. When the move first happened he was positioned on the A and by time he got to where he should be somewhere around the B the move has passed him by and he can never recover and get deeper in time. I highlighted that the ball winning midfielder might be an issue due to his aggressive nature of closing down very high at the very start of this project. The deep lying playmaker being on support means he plays higher up and gets involved inside the oppositions half which is good when attacking but can be problematic when you lose the ball. Ideally he should be dropping back into the space where the central oppositions striker is positioned. If he’d be placed further back and the ball winning midfielder was in position then I’d be defensively sound. Based on this screenshot though I think this could become a major issue.

I have enough numbers back to deal with the situation but that’s not the point. The point is against better opposition this could get punished. I like my team to play as a unit and to stop incidents happening before they happen (or at least reduce the chance of it happening). The season will run a lot smoother if I try to identify problematic areas, it helps me understand the tactic and how it works which in turn should make it easier to decide how to deal with the issues.

Possible solutions for this could be two simple changes;

  • Change the deep lying playmaker from a support duty to a defensive one.
  • Change the ball winning midfielder to a central midfielder on a defend duty

I won’t panic and make drastic changes until I’ve seen more examples from a wider spread of games and formations. It’s something I need to keep an eye on though. It’s also worth noting that if I do make the changes above this will have a knock on effect for the way I attack and could take something away from that. So any changes have to be carefully considered and then I’d have to spend a bit of time seeing how the dynamics have changed for the team.


What the hell are my players doing here? It’s so crowded and they are all bunched up in the circled area. I’ve watched the clip back about fifteen times and my players were breaking forward but I gave the ball away needless by someone having bad first touch. So this highlights the issues I can have with quick counters or quick long direct balls, they can bypass five of my players instantly. The oppositions player on this near side does exactly that as he plays the ball into the striker.


This is the next stage of the move, luckily the move doesn’t come to nothing on this occasion but against better opposition or if this side committed a couple of men forward I’d be in real trouble. I’m not sure how I’d remedy this as nothing was actually wrong as I was breaking quickly at the start of the move but because I lost the ball and was turned over quickly it meant I had players out of position and this caused them all to be huddled up due to how I was breaking forward initially.


There doesn’t look much wrong with this image, my defence are well positioned, the opposition don’t really look a threat as I have the numbers advantage. However my deep lying playmaker (Arouca) mis hits the ball and hands it straight to the opposition.


So when the ball is given away this causes me a number of issues;

  • The ball winning midfielder seems to do nothing and stands and watches the move.
  • When the ball is played to the opposition player via the jagged line he has space and time.
  • This means the centre back pushes up to deal with the threat

The ball winning midfielder could have dealt with this by tracking the runner but he didn’t and this proved costly. Because he didn’t deal with the threat or track the player then what happens is the oppositions player receives the ball and instantly my centre back steps up to deal with the threat but in doing so leaves the third player who runs past and slides it home to make me go one nil down.

Possible solution;

  • The ball winning midfielder really does seem to be troublesome at times so the role change mentioned above earlier will hopefully sort all of this out.

I can’t stop the defender stepping up directly as its only natural he’d do that. I can ensure the players around them are doing their job though and not allowing the opposition to have an easy ride. If someone fails at doing their basic job then it has implications elsewhere as someone else has to deal with it eventually, its like a domino effect.


This is from another game but I was being attacked centrally and then play switched out wide and my defence decided to push up. The issue here is the full back nearest to the player with the ball, he is far too narrow. Now he came narrow due to the move before but on a few occasions I’ve seen him do similar things. I need to keep an eye on it, However possible solutions are;

  • Ask him to close down less in the hope he doesn’t come as central tracking play.
  • I could make him positioned slightly higher so he’s better placed to deal with threats from wide by giving him an attacking duty.

All the above issues are what I’m seeing a lot of as well as lots of set piece goals especially from corners. But I’ve not even began to look into those issues yet as I wanted to get the attack side of things works first. Now that’s happened it’s time to look at sorting some of the above issues out while sticking to the main principles of what I was looking to originally create, I don’t want to stray too far away from that or compromise too much.

I’ll make a few changes for the next game and try them out before reporting my findings and hopefully in the next update I can let you know how they worked out and if it added anything to the defensive part of the game or if it took something away from the attacking nature.


6 thoughts on “The Five 10’s – The Defensive Side”

  1. Great article again. Really enjoy reading your work. As someone who is new to the game can you help me? I would like to know when I start a game am I better to be a top team or a small team. The reason I ask is with a top team you have a great squad and money but you have expectations to do well where as with a small team you maybe have smaller expectations given you more time to implement your style but the downside would be not so good players and smaller budgets. I just cant seem to get consistent then my players lose faith and its uphill from there.

    1. Big sides are good to see what high attributes in players do etc. But for a tactical learning curve then someone in between a top team and a weak one is ideal because you’ll not be expected to win all the time and they should handle losses quite well.

      1. Ok thanks. It’s the tactical side that I need work on. Your articles have helped a lot but I still struggle to see things during a game, I guess that will come with experience.
        Also what do you use for your screenshots to get all the arrows and lines on them?

  2. Awesome as ever mate. The full back issue is still killing me, great going forward but almost all my goals against come from that area. Still haven’t found a way of defending it better without affecting my attacking style.

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