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FM13, Keeping it tight

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Attack well and keep it tight

One of the biggest challenges using the tactical creator is actually having an attacking tactic that actually keeps you air tight at the back. To be perfectly honest, I have never ever set my defensive line that high. If you look at the attacking and overload tactics the defensive lines are invariably around pretty high and when you look at the closing down its almost 80% or higher on the slider. Basically you have a lot of chickens running on the pitch. When closing down is high and the defensive line is high, its pretty easy to get pulled out of position. Players will drift between your channels and find it easier to find space. Its pretty risk, and whilst I love attacking, i definitely dont like conceding as many as i score. So I basically rolled back my FM13 to my slider settings of FM 08 and guess what they make sense cos they work

Logic of a tight-ship

When top flight teams defend, you will see them defending high up on the pitch, and I totally agree with that strategy especially if your mentality is high. If you decide to take up that posture, you need to make sure there is balance in the team. Whilst your attacking players should be closing down all over the pitch, your defensive players should not. If you are the subject of balls over the top and inside forwards making it behind your fullbacks ..(note: message “XXX is getting skinned far too often), then your defensive line is a bit high. Since the tactical creator is very much still a baby as far as i am concerned, it will improve in the future; for now though there are some things you can do.

  •  2 Step Mentality

Mentality is no longer about position alone, it also affects risk/reward assessment when a player decides to run, pass, shoot, tackle or screen. If you want the extra risk with an attacking tactic but you want to maintain defensive cohesion, then have a 2 step mentality system, you can make it three if you want, but assume for now we are doing 2. Set the attacking group on attacking say 15 and set the defensive group on 11. Make sure its not more than 4 otherwise you will see gaps in midfield. If you do want to make it more than 4 than stick you MCd or DM on 11 and your defenders on 10.

What you have now done is created two groups of players, since the mentality gap isnt very large they will still move as a unit, but the defending group will be slightly more defensively inclined than the attacking group

  • Closing Down.

This part is easy. Look at your attacking group and turn them into chickens. Set their CD to max and get them to run around. If you have a really creative player in there you want to stay in an anchor positon, set his cd to low. 1-8 should be enough, as long as its own area., For your defensive group set them to close down to own area. What this will do is create a screen from the attacking group and keep the defensive group locked to their zones until a player enters their zone and then they will engage. Fullbacks tend to engage earlier cos their defensive zones are larger.

What you have now down is given players instructions on how far you want them to close down and how much. For you final piece of the puzzle, set your defensive line. This sets the “when”. There is absolutely no necessity to have a DL of 17, you can have one, but honestly whats the point? If the other team doesnt get a chance to come out of their box sometimes you need to really go exploring looking for space. What I do is set my defensive line close to normal (13). I will then proceed to observe, if i need to choke them I reduce width, if i need to reduce their space further I increase my defensive line.

Defensive Strategies

Continuing on with my theme on keeping it tight.. If someone comes up to me and says playing defensive means I need a low d-line and a defensive mentality, I’d probably just laugh. The fact that people think so one-dimensionally is the real reason why they struggle at the game.

Celtic 2-1 Barcelona

Celtic had little by way of possession against a superior technically gifted Barcelona side and still managed a famous victory. Neil Lennon played what looked like a 4411 formation, and yet while they appeared to ride out a lot of luck, this was one side who maintained an attacking threat throughout the game. The Celtic approach was basic, instead of playing a high closing down game in midfield they concentrated on keeping it tight on Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. Celtics midfield picked the right moments to assert pressure and made sure that Xavi and Iniesta’s presence was kept minimal, forcing the Barcelona fullbacks to become the main outlets, and these fullbacks were being marked tight zonally.

Essentially the strategy simple, keep the play narrow. Barcelona tend to play the ball on the ground, they don’t have a lot of tall players so Celtic kept the pressure by denying them the space they needed, conceding the wider areas to them. Celtic played them off the counter and whilst the possession stats were firmly in the Catalan’s favour, the foul count show how cynical they were. Barcelona was wary of Celtics counterattack, it was fast. Conceding setpieces turned out to be the downfall of the Spanish side.

To sit back and defend against a superior opponent isnt always possible, its like staying locked in your house while you wait for robbers to pick your lock. Why dont you get some guard dogs and turn your defense into attack. In FM13, the best defense is a good offense. But whilst you go looking for goals you will usually come face to face with sides who are superior to you in every way. The strategy to face them is simple:

  • Know if you need to go narrow or need to shut out their wingers

Some sides like Barcelona have an offensive triangle of players, they play through the middle because thats where most of their assists come from. For these kind of teams you need to go narrow and utilise OI. If a side has strength out on the flanks, then you reduce your fullbacks, keep their closing down to own half at most and set marking to tight. Let your players track them and deny them space.

Make sure you don’t concede your offense
Taking a defensive line and reducing it to your goal-line, isnt defending, its a slow death. A better strategy would be to ensure that most of the fight happens in the middle of the pitch, keep your defensive line around the middle and use tools such as shouts to play ball out of defense and work into ball and play to feet. Now if you dont use shouts it just means you go and tick those instructions on players. Essentially what you are doing is closing down in own half to own area. That way you keep the passing channels in midfield closed up as much as possible. Then you OI their creative players.

  • You need outlets to relieve pressure

Whilst the first two points should be able to see you increase interceptions, you also need players to be quick off the counter. This is where pace comes in. Your wingers need to have good first touch and pace to take the ball deep into the opponents half. One thing you can do is to set up some players to have pass to TM as an option for the break. If a counter presents itself then that hailmary pass could lead to a goal.

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About BusttheNet - Rashidi (205 Articles)
Rashidi is an mod from the SI forums who began this site as a way to collate all the information and guides he's written for Football Manager over the years.

2 Comments on FM13, Keeping it tight

  1. Hello rashidi, great to see you back. We chatted a while on FMB waaayyy back in the day, really glad you’re back. I’m following most of what you are blogging, I agree with the idea of a super system it fits the way I want to play, would you be willing to take a look at what I’ve done so far and offer some guidance ? Can do it here or over at SI

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