Basically its about finding that perfect equilibrium between attacking threat and defensive solidity. If your defensive line is too high you leave your backline easily exposed to long balls down the flank, if its too deep your attackers get isolated because too much effort is spent defending. To achieve tactical zen, you need to find that sweet spot where your attacking group is close enough to help you defend, and they do this by being close enough to pick up balls from defenses to launch attacks. This way instead of having one sole lonely fullback running up in support you have a pack of at least 4 who can do something with the ball.
When you find Tactical Zen, you will also discover with the right players your flanks are secure. The caveat remains though, you need the right players. You have a fullback with 16 pace vs a winger with 12 pace but he has +4 acceleration on your fullback. That winger will skin your fullback. All the tactical advice people provide is useless if you choose the wrong player, so please spend twice as much time understanding what kind of player you need for the role you want him to play.
So once you know you have your right players then its time to look for tactical zen in your game. How do people do this? You can’t do this watching the 3D screen, for one thing this can only be done via the 2D screen. Essentially you are looking to make sure that on your analysis tab, your backline is covering the AIs attack force and your attacking group is a few yards behind the AIs defensive line. This is what I call tactical zen. Within these two heatspots, player ability comes to play. Your tactical settings comes to play, and basically you have done all the right things to exploit.
To illustrate I had a game against Colchester, a side we were meant to lose against. We were severe underdogs, I typically start on Control/Fluid, with my own passing settings. I prefer to attack out of the gate and i have fast players and as it turned out we scored in the 1st minute. Being an underdog, I had the shouts, pass to feet, exploit middle and play narrow up. Once we scored the goal I popped up the heat signature and noticed that a few minutes later the AI had pushed up. So I dropped deeper and went early cross. The heat signature basically didnt change much for the whole game..so thats how we sat.
Now if you look at Colchester’s heat map you should notice something if you dont let me point you to the zone where my MCs are standing now look where they are in relation to the AIs MCs, we are literally next to each other, which is what I wanted. I aimed to literally zone in on the same spot so that I force the AI to make perfect passes. Furthermore my midfield comes with a supporting DM which should create more havoc as I can push 4 through the middle to take advantage on the dangerous zone that is the gap between the midfield and DCs. And it is this gap that we exploited for our second goal.. because of how densely I’ve packed midfield, I’ve guaranteed myself loads of chances from throughballs. That throughball coming from my playmaker that goes to my DLP who actually ran in to score. It was a simple goal.
When you match heat maps correctly you should also be able to do this: Your defenders should either be able to block the cross from happening or intercept the cross, simply because your fullbacks arent chasing down wingers or your DCs arent chasing to cover a zone from a cross. Its infinitely more efficient, and its the one reason why I say crosses arent broken in the game. People are broken, they just dont know how to set their tactics up rite.