The first in what will be many of my tactical reviews has been provided by Foxo from The Away Stand Forum. For those that are unfamiliar with how these work I will use the same team and same set of fixtures for each review in order to give a fair representation of each tactic. The tactic will be used over 5 competitive matches of varying difficulty both home and away before I analyse the games to pick out positives and negatives as well as giving a statistical breakdown of the sample. I hope you enjoy and as ever feedback is welcome.

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Information

Creator: Foxo

Style: Tactics Creator

System: Asymmetric 4-2-2-2

Site: The Away Stand

Results

Fiorentina 1 – 0 Chievo

Palermo 1 – 0 Fiorentina

Fiorentina 3 – 1 Lecce

Roma 1 – 0 Fiorentina

Fiorentina 0 – 2 Milan

Statistics

Streak: WLWLL

Win%: 40%

Draw%: 0%

Loss%: 60%

Average Possession For: 42%

Average Possession Against: 58%

Average Shots at Goal: 10.8

Average Shots on Target: 4.2

Average Clear Cut Chances: 1.4

Positives

Excellent Interplay Between Four Attacking Players 

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As you can clearly see in the above screenshot we have all four attacking players operating within close proximity. This offers excellent opportunities in terms of connections as the players are able to cycle the ball rapidly and accurately pulling the AI defence out of position and creating goalscoring opportunities. In this example three of the four players have space into which they can move stretching the AI and opening gaps in the defensive marking scheme. Foxo has deliberately set the system up asymmetrically in order to create an overbalance on the right side of the field and this is where most of out attacking play can be seen.

Movement Opens Huge Gaps in AI Defence

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A while back I wrote a ‘Mechanising the Play’ piece on creating gaps in the opposition defence by encouraging attacking players to utilise clever lateral movement. This is something that Foxo has achieved with this tactic to great effect. Once again I have used an ingame screenshot to illustrate my point perfectly. Both our right back and right advanced winger have taken position high up the field effectively occupying the attention of two AI players. As Gilardino receives the ball he seems to be about to head infield carrying possession. This causes the left centreback who is obviously concerned with Gilardino in a man marking role to move to cover the run. As you can clearly see the space between the left back and left centreback is stretched to the point of breaking meaning there is no effective cover. Our attacking midfielder is then able to move freely into the gap for an easy goalscoring opportunity.

Asymmetrical System Causes AI Defensive Issues

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Here is the attacking play in the initial phase. As you can see our right centre forward and right attacking winger have a strong connection but this has also caused the AI to move their left centreback to pressure the centre forward in possession of the ball. In an instant this weakens the defensive line of the AI and gives us an opportunity to exploit.

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Now the play develops and as you can see the defensive sides right centreback has moved across to cover his colleague leaving a large gap between the defensive connections. Our attacking midfielder is able to sprint forward to receive the ball from Cerci on the right wing and again create an easy goal scoring opportunity. This is a movement that we can see on a regular basis from this tactic and is one that Foxo should be complimented on for managing to implement into the tactic.

Negatives

The Left Back Can be Left Horribly Exposed

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This is by far my biggest issue with the tactic and as such is one that I have chosen to provide a few examples. Before I get started though it should be said that this is simply the price that you pay for using a tactic that is overbalanced in an attacking sense towards the right side. Here you can see our left back Pasqual is about to challenge Lecce player Tomovic for the ball. He should be covered either by the left defensive midfielder (who is occupied by an advancing opponent) or the left centreback (who is horribly out of position) as Pasqual loses the ball he is exposed to the point that the Lecce player is able to run in on goal relatively unchallenged.

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Once again here you can see the left back in trouble. As Taddei receives the ball on the right wing for Roma he makes an inside movement. The left back should be able to pass Taddei on to the left defensive midfielder but he is too occupied by the threat of Gago and as such has to follow the run inside. This empties the space for the Roma fullback to exploit giving them an overload on that side.

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This time against Milan Cassano has taken possession and dropped into a slightly deeper position. Once again the left back has no support and is forced to follow to maintain pressure on the man in possession. A simple pass to the right back Abate and he has a clear run towards the penalty area. The left centreback is in a tenuous covering position but if he challenges the run there is a risk of an overload in the centre for Milan.

Defensive Line Can Sit Too Deep

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When under pressure the defence displays a tendency to drop too deep allowing the opposition midfield to gain possession in advanced areas to either circulate the ball creating overloads and chances or simply to have a free shot at goal from range. Here you can see that as Flamini moves across the field the defence is slow to pressure him from their deep starting position and he is able to shoot into the bottom corner for a Milan goal.

Defence Can be Dragged Over

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Now we see a further issue with the left back being too exposed. Naturally the defensive line will attempt to find some way to compensate for the weakness by shifting over. Here you can see the left back has found himself in a central position following his man whilst the other three defensive players have moved across from their natural positions. As Flamini recieves the ball in space he has an immediate passing option in Robinho who is able to take advantage of the large space left open down the right channel as out right back has moved infield. These spaces are such that they will be exposed continually by the better teams.

Conclusion

First of all Foxo should be lauded for attempting to do something different. His use of an asymmetric system has displayed an understanding of the attacking principle of overloading the play on one side of the pitch. The unfortunate side effect is that the left side can be hugely exposed defensively. I would be tempted to alter the settings of both the left centre back and the left defensive midfielder in order to provide more support and cover for the left back. In an attacking sense there is little fundamentally that I would look to change as there is a real base here that you can build on. Finally I would like to personally thank Foxo for allowing me to use his tactic as the first to be reviewed for the blog and for making it one that was far more interesting than the bog standard symmetric norm.

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