I’ve made the decision to drip feed some of my older articles onto the site both to expose them to a new audience and to eventually make sure all the articles of this type I’ve ever written can be found in one place. This is the first of those older articles and one that is certainly amongst my favourites – fear not though this will not mean a slow down in the fresh content being produced. I should add that these images are from FM11 and would stress that although the game is older the theory is still more than current.

In a couple of recent articles I have mentioned just how effective adding layers to your attack in order to provide depth and angles for your players. In this article I will look in more depth at this theory showing how I mechanise my system in order to link attacking players and stretch the AI defensive system to breaking point. I will also look to highlight how important it is to maintain a defensive base both in terms of breaking up the AI’s attacking transitions and in ball retention and circulation.

One other point worth mentioning is that I will be looking to set a lone striker up as a ‘wall’ player in that he will recieve the ball to feet with his back to goal and look to feed runners from deep. This is another ‘trick’ that can be used by any FM player to bring something a little different to their tactic and unlock the tightest AI defensive setups.

The Setup

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The key to the system is the triangle between MC’s and AMC. This is the strong point around which the rest of the tactic will shift and pivot and the ball will be circulated through the two MC’s especially. In terms of purely mechanising the system as I already alluded to the striker will maintain a central position looking to attract the passes into feet before laying it off to an oncoming player or slip the ball through between defensive channels to play someone in. The wingers are set this time to ‘move into channels’ whilst the fullbacks are given complete freedom to join the attack as and when they see fit and are set to ‘hug touchline’. These two settings in combination should in practice give us an attacking line of 5 players although at slightly different depths, and that’s before you factor in the freedom of the AMC to link in on either side or burst through the line to become the focal point of the attack. The depth of our attacking line should mean that the AI is pinned back and unable to effectively transition into attack even if they were to win the ball back.

The Wall Striker

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Here you can see that Barrios has taken up the central position with his back to goal. He is effectively making himself a target for the midfield base to hit with the easy pass. As the ball is fed into the feet of Barrios a typical striker will look to spin, make space and get a shot on goal. The wall striker is slightly different though as he is comfortable in this position and when the ball is fed to him we have both the right winger and the slightly deeper AM looking to burst past the line. At this point Barrios is able to slip the ball through and make a clear cut chance.

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This image is slightly more complicated. Again we have Barrios with his back to goal looking to take the pass into feet. This time as he takes the ball in he has attracted to attention of two AI defenders and created a large hole in the defensive line. Kagawa is the player just off Barrios looking to exploit that gap. This time instead of rushing a through pass Barrios is able to lay the ball back to one of the midfielder players to open up the angle and make the easier pass into space for Kagawa.

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This is the first time you can see the fully mechanised system in action. Grosskreutz has drifted from the left flank into the channel and Schmelzer has pushed on up the wing maintaining the wide position. As this occurs the AI right back has been dragged inside creating huge space for our left back. This time to offer the option our wall player has dropped slightly deep but as he does so he attracts the AI centreback out thus breaking their defensive connection and allowing space for Kagawa to drift across into in order to recieve the easy pass.

The Wide Layers

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Now let’s look more closely at the way the advantage of setting up the wide players in order to create space for us to exploit. Again Grosskreutz has moved inside carrying the ball and dragging the opposition fullback with him. This allows Schmelzer to move into acres of space and make himself avaliable for the pass. At the same time you have the close connection with both the AM and Striker that offer options and create huge problems for the AI.

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Here we are on the opposite side of the pitch with Nuri Sahin in possession. Our right back has advanced up the line as expected and although he is marked that AI player is drawn inside to engage Sahin. Gotze moves infield emptying the wide space for the right back to burst into for the easy pass from Sahin and for him in turn to feed the striker for an easy goal. The use of space in this instance is key.

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This time we are back to the left side of the pitch as Bender has the ball. As he moves forward Grosskreutz makes his move infield again emptying the space for the left back to exploit. A simple pass from Bender followed by an accurate cross to the striker and another easy goal. So simple when it works.

The Midfield Base

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Here you can clearly see the midfield base in action as a means to maitain continous pressure on the opposition. Sahin and Bender are maintaining a connection at the edge of the attacking third and you can also see the effect of our wall striker combining with our wide player and AM to create an effective overload on the AI defence. As the ball cycles through the attacking players from the base eventually the right back is played into total space and he is able to comfortably feed the striker for another goal. Not only functional but beautiful football.

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This time our original attacking play has broken down with the ball being cleared. As Subotic wins the ball back though you can see that Sahin and Bender have maintained their connection and are ready to collect the ball back and put pressure straight back onto the opposition. By keeping this base in position you are in a far better position to win the ball back from the AI and maintain possession.

Expect another couple of articles in this style over the next week or so. I hope a couple of you are finding them interesting and perhaps even of some use to you in your own tactics.

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