First of all apologies for the relative lack of articles of late. It’s been an extremely busy month but as we are coming into May soon my productivity should increase – I hope!

The System

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A relatively straightforward 4-3-3 system that at first glance seems to offer balance in both attack and defence. When I started to analyse the matches played though it became apparent that the tactic is a little too attacking leading to defensive frailties.


Creator: DeanoWHUFC

Style: Tactics Creator

System: Balanced 4-3-3

Site: FM View


Fiorentina 2 – 2 Chievo

Palermo 1 – 1 Fiorentina

Fiorentina 2 – 1 Lecce

Roma 3 – 1 Fiorentina

Fiorentina 1 – 1 AC Milan


Streak: DDWLD

Win%: 20

Draw%: 60

Loss%: 20

Average Shots on Goal: 11.2

Average Shots on Target:  5

Average Clear Cut Chances: 2

Average Possession For:  48.4%

Average Possession Against: 51.6%


The Striker Stretches the Length of the Pitch 

One of the most important aspects of creating any tactic is ensuring that you aren’t setting up to play in a one dimensional style. If the AI can effectively nullify your entire system simply by either pushing up or dropping back their defensive line then you have a real issue. What Deano has done to great effect here is to balance out his attacking play so that the striker is multi faceted both comfortable in taking the ball into his feet but also being capable of darting in behind the defence.

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Here we can see that with arguably our most creative player on the ball in Jovetic the play is developing in a manner which causes the AI two very distinct problems. First of all Jovetic is being supported from deep by three runners all of which are coming at different angles and therefore need to be dealt with in a different manner. This is drawing the defence further up the pitch but the lone striker is able to make an angled run into the space vacated by a defender for a simple through ball to find. Options always make a tactic more successful.

Midfield is Very Effective in Offering Support

When you are playing a 4-3-3 with the two wide attackers dropped into the attacking midfield zone then it is extremely important that you are able to effectively support the lone striker. The wingers have to be in a position to provide adequate support whilst at the same time central options have to be provided by both midfield runners and deeper options.

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Here you can see the case in point. As Gilardino is shielding the ball with his back to goal he has drawn both central defenders to him on order to cut the angle he has to work with. The deeper midfielder offers a passing connection and is the ball is cycled back to him more defenders are drawn out to pressure his position. A quick straight pass to an oncoming midfield runner who is able to pass through the broken defensive line is all that is needed to create a simple clear cut goalscoring opportunity.

Attack and Midfield Work Together to Pin AI Back

Whilst the original positions on the tactics screen have the attacking wide players withdrawn in effect as the play progresses they both tend to hold a much higher position. This combined with the effective support across the width of the pitch from the midfield three make it very difficult for the AI to break out from a sustained period of pressure.

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Here you can see the three attacking players are holding high positions against the AI. This means that our midfield are relatively free to operate in more advanced positions and to pick their passes more carefully. Eventually one of the defenders takes the bait and moves out to close Romulo down leaving him free to slip the ball to the now unmarked winger who is able to move in on goal. The space created by patience should really never be underestimated.


The Defence has a Tendency to Sit too Deep

At the beginning of this review I mentioned that there was a balance to Deano’s system that should lead to it being strong in all areas. As the review progressed I quickly saw that while there are real and impressive positives in an attacking sense most of the negative points are in the defensive phase.

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Here you can see that we are playing against Roma – not a team with a lot of pace – and our defensive line has narrowed as is good defensive practice but they are also sitting behind the 18 yard line. We have to midfielders sitting in front only one of which is applying any real pressure and when the ball is moved minimally to the side Francesco Totti is free to smash the ball into the top corner.

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This time against Chievo we are in the second phase of play and instead of squeezing the AI up the pitch the defence and midfield are perfectly happy to sit in deep and invite pressure. As you can see the solid centre of the defence should mean that any crossed balls are easily dealt with and indeed one is here. There is however no effective presence of pressure on the ball as it drops and two Chievo midfielders are free to stroll on to the ball to either shoot or work another passing angle.

The Midfield Attacks but Leaves the Defence Exposed

In the positives section I mentioned that the midfield was excellent in joining with the attack to provide depth and options. That of course should not be the only function of the midfield section of any team. They should be able to knit the entire structure together both supporting the defence and the attack. Too often though the midfield advance too far and leave the defence exposed.

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Here you can see the AI (Milan) working a quick break from deep in their own half. Robinho and Zlatan are both intelligent in their movement and therefore retain a close connection putting the left side of our defence under extreme pressure. It’s here that you would expect the midfield to offer a degree of support. Instead Natali is totally exposed and Robinho takes the ball and spins in behind. Zlatan’s movement inside then causes the remaining central defender to be overloaded and Milan score an easy goal.

What Would I Change?

In keeping with the last review I’ll offer a couple of suggestions but I really have to stress that these suggestions are simply my opinion.

The midfield and defence need to be more connected. Given the effectiveness of the front three in forcing the AI deep I would take the defence up using the defensive line and individual mentalities until they are in position to connect easier with the more advanced midfield. This gives you passing options throughout the team as well as meaning that should one area of the team come under pressure from the AI they can be supported more easily.

In the attacking phase there is little really that needs work – despite the lack of goals through the review. One trick I would implement would be to make use of the individuals wide play instructions. I would set the two attacking wingers to cut inside, the two wide midfielders to move into channels and the two fullbacks to hug the touchline. This means that as you are attacking there are players in close proximity that are occupying different widths and depths of the pitch given you a lot more passing angles and therefore options.