The System

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I’ve got to admit that I’m a sucker for any system with a libero and Henrik has made this position the cornerstone of his tactical setup. Interestingly the system is based on strong triangles both at the defensive end and the attacking end of the pitch. The libero and two centrebacks should provide defensive stability whilst in attack the presence of two strikers and a player in the attacking midfield slot should ensure that we carry a constant threat in attack.


Creator: Henrik Jul

Style: Creator

System: 3-2-3-2

Twitter: Rodey76


Gladbach 2 – 0 Hannover

Gladbach 2 – 2 Stuttgart

Freiburg 1 – 0 Gladbach

Gladbach 1 – 1 HSV

Mainz 3 – 0 Gladbach


Streak: WDLDL

Win %: 20

Draw %: 40

Loss %:  40

Average Shots at Goal: 12

Average Shots on Target: 5

Average Clear Cut Chances: 2.4

Average Possession For: 48%

Average Possession Against: 52%


Solid When Defending Deep

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When we are forced to defend deep the three man centre to our defence is an extremely strong weapon. When we are on the edge of the penalty area the libero will move forwards to form a shallow line with the two centrebacks. As you can see the three man line has moved out towards the right of the pitch as that is the side the AI is currently attacking. This does of course leave us exposed to the now infamous cross to the back post but the beauty of the three man defence is that the player positioned furthest to the left can cover the late run in to the box without damaging the defensive integrity.

Able to Play Direct in Transition

We all know that there is a huge trend around the FM Scene at the moment towards passing football with the emphasis on keeping possession. That does not however mean that this is the only way to play, Henrik appears to recognise this and with the three man attacking setup we are able to launch effective direct counter attacks as we transition from defending to attacking (note: direct does not have to mean long ball!)

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As you can see above we have gained possession of the ball deep in the midfield almost in the defensive zone.  With a possession centric system the first ball would have been lateral to the wingback or a shorter pass in to the central midfielder. Instead the first pass is direct in to the feet of the attacking midfielder. The close proximity of the two strikers means that they are able to make runs at different angles and depths that give the AI a huge problem.

Excellent Interplay Between the Front Three

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Here you can see how effective the three attackers can be when they work together. De Jong is the right hand side striker and he’s dropped off the attacking line with the ball currently with the right wing back. The left centreback for the AI has chosen to step out and engage De Jong as he takes a short inside pass. Our attacking midfielder is then able to break the AI defensive line moving in to space. The remaining AI centreback can’t engage the AM as our second striker is making a run in to the box and threatening the space in behind. This sequence perfectly demonstrates how effective it can be to have players creating and moving in to space in the attacking third.


Defence can Struggle in the Medium to High Block

We have already seen how effective the system can be when defending deep, when we are forced to defend further up the field in either the medium or high block though the sweeper system can cause problems.

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Our defensive line has moved up to almost the half way line as the AI has the ball out on the left wing. As you can see the libero is positioned 5 yards behind the two centrebacks and the two AI strikers are able to drift in behind their markers. Our Libero is then forced to pick up the runs of two strikers.  Any direct pass in to space from the AI will leave us extremely exposed.

Gap Between Defence and Midfield can be Exposed

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As you can see above our defence has dropped deep as the AI build an attack. As they do so there is a large gap between the defence and the midfield. This gap is extremely dangerous as the AI can exploit the space with a short pass in to the central area. As you can see they have two players in that zone and we are powerless to stop them taking the pass. When they take possession in that area the option to either shoot from distance, run at our defence or pass through the defensive line is too much for us to cope with.


Without a doubt the biggest issue is that there is no defensive cover in front of the defence. The tendency of the AI to use players in the advanced midfield position means that we struggle to stop the AI from building their attacks. There are two ways that we can possibly address this issue, moving the libero in to the defensive midfield position – which would negate the initial appeal of the tactic – or to drop the mentality of the midfield to have then operate in the deeper position. For me dropping the midfield deeper and maintaining our direct passing is the most sensible. The three attacking players will be able to interact and form attacks whilst allowing time for the deeper players to catch up.

The libero itself doesn’t seem overly effective in the attacking phase but again this is symptomatic of a system in which the ball is played long more often than not. In the deep defensive block he is extremely effective although I would be careful when it came to pushing the defensive line too high up the field.

Kudos to Henrik for trying something different both in terms of using a libero and in allowing his players to use a more direct style in launching their attacks.