It will probably come as no surprise but my favourite part of the game is creating and tweaking tactics, occasionally this leads to the creation of a tactic that is slightly out of the ordinary and that you aren’t likely to see on a Sky Sports graphic. In a sense that’s how this tactic has come in to being, as always though there is a degree of theory behind the apparent madness..

The Shape

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In my head this all makes complete sense. If we start in the attacking area I have set two wide strikers both of whom are set basically as inside forwards and are tasked to cut inside to attack the penalty area. Instead of a central striker we have a player in the deeper AM position, by doing so we are looking to draw the AI centre backs out of position to create space for the wide strikers. The rest of the midfield is positioned in the diamond, a setup that gives us strength and flexibility throughout the centre of the pitch. In the wide areas the wingbacks will be expected to advance in to the advanced areas to take advantage of the space vacated by the wide strikers. Does the theory work though?

Overloads

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Here we can see what happens when the attacking play has been developed and is in an established phase. The inside forwards have both cut in to a central position. As you can see though they are not without support as both wingbacks are positioned extremely high up the pitch and are looking to move down the channels on the outside of the wide strikers. You can also see in the highlighted area that we have a distinct advantage in the midfield area with all four players capable of receiving and cycling the ball to open up more spaces and passing angles.

The AM Links the Play

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Here you can see that our AM (Eriksen) has dropped off from a more advanced position to a deeper one to get involved in the build up play. As Eriksen takes the pass in his own half I have highlighted the amount of passing options available to our team as play develops. We have the initial short pass to the midfielder who is set as a box to box midfielder and who has moved to play in advance of the AM as he dropped deeper. The short pass though isn’t necessarily the best one and with the AI defence stretched there are three passes in to wide areas for the inside forwards and wingbacks to exploit space.

Movement from Deep

One of the key aspects of this tactic is the amount of movement from deep positions allowing us to develop attacks and open up space along the AI defensive line. This movement tends to come from the wing backs and the box to box midfielder but the lateral movement of the wide strikers also cannot be ignored.

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Here we have possession of the ball with the attacking midfielder and he is being engaged by the AI defenders. The position of the wide striker on the right and the movement of the wing back as he looks to move beyond the point of attacks means that the AI defence cannot snap closed to cut off central passing lines. As the box to box midfielder bursts through the defensive line the player in possession is able to slip an easy pass through and in to space for an easy goal.

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Here again we have the ball with the attacking midfielder. Once more it’s the movement on to an advanced position of the wing back that allows the play to develop effectively as the AI is forced to deal with threats across the width of the pitch. This time as we have the ball in a deeper position the AI defender is forced to press out to engage Eriksen high up the pitch. The highlighted area of the pitch is then where the danger exists and Eriksen is able to place the ball easily in to space for the box to box midfielder to burst on to and once again we have created a goal.

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In this image the space is actually created by the movement of one of the inside forwards as he carries the ball across the pitch. As Babel moves across and starts to threaten the penalty area he attracts two defenders across with him thus emptying a space in the defensive line. This time it takes two passes to take advantage of the space but once again we have a players looking to capitalise on the space and moving from a deeper position. Babel sleeps a short pass in to Fischer who has in turn moved infield from the left wing and he is able to play a first time pass in to the gap that has been created for Andersen – in the advanced midfielder role – to take advantage.

As you can see thinking somewhat outside the box can be effective as long as you have a plan for how to capitalise on any specific mechanised movement which can create space in your attacking phase. Once I’ve developed this tactic a bit further I will look at making it available for download so that you can see some of my thinking in action.

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