FM-Britain Forums: Tactical Analysis of the 4-5-1 - FM-Britain Forums

Jump to content

  • 2 Pages +
  • 1
  • 2
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • You cannot reply to this topic

Tactical Analysis of the 4-5-1

#1 User is offline   SFraser 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 427
  • Joined: 16-November 09

Posted 09 July 2010 - 01:59 AM

This is three part thread of mine taken from other websites so please forgive the "time delayed" inconsistencies. And by all means feel free to add ideas, opinions or even arguements.


The 4-5-1 variants are only a single player and a single role away from the 4-4-2 we all know and love, and only half a player and half a role away from the CMd/CMa/FCd/FCa of say Manchester United in 1999. Yet the 4-4-2 is commonly viewed to be responsible for the consistent ineptitude of English teams in Europe during  the 1990's and early 2000's. The 4-5-1 variants are commonly viewed to be responsible for English football rise to European dominance in the late 2000's and continue to be the formations of choice for all the big clubs in all the big games in Europe today.

The common concensus seems to be that the 4-5-1 is the more defensive version of the 4-4-2. That the 4-4-2 concedes numbers in midfield and concedes "space between the lines". I don't disagree with this point of view, but for the 4-5-1 variants to be so prevailent in top level football it seems to me that there must be far more to the issue than this.

From my perspective the 4-5-1 variants are an entire tactical world away from the 4-4-2 despite the fact that the 4-5-1 is only half a player away from the 4-4-1-1's of the 1990's in England. Understanding the 4-5-1 variants is not as simple as understanding that there is an extra man in midfield and one less upfront, it requires an understanding of what the shape and formation means 20-30 passes down the line and half a dozen attacks and counter-attacks later. To really understand the 4-5-1 you need understand your tactical history of football, because again in my opinion the 4-5-1 is far closer in principle to Cantenaccio and Total Football than it is to the English 4-4-2, despite being a simple one-man-change to the English 4-4-2. If you don't understand your tactical history then perhaps I can give you some information. If you do understand your tactical history then hopefully I can explain to you with the 4-5-1 is so much more than a 4-4-2 with an extra man in midfield and one less upfront.



A Bit of Random Tactical History


The birthplace of the modern back four directly ties into the death of the traditional Sweeper, and both the modern back four and death of the sweeper arise from the battle between Catenaccio and Total Football. Catenaccio means "bolt" in English and Catenaccio was a formation specifically designed to vigorously and rigidly man mark the formations of the time, while "the bolt" in the defence was a Sweeper and a DM freed from marking duties to mop up any loose and free play through the middle. The spine of a Catenaccio formation was free from marking duties to go about their specific attacking or midfield or defensive duties, while the other 7 outfield players were given rigid man-marking instructions and specific "counter" positions to defend and defeat their specific man and the contemporary formations of the time. While modern formations are not called "Catenaccio" the principle is utterly fundamentally sound.

The key principle of Catenaccio at the time was two Centrebacks man-marking the opponents forwards, with a sweeper behind and the rest of the team set up either to sweep through the middle or specific mark in the wider areas according precisely to the setup of the opponent. At this time football tended to be about decade-long single formations of success with a new idea every so often changing the state of play. Catenaccio was so successful at destroying opponents and counter attacking through the middle that Cruyff cried "it's the death of the wingers" who are supposed to be the most exciting and key men in the game. This is when Total Football was born, as a direct response to Catenaccio. The principle of Total Football was ability and movement that rendered Catenaccio useless. Players were expected to fluidly move from position to position while at the same time fullfil the requirements of each positions, meaning that man-marking was theoretically supposed to be torn apart. And tear Catenaccio apart it did. Maybe not tear it apart but it did defeat it.

Like the response to Catenaccio was Total Football so the response to Total Football was Zonal Marking. Catenaccio evolved into a zonal marking system whereby the defence would not only maintain their positions but attempt to contain the attack of the opponent. Mark your space and play as a unit. If the opponent is very aggressive then drop deep and maintain your defensive system infront of the opponent. The zonal marking version of Catenaccio is the direct ancestor to the modern day back four, but it also rendered the Sweeper obsolete. Or if not directly obsolete as a sweeper is always useful in defence, it rendered the sweeper a "spare man" at the back when the rest of the defense was good, at the cost of numbers further forward. For as long as the Zonal Marking defense worked, the Sweeper was useless and used up a man for nothing you could use elsewhere on the pitch. That's how the sweeper "died" in the battle for space and numbers, he was in his position obsolete due to tactics and worth far more in attack when not starting from a position behind the other 9 outfield players in his team.

Here is an image of the Zona Mista, or the Zonal Marking version of Catenaccio:

Posted Image


The more tactically astute amongst you might notice the similarities between this formation and the formation used by English sides in the European Cup in the past half decade. However it is not time to go into that just yet.




The Back Four


As a man marking back three infront of a sweeper quickly becomes obsolete due to movement and ability of the opponent, so a Zonal Marking defence becomes ever more useful. With two Zonal Marking Centrebacks they no longer get pulled out of position, they continually hold their positions, and they drop deep and work in unison as the opponent attacks, continually holding their shape and only marking those players that come into their zones and pose a direct threat at goal. The sweeper becomes totally obsolete as the centrebacks take up all of his defensive jobs. The best place to put a sweeper that operates quite uselessly behind a zonal marking three is into a zonal marking back four. The zonal marking back four now stretches across the pitch, instead of three zones you have four zones meaning you can defend better in terms of zones, no player is useless and you have two guys down each flank and two through the middle while it is very rare that anyone is going to lineup with four or more forwards. The zonal marking back four is born.

With a Zonal Marking back four, you suddenly have a lop-sided attack.

In England during the 70's and early 80's this was dived upon whole heartedly. You have the Zonal Marking back four which is excellent, two upfront, three in midfield and a spare guy on the wing. So in England you play a "Dalglish" style player slightly deeper than the main Centreforward, and you stick your spare midfielder on whatever wing the opponent is weakest. 4-3-2 + Winger on the Weak Side.

I don't need to tell you how widespread the 4-3-2 + Weak Side Winger was in England. And it does not take much imagination to realise that if one winger is doing the trick, two wingers will run rampant.



4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1

The zonal marking back four is set-in-stone. The weak side winger becomes a key aspect of English sides, the 4-4-2 is becoming more and more regular, and English sides are utterly dominant in Europe. Liverpool in particular are rampant in Europe and in England, employing the pace and strength and workrate of British midfielders combined to the pace and strength and workrate of British wingers. Liverpool employing the "modern" ideas of a back four and weak side winger, combined to their domestic supemacy and ability to sign the best, move to the more aggressive "modern" 4-4-2 where the concession in midfield for an extra winger are irrelevant, and they go to town in England and in Europe. Liverpool are totally dominant.

Then comes the Heysel disaster and a ten year ban for English sides in European football.

English football does not evolve much during that time. The 4-4-2 becomes 4-4-1-1 and with Cantona as the Second Striker it is suddenly Manchester United that rise to utter dominance. Manchester United end up in a position to completely and utterly dominate the English game through tactics, players, finances, "pulling power" and all the rest. Barring the odd error and pretender and "scandal" it is Manchester United that near the end of the 90's is completely and utterly dominant. No one else is even remotely close.

When they Heysel ban ends English football finds itself completely out of European depth. The slight development of the 4-4-2 is pathetic in comparison to Eurpean tactics. While Manchester United win the European Cup in 1999, they do it with a team consisting of Schmeichal, Stam, Johnson, Neville, Irwin, Beckham, Gigg, Scholes, Keane, Yorke, Cole, playing completely out of their skin for game after game.



The 4-5-1

Despite Manchester United winning the European Cup in 1999 it was comletely obvious that the tactical development of English football was stale. The overwhelmingly superior English team side managed to win a single European Cup through utter determination and nothing else.

This was completely and utterly reinforced when Mourinho joined Chelsea and won two titles on the trot, which only Ferguson had ever done since the Premier League had started.

The 4-5-1 proved to be an unstoppable formation in English football, because it was on a completely different tactical level to the English 4-4-2 or 4-4-4-1-1.

If the development of English football shows a clear evolution from Catenaccio, it also shows a clear stall when it comes to the development of superior formations. English football untill Mourinho was the story of 1980's football that failed in Europe. Mourinho brought the cutting edge of contemporary tactics to England, and during Mourinhos time and the time after his departure shows a paradigm variation in tactics.



Tactical Analysis of the 4-5-1

Posted Image


Despite the fact that the 4-5-1 is only a single player or half a player away from 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 it is fundamentally and completely a different tactical premise.

Like Catenaccio, the central premise of the 4-5-1 is the defense of the centre. However as Catenaccio proved that the sweeper was absolete and moved the sweeper into a Zonal Marking back four, the modern 4-5-1 understands that the Sweeper is critical and rotates the centre of defence so that the "Sweeper" becomes a spare Central Defender while the previous man-marking Centre Back becomes a DM. The basic defensive function does not change but fundamentally the positioning of players changes. The "libero" function of playmaker and attacking threat is removed from the "spare" Sweeper and given to the DM. The central defensive premise is unchanged but the shape is changed, and the position of the Libero is moved into a midfield role.

Instead of a defensively useless Sweeper and a hugely deep "attacking" threat, the heart of the defence is rotated so that the Sweeper moves into the centre while the other Centreback advances into midfield and plays the "Libero" role. This is trully and utterly huge and I do not think I am doing this tactical issue justice.

The rotation of the two Centrebacks + Sweeper into a system of two Centrebacks + DM has many further benefits. First of all it is now possible to continually and adequatly employ the Off-Side trap, but perhaps most importantly of all is the fact of the shape.

The shape of two Centrebacks + Sweeper will automatically channel any "break-through" attacking play towards the penalty spot and goal. The shape of two Centrebacks + DM will automatically channel attacking play to the flanks. This again is defensively profound. The flanks do not carry the same threat as football through the middle. Forcing play to the flanks reduces the direct threat of the opponent while allowing your own team to get back into defense. Defense between the lines is maintained. Space between midfield and attack is cut off. But perhaps most important of all is the fact that the formation itself forces the opponent to play wide, to play the pass and the run into wide areas, and it allows you to attack those wide areas with numbers and free from marking or position duties.


In the screenshot I posted I have drawn white and black triangles. The White Triangles show where the defending team holds it shape and forces the opponent to play towards the flanks. The black triangles show the space the opponent is given/forced to play into. The white triangles eliminate all space at the same time as defending the critical heart of the pitch. The black triangles give the opponent space at the same time as forcing him into defensively stong positions but also positions where you can attack the ball and win it back.


The entire formation is infinately superior to the 4-4-2 in defense, while also maintaining the principle of "Sweeper" of the Catenaccio, without sacrificing either position or numbers. It not only defends the area that matter in huge numbers, but it forces the opponent to areas that do not count and combines it with an arrangement of players that is perfect to close down the ball, force the opponent to the touchline, and win the ball back with ease.
0

#2 User is offline   SFraser 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 427
  • Joined: 16-November 09

Posted 09 July 2010 - 02:00 AM

The 4-5-1

Posted Image



The most basic and the most obvious principle of the 4-5-1 is defence. More specifically it is about how you defend your defenders. The Zonal Marking back four arose as a better way for your defenders to defend against attacks, to cover space and drop deep and move narrower to present themselves as a wall of bodies between attack and goal. Zonal Marking does not pull defenders away from the critical central area of defence when players move around. It is still capable of marking players and pressing the ball but it does so as a unit that defends the centre of the box. In terms of space and angles of attack, the Goalkeeper behind two Centrebacks is perfect. One man defending the goal directly, and another two players defending a much wider area directly ahead covering both sides of the goakeeper. This is ideal. If the back four was not fundamentally sound, it would not continue to be used today and certainly not by almost every team at the top levels of the sport.

The fundamental problems with the back four is that it is flat, that it does not defend space ahead or behind it very well, and that to effectively defend against attacking moves the back four must quickly alter it's shape and therefore provides less cover. If a playmaker receives the ball ahead of the back four then one Centreback must move forward to meet the playmaker and challenge the playmaker, which instantly leaves the other Centreback vulnerable not only to quick runs, but down the outside of both his "channels" even if he is utterly brilliant at tracking runs and positoning himself. If a striker plays very high up the pitch then one Centreback marks him which leaves the other Centreback exposed to any attacks coming from deep, any playmakers passing to runners here will cause the remaining Centreback nightmares and likely lead to a goalscoring opportunity.

The Zonal Marking back four, more specifically the Zonal Marking dual Centrebacks, is an excellent insurance policy/covering shape/defensive wall/last ditch system. The fundamental problem with the Zonal Marking back four, the system that made the sweeper obsolete, is that without the additional man through the middle it lacks defence in depth. It has no insurance policies of it's own and it has no way defend multiple "layers" of attacks without conceding width and shape. If you have the ball and are attacking a Zonal Marking pair of Centrebacks, all you need to do is wait for one of them to move. WIthout an adequate midfield or supporting defensive elements, the entire benefit of the Zonal Marking back four as a containing shape and an additional line of defence is completely lost. You can attempt to drill movement and transition into your players, you can try to drill them in how and where to cover and press, but this is an additional layer of complexity that will not withstand attack when players are beaten.



The "Advanced" Sweeper


The simple solution to your back four being ripped apart through players in different depths making runs and looking to play each other in is to simply shut down the space that is the biggest threat to you. Plonk a guy in the DMC position to shut down all the simple ways of destroying the benefits of a Zonal Marking back two/four. The opponents AMC is no longer free to give your Centrebacks nightmares just by looking at them, he will have a rabid and frothing and violent DM aiming for his kneecaps in that very position. That's a very simple solution, and it is a very effective one. But it is more than effective, it completely changes the game.

The DM and the Centrebacks now form a "Zonal Marking Triangle". This not only helps to significantly reduce the threat of an AMC, it completely changes the pattern of space and angles of attack around the defence. A Zonal Marking "Triangle" has a man in every single key attacking zone around the box. Indeed if you push your defence up to the halfway line, then it has a man in every single key attacking zone around the halfway line. The Zonal Marking Triangle has a man in every single key attacking zone. Two deep and slightly wide zones, one advanced and central zone. Those are the dangerous area of the pitch at every area of play.

You now have a central defensive shape that completely denies the opponent any easy space in precisely the areas he wants it. You have not marked the opponent attackers and covered with a sweeper like Catenaccio, you have not arranged your defence into a deep line of last players protecting the goal like the Zonal Marking back four, what you have done is go out and completely deny the opponent any easy play in any of the useful attacking space. You are not marking men or defending the goal, you have cut off the opponents attacking space!

While the "Triangle" of Centrebacks and DM looks to be a defence against an opponents AMC, it actually turns out to be a complete game changer that has a tight group of players occupying every key attacking zone. And occupying every key attacking zone in a shape that actively forces attacking play towards the corner flags. Not only does it defend all the key spaces your opponent wants to be in, but it forces all the passes and runs he wants to make towards the areas of lowest possible risk. In theory all the "Triangle" has to do is hold it's shape and unless the opponent can dribble past three players or thread a pass through the middle of three players to a player making an un-marked run through the middle of three players, then each attack is going to bounce off your defence and ricochet towards the corner flags. (A bit of poetic license there but it should make the point)

The other major point about the "Defensive Triangle" is that as the DM moves to either side to defend a flank attack, one of the Centrebacks is automatically going to drop into a sweeper role. Or with simple man-marking instructions you tell your DM and a CB to track two players runs while your other Cb you tell to stay deeper. The "Defensive Triangle" when it is put to the test automatically becomes the Catenaccio dual CB Markers + Sweeper. This is your Ferdinand behind Vidic or Carvalho behind Terry. One Centreback is given a "Covering Role" while the other is given a "Stopper Role" without any need to drill the players in minute details. "You Mark Him. You Drop Deep" and the "Triangle" becomes the heart of Catenaccio.

The "Advanced Sweeper" is a complete game-changer. In my opinion it is the heart and soul of understanding modern tactics.




The Modern Fullback


With such a brilliant defence through the centre who needs Fullbacks that defend?

In a straight up 4-4-2 versus 4-4-2 it is the Fullbacks that are free. My Centrebacks mark your Strikers, my Midfielders mark your Midfielders, both sets of Fullbacks are free to assist the defence and help attacks. If both sides swap a Striker for a DM, neither side needs defensive fullbacks. A striker each down, two central covering defenders up, and so players as defensively horrible as Daniel Alves get a game instead of trying to get into the team ahead of Messi on the wing. The modern Fullback is born and directly born through this pattern of tactical evolution.

The modern Fullback is fast so he can atleast help out at the back after his marauding attacking runs, tends to be defensively inept but that's okay so long as he tracks back, and he finds a world of space out wide to do his stuff.

As the "spare man" the modern Fullback becomes utterly key to the 4-5-1. The modern Fullback is obviously utterly key in attack, being freed from defensive duties by the "Central Defensive Triangle" but also playing in the space that the opponent leaves to attack and play football in. The "Defensive Triangle" forces opponents wide and allows the Fullback a little more time to get back into position to form a Zonal Marking Back Four, so he can take more risks than a Fullback in a 4-4-2.

But he has to take more risks because the centre of the pitch is so much more crowded and better defended, and the space that solid defences give to attacking opponents is so much more out-wide. This combination of "knock-on-effect" between centrally defensively solid systems pushing players and risk-taking wide defenders leads us on to the utter point, creme-de-la-creme, crucial and ultimate issue of the 4-5-1.




The Inside Forward is Reborn


Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry will all tell you that the way to prove to the world that you are the awesome, amazing, genius player you trully are is to receive the ball on the wing, dribble infield and then unleash a shot into the net from the corner of the box.

The better arm-chair managers amongst us will realise that the reason they score so many goals from these areas is because that is where all the space is on the pitch and they are shit Centreforwards. Albeit with decent dribbling skills and a good shot.

The pattern of play in the 4-5-1 that protects the centre and forces attacks wide has the effect of freeing Fullbacks from the more vigorous and rigorous defensive duties, which has the added affect of making the flanks the weakest area on the pitch in the 4-5-1. The central defensive system forces players wide which is good, but it also means that wide players are free to attack and needed to attack which creates additional space down the flank, which is where the most attacking players and least defensive players have always tended to play. This is bad. The pattern of attacking versus defensive play, the battle between attack and defence is not nullified and ended in the 4-5-1, it is shifted to the flanks. You cannot strengthen one area without leaving another weak. By strengthening the centre defensively, all crucial attacking elements are moved to the flanks. You need your wingers to help out your lone striker, so your fullbacks need to help out your midfielders, and all the attacking space and all the attacking players on the pitch move wide.

I am a Manchester United fan and think that Arsene Wenger is an example of a manager where ideology overcomes all issues of practicality and he and his teams suffer greatly because of it. However I will be the first to admit that Wenger made a huge impact on English football taking Henry to Arsenal. Not because of the goals and success enjoyed during that time, but because of the fact of the theory and ideology of the system was utterly spot on. Henry not only destroyed defences, the whole concept of an "Henry type player" was a revolution. That was one of the few examples of a Wenger tactical revolution having the practical payback. We all enjoyed watching Henry when it wasn't against our clubs, but the point and purpose and function and role of Henry was a tactical point made perfectly. Henry was the first "Modern Inside Forward" to trully tear English teams apart. Ronaldo was the second.


The Inside Forward not only is granted space and time on the ball, indeed the only space and time on the ball in modern systems, but the Inside Forward is perfectly positioned and is perfectly "naturally endowed" to attack the "Defensive Triangle" where it is weakest, and that is from outside position attacking inwards. With that much space and time the Inside Forward can weight his pass or shot, forcing the "Triangle" to close him down which only reduces the width of the defence he must attack while leaving further balls infield or to the other flank infinately more destructive.

The modern Inside Forward is where the striker from the past era has moved. The modern "Striker" in the technical sense of the term of striking a football at goal now exists for the most part in the wide areas, because that is where he finds space to strike a football at goal, that is where he finds space to played through on goal, that is where he finds space to bury a header.

Modern football is near post/back post, wing-wing, dual playmakers behind a lone striker. Modern football is all about the width forced and defined by the "Defensive Triangle" and it is the heart of the tactical battle being fought today.




Todays Battles of 4-5-1


Todays battles of 4-5-1 are perfectly exemplified in this very World Cup. Look at how the African sides and the "lesser sides" counter attack with speed and numbers down the flanks while defending with mass through the middle. Look at how Spain and Argentina attempt to play pretty football through the middle and look toothless and ineffective. Look at how Germany brutally attack the flanks in numbers, overload the Fullbacks, and destroy teams by missing out the Centre of midfield altogether while they overload the wings and then the Centre of Defence.

Germany have scored the most goals in this World Cup, looked supreme, and about 99% of their goals come from working the flanks and overloading the box. Spain and Argentina are supposed to be the two most brilliant attacking sides apart from Brazil. They play through the middle, rarely score, and while the individual players look amazing the team is, frankly, shite.

The Germans know the weaknesses of the formations they play against and they brutalise those weaknesses. The Latino teams try to play the "Barcelona style" which is completely and utterly tactically inept. Barcelona are good because of their players. The system they use to attack teams is pathetic.

Watch this World Cup. Almost everyone is playing a 4-5-1 varient, but only a few are playing it with understanding. Germany in particular not only understand it, but completely destroy all those that are not 100% on their tactical and personal game. The Germans have found and exploited the weakness in the 4-5-1, and I fully expect this evolution of football to continue unabated. Hopefully after this World Cup people will not be so easilly blinded and taken in by the "Barca philosophy" but understand the real practicalities of this formation.
0

#3 User is offline   SFraser 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 427
  • Joined: 16-November 09

Posted 09 July 2010 - 02:01 AM

Tactical Analysis of the 4-5-1 Varient Midfields

Posted Image


My previous two posts were about outlining the basic and critical tactical issues that evolved in wide areas and in attack v defence with the 4-5-1 varients. All 4-5-1 varients have these same fundamental issues of "Defending the Defence" with specific roles, pushing space into wide areas and producing the ever present constants of Attacking Fullbacks, the crucial Wide Attacking players and the Lone Striker versus the two Central Defenders. These issues are beginning to evolve slightly today, but for the most part the Fullbacks, Wingers, Defence Defender, Lone Striker are the crux of the constants in the 4-5-1 varients.

Where the 4-5-1 varients actually "vary" is in the Midfield. The three man midfield is a vital aspect of the 4-5-1 varients that tends to get overshadowed by "Inside Forwards/Fullbacks/Lone Strikers" despite the fact that the whole evolutionary process of the 4-5-1 was dropping the Second Striker into midfield. Indeed the tactical midfield battles very rarely tend to get any headlines or column inches barring whether someone played or not. However if you have been watching your Football over the past year you will have noticed that the tactical battles in midfield have reached an astonishing level of complexity, while the vaunted glories of X or Y midfield only last year or the year before have turned into vast criticisms and even cost jobs. Indeed here I am nodding somewhat towards Rafa B*****z, whose immense defensive 4-2-3-1 seemed to just evaporate entireally last season with the sale of Alonso, and at times left poor Jamie Carragher to take on entire attacking lineups of many opponents all by himself.

The two common 4-5-1 varients discussed regularly are the 4-1-2-3 (or 4-1-2-2-1) and the 4-2-3-1. The "Mourinho system" and the "B*****z system" to give them their colloquial names.

These are two rather simple and basic systems to compare. The usual discussion goes something along the lines of "do you want an extra DM or an extra CM?" as if that was all there is to the tactical issues of either of these two systems. While the two systems apparently only vary in whether one guy is a bit deeper or a bit more advanced, the actual tactical truth of these midfield options is significantly more complex and has significantly deeper repercussions not only for the team itself but across entire matches and even entire seasons. The subtle variation in the midfield arrangement does more than just make one team "a bit more attacking or a bit more defensive" it defines numbers and width and depth in attack, defence and transition periods of play, therefore completely defines all issues of attacking, defensive and transition performance and tactics for each side. And because 4-5-1 varients are so widespread in football, they define how teams play against each other. This subtle decision of midfield arrangement is the one aspect of the 4-5-1's that actually changes regularly from team to team, and because the midfield is the most important part of the pitch, the subtle differences in the three man midfields are by compound importance utterly vital and definative aspects of all 4-5-1's.




The "Mourinho" / "Barca" 4-1-2-2-1



Posted Image


This is the "rough shape" of teams like Barcelona and Chelsea under Mourinho. I do not claim this to be in any way exact, but it has the necessary components in the right place for this discussion. What should immediately jump out at you is the very nice shape of the Centrebacks and Defensive Midfielder. This shape automatically forces players wide and away from goal, and should they wish to try and defeat this shape then they need play through or around each player, always coming up against a spare Centreback. Passes between DM and CB automatically go towards a Centreback, taking the ball outside one Centreback for a cross leaves another Centreback to defend the box and the DM to watch for runners. If one Centreback is taken out of the game the other can drop deep and move centrally while the DM sprints back to either press the ball or cover the Centreback. It's just a great shape to hold, but quite obviously it does lack numbers and you wouldn't want to try and defend against Barcelona with only three players, no matter how great their shape is.

What this shape is good at doing is defending against attacks that will not have lots of numbers, will not have ages and ages to pick passes and move the ball around, and will eventually be caught up by the rest of the defending teams players and destroyed. This is a great defensive shape for a superior attacking side that expects to have the ball for a long time, expects the opponent to counter-attack with a few players down the flanks, and so tries to push players to the flanks to give the rest of the team time to get back and win the ball.

This is where the Fullback, CM's and Side Midfielders come into play. When they drop deep they perfectly slot into position either side of the DM and CB's, not only defending the spaces that are weakest but pushing the ball further wide where they can hunt in down in 2's or 3's, or even 4's and 5's if one CB and one CM and one FB on the other side of the pitch take up the "triangle shape". This is a "Tactical Risk Taking Defence". It takes risks with space and numbers in defence so it can have more players in attack, and it takes a "Tactical Risk" i.e defends a really good shape with fewer numbers hoping the rest of the team gets back in time. This is the kind of defence you use when you are a superior team looking to attack opponents.

Look next at the three "spare players" on each flank. These can run up and down the pitch. Effectively six players playing a "supporting role" that move between defence and attack. They not only defend the flanks well, but they attack the flanks well. This arrangement of players is important in a tactical sense for the attack. As I have already explained, most of the space in the 4-5-1 of any variety is out wide. This formation has no less than three players attacking each side of the pitch. Indeed it can have 3 players attacking both sides of the pitch at the same time.

The two Central Midfielders are the key to the quality attacking ability of this formation. Both CM's are in the prime position to attack the channels down the sides of a lone DM and two Centrebacks, which is where the Wingers/Inside Forwards will attack if the Fullbacks pin the opponents Fullbacks. Even if the opponents wingers mark fullbacks, the opponents fullbacks mark your wingers, you have two Attacking CM's either side of his lone DM attacking the perfect channels and looking to operate off of the Lone Striker. It is man for man down the flanks, 3v3 through the middle. The better side should win. Indeed if you are the weaker side by some margin, even pulling back an additional CM is only going to give you a man advantage, and it will give you a man advantage only at the back. If you pull back both your CM's you have a two man advantage which is good, but that two man advantage is really deep in your own half, it is the DM and the CB. A good dribble and a good run and you are looking at man v man inside the penalty box. Not only that but the attacking sides DM is free to wave a magic wand of a playmaking boot around, or batter shots into the top corner. You mark him and you only have a spare CB or a spare DM and not both, and this one man advantage is not keeping the opponent away from your goal.

Xavi and Iniesta became the worlds pin-up poster boys of footballing genuis playing in these positions. Two undoubtedly talented playmakers simply dancing around opposing midfields. By operating either side of the opponents DM, and with such good movement and passing, you absolutely need to contain them infront of a brick wall but you cannot do that in the 4-1-2-3. Everyone has a marking job, the spare Centreback cannot leave his position or he leaves the lone Striker with an easy run to goal onto a throughball, and it is Xavi + Iniesta + their DM against your two CM's and DM. Absolutely no contest. And once they dance past you with ease, all it takes is a decent run from Messi and Henry and Eto'o and your spare Centreback finds himself against three strikers. The 4-1-2-3 forces you to man mark with a man spare and takes you right back to the problem of Catenaccio versus Total Football. When the opponent is good enough on the ball and good enough with his movement, man marking + spare defender will see you ripped apart.

4-1-2-3 versus 4-1-2-3 are some of the highest scoring games in football when one opponent is obviously superior and the other is niavely thinking a 3 man midfield will instantly do the job. They don't realise that when facing sustained pressure and build up and movement and passing that the 4-1-2-3 automatically obtains the same flaws as the Catenaccio system. 4-1-2-3 is an Offensive formation. Not simply because of the additional man in midfield, but because of the knock on effects of attacking the perfect channels, producing perfect lines of passing and move, allowing players to move around and occupy each others roles, and ultimately isolating and defeating the spare defender in immense detail. The 4-1-2-3 when facing sustained pressure from another 4-1-2-3 cannot Zonal Mark precisely because it's key defensive zones lack numbers and the opponent is overloading those zones. If the back four tries to Zonal Mark then One Fullback, One Winger, One Striker and Two Central Midfielders will destroy every single midfielder in detail and attack your Zonal Marking Back Four with 7 players.

The key to this formation is the flanks. That is where the attacking numbers are greatest and the defensive numbers smallest. We have even seen the 4-1-2-3 evolve into a system where the DM drops into the Centre of Defence so that the Centrebacks can move wide. Barcelona do this because it now gives them Four players attacking each flank with the Centreforward moving where he see's fit.




The "Rafa" 4-2-3-1


Posted Image


The simplest way to describe the "B*****z" 4-2-3-1 is that it defends in exactly the same way as the "Mourinho" 4-1-2-3 but with an extra Zonal Marking Back Four behind it. That is how completely similar and completely different both systems are. And all from the slightly different arrangement of the 3 man midfield. It is designed precisely to deal with and neutralise the defensive problems explained above in the 4-1-2-3. The inability to Zonal Mark and keep your shape and defend with a "wall" of players in a 4-1-2-3 with it's seven attacking players has been completely spun around to produce the ability to Zonal Mark and contain players that are playing a 4-5-1 varient, at obvious cost to the attacking ability of the side.

The attacking sacrifice is non-obvious but vital, but will discussed further on. The most important thing to discuss first is the defensive premise of the shape.

In the "B*****z" 4-2-3-1 it is the MC/AMC, the Wingers and the Dual DM's that take up the role of the CB's + DM + FBs of the 4-1-2-3. The shape held by the DMs+AMC is precisely the same as the shape held by the CB's+DM in the 4-1-2-3. The Wingers function in the same role as the Fullbacks, tasked with disciplined yet vigorous coverage of the wide positions, tasked with combining vital defensive duties to vital supporting attacking roles. This is a defensive system par excellence. If the 4-1-2-3 has a spare Central Defender, then the most defensive version of the 4-2-3-1 has 5 spare. A spare DM and a spare Zonal Marking Back Four.

I have already explained how the flanks provide the greatest space and opportunities for attack in the 4-5-1 while also being the areas of least threat. In the 4-2-3-1 this allows the Fullbacks to play between DM's+AM to produce the more attacking version of this formation which is the "Mourinho" + 2 spare Centrebacks. It can quickly return to the "Mourinho" + Back Four, but the attacking varient of this system tends to operate as the "Mourinho" + 2. The "Mourinho" defence of the middle forcing players wide into areas of least direct threat, the maintainance of the Fullback and Winger as players that close down and harrass opponents and attempt to win the ball back, but crucially in this formation there is always an additional layer of defence above and beyond the Mourinho system, while the defence of the flanks in this system is immeasurably superior to the Mourinho system.

The 4-2-3-1 automatically channels players towards the flanks, like the Mourinho system, but the 4-2-3-1 from a flank position automatically has 4 players covering that flank space, like a Zonal Marking Back Four attempting to contain a striker. Only in the 4-2-3-1 there is a winger free to press the ball, there is a touchline to act as a 5th or 6th defender, and there is constantly defence in multiplicative depth through the middle. The 4-2-3-1 channels players to the flanks, but where the 4-1-2-3 encourages attacks infield, encourages runs infield, encourages play infield, encourages attacks against the crucial channels down the Centrebacks, the 4-2-3-1 is designed to contain players in a relatively large wide-midfield position from which they have no easy paths of escape.

The further the ball gets down the flanks in a 4-2-3-1 then not only does the space get more and more compressed, the forward passing opportunities become less and less, but it becomes ever increasingly harder to find a player in your own level or even behind you. The 4-2-3-1 forces you towards the touchline, forces you towards a tiny region of space between FB+CB+DM+WF+Touchline with the AMC and Lone Striker cutting off your last gasp escape routes.

This is how B*****z and Liverpool defended their way to successive and consistent European Cup Semi-Finals. This is how B*****z and Liverpool choked the life out of aggressive, attacking, "big" sides in the League. This defence is impressive, seriously and potently impressive, and I am a Manchester United fan.

But it is not the defence that is the flaw, unlike the 4-1-2-3 "Mourinho". The 4-1-2-3 has never looked comfortable when defending, just like the 4-2-3-1 has never looked comfortable attacking. The 4-2-3-1 can effectively counter-attack, and counter-attack with 4 players instead of the 4-1-2-3's three advanced players, and this does make it a superior counter-attacking system as we all know from experience without perhaps understanding the details, but it is in sustained pressure that the 4-2-3-1 is a fallacy, unlike the 4-1-2-3.

As many of you will have undoubtedly spotted already, there is a serious concession of attacking numbers implied in the 4-2-3-1 compared to the 4-1-2-3. This is obviously a concession of atleast 1 Channel Attacking midfielder. However the true concession is made even more stark when you realise that the whenever the AMC attacks he concedes a vital defensive position. The 4-1-2-3 can have two Channel Attacking CM's + An "Apex Defending Player" constantly throughout the match. The 4-2-3-1 can only have one of those players at any single point in time. The AMC cannot attack a single channel while maintaining the "Mourinho" 2-1 defence. And as more players are brought to attack the opponent, the defensive strength of the formation inevitably diminishes. Precisely unlike the "Mourinho" 4-1-2-3 which always maintains it's defence.

The 4-2-3-1 is an extremely inadequate attacking formation precisely because the AMC in the formation is alone. He is either marked or dual marked by any other 4-5-1 defence, while in the 4-1-2-3 the dual CM's are either marked or a man is free. The lone AMC constantly operates from a position of atleast worse case marking compared to the 4-1-2-3, and always without the additional midfielder in support. These are not issues that can be adequately compared simply through comparing numbers, which is why the issue of the midfield is so utterly definative. Xavi and Iniesta are at worst man marked each with the opportunity to try and play off each other while being single man-marked, Steven Gerrard at worst is dual man marked with no support. At best Steven Gerrard is constantly man marked with no support, at best either Xavi or Iniesta is single man marked with the other completely free. You do the sums.

And this is where the fundamental problems in the 4-2-3-1 manifest themselves, arising from the massive disadvantage in midfield attacking options despite equivelant flank attacking options.

In the 4-2-3-1 with attacking widemen the problem produced defensively is that the additional two spare men at the back produce additional depth to the team. It is the "Mourinho" defence + 2 spare Centrebacks, which equates to the "Mourinho" defence + additional depth for the wide players to cover. With such a significant disadvantage to the attacking midfielder in terms of both Marking and Support, while he also plays such a crucial defensive role at the Apex of the team, the players behind him are automatically encouraged forward not by instruction but by sheer necessity whenever they are not counter-attacking. Whenever a 4-2-3-1 has to construct play it is going to push men forward from the deep positions which are vital defensive areas in an entire team system. When this happens, when DM's and Fullbacks move forward to support the AMC, it is the remaining true Centreback in the side that is left exposed. Like the 4-1-2-3 it is the surrounding flank players that advance, but unlike the 4-1-2-3 it is not a brilliantly positioned tactical central DM that is left behind. It is an exposed deep Centreback far further behind his Fullbacks than any CB in a 4-1-2-3.

Thus lightening fast counter attacks down the flanks completely expose the CB, leaving him further away from both deep cover and further away from the positionining of his own Fullbacks. He is completely exposed, and as Jamie Carragher in this past season has shown, destroyed and embarassed and defeated far beyond his individual errors fairly warrent.


As an aside this website makes itself and everyone else trying to discuss football on it look like a tit by censoring B*****z. This is supposed to be a website discussing Football Manager, and you have gone and censored the name of a manager that regularly employed a crucial formation when it comes to understanding tactics and achieved important contextual victories as well as failures with that system.
0

#4 User is offline   ProZone 

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 15
  • Joined: 14-December 09

Posted 09 July 2010 - 09:45 AM

Absolutely brilliant!  :thup:

As you know, I've been working closely with the 4-1-2-3 to counter the narrow 4-4-2 diamond (Ancelotti). I have made considerable progress in my attempts but was still missing some key details which this thread has pointed out quite clearly. I am of course referring to the marking system of choice for the "Mourinho" formation.

I will have to read this again I think to make sure I've absorbed all the information here.
0

#5 User is offline   Xulu 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Coaching Team
  • Posts: 216
  • Joined: 03-June 10

Posted 09 July 2010 - 11:11 PM

Interesting. Some notes. Other quoted portions that could have been used have been lumped into other sections. For general notes, what is the next tactical evolution then? If width is being relied upon by the Fullbacks more and more, if Strikers are moving out wide and cutting in, and certain midfield leave you vulnerable to certain things; what do you do? Some of this depends on the level you are at and the players you have, but my idea roughly aligns to the Hybrid Universal Tactic I have posted here (Link in my signature), with a few changes. Take the 4-6-0, make the back 5 defenders of some sort (I think being able to use both a 4 and 3 man defense is ideal, not to mention if you go with 3 you can add the WBs to the Midfield), and allow the front 4 the complete freedom to interchange - without using a clearly defined Striker, and have a player to link the two sides. That would give your forwards the ability to move as they saw fit to where they thought they needed to go (of course a good scouting report will help), and the defense the ability to have a solid platform.


Quote

The common concensus seems to be that the 4-5-1 is the more defensive version of the 4-4-2. That the 4-4-2 concedes numbers in midfield and concedes "space between the lines". I don't disagree with this point of view, but for the 4-5-1 variants to be so prevailent in top level football it seems to me that there must be far more to the issue than this.


I disagree with the fact the 4-5-1 is the more defensive version of the 4-4-2. Working the ball around and getting good possession allow for more quality chances (if you do it right) with the extra man in midfield. There are 4-5-1s out there that make a lot of 4-4-2s look stodgy and defensive.


Quote

The Zonal Marking back four, more specifically the Zonal Marking dual Centrebacks, is an excellent insurance policy/covering shape/defensive wall/last ditch system. The fundamental problem with the Zonal Marking back four, the system that made the sweeper obsolete, is that without the additional man through the middle it lacks defence in depth. It has no insurance policies of it's own and it has no way defend multiple "layers" of attacks without conceding width and shape. If you have the ball and are attacking a Zonal Marking pair of Centrebacks, all you need to do is wait for one of them to move. WIthout an adequate midfield or supporting defensive elements, the entire benefit of the Zonal Marking back four as a containing shape and an additional line of defence is completely lost. You can attempt to drill movement and transition into your players, you can try to drill them in how and where to cover and press, but this is an additional layer of complexity that will not withstand attack when players are beaten.


Why not play 3 at the back? This gives more space out wide to an opposing side, but would that be a fair concession to make for more solidity in the middle with the bonus of focusing your defenders and allowing your WBs to run forward more? I say this because I am thinking that teams will still utilize the Inside Forward here, which is not really playing with 1-up-top. 3 at the back is said to be flawed against the lone Center Forward, but if the Wingers are moving inwards then is it really a lone Striker formation?


Quote

Germany have scored the most goals in this World Cup, looked supreme, and about 99% of their goals come from working the flanks and overloading the box. Spain and Argentina are supposed to be the two most brilliant attacking sides apart from Brazil. They play through the middle, rarely score, and while the individual players look amazing the team is, frankly, shite.

The Germans know the weaknesses of the formations they play against and they brutalise those weaknesses. The Latino teams try to play the "Barcelona style" which is completely and utterly tactically inept. Barcelona are good because of their players. The system they use to attack teams is pathetic... Hopefully after this World Cup people will not be so easilly blinded and taken in by the "Barca philosophy" but understand the real practicalities of this formation.


The Germans were a team built to play on the counter. A lot of their goals occurred because they took the lead and then ripped the opposition apart on the break. When they do not score first, they crack. I am not convinced that defend-and-counter is the strategy that an elite side should play. An elite side should play attack-and-control. You are able to take the game to the opposition, you control your own destiny, you do not have to change if winning or losing. For simplified purposes (assuming say, halftime);

Defend & Counter up 1-0: You do not need to change strategy. They have to come to you.
Defend & Counter down 1-0: Now you have to open up. You are forced to change strategy because you can be worked out of the ball.
Attack & Control up 1-0: You do not need to change strategy. Hold possession.
Attack & Control down 1-0: You do not need to change strategy. Keep plugging away.

What if the Spanish played a little more out wide? Any way they could do that? I think they could. Spain have conceded only twice. If they cannot score, you cannot lose (unless you cannot score either). Most of Spain's opponents have parked the bus and failed to meet them head on (Chile excepting). If the opposing side plays defend-and-counter and is down 1-0 to an attack-and-control team that can dominate possession, good night. Possession does not have to be offensive; you can possess and play defensively. Possession is not everything but you must take initiative if able or needed, and defend-and-counter does not set up well for such.


Quote

As an aside this website makes itself and everyone else trying to discuss football on it look like a tit by censoring B*****z. This is supposed to be a website discussing Football Manager, and you have gone and censored the name of a manager that regularly employed a crucial formation when it comes to understanding tactics and achieved important contextual victories as well as failures with that system.


Agreed.
0

#6 User is offline   SFraser 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 427
  • Joined: 16-November 09

Posted 10 July 2010 - 02:07 AM

Quote

I disagree with the fact the 4-5-1 is the more defensive version of the 4-4-2. Working the ball around and getting good possession allow for more quality chances (if you do it right) with the extra man in midfield. There are 4-5-1s out there that make a lot of 4-4-2s look stodgy and defensive.


I agree with that. When I said I don't disagree with the idea that the 4-5-1 is viewed as the more defensive version of the 4-5-1, I meant that I agreed that they can be, but there is a whole lot more to the issue than that. You can't do the 4-5-1 justice simply by calling it the defensive version of the 4-4-2, even if alot of people see it as the "packed defence" "sit deep and tight and defend in numbers" formation. Hence this series of posts.

Quote

For general notes, what is the next tactical evolution then? If width is being relied upon by the Fullbacks more and more, if Strikers are moving out wide and cutting in, and certain midfield leave you vulnerable to certain things; what do you do? Some of this depends on the level you are at and the players you have, but my idea roughly aligns to the Hybrid Universal Tactic I have posted here (Link in my signature), with a few changes. Take the 4-6-0, make the back 5 defenders of some sort (I think being able to use both a 4 and 3 man defense is ideal, not to mention if you go with 3 you can add the WBs to the Midfield), and allow the front 4 the complete freedom to interchange - without using a clearly defined Striker, and have a player to link the two sides. That would give your forwards the ability to move as they saw fit to where they thought they needed to go (of course a good scouting report will help), and the defense the ability to have a solid platform.


Quote

Why not play 3 at the back? This gives more space out wide to an opposing side, but would that be a fair concession to make for more solidity in the middle with the bonus of focusing your defenders and allowing your WBs to run forward more? I say this because I am thinking that teams will still utilize the Inside Forward here, which is not really playing with 1-up-top. 3 at the back is said to be flawed against the lone Center Forward, but if the Wingers are moving inwards then is it really a lone Striker formation?


I think we are seeing a lot more experimentation with three at the back as play develops. Indeed the "defensive triangle" I speak about is essentially a 3 man defence in depth. The problem with three at the back is that when facing a lone striker a man is indeed "spare" and when facing three in attack there is little margin for error. Playing two at the back + one man in the "hole" allows you to hold a good shape to defend the counter-attack but it also enables you to use a defender in a more offensive manner. The "advanced sweeper" or "advanced libero" or as he tends to get called today, the "Deep Lying Playmaker".

However this still does not deal with the problem of numerical equality which could be considered a tactical disadvantage on the counter, nor does the "Deep Lying Playmaker" attack the flanks.

This, in my opinion, is leading towards more assymetric usage of the Fullbacks/Wingbacks. By only advancing a single Fullback into attacking positions, the remaining three defenders can spread out across the pitch, Zonal Marking with three defenders at the same time as providing instant ball winning and distribution capabilities in the wide areas. Add to this the DLP and you have what is essentially a back 3 + 1 with players in a central advanced and deep flank distribution/ball winning positions. Should any of these players be taken out of the game, the remaining players can then form the last-ditch 2+1 triangle.

However the assymetric usage of Fullbacks then leads to a shortage of attacking players down the flanks in more advanced positions, and it tends towards a lop-sided and not very well balanced attack. You have two wingers/inside forwards and you have a single Fullback.

I do not think it is a completely absurd leap of the imagination to think that this could be responsible in some fashion for the latest trend of playing a single outright Winger/Inside Forward in a very attacking position, for example Robinho or Tevez or David Villa in this World Cup. This then allows you to bring the other winger/inside forward into a more Central Position on the field, which will outnumber the opponents three man midfield with a four man midfield.

Four man midfields may be the only obvious, short term recourse to deal with such overpowering Central Midfields such as Barcelona. If you cannot defend against them with equal numbers, outnumber them.

Indeed if you take the basic 4-5-1 shape, then adapt it along the lines I have given with assymetric Attacking Fullbacks, a wide Central Defender and Fullback making a Zonal Marking back three, the Attacking Fullback side offensive player pulled into midfield, then you have in effect a 3-4-3 shape where only the Central Defender and Striker play through the middle. The other 8 outfield players all occupy key wide or channel attacking positions in significant depth. If the opponent does not catch on quickly enough he could find his channel attacks dual or triple marked with cover, while finding his own channels subject to overwhelming numerical attacks.

We may infact be heading back somewhere very close to the old W-M formation of decades ago, but only as the final attacking shape of the team. However the few times this past season I could claim to have possibly seen such a final attacking shape, it has not tended to fare well.
0

#7 User is offline   Anchor Man 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 38
  • Joined: 09-July 10

Posted 12 July 2010 - 04:24 PM

A very interesting and informative post, and one which has, in fact, even enticed me to make my first comment on these forums after lurking without joining before, so thank you, I suppose! I definitely think I have a better understanding of the 4-5-1 now, and particularly, why it was that my Arsenal and Barcelona sides were so defensively sound when playing a 4-1-2-3, whilst when I tried the same system at Fulham, my defence seemed unable to cope, as teams were no longer just counter attacking me with only a few men. I've also grasped the main differences between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-2-3 now, I think, with a 4-1-2-3 being the better choice when playing against an inferior 4-5-1 side, as you should both overwhelm them using the flanks and deal with their counter attacks, whilst a 4-2-3-1 seems to be the better choice if YOU were that inferior side, as you can defend and counter better. Obviously, there's the issue of defences being pulled out of position when forced into approach play with a 4-2-3-1, which brought into my mind Mourinho's “solution” to that problem: After having defended and countered excellently against Barcelona for two matches, he audaciously claimed that his Inter side had deliberately given the ball back to the opposition when a counter was not on!

This, obviously, is an exaggeration, but it led me to wondering whether that weakness in a 4-2-3-1 could be negated in a more viable way. Immediately I wondered if such a thing as a double "Mourinho defence", as you term it, would be a possible solution: if only ONE of the DMs got forward to support the AM whenever in possession, that would leave one DM back at all times, and so there would be a "defensive triangle" in tact, safeguarding the 4-2-3-1 against its previous problem with counter attacks. Still, there remains the problem of offensive inadequacy in the system, though this change would certainly not make it any worse, and the excellent potential to break remains. Personally, this doesn't satisfy me however, as I agree with Xulu to an extent on his point that it is better to "Attack and Control" than to "Defend and Counter", given that it is a strategy which works in all match situations: “Fortune favours the brave!”

Therefore, rather than trying to remove the defensive weakness inherent in a 4-2-3-1, it would be better to remove the defensive weakness of a 4-1-2-3 when facing itself, whilst maintaining its obvious excellence offensively. This seems to tie in nicely with your previous comment on using an asymmetric defence in a 4-5-1. However, I must confess that I do not quite understand exactly how this proposed formation would be better suited to defending the flanks, though undoubtedly a system of effectively three spread central defenders in with a DM in front would be superb at defending through the middle. Who, for example, would pick up the inside forward that usually can problematically manage to get between full back and central defender? However, I feel safe in assuming your theory on how this formation would deal well defensively with a 4-1-2-3 is sound, though I don't yet quite understand it, so I'd appreciate it if you could try and explain that to me. Besides, with the extra man in midfield I can certainly see how there are potential possibilities within the unbalanced attack, by using, for example, the side with the attacking full back as a distraction to create space for an inside forward on the other side to score a goal.

Theoretically excellent, but, assuming this asymmetric system works against other 4-1-2-3's, I still wonder how it fares against a 4-2-3-1, or other systems. Presumably, though, as the 4-2-3-1 is less potent than a 4-1-2-3 offensively, and the AMC will be easily dealt with by the crux of players in the centre this shouldn't be an issue, but the 2 man attack of a 4-4-2 might cause greater issues. On a similar vein, this very good analysis seems to focus on how a 4-5-1 fares against other 4-5-1s, and particularly against a 4-1-2-3. That isn't a problem, as it's widely adopted at the highest level, but in England, I still have to face other systems, very commonly the 4-4-2, and the occasional 3-5-2 or 5-3-2. Clearly, you've shown that the "defensive triangle" means that a 4-5-1 is superior defensively to a 4-4-2, but there are other repercussions. Are the advantages and disadvantages of a 4-1-2-3 or 4-2-3-1 the same when playing a 4-4-2 as when facing a 4-5-1? I would imagine not, given that the space when attacking a 4-5-1 is on the flanks, whereas the 4-4-2 doesn't seem to force the play wide in the same way. Therefore, would the offensive strengths of a 4-1-2-3 over a 4-2-3-1 still apply? Given that the space in a 4-4-2 appears to me to be between the lines, perhaps having an AMC to roam free would be more advantageous than having the ability to attack each flank with 3 players with a striker roaming, and so a 4-2-3-1 might be the better attacking option offensively than a 4-1-2-3 when playing a 4-4-2. This is great stuff though, and I think that with the addition of an explanation on how the 4-5-1 deals with other formations, it could well be comprehensive.  :D
0

#8 User is offline   Xulu 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Coaching Team
  • Posts: 216
  • Joined: 03-June 10

Posted 12 July 2010 - 09:41 PM

Something I've just thought of.

It appears that the modern game focuses on the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-1-2-3. In both, the side forwards often cut inside. This gives you a triangle in the midfield, and the only real difference between the two is the shape of the triangle (1-2 v. 2-1). So, does anyone suppose in effect you could play both of these systems by rotating the triangle? If your three central midfielders can move around and rotate, would you not be able to be more flexible and still keep your engine room?

Quote


I think we are seeing a lot more experimentation with three at the back as play develops. Indeed the "defensive triangle" I speak about is essentially a 3 man defence in depth. The problem with three at the back is that when facing a lone striker a man is indeed "spare" and when facing three in attack there is little margin for error. Playing two at the back + one man in the "hole" allows you to hold a good shape to defend the counter-attack but it also enables you to use a defender in a more offensive manner. The "advanced sweeper" or "advanced libero" or as he tends to get called today, the "Deep Lying Playmaker".

However this still does not deal with the problem of numerical equality which could be considered a tactical disadvantage on the counter, nor does the "Deep Lying Playmaker" attack the flanks.

This, in my opinion, is leading towards more assymetric usage of the Fullbacks/Wingbacks. By only advancing a single Fullback into attacking positions, the remaining three defenders can spread out across the pitch, Zonal Marking with three defenders at the same time as providing instant ball winning and distribution capabilities in the wide areas. Add to this the DLP and you have what is essentially a back 3 + 1 with players in a central advanced and deep flank distribution/ball winning positions. Should any of these players be taken out of the game, the remaining players can then form the last-ditch 2+1 triangle.

However the assymetric usage of Fullbacks then leads to a shortage of attacking players down the flanks in more advanced positions, and it tends towards a lop-sided and not very well balanced attack. You have two wingers/inside forwards and you have a single Fullback.

I do not think it is a completely absurd leap of the imagination to think that this could be responsible in some fashion for the latest trend of playing a single outright Winger/Inside Forward in a very attacking position, for example Robinho or Tevez or David Villa in this World Cup. This then allows you to bring the other winger/inside forward into a more Central Position on the field, which will outnumber the opponents three man midfield with a four man midfield.

Four man midfields may be the only obvious, short term recourse to deal with such overpowering Central Midfields such as Barcelona. If you cannot defend against them with equal numbers, outnumber them.

Indeed if you take the basic 4-5-1 shape, then adapt it along the lines I have given with assymetric Attacking Fullbacks, a wide Central Defender and Fullback making a Zonal Marking back three, the Attacking Fullback side offensive player pulled into midfield, then you have in effect a 3-4-3 shape where only the Central Defender and Striker play through the middle. The other 8 outfield players all occupy key wide or channel attacking positions in significant depth. If the opponent does not catch on quickly enough he could find his channel attacks dual or triple marked with cover, while finding his own channels subject to overwhelming numerical attacks.

We may infact be heading back somewhere very close to the old W-M formation of decades ago, but only as the final attacking shape of the team. However the few times this past season I could claim to have possibly seen such a final attacking shape, it has not tended to fare well.


Two things. First, is it more desirable to play symmetrical or unsymmetrical? I do not mean unsymmetrical as in just the roles of the players on the flanks (Fullback/Winger with Wingback/Wide Midfielder for example), but also perhaps placing a forward in an awkward position to cover defensively; sort of like how Brazil would play on occasion in the World Cup. If one plays unsymmetrical, does that give them more structural problems against certain sides? Or does it help them confuse the opposition and break them down better, unlike symmetric formations?

Second, do you think formations like the 3-6-1 could rise to prominence, especially for smaller sides? Such a formation would overmman opposing sides in midfield quite easily, although the attacking nuances of it are difficult to handle.
0

#9 User is offline   bricktamland 

  • Newbie
  • Pip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 4
  • Joined: 13-July 10

Posted 13 July 2010 - 02:26 PM

I absolutely LOVE these discussions. I could read this stuff for HRS.
However....how in the heck does this translate to FM???
Using the TC....
I assume fullbacks on defend/support
Centre Back on defend /stopper/cover
1 DM as a deeplying playmaker
1 DM as an anchor
What about the rest? Am I way off here?
0

#10 User is offline   anubiscaller 

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: 13-April 07

Posted 13 July 2010 - 06:25 PM

Quote

Second, do you think formations like the 3-6-1 could rise to prominence, especially for smaller sides? Such a formation would overmman opposing sides in midfield quite easily, although the attacking nuances of it are difficult to handle.


North Korea's formation vs. Brazil was effectively a 3-6-1 at the World Cup. Worked to a degree as a defensive formation.
0

#11 User is offline   KrisL 9 

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 10
  • Joined: 13-February 10

Posted 16 July 2010 - 06:47 PM

I managed to create a successful defence using the mourinho style 4-5-1 but I couldnt get my team to score more goals
0

#12 User is offline   deacondakin 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 169
  • Joined: 09-December 09
  • LocationUSA

Posted 20 July 2010 - 01:46 AM

Good post.  I love talking about formations and their strengths and weaknesses.  I tend to thing defensively because I am crap with the ball and ended up as a CB/FB IRL.  This stuff helps me figure out what should be going on up front to create chances.

As far as applying to FM I have been using both 451 variations and a 424.  I love these formations because if you pick your players well you can switch things up, not only from game to game but in a game as circumstances dictate.  So if I know I have the edge, I will play the 424 control/counter keeping the ball out of my half and bringing it to the opponent.  However, I can pull a ST back and a CM back creating the 4123 or bring both CMs back and the ST back to have a 4231.  With a DM that can play and pass the ball the 4231 has worked brilliantly again better opponents.  I tend to use the AMC as an inside forward to get him into the box on offense, so that it works as a 41122 (attacking the weaker flank) while giving me 6 defenders when we loose the ball.

A question about the FBs.  I have been using them on defend, so they don't get caught too far up the pitch.  Is this how you see FBs being used in these systems or would they be more attacking?  I like them back so as the CBs push the attack out they get picked up by the FBs wide or the FBs can cut off the passes to the ML/Rs.
0

#13 User is offline   Xulu 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Coaching Team
  • Posts: 216
  • Joined: 03-June 10

Posted 21 July 2010 - 01:25 AM

Quote

A question about the FBs.  I have been using them on defend, so they don't get caught too far up the pitch.  Is this how you see FBs being used in these systems or would they be more attacking?  I like them back so as the CBs push the attack out they get picked up by the FBs wide or the FBs can cut off the passes to the ML/Rs.


In both the 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-2-3 the fullbacks provide critical width - especially with sides that utilize inside forwards and a midfield triangle. Your fullbacks will need to do more than just defend, they will need to give your team some width in the attack. You do not have to give them an Attack duty, but Support or Automatic will be fine for the things you will need them to do. You already use holding midfielders, so they can funnel opponents wide and assist your centerbacks in defense - thus allowing your fullbacks to offer more support.
0

#14 User is offline   SFraser 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 427
  • Joined: 16-November 09

Posted 22 July 2010 - 08:08 AM

Quote

A very interesting and informative post, and one which has, in fact, even enticed me to make my first comment on these forums after lurking without joining before, so thank you, I suppose!


Well I am glad you thought it accurate and informative enough to be worthwhile registering to post a positive comment. There is always an element of "I might be making a rather large arse of myself" when writing things like these, so your response is very much appreciated.

Quote

a 4-1-2-3 being the better choice when playing against an inferior 4-5-1 side, as you should both overwhelm them using the flanks and deal with their counter attacks, whilst a 4-2-3-1 seems to be the better choice if YOU were that inferior side, as you can defend and counter better.


I do think that to be very true. There must be a reason as to why such regularly dominant European Cup sides like Barcelona and Liverpool employ these two distinct variations of the 4-5-1 at the same time as clearly employing different styles and gameplans, at the same time as having clear differences in the quality of the majority of players. Hopefully the arguements I made to explain these issues are sound enough in principle.

Quote

Obviously, there's the issue of defences being pulled out of position when forced into approach play with a 4-2-3-1, which brought into my mind Mourinho's “solution” to that problem: After having defended and countered excellently against Barcelona for two matches, he audaciously claimed that his Inter side had deliberately given the ball back to the opposition when a counter was not on!

This, obviously, is an exaggeration, but it led me to wondering whether that weakness in a 4-2-3-1 could be negated in a more viable way. Immediately I wondered if such a thing as a double "Mourinho defence", as you term it, would be a possible solution: if only ONE of the DMs got forward to support the AM whenever in possession, that would leave one DM back at all times, and so there would be a "defensive triangle" in tact, safeguarding the 4-2-3-1 against its previous problem with counter attacks. Still, there remains the problem of offensive inadequacy in the system, though this change would certainly not make it any worse, and the excellent potential to break remains. Personally, this doesn't satisfy me however, as I agree with Xulu to an extent on his point that it is better to "Attack and Control" than to "Defend and Counter", given that it is a strategy which works in all match situations: “Fortune favours the brave!”


The question here though is over the "concern" about the defensive capability of reduced numbers that made the coach opt for the 4-2-3-1 in the first place. If the manager is going for the dual DM's in the first place, he must have concerns over the ability of his players to successfully defend with reduced numbers. Thus pushing forward a DM and moving the other DM across would indeed produce the "defensive triangle" and would indeed push more numbers forward, but it would then produce the precise defensive system that the manager must clearly feel is not capable of defending against the opponents attacks.

Player quality is always a crucial element in all formations, and if you take Liverpool as an example then clearly the quality of Gerrard and Torres must have convinced the manager that they would be capable of operating offensively under reduced levels of numbers and support and increased levels of marking. If your attackers are brilliant you can afford to reduce the numbers you push forward and instead you can bolster your defence.

That is not to say that what you suggest is not valid, but you need to be confident that your players can pull it off. You have to weigh the risk versus the reward based on your quality and the opponents quality.

Quote

Therefore, rather than trying to remove the defensive weakness inherent in a 4-2-3-1, it would be better to remove the defensive weakness of a 4-1-2-3 when facing itself, whilst maintaining its obvious excellence offensively. This seems to tie in nicely with your previous comment on using an asymmetric defence in a 4-5-1. However, I must confess that I do not quite understand exactly how this proposed formation would be better suited to defending the flanks, though undoubtedly a system of effectively three spread central defenders in with a DM in front would be superb at defending through the middle. Who, for example, would pick up the inside forward that usually can problematically manage to get between full back and central defender?


There are two key issues here. First is the fact that the ball can only travel down one flank at a time, and second is the fact that compressing the space through the centre and keeping the opponent infront of you and yourself between ball and goal is the ideal defensive situation.

The asymmetric 4-5-1 that has a Fullback wide and a CB wide and a CB and DM through the middle would have a man in each key zone capable of instantly challenging for the ball, or instantly pressing the ball carrier, while there would remain enough numbers left over to produce the "2-1 defensive triangle" as a supporting measure.

Thus you would combine a good and efficient arrangement of players offensively with two defenders down the flanks, a DM acting is a "pivot" or "anchor" between defense and attack, and a CB that could operate as sweeper, combined to a good and efficient arrangement of players defensively that could immediately challenge for the ball in each key zone or immediately press the ball carrier in each key zone, while the rest of the defenders swiftly forms the ideal covering shape. The asymmetric system is therefore, in theory, offensively more efficient while also having greater depth and opportunity to win the ball in defence if counter-attacked.

It is a case of the symmetric system being improved through evolution. You would have greater efficiency of player arrangements for playing offensive football, greater cover and ball winning opportunities to defend against the counter-attack, and larger numbers of players nearby to form the superior and more numerous team-wide defensive shape when facing sustained pressure and build-up football.

If you simply maintain the triangle defense when you are attacking then an additional defender is removed from attacking/support positions and function. Two Centrebacks remain behind the DM and offer nothing offensively. If however you push one Centreback wide and pull one Fullback deeper, then advance the defensive line forward you can use a Centeback and a Fullback as the flank supporting players, freeing up the other Fullback to operate as a Winger, freeing up a Winger to operate as a striker or playmaker or AMC or anything else you desire, while maintaining a superior defensive arrangement.

This is why, I believe, we have started to see more "asymmetric wingers" functioning as outright wide strikers, or indeed "asymmetric wingers" functioning as trequartista's or additional attacking midfielders. It is because they have been "positionally freed" from the offensive shape of the team through more efficient offensive employment of the "spare" Centreback.

Look at the following image, defensive shape on the left and offensive shape on the right:

Posted Image


You see on the right image that there are now infact more players back defending than a traditional 4-1-2-3 and holding a superior shape to defend any counter-attacks. There are two players down each flank like a traditional 4-1-2-3. Each defender on each flank can get forward like the Wingbacks/Fullbacks in a traditional 4-1-2-3 and still leave the "2+1 triangle" at the back like a traditional 4-1-2-3. Brown can get forward and leave Vidic + Ferdinand + Scholes to form the "2+1 triangle". If Brown is counter-attacked down his flank and misses the tackle/interception, then Vidic + Ferdinand + Scholes form the "2+1" triangle. If Brown is not caught out then alongside the "2+1" triangle you have a defender pressing the ball and harrassing the ball carrier.

The question is, where does Berbatov play his attacking football in the right image? Think about that for a while before you continue reading.


A creative, technically gifted, intelligent attacking player has been completely freed from all positional requirements in the attacking system to do exactly what he wishes wherever he wishes. What has been conceded is the "spare" Wingback. So long as the defence is even reasonably well drilled then each wide defender can fulfill the duty of the Wingback while the rest defend as a triangle. This has meant that a "spare wingback" has been made redundant and can be swapped for a completely free offensive player.

In other words the "spare wingback" that exists whenever the ball is on the opposite flank has been turned into a significantly more efficient offensive role. The "wingback" role in this system has been given to the Wide Defenders and only one player acts as a Wingback at one time leaving the rest to defend as normal. In place of the "spare wingback" is a player that can operate as a Trequartista ahead and alongside the channel destroying arrangement of advanced players in a 4-1-2-3.

Imagine Barcelona's attacking formation of 2009, with an ADDITIONAL trequartista. However to ensure this system is not open to exposure you require defensively adept and drilled wingers. A Winger such as Valencia that is willing and able to drop back and fill out in defence untill such time as the team regains it's defensive shape. Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry are not such players.

However players are not what is being discussed here. The important point is to understand how the inefficient "spare Wingback" has been turned into a potent offensive threat via a more efficient use of defensive players. By making the defensive system more efficient, it ultimately frees up "positions" to be used in much more devestating offensive function at the same time as improving the defense of the counter-attack. The subtle sacrifice here is the defensive strength of the transition between "counter-defence" shape and "sustained pressure defence" shape. You can defend the counter-attack equal or better, you can defend sustained pressure equal as before, but in that period where the opponent counter-attacks you and holds the ball up to wait for more sustained and controlled offensive play your team is slightly weaker than before. Thus drill becomes more important or slightly less risks are taken.

Ultimately I believe that this is where the Spanish formation has emerged from. The Spanish system is the slightly less risk taking version of the attacking image I posted here, with the "spare man" slotting in at AMC and the AMC dropping to MC/DMC. In the English Premier League however the attacking image I posted with the "free Berbatov" is something that was regularly seen.

Hopefully this clears up what is something of a rather difficult concept to explain and understand.

Quote

Theoretically excellent, but, assuming this asymmetric system works against other 4-1-2-3's, I still wonder how it fares against a 4-2-3-1, or other systems. Presumably, though, as the 4-2-3-1 is less potent than a 4-1-2-3 offensively, and the AMC will be easily dealt with by the crux of players in the centre this shouldn't be an issue, but the 2 man attack of a 4-4-2 might cause greater issues.


The two man attack of the 4-4-2 rarely causes "greater issues" because the key is the midfield and the flanks. However an absolute giant of a Centreforward knocking down a long pass to a speedy Second Striker is never going to stop being a threat untill such time as defenders always overpower strikers.

The question of the 4-2-3-1 is an interesting one, and it is a question and issue very well shown in the recent battles between Manchester United and Liverpool. The 4-2-3-1 is excellent at nullifying attacks and breaking on the counter, but it is also excellent at doing this from very high positions, compressing the pitch and winning the ball in advanced areas. Attacking a 4-2-3-1 is by the very premise of the formation rather difficult and risky.

It is the very strength of the 4-2-3-1 with "inferior" players and the strength of the 4-1-2-3 with "superior" players that has provoked the evolution of the asymmetric systems designed to outnumber the opponent in midfield without sacrificing any of the potency of flank + channel play. The grinding battles of the past few years in the European Cup Semi-Finals provoke teams to continue to improve the efficiency and contextual superiority of their systems.

The last 2-3 years in particular have seen a rapid rate of evolution of tactics, but more importantly the rapid uptake of the concept of designing systems specifically to defeat the opponent. That's why the "supreme" Barcelona got so effectively KO'd by Mourinho who designed his European Cup Semi Final tactics specifically to defeat Barcelona, and it also why Liverpool were so efficiently knocked out of the group stage after several years of consistant late stage appearances. It is also the fundamental reason behind Manchester United's record breaking 25 game unbeaten run in the European Cup from 2008 to 2009.

Quote

On a similar vein, this very good analysis seems to focus on how a 4-5-1 fares against other 4-5-1s, and particularly against a 4-1-2-3. That isn't a problem, as it's widely adopted at the highest level, but in England, I still have to face other systems, very commonly the 4-4-2, and the occasional 3-5-2 or 5-3-2. Clearly, you've shown that the "defensive triangle" means that a 4-5-1 is superior defensively to a 4-4-2, but there are other repercussions. Are the advantages and disadvantages of a 4-1-2-3 or 4-2-3-1 the same when playing a 4-4-2 as when facing a 4-5-1? I would imagine not, given that the space when attacking a 4-5-1 is on the flanks, whereas the 4-4-2 doesn't seem to force the play wide in the same way. Therefore, would the offensive strengths of a 4-1-2-3 over a 4-2-3-1 still apply? Given that the space in a 4-4-2 appears to me to be between the lines, perhaps having an AMC to roam free would be more advantageous than having the ability to attack each flank with 3 players with a striker roaming, and so a 4-2-3-1 might be the better attacking option offensively than a 4-1-2-3 when playing a 4-4-2. This is great stuff though, and I think that with the addition of an explanation on how the 4-5-1 deals with other formations, it could well be comprehensive.  :D


The bottom line is that all versions of the 4-5-1 are theoretically superior to the 4-4-2 and the results that claim otherwise depend on individual details of performance or the capability of players or indeed any other mistakes made by managers and players.

The real question, in my opinion, IS the very detail of the battles between the 4-1-2-3 and the 4-2-3-1 of varying levels of player quality because they are the battles that currently define football.

The analysis of the 4-5-1 given in the three opening posts is atleast a year if not two behind the actual times of football today, but it does look at in detail a significant period of recent footballing tactical development, and to understand where football is going today it is necessary to understand in detail where (top level) football was only a few seasons ago.

There will ofcourse be different issues for radically different formations and it would not be possible for me to explain everything. The key issue here is for me to explain the inherant superiority over the 4-4-2, explain the fundamental reasons underlying the widespread uptake of the different subtle variations of the 4-5-1, explain the details of the contest between them, and lay the ground work for exploring the current and future developments.

The key principle throughout all these variations however is shape. It is the shape of the 4-5-1 varients that gives them their inherant and widespread value, it is the shape that produces the radically different lines and angles and patterns of attack over the 4-4-2 and it is the very essence of the power of the shape and details of the shape that has provoked the current quest to retain the basic shape of these formations while finding ways to increase their defensive and supporting efficiency and employ "positionally free" players in more offensively efficient and effective and decisive roles.

The 4-1-2-3 provides the "template" for the defensive triangle. The 4-2-3-1 augments the defensive triangle when counter attacked with an additional defensive player and when facing sustained pressure advances the defensive triangle ahead of the back four or a spare back two. The asymmetric 4-2-3-1/4-1-2-3 attempt to achieve this augmentation of the defensive triangle without sacrificing offensive capability and indeed to increase offensive capability by maximising the numerical and supporting/offensive play efficiency of the defence.

The defensive triangle is here to stay. I cannot see it going the way of the sweeper. It is far too fundamentally effective a defensive premise with far too much shape-based capability and shape-based flexibility to ever be anything other than superior to all other systems untill/unless it is specifically exploited in detail.

What happens then is how you get the most out of it offensively, how you attack it best, and what the continual evolution of control of the midfield has in store as a repercussion for this supreme defensive system. The 4-5-1 and it's varients is the new era of football tactics. Everything subsequent is going to be based on it. Everything since the 4-5-1 has already been based on it, and this will only continue. It is the paradigm of modern football irrespective of what formations and shapes and systems we see in the future.
0

#15 User is offline   anubiscaller 

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: 13-April 07

Posted 22 July 2010 - 06:19 PM

I'm loving all this analysis. For example, I hadn't thought that the rise of assymetry might involve switching the 'free man' from a fullback (useful, but not decisive) to a really attacking player.

I have a simple request. Can we divert the discussion somewhat toward FM: how and indeed if we can refine our in-game tactics with this knowledge?
0

#16 User is offline   rezizter 

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 25-July 07

Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:26 AM

really enjoying this discussion (and the one on the other forum). I would also be interested in hearing Sfraser how you would look to transfer the above def/attack system into the game. In the above diagrams of Man U's defensive and atacking shape (minus berbatov in the attacking one), should we be just looking at the shape, or also at the roles (eg i'm a bit confused if the latter, as in the defensive formation, Brown is on defensive role, whereas in the attacking he is on auto.....a couple of other players are similar). If this is just how you wanted to show the difference in defensive and attacking phases, then it would be good to lead this discussion into how to best transfer this into FM (though i'm guessing that it won't be totally possible). Cheers
0

#17 User is offline   bricktamland 

  • Newbie
  • Pip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 4
  • Joined: 13-July 10

Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:16 PM

"I have a simple request. Can we divert the discussion somewhat toward FM: how and indeed if we can refine our in-game tactics with this knowledge?"



I agree with the above statement....how to translate this stuff into FM "talk" is huge.
I look at the Man U picture...what roles would you assign or duties??
Is that rigid with attack?

Stuff like that would really help what I believe to be most people. We all get the basic understanding of tactics but how to apply them within FM is the problem.
0

#18 User is offline   anubiscaller 

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 20
  • Joined: 13-April 07

Posted 23 July 2010 - 02:50 PM

The two diagrams above are clearly illustrations of player positions in the defensive and attacking phases.

I want to make it clear that I'm not looking for a tactic written up with the perfect roles and duties here. Rather, I'm interested in discussing to what degree we can model this (relatively modern) tactical evolution in FM. I agree with one of the posters above that the match engine in all likelihood limits the potential accuracy.

Which leads me to a brief off-topic point. Imagine the match engine was entirely logical, and an accurate measure of sensible player behaviour on a football pitch - of course, it could never equate to a 'human' understanding, but imagine it took a the real-life most logical reaction to any individual set of circumstances. Not only could you accurately model real tactics, but you could stress test existing and new tactics with almost experimental rigor. Can you imagine how useful a tool that would be? There would be some parallels with the American Footballers who use Madden NFL to learn opposition playbooks and moves. OK, wild imaginings over.
0

#19 User is offline   Death Ball 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 102
  • Joined: 02-November 09
  • LocationMadrid

Posted 23 July 2010 - 09:54 PM

I'm not sure I've understood all yet (a problem of my grasp of english) so I will give a second read, but as far as I understood, I think the problem with emulating what SFraser is proposing would be the role of the attacking free man.

In my games the behavior of the defense seems to be able to work it out correctly.

Some time, once I read and understand the bits I've had trouble with, I shall try to emulate it.


++++++++++EDIT++++++++++

Ok, I didn't re read, but tried something that would look like the two images above in defense and attack. The one I didn't see doing so much as would be wanted was the free man (I set Agüero, as I chose Atlético de Madrid). Maybe it was because I set him to move into channels, but that I just thought out now. He's kept mostly to the center.

I have attached a file with the match played (against Atlético B, still got to play against someone strong, it's the next match but I don't have the time to play it now), I looked at the defense mostly, so no changes were compared with the players ahead. The three tactics attempted: 0 - DL DC DC DC; no number (will be called 1) DL DC DC DR, second DL DC DR; WBL (they're named SFraser simulation try with second, nothing or 0).

They appear to look in attack mostly as desired, the main changes happen in the defensive phase. I think the order of closeness to the target would be 1 - 0 - 2.

0 - In attack this has the look that is wished: three at the back, one shielding, four ahead with Forlán and Agüero further up. The former keeping into the middle (I've been looking mostly at defense and didn't try variations with the players above). In defense it generates a back four displaced to the left and the defensive midfielder (Assunçao) gets dragged to mark the wingers at the right side, which is not quite the desired. I didn't play with the closing down settings, which may work to solve this. The left fullback, set to winger and attack, runs up to join with the attacking MC and the wingers forming the line of four, as said at the start.

1 - Behaves the same as the above in the attack, with the slight modification that the DR (fullback defend) moves slightly further up than the rest of the defense, though it keeps behind the defensive minded MC. In defense it keeps the 4-2-3-1 shape as shown above and wished, in attack the DCl does move a bit to the left, though maybe not as much as the DR.

2 - This one was made with the though of giving more width and similar at both sides with the expectation that the WBL would go back as FBL and the FBL as DCl with the DC going DCr. Unfortunately, Atlético B is so vastly inferior I couldn't witness enough attacking by the rival to know how this does behave. The only time the rival got the ball and approached my area while using this version, what I found was that the FBL remained as FBL and was the WBL who moved into DCl, but in that attack he didn't move as an anticipation of there being a hole that needed covering, but as reaction to a rival moving into that space from his side. On attack this produces exactly what is depicted.

As mentioned, Agüero was to be the free man (the Berbatov), I set him as the only player roaming from position, with the highest creativity (set the team to be creative, though, so reduced Forlán's) and instruction to move into channels. I don't remember seeing him wander into the flanks but remain always around the middle, never beyond the lines at either 1/3 or 1/4  of width.

Forlán, however, did wander into the wings a couple times at least.

Next match planned is against Manchester United, so I expect to see enough rival attacks to know what will be the behavior in defense of 2.

P.S. - forgot to mention. Tactic 0 is the first used, from min 0 until more or less min 30; tactic 1 was from min 30 to around min 55; tactic 2 from 55 to 70 and then back to 1, I think, forgot to take note :x

Attached File(s)


0

#20 User is offline   Death Ball 

  • Advanced Member
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 102
  • Joined: 02-November 09
  • LocationMadrid

Posted 25 July 2010 - 11:59 AM

Some screenies and two more matches against stronger opposition.

The screenies are from the ManU match, there I used the tactic 1 (plain back four) for the whole first half and a few minutes of the second. I changed to the 0 (DL 3xDC) for a period of 10-15 mins after min 50, to go back to 1 around 60, then 0 at 65 1 at 67. And in the last quarter to 2 (WBL, DLCR).

(I used some close-down/marking in the ManU match up to min 15-20, later only OI used where show foot)

─ Images of the tactic 1 (DL-DC-DC-DR, a,d,d,d):

· Attacking

Posted Image

The ball has been recovered recently and the attack is in the early stages. Antonio López (#2, DL) has gone up and Agüero (10) has come deep for the ball. Perea (#5, DR) has moved up to level with Assunçao (6) who's the one that is tasked to remain in front of the back three.

Posted Image

A later stage of the attack. The shape is very much what is depicted above. #2 is up the pitch, Agüero has come into the area and is Forlán (#7) who has drifted into a wing.

Posted Image

A late stage of attack, in which Perea is again as high as Assunçao.

Posted Image

When having the ball, Assunçao moves further up the pitch than without ball.

Posted Image

Positions when taking a goal kick.

· Defending:

Posted Image

The DR goes to mark their AMCl that has wandered into the wing.

Posted Image

The MCs sit deep in front of defence.

Posted Image

A take at the start of their attack move.

Posted Image

The fullbacks take their side AMCs in the winger areas, the wingers take on their fullbacks.

Posted Image

The back four stand on a wide symmetric line.




─ Tactic 0 (DL-DC-DC-DC, a-d-d-d)

· Attacking:

No screenshot taken, seems the one I didn't pressed hard. It's very similar, only Perea, as DCr, doesn't push as high as Assunçao now and remains at the same depth as the other DCs.

· Defending:

http://i3.photobucke.../01-Defence.jpg

The four line seems uniform in the spaces, but it leaves a big space in the right flank, players there will have to be taken by either Assunçao, the winger (Simão) or Perea. Simão would be the one if he were marking from the start,. else would be a close to late run by either of the other two.

http://i3.photobucke.../02-Defence.jpg

In this case, Simão is watching their fullback, Perea will make a run to mark their winger when he receives the ball, will be in time to difficult the cross but not enough to prevent or cut it.

http://i3.photobucke.../03-Defence.jpg

Here, is Assuçao who takes on their winger while Perea remains in the center.

─ Tactic 2 (WBL, DL-DC-DR):

· Attack:

http://i3.photobucke...s/21-Attack.jpg

The DR is slightly centered, this is more or less like the Tactic 0 would look in attack.

· Defence:

http://i3.photobucke.../21-Defence.jpg

Here it seems like the DL is taking DCl and WBL is falling to DL marking the winger, will be so during the game, but the only play like this.

http://i3.photobucke...s/22Defence.jpg

http://i3.photobucke.../23-Defence.jpg

http://i3.photobucke.../25-Defence.jpg

Normally, though, WBL will stay ahead of DL and won't really be a back 4.

http://i3.photobucke.../24-Defence.jpg

Here again a back four seems to form, as reaction to their #16 going in, but notice how the space between DC and DR is clearly longer than WBL-DL.

+++++EDIT+++++

I was in a hurry to go watch the F-1, so I didn't say:

I tried another couple of wide play settings por the AMC-would be free man. Normal didn't change his positioning much, he still kept to the central half/third.

With huge touchline he also kept to the centre, though then could be seen once or twice moving to the sides, when having the ball.

Attached File(s)


0

Share this topic:


  • 2 Pages +
  • 1
  • 2
  • You cannot start a new topic
  • You cannot reply to this topic