In this guide I want to talk about adapting a formation in-game to best take advantage of weaknesses in the opposition. This is very much a work in progress so please feel free to add your comments below and we can develop this guide as more knowledge is added.
In this years game I've noticed that managers at all levels are now adapting their tactics often during games; in previous versions only the very best managers were tinkering more than once or twice and so this year is more of a challenge. However, with the right changes I've started to find some success.
Opposition managers seem to change formations most often at the start of a game, at half-time, after a goal is scored or conceded so check the opposition tab straight after any of these events occur and adapt your tactic accordingly. They will also tinker at other random times though, so make sure you check what they are up to if it starts to look like the tide is turning against you too.
For the purposes of this guide, we're going to split the field in to four areas; wide areas, central defence, central midfield and forward line.
Wide areas include any players in the positions labelled L or R, including Full Backs right up to the Forward positions. In these areas we want to match up the number of players; so if the opposition has two players on each side we want to do the same; or if they are playing with just Wing Backs for example, we can get away with also only having a single wide player on each flank.
I've had success using Wing Backs in the WBL/R positions when playing with a single wide player, or Wing Backs in the FBL/R positions and Inside Forwards in the AML/R positions when playing with two wide players, however this is not to say other combinations don't work and I've also used Defensive Wingers, Wingers and Full Backs in individual games.
Central defence is another simple one, where we want to match up the number of defenders with the number of attackers in the FC position of the opposition. This is usually anything between 1 and 3 and while playing with a single Central Defender sounds bat-poop crazy, it does actually work fine.
Roles seem to matter little here; I suggest going with whatever suits the individual players the best or your preference if you have one. I personally tend to use Limited Defenders as until now I have only managed at a lower level.
One aside to this; if an opposition player is sent off they can drop to a formation with no attackers. In this case, do not attempt to use no central defenders; I can tell you from experience that that doesn't work – use a single one instead.
Now that we have wide areas and defence sorted, we want to start putting the shape of our tactic together and this happens in central midfield. Take a careful look at the opposition players and roles in the DMC, MC and AMC positions and mirror them in your own (remember to mirror not copy; so two DMCs for the opposition is two AMCs for you; and switch left to right). This sometimes ends up in a bonkers looking tactic but remember we're looking to exploit areas of the pitch, not produce something that looks good on the tactics screen.
Our next action is to set up the correct roles. The idea behind the following recommendations is to push beyond the opposition midfielders when attacking, whilst not pressing too high when defending. If you imagine a heat map for each of the roles, we want ours to cover all the areas that the opposition players would to dominate the midfield.
Once we've sorted the rest of the pitch out, we should be left with between 1 and 3 attackers. Here I find that it's best to make use of the players you have available as best as possible, because there's a good chance that the formation has changed significantly since you picked your team.
1 or 2 strikers are best used in the FC position, but an inside forward in the AMC position can also work well behind a lone striker. With three players to play with, I prefer to use two inside forwards wide and a lone striker, or two strikers and an extra advanced playmaker in the AMC position if the rest of the formation allows. Play around with the players you have to find the best fit for each game.
AlbinoLeffe lined up in this game with an interesting take on 532/352:
I switched from my starting 433 to a 4312 with wing backs so we can move players in-field and not get dominated in the centre of the pitch. Petermann plays as a BBM to tire out the opposition BWM and Bertoni and Cia play as BWMs to put pressure on the opposition CMs who will be doing the bulk of the creative work in the centre. With defence sorted, we had three attackers left over to put pressure on the oppositions' back three, so Fink plays AP in the space behind the opposition defence to create chances for the front two:
In the next game, Gubbio tried their luck with a 3412:
Using a 4312, but this time with a DLP to sit deep and mark the oppositions' AP out of the game, we took an early lead:
After the goal, Gubbio made a subtle change in switching to a 343:
And I dropped the DLP back to CB to counter the threat of an extra attacker in the oppositions' forward line. Bertoni is not a Centre Back, but finished the game with an 8 rating and 3 points:
Thanks for reading, I hope it helps someone. Please let me know your thoughts/comments below!