Football Manager 2017/2018 Barcelona Tiki Taka Tactic 2-3-5 Formation
The Barcelona Tiki Taka Tactic 2-3-5 Formation, which will create something similar of a 2-3-2-3 formation in average positioning is the main tactic to use, especially if you like to see wingbacks that burst forward and into space, lots of overlaps, an higher amount of crosses and an increase of penetrating runs from deep (especially from the MCR and the wing backs.. Even though I used attacking wingbacks in DM-strata in previous versions, I was forced to revert to a more traditional system playing in a 4-1-2-2-1 DM formation for FM 2017. The average positioning is somehow similar to before, but with an increased amount of movements, higher possession ratio because of more passes being made meanwhile the tactic itself creates more distinct goalscoring opportunities, chances, and goals, this tactic provides a better circumstance to dominate and control the match. As mentioned previously, the tactic is also more defensive solid as the opponents will only get a handful of chances per match and are forced to make rushed decisions time and time again due to the level of closing down.
The team instructions are similar to what detailed earlier and I normally start off the first 15 minutes using a Standard strategy before I make a decision according to how the opposite team plays. At times I can keep the strategy at Standard throughout the match, but sometimes I change to Control or Counter depending on the level of the defensive line, pressing and opposite formation.
The 2-3-5 variant will be better against teams who utilize a deep defensive block congesting play to the middle as you look to exploit the wide areas of the pitch by overloading the flanks and get a higher amount of crosses inside the box. It looks to stretch the opposition team even wider, creating space in the middle for the deep-lying playmaker support / roaming playmaker (MCR) who moves into channels or the advanced playmaker attack (MCL) who gets forward whenever possible with the hope that they will be able to unlock the opposing defensive block by better vision and holding position in key areas of the pitch when entering final third.
The AP-A will look to make runs behind the opposite defensive line and record an average position in the same area as the false nine. The center diamond will also become more closely connected to the false nine will be inclined to drop deeper than with a flexible team shape.
Here the holding playmaker (DLP-D) will step up into the center midfield when needed creating a strong triangle in the center while covering the center channel with the help of central defenders who stay close to each other compared to using the halfback role or a 2-3-2-3 WB in DM-strata. The deep-lying playmaker will also come deep to get the ball, making it look like you are playing a 3-4-3 formation in the build-up phase as the defensive midfielder will act like a second and a half central defender.
While I prefer to use it against weaker opponents, the attacking wingbacks can reduce the attacking abilities of the opposite inside forwards as they need to spend more energy tracking back rather than utilizing their creativity in the attacking third, which they are more comfortable doing. But playing this way has it risks as it leaves a huge amount of space behind them which opposing players can exploit on the counter.
This system looks to create numerical superiority against the opposing defensive line as well as quality superiority against their central midfield as you will literally dominate the central midfield with 5 players working together to regain possession and control space. This is mainly because of the attacking attitude of the wingbacks who will close down more often. I tend to use this tactic when I face a team which is far more inferior than mine often playing 4-5-1, 4-1-4-1 or 3-4-2-1 or any alterations where it is practically a lone forward to speak of, but can also be suited against a 4-2-3-1 formation where you face attacking wingers as the wingbacks will stay in line with the central defenders and be quick to get back in a flat back four if losing possession.
When the attacking wingbacks get forward whenever possible, the inside forwards (support duty) will cut diagonally into the middle, exploiting the half space between the opposing fullbacks and central defenders. The movement attracts the opposing markers attention which creates even more space down the flanks the wingbacks can exploit from. Since the complete wingback attack (right) will look to make an impact in the opposing half the deep-lying playmaker support will have an important job to cover for his runs. The main job of the deep-lying playmaker support will be to retain possession, break the lines with intelligent passes and provide some key passes from a deeper position.
In regard to the single holding playmaker who will have a pivotal role, he will look to intercept passes, win back the ball by stepping up in the midfield line or drop back to increase the number of passing options for the central defenders when building out from the back. Here some would automatically choose the ‘regista’ or a defensive midfielder, but I have opted for the DLP (defend) for this system as I need him to hold position in front of the central defenders, both to provide depth in ball circulation but also to have a higher creative freedom and level of mentality compared to the DM(d).
Team Training (General) – The Development Program
The tiki taka philosophy could be entitled as an integral culture where player development is as important as the philosophy in terms of transfers and youth recruitment. It’s not like the sudden change of a manager entirely change the way the team will play – or which training sessions that will be elementary for the youths preparations to become a future first team member.
FC Barcelona and its tiki taka playing philosophy are unique in that way that there is a central concept which flows through the club – a primary idea about how to control and dominate the opposition. This idea about how to play beautiful football has stood as the founding pillar of the clubs football philosophy and culture for at least 25 years.
This is why I consider it as the evolution of Total football, not only because of the style, but also because of the focus on specific training routines created to make sure all players – from the age of 7 (PreBenjami) – will fit into the playing style perfectly when they should be ready for the first team 10-15 years ahead. Training is incorporated not only to be technically proficient to endure the high passing tempo or tactical intelligent to fit into the positional play but everything is about rehearsed play on improving intuition and decision-making giving them the tools to adapt to situations with the basis of reducing the time spend on issues like: ‘knowing where your teammates are’. For example, the rondo is one basic training session which will serve as rehearsed play. The habitual training I’m briefly mentioning is one of the heritages of Total Football and the revamp Johan Cruyff did to the youth academy.
All coaches talk too much about running a lot. I say it’s not necessary to run so much. Soccer is a game that’s played with the brain. You need to be in the right place at the right time, not too early, not too late.
The training is structured around the principles of how the first team plays by using a development program build on the concepts of the football philosophy integrated at the club running through all the ranks of the club. The development model is built around age relevant training providing each age group a step by step program of the characteristics of the playing identity. This to ease the step up from juniors to the first team or from youth ranks (under 16) to the reserves (under 21). This ensures that the players gone through the ranks are experts of the playing style having recorded approximately 10,000 hours of specialized training around the concepts of “tiki taka” by the age of early twenties.
Player development at Barcelona was/is focused around; “we train as we play, with the same intensity of a football match”. Sessions will never last longer than 90 minutes and the training sessions themselves looks to improve player fitness and stamina, and not by running up and down hills. So how does this relates to the general training in Football Manager 2016?
Pre-Season [Improving Tactical Familiarity]
I won’t delve into how to improve the tactical familiarity levels here. That will be discussed in an own post (previously released but not moved to our new server) later. But the pre-season is all about match preparations and improving team cohesion. Just to summarize, the level of team cohesion can be monitored under the assistant manager’s team talk feedback report. I prioritize to have a good level of understanding amongst the players before the first league match kicks off. So after some weeks (hopefully 2-4 weeks) of fitness training, I use general training team cohesion in companionship with match tactics for match preparations. With the scheduling slider set to 50% on match preparation Match tactics until all the tactical familiarity levels reach 100/100 the remaining time will be spent on tactical general training from the time team blend is good.
NOTE! Team cohesion is also the mandatory option when 2 or more players have been purchased or sold.
General Training – In-Season
As detailed in the appendix about the player roles of tiki taka the key attributes for such a playing style revolves around the ability to read the game (anticipation) make good (correct) decisions throughout the match and be a team player who can be calm under pressure and make intelligent decisions despite fatigue. On the other hand, I can’t hide the fact that it’s important that the players know each other very well before having any hopes of seeing good movements and interchange of positions.
The majority of general training is set to improve the players tactical intelligent. I spend a high amount of team training on Tactical at any club I’m managing. Apart from the Tactical team training, which I consider as the basis of the clubs development plan I also tend to set an equal focus on Ball Control, because of the importance of improving technique and first touch, and Attacking to improve vision, off the ball and passing. But here it may be natural to believe that passing is improved together with first touch and technique as real-life training drills evolving around the ability to control the ball also has an element of passing. Since it’s impossible to know which training drills the players do, I favor to focus 50% on ball control and Attacking apart from Tactical.
One model to use is 2 weeks tactical, 1-week ball control and 1 week attacking per month. But this comes down to the analysis of your squad, periodic performance analysis of areas your team might struggle with, either its low goal scoring ratio, poor passing or lack of team movement and tactical understanding.
Some would also claim that positioning is also an important part of the play, especially in terms of pressing and therefor Defending should be at least be prioritized to some degree, but I rather have my team focus 30% on Ball Control and Attacking and then follow Josep Guardiola’s philosophy to practice defensive organization and positioning when building out from the back prior to one game per month just to ensure the players don’t forget that important element of play.
Here is one common example of my approach to team training including focus area and intensity level.
This level of balance between general training and match preparations and its intensity level is primarily used in periods where the fixture list is normal (one match per week). For English weeks (one mid-week match included) I prefer to decrease the match preparation to 10% in order to focus on player development when tactical familiarity and team blend is at highest.
Match Preparation looks to boost the area which I’m not currently focusing on for general training. While Attacking Movement might be selected over 50% of the season for match preparation in order to improve the off the ball movements and positional play in possession defensive positioning might be a good number two if you concede goals very often. This is partly because I prefer Tactical focus ahead of Ball Control and then Attacking for general training.
Youth Training & Development
One of the first things I do when taking over a new club is to ensure that the reserves and under 19/18 plays matches with First teams tactics. This can be managed under Staff Responsibilities. I also favor having total control of the reserves and Under-19/18 training. For youth development, I prefer to set 100% focus on player development. This means that youth team training is set to Tactical throughout the season at 10% match preparations just to make them familiar with the clubs match tactics.