Master Tactical Tips; Part of Football Manager Tactics Analysis
With the success of FC Barcelonas Tiki-Taka’s playing style, there have become a huge interest in the recent years in Football Manager to try to re-create this attacking possession football philosophy. The Tiki-Taka could be described as both an attacking and defensive structure, a working unit. To quote Johan Cruijff on the benefits of possession tactic; “As long as we got the ball, they can’t score”. Johan Cruijff can be described as one of the key men in the development of the Total Football, the playing style Tiki-Taka emerged from.
If you just love possession tactics, I hope you take the time to download and try the best possession tactic I’ve ever created, FC Barcelona Tiki-Taka Tactic, which was developed for Football Manager 2013 13.3.3.
The best possession tactics have an equal amount of focus on keeping possession through excellent passing technique, movement and vision. But additional to be in possession of the ball is the importance of winning possession quickly by high work rate, putting pressure on the opposite players and much aggression. No matter how your football philosophy is, you should pay notice on how you win possession and where you should put extra effort in doing so.
No matter what style and tactical preference in Football Manager you will need to know how to win possession in order to score goals and get success. To quote Sven-Erik Göransson; “Football is much harder if you don’t have the ball”. So in order to have possession of the ball, you got to win it! Seems quite easy, or difficult depending on the skills of your players, tactical approach and strength in the opposition team.
Actually, when creating (or adapting a match tactic), I focus most of my time trying to figure out how I can win possession, rather than thinking about how I shall create chances. Hopefully these master tips will make you able to understand how important it is to win possession in order to create the needed chances, or dominate with a possession tactic similar to the Tiki-Taka.
In this article you will be handed some master tips on How to win possession in Football Manager, through tactical analysis and match tactics adaption in order to conquer the opposition team by taking advantage of pressing and regaining possession in ‘vulnerable’ zones.
Key Player Attributes to win ball back – Chapter 1
We have previously given you the Football Manager guide to player attributes, which tells you their definitions. Player attributes can be looked as the basic foundation of how likely a certain player will succeed at winning possession. So in order to increase your chances of winning possession you’ll need players with the right player attributes:
– the team need good teamwork to ensure team unity
– the players need good combination of bravery, aggression, stamina and work rate to pressurize the opponent.
– the players need good concentration, positioning, tackling and marking to both be in the right position at the right time and to do what’s required; and to win the ball without making faults.
– the players need excellent decisions, anticipation and composure as they need to make correct decisions all through the match, predict and react to match situations and sometimes be a head of the arising situations.
These are just some of the key attributes, but it doesn’t mean that the whole team needs good ratings on all of them.
Winning possession is a matter of anticipating the opposite players next move, team work through tactical preferences and extra effort from individual players who uses their main strengths in the benefit for the team. Apart from player attributes, which can make you one step closer to increasing the chance of winning possession, it is also important to have the right players at the right place, in the right time. Keep on reading!
When creating your Football Manager tactic, it’s important to consider where you want to win possession. This is a decision you might be forced to take for every match, but with a good defensive structure you shouldn’t need to.
As you might know, a formation is based upon three different zones; attacking line (strikers), central line (midfield) and defensive line (defenders). Your formation and tactical setup could be described as the basic structure, the foundation for succeeding at keeping possession or winning possession, which we will concentrate on in this article. In my point of view, keeping possession gets easier if you succeeds in winning possession.
In order to keep possession the players must be connected with each other. In order to win possession, the players need to be at the right place or close enough, at the right moment and interfering with the opposition teams passing play. Your formation and player positioning could both restrict and expand your chances of winning possession. By outnumbering one of the opposition teams zones you may increase the chances of winning possession in a particular zone, but this may increase the chances of loosing it in another. That’s why some managers often tries to reflect to the opposition teams formation with an defensive approach to it; 4-2-3-1 vs 4-1-2-2-1. This tactical approach can be seen as a man-marking strategy, as all players will stay connected with their opposite target. (The red team in the illustration below can be seen as using a zonal marking strategy).
If we look at the 5-3-2 formation (blue kits) versus 4-3-3 formation (red kits), you’ll quickly notice that the 5-3-2 is more defensive orientated as they possess three central defenders against a lone striker, or 5 vs 3 in the 4-3-3’s attacking line. Even though it might be easier for these three defenders to win possession from the lone striker, as it is for a narrow midfield of three (4-3-3) to counter a midfield of two (4-2-4), you must also think about what happens next. Since the lone striker, can be used as a false nine, the original 4-3-3 formation can be adopted to a 4-4-2, which makes it 4 vs 3 in the central line. By using a 3 men attack you can pressurize the opposition team much deeper than playing with only two. How important the attackers are in winning possession, can you read more about in chapter 4: How to pressurize the opponent.
Sometimes the question could be, should I adopt the formation according to the opposition teams formation, or should I force them to adopt to my tactical setup? The answer depends both on your strength and weaknesses, and the opposition teams threats.
By analyzing your teams and players strength and weaknesses you will get a better understanding on your best zones, which aids your understanding about where you want to win possession. It’s certain that you can increase your chances of winning possession by setting up the right formation according to the opposite formation. Of course the players skills (strength and weaknesses) is as important as player positioning, and should be analyzed. We will look more on how you can adapt your match tactics depending on encountering the opposite team and formation below.
Adapting Match Tactics: Create vs reject space – Chapter 3
Adapting the match tactic to win possession quicker, is both about exploiting the opposition teams weaknesses and the spaces that’s bound to be on the pitch. Keeping control of the ball or winning it could be a matter of creating space versus rejecting space, as these two elements go hand in hand. Either you have the ball or not you can’t cover the whole pitch with players. It’s bound to leave spaces for the opposition team to exploit, but in order to win possession you’ll need to restrict spaces in some key areas according to your teams strength.
The best solution in this matter is to take advantage of the touchline instructions in Football Manager. Regarding touchline instructions there are four different options to look at, in order to create or reject space. Which of the different options you choose, should be considered as the main determination on where you want to win the ball.
I) The defensive line: To win possession, your players need be close enough to the opposite player to reach the ball. If he can’t win it, he should at least put enough pressure on the target to force mistakes, or in a wider aspect restrict his passing options. Of course, most of this issue in regard to making the player close enough to win possession, could be a resulting factor of the preferred formation, but it is also an issue about the players stamina, work rate, anticipation, decisions and positioning. There are two important touchline instructions in regard to setting the defensive line, in additional to changing the strategy in team instructions, which also changes defensive line, tempo and width.
A) Push Higher up can put more pressure on the opposite players, as your players will get closer to them. But this depends of course on the opposition teams defensive line, so you’ll need to do some match tactics analyzing. By having a high defensive line, you increases the chances of winning possession quickly high up in the field. From the illustration above Push higher up equals to winning possession in zone 1 (or 2). Using this setting depends for me on two factors; is my attacking line better than the opposite defensive line? Do the defensive line have weaknesses I can exploit?
When using this touchline instructions it’s important to consider how high your defensive line should be compared to the opposition teams strength. It’s important to see the duality in this matter. By pushing the defensive line high it will make your side vulnerable for counter attacking, as there is much space behind it to exploit.
B) Drop Deeper is the opposite solution. As you can see from the illustration below your team will stand more off, great for conserving energy and force the team to leave space behind their defensive line. This options will make it easier for the opposition team to pass the ball around and can be the difference between 55% in possession and 70% if the opposite defensive line are good with the ball. Most often, this touchline instructions results in winning the ball deeper on the pitch f.ex. high up in zone 3 or in zone 2.
II Setting the width is also vital for creating and rejecting space. This is also a matter of adjusting the formation to you opponent, or let him adjust to you. From the illustration about the 5-3-2 versus 4-3-3 you’ll notice that there is more space for the other team to exploit on the wings, while the 4-3-3 is rejecting space in the center. What type of touchline instructions you choose in regard to width depends on your teams strength, but are as important as setting the defensive line for increasing the chances of winning possession. You got two touchline instructions to choose from in regard to changing the width without changing team strategy.
A) Play narrower will instruct your players to stay closer to each other, excellent when parking the bus as it makes it more difficult for the opposition team to pass their way through that area – they will need better skills. By narrowing the width you may force the players to exploit areas most commonly on the flanks, but this statement depends also on your preferred formation, as some formations such as 4-3-3 balance this pretty well with wide wingers and wing backs who may hugs the touchline.
B) Play wider is the opposite solution. The players will stay further away from each other horizontally and will leave more spaces for the opposition team to exploit in the center. If you got better players in the center than the opposition team it may be advantageous to force them to exploit the center.
To make small changes in regard to space creation or space rejection, you can look at the touchline instructions; Hassle Opponents and Get Stuck in which is good for winning possession.
Final words in regard to controlling space
My tips when choosing between these choices are; winning possession is more about rejecting space in the areas you’re weak rather than creating spaces to exploit in your weakest areas. For me winning possession is all about getting the ball in the areas where my side is better than the opposition team. If your side are better on the flanks it may be advantageous to play narrower and force the opposition team down the flanks.
By adopting width and defensive line you can increase (or decrease) the chances of winning possession. It’s one of the most decisive elements in regard to where you want to win the ball and should be considered along with your tactical approach. As a general rule your side should either stay deeper, press higher, play narrower or wider than the opposition team, depending on where you want to win the ball. By creating spaces you will increase the chances of certain player positions to stand out, while rejecting space will make it more difficult for the opposition team to keep possession in that particular area.
You might wonder how you should know where to win possession? Where are the opposition teams weakest spots? Keep on reading to get the answers to all your questions.
Pressurizing the Opposition Team – Chapter 4
For a possession tactic, it is most common to loose possession of the ball in attack or midfield area (zone 1 or 2). For me, it is important that the team attacks and defends as a unit. As I see it defense already starts with the attacking line. The forwards represent the first line of defense as well as the last line of attack. As mentioned before, formations with 3 forwards can put more pressure deeper and perhaps better, than a 2-men forward. The attacking line with the help of midfielders with attacking duty can be the decisive cause to how you can win possession quickly. I like to look at their roles as troublemakers, as their job is to always interfere. The attacking line will run from one defender to another to disturb and interfere, which could often make the job easier to win possession. You might ask why? Why do I want to risk fatigue in my attacking line, as their stamina and energy is needed to create attacking fluidity? The answer is simple; By trying to win the ball high up, the ball will be closer to the penalty area, which can create some “free” chances. This tactical approach fits the words of Josep Guardiola’s tactical preferences from the introduction of my FC Barcelona Tiki-Taka tactic.
No matter what your preferred playing style are, pressurizing the opposition team is vital in order to win possession.
Winning possession in one of the different zones, which is illustrated before, has its pros and cons. But in reference to the different zones’ player attributes, their threat barometer and weakest skills it is most natural to look at this issue in the order of:
– Focus solely on defending against opposite attacking line, since these players often have excellent technical skills, creativity, off the ball and finishing. It’s most natural to win possession by tackling or marking, but it can be won if the threat shoots wide, makes mistakes or keeps the ball long enough to be closed down. (Labelled green).
– The Midfield area can both be about: A) controlling the situation by denying spaces to exploit, prevent them from passing the ball to more dangerous areas / players or force them to use their exceptional skills to get by (touchline instructions; stand off and stay on feet) or B) exploit weaknesses to win possession. For me the midfield area is both about defending and attacking pressure. (I’ve labelled it yellow as a good midfield might needed to be defended against).
– Focus solely on attacking pressure against opposite defensive line by denying space and reject them time to think and decide their next action (labelled red). As the defenders are very important players in the modern football, because of their participation in the teams build-up, it’s most natural to deny them time on the ball. These players are also often prone to be technically weak which may increase the error rate.
Why pressurize the opposition teams defensive line? – Chapter 3.1
As I see it, the defensive line is always the most vulnerable area, and besides it is the area closest to goal! The chances of winning possession here, or put enough pressure to later interfere with the passing is higher here than in the other end of the pitch. There are four to five different player positions I always pressurize, no matter their player attributes:
Fullbacks / Wingbacks:
Normally the fullback will be positioned wide and is the closest link between central defenders, central midfielder and wingers. They can have huge spaces to exploit depending on your formation, and can be a huge threat in regard to crossing, passing and space creation. Winning possession here can often be easier than trying to win in the central midfield, as they often lacks passing technique, first touch, composure, decisions and positioning. If the ball is won here, your inside forward could have huge spaces to run onto if speedy. Some of them also lacks creativity and flair to do something extra-ordinary with the ball. This is a screenshot of the player attributes from a Spanish national player and regular Premier League player.
Defensive midfielder or central midfielder with defensive duty:
Putting pressure on the defensive midfielder can be advantageous. The threat barometer of the defensive midfielders can be considered similar to the wingbacks, but this depends on the threat compared to your weaknesses. What’s even more interesting is his player positioning and its vulnerabilities and strengths. As he’s often positioned in the central he is the most obvious link between central defenders, wingbacks, attacking midfielders and wingers. For many tactics, this could be described as the key position. Often they have good passing, positioning, strength and work rate, but could lack technique, dribbling, quickness, flair and creativity. If the ball is won in this particular area, you can easily create 4 vs 3 situations. But this depends how deep the player is positioned and how high the wingbacks are positioned. This is a screenshot of a former Argentinian national player and regular starter at Italian Internazionale.
Central defenders / Sweepers:
The central defenders are the most obvious target to pressurize. While some teams like to stay deep and try to win possession in their own half, I like to do the opposite, by pressurizing the central defenders as much as possible. Besides the goalkeeper, they often possess poor first touch, passing and creativity. Some have also poor decisions and technique. By pressurizing the central defenders you can win possession in some of the most dangerous areas on the pitch, which may cause many clear cut chances or goals (depending on your attacking lines composure). This is a screenshot of one of the most exciting defenders in Europe the last three seasons. He plays for the Serbian national team and features in the UEFA Champions League semi final this season.
On the other hand you’ve got the goalkeeper. Most of the goalkeepers in Football Manager have poor first touch and technique. By pressurizing him you can almost predict how he will distribute the ball. A high defensive line will pressurize the goalkeeper (and defenders), and will most likely force him to kick the ball long, which I regard as a 50-50 situation of winning the ball in midfield, as long kicks are rarely accurate. A low/deep defensive line with low pressure will increase the chances of the goalkeeper distributing the ball to one of the defenders or throw the ball quickly to a open player. Of course much of this depends on the goalkeepers player instructions.
How to instruct players to pressurize the Oppositions Team – Chapter 5
Up to know we have looked at the importance of formation, player attributes and player positions weaknesses and strength, and how you can use Football Manager’s touchline instructions to adapt match tactics according to the evolving events and strengthen your weaknesses through team unity and rejecting space. We have now a fairly good understanding on which areas it may be favorable to pressurize and which zones you should want to win possession in, but still some of you might wonder how you should instruct your players to win possession.
In regard to this matter we need to look at the importance of Opposition instructions, which is one of few tactical tools in Football Manager who ain’t used with the intent and power it should have. This under-used tactical tool can increase your chances of winning possession with tenth of percents! By using it correctly you can put even more pressure to the different zones. Lets look at some of the key elements to winning possession in regard to opposition instructions.
Pressurize by Closing Down always
We have previously mentioned how important it is to stay close enough to the opposite player, aka within reach of the ball, and how important it is to pressurize certain areas. Besides using touchline instructions you can also have your players to close down certain threats or player positions. From before we’ve learned that the opposition teams defensive line could be the weakest zone, so closing down the defenders and defensive midfielders is vital. Both to interfere with the passing play but also to increase pressure, and let them have little time on the ball. For me closing down is all about denying obvious passing choices and to make them pass the ball where they never should have!
Closing down always can be assigned to opposition teams full backs / wingbacks, central defenders, defensive midfielder, midfielders with good passing and perhaps wingers with average technical stats with good results. Almost the entire team could be closed down always, depending on their individual skills. For me closing down is more about forcing the opposite threat to play back passes, keep their back against the goal or run into more trouble. This effective tactical tool should be the first opposition instruction you consider.
Tight (Man) Mark obvious passing threats
Depending on your formation and the opposition teams threats, tight marking can make it easier for your side to win possession in OTHER areas of the field. By tight marking the most technical midfielder (the player with good creativity and passing aka the regista) you can deny passes and force the other players to pass the ball to less dangerous players. Tight marking can also be looked as a tool to win possession quickly, since if the player receives the ball, it’s easier to tackle him or force him to not turn with face against goal. He must rely on his dribbling, off the ball to get the required space to turn, or he simply must pass the ball backwards instead of making a crucial pass to the attacking line. This option should never be used to more than one player at the time, as you’ll need as many players in the hunt for the ball.
Tackle to win possession
Another useful tool is to tackle a little bit harder on opposition players who are prone to get nervous. By targeting players who have low bravery, determination and strength, or have low condition, you can increase their chances of making more mistakes. Perhaps their nervousness might rub off on the other players? Tackling a little bit harder is often used on players with good passing, technique and creativity. In regard to the topic I like to use this option on one of the central defenders (best passer), and on the defensive midfielders. Tackling harder is an effective tool to increase pressure on players who are deemed to fail coping with it.
Show onto foot
Now, to the most decisive part of winning possession, the opposition instruction show onto foot! There are different ways to approach this, and everything depends on the issues talked about earlier; where you want to win the ball and where your side is the strongest. You can instruct players to show onto their weakest foot (no matter what it is), in additional to specific foot, left or right foot. This opposition instructions influences both passing play, player positioning (which way he will turn), and where he will most likely run. To take advantage of this opposition instruction you will need to analyze each individual players preferred foot, or you can look at your own team – where you are stronger than the opposition team.
At the left is an illustration on how the players will most likely pass with their left or right foot. One important part of this passing analyzing is how the opposition teams players are positioned and who the main threats are both in regard to their formation and the spaces between the players. By pressurizing the opposite players and showing the ball onto the “correct” foot, regarding what we are trying to achieve, you can almost certain predict its outcome. Now, you might wonder, what is the “correct foot” to show the ball onto to? Lets take a deeper look into this matter (see chapter 6).
Read also my practical example on how to assign opposition instructions. If you have, you may have noticed how I sometimes setup opposition instructions player instructions which don’t corresponds with the opposite player weakness. Why? Because I want to win possession in the most vulnerable areas when passing! Let’s look more about the vulnerable zones and how to force players to get the ball in these zones.
Vulnerable zones & Interfering with Passing play – Chapter 6
Every football formation and tactics have their vulnerable zones. Generally these zones are between each player position, both horizontally and vertically. These zones are both important to notice on the pitch in regard to adapting the match tactics and your sides player positioning. Perhaps you wonder why these zones are vulnerable. The short answer is the length between the players which in the wider aspects will reflect to the passing length that is needed for a successful pass. The most easy thing when seeing this illustration might be to think you need players in this zones. The short answer is: yes, you could set a player in each of the zones, but this will of course create other spaces to exploit for the opposition team. Since the vulnerable zones exist both in your own formation and in the opposite formation you wants to force the opposition team to pass the ball into them, and have tactical intelligent players (read: good level of anticipation) who tries to win the ball in this zones, either by closing it down or by snapping up a loose ball.
In order to be in the reach of these vulnerable zones you need to instruct your side to play a little bit narrower (or wider) than the opposition team in additional to stay high enough to be in reach and deep enough to have one or two opposition players in front of yours. FC Barelonas Tiki-Taka playing style have recorded much of their success solely because of taking advantage of the few seconds when no one has possession of the ball. The triangles it creates when not in possession is vital for success, since one player can quickly be in reach of the ball according to the positioning of the ball. Your formation and player positioning according to the opposition team, and the vulnerable zones which is being created through out the match should be supervised and dealt with. As I see it, the chances of winning possession increases when one player can reach as many closely linked vulnerable zones that is determined by his player positioning and your formation. If we look closer to the red teams striker, we can notice he will be able to pressurize four different players solely because of good work rate and high degree of closing down. He will be able to interfere with passing play between the central defenders (DC), between the DC and the defensive midfielder (DM) or between the two DM’s.
The vulnerable zones will increase or decrease depending on the opposition teams player positioning. It’s much harder to win possession against a narrow central midfield, as the vulnerable zones between these players are minimal, if you’re side is as wide as in the illustration. By adjusting to their width you can force them to increase their passing length or play wider to find passing options. These illustrations comprehends with chapter 3; create vs reject space.
What’s even more interesting with the vulnerable zones is the passing play and length of passes. Huge vulnerable zones equals wider width and in the end longer passes is needed to connect with each other, while smaller vulnerable zones equals narrowing the width and sometimes shorter passing length. Shorter passes will from this decrease the chance of winning possession, while longer passes will increase the probability to win possession by interfering with passing play because of two reasons:
1) A longer pass requires better player attributes in passing, crossing, technique and decisions among others.
2) The average accuracy of a short pass are often higher than long passes.
It’s also important to remember that a smaller vulnerable zone in one area might increase the vulnerable zones in other areas. That’s why it’s important to create a balanced formation and analyze it throughout the match. So how can we interfere with passing play and force the opposition team to take advantage of the vulnerable zones to our benefit?
How to force the opposition team to pass into the vulnerable zones – Chapter 7
We used the wording Show onto the “correct” foot! above. You might think this is his preferred foot (his best foot), but in this matter this depends solely on his player positioning and where you want to win possession. If we look beyond tackling, marking and the difference between two players physical strength, and only about how to succeed at winning possession by interfering with the opposition teams passing play and exploiting the vulnerable zones and the weakest areas on the pitch, the ball must be in reach of one of your players. For me this element is also about denying obvious passing choices and make it more difficult for the opposition team in the build up. To benefit from this we need to force the opposite player to pass where they never should have!
Explanation to the illustrations:
Passing options: Yellow lines
Pressing and running options: Black lines
Denies passes and interfering: red area
Goalkeeper – The solution:
A goalkeeper has the choices to either distribute the ball long (long kicks or a long throws into zone 2) or distribute the ball short to one of the defenders (short pass or a short throw to zone 1). Depending on where you want to win the ball and the goalkeepers weakness, which is most commonly first touch, decisions and composure, you can force the goalkeeper to pass the ball into specific vulnerable zones by using closing down and show onto specific foot.
In the illustration to the left you’ll see that the striker (red) forces the goalkeeper to use his right foot. The striker and the other players in the attacking line puts pressure on the defensive line and denies passes to them. The goalkeeper is forced to make a longer pass. The most obvious passing choice will be the right full back or a long kick. This solution is great if the right fullback lacks poor first touch, passing, technique or creativity and composure, as the right winger will put pressure on him to do more mistakes. Similarly you can show the ball onto the goalkeepers left side which might force him to turn and perhaps make a poor pass right to your right winger(!), or to the left full back.
– Close down always
– Show onto specific weakest foot (f.ex left for a GK with strongest foot right)
– Tackle normal (which can be a little bit harder than instructed)
Fullbacks / Wingbacks – The solution:
As fullbacks or wingbacks can be looked as “water-carriers”, since their main job is to turn defense into attack by crucial passes and important runs, it is important to know how to deal with them in order to increase chances of winning possession either from them or in the unfolding events. Dealing with this position you’ll need to do a crucial decision; should you force the full back to move inside or outside of his marker? Should you force him to make passes inwards or outwards depending on your team strength and formation. Their natural passing options would be to the central midfielders or onto the wingers, if they’re not instructed to cross from deep onto the target man.
Since we wants to win possession high up in zone 2 or in zone 1 there are only two choices to look at:
– force him to turn and make a back-pass to a technical weaker central defender / goalkeeper who is closed down by the striker.
– let him play to the central midfielder, who are tight marked by your midfielder.
The solution is to deny forward passes and interfere with vertical passes passed into the vulnerable zone between the wingback and central midfielder. By showing the ball on to the “correct” foot normally to the left foot for a right fullback and right foot for a left fullback we can force him to make back passes or passes inwards the pitch. This is most often the best choice when using a central midfield of 3 or more, as you increases the chances of intercepting the ball movement. To succeed you’ll need wingers or wide attacking midfielders who neutralizes him.
– Close down always
– Show onto specific left foot to deny him passes on to the winger in front of him
– Tackle normal (which can be a little bit harder than instructed), if they have less quickness and poor dribbling
My preferred opposition instruction – Wing Backs Left
– Close down always
– Show onto specific right foot
– Tackle normal (which can be a little bit harder than instructed), if they have less quickness and poor dribbling
Central Defenders – The solution:
Central defenders is reckoned as the primarily link between the goalkeeper, wingbacks and defensive midfielders and is the most obvious passing choice for these players. Normally the central defenders (sweepers and libero included) will stay close, which leaves smaller vulnerable zones between them. As the defensive midfielder might come deep it gives many passing choices for the central defenders.
Since we wants to win possession quickly so close to goal there are four options to look at:
– let him turn and pass to the other central defender who perhaps are weaker in passing, technique and first touch
– force him to pass the ball behind to a goalkeeper who are closed down
– force him to launch a long kick where it’s 50 percentage of chance of getting the ball.
– force him to pass through the bigger vulnerable area between him and the wing back / fullback.
Since we want the passing length to be as much as possible and to win possession in the most likely way you should force the central defenders to pass the ball outwards (or backwards). By using this method you have the chance of interfering with the ball movement. Against the best passer I want to win possession by tackle him harder than normal, by closing him down often and show to specific weakest foot, often inwards. But always keep the analyze of the opposition teams weaknesses in mind, perhaps a short pass to a man marked defensive midfielder will pay off more.
– Close down always
– If want to pass the ball to wingback – Show onto right foot
– If want to win possession because of more mistakes done – show onto weakest foot (specific)
– Tackle hard if he is the best passer
My preferred opposition instruction – Central Defender Left
– Close down always
– If want to pass the ball to wingback – Show onto right left
– If want to win possession because of more mistakes done – show onto weakest foot (specific)
– Tackle hard if he is the best passer
(Central/Defensive) Midfielder – The solution:
The defensive midfielder (and the other central midfielders) are very central in a teams build-up as they often will have multiple passing options. The most obvious passing choice for a defensive midfielder will be to look for either the wingback or a more attacking midfielder, as he aims to pass the ball to a more creative player or on to an open player with more passing opportunities. No matter formation or mentality the central midfielder (or defensive midfielder) is one of the key players, as he aims to balance the team. In order to win possession in this area you will need to deny passes to the more creative players (attacking midfielders and wingers) and force passes to weaker players which you hopefully can interfere with.
The solution for these player positions are bilateral and depends on their strength and weaknesses, but you can come a long way by showing the ball onto their weakest foot, most often forcing the MCL and MCR to pass outwards and the DM or MC to use his weakest foot (no matter what it is). To deny passing options and increase the chances of winning possession in this area you’ll need to stay close to the players, let them have little time on the ball and perhaps tight mark the most creative player with best passing ability.
To increase the chances of interfering with the ball you’ll need to force them to increase their passing length, but you can also force them to make back passes to a weaker central defender who are in reach of your striker. You will also notice in the illustration that if he should pass the ball forward he needs to play the ball in open space, which is an equal chance of getting the ball. To succeed, pay attention to the players weakest foot, and close him down and show onto left foot when right is strongest.
I won’t go through all the player positions, as the ideas are similar all the way. Just keep in mind two things:
- – should you force the players to move inside or outside of his marker, or
- – should you force the players to pass inwards or outwards, depending on your team strength and vulnerable zones that’s being created.
How to win Possession – Summary and Final Words
As you might see winning possession is an unique and well thought-out football philosophy incorporated into a defensive or attacking tactical philosophy. Winning possession focuses on team pressurizing; high or low pressure, controlled aggression and high work rate in the determined area of where you wants to win possession and how you can do it most effectively. The style you prefer in this matter could then be incorporated into your Football Manager 2013 tactic.
Even though winning possession is often intricate it can be summarized into:
– control the situation versus attack the situation by extensive pressure
– dominate an area through team unity (stay close connected with few gaps between the lines) – right players at the right place at the right time
– be close enough to the target to interfere or intercept with the ball
– take advantage of the few moments where nobody are in possession of the ball and exploit spaces
– no matter defensive line and where you want to win possession, put enough pressure on the target to increase likelihood of mistakes done
– turn weaknesses in your formation and player skills into team strengths
Winning possession is all about pressurizing the opposition team to:
1) Force opposite players to go outside or inside into your strongest area of the field
2) Force the opposite player to make crucial mistakes often by showing the ball on to his weakest foot with the help of tight marking and closing down.
3) Interfere with passing play and deny obvious passing options. Opposite player needs to rely on technical skills, creativity and anticipation
4) Control certain areas by forcing the opposite player to increase their passing length and make passes to a weaker player instead of an attacking threat
5) Intercept with their attacking build-up by taking advantage of the vulnerable zones
6) Direct the opposition teams passing play into your strongest area
7) always try to make the opposition team to play their way into trouble.
Analyzing the strength and weaknesses in the opposition team will increase your chances of success. Every team has it’s weaknesses and strength. and you shall never underestimate the power of letting the target use his weakest foot, low creativity and passing technique. By adapting your match tactics in mind of regaining possession quickly, you can become one step closer to superiority!
And remember! What you determine should depend on your team strength and weaknesses. How you forces passes into specific areas or denies passes to specific threats are vital to succeed at regaining possession:
Of course everything stated above depends on your preferred formation, the opposite formation and the different player strength and weaknesses. Hopefully you can use these tricks to employ them for your formation and playing style.
Over eight months after the work on this article started and around seven months after it was finished – an article where I simply gave of my heart and shared my idea of how football shall be played in order to win football matches – an article very much influenced by Pep Guardiolas pressing game as the tiki-taka playing style – there is a new term, which sums up everything I tried to describe in this article.
The man marking pressing style I briefly discusses has later become to known as the pressing style gegenpressing / counterpressing, which was perfected by German Champions League winner of 2013, Bayern Munich.
Gegenpressing or counterpressing was a term unknown for me until some weeks ago, but even though this pressing style is much more than what has been discussed above, it touches some of the same ideas, such as reducing passing spaces and close down key players (GK, fullbacks and areas between the defensive and midfield lines in order to force the opponents to play more risky passes /longer), which makes it easier for your defensive line to pick up – remember that sweeper keeper attack will tend to play longer / more risky passes aka counter-attacking balls.
We hope you will enjoy this Football Manager guide to how to win possession. We can not guarantee you’ll regain possession all the time, but by using these tricks you will become one step closer to dominating area and regaining possession quicker!
Image of sliding tackle is provided by Новикова Юлия (http://www.soccer.ru/gallery/18004) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons