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FM17: Luis Enrique's 3-4-3 Diamond Formation, with Tiki-Taka Style

Updated on May 6, 2017
Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique

Have you ever imagined how Luis Enrique’s 3-4-3 formation works in Football Manager 2017? Do you think its usage is worthwhile? And can it be based on tiki-taka style? This article provides a guide to one of the rarest formations ever used in FM17. This formation was used by the FC Barcelona manager in order to solve problems in the midfield and defense. The connection between the defenders and midfielders was weak, which influenced both parties to scarify the ball easily to the opponent whenever they attempt to engage the tiki-taka style.

Additionally, because the midfield players developed some weaknesses, the three attackers (Messi, Suarez, and Neymar) found it difficult to receive some key passes. Hence they engaged in more direct passing to the attackers, triggering the defeat of Barce’s tiki-taka philosophy. In response to these problems, Enrique introduced a 3rd man defender with four midfielders in diamond arrangement to strengthen the midfield and defense line, which encouraged good flow of passes and kept the philosophy alive.

The 3-4-3 Diamond

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Using Olympique de Marseille as example
Using Olympique de Marseille as example
Using Olympique de Marseille as example

In FM17, the formation is displayed as 3-3-3-1 DM Wide. But, I just decided to change the name to 3-4-3; just to match the real life arrangement. However, as you can see from the screenshot, the formation is basically comprised of 3 central defenders, a defensive midfielder, 2 central midfielders, an attacking midfielder, 2 wingers, and a striker; no fullback is required.

Team Instructions
Team Instructions

From the Team Instructions, which consist of 14 instructions, I adopted tiki-taka by selecting Shorter Passing, Pass Into Space, Exploit The Middle, and Be More Expressive. Also, selecting ‘Work Ball Into Box’ discourages the players to shoot unnecessarily outside the box. The tactics features a Very Fluid team shape and a Control mentality.

Roles and Duties

GK- Goalkeeper (defend): The Goalkeeper role with defend duty is preferable, but you can give the Sweeper Keeper role a chance if your shot-stopper has the ability.

Three DCs- Ball Playing Defender (two stoppers and one cover): The player carrying out the stopper duty closes down the opposition strikers, preventing them from getting the ball in a dangerous position or placing a perfect shot. Interception is also the key for the two defenders. However, the BPD role is more suitable because the assigned player helps in distributing the ball comfortably to the wide players to launch effective attacks. The defenders present in this tactics really do promote the flow of passes.

For the cover duty, the player drops a little deep to win through balls behind the defense line, thereby making it difficult for the opponent to find One-on-One chances with the keeper.

Players assigned to these three roles should have attributes of at least 13 on marking, tackling, and positioning; at least 14 on heading and jumping-reach, and at least 12 on passing.

Ages of the players for the right and left BPD in this formation should be considered well because they do most of work in the closing down job, and also push forward as possible when the team attacks. Players with good natural fitness are required.

DM- Defensive Midfielder (defend): Any player with good passing, tackling, and marking abilities should be installed in this role. His job is to help in closing down the opponent and support the central midfielders in retaining possession. With defend duty, he draws back to act as the fourth defender in the defense line. You can select Deep Lying Playmaker with a defend duty in this position, depending on the kind of player you have.

Two MCs- Advanced Playmaker (support) and Deep Lying Playmaker (support): These two players are the ones that control the game. The combination of the two is usually sensational. Both players must have good passing and vision attributes. Whenever you’re making any signing, spend much on securing good players that can play these roles.

AMC- Advanced Playmaker (support): This role is versatile. The player operates anywhere around the pitch, but his main job in the upfront position (behind the striker) is to create a lot of chances for the striker.

This player's dribbling, first touch, passing, vision, technique, anticipation, decisions, and off-the-ball must never be overlooked.

AML/AMR- Inside Forward (support): Inside forward with the support duty is preferable because the player tends to draw back a bit to receive passes, provides killer balls for the striker, assists in winning the ball from the flank by acting as a wing back when the team defends, and making excellent runs in the opposition’s box. The ‘attack’ duty couldn’t provide such character. Choosing such duty in this tactics inspires the player to be more selfish with the ball, which jeopardises his creativity.

In terms of helping the team defend, you should always set these inside forward players to specifically mark the opponent’s AML/AMR before kick-off. Nevertheless, when the opponent sets its fullback(s) to attack duty, you have to instruct your AML/AMR to mark him. The screenshots below show some examples…

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Sagna playing as an attacking fullback for Angers SCO
Sagna playing as an attacking fullback for Angers SCO
Sagna playing as an attacking fullback for Angers SCO

ST- Complete Forward (attack): This role is more flexible because it allows the striker to drop a little deep like a Deep-lying forward, or move towards the flank to receive the ball. It also allows the striker to pass, drop killer balls, dribble, and cross to a well-positioned teammate. Individually, you need to train any player in this role to beat the offside trap; it’s necessary for the tactics.

Player Instructions

Below, each screenshot displays the instructions assigned to each role. This means that any player playing in that role will carry out the instructions assigned to it.

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Opposition Instructions

Setting the opposition instruction for this formation depends on the type of formation the opponent is using. In general, for the ST, ML/AML, and MR/AMR roles, it’s best to set Tight Marking and Closing Down to “Always”. Then set Tackling to “Hard” and Show Onto Foot to “Weaker Foot”. The following screenshots provide some effective settings:

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Have you ever tried this 3-4-3 diamond in Football Manager?

See results

Set Pieces

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throw-inFree kick (attack)Free kick (defend)Corner (defend)Corner (attack)
throw-in
throw-in
Free kick (attack)
Free kick (attack)
Free kick (defend)
Free kick (defend)
Corner (defend)
Corner (defend)
Corner (attack)
Corner (attack)

Training

In the training section, I usually hand over the general training to the Assistant Manager while I handle the Match Preparations. The best preparation for this formation is Team Work. You can set to any other focus if you feel there is need to.

Weakness

This tactics is based on the FC Barcelona tiki-taka style, which means that goals scored mostly come from a lot of intelligent passes and killer balls. In terms of possession, this 3-4-3 formation holds one of the best results, and that’s because of the midfield-defense arrangement.

The only problem with this tactics in FM17 is encountered when playing against 4-1-2-3 DM Wide (aka 4-3-3 in real life), 4-2-1-3 DM Wide, or any other formation with defensive midfielders. This is because the DM(s) will always try to make your team find it difficult to breakthrough via the midfield. Since the strength of this 3-4-3 Diamond is the midfield, the opponent will try to halt the playmakers from hitting deadly passes. And once the midfield shuts down, the rest is history. But if you have the right players with the best team work, it’s going to be difficult for the opposition to win the midfield.

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