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FM17 Tactic: The 4-1-2-3 DM WB Formation With Tiki-Taka

Updated on September 16, 2017

As the era of Football Manager 2017 comes to an end, I would like to write about the final tactic I created based on tiki-taka. But this tactic showcases the playing style of the then FC Barcelona team (during the Pep Guardiola era), with the exception of their traditional 4-3-3 wide arrangement. However, this new tactic involves a very high passing game, with a balanced width to cover when playing. And the power house is designed in the midfield, which means that the attacking, control, and defense aspects are influenced by the occupied midfielders. In all, this is a beautiful style of play to watch in the game.

Reasons for Creating This Tactic

To weaken the opponent’s midfield: At first, this tactic is designed to destabilize the opposition midfield thereby preventing them from attacking through the center. This will force them to play enough inaccurate long balls. Thus, the opposition will be disorganized and this exerts a pressure that can trigger their mistakes, giving your team some advantages.

To shut down or prevent counter threats: Some teams do usually exploit the flanks in their games, using their wide players to cause damage. Such teams are always quick to counter your team and playing against them while using a weak narrow or wide formation can be a nightmare. The formation used in this tactic provides 3 players staying back to prevent such threats, before adding 2 more bodies from both flanks to shut it down as much as possible.

Maintaining high possession while working the ball through channels: Just like what FC Barcelona played during Guardiola’s regime, knocking a lot of passes while making intelligent movements in order to break the opposition defense. This method is the focal point of this tactic.

Tactic

Formation
Formation
Team Instructions
Team Instructions

The 4-1-2-3 DM WB Formation

This formation consists of a goalkeeper, 2 central defenders, 2 wing backs, a defensive midfielder, 2 central midfielders, 2 central attacking midfielders, and a lone striker; all arranged narrowly. This closely packed formation provides the best connections between the defense, midfield, and forward players.

Moreover, this tactic comes with a flexible team shape (you can select a very fluid team shape, but the vulnerability of your team against counter may increase), a defense mentality, and 16 team instructions. From the build-up section of the team instruction, the team is expected to exploit the middle, play shorter passing with the interest of retaining possession, and pass into space. Also, instructing your team to be more expressive influences intelligent moves. The tempo is set high with the team covering a balanced width. In addition, the defense line stays deeper and the team mostly has to work ball into box in order to get a scoring chance.

Roles and Duties

Keeper: Sweeper Keeper (Defend)

A good foot work of a Sweeper Keeper (SK) is needed in this tactic. He contributes immensely in the flow of passes from the back. Any keeper you wish to place in this role must have a reasonable passing attribute.

Sweeper Keeper instructions
Sweeper Keeper instructions

Central Defenders: Two Ball Playing Defenders (Cover)

In the ball playing defender (BPD) role, the assigned player can comfortably hit through balls to the inverted wing backs for them to press forward. Presence of these defenders in this tactic really does promote the flow of short passes. Sometimes they provide accurate long passes to teammates in the opponent’s third.

With the cover duty, the players drop 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 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.

Ball Playing Defender Instructions
Ball Playing Defender Instructions
2nd Ball Playing Defender Instructions
2nd Ball Playing Defender Instructions

Side Backs: Two Inverted Wing Backs (Both on Support)

The inverted wing backs help support the midfield. Instead of him going wide and providing float crosses from bylines like a standard wing back, he drifts inside the opposition box to offer level crosses. Some of these crosses come as simple passes. Defensively, both side backs perform as fullbacks.

Right Inverted Wing Back Instructions
Right Inverted Wing Back Instructions
Left Inverted Wing Back Instructions
Left Inverted Wing Back Instructions

Defensive Midfielder: Half Back (Defend)

Selecting a Half Back (HB) role balances the defensiveness and creativity of a Defensive Midfield (DM) player. The player you assign to this role sits deep to help the centre backs prevent the opposition striker(s) from getting the ball by closing spaces in the central areas, making it difficult for their midfielder to connect with the attacker(s).

When the team attacks, he moves a bit forward and hangs around the central pitch to recycle possession in case the attack fails. By staying in that position prevents counter attacking threats. As an important role in this tactic, a very good DM should be signed.

Half Back Instructions
Half Back Instructions

Central Midfielders: Box-To-Box Midfielder (Support) and Advanced Playmaker (Attack)

The Box-To-Box Midfielder (BBM) role always defends, transits tempo, and attacks when needed. He works tirelessly to offer support to both attackers and defenders. When you instruct him to get forward, the BBM makes impressive forward moves to the opponent's third when your team has the ball. But you don’t need to instruct him to do that because the two central attacking midfielders can make such moves. He just has to stay outside the opposition box in case of rebound. However, any player you choose in this role should have a good long shot attribute.

In other words, for the Advanced Playmaker (AP), his main job is to distribute key passes to overlapping inverted-wing-backs or attacking teammates. His usual way of dominating the game is to switch the ball to the flanks. However, the player operates anywhere around the pitch and always aims to create a lot of chances for the striker. The player's dribbling, first touch, passing, vision, technique, anticipation, decisions, and off-the-ball should be the key abilities.

Box-To-Box Midfielder Instructions
Box-To-Box Midfielder Instructions
Advance Playmaker Instructions
Advance Playmaker Instructions

Central Attacking Midfielders: Advanced Playmaker (Attack) and Enganche (Attack)

This role is versatile because the player can operate anywhere around advanced area. But his main job behind the striker is to drop killer balls for any attacking teammate. The player's dribbling, first touch, passing, vision, technique, anticipation, decisions, and off-the-ball skills must never be overlooked.

On the other side, the Enganche (EG), just as FM17 explained, is a prime creator operating mostly in the advanced central area. He’s like a pivoted playmaker to his team, as they work around him. And he’s to make intelligent penetrating passes into the opposition box. You can install “attacking midfielder” in this position if it works best for you team.

Enganche Instructions
Enganche Instructions
Advance Playmaker Instructions
Advance Playmaker Instructions

Central Striker: Deep Lying Forward (Support)

This role makes the striker to drop a little deep as a False 9. He’s mostly available for the attacking midfielders, with the aim of improving the attacking dynamics of the team. The striker can also draw the opposition defenders forward, enabling his teammates to penetrate quickly into the box while beating the off-side trap. However, the striker is technically capable of dropping killer balls to any attacking teammate.

Training

You can handle the general training anyway you prefer, or let your assistant manager do the job.

The best preparation for this tactic is the Teamwork focus. However, you can set it to another focus if you feel there is a need to.

Opposition Instructions

The screenshots below are some settings you can adopt when setting the opposition instructions.

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Weakness

This tactic may not work well with low ranked teams and some average teams because it does require high quality players, especially quality midfielders. However, as every tactic has its weak spot, this one faces tough challenges when up against a team that makes a very good use of their wide attackers. Such teams are really quick on counter. However, the goals scored when playing against such teams are, by and large, conceded from crosses.

Results and Stats

The below screenshots display the outcomes of the discussed tactic at the end of a season. FC Liverpool is used as an example.


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