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Football Manager 2017: Tactics Guide - Simeone & Klopp

Football Manager 2017: Tactics Guide - Simeone & Klopp

Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid(4-4-1-1)

The idea behind Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid tactic is to sit deep and compact, then invite their opponents on and attack them with blistering pace on the counter-attack. This style of play has taken relative underdogs, Atlético, to two Champions League finals and a La Liga triumph. The first thing you'll need to do is go to instructions on the tactics menu and make sure your defence is set to narrow and slightly deeper. This restricts space for your opponents, and also creates a pressing trap if you opponents make a mistake.

If you have your tactics set to close down sometimes, your players will likely break their shape when the opportunity arises, rather than unnecessarily breaking the team shape. Atletico’s pressing traps come when the ball goes out wide, and when an opposition player loses the ball. Pressing in numbers when the ball goes wide allows for a fast transition between defence and attack, with only a slight risk of it backfiring. The slight risk is if a pressurised player can ping a cross-field ball while incredible precision and calmness - note that the best ball players will tend to be central midfielders, not wingers. Even a player with Xabi Alonso’s passing and composure stats would struggle here.

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Your deep-lying playmakers will be happy to keep the shape by sitting deep and close to each other. They will press towards the ball when it goes to the flank, as the rest of the team shuffles across accordingly. The aim is to pressure your opponents into a mistake, or force them back towards their own goal, which allows you to reset your shape. At this point, your advanced forward will spearhead the next press which forces defenders back and into playing hurried passes.

In the attacking transition, you will want to set your team to pass into space, and attack the flanks. Make sure your wingers or wide midfielders have pace, otherwise fast counter-attacks won't be happening, and you'll likely be gifting the ball back to your opponents. Ensure your wide midfielders is set to support, as they can drift inside and create an extra body in the midfield. Once in the transition, playing into space and more direct encourages players to run into the final third where they are most effective. It's at this point where your opponents are left exposed at the back. The two wingers and full-backs run forward, and the two central midfielders push up while the defence comes with them. This keeps the shape compact if you lose possession. The key to being effective in the 4-4-1-1 is having a CAM who is capable or magic. Antoine Griezmann is perfect for Atlético, as he sacrifices himself for the team when out of possession, but his quality shines through when on the attack. Find yourself a CAM who can link well between the midfield and attack, but who also has the work rate and stamina to track back and smell danger. There is no room for luxury players in Diego Simeone’s team. Every player must contribute for the tactic to be implemented effectively.

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Jurgen Klopp’s Gegenpress (4-3-3)

Borussia Dortmund, and more recently, Liverpool, have been praised for the attacking style Jurgen Klopp has introduced to the club. His style is described by himself as “heavy metal football”. The aim of the Gegenpress - “gegen” being the German word for counter - is to press opponents high up the pitch in order to regain possession and stifle the opposition through relentless energy and tactical diversity.

If you are looking to emulate Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, you should change your tactic to a 4-3-3-0 or a 4-3-3 with a false nine. You should set your full-backs to be wing backs - either or being set to the support option. Your holding midfielder should be a regista or a roaming playmaker. A regista will need a higher emphasis on passing, whereas the roaming playmaker will need greater physical stats. Your two most central midfielders can be set up as advanced playmakers, with one attacking and the other supporting. Alternatively, you could play with one advanced playmaker and one extra roaming playmaker. This creates numbers and high energy in the midfield, especially with full-backs that like to get forward. In attack, I would recommend having one winger set to attack, and one inside forward set to support. These two would complement each other’s game brilliantly, as the winger causes havoc with the threat of running in-behind, and this has a knock-on effect on the other flank where your inside forward can have more time in possession. Your striker, or most advanced attacker, should be set as a false nine or advanced playmaker.

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There are two slight different styles of the Gegenpress you could use here. Liverpool are still building under Klopp, so one option is the Dortmund tactical approach, which places more emphasis on running behind the defence of the opposing team. Jakub Blaszczykowski and Marco Reus were renowned for their pace and direct play at Dortmund, with Robert Lewandowski operating as an advanced forward. Otherwise, the general philosophy is more or less the same.

Going into more detail in the tactical side of the Gegenpress, your team shape needs to be set to fluid. From there, you’ll need to set your tempo to higher and to play fairly narrow. This creates a central overload on the pitch, which is similar to when Liverpool won 4-1 away at Manchester City last season. Liverpool played inside Manchester City’s formation, where Liverpool had six players operating in a square, and they surrounded four Manchester City players - two centre backs and two central midfielders.

Your defence should be set slightly higher, but no more, as being too high will encourage long balls over your defence - especially when playing against sides with pace. Closing down must be set to more, and you should select the option which prevents short goalkeeper distribution. This will create a high tempo, and a high press which will likely force your opponents to play long, so it is important to have two strong and tall central defenders who can win the ball from a goal kick. You can also select your players to stay on their feet, but this isn’t a necessity.

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From there, your build-up play would need to be set to play out of defence. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund are far from tiki-taka sides, but they aren’t direct either. Jurgen Klopp likes to encourage his side to play out from the back and mix their passing up, depending on the situation. Mixed passing is the right way to go, as your players can act according to the situation on the field and they don’t become predictable in their play. Ensure your players are allowed to be expressive as this encourages fluidity in attack. You could potentially ask your players to exploit the middle, but I would argue that is dependant on the strengths and weaknesses on the opposition.

Finally, your attack - the most exciting part of the Gegenpress style. Firstly, set your full-backs to look for the overlap. This, especially down the flank where your inside forward is, will allow them to go beyond the attacking midfielders and create width in the final third. You should also set your attack to work the ball into the box - this again will create a central overload, and it could help your press during the transition of losing the ball and having to defend. The last tactical approaches I would choose would be to play low crosses into the box, run at the defence, and allow players to roam from positions. Allowing players to roam causes confusion for the opposition, but your players must have good mental stats to carry out the instructions.

There are my tactical guides for two different philosophies - Diego Simeone’s 4-4-1-1 and Jurgen Klopp’s 4-4-3. I won’t go into detail for set-pieces, as that is more down to preference. I prefer zonal marking, whereas other players may prefer man marking. I also won’t go into detail for the instructions for individual players, as I believe Football Manager players will know the ins and outs there. If you enjoyed this article, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment on which formations and styles you’d like me to cover in part two.

Tips, Tricks & Guides
Nathan Hunter

Nathan Hunter

Staff writer

A man who’s in a long-term relationship with Liverpool FC. Gaming, music and his love of the weather follow narrowly behind.

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azrael316 - 09:51pm, 5th March 2017

We need more articles like this. :)

Football manager doesnt get enough love on this site. ;)

LeXauriN - 10:32pm, 3rd May 2017

U cant recreate Simeone tactic in FM 2017 or any 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 because wide midfielders are hardcoded to stay wide and cover FB,and whatever you do you cant  forced them to stay narrow in line at defending.This is why i am skip FM 2017