FM19 | Tactical lessons from previous losses

Do you remember Daniel Gear’s post about how he beat Tottenham’s narrow 4-3-3 hackz with Kasimpasa during FM18? No? I remember that article several days ago when I started a new season with Arsenal de Sarandí. The reason is very simple. My second opponent of the new league campaign was a club called Atlético Tucumán.

FM18 Tactical Post – How I beat the 433Narrow Hackz by Dan Gear.

You probably don’t know this team but they started to use a narrow 4-3-3 formation in the previous season of my save. We played three matches with them since they changed the formation – two in the domestic league and one in the Superleague Cup 2nd Round.

They also had Lucio Cordero (the one I wrote also about in this post)last year on-loan from River Plate and he scored two goals in three matches against us.

The reason why I put this here is my team lost twice from these three matches. We lost twice 1-3 and I hoped we will beat Tucumán same as (almost) everyone else without tactical changes.

But I was wrong. I made different changes than Dan in his mentioned post but the idea to change something and react before or during the match is similar.

My main formation during the 2031/2032 season was a 4-3-3 formation with a flat midfield trio, inside forward on the left side and winger on the right side with complete forward as a lone striker. But in both these defeats, I used 4-1-2-3 formation with the defensive midfielder.

But the rest was the same including the team instructions…

…screens of both defeats from the last season.

Maybe some of you already suspect what team instructions we used. And if you thought about Higher Defensive Line + Higher Line of Engagement and Extremely Urgent Pressing Intensity, you were right.

All these three things were the reason why we were beaten twice by the same team in two different competitions but with the same result and also by the absolutely same system. We were too risky.

I knew I have to make some changes or we will be defeated again thanks to their three men up front and simple football with long passes.

These two formations were my main during the last season and I used the second one against Tucumán in both defeats.

Before the new season, 2032/2033, I decided to make some changes within my formation but main principles stayed the same in terms of pressing etc. But as I said I knew I have to make specific changes just for this match when I saw they sill use a narrow 4-3-3.

The three forwards in the starting XI of Tucumán has a pace attribute of 16, 14 and 17.

My central defenders who were in the starting XI have 13 and 11. Thankfully, both have a solid Positioning attribute about I think it’s also really important for defenders. Our wide defenders have 14 and 15 pace attribute.

Despite that, I was 100% that we will be back on the half line to make a kick-off before my defenders will be able to turn around and catch strikers.

Defenders vs. Strikers

I want to show the most typical goal scored by Atlético Tucumán in most matches thanks to a narrow 4-3-3. And they scored also similar against us four times from six goals in the previous two matches.

They just won the ball at their own half and they were able to celebrate after two simple direct passes because we were everywhere but in defence.

This is another example from the second match from the previous season.

The full 90 minutes incoming… © FMGrasshopper

As I wrote a little earlier, despite I made some changes for the new season, our Out of Possession ‘strategy’ remained in the same way.

  • Higher Defensive Line
  • Higher Line Of Engagement
  • Extremely Urgent
  • Prevent Short GK Distribution

My main idea for the match with Tucumán was very simple. I dropped the defensive line and line of engagement to standard and pressing intensity was switched to more urgent.

In a combination with the fact we removed Counter-Press instruction in the summer, I hoped it will result in a more cautious approach for this match and we will not be too risky.

It was clear just after the game started that these three strikers will push hard to our both central defenders but Guevara was able to turn around and pass the ball to the left wing back in this case and we were able to go up.

As the match continued this was a very common thing and I was afraid our defenders will lose the ball soon so I decided to make another change.

I decided to use Distribute To Flanks instruction instead of Distribute To Centre Backs. Since this change, the pressing success of Tucumán’s strikers was lower.

More importantly, we took the lead in the 28th minute after Ariel Suárez headed home after a cross by Bolano and the same player scored the second goal in the 39th minute to make it 2-0 for us.

Average Positions of both teams in the previous lost match
Average Positions of both teams in the latest winning match after changes

The most important and probably key moment of the match happened just before the half time when Tucumán scored their only goal of the match.

It was a beautiful and simple goal as they played from the back, all three strikers went straight to the penalty area and right wingback assisted with a fine cross to More.

What was the solution I made during the half time in terms of defence?

  • Lover Defensive Line
  • Lover Line Of Engagement
  • Pressing Intensity switched to Standard
  • Prevent Short GK Distribution turned off to avoid both Inside Forwards to be too high on the pitch and to allow them to track wingbacks more
  • Left central midfielder duty switched from support to defend to help more with defensive duties
  • Sweeper keeper switched to standard Goalkeeper role

I also decided to play in a more cautious way in possession including Lower Tempo or Be More Disciplined.

Rubén More, the author of the only one goal by hosts, was the biggest threat but all his three shots during the second half were saved by our keeper. And Tucumán had only other three shots during the second half and all of them were off target from a long distance.

I was very happy with the cautious way we played in the second half, our opponent was unable to break our defensive and midfield lines. On the other hand, we were able to go to dangerous counter-attacks thanks to the dropped line.

The best example is our third goal in the 71st minute when we killed the game and won 3-1 after we were deeper, won the ball and moved up with a perfect finish by Suárez who completed hat trick. The player who won the ball after a cross was central midfielder with defend duty…

Let’s say, I didn’t need some too advanced case study or deep analysis of Tucumán style of play but I’m sure if I would not at least check the previous matches, the goals we conceded and the common ways how the played during these two defeats, I would surely don’t make changes and lose probably again.

This is how the tactical set-up changed from the usual tactics we are using in the 2032/2033 season so far.

And this is how the new tactical set-up works after the beginning of the new season.

As always, if you would like to ask something, just let me know.

Don’t forget, you can join FMSlack via THIS link. My channel is #fmrensie but there are many other interesting channels to talk about FM.

If you would like to find and check all the Football Manager related content I would recommend you to join Tea&Busquets where you can follow almost all FM players/creators.

Until next time…take care!

Keysi Rensie


A Football Manager addict and lover for many years. You can follow me on Twitter or in Football Manager Slack – #fmrensie channel.

4 Replies to “FM19 | Tactical lessons from previous losses

  1. You usually use individual instructions?, if the answer is yes, you could give an example, thank you.

    1. No, I don’t use individual instructions in this tactic. Time from time, I like to use Shoot Less Often for central midfielders in different formations but it depends on the situation, formation, player roles, player traits etc.

Leave a Reply