Dec 03

Balance is the key to winning football matches


One of the key parts to any tactic, as anyone who has read articles on GameWorldOne before will know, is balance. Balance is vital to any tactical plan. You need to be attacking enough to achieve your goals, but not so attacking that you become defensively vulnerable; wide enough to use space, but not so wide that you leave gaps in the middle; technically skilled enough to create openings in the opposition’s defence, but not so without strength that you become lightweight. Balance. Yin and yang. Libra, the scales.

Of course in different situations the balance will shift. When you need a goal, you will weight the scales more towards attack. But, you still need to make sure the team doesn’t neglect defending too much, lest the score line get even worse. How you make these decisions dictates how good a manager you will be.

There are many different variables during a match which can affect the decisions you might make. Overall, however, it is much easier to make those decisions when starting from a solid base.

Therefore, it is important that you get the right balance of duties in your side

And how do we do that? Well, if you use the tactics creator and click through the default settings, it should do all this for you. But why does it make these decisions? And how can that help you build your own tactics?

Well, essentially none of it is rocket science. Nearly all of the major decisions are made in the midfield. The centre backs will be defensive. The wingers will be attacking. And the full backs will be on “automatic” – so that when you change strategy during the game they can adapt themselves to the new instructions without the need for constant fiddling with the duty settings.

The midfield is different, however, and changes according to how many men there are playing there. In general, most teams (though not all) play at least two central midfielders (DMC, MC or AMC). This leads to the following rule:

  • One central midfielder should have a support duty
  • One central midfielder should have a defend duty

The defensive CM acts as a holding midfield player. He ensures there is always one player in the centre of the midfield to offer help to the defensive line should the opposition get the ball. This helps the team balance by ensuring the team don’t get overrun and outmanned on the counter attack.

The support CM, on the other hand, has a little more licence to move forward and look for space. But his job is to supply passes to the attacking players ahead of him. By doing this, he offers a passing option should the attacking players find themselves in trouble, and he also is in a good position to make key passes and assists. At the same time, he also holds his position near the centre of the park – so, instead of charging into the opposition’s penalty area looking for goals himself and leaving a massive hole behind him, he adds to the balance of the team by providing attacking threat but also keeping the team’s shape.

Now the slightly trickier bit

Now we have to consider the forwards. If there are two forwards, one should be on a support duty and the other on an attack duty. This ensures a split between the two – one can drop deeper to receive the ball, act as a link between the midfield and the attack, and supply passes to his more attacking team mates. The other can play further forward and look to finish off moves himself.

Conversely, if there is only one forward then there is a great chance that there will be a third CM. In this case, the lone forward should be on a support duty (so that he does not get isolated from the midfield) while the CM has an attack duty (so that he can push up with the forwards and cause trouble by attacking from deeper positions).

By following these simple rules, the team will have a balance of duties. Because of the “automatic” full backs, this should have 3 defend players, 4 support and 3 attack in a standard tactic. When attacking, the ratio will be 3:2:5, and when defending 5:2:3. Essentially, the scales will weigh towards one side or the other, depending on the team’s instructions.

Balance means the team can attack and try to score goals while at the same time not conceding too many itself. Duties are by far the most powerful tools for achieving this effect in the framework of your side. If you aren’t already doing so, see if your side benefits from these simple rules. It may not seem too complicated, but then often keeping things simple is the key to success.

Written By Gareth Millward
"Millie" is a long-standing member of the FM community and a co-founder of Gameworld One.Com. As part of FM-Britain, he was a contributor to TT&F and involved with the new tactical interface in FM2010.
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  • Joblo_jobla

    is 3-5-2 a good formation?

  • I prefer to play 4-1-2-3, maybe conceding 1 or 2 goals, but scoring 5 in the process.....

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