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The Jade Rabbit 2: Ready, Player One.

Welcome to part 2 of this blunder through the world of tactics. Without further ado, let’s look at the beauty

Wow. This is a lot to look at. And with all that red and green, this should surely be a Christmas Tree formation, right…Right?

Pftt. Everyone’s a critic.

The Formation

Now, the major issue here is that I’m playing in Segunda Division B and quasi-youth only so, starting off, we wont have the kind of players that I’ll realistically need to properly pull this off. But, as with all things, we need to sort out the basics before we can start melding players into the roles.

I suppose we should also address the Karen Carpenter in the room and mention the lack of width. Yes, there are no full backs or traditional wide men in this formation. The idea is that this is a defensive formation for away games/games when you’ve gone down to 10 men early. The wide areas are conceded in favour of packing the defense with centre backs, which *should* negate the crossing ability of the opposition wingers and allows us to block and counter.

Any width in the formation is provided by the dual Mezzalas. I see the formation opening like a flower in practice when we attack/counter, when the ball is played out, the Mezzalas part and go wide and the Box-to-Box Midfielder running up the middle.

Starting with the defence, the outer centre backs are Ball-Playing Defenders. This is to facilitate the role’s penchant for playing long balls up to the striker. Having them wider than the traditional centre backs means that they’re more likely to look for the Raumdeuter up front or the Advanced Forward moving into the channels. The middle centre back is a No-Nonsense Centre Back. He’s my Robert Huth. The guy that stays home and heads the ball out. He’ll need to be tall, with decent heading but that’ll be at most in this low level.

Next up is the defensive midfield spots. Two Ball-Winning Midfielders are the order of the day, one Supporting, the other Defensive. My theory behind this is that that role allows the players to win back the ball higher up the pitch, but without sacrificing the integrity of the defensive formation. If BWM (S) plays and missed the tackle, BWM (D) is available to cover a gap or risk the tackle themselves.

Central midfield is where the real heavy lifting is done in this team. The Box-to-Box Midfielder, as mentioned above, is the pivotal player as his efforts to get up the pitch to support the two players up top need to be matched by his efforts to drop into the DM slot when we’re under pressure, effectively creating two banks of three whilst defending. The Mezzalas will shuttle out wide to occupy the channels and give the Raumdeuter some room to cut inside to find space. On defending, the Mezzalas will tuck in to create another line of two for the opposition to go through, or push out wide to harry the full backs.

The Raumdeuter on the right wing is our main goal threat. His movement allows the Advanced Forward to get into position to receive a cross or pass without limiting those balls to coming from the wing. You will need to train the player you put there to cut inside, but the theory is sound (to me!)

Finally, you have the Advanced Forward whose ‘Moves into Channels’ instruction is perfect for the role up front, as it a) allows him to find space off the last defender to latch onto any long balls by the defenders/midfielders and b) allows him to move into the channels and feed the BBM/Raumdeuter if they are in a better position. Again, the theory is sound to me, because other roles (Target Man, Pressing Forward) do not have the luxury of the movement or the attacking play.

The Instructions

(Please bear in mind that this is all my theory and interpretation of what I want out of each part. I’ve no doubt that I will have to re-evaluate most of this going forward)

Tactical Style: Vertical Tiki-Taka – This tactical style is, according to FM20 itself, designed for quick passing and possession. It is also designed to be narrower and more direct than normal Tiki-Taka. Well, this is exactly what I want as I want us to keep possession as much as possible, before launching into an attack to strangle the life out of the game. We need their players exhausted from the keep ball before a quick attack is launched.

Mentality: Cautious – This is set up so that we keep our shape on defence, but break hard and fast on the counter when needed. It also means we don’t over-commit to any attacking scenario which, again, helps the shape but puts a lot of pressure on the Raumdeuter and Advanced Forward

In Possession: Shorter Passing, Play Out of Defence, Whipped Crosses, Be More Expressive, Focus Play Through the Middle, Lower Tempo, Very Narrow – Wow! That’s a mouthful eh? And, on first glance, a little counter-intuitive no? Lets go over it, step by step.

1.) Shorter Passing: This is so that we keep the ball better as we move up the pitch. The Ball-Playing Defenders will take care of the long balls out to the forward players, as is their remit. But the rest will knock it about amongst themselves, moving up the pitch. Like below..

2.) Play Out of Defence: The same as above. The hard-coded desire for the BPD’s to play the long ball overrides the instruction, but this is mainly for the goalie in my eyes.

3.) Whipped Crosses: Easy. Floated ones give the defence too much time to clear, Low ones are easily smashed away! Next!

4.) Be More Expressive: When we’re attacking. I want the flower to bloom and if the players are rigidly stuck to their roles, it may become easier to stop them so a little unpredictability should benefit us, especially in the Raumdeuter position.

5 & 7) Focus Play through the Middle, Very Narrow: Self-Explanatory. Next.

6.) Lower Tempo: Now this is the real head-scratcher. Why play a quick counter formation if you’re going to lower the tempo?. Well, the answer is that I think it juuuuust knocks a bit of the urgency off which, to me, should alleviate a few bad passes and decisions which come from hurrying to get up the pitch. We still attack quicker than average, it just gives us some breathing room. Even, if it’s just one extra pass, that pass may mean that someone was given the time to move into a better position.

In Transition: Take Short Kicks, Distribute to Centre Backs, Counter, Counter Press. We want to start the ball rolling and keep possession when we have it, so Take Short Kicks and Distribute to Centre Backs is pretty obvious. Counter is also obvious, so that we can get the Raumdeuter involved quicker. I had a quandary about Hold Shape or Counter-Press, but the design of the formation with the BWM’s meant that it made sense to try and use them.

Out of Possession: Higher Defensive Line, Higher Line of Engagement, More Urgent Pressing, Stay On Feet. This is all about clogging up the centre of the pitch so that the opposition cannot play there. If our players are on the opposition like a limpet, but not diving in and giving them a chance to escape, we automatically slow their offence down to a crawl and allows a) our midfield to come back into position and bolster numbers and b) gives us much greater scope for a block or shadow into an area where a shot is of lower scoring percentage…

Next up: Game 1!


1 thought on “The Jade Rabbit 2: Ready, Player One.”

  1. Ball playing defenders, is not coded to hit long balls, but more do what you have the team instructions set up to do, so if you have it set up as a short passing possession based tactic, this is what they will try and implement.
    Good luck with this moving forward, look froward to seeing how this develops.

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