You can make your team selection, which consists of your starting line-up and substitutes, at any time before your next match on either the Overview tab of the Tactics screen or the Players tab of the Squad screen. You can also make or alter your selection on the Team Selection screen before the match.
Your primary concern should usually be to select players who are appropriate for the tactics that you wish to use in the match, and therefore who you think give your team the best chance of getting a good result. However, you should also consider squad rotation and good use of substitutes, as discussed below.
Although you may prefer to use the same tactics in each match, and select suitable players accordingly, the Tactical Planning guide discusses how you may want to change or adapt your tactics, and therefore potentially select some players with alternative qualities, against particular opposition. On the Match Preview screen, before confirming your team selection, you can view your scout’s opinion of what the opposition’s starting line-up will be, which can help you to finalise your tactical plans.
Any player who you do not intend to include in your team selection for your next match but who needs to gain match fitness, or perhaps improve his morale, can be made available for your reserve squad from his Development drop-down menu or by right-clicking his name and selecting the Squad sub-menu. You will need to make sure that any such player is no longer available for the reserves once he is ready to play for your senior squad so that he is able to be rested.
It is advisable to use a squad rotation policy when selecting your team for each match. This involves varying your team selection so that each player is given playing time for your senior squad. The amount of playing time that it is appropriate to give a player depends on his squad status, as explained in the Squad Building guide. However, when rotating your squad you should be careful not to disrupt your team by making too many changes at once.
A good squad rotation policy has the following benefits:
- Helping to maintain the morale and happiness of your players as a result of each player being given appropriate playing time.
- Helping to keep your players in good condition throughout the season, since they will be given sufficient rest to recover condition. In particular, it can help to keep your best players in good condition for more important matches.
- Reducing the likelihood of your players becoming jaded or injured, again due to being given sufficient rest.
- Helping to keep your backup players match fit, since they will be given more playing time.
A typical squad rotation policy may involve a player being left out of the starting line-up if his condition is not, say, about 92% or higher on the day of a match, although you may prefer to use a different percentage to determine when a player needs to be rested from the starting-line up. You may also want to take account of other factors, such as the importance of the player and the importance of the match. For example, you might want to select a player who could be key to winning an important match even if he has slightly lower condition than desirable.
However, by planning ahead you should usually be able to avoid such situations. This involves looking at your upcoming fixtures and assessing the opposition teams that you will be facing in the near future. For example, you may want to rest some of your better players in matches against weaker opposition, even when they have good condition, in order to keep them fresh for more difficult matches coming up. This also gives you a good opportunity to play some of your developing players in easier matches, as well as players with low match fitness or poor morale.
Similarly, if you have particular tactics planned for a future opponent then you may want to keep a certain player or players fresh for that match who you believe would be suitable for the tactical style or approach that you wish to adopt.
If possible it is advisable to try to select substitutes such that you will have adequate cover in all positions in case a player has to come off due to injury, tiredness or poor performance. However, you will probably have some players in the starting line-up who have familiarity with other positions and so can potentially move to a different position if needed, in which case your substitutes will not need to provide cover for all positions between them.
In addition, you should consider selecting substitutes who can offer you alternative tactical options should you need them during the match. Some players may be suitable for a particular tactical style that may be useful at some point during the match, but not so suitable for the tactical style that you plan to start the match with. For example, you may want to include a striker with good physical and aerial presence who can come on late in a match and act as a target man for long passes if you desperately need a goal and have not been able to break through the opposition using a planned short passing tactical style.
Similarly, some types of players can be effective as impact players late in the match and so make particularly useful substitutes. In addition to the target man example above when your team is struggling, an attacker with good mobility and attacking movement can cause great problems for a tiring defence, especially on the counter attack when your team is holding on to a result.
It can also be useful to include as substitutes any players who have low match fitness or morale, or who are young, developing players, especially against weaker opposition. If you have built up a commanding lead later in the match it can be an ideal opportunity to give such players some playing time to improve their match fitness or morale, or to gain match experience, without taking a risk by selecting them in your starting line-up.
Finally, if you are fielding a weakened team then it is advisable to include some of your higher quality players on the bench in case they are needed to help your team to get a good result.