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Tactical Planning

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To create an effective tactic for your team, as discussed in the Tactics guide, you should primarily consider the strengths and weaknesses of your players. It is then quite possible for you to achieve success over the course of a season by going into each match with this same tactic, and making tactical changes according to the different scenarios that occur during the match.

However, the possible benefits of proper tactical planning before a match should not be underestimated. By identifying weaknesses and strengths in each of the opposition teams that you face, along with other possible influencing factors, and adapting your tactics accordingly, you can increase your chances of getting good performances from your team consistently from match to match.

The easiest way to identify the weaknesses and strengths of your team’s next opposition is to analyse an opposition team report. The use of these reports is explained briefly below, and examples of what to look for are given. Following your assessment of an opposition team you will need to decide whether and how to adapt your tactics for the match to exploit the weaknesses and counter the strengths that you have found. To help you with this, various possible opposition weaknesses and strengths are listed, along with suggested tactical changes for each.

Finally, a few other factors that you may also want to consider are discussed. These include weather and pitch conditions, pitch dimensions and referee strictness.

Using This Guide

The tactics detailed in this guide are only general suggestions that you may want to consider. You should decide for yourself which of them, if any, are appropriate and whether they suit the types of players that you have available, or whether you would prefer to simply use your usual tactic that suits your own players’ strengths and weaknesses.

You should also bear in mind the following:

  • Weaknesses and strengths of opposition players should be considered relative to those players who will be playing directly against them. For example, the mobility of the opposition defenders should be considered against the mobility of your attackers. This may include players who you plan to bring into the starting line-up specifically to exploit a weakness or to counter a threat.
  • Where a tactical style is suggested, you may only want to adopt a certain aspect of that style, for instance by changing one or two specific team instructions or changing mentality. If you are already using a suggested style then you may want to exaggerate an aspect of the style by using an appropriate specific team instruction or adjusting the mentality.
  • Your team should ideally have a good level of tactic familiarity for any tactic that you choose to switch to. You should therefore try to prepare tactics that you believe are likely to provide you with the most useful alternatives.

The Tactical Styles guide suggests appropriate specific team instructions for each of the tactical styles referenced below, and also details whether each style suits a more defensive or a more attacking mentality. The Match Preparation Training guide discusses how to prepare alternative tactics.

Opposition Team Report

If you have assigned a scout to report on your team’s next opposition then he will prepare you with an opposition team report a few days before the match. You can also ask one of your scouts to provide you with a team report on any team at any time.

Setting up scouting assignments on opposition teams and viewing team reports is explained in the Scouting Assignments guide.

A team report can draw your attention to any particular weaknesses and strengths that the opposition team may have. For example:

  • The Squad Depth section shows you the ability star ratings for the team’s players according to your scout – This can highlight the team’s best and worst players, giving you a starting point for assessing the abilities of individual players in more detail.
  • The Tactics section shows data about the formations the team has played with and against – This can give you an idea of the team’s likely formation and how successful it has been when playing against your own team’s prepared formations.
  • The Last Match section shows stats from the team’s last match and provides a link to view the match – This can allow you to assess how the team set up and performed in its last match, in particular the formation, roles and duties that it used as shown on the Formations section of the Analysis tab when viewing the match. You can also view the team’s other recent matches on its Schedule tab, which can be especially useful in checking how it set up against teams of a similar quality to your own team.
  • The Goals section displays data about the types of goals the team has scored and conceded – This can provide clues as to how the team attacks and the sort of attacks it may be more vulnerable to.
  • The Comparison section shows how the team rates in certain important attributes relative to your own team – This can highlight where your team may have an advantage or disadvantage in relative abilities.

Opposition Match Analysis

Perhaps the most useful part of a team report though is the Match section. This allows you to analyse different events in the team’s recent games and can provide you with further details of how the team plays that you cannot gain simply through looking at its formations, roles and duties. For example, you can assess:

  • The average positions of the team’s players – This can show how the team’s formation is used in practice; for example, whether it tends to be wide or narrow, how attacking certain players tend to be in their position and whether certain players, such as a striker, tend to be fairly isolated or have support.
  • Where mistakes were made and who made them (on the Movement view) – This can indicate the extent to which the team tends to concede possession, as well as which players tend to concede possession more and so could perhaps be put under more pressure.
  • Where tackles and interceptions were attempted and who attempted them, as well as where fouls were committed and who by – This can indicate where the team’s strengths and weaknesses tend to be in defence.
  • Where aerial challenges were won or lost and who won or lost them – In attack this can indicate the extent to which the team tends to use direct passes, as well as which players tend to be the most likely recipients of direct passes. In defence this can indicate how well the team tends to defend against direct passes and how successfully specific defenders tend to defend against direct passes.
  • Which players completed the most passes and, in particular, which players made the most key passes (on the Stats tab of the Passes view) – This can indicate which players tend to pose the greatest passing threat and so could require particular attention.
  • Where runs were made and who made them (on the Movement view) – This can indicate the extent to which the team tends to use direct dribbling, as well as which players tend to dribble more and so could require particular attention.
  • Where crosses were attempted from and who attempted them – This can indicate how often the team tends to use crosses on each flank and therefore how likely you are to need to defend against crosses from each side.
  • Where shots were taken from and who took them – This can indicate the extent to which the team tends to shoot from distance, as well as which players tend to shoot the most and so may require particular attention.
  • Where scoring chances were had and who had the chances – This can indicate the extent to which the team tends to create chances and how good the chances tend to be, as well as which attackers tend to have the most chances and so could require particular attention.

If you use such an analysis to assess an opposition team, however, then it is advisable to examine at least a few recent matches to ensure that you gain a fuller picture of the team’s tactics and performances. Again, analysing its matches against teams of a similar quality to your own team is especially useful.

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