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Struggling to defend against crosses playing a 4231


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Hi guys, I'm a FM veteran and have been tinkering with tactics for FM13 since the new patch came out. I'm currently into the second season.

First season I played with Napoli and did extraordinarily well, starting with a defensive 5-4-1 formation and then developing a narrow 442 diamond formation in the latter parts of the season. No real problems there, although I wasn't too focused on tactics as I was still getting used to everything else new in FM13.

Second season, I took over the Liverpool job after rodgers was sacked (49 points, 10th place :thdn: ). Brought in some solid young attackers, got Llorente on a free and decided I was going to build a team to play some attractive attacking football, that exploited space and controlled the centre of the pitch.

Generally things have been going fantastic. I have the ability to unlock the sternest of defences and I always play well through the midfield. However there are two types of goals I concede regularly which are absolutely infuriating and the bane of my existence:

1. Attackers getting played through my high high defensive line on the counter when they really should have been marked.

2. Low crosses from out wide or just the edge of the box near the byline, into a defended, organised box that inevitably go in.

I'm looking for help on the latter of those two goals (ie. defending in the box against low crosses).

FORMATION/TACTICS

My general tactic for home matches and matches I expect to win is to play an attacking 4231

www.i.imgur.com/FgdjIh.jpg

The basic idea is to have a short passing philosophy that gives me control of the midfield, using fullbacks for width in build up play. In attack, the aim is to use any of the TQ, CF, or IFs to play on the other attackers through the defense. I score a good variety of goals, with assists distrubted to all four quadrants.

While defending zonally, my two CBs are on manmarking duty. The tweaks make the defensive line slightly lower than default and width slightly higher. I've setup a few players to pass a little shorter than default and have made the BWM more defensively minded in general. the TQ is slightly more responsible than default.

MATCHDAY

When I expect to win comfortably, I start control/fluid - no real problems. Where I'm really struggling is with away games against competetive opponents or any games against the big 4 I change it up -

- def positioning training for match prep

- playing a more defensive 5-4-1 formation

- playing with proper midfielders instead of two IFs,

- playing with a 4-1-2-2-1 with AM, DLP, BBM in the centre.

- switching to counter/rigid mentality

- opposition instructions: always looking to tight mark the striker(s) and closing down wide players.

The goals conceded however, don't really seem to change - still the same two types. I'm really focused now on trying to keep to either a 4231 or 41221 formation that best suits my players and philosophy, and how to make it defensively solid against low crosses into the box.

THE FRUSTRATION

This is the sort of set up that always happens.

www.i.imgur.com/Cb0Or.jpg

Now regardless of how I've tweaked my line ups and tactics, the defensive principles are fairly similar - CBs man mark and otherwise default (except shorter passing), FBs are support and unaltered, GK is suppoer SK unaltered.

Now I really don't understand how I could be better positioned to deal with this sort of situation, but it always ends badly. The general progression is

- organised defense with 3-4 in a line betweeen attackers and goal

- FB or midfielder jockeys and closes down FB

- attackers stay onside of defenders

- low cross drilled into box by wide player who has now gotten past jockeying defender

- despite organisation of defense and opportunity for two or three players to intercept cross, an attackers who was further from the ball initally will run on goal and tap the ball in

My players are all in high morale, my keeper has no particular weakness, my CBs are solid with no holes in their defensive attributes.

While I understand that the occassional cross from behind the lines might be difficult to defend, it just happens way too often and in ways that should easily be cleared by one of the numerous defenders the ball passes before a striker gets on the end of it.

I've read somewhere that the change in the FME to proper collisions in FM13 has changed how this sort of situation is handled. atm it seems to me like everytime a striker runs forward to receive a low cross like this, there's just no way for the CB to get between player and ball or ball and goal.

So does someone have some advice? It's becoming incredibly frustrating because I've identified a defensive deficiency in my squad where I'm conceding goals I shouldn't be (ie due to defender mistakes), but there just doesn't seem to be anyway to correct it.

Thanks

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I've got/had the same type of problem using my box 4222. What i did for wingers was play out wide so my two full backs could push them out wide and also have my two mc's roam so they would push out wide and try and intercept the balls played to wingers. I also tend to close down both fall back and play onto weaker foot which cuts out some of supply to wingers, they are shown to the inside. When the full backs plays inside to mc make sure someone is on them quickly so they don't have options for through ball or diagonal balls to wingers. Working for me

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I use a pair of DMs and set one of them to man mark whichever of the oppo wide players I feel is most dangerous. This helps reduce crosses from one side and frees up a FB to drift inside and clog up the middle a bit more.

thing is, i'm not that concerned by the amount of space full backs are getting or the number of crosses wide players are putting in. I'm happy for my FBs to play reasonably conservatively - contributing to midfield play but rarely advancing to the attacking third (playing 4231 essentially becomes a 424 in attack).

The problem isn't the number of crosses going in, it's just that they inevitably lead to goals despite the fact that I'm theoretically well positioned to defend both in terms of having a man between wide player and goal, and also a strong line of defenders between strikers and goal/ball.

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I've got/had the same type of problem using my box 4222. What i did for wingers was play out wide so my two full backs could push them out wide and also have my two mc's roam so they would push out wide and try and intercept the balls played to wingers. I also tend to close down both fall back and play onto weaker foot which cuts out some of supply to wingers, they are shown to the inside. When the full backs plays inside to mc make sure someone is on them quickly so they don't have options for through ball or diagonal balls to wingers. Working for me

Thing is I'm not that concerned about wingers having too much space or being found too easily, because they very rarely get into a lot of space and my FBs are fairly good at getting back and closing them down. The problem is that despite being in a very strong position to defend in the box, I'm just always conceding from these rare situations.

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Not to sound ignorant here but if you are conceding from crosses then by cutting out the supply (ie dont let them cross) you shouldnt have to centrally defend against no matter how well built at the back you think you are?

I do see your point though and witnessed it myself sometimes. op small men will outjump my big men and op big men will get to the ball before my quick dc, utlimatly ending in one thing :(

I just think if you dont give them the chance then its half the problem solved ?

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Not to sound ignorant here but if you are conceding from crosses then by cutting out the supply (ie dont let them cross) you shouldnt have to centrally defend against no matter how well built at the back you think you are?

I do see your point though and witnessed it myself sometimes. op small men will outjump my big men and op big men will get to the ball before my quick dc, utlimatly ending in one thing :(

I just think if you dont give them the chance then its half the problem solved ?

I understand what your saying, but it seems improbable (and highly unrealistic) to be able to completely cut out wide threats in your defensive third, particularly when playing with two IFs up high. Playing against a team with world class players - like Utd or City or Chelsea - it's inevitable that the likes of Silva, Hazard or Rooney will get a chance out wide.

Particularly because the philosophy of my team is to 1. press more 2. defend high 3. attack with width. It's inevitable with those factors that a FB will be pulled out of position closing a midfielder down, or they'll beat the high line or whatever. Despite those circumstances, it shouldn't be impossible for a team playing with 4 solid defenders (including 2 conservative full backs) and two fairly restrained midfielders to be able to shut out that threat. It's particularly frustrating because I'm getting my defence perfectly positioned to defend the threat, and I'm still getting bulldozed through by any given forward.

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Maybe drop the IFS down to wide mids when playing the top teams? Granted you may lose some of the attacking philosophy your attempting with the tactic but at least you can try to see if something works. Failing that its either your defence setup wrong or an ME issue perhaps. Hope you sort it

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If you are having problems with FBs getting pulled out of position closing down MIDFIELDERS then perhaps lowering their Closing Down and set to man-mark Tight on the Wide players would help.

OIs are very powerful, unfortunately they are a nuisance to set up each match. Showing to foot, either weak or outside.

I ALWAYS use OIs to Close Down Always on Winger or Wide Midfielders. I usually leave everyone else Closing Down OI to normal. I especially don't want my defenders being pulled out of position closing down in the midfield and leaving gaps in the line. This is a sure recipe for disaster.

I also prefer a high-line and fairly high closing down. Forwards and Attacking Wingers or AMC are set to max or near max closing down. Midfielders are set around 14-16. DMC set a little lower. CBs around between 10 and 14 and FBs a click or two higher. Mentality also factors in.

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set your full-backs to defend. They're in much better position, will not close down the wrong player all the time but will prevent the other teams wide players from playing a lot of those dreaded balls. I have been unable to find anything else working consitently, but just beat the masters of the dreaded diagonal cross Juventus twice without them creating a single chance from the wings that way. Also worked well against other teams. With a 4-2-3-1 (mine is with CMs, but a deep one should work just a well) you'll have attacking threats aplenty. What might help my attack is that both full backs get forward whenever possible so still provide width to the attacks, but generally hold their horses on defend duty. Another plus is that your defense has a much easier time recycling posession. All of a sudden I can see my back four pinging the ball around waiting for an opening when I'm heavily pressed rather than one of ma CBs hoofing the ball upfield (which generally resulted in opp. defender heading the ball forward to a striker making a run stright at goal....).

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