In the past few weeks, I have started posting content originally written by Lee (@FMAnalysis). To be more specific, I have started re-posting his Mechanising The Play-series, which is probably one of the best FM-tactics-related series I have ever read. Lee’s ideas are still relevant, regardless of the Match Engine and version of the game, because they are ideas that apply to football in general. Despite my name being listed as the author, I find it is important that you realise that the actual author is Lee Scott (@FMAnalysis). So, without wasting anymore of your precious time, I present to you the third article of a brilliant series.

A few months ago I wrote a post entitled “Mechanising the Play – Using the Enganche” detailing the use of a creative yet often immobile player in the hole behind the striker. The example that gave the inspiration behind the article was Juan Roman Riquelme, one of the most elegant footballers of his generation. Around the time I was researching this article I came across an interesting piece in which the possibility of using Sergio Busquets as a “false enganche” was discussed. The idea is that Busquets has the idea set of physical and mental attributes to provide a wall in the attacking midfield position in that he can accept possession of the ball before snapping first time passes back in to the feet of advancing midfield players or even slipping the ball through to the strikers as they move through the defence.

In Football Manager Busquets is also ideally modeled to play in this role. Consider his attributes First Touch – 18, Passing – 17, Anticipation – 17, Composure – 19, Decisions – 17, Positioning – 19. The idea that not only does he provide a connection knitting together the midfield and attack but that he also acts as the primary defensive block placing the initial phase of pressure on the opposition.

Table of Contents

The Setup

Image One

As always with these articles the initial setup is completely self explanatory. We have positioned Busquets at the tip of a midfield diamond in the enganche position. His role is not to attack or move in to a more advanced position but to hold his space and allow the rest of the team to flow around him. He is also positioned ideally to press the AI defence to try and win the ball back as quickly as possible. The enganche is giving neutral mentality and no creative freedom. He is also of course giving no freedom to run from deep or to run with the ball.

Image Two

You can see that Busquets is in the advanced midfield position with two striker positioned in wide positions. With the AI in possession in their defensive position. The short lateral pass to the other centre back is pressured by the left sided forward while Busquets is in a position to challenge any forward passing lane. Of course the AI always has the option to play the ball long but that is a risky pass that could well lead to a quick turnover of possession.

Image Three

Once again the AI has possession with the centre back. As with the initial example the simple pass out to the fullback is blocked by the left striker. The right striker is challenging the longer pass to the right back. Our defensive enganche is once again sitting slightly deeper but in position to snap in to the tackle should the ball be moved laterally and short.

Image Four

A final example of the defensive block in place. The level of pressure being applied to the AI in this example is untenable and will lead to the ball being turned over either due to a tackle from our front players or via the AI playing a long pass that will be challenged by our deeper players. As you can see Busquets has moved right up to the line to engage the man in possession.

Image Five

Now on to the attacking phases of play. Here we have Busquets as the enganche acting as an outlet for a quick wall pass. The ball is played quickly from our defence in to his feet and his first touch pass back in to the deeper midfielder completely opens the angle for the attack. Another first time pass this time beyond Busquets to the other central midfielder moving in to the attacking phase adds depth to the move. This entire exchange takes place in seconds pulling the AI to pieces.

Image Six

This time we can see another rapid passing exchange through the entire midfield diamond. Again the initial ball is pressed in to Busquets and as soon as it does the AI midfielder moves to engage expecting that the attacking midfielder will spin in to space. Instead once again the ball is played first time to the deeper midfielder and again it then gets moved beyond the enganche in to the advanced position.

Image Seven

These combinations are a constant aspect of play with the defensive enganche. Yet again when the initial pass is thrown in to his feet Busquets moves the ball quickly first time and opens out the angle of the attack. By shifting angles quickly in this manner you offer more chance of breaking the AI and their defensive system.

Image Eight

This time you can see what happens when Busquets takes possession in a slightly deeper position and with players already moving ahead of him. This time the enganche and is able to use his passing and decision making to play the ball in to space for an on rushing teammate. As you can see the ball can either go more direct in to the path of Messi or on the shorter option to Iniesta in a more central area. The ball goes longer to Messi and we go on to score a goal.

Image Nine

The enganche again takes possession in the central area of the pitch and again he has two options in terms of playing the ball quickly and opening up the attacking options. The easy pass is in to the central area of the pitch where he has a teammate unmarked but once again the ball can be passed through the defence in to the path of Messi moving from right to centre.

Image Ten

I’ve managed to catch a screenshot illustrating the movement of the other players around our defensive enganche. As we transition from defence to attack the ball is played to Busquets in a deep central position. As soon as he gets the pass he doesn’t move vertically at all and instead holds the ball and allows his teammates to flow around him. Almost immediately we see three players offering vertical passing options allowing us to move the focus of the ball forward.

Image Eleven

I’ll leave you with a final example of the benefits of having a player in the advanced midfield position that doesn’t look to move forward with the ball at all. The ball is fed centrally to Busquets and yet again the ball is immediately played through first time to the third man run. The third man run when the ball is played horizontally and then immediately vertically in to the path of a runner is a key aspect of the play displayed by both Barcelona and Spain.

The use of a defensively capable player that can also pass accurately and quickly to open the angles of the attack can add an interesting aspect to your tactical setup. Whilst there aren’t many carbon copies of Sergio Busquets available there are a number of players with similar combinations of attributes that can be extremely effective.

Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.


Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.


MANUMAD · March 23, 2015 at 3:54 pm

This looks like something Ive been trying – I started as I told you by using your Strikerless Sexy Football “v1” tactic as a platform but turned the two SSs into raumdeuters but then the new patch f’ed up the whole set up, so I gave up trying to use the Sexy Football thingy as a platform and instead started experimenting with something 100% new.

But Id be interested to know the reason(s) why you chose two IFs instead of other options. Is it because the IFs are easier to overlap by the FBs on attack?

    strikerlessGuido · March 23, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Not a fan of Raumdeuters incidentally, they seem a bit lazy in the pressing department.

    The IF’s cutting inside would allow the FB’s to overlap easier as well as overloading the central area.

      MANUMAD · March 23, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      Well, you re correct about Raumdeuters – my initial plan was to have two so as to have two quite mobile attack minded players to occupy the opposition defence but – despite giving them what seems to be the “correct” PIs – their movement is diffuse and pressing is nowhere near as incessant and concentrated as it should be.

      Do you give the IFs “positional” instructions such as “sit narrower” and corresponding instructions to FBs?

      Sorry if Im asking too many questions but you give a LOT of info as to what you re trying to achieve with the enganche while giving no information about the rest of the tactics. Ive tried to do similar stuff to what you re doing but I wasnt sure that the enganche was the way to go -chiefly cos I wasnt sure I understood what he does (used a cm or an ap with instructions to render them static myself) but your “article” on him was an eyeopener.

      strikerlessGuido · March 23, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      No worries, these are good questions, mate. The IF’s cut inside on their own accord, so there really is no need for them to sit even more narrow. The wing-backs can overlap when the winger cuts inside. Having them start more narrow makes the run inside easier to defend, as it does not stretch the defensive line as far as it could, thus making it easier to defend as a compact bloc.

yrashidiy · June 5, 2015 at 8:50 am

Love this post. Another good thing about using IFs is the fact that your team can employ a High Block.

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