Over the past few years, I have been an avid follower of the Strikerless blog. In a way, you could consider me a disciple of the strikerless path to darkness. Initially, that meant that I downloaded the tactics available on the blog and slightly altered them to suit my specific needs. Although I have had some measure of moderate success in the past with developing my own strikerless tactics, this is the first one I have actually felt any pride in. This my strikerless tactic; the Three Amigos.
I have spent hours trying to get the classic Strikerless shape (four at the back with a DM) to work but despite my unrelenting and continuous efforts, the team keeps leaking the odd goal, ultimately producing too many draws and 1-0 defeats. I have gone with three at the back and wing-backs, which is rock solid in comparison. Just have a look at its setup on the pitch.
Those three central defenders are always flanked by the two wingbacks when defending, while the central areas in midfield are well covered. The wingbacks can generally step out into midfield should the central midfielders be outnumbered. Similarly, one of the attacking midfield amigos can drop back to help out defensively.
I have gone back to my pre-strikerless days and used/adapted my favourite Team Instructions. This tactic works best on an Attack duty but Control or Counter-Attack can also be used, depending on the way the opposition is playing and the state of the game. I usually start with Attack and change if necessary throughout the game.
Shape flexible – As everyone needs to contribute in all areas of the pitch I have gone for a flexible shape. Using Counter Attacking I need the defenders not to get too involved further up the pitch (hence, no more than Flexible) as I am already operating with a Higher Defensive line.
Tempo and Passing – I have always been a fan of a short passing higher tempo game. Short snappy passing looks great when it works. Unless I see something in-game to exploit or need to react to, Tempo is the only thing I change if necessary. If I am having trouble opening up a defence I will change to Much Higher tempo for a short while and if the opposition is getting too much possession and chances I will slow the Tempo down. Sometimes the AI takes a little time to react to a change of tempo and goal scoring opportunities can arise in the first 10 minutes after a change.
Width – Fairly narrow I want to channel the opposition into my solid back three and channel my attacks into an overloaded centre.
Defensive line – Slightly higher. I do not like giving up space for the opposition to operate in especially when using a Attacking mentality. We are looking to dictate the play not just react.
Use Offside Trap – To link with the higher line and the GK being a Sweeper Keeper.
Closing Down, Prevent Short GK Distribution and Use Tighter Marking – Again I want to deny the opposition the time and space to take advantage of my Counter Attacking mentality.
Exploit The Middle – I am looking to overload the central areas of the pitch and either get my attacking midfielders to chase balls passed into space in the middle of the park or to overwhelm the defence with numbers and short quick passing.
Play Out of Defence – I am trying to encourage the central defenders to keep it simple and give the ball to the wing backs or central midfielders and not hoof hopeful balls down the pitch.
Pass Into Space – To compliment the idea of quick counter attacks or telling through balls when operating on the edge of the opposition area.
Be More Expressive – As the central areas can get congested we need to give the more creative players the freedom to do something unexpected.
Look for Underlap – See Player Roles, wing backs
Low crosses – This or whipped Crosses seem to produce better results when playing Strikerless. Players are running onto the ball not standing around in the box waiting to challenge 190cm tall central defenders to a heading contest.
Roam from Position – To link with and for the same reasons as using Be More Expressive.
Note that I have not used Retain Possession (I want to get the ball down the other end quickly) or Work the Ball into the Box (the attacking midfielders have a Shoot Less Often instruction and WTBITB would be like butter on bacon – too much fat).
Player Roles, Duties and Instructions
Sweeper Keeper – I am using a Higher Defensive Line and an Offside Trap and none of the central defenders has a cover duty so using a sweeper keeper makes him a little more responsive to through balls. Also, sweeper keepers with a support duty are ideal when using Attacking tactics.
Additional Player instructions – Distribute to Full Backs and Roll It Out. To link with Play Out of Defence (see above). Distribute Quickly – To aid counter-attacking.
Central Defenders – Right and Left central defenders on Defend and the central one as a Stopper.
Defend rather than Cover because as I have said before I do not want to give up too much space to the opposition. The central Stopper is to try to force the attackers onto the two defensive central defenders or even the wing backs. If he can win the ball and start the counter-attack even better. I have tried a ball playing defender here but the really good ones are few and far between and too expensive. Besides I just need the defenders to snuff out the attacks and get rid of the central midfielders and wing backs.
Additional Player instructions – Only Close Down More for the central Stopper. If he gets dragged out of position there are two other central defenders and a sweeper keeper to cover for him.
Wing Backs – Support duty. As we are playing Counter Attack they must be neither too defensive nor attacking. In many respects, these are key to this tactic. Using the Look for Underlap team instruction and their individual Player Instructions they contribute massively to helping to overload the middle and deliver balls early to central midfielders and attacking midfielders running onto the pass at pace.
Additional Player instructions – Cross from deep complements Look for Underlap in theory but I notice little difference whether this is used or not.
Sit Narrower. The two things with this are that (without any evidence other than observation) Sitting Narrower appears to nullify somewhat the crossing power of the opposition wingers and since changing to this the Wing Backs are scoring more often. Instead of powering shots into the side netting their angle of attack and running onto passes in the area is slightly more straight onto the goal than from the side.
Ball Winning Midfielder – Again the need to deny the opposition time and space and get the ball back so that we can start our own attacks. No additional Player instructions.
Advance Playmaker Support/Roaming Playmaker. Either one will do depending on what you have available on your team. There are more APs around than RPs so I have gone with that. The tactic needs that added flair that only a playmaker can bring to the table and is (in my opinion) absolutely essential in breaking down a stubborn defence. Also, I am overloading the centre of the park and things get very crowded on the edge of the opposition box. An inspired bit of playmaking is often just what is needed.
Additional Player instructions – Tackle harder to help out the BPD.
Attacking Midfielder Attack. That is right no Shadow Strikers. Playing around with different tactics I noticed that Attacking Midfielders start their runs onto through balls slightly deeper than SSs. Changing to this role has reduced the number of offsides particularly useful when using Counter Attack with Pass Into Space. Also, I prefer to utilise the skill sets of the players than force them to play a role they are less suited to. Well suited (according to scout reports) SSs are much fewer than AMs or APs and AMCs can be given instructions to make them operate in a similar fashion to SSs albeit from a slightly deeper position.
Additional Player instructions – Shoot Less Often. I am not using Work the Ball into the Box and this is trying to create a little more creativity in the attack.
Dribble Less. We are Counter Attacking and looking for short snappy passes to open up the defence.
Close Down More. I want that ball off their defenders and force them into mistakes. If it does not work then there is no great loss to the AMCs being out of position as the other team members should be behind the ball as when playing Counter Attack.
Tackle Harder – See above
Mark Tighter – See above
Roam from Position – Creativity and movement in and around the opposition box.
More Direct Passes – When an AMC gets the ball in our half I am looking for a long through ball into space for one of the other AMCs to run on to.
More Risky Passes – As per Roam from Position
Move Into Channels – As per a Shadow Striker.
I also use swap positions between the Left and Right AMCs
Opposition Instructions- Exactly as Guido’s 20 June 2017 article “Opposition Instructions, Pressing Triggers And Pressing Traps”