Over the past few years, I have written numerous tactical articles. Most of these articles finished on the end product, the downloadable tactic. Some of these tactical articles focussed on specific aspects of the tactic. I even had a brief series of articles on how to edit and tweak them. While I am still content with the quality of the material, the nagging feeling that I could have done better still remains. This series of articles is my attempt to do better, to show you how I created the tactic, what I had in mind and how I tweaked it to work as intended.
In this specific case, there were a number of factors that influenced the way I set up the tactic.
- The team I chose to control;
- The historic style this team likes to play;
- A personal fascination with manipulating space and a few crazy ideas on how to do that in Football Manager.
First of all, the team I control partially dictates the way I set the team up to play. A specific style or formation might require the presence of a certain type of player. When these players are not available and cannot be brought into the squad, it is better to look for alternatives instead of shoehorning players into a formation or style they are not suited for.
Tactically, there appears to be a fallacy that dictates that top sides have to play a dominant, offensive style and smaller teams have to rely on counter-attacks. Generally speaking, I do not adhere to such theories. A small side can play an aggressive, in-your-face, attacking brand of football and bigger sides (hi Mou!) can play counter-attacking, defensive football. The skill of the players you manage to attract or have at your disposal is what makes or breaks a tactic.
As a manager, I was fortunate to end up with a quite talented and versatile squad. In 2026, Grêmio is still a powerhouse in Brazilian football. While they have not won a Serie A title in a while, they continually manage to qualify for continental competitions. That indicates that the squad I have inherited has a fair few talented footballers in it. The setup of my squad will allow me to experiment much more freely, as the team at hand offers a plethora of options.
A final factor to consider is the well-established youth setup. Grêmio is a Brazilian club that has established a great tradition of producing world-class talents. The club is officially ranked the No.1 Brazilian team by the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation). Notable academy graduates in recent years include 2002 FIFA World Cup winner and two-time FIFA Ballon d’Or recipient Ronaldinho, Brazil national team and Juventus winger Douglas Costa, Russia national team and CSKA Moscow defender Mário Fernandes, Spartak Moscow midfielder Fernando and winger Pedro Rocha, Lazio midfielder Lucas Leiva, Hannover midfielder
I have taken over control of Grêmio, a Brazilian Serie A football team hailing from the city of Porto Alegre; a city which has given the world Ronaldinho, Gilberto Silva, Anderson, Douglas Costa and Maicon amongst others, home to 1.5 million and the ninth biggest city in Brazil.
The city (and actually the entire state of Rio Grande do Sul) has a strong European heritage. The vast majority of the population is of European descent. Italian and German are still spoken in parts of the state and while one of the most famous foods of Brazil, churrasco (slow-grilled and -roasted meat), originated in
Grêmio is the older club, founded in 1903 by a wealthy entrepreneur. But it was a private members’ club for those of German ancestry, which six years later irked the Italian-descended brothers Henrique, Jose and Luis Poppe into forming Internacional, the name a pointed snook cocked at the city rivals.
These European roots, this European heritage, contributed to the historical style of the club, which is distinctly un-Brazilian. Historically, many Grêmio teams did not play the typical Brazilian game, instead favouring speed and directness ahead of tika-taka. Their approach to the game was almost European in terms of their tactics, fused with the traditional Brazilian technical surplus. Instead of the short combination football many Europeans associate with Brazilian football, Grêmio plays a more direct game, based on tactical discipline and physique
Another factor to take into account here is the gauchó. A gauchó is a skilled horseman, reputed to be brave and unruly. The gaucho is a national symbol in Argentina and Uruguay but is also a strong culture in the far south region of Brazil. Gauchos became greatly admired and renowned in legends, folklore and literature and became an important part of their regional cultural tradition. In its purest sense, gauchó referred to the nomadic, often outlaw inhabitants of the great plains of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. In current usage, the word usually designates the rural working class in general.
Taking all of these historic connotations into account, I wanted to create a brand that matched the historical roots of the club. These are the provisional instructions I wish to use.
For now, I want to play in a compact formation, which means I want to maintain a short distance between the furthest players both horizontally and vertically. I strive for my players to be close enough together to be connected, ensuring compactness within the shape. On the other hand, I also want to look dangerous breaking forward, so the shape can’t be too compact. Ideally, the individual players are as far away from each other as possible whilst maintaining the connections. Through this, they can control more space whilst retaining the benefits of a compact block.
Formation-wise, I took a page from the Four Horsemen tactic I created earlier. I wanted to tinker with the concept of an ultra-offensive bank of four forwards, balanced by a strong midfield and backed up by mobile wingbacks. For now, this is the basic premise of the tactic.
As you can see there are no clear-defined roles yet, because I have not quite made up my mind about how I want to see my team play in terms of movement and roles. The next post in this series will detail my intentions in that regard.