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OPAgusta 4-3-3 Possession Football

Inspired by an all-conquering Guardiola’s Barcelona, I decided to make a tactic to imitate that. Please read this article fully and thoroughly to understand the tactic.

By Updated on Dec 20, 2013   172078 views   28 comments
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FM 2014 Tactics - OPAgusta 4-3-3 Possession Football

1. Introduction

I would like to share a tactic which I have used with FC Barcelona for 3 seasons and entering a fourth season in my FM 2014 save and after 3 Liga BBVA Titles, 3 Spanish Cups, 2 Champions League Titles, 2 Spanish Super Cups, 2 European Super Cups, 2 World Championships later I believe this tactic is as dominant as ever.

Before I bore you with tactical details, I would like to show you some of the match results and league tables.




2. Tactical Overview and Instructions



The tactic is inspired by Guardiola's Barcelona team which still had David Villa and Samuel Eto'o playing. It was the most devastating team ever ensembled with Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta controlling a midfield, and Villa, Eto'o and Messi as three deadly forwards.

The principal of the tactic as you can see from team’s instruction above is:

• To control possession during offence with slow tempo, disciplined, creative and patient short passing football to unlock opposition’s defense. The rigid fluidity coupled with ‘Be more disciplined’ instruction will make sure all the players work within a tactical system without sacrificing individual creativity. Players will also be asked ‘Play Wider’ to make use of the whole pitch and create space among each other and the ‘Pass into Space’ instruction will fully exploit this space and maximize your three pacy and skillful forwards.

• To recycle/regain possession as soon as you lose it by high pressing defensive line and constant hassle by every player. In this tactic you will see a lot of pressing and double teaming as players work as a team cohesively to regain possession. The offside trap is used in conjunction with high defensive line to avoid opponent exploiting the space behind the defensive line and the ‘stay on feet’ instruction is to make sure that players do not dive into tackles and therefore will be able to recover after a failed tackling attempt.

• If the opponent cannot get the ball or have little time with the ball then they will have few chances to score

3. Player Instructions

3.1. Sweeper Keeper


The sweeper keeper is required to sweep the ball when the high defensive line gets beaten or offside trap fails. In offense he only has to pass it shorter to the defenders in front of him.

3.2. The Defense, the unbeatable wall


The defense utilizes 2 fullbacks and 2 stoppers. Two fullbacks with support duty will provide balance between defense and offence and they will stay wide to support players in front of them and provide overlapping run. Two stoppers will close down opposition straight away to deny them space and win the ball back. This function works well with ‘use offside trap’ instruction. In offense they will provide short simple passes. In my save game, Balanta and Pique have developed into defensive beasts.

3.3. The Midfield, the fulcrum of possession football


The midfield utilizes 1 BWM and 2 DLPs all in support duty. The BWM will try to win the ball during defense and distribute the ball with simple short passes. He will also be a link between the defenders and players in front of him. The 2 DLPs will control the possession and tempo, distribute the ball with their creativity and they will be the focus of the attacking movement. They will also provide help in defense. In my save game Pogba, Iniesta, Xavi, Verrati and Kovacic become midfield maestros.

3.4. The Forwards, the deathly trident


A CF (you can use AF or DLF or trequartista) will be supported by two IFs. The two IFs with support duty will stay wider to make themselves available for passing and they will cut inside whenever possible to shoot or make a through pass. They will provide plenty of assists and goals. The CF should drop deep and move into channel to support possession play and apart from that should be left alone to do what he wants. In my save game Neymar, Messi, Lamela has become world class forwards

4. Alternative Tactic

If you concede more goals than you expected you can do one or more of the following:
•Change the duty of one or both of the DCs to 'Defend'
•Change the duty of the BWM from support do defend

If you feel that you do not score enough goals or do not attack enough what you can do is to change the duty of the IFs from Support to Attack thanks omar bassiony

Here is the screenshot:


5. Preferred Moves

I have listed out the preferred moves for each position to maximize the tactic. Please bear in mind that the players do not necessarily have to have all the moves but having one or two will definitely help.
5.1. SK
•Develop Weaker foot

5.2. Stopper
•Does not dive into tackle
•Stops Play to allow his team mates to take a breather
•Switch Ball to other flank

5.3. FB
•Does not hug the line
•Runs with ball down left/right
•Gets forward whenever possible
•Switch ball to other flank

5.4. BWM
•Does not dive into tackle
•Plays short simple passes
•Stays back all the time

5.5. DLP
•Tries killer ball often
•Dictates tempo
•Shoots from distance
•Dwells on ball

5.6. IF
•Cuts inside
•Untrain run with ball down left/right
•Runs with ball often/ through center
•Comes deep to get ball
•Plays one-twos
•Knocks ball past opponent
•Places shot

5.7. CF
•Runs with ball often/through center
•Comes deep to get ball
•Moves into channel
•Plays one-twos
•Knocks ball past opponent
•Places shot
•Likes to round keeper

6. Set Pieces

6.1. Attacking Corner

•2 Players to stay back preferable your 2 fullbacks and one player to stay back if needed to prevent counter attack
•2 Players with good heading attribute to attack near post and far post respectively
•1 player to attack ball from deep and another to lurk outside area to pounce on any loose ball or pass to teammates, or to provide themselves as passing options. They have to have good long shot attribute
•1 Player challenge keeper and 2 players go forward

6.2. Defending Corner

•2 Fullbacks mark far post and near post respectively
•2 Centre backs (Or tall players) mark tall players
•5 players go back or mark player depending on situation
•Leave the striker at the front to initiate counter attack

6.3. Attacking Free kick

•2 Players to stay back preferable your 2 fullbacks and one player to stay back if needed to prevent counter attack
•5 Players go forward, some of them have to have good heading attribute
•1 player disrupts wall
•1 player mark keeper

6.4. Defending Free kick

•4 defenders to man mark
•4 players form wall
•1 player go back
•Leave the striker at the front to initiate counter attack

7. Training and Match Preparation

If you are just starting the game, please do not focus on more than one tactic as it will just take longer for your players to master a tactic. Give some time space before training a new tactic.

General Training: Balanced
Intensity Level: Average
Scheduling: Allow rest before and after match
Match Training Main Focus: Attacking movement
Individual: Individual role based on the position you want your player to play in with Average intensity
Pre-season: Have as much pre-season matches as possible, probably 5-10 matches (depending on your schedule) with 2-3 days’ rest in between (I use 2 days rest), to get your players to adapt to the tactics. Arrange your friendly matches so that there is a space of 4-5 days between the last friendly match and the first competitive match.

8. Drawbacks

Since this tactic employs high defensive line and offside trap, once in a while it will get exposed and fail (please read my point number 4). You will also find out that sometimes this tactic will bore you to death with few chances (or highlights) created due to its slow tempo and low risk nature.

9. Does it Work?

In my save game with Barcelona? Yes, Because Barcelona have great players and lot of money to spend. That is why I need some testers who are willing to try it with middle or lower teams, or with lower division teams. It has also worked with both 14.1.3 and 14.1.4 patches.


Please leave some comment below, thanks.

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Discussion: OPAgusta 4-3-3 Possession Football

28 comments have been posted so far.

  • Giorgos7osfp's avatar
    First time on D1. First time on a full career mode and I did not know how to set up anything, I only had TWO single matches pre-season for preparation. My training schedule was wrong, changed my whole roster, too many departures, new signings, hot prospects, new staff members, old ones sacked. Season started with a victory against a to-be-relegated team, Dresden, but things didn't go well, I got an overall of 2 points in the next 8 matches, on the last position of the leaguetable.
    Home Fixtures: Saint Paul - Bayern 0-0
    Saint Paul - Schalke 3-1
    Saint Paul - Leverkusen (Was 1st on table, until then) 3-2
    Saint Paul - Dortmund (League Champions) 1-1
    That means of an overall of 12 points I could have got on those really hard matches, I got 8. I might not have the best statistics as for possession/shoots on D1 but I am definatelly the best thing that this division had to show this year. Delighted!
    Finished on 11th position while I was expected to finish on 15th.
  • Giorgos7osfp's avatar
    Alright... The league is over for this year... Reached... 4th position... Lost the promotion game while having the same points with the team on the 3rd place because of goals conceeded. That's pretty sad but I am quite confident and sure that these tactics are actually working great, even if you go on holidays and pretty much let your team on its own destiny. Well done, sir, well done!
  • Giorgos7osfp's avatar
    I just signed up for this website to leave a comment over here.
    This story is unbelievable but also true. It might be due to UBER luck of my own but listen to this:
    I join on June at St.Paul (D2 Germany) and get sacked by October using another tactic on this website that has been downloaded A LOT of times.
    Then I rejoin with adding a new manager on the same team and with everything going wrong (picking up the pieces, while on the 15th position of the table) and I use this tactic, set up a few stuff on the team squad, then go on holiday for a lot of days and when I sometime return from holidays I actually realise that I have won 4/4 games and moved up to the 10th position (I even beat the one that was on the 5th position,away, 1860 Munich, with shoots 19-8 and possession...45-55!! I had less than half their chances and 10% more possession!) I will use these tactics on my other careers too and leave more feedback soon. Thanks a lot for this :)

    PS. The adaptability of my team on this particular tactics was also unbelievable. It was at about 70% after 4 matches, while the other one was still on 20% after all the preparation and games June-October.
    PS2. One more win and one draw to be added to the series. That makes it W-W-W-W-D-W :) And the draw was away from home.
    Good job, what else could I say...
  • Nox_Caelum's avatar
    Barça never had Eto'o and Villa together(It was Henry, Eto'o, Messi. Then LW, Ibra, Messi. Then Villa, Messi, RW)
    But with current Barça team a front 3 of Neymar, Messi and Alexis, should I keep Alexis as right sided IF or change the role or him out for Pedro? I don't want to sign any new guys yet.
  • Amido's avatar
    There is only one problem and the it is about yellow and red cards what should I do ?
  • dama84pk's avatar
    good tactic i play with Maribor-slovenija first season this is my rezult so far soory with bad english 17 plays game 10 win 5 draw 2 lost i lost in third qualifing phase in champion league bazel is the win now i im in euro cup with group club brugge fiorentina frankfurt i have played 5 game 4 win 1 draw thanks for the tactic
  • omerdemirozogul's avatar
    It works well, Thanks
    1
  • El_Mago_Aimar82's avatar
    First of all thanks for this tactic.
    I've started using it on the second half of the first season (january 2014) with Benfica, and so far after 1 month, more than high ball posession, what I first noticed was the attack massacre: In every single game (even in Champions League) my team makes at least 30 goal attempts, against no more than 3, 4, 6 attempts from my oponents, so I guess that nearly matches with one of your above sentences "If the opponent cannot get the ball or have little time with the ball then they will have few chances to score".

    Unfortunetly that does not mean I can score a lot, having registered results like 1-0, 1-1, 2-1... Any ways, I was 8 points ahead in #1 place, now I am 11 points ahead, so I guess I just need to wait to the end of the season to let the team get fully used to this new tactic, and also start to choose the best players to fit it, for the next season.
  • OPAgusta's avatar
    It is great that the tactic works for you..
  • Hoady28's avatar
    Great tactic. Used with barca and won everything first season then won everything but super cup next season. Then used with arsenal and swapped CDMA for cam and I am top halfway through the season beat Chelsea 4-2 then 5-2 3 days later. Creates load of goals i am top scorer by 12 goals and keeps a good clean sheet if got keeper is decent. I have szcezny still.
  • Lucas3's avatar
    Not a bad tactic, I've won most of my games, but the results were not very impressive. The only time I scored more than 2 goals was in a 3-3 draw. All my wins were 1-0, 2-0, 2-1. You don't create many chances, but the defensive work is really good. I've experimented with 3 different tactics for my 2014-2015 season with Barnet(SkyBet League 2), and with this one I conceded the smallest amount of goals.
    Also Villa and Eto'O, never played together for Barcelona. :)
  • Lucas Schifini's avatar
    loved the tactic'll test in Brazilian football, patch 14.2.1
    wanted to know how many% in training for play??
  • bluecgart's avatar
    That's 2 more defeats on the trot! Had enough, going to revert back to old Tactics lol
  • bluecgart's avatar
    First 5 Matches and 1 win, 3 defeats and a draw. Left too exposed at the back with the Push Higher Up and Offside Trap elements of the Tactic. I do like the Tactic but will tweak to my squads strengths and get back to you after another 5 matches.
  • OPAgusta's avatar
    @benmorris15
    Great! Although I feel for you for losing in the final.
    I think the tactic will work much better with better team like Tottenham especially with Lamela in the team, I suggest you buy a good lone striker like Aleksandar Mitrovic who will give you 20-30 goals a season or Carlos Fierro.
    This is one of the weakness with the tactic that if your striker is not having a good game you will not score many goals.
    Please update me again with your Tottenham.
    Also I suggest you to read my article on point no. 4 on how to tighten your defense as EPL is a whole different animal than Championship division!

    Note: The tactic works even better with new patch 14.2 as tackling and pressing have been much improved!
    1
  • benmorris15's avatar
    worked with leicester city in the first season. finished in the promotion places, but lost in the final. often didn't score many goals on winning 1-0 or 2-1, 2-0.
    Left leicester to join tottenham so I'm now going to try the same tactic with spurs now and see what can be done :)
  • OPAgusta's avatar
    @omar bassiony
    I tried changing the two IFs from Support to Attack and it also works. Thanks, I have edited the page on point no. 4.
    1
  • OPAgusta's avatar
    @omar bassiony
    I think that with what Barca has achieved in recent years and by seeing how they have played it gives a wrong impression to people that their players are allowed to play and drop into positions whenever and wherever they want. It is wrong as only Messi is allowed to do that. The players around him have to follow specific instruction to position themselves correctly which result in triangles and overloads, hence possession. We also have to understand how the match engine works as 'Fluid' fluidity will make players do things whatever they want which result in them not obeying tactical instructions. In the end you will have to rely much more on individual skill rather than teamwork. If you have chance please look at how FC Bayern play and you will find out.

    Putting individually skillful players like Neymar in the tactic will result in them being even better players as they will use their creativity and flair correctly. Give the tactic more time!

    Also, I have updated the tactic page regarding defense on point no. 4. Many Thanks.
  • omar bassiony's avatar
    thnx 4 reply

    but i think that your tactic lacks attacking part

    i see your point of controlling the play as in wigan match it was 70 -30 for me but the final result was a draw !!!

    it's great tactic as it's not easy to concede a goal but also very hard to score one

    i will try to change some places

    and another question

    barca depends on very fluid i guess as all attack all defend so why did u choose rigid ?
  • OPAgusta's avatar
    @omar bassiony
    If you are worried about asking your players to focus only on my tactic then you make a separate save game where you only focus on my tactic in case things go wrong. Of course the more time you let them train with the tactic the better their understanding is.
    To answer your other questions:
    1. I use IF support so that they will support or get involved more in passing and possession play instead of using Attack where they will always try run towards defense and score. I tried using IF Attack and this resulted in less possession and goals.
    2. Since the tactic use high defensive line, I need Fullbacks who will balance the duty between defense on offense instead of using Wingback who often forget do defend. I tried using WB and I concede more goals
    3. In possession football the middle area is very important that is why I use 2 DLPs and 1 BWM to form a triangle and they will support each other. I have already tried using AP and BBM and what happened was they keep on going forward and therefore break this triangle.
    4. As you can see the tactic did not just come out of genius brain, it takes a lot of time and tinkering to make it work like what I want. However you are more than welcome to modify it.
    1
  • omar bassiony's avatar
    i'm training the players another 2 tactics

    should i only focus on your play or what ?

    first match against man utd i lost 4-1 but the understanding of the the tactic is still low so i guess more time would lead to better results ?

    why don't we use inside forwards attacking ?

    also why we depend on full not wing back ?

    why don't we use box to box instead of deep lying ?
  • OPAgusta's avatar
    @benmorris15 @ThomasTuri @Bilko89
    Please update me with your results
  • OPAgusta's avatar
    @Acosta17
    If you are just starting the game, please do not focus on more than one tactic as it will just take longer for your players to master a tactic. Give some time space before training a new tactic.
    General Training: Balanced
    Intensity Level: Average
    Scheduling: Allow rest before and after match
    Match Training Main Focus: Attacking movement
    Individual: Individual role based on the position you want your player to play in with Average intensity
    Pre-season: Have as much pre-season matches as possible, probably 5-10 matches (depending on your schedule) with 2-3 days’ rest in between (I use 2 days rest), to get your players to adapt to the tactics. Arrange your friendly matches so that there is a space of 4-5 days between the last friendly match and the first competitive match.
  • lyonnais86's avatar
    result in champions league?
  • benmorris15's avatar
    I'll try this tactic with Leicester City. First season I'll let you know

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