To properly perform Gegenpressing as a tactic, you need to have players in advanced positions. As such, aside from the striker, having players in 1-3 AM positions will place them as close as possible to the opposition to apply pressure and win the ball in the attacking third of the pitch. As such, setting up in 4-2-3-1, 4-1-2-2-1 (Barcelona-esque 4-3-3) or 4-2-2-2 (or slight asymmetric variations thereof) would be ideal. Setting up in “flat” 4-4-1-1, 4-1-4-1 or 4-4-2 also work, if the wide midfielders have a duty that pushes them further up the pitch when in possession.
2. Team Instructions
As mentioned above, you need to be close to the opposition, so having a “higher” or “slightly higher” defensive line is important. Don’t forget playing an offside trap since you’ll be pushing high. Naturally, you’ll need to close down “more” or “much more” as an entire team. The next key areas are to have a more aggressive mentality of either “attacking”, “control” or “counter”, as well as a “fluid” or “very fluid” team shape to ensure that all players take part in the offensive and defensive phases and keep the lines closer together. Playing at a higher tempo is also helpful.
3. Player Instructions
Make sure that your wide- and central midfielders, plus all AM’s and strikers have their closing down set to maximum. Also, to ensure that your attacking minded players immediately pressure the opposition once they lose possession, wide midfielders, AM’s and strikers need to be set to “mark tightly”.
4. Opposition Instructions
Not much is needed here, but an option is always to create pressing traps by pressing key positions in order to isolate the ball, e.g. press RB and show onto left foot while also pressing the right CD and show onto right foot, which will isolate either when pressed.
5. Player Attributes (Technical)
Players need to have good passing, first touch and technique attributes and not have horrible tackling skills.
6. Player Attributes (Mental)
Absolute key and more important than technical attributes are the mental attributes of work rate, teamwork, and determination.
7. Player Attributes (Physical)
Given the higher tempo and high amount of running needed for Gegenpressing, key in on acceleration, pace and stamina.
Nothing too specific here, but make sure that you always mix in fitness training in preseason and winter breaks (where you have them), plus during international fixture breaks.
You need a coaching staff that believes in closing down aggressively, especially when relying on your assistant manager for opposition instructions during matches.
Finally, you need to pick a club that not only has the right players already in place for Gegenpressing, but that also don’t have philosophies that contradict Gegenpressing, like playing defensively.