A little later than planned but here we are:
Part 1 - Spain
As stated before, I have started with Barcelona to give myself the best chance of winning the league early and build my reputation quickly by earning success at a top club so I can get jobs elsewhere.
The first thing was to evaluate the squad which, needless to say, didn't take long!! I opted for a strikerless tactic (4-6-0) which clearly would suit Barca's squad. Team instructions and player roles are all below.
I've tried to emulate how Barca play in real life as this has been successful and I like to get my teams playing short passing stuff anyway.
Valdes is set as a Sweeper Keeper because I have a high defensive line so I need him on his toes to clean up if anything does slip past my defensive triangle of the two centre halves and my holding man.
The wing backs are set to support. I have experimented with different teams in numerous ways with how full backs should be set up. I've discovered that it is not always a good idea to set the player instruction Get Further Forward as this can leave them stranded up the pitch if you suddenly lose possession. However, if you set Cross from Byline they must get there to cross the ball but will break their necks to get back and defend when needed. Plus, with More Expressive set in Team Instructions they are left to choose the right option themselves.
I initially set the CBs to Ball Playing Defenders but this proved costly with a number of goals conceded. I therefore changed them back to standard Central Defenders where they are solid but can pass it around if they wish.
The Anchor Man and the Deep Lying Playmaker do the initial support play of breaking up the opposition and laying it on to an attacker.
The left winger is set to Inside Forward because almost all of my Attacking Midfielders are right footed and Alba is a more explosive and defensively solid wing back than Alves so I want more space for Alba whereas Alves requires someone staying wide in front of him.
The Advanced Playmaker is set to Support because I read an article saying to not put more Attack duties than Defend or Support so this provides BALANCE. Also, Iniesta and Fabregas (the two players I will play in this role) are adept at dropping off the midfield to gain possession and play a killer through ball from deep. By him dropping off, he also tempts a defender out of defence which leaves space in the middle.
The Trequartista in this tactic is set up for Messi (obviously!!). I experimented with him playing up front on his own as a Trequartista in a 4-2-3-1 Deep formation but, as you will see with my preseason results, this did not end well. I lost the game to a poor opposition and Messi was frequently left isolated on his own up front. He has the freedom to com deep or play on the shoulder and is set to Dribble More and Shoot More.
Clearly, Barca's squad is full of quality and as such did not need much transfer activity. However, long term injuries to Afellay and Cuenca mean I am a little short in Attacking Midfield. A quick look through some players and some scout reports tell me that Xherdan Shaqiri is available for a good price. I made an enquiry which they rejected so I offered £10m. They countered with a ridiculous £34m demand so I went back in with around £15m and they accepted (surprisingly easy!!). A good contract thrashed out means I haven't paid over the odds and have a world class player added. Obviously I'm not planning on building a dynasty at Barca but he will help my quest. Shaqiri adds another dimension as a left footed AM which means I can play him as an Inside Forward on the right if I feel Alves won't be threatened too much.
Preseason finished and, as you can see, a pretty successful start. Even the defeat was useful as I found out nice and early that the tactic doesn't work for the players I have.
Plus, a first trophy in the bag. A very poor performance at the Vicente Calderon where my defence was ripped apart by Diego Costa resulted in a 5-3 defeat. A couple of Private Chats and some specific player instructions for Costa later and a 3-0 victory at the Nou Camp completed the turnaround for my first piece of silverware. Also, apart from the 5 conceded against Athletico, I am yet to concede in competitive matches which is pleasing. Onwards and upwards!!