Download Barcelona Tactic for FM 2012

FM 2012 Downloads

written by Johnny Karp

I am pleased to report that my first (and probably best) tactic for Football Manager 2012 can be downloaded! As the title shows I had Barcelona in mind when I created this tactic and that’s quite normal since I believe that today’s Barcelona is playing the best football ever. The tactic was tested with Barcelona in the demo version of the game and then with both Barcelona and Viitorul Constanta in the full version of FM 2012. Now let me explain what this FM 2012 tactic is about…

The Formation

The formation that I chose is not really identical to the real-life Barcelona, the main difference is that I don’t use a defensive midfielder like Guardiola does and that the wide strikers have a more central position in my tactic. You can see the roles and mentalities for each player in the screen shot below so I guess going into details is not necessary. Well, maybe just a quick run-down: sweeper keeper, full backs, central defenders, 2 box to box midfielders, one deep lying playmaker, 2 defensive forwards and one trequartista.

The Team Instructions

As you can notice from the image below the team has a fluid philosophy and an attacking starting strategy, it plays the offside trap along with a high defensive line and the players have to use short passing, press their opponents and use their imagination ;) The central deep-lying midfielder is designed as the team playmaker.

Tactical Analysis

The average positions screen shows a bit more about the players movement during a game, the most important aspect for me is that the team stays compact both on and off the ball.

And that takes me to my favourite shape in football: triangles! When I watch a game I always look for triangles and that is because if three of your players are forming a triangle with reasonably-sized sides then they will have a much easier task in taking out an opponent through short passing. The screen shot below shows two things:

1. My atrocious design skills.

2. The triangles that are formed when my team attacks. The distances between my players are reasonably small and that means they can use short passing to eliminate their opponents, maintain possession and eventually create scoring chances.

I think that the trequartista is the key player in this tactic, mostly because he will often have space to receive the ball between the defensive line and the midfield line of the opponent. That man has to be creative and skilful and Barcelona have the very best man for the job: Lionel Messi. As you can see in the image he has received the ball between the lines, made a quick turn and then had plenty of time and space to play a through pass for the left side striker who then… scored.

The full backs are also very important in this tactic and that is because the opponents tend to cover the middle of the pitch a lot more than the flanks given the threat of our three strikers. That leaves plenty of space for the full backs to exploit, like you can notice in the following picture. The trequartista passed the ball to the right back who had acres of space in front of him, advanced to the byline and then crossed the ball low into the middle of the area creating a good scoring chance.

When we don’t have the ball there’s only one thing we have in mind: get it back as quickly as possible! The players will press their opponents all over the pitch, as you can see two of the strikers doing in the picture below. The result? The opposition right back was under pressure and passed the ball straight to one of our midfielders. Remember this: when you capture the ball in the opposition half you will have a far better chance of creating a dangerous attack than when you get the ball inside your own half and that is because the opposition defence will have a lot less time to get organized.

The Results

I have played almost a full season with Barcelona using this tactic and I guess the league table speaks for itself: we won the title with four games to spare, won 33 games, drew 1 and lost none, scored 110 goals and conceded just 13.

The most pleasing fact is that we have beaten arch rivals Real Madrid six times out of six, scored 16 and conceded just 3 in the process. I’m so sorry José :)

One of the best matches of the season was away at Atletico Madrid, a strong team, but we managed to beat them 5-0 away from home at the end of a game that we dominated on all aspects. In fact, there were just a few games in which we had less than 60% ball possession.

However, I have noticed that we were having some problems in some away games and that’s what pushed me to create an away version of the tactic. I have employed this version against Man City in the Champions League and, as you can see, we were not as flamboyant in attack but we still had very good possession and kept the opposition fairly quiet.

The main change in the away tactic is the strategy which goes from attacking to counter, the defensive line is pushed a bit deeper and doesn’t play the offside trap any more, the tempo is slower, the team is a bit wider and does employ time wasting sometimes.

Last but not least, the set pieces approach is mostly borrowed from Darren’s excellent guide, not entirely but the main things are there. You will need players with good passing for this tactic, that is essential, and I also suggest loading the counter version as a backup tactic in match preparation. Here are the download links:

Attacking Version

Counter Version

After downloading the files you have to place them in the Documents>Sports Interactive>Football Manager 2012>tactics folder and then you will be able to find them in the game tactics screen under “archived tactics”.

That’s about it, enjoy the tactic and please ask any questions if you have them or provide feedback in order to improve this FM 2012 tactic. Oh, and enjoy three videos of Barcelona playing this tactic: click here to watch, click here to watch, click here to watch

P.S.: I have to say that Messi is fabulous in FM 2012, fabulous! :)


– I also won the Champions League and Spanish Cup with Barcelona

– I won the Romanian Second Division title with Viitorul Constanta in my first season (read all about that here)

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460 Comments on "Download Barcelona Tactic for FM 2012"

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October 27, 2011 14:07

Wow, 100 points and four games remaining. In the screenshot, where is Xavi? And Villa starts instead of Sanchez most of the time right?

March 30, 2012 01:48

Link wont work. Any help?

October 27, 2011 15:04

yep I think you’ve created a ‘MONSTER’ of a tactic! awesome work yet again Johnny :)

October 27, 2011 18:27

The triangles! I see them everywhere! *cowers in a corner* So many triangles…

October 27, 2011 19:01

Very nice tactic Johnny and the results say it all…I find it hilarious when people make negative remarks to tactic posts saying its easy to do etc etc but I think we all know its tough to make your team play a precise style and make them win at the same time, certainly seems like this tactic has that and no one can argue with the results.

p.s. I share the same obsession with triangles, especially when watching real life matches.

October 28, 2011 00:59

What an impressive looking tactic. I’m sure people who are playing with resonably good teams will be downloading this one.I really like the triangle pictures, reminds me of my school days and how we use to play when my class won the School championship 5 consecutive years!

Great stuff!!

October 28, 2011 08:24

My first thoughts…WHAT NO XAVI??….but then I realised the screenshot was showing the formation not the line up… Very interesting…i would not have thought to play two box2box midfielders…but now ive read it it certainly makes sense…the same with defensive forwards…but again its logical…may i ask…why not pique as a ball playing centre back?… The reason i like this website is that its a real eye opener…this has made me think alot more about how to play…i would have flooded the midfield with playmakers if i was barce…but now i see that that is not the only option…so thank you :) Seeing as your a tactical genius…what are your thoughts on ‘never changing a winning formation’?…im 22 games in (19 Wins) and havent lost…whilst the team are still not playing the passing game i want i’m reluctant to make any changes to a side that keeps winning…I’m Man Utd…and my highlight was a 4-0 win against man city…playing a 4-2-2-2 formation that i have not changed since i started FM12…just your opinion would be great… A mention to Eden Hazard who has tore up the prem…so far hes won every young player of the month award…and is top of the… Read more »

October 30, 2011 14:24

men I have a bet with a corduroy xavi who manages to consistently throughout the season over 100 completions sometimes I succeed I wonder if you did want to do with that tactic

October 30, 2011 15:10

Does this tactic work with any other teams, or is Barcelona the only tried and tested team?

Matt Clark
October 30, 2011 17:18

brilliant tactic johnny though not one i would personally use with barca (though it replicates their play perfectly) but thats purely because i would want inniesta on the left in order to play xavi and fabregas in cm.
i tried this with chelsea (who seem perfect for this tactic) and amassed 103 points in the first season having made no transfers
simply amazing results the highlight definitely being 6-0 at the emirates which actually secured the title
though i was a little surprised you hadnt set players to rotate just to add that extra bit from barca about not knowing where they’re gonna come at you
once again brilliant johnny, brilliant

November 1, 2011 10:38

Thanks for the upload!
I have a problem with the download: don’t work…

Bob Peters
November 2, 2011 09:10

first of all, your tactic looks very impressive! Second, I was wondering if you use any side-line instructions?

Im currently using the tactic with fc Twente and so far I have won all my matches but im not really domination at this moment,… guess I have to wait untill the team is used to the formation :)

Keep on going mate!

November 2, 2011 17:56

I must say that this is the best Barcelona tactic i have ever tested. I tried it without signigns and the team looks marvelous, 30 wins, 3 draws, 0 losses. 115 scored, and only 5 conceded. I made a very few tweaks, minimum. Then, surprised, i tried it with a not so good team, and worked very well, you definitely are a tactic genius.

November 3, 2011 08:58

Your tactic seems really incredible, I’ll try it as soon as i come home! (:
I have some questions though.
how did it go in the champions league, and who turned out to be your topscorer? (;
great work!

November 4, 2011 22:43

Using your tactic with Aston Villa. In my first season & initially had a bit of success sitting top after 20 games. However I’ve experienced a poor run of form recently & noticed that I am conceding a lot of goals (53 in 30 games!). Any advice would be appreciated.
I’ve mainly used the home tactic as my players rarely play well using the counter tactic.
PS Darren Bent has been on fire!
Thanks for the hard work Johnny, going to keep persisting with the tactics.

November 5, 2011 11:06

The goals seem to come from mainly open play, often on the counter attack with a ball over the top of my defence. I think in part in may be due to the pace of Dunne & Collins!
Going through a real strange period on my game, won the first 10 matches including a 3-0 defeat of Man City. Now can’t buy a win, the team has stopped passing the ball as much & the opposition are having as many chances per game as me.
Great tactic but something has gone wrong with my team somewhere.

November 6, 2011 15:01

Hi there. I’m using your tactic with Sporting Clube de Portugal and i have a doubt concerning the players to use. I have many midfielders and players like capel, jeffren, matias fernandez, izmailov, bojinov. Do you think a winger could play on front, or should be only a striker?

November 6, 2011 17:51

this is a good tactic that i win with it the super cup spanish and european ,but messi is always missing occasions and he hasn’t score any goal in 6 matches, and pedro is unconvincing in the defensive striker position. Plz help me!!

Jamie Lewis
November 8, 2011 04:02

I really like all the advice I’m getting from this site!
I’m curious about how it all ties together. Is it pretty much mix and match, or do some parts work better together than others?
Like for instance with this tactic; Did it matter what kind of training schedule you used? Other than good passers, did you need (or want) to pick up any other type of players to make this work well when not using it with Barcelona?

Jonny Harb
November 8, 2011 09:23

This tactic is the best ive ever used on the game! im swansea city and giving teams the run around with this tactic!! Swansea try to base their tactics on Barca in real life, so chuffed with this tactic!!

Download it fellas!!


Mike Dodgson
November 8, 2011 19:47

Hi Johnny – well done on a great post and very good results!

I’m going to use this in a new save in the Premiership… not sure of the team yet.

Few questions for you:

Do you use any shouts for any of the tactics?

Do you use any opposition instructions at all… either by you or your assistant?

What match preparation do you use?

As for the Counter tactic, do you use this against bigger teams purely away?

Sorry for all of the questions! :-)

November 12, 2011 06:08

Seems i had a problem to import the tactics..i put the TAC file into Document>Football Manager 2012> tactics but when i wanted to import the tactics there were nothing inside the!

Mike Dodgson
November 12, 2011 13:52

Has this been tested in the premiership?

Would you advise to use the Counter tactic in away games or games against higher opposition?

Mike Dodgson
November 14, 2011 14:40

Working brilliantly with me so far as Spurs in the 1st season, as below:

Premiership So Far:
Euro Qualification:

Your a genius – the play is so good to watch, solid at the back and slick as ever going forward…

Have you release at any other forum? Would you mind if I did so for you?

Mike Dodgson
November 16, 2011 12:47

Hi Johnny,

I’ve posted on 2 other forums, and detailed my success in there too so you can have a read:

Thanks again, it’s worked wonders as it is for you – a big well done!

November 16, 2011 20:50

Hi Johnny Karp !

First of all, I want to thanks you for sharing your tactic ! But I have one question. Can I use a slow striker in your tactic? I have a wonderkid regen, but he’s slow (11 pace, 14 speed)

And i’m playing with Lille OSC, do you think Eden hazard can be a good playmaker? He’s poor on team work…

November 16, 2011 21:42

Just find the answer by myself. Hazard in the Messi Role seems to be perfect. Defensive striker status is not suitable for my squad. The left Striker is now a “Pivot” in french (Target striker?), and the right striker is an Fast striker.

For now, it works well.

Rashmi Ranjan Patra
November 20, 2011 15:34

hi jhonny i m a fan of ur blog dude, i m from india , i m nt a regular blogger and i have started playing fm from 11 version ,i m kind of a new to this ,i used to play fifa game a lot ,and i m now trying my hand over fm . i love reading blog by u and danny ,ur guyz r great man..

currently i m using ur bracelona tactics both home and away . i m manging malaga of spanish league …..
i m having a problem with defensive forward players , i m quite confused whats the attribute i should look for a player whom i could play in that position .
i guess defensive forward players need marking and tackling attribute too but i cant find a player who has a min of 10 in those attribute , i m currently using benitez and schiebler as df
would u plz give some suggestion about it …….

Rashmi Ranjan Patra
November 24, 2011 19:34

hey jhonny i have finshed 4th in spanish league using ur tactics . ur tactics is great man .simply brilliant ……. i have signed verratti for deep playmaker role ..
juanmi /matavz r my terquesta …
would u give me some gud striker name whom i could play in defensive forward role ..
i m about to start my 2nd season ,it would b great help for me ……

November 26, 2011 20:08

not hard to win with barca

Rashmi Ranjan Patra
November 27, 2011 10:02

hi thnks man for that link its help me a great i found gud striker and midfilder and defender from that list
i have signed eric torres,carlos fierro for my defensive forward and they r playing great
i m playing kovacic in bbm role and verratti as my deep lying playmaker
currently in my second season i m on top of league in spanish league

November 29, 2011 22:22

Johnny Karp I’ve tried your tactic with Steaua Bucharest and I seem to leak loads of goals… The results are awful after first 4 matches:
Otelul – Steaua 2-2 Supercup
Steaua – Dinamo 0-6 !!!!
Otelul – Steaua 3-1
Steaua – Mioveni 1-0
Vaslui – Steaua 3-1
Please help me. I need some instructions.. I mention that even though i’ve played this game for some years, i’m not capable to make my own tactic…

November 30, 2011 09:00

Wow Johnny! This looks amazing. People might say it isn’t hard to win with barca but like you say its about the way you play. Barca in real life would probably be easy to manage with the World Class players they have but the way Guardiola sets up the team is something that no other manager could probably do. I have made some tactics with my team scoring 150 goals a season but none with this kind of movement. Great work!!

November 30, 2011 11:10

Johnny, the attacking part of the tactic is great but i’m having trouble defensively. I beat Fulham 9-5 with your tactic. With my own tactic I had only conceded 9 goals in 20 games. :/ My defence is Johnson Shawcross Agger Jose Enrique. Any suggestions?

December 8, 2011 15:11

hey, what about busquets? defensive midfielder?

December 10, 2011 04:51

What are your pitch dimensions? I understand that short passing often works best with minimized dimensions in FM although that’s not necessarily the case in real-life.

December 10, 2011 19:12

I’ve noticed that changing only a single position in this tactic, I make less than many, I use the 3-4-3, I earn less than against, or will be so I have a run anything else, I should stick with the side the original tactic or take 3 permanent central?

December 10, 2011 23:51

What I mean playing with 3 central defenders line Will Become the team much less Than 4 defenders.

December 10, 2011 23:56

Mejor te lo exlico en español, el sistema 4-3-3 , lo que hago es modificar una sola posicion, dejo 3 centrales y agrego un cd en el medio, dejando 4 mediocampistas, y 3 arriba sin tocar las funciones que implementaste.

December 11, 2011 11:04

Hi Johnny,
Just wondering, obviously youve had success with a romanian lower league side, so it would be safe of me to presume it would work well with a lower league english side, provided i recruit the right type of players?

December 11, 2011 11:17

Mi pregunta es si a la tactica original 4-3-3 le saco la opcion de entradas agresivas y le dejo suave, cambia mi forma de juego?, tengo mas posibilidades de perder?

Manu Le Coq
December 11, 2011 23:03

hello im frensh sorry for the language pastore in trequartista is good for psg please

December 12, 2011 03:14

mi pregunta es sobre los delanteros o atacantes, creo muchas situaciones de gol, pero muy poco se anota, uno o nada

Manu Le Coq
December 12, 2011 07:20

a votre avis pastore pourrait il faire un bon Trequartista
et ou je pourrais faire jouer nene aide moi

Manu Le Coq
December 12, 2011 07:38

hoareau pastore gameiro
nene martin menez
tiene sako toure jallet ? the position is good for the milieu

December 12, 2011 08:33

can we use it for 4-4-2 formation?

December 12, 2011 10:49

Una ultima pregunta, que trequartista o enganche delantero como caracteristicas principales deba tener?, muchas gracias!.

December 12, 2011 18:30

Tengo mayor posesion, tengo mayor disparos al arco, mis jugadores con moral alta y en su posicion correcta, pero porque me ganan partidos, que estoy haciendo mal?

December 12, 2011 22:04

I have more possession, I have more shots on goal, my players morale and its correct position, but because I win games, I’m doing wrong?

December 12, 2011 23:18

Drawing conclusions your other tactics, the Arsenal, I have been more effective, I won most of the parties

December 17, 2011 10:56

Hi Johnny, thanks for the tactic, you’ve clearly put a lot of time and energy into it, and I’m pretty amazed that it is possible to get a team to play so close to the way they do in real life. I am currently trying it out with Barcelona, and though the stats are okay (11-3-0 in the league, 3-2-1 in the Champions Cup group stage) I’m a bit puzzled by a couple of things. First off, Xavi (and for that matter Iniesta), how do they perform when you’re in the manager seat? They’ve had a tough time under my wings, none of them managing to get above 7.00 in average. I’ve used Xavi as the playmaker, Iniesta as the left Box to Box mid. I’ve also had some problems getting Mascherano to fit into the Box to Box role, which isn’t really an issue though, seeing as the general douchiness of his being make him (and Busquets) obvious items on the transferlist in January. Secondly the left Defensive Forward, when you use David Villa, do you really play him that way too? To me it doesn’t seem that he’s really capable of that, neither attribute-wise or in the games,… Read more »

December 18, 2011 22:55

Match preparation? OI? Pep talk? Thank you.

December 19, 2011 12:02

Johnny do you think this would work with Valencia?