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.
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.
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:
- 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)