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    Football Manager 21: Guide to Creating Counter Attack Tactics

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    Carlos Laforet Coll

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    A balanced attack is the key to winning on the field. These tactics should help fight back on opposing teams.

    O counterattack it is a unique tactic in the sense that it appears in many different sports and is common at both the amateur and professional level. Despite being common and universally understood, the tactic is still completely viable in the modern game, and many teams today will base their entire system around the concept.

    While basing an entire team on counterattack may seem elementary, it's a great tactic to use when implemented correctly, as it offers inherent defensive solidity while also providing a constant attack threat. In addition, it can be used by both defensive sides, such as the Crystal Palace de Roy hodgson, and offensive, such as the Manchester United de Ole Gunnar Solskjaer .

    This guide will cover three different formations in particular, although the counter system detailed later in the guide can be implemented for almost all common forms in the Football Manager . 

    It is important to note that this guide should not be simply copied, but used as a general guide that can be changed to suit the needs of available players and expose the opponent's weaknesses. Finally, it is worth mentioning that this guide will be aimed at teams that configure themselves with a defensive mindset, as it is the most common use for the tactic.

    TRAINING 1 - 433

    The 433 lineup grew in popularity with teams Ajax e Barcelona de Johan Cruyff before becoming one of the most common forms in the world when José Mourinho won his first Premier League to Chelsea.

    The form offers excellent defensive coverage thanks to the three players in midfield, among them a defensive midfielder who will guard the two defenders. 

    The roles of the players in the lineup pictured are designed so that the team attacks predominantly from the left side. Attacking from one side is ideal for teams that are suspicious of the strength of the opponent, as it ensures that the team does not expose too much when moving up the field.

    As mentioned before, this guide is geared towards defensive-minded teams, so a Cautious Mindset was selected to ensure the side prioritizes defense, but is willing to attack when an opportunity to counter-attack presents itself.

    TRAINING 2 - 4411

    The 4411 formation has grown in prominence in recent decades after the 442 formation went out of fashion due to lack of coverage in the center of the field. O 4411 directly fixes the 442 issue by putting one of the midfielders back in an attacking midfield position.

    One similarity between the three formations in this guide is that it is important to have at least one defender who is comfortable with the ball. 

    This is not essential but is highly recommended as a competent passer in the back can be a great weapon to start an attack, goalkeepers in all three forms are defined as Sweeper Keeper with a support role for the same reason.

    TRAINING 3 - 4321

    The 4231 formation is one of the most popular forms today. It is very similar to 4411, but offers more attack, with its two wingers pushed up the field to create a dangerous attacking unit.

    In all three of these ways, it's important to keep the pace of the players in mind. Simply put, a counterattack with a group of slow players will not be as dangerous as one with fast players on the flanks and top, who can quickly enter the field to expose the opponent's defensive vulnerabilities as quickly as possible.

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    This 4231 formation will be used for the remaining images, but as mentioned before, the counter style detailed below can be used in almost any common formation.


    High Time and Direct Passing Candor are critical on the counterattack, as they ensure that players look to make forward passes as quickly as possible, rather than methodically seeking to control possession.

    Another point of interest is the lack of Third Final selection. This is because counterattacks are unpredictable, so it's generally a good idea not to offer any specific instructions as it may not be the ideal option when the counterattack is in full swing.

    Be More Expressive can be selected in Creative Freedom if the team has a wide range of talented passes, but it should be used with caution as a poorly placed pass can completely ruin a promising counter, potentially setting the opponent up for a counterattack. attack on its own.

    Attack width has been set to Wide, as a good counter-attacking team will use the full width of the field to expose as much free space as possible.


    The Transitioning section is the most important element when creating a counter-attack tactic.

    Primeiro lugar em, When Possession Has Been Won must be set to Counter, or else the entire game plan will fall apart.

    For this guide's defensive mindset system, Regroup is the best selection for When Possession Has Been Lost, as there will be many players behind the ball to contain the opponent's attack. 

    Regrouping also has its offensive benefits, as players will be placed in a compact unit that can erupt together when the team recovers the ball.

    As mentioned before, it is beneficial to have a goalkeeper with great distribution when trying to counterattack. That's why Take Short Kicks has been selected, although it is worth selecting Take Long Kicks e Distribute Over Opposition Defensive if the team has suitable players for it, as Leicester City had with Kasper Schmeichel and Jamie Vardy.


    To wrap up this guide's concept of putting men behind the ball on defense who will burst when the opportunity presents itself, it's important to make sure the defensive lines are implemented correctly. The lines in the image above are ideal as they provide a compact structure intended to thwart the opposition by not offering clear paths to the goal.

    For teams that want to be even more defensive, there are some changes that can be made. For example, the Defensive Width could be narrower, offering an even more compact unit around the box that will push players to the wings. 

    However, this narrow defensive form has its problems, as it will damage the team's initial attack width on the counterattack.

    Defensive lines can also drop a little further, although again this hurts the team's attacking ability.

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