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532 W/O Ball, 4222 W/ Ball

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This tactic was inspired by the game plan Thomas Tuchel has used occasionally in 2022 where a 532 without the ball becomes a 4222 with the ball. This happens when the RWB tucks inside and advances to play as a second no. 10, while the RCB takes up a wider more advanced position forming what looks like a conventional back 4.

Tuchel has used this to combat difficult opponents such as Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspurs who have particularly dangerous LWs in Vinicius and Son (amongst other opposition and LWs). The purpose is to use Reece James' physical and 1v1 defensive prowess to control transitions against these opponents by playing him RCB without the ball, while allowing him to provide as much in attack as he usually would when he plays in a more advanced wide position. On the occasion Tuchel has used this tactic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek typically plays RWB as he has the physicality to play there without the ball, but also the technical ability to migrate to a more central position with the ball to compensate for Reece James moving into the wide channel.

I am in a journeyman save where I started at Welling and then took over Luton last season when they were predicted to finish 15th in the Championship and had one of the bottom three wage bills in the league. In my first season, we finished 6th and got promoted through the playoffs, ranking 2nd in the xG table using almost exclusively this tactic. Halfway through this first season in the PL and we look like we will finish mid-table despite having by far the lowest wage bill in the league.

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In terms of the player profiles that I tried to target and base the tactical roles on, I continued to take inspiration from the way Thomas Tuchel typically sets up his team in this formation (other than having my LWB invert rather than my RWB to fit my squad better):

GK (Mendy): Tall, mobile keeper comfortable sweeping and using his feet
IWB (Loftus-Cheek): Mobility and engine to cover the ground necessary, intelligence to take up the correct positions, technique to handle the ball in central areas
WCB (Reece James): Mobility and Physicality to play CB and defend 1v1 in wide areas, excellent technical ability to provide a threat in the final third
BPCB (Thiago Silva): Great positional and technical defending at the heart of the defence, great technique in position to build from the back, aerial ability
BPCB (Koulibaly/Rüdiger): Excellent mobility and aerial ability to defend counter-attacks, good technique in possession to build from the back
FB (Chilwell/Cucurella): Great mobility and engine to cover the entire flank, technical ability to carry the ball and deliver a final pass
DM (Jorginho): Excellent positioning, receiving, and passing to progress the ball from defence to attack
BWM (Kanté): Great mobility, engine, and technical defending to regain possession, dribbling to carry the ball forward
Mezzala (Mason Mount): Engine to press aggressively w/o the ball and mobility to beat opponents, mentals to arrive in dangerous positions and make good decisions, technical ability to create and score in the final third
AF (Havertz + Sterling/Werner): Engine and mobility to press like an animal and consistently stretch the opposition with forward runs while also having the technical abilities to link play when they drop deep

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