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Guardiola Inspired Box Midfield 5221

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In an earlier save this year with Celtic, I was faced with the aim of creating a tactic where I could ensure certain league titles every year, whilst also posing a threat on the European stage. I took some inspiration from Guardiola's introduction of a box midfield, but wanted to keep my defence solid, hence starting in a 3 at the back shape, rather than transitioning to a back 3 from a back 4 when in possession, as Pep's side did.

Key Players
A key position I found in this tactic when testing was the central centre back. This player should ideally be a huge physical presence, and I would prioritise physicality over technical defending ability. If the opposition play direct to bypass the press, this player is crucial in winning aerial duels to prevent direct counter attacks. As a huge presence, they are also pivotal in both boxes when defending and attacking set pieces.

The two holding midfielders should also have good fitness and pace, as its important they can sweep across the pitch if the press is broken / ball is lost with the wing backs high up.

PIS / Possible Tweaks
There are some tweaks which I use on occasion. If playing a top class opponent, especially away from home, I drop both the pressing intensity and defensive line by one. However, if playing a low skill opponent, don't be afraid to move the WCBs to the support duty, but make sure to encourage them to cross left open - the aim is to break teams down by quality possession, not crosses, and furthermore if crosses are going to be delivered, we want them to be made by our wing backs, who can provide a much higher quality ball.

I do use opposition instructions to create good pressing traps. We will always tackle harder on any teams central midfield players, this will encourage our midfield to employ some of the dark arts to prevent dangerous transitions. Also, we will always press a teams midfield pivot(s), and their full backs, as well as tackling harder. IF the team is employing wing backs, or wingers, we will mark them tightly. This, in theory, will be the role of our own wing backs. All of these instructions are intended to trigger a press when a team attempts to pivot the ball away from their centre backs, and the tactic can struggle, especially in big / difficult games, if these instructions aren't applied.
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