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This formation has served me well in 4 different teams, Norwich, Academica, Vigo and, briefly, Cruzeiro. I have won leagues in all four, and with norwich I had a season where I won all 5 competitions I was in (Community Shield, FA Cup, League Cup, Premier League, Champions League).

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This system is all about control - trying to overload every area of the pitch when the ball is there. The key is the two complete wing backs - they need to be able to run miles and miles, and have a high degree of technical proficiency; their actual defensive ability is less important. They effectively serve as wingers when we have the ball, as our shape changes to something more like a 3-1-3-3, with both 'wingers' cutting inside to form a front three, while the wing backs join the advanced playmaker in a stifling rectangle of 6 attackers.

The deep lying playmaker needs to be physically capable, as they essentially patrol the edge of the box waiting for a clearance from the opposition, while the attacking 6 work in close short passing interchanges to look for an opening. They do tend to crop up with several goals from range though, as having so many attacking players ahead occupies the defending team and opens up space on the edge of the box for shooting opportunities.

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This is not a possession controlling team however, and is set up to counter press hard and fast. With the back three providing a last line of defence, the rest of the team is instructed to press press press, and win back that precious orb as quickly as possible.

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Similarly the aim in transition is to get the ball forward to the final third as quickly as possible, and then once there to patiently craft an opening. We try not to dally with the ball in defence, instead giving the wing backs the ball so that they can either drive forward or play it inside to one of the playmakers.

This is actually a formation I haven't used for a season or two, but I am intrigued to see how it does in the famed FM Base tactic tester! Below you can see the success I had with it (primarily between 2033 and 2054)

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And here's an example of a season where it was the primary tactic:

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