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Arrigo Sacchi's 4-4-2: High Pressure, Attacking Tactic for Top Teams and Underdogs

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Introduction

First of all a quick introduction to myself. I am a long time FM player since CM 01/02 and its pretty safe to say I'm an FM addict. I've uploaded one or two tactics before for FM13 but since the last few patches I haven't created something that I feel is worthy of publishing for others to use - until now! I like to base my tactics on philosophies that have worked in the real world; I am a professional football coach and the tactical elements of the game are what enthuse me in real life. So this tactic is based on the philosophy behind Arrigo Sacchi's 4-4-2 approach. Sacchi played with high intensity and a high defensive line. This enabled him to squeeze the play in the middle of park, and ensured that the distance between his defensive and forward lines was never more than 25 metres. Essentially, this constituted naturally occurring pressing—perhaps one of the first in football with such velocity. Sacchi reasoned that by squeezing the pitch, in order for his opponent to get through his side, they'd need to break down three lines of players in quick succession. Not many managed it. Attacking-wise, there was no one strict way to break down the opposition. Chances were created through build-up/passing play through the middle, crosses from wide and counter-attacks. Sacchi was a proponent of multi-purpose players. Not fond of the specialist, he looked for all of his players to be capable of every job on the field, which is why his interchanging 4-4-2 worked so well.The midfielders were well-rounded and functional in every area, his forwards chased and his defenders pushed up. Teamwork was what his side were predicated on, and it was teamwork that allowed them to become one of the greatest sides in footballing history.

For more information on Arrigo Sacchi and the basis of this tactic, this is a good read:
Arrigo Sacchi's Method - The Football Coach


The Tactic

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As you can see the tactic resembles a 4-4-2, however with a slight change of two DMs as opposed to MCs. This enabled the tactic to be a lot more solid defensively, bringing the lines of the players a lot closer. The Sweeper Keeper does his job sweeping up behind the back line, two FBs on support allowing them the licence to get forward, but not at the expense of their defensive duties. The two DCs act as ball playing defenders, able to pick out those quick counter passes once the ball is won. The DMs act as box-to-box players, supporting the attack and defence. The wingers provide the outlets for the attack, pushing forward once the ball is won, but also have defensive duties in winning the ball back. A complete striker supports the advanced forward, although both are equally important in both assisting and scoring goals. With the emphasis on fluid play and well-rounded, high pressing players a general basis of teamwork, work rate and determination are needed for this tactic to work. Lazy and/or selfish players will ruin the cogs in the machine. There is no target man or playmaker as individual creativity and decisions is important in this tactic.
Player Attributes
All Players
As mentioned, there is a base of attributes that are important for a tactic such as this to work successfully and I look for all my players to have at least decent ratings. These attributes are: Composure, Decisions, Determination, Teamwork, Work Rate, Stamina.

Goalkeepers
Primary: Handling, One on Ones, Reflexes, Communication, Positioning, Jumping.
Supporting: Command of Area, Anticipation, Rushing Out, Strength, Aerial Ability, First Touch.

Full Backs
Primary: Acceleration, Pace, Tackling, Positioning, Anticipation, Concentration, Crossing
Supporting: Dribbling, Strength, Marking, Bravery, Off The Ball, First Touch

Ball Playing Defenders
Primary: Heading, Marking, Tackling, Anticipation, Bravery, Concentration, Positioning, Jumping, Strength
Supporting: Passing, Creativity, Acceleration, Pace, First Touch

Defensive Midfielders
Primary: Passing, Tackling, First Touch, Anticipation, Positioning, Creativity
Supporting: All other attributes! (They are real box-to-box type players so the more well rounded they are the better)

Wingers
Primary: Crossing, Dribbling, First Touch, Passing, Technique, Creativity, Off the Ball, Acceleration, Pace
Supporting: Finishing, Tackling, Anticipation, Positioning, Agility, Balance, Flair

Complete Forward
Primary: Finishing, First Touch, Passing, Technique, Creativity, Off The Ball, Anticipation, Strength
Supporting: Dribbling, Heading, Jumping, Pace, Acceleration, Flair.

Advanced Forward
Primary: Finishing, Dribbling, First Touch, Technique, Anticipation, Off the Ball, Pace, Acceleration.
Supporting: Heading, Jumping, Flair, Passing, Creativity, Agility, Balance.

Player Filters (Thanks to contribution from ZicoAC)
File-Upload.net - Arrigo-Sacchi-Filters.7z

Player Recommendations
Below is a small list of players that I recommend for each role. These players are aimed at mid/lower table Premier Division sides - but this can be flexible as some will be good for greater clubs and some will go to lower reputation sides to. ALL players can be acquired for under 10 million and don't start on ridiculous wages, but the prices are estimating asking prices (will differ from game to game). Star rating is my own personal opinion of how recommendable they are based on their value for money, how well they fit into the tactic and their performance.

Goalkeepers
Transfers: Fraser Forster (3.5-5.5m, Celtic, 4 Stars), Jose Jesus Corona (3-4m, Cruz Azul, 3.5 Stars), ***** Caballero (5-7m, Malaga, 3.5 Stars), Rafael (7-10m, Santos, 4 Stars), Julio Cesar (500k-1.5m, Benfica, 3 Stars), Vincent Enyeama (1-1.5m, Lille (out on loan), 3.5 Stars), Maxym Koval (5-6m, Dynamo Kiev, 4.5 Stars), Yann Sommer (2.5-3.5m, Basel, 4 Stars).
Frees: Olexandr Rybka (3.5 Stars).

Full Backs
Right: Gino Peruzzi (4-5m, Velez, 4.5 Stars), Frantisek Rajtoral (2.5-3.5m, Viktoria Plzen, 3.5 Stars), Nei (4-5m, Vasco, 3.5 Stars), Sebastian Corchia (7-9m, Sochaux, 5 Stars).
Left: Alex Sandro (7-9m, Porto, 4 Stars), Fausto Pinto (500k-1m, Toluca, 3 Stars), Renat Yanbaev (3m, Lokomotiv, 3.5 Stars), Djamel Mesbah (2.5-3.5m, Parma, 3.5 Stars).
Frees: Miguel (3 Stars), Albin Ebondo (3 Stars), Asier Del Horno (3.5 Stars), Walter Lopez (3 Stars).


Ball Playing Defenders
Transfers: Gabriel Paletta (4-5m, Parma, 4 Stars), Jores Okore (1.5m, Nordjaelland, 4.5 Stars), Andersen Martins (5-6m, Al-Jaish, 4 Stars), Borja Gomez (1-2m, Granada, 4 Stars), Jonathan Mensah (5-6m, Evian, 4 Stars), Jorge GuaGua (1-1.5m, Deportivo Quito, 3 Stars), Siyabonga Sangwani (1-1.5m, Orlando Pirates, 3.5 Stars), Juan Forlin (6-7m, Espanyol, 4.5 Stars), Rafael Toloi (3-4m, Sao Paulo, 4 Stars), Alexander Dragovic (2-3m, Basel, 3.5 Stars).
Frees: Thiago Heleno (3.5 Stars), Jurica Buljat (3 Stars), Fabinho (3 Stars), Walter Vilchez (3 Stars).

Defensive Midfielders
Transfers: Simao (500k-1m, Shandong, 4.5 Stars), Victor Wanyama (7.5-9m, Celtic, 5 Stars), Francisco Cerro (4.5-6m, Velez, 4 Stars), Dudu Cearense (1.5-2.5m, Goias, 3.5 Stars), Guido Pizarro (3.5-5m, Lanus, 4 Stars), Geoffrey Kondogbia (2.5-4m, Sevilla, 4 Stars).
Frees: Owen Hargreaves (3.5 Stars).

Wingers
Transfers: Pablo Barrientos (9-10m, Catania, 4 Stars), Marco Davide Faraoni (3-4m, Udinese, 4 Stars), Georgi Milanov (2-3m, Litex, 3.5 Stars), Emiliano Armentaros (5-6m, Osasuna, 3.5 Stars), Yassin Mikari (5-6m, Sochaux, 3.5 Stars) Ilsinho (Loan, Shakhtar, 3.5 Stars).
Frees: Dragan Blatnjak (3 Stars), Oscar Serrano (3.5 Stars), Igor Gabilondo (3 Stars).

Complete Forward
Transfers: Leonard Kweuke (4-5m, Sparta Prague, 4.5 Stars), Dieumerci Mbokani (7-8m, Anderlecht, 4 Stars), Giovanni Moreno (2-3m, Shenhua, 3.5 Stars).
Frees: Amr Zaki (3 Stars).

Advanced Forward

Transfers: Facundo Ferreyra (5-6m, Velez, 4 Stars), Carlos Fierro (2-4m, Chivas, 4 Stars), Abel Hernandez (6-7.5m, Palermo, 4 Stars), Viktor Fischer (7-9m, Ajax, 4.5 Stars), Hervin Ongenda (1m, PSG, 4 Stars).
Frees: Ewerthon (3 Stars), Ioannis Amanatidis (3 Stars), Franklin Salas (3 Stars).

Best 11: Rafael, Corchia, Alex Sandro, Okore, Forlin, Wanyama, Simao, Barrientos, Armenteros, Kweuke, Fischer (77.5m)

Bargain 11: Rybka, Rajtoral, Del Horno, Okore, Gomez, Simao, Hargreaves, Ilsinho (Loan), Serrano, Kweuke, Ewerthon (11.5m)


General Player Tips
The above attributes are what I would look for in my players. If I was managing a mid-table standard Premier League side I would look for the Primary Attributes to average out at 15 and Supporting Attributes at 12/13. In terms of the base attributes, I would not sign a player who is weak in 2 or more of those areas (less than 10) and ideally will all be 14+. Certain players will not fit the system. An Ibrahimovic or Balotelli will struggle, think more along the lines of a Rooney or Tevez. Hard working players, determined to succeed and put the team before their own ego. A big tip that I give is to use your personnel in your squad wisely by picking the right players in the right games. For example, I have 4 strong wingers for my San Marino (club) team. 2 of which are much more attacking / creativity orientated and two that can put more of a shift in defensively. Against the big teams i.e. Juventus I will often favour the more defensive wingers, whereas go with the attacking wingers against the bottom teams. Also during the games, if I am chasing a win I will bring on the attack-minded winger or looking to hold onto a lead bring on the defensive winger. Same goes for the defensive midfielders. Versatile players are a great asset to have in a squad using this tactic. For example players who can play at full back and the wing, centre back and defensive mid, forward and wing.


During Pre-season the focus should be completely match-based and tactics only, until the tactic is fully fluid. Once this is achieved, the above is how I set out my training. Arrigo Sacchi was well known for his 'Shadow Play' training methods, which is essentially defensive positioning training.


Opposition Instructions

Ideally you'd have an assistant manager that you can trust to set this up for you (16+ tactical knowledge + good defensive coach). However if you don't feel they're up to it, here's a few tips:
Close down always - slow players in midfield or attack and players with poor composure/concentration/decisions in defence or midfield.
Tight Mark - midfielders or attackers with poor pace.
Hard Tackling - any players with Bravery under 10.
Show onto weaker foot - any player who has reasonable or less for their weaker foot ability.



No Shouts Used
I have never used any shouts on any of my tactics, although feel free to use them if you want to. Bear in mind that some shouts will have no effect as I have altered the sliders.


As you can see I have had a tremendous amount of success using the tactic. I'm currently taking up the Great San Marino Challenge and its going well for club and country so far! Straight promotions to Serie A followed by a 3rd place in first season (started using this tactic part way through first serie A season and pushed from 8th to 3rd). 2nd season in Serie A (4th in total) I managed to win the league using this tactic with a team that was not strong at all! (See best 11 for the team that won it for me). Also made the Italian Cup final and Semi-finals of the Europa League. This season its going strong again, with just one loss in the league, 2 points behind Juve with a game in hand and comfortable through to the knockout stages of the champions league. National Team wise under this tactic the results have been great! Only narrow loses against big nations and several competitive wins, including a 2-1 win over Greece. This is with pretty much the same squad as the one we recently saw on TV thrashed by England 8-0 as my re-gens have been poor thus far (Giacomo Hirsch is the best to come through the ranks by far). I decided to start a tester with Granada and as you can see it working wonders for them there, sitting top of the league with just one loss at the Nou Camp with the average squad they start with plus the signings in the screen shot.

San Marino Progress with the tactic:
2014/15 - Serie A 3rd Place (plugged in tactic when in 7th Place, 8W, 3D 1L)
2015/16 - Serie A Champions, Italian Cup Finalists & Europa League Semi-finalists
2016/17 - Quadruple Winners (Serie A, Champions League, Super Cup, Italian Cup)
2017/18* - Treble Winners already (Super Cup, European Super Cup, Club World Championship. 14W 0D 0L 46F 3A in Serie A

*Currently in January 2018


I hope that you enjoy using my tactic, please feel free to post screen shots of your successes, give feedback and also ask for any advice you may need. If this can be developed further I will do so. Many thanks.

Users Progress

Juventus - Quadruple in first season (inc. Champions league) and a 36-1-1 record in Serie A (Hernes79)


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Besiktas - sitting top of the league (Keles78)


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Swansea 2nd Season - Premier League & Europa League Cup Double (Redtide)

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Wigan 1st Season - 2nd Place and League Cup Winners (Danhimself)

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Liverpool - Treble Winners First Season (Jukilo)

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Reading - Took over March 2013 and sailed from 20th to 11th. Second season = 3rd place, FA Cup Winners & League Cup Winners (Ze Carlos)

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Malmo - League Winners & Great results in Europe! (Mikael Lundin)

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What's your base 11 with Granada at the start of the season? Where did you play Well Nem, left or right?
 
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GK - Tono
DR - Nyom
DC - Lopez
DC - Gomez / Diakhate
DL - Siqueira
DM - Ireney
DM - Mikel Rico
MR - Torje
ML - Jaime
CF - Wellington Nem
AF - Gameiro

He's been playing as complete forward and doing well, 7.48 average rating, 11 goals / 9 assists in 31 appearances.
 
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It's more like a default tactic to me, no individual instructions other than less long shots.
 
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It's more like a default tactic to me, no individual instructions other than less long shots.
1) Hi Sean, welcome back, the tactic looks good and the Granada save is a really great achievement in the first season mate, well done!

2) love the layout, thanks for the that!

Radical, just because there are not many individual instructions does not mean no effort was put into creating the tactic! There are many good tactics that are similar, JP Woody for example barely uses player instructions much at all but his tactic's work well!

I look forward to seeing good feedback from this! will keep my eye on it :)
 
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It's more like a default tactic to me, no individual instructions other than less long shots.
All tactics have individual instructions. The trick is knowing what your choices on the wizard do to those individual instructions. The belief that all successful tactics have to be complicated with the sliders set manually is a total misguided nonsense.
 
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1) Hi Sean, welcome back, the tactic looks good and the Granada save is a really great achievement in the first season mate, well done!

2) love the layout, thanks for the that!

Radical, just because there are not many individual instructions does not mean no effort was put into creating the tactic! There are many good tactics that are similar, JP Woody for example barely uses player instructions much at all but his tactic's work well!

I look forward to seeing good feedback from this! will keep my eye on it :)
Imo you need to change alot than defaults, defaults may serve well at start but later on they drop down on the scale.

Yes you can manage to change a little, but decreasing long shots wont be more than a default. I tried this tactic on some saved matches. didn't work "for me"
 
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All tactics have individual instructions. The trick is knowing what your choices on the wizard do to those individual instructions. The belief that all successful tactics have to be complicated with the sliders set manually is a total misguided nonsense.
True, you need to know what exact sliders needed to be scaled not only 1. Otherwise we can call most of these default tactics as "Formations"
 
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It's more like a default tactic to me, no individual instructions other than less long shots.
If that's your opinion then fair enough. But I think that sometimes tactics are over complicated. Looking back to the basis of this tactic and Arrigo Sacchi's philosophy, he was a believer in multi-purpose players not specialists. By affecting all the sliders individually it would go more down the specialist route, which was against his philosophy. Plus this way, when the strategy is changed it actually affects the team other than just for show. For example, in real life Milan played more of a counter style against Real Madrid in their famous 5-0 win, this can be replicated with this tactic if the manager wishes to do so.

I have affected the team instructions, wide play of players, long shots, through balls and of course through the picking of the player roles and general team philosophy the tactic is tailored in the way that I want it. Please feel free to give it a try and I hope it will be as successful for you as it has been for me. Any feedback you have will be taken on board.
 
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1) Hi Sean, welcome back, the tactic looks good and the Granada save is a really great achievement in the first season mate, well done!

2) love the layout, thanks for the that!

Radical, just because there are not many individual instructions does not mean no effort was put into creating the tactic! There are many good tactics that are similar, JP Woody for example barely uses player instructions much at all but his tactic's work well!

I look forward to seeing good feedback from this! will keep my eye on it :)
Thanks, I hope that others find it successful!
 
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If that's your opinion then fair enough. But I think that sometimes tactics are over complicated. Looking back to the basis of this tactic and Arrigo Sacchi's philosophy, he was a believer in multi-purpose players not specialists. By affecting all the sliders individually it would go more down the specialist route, which was against his philosophy. Plus this way, when the strategy is changed it actually affects the team other than just for show. For example, in real life Milan played more of a counter style against Real Madrid in their famous 5-0 win, this can be replicated with this tactic if the manager wishes to do so.

I have affected the team instructions, wide play of players, long shots, through balls and of course through the picking of the player roles and general team philosophy the tactic is tailored in the way that I want it. Please feel free to give it a try and I hope it will be as successful for you as it has been for me. Any feedback you have will be taken on board.
It's my personal opinion yes since I played many teams with their default tactics, I'm not saying that your tactic is unplayable, it's playeable for sure. Maybe tweaking Indv. player instructionswill highly improve the performance.

Some ppl like the almost default tactics too.
 
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going to give this a go with my san marino save when i get round to it well done with the 2 save you have going
 
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It's my personal opinion yes since I played many teams with their default tactics, I'm not saying that your tactic is unplayable, it's playeable for sure. Maybe tweaking Indv. player instructionswill highly improve the performance.

Some ppl like the almost default tactics too.
I may start another testing season with another team and play about with the individual settings. However, I'm achieving success with the default settings so any tweaks will have to be good enough to achieve that and more!
 
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I may start another testing season with another team and play about with the individual settings. However, I'm achieving success with the default settings so any tweaks will have to be good enough to achieve that and more!
you don't have to do that! from the results you have posted it seems to be working extremely well! just wait for feedback, actual feedback, not someone trying to act clever!
 
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Cheers, any advice you want for the San Marino save let me know.
thanks going to go with my youth but think i need to sign good players to help bring my youth on got any tips on who to get for the first season thanks
 
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you don't have to do that! from the results you have posted it seems to be working extremely well! just wait for feedback, actual feedback, not someone trying to act clever!
Very true, will wait and see how others get on with it.
 
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Got a day off today and was looking at this tactic, looked good so ill test it with Wigan. Normally use my own so looking forward to testing it.
 
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thanks going to go with my youth but think i need to sign good players to help bring my youth on got any tips on who to get for the first season thanks
My advice is to get to Serie A at all costs and build a squad capable of playing in Europe. This is when you will start raking in the money and will be able to improve your facilities, coaches etc. so that you can bring through good regens. Concentrate on the first team, I'm only just starting to bring youth players through as my intakes have been awful so far!

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These were my first season signings, I hope they are still available on the new patch! Giovanni Fortunati comes highly recommended, he has only just lost his place in the starting line-up and has been quality throughout the seasons.
 
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