Play like Pep 3-4-3 diamond Barcelona 2011-12 emulation Won all trophies Always 60% and more of possession dominate xg


Aug 15, 2011
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Hi guys, welcome to the 4th episode dedicated to Pep Guardiola's historical tactics.
This time I emulate the tactic he used in season 2011-12 (his last season at Barcelona), a 3-4-3 diamond tactic that allowed that Barcelona to win 4 trophies, unfortunately not the Spanish Liga and UEFA Champions League, but Copa del Rey, Uefa Super Cup, Spain Supercup (Supercopa de Espana) and Fifa Club World Cup. In the video you will see how I created the tactic in the game, how it worked, my season with Barca stats, and some highlights.
I hope the tactic works for you too,



To emulate this tactic, I started with a positive mentality that allows my team to dominate possession and have a proactive approach to the game, without conceeding too many chances to the opponents with long balls or counterattacks.
The formation will be a 3-4-3 or better a 3-1-2-3-1, with three central defenders (later we will analyze their roles and duties), a diamond midfield with one defensive midfielder in front of the back three, two central midfielders and an attacking midfielder who plays behind the striker and often switches position with him, such as Fabregas and Messi did in that Barcelona. Along the central attacking midfielder, there are two wingers.


In possession, our attacking width is fairly narrow, this combined with the instruction to focus play through the middle tells our player to create overloads and triangles in the middle to dominate possession there and control the midfield. This makes it very difficult for the opponent to mark or press our midfielders, and this overloading of spaces in the middle will leave wider spaces open for our wingers. Of course, our team must build the play patiently so play out of defense is also an important instruction, combined with much shorter passes and a lower tempo.
In the final third, Barcelona continues to play the ball patiently and tries to work the ball into the box, this instruction combined with dribble less asks our team to maintain possession. Crosses are of course low, Barcelona did not have tall players that time, maybe Pique was the only one good at heading, so Guardiola asked them to play low balls and avoid crosses.


In transition, as seen for other tactics used by Pep Guardiola during his period at Barcelona, when they lost the ball, they applied pressure (6 seconds rule) to the opponents to win the ball back as soon as possible. To replicate this in Football Manager 2024, we must select the instruction Counter-Press.
After winning the ball back, Barcelona did not want to launch fast counter-attacks but preferred to rebuild the play patiently, so we must select Hold shape.
About the goalkeeper instruction, we will ask him to slow pace down, take short kicks and pass to the center backs.


In the out of possession phase, Guardiola wanted his players to press very high and to reduce the gap between the lines, his defense line was also very high. Besides, he asked his players to apply pressure on the opponent goalkeeper to force him to play long balls that would have been easily intercepted by Barcelona players and to force the opponent into the central areas where there were many Barcelona players who could win the ball back. To replicate this in the game we must select the following instructions:
line of engagement: high press
defensive line: much higher
trigger press: much more often
defensive line: step up more
pressing trap: trap inside

Plauyers roles and instructions

GK: Victor Valdes: sweeper-keeper in attack: no instructions
RCB:Javier Mascherano: ball-playing defender-defend: no instructions
CB: Sergio Busquets: ball-playing defender-defend: dribble more. Busquets could often move forward with the ball creating a numerical superiority in front of the defense and helping to build the play from back.
LCB: Eric Abidal: ball-playing defender-defend: dribble more, stay wider
Despite playing in a much more cautious way in the previous seasons as a left full back to balance Dani Alves extremely offensive playing style on the other flank, during the season 2011-12, Abidal became a central defender and often tried to move forward and wider with or without the ball creating a passing option for his teammates, this because the half-back Keita was not very good with the ball and was not involved so much in building from the back.
DM: Seydou Keita: half-back- defend: no instructions
RCM: Xavi: deep-lying playmaker-support: no instructions
LCM: Iniesta: advanced playmaker-support: no instructions
AM: Fabregas: advanced playmaker-attack: get further forward, move into channels, roam from position. Cesc Fabregas could be both a goal threat and a help build up and often interchanged his position with Leo Messi who dropped deep down or moved wider to the right and Fabregas could exploit the space left by Messi.
RAM: Pedro: inside forward-support: stay wider. Space overloads in the middle and a narrow midfield opened up space for the two wingers, who stayed wider. That’s why I instructed both inside forwards to stay wider.
LAM: Alexis Sanchez: inside forward-support: stay wider.
CF: Leo Messi: false nine-support: roam from position, move into channels. Messi could drop down or stay wider, his movements were unpredictable.


- About Fabregas role: before choosing the Advanced Playmaker in Attack role, I tried him also as a Shadow Striker because I thought the Shadow Striker
will move into the box and switch position with the False 9 but I noticed that actually he often stayed in the same position as the false 9 (that in my Barcelona
save was either Lewandowski, or Joao Felix, the latter suiting much better in the role than the former), in other words he did not drop down when the false 9
was moving into the box, even if I tried to give him instructions. When I switched it to the Advanced Playmaker in attack, he interchanged position with the
false 9 and never bothered him when he was moving to the box.

- About Sergio Busquets playing as a central defender (ball playing defender-defend): someone may argue why I put Busquets in the back three in the analysis and added a HB role for Seydou Keita? Why did I not use only 2 center backs and put Busquets directly as a HB? Well, for two reasons: first, in the analysis made by the Youtube channel Football Made Simple which I used as main source for this tactic emulation, Keita is playing as a HB with Busquets as a central defender and I wanted to stick to this analysis which I believe being the most accurate of many I found online. Second, in a tactic with only 2 central defenders, Busquets as a hb would have too much space to cover and too much duties to do, since the other midfielders (Dlp-support, ap-support and ap-attack) would not help him and that would be too risky and would allow the opponent to overwhelm us and score too many goals.

What to do if

- If you are struggling to score (no matter if you are still 0-0 or you are losing): change the mentality from positive to attacking, switch the attacking players mentality from support to attack too (the two inside forwards and you can change the false 9 into a trequartista if you have a player who suits that role or to a DLF in attack if your striker suits this role better, anyway, you should change the false 9 role which is only a support role into an attacking role). Remove the instruction to dribble less in the possession phase and the instruction hold shape in the transition phase. In the possession phase, switch the tempo to slightly lower or even to standard and the pass directness to slightly narrower instead of narrow).

Immagine 2024-04-07 120223.png

Video here



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