Carlo Ancelotti 2006 Christmas Tree Tactic in FM20

Creative Team FM20 Tactics, Tactics 8 Comments

Last time, we replicated Arsene Wenger’s tactic with Arsenal during their invincible era in 2003/2004. We got a lot of positive feedback about it. So, we are continuing our series of showcasing old tactics used by some of the best managers back in the early 2000s. This time, we present Carlo Ancelotti 2006 Christmas tree tactic in FM20 with AC Milan. We used the 2006 database we mentioned in the previous post to get the squad who played under Ancelotti back then.

Please before you use this tactic with the 2006 database, you have to choose version 20.1.0 (the default football manager version). This prevents some players from retiring abnormally. Moreover, it prevents other issues from occurring.

FM20 Carlo Ancelotti 2006 Christmas Tree Tactic – 4-3-2-1 Formation


AC Milan under Ancelotti played a possession-based football. They patiently built their play mostly from the back. They had the defenders who were good with the ball at their feet. Often times, during their build-up, the wingbacks would push very high and wide. Then, the deepest midfielder would drop to provide a vertical option in the midfield.

Fortunately, AC Milan featured well-experienced players who subsequently made vital decisions during the build-up phase. Andrea Pirlo was the centre of attention in the build-up, which made Ancelotti’s men focused on attacking through the middle, most times. As you can see in the screenshot, I enabled this. The tempo is low because they weren’t fast in their play – they didn’t move the ball in urgency.


AC Milan under Ancelotti attacked via the central areas by overload. But they used the wings in a special way. This was where the regista Andrea Pirlo was a masterpiece. The team would keep the opposition busy in the midfield while Pirlo would switch play to any of the sides of the pitch as he received the ball. And this would happen when the attacking wingbacks have occupied a dangerous position to exploit.

The whole attacking strategy of AC Milan was on patience and intelligence. They didn’t actually make use of Counter. Rather, they relied on holding shape and working the ball into the box, and taking opportunities immediately as it arose – thankfully, they had playmakers with excellent vision.


Carlo Ancelotti used a high line in pressing the opposition. They would regroup once the ball is lost. However, they were intense and aggressive in winning the ball. Gattuso and Ambrosini were doing most of the dirty work for the team. Moreover, the team would tend to compress the central areas, making it difficult for the opposition to penetrate. The opposition would have no choice but to go wide.

Role Selections of Carlo Ancelotti

Sweeper Keeper

Dida functioned as the sweeper-keeper under Ancelotti. He had the anticipation and great footwork.


Nesta and Maldini contributed immensely on Milan’s defensive strength. They were well experienced and had the perfect mentality to command the defence line. Being the ball-playing defenders under Ancelotti, they were comfortable with the ball at their feet. In addition, they had a certain passing range and could make intelligent passes.


Ancelotti made good use of the wingers. Luckily, for the Italian manager, he had the likes of Cafu, Serginho, and Jankulovski. These players were excellent in attacking the ball from the wings irrespective of their defensive duties. Technically, the wingbacks were the traditional attacking wingers. They offered the required width the team needed.


AC Milan had five midfielders operating in the Christmas tree tactic. They all had their different roles and responsibilities – sometimes, similar responsibilities when it came to attacking and defending.

The Regista – Andrea Pirlo was the deepest midfielder among the five. He operated in the centre, between two physical midfielders. Pirlo’s job was to recycle possession, dictate tempo, and switch plays since he had the advantage of seeing the areas of the pitch from a deep position. He had a superb passing range/accuracy and vision. However, he wasn’t too involved in challenging the opponent with the ball. Ancelotti placed two players who were ruthless in that.

Ball Winners – Gattuso and Ambrosini were the main players Ancelotti featured most in central midfield positions. They were the ruthless ball winners. However, Ambrosini was more of the box-to-box midfielder because he frequently shuttled between boxes. While Gattuso, on the other hand, was the aggressive ball-winning midfielder. These two players were a vital part of Milan’s defence.

Advanced Midfielders – the advanced central area featured Seedorf and Kaka. However, the actual roles of these players confused me a bit. The role of Kaka seemed to be Advanced Playmaker because he had the qualities and was an excellent tempo dictator. But sometimes I think he played as a shadow striker because of his sensational finishing. Anyway, in FM20, I went with advanced playmaker to maintain a flexible team shape, which is necessary. You can try the AM-S role, though it wasn’t working for me with Kaka, especially when it comes to entering the opposition box and finding scoring chances.

Seedorf was the traditional attacking midfielder under Ancelotti. Most times, Seedorf and Kaka would exchange positions and even exchange positions with the striker. Both players had the optimum freedom to roam from positions.

Lone Striker

Inzaghi was usually the top 9 under Carlo Ancelotti. His job was simple – put the ball at the back of the net on every good chance. And Filipo Inzaghi was very good at that. He was the lethal Poacher – always making runs behind the opposition defence for one-on-one chances.


In most cases, I used a positive mentality in home games. However, for away games, I used a cautious mentality. The positive mentality can also be effective on away games, depending on the team you’re facing.

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Comments 8

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  1. Great as always! Can you try Jorge Jesus’s tactic in Flamengo? It’s tricky one, specially with their wingers movements, it’s hard to imput it to FM.

    1. Post

      That would be really hard as we rarely follow any South American league matches. We haven’t expanded to that area yet, but we are progressing gradually. In due time, we will reach there.


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