FM18 Defensive Tactic: The 4-1-3-2 DM WB Formation

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Creating a solid FM18 defensive tactic can be very challenging. Based on my observations, FM18 is more difficult than FM17. The way formations worked in FM17 was improved in FM18. Sports Interactive has also made some improvements in the tactical dynamic system. Every role in each tactic is important. Moreover, it’s very possible to beat a big team with a 3-star team. You just have to choose the best tactics.

In this write-up, I will be sharing a solid defensive tactic I created. This tactic can work on any team, but it does have a weakness, which I will also write about. Irrespective of its defensive nature, this tactic is really good as a counter attack.



The 4-1-3-2 DM WB Formation

This formation consists of 2 central defenders, 2 wingbacks, a defensive midfielder, 3 central midfielders, and 2 strikers. However, under a cautious defensive tactic, the defensive midfielder and wingbacks draw back to help the central defenders defend. I applied a much-more closing down method to enable the attacking wingbacks return quickly for defense once the team loses the ball. And while the midfield is mixed up with 2 support duties and an attack duty, the trio helps immensely in supporting the defenders and attackers, and also controls the team’s tempo.

This tactic is based on a flexible team shape with a standard mentality. The important selections for the team instructions are: pass into space, close down much more, exploit the flanks, shorter passing, retain possession, use tighter marking, stay on feet, and be more expressive. The full selection can be seen in the screenshot below.

Team Instructions

Roles and Duties

Keeper: Goalkeeper (Defend)

The goalkeeper role is the best role for this tactic. Just sign the best stopper you can afford.

Goalkeeper instructions

Central Defense: Two Ball Playing Defenders (Cover)

The Ball Playing Defender (BPD) role is most suitable because the assigned player helps by comfortably distributing the ball to any of the wingbacks or strikers, which gives them a chance to launch an effective attack. The type of defenders present in this tactic really do promote the flow of passes, particularly accurate long passes to the wide or attacking players. Since I intend to exploit the flanks, these two defenders help in making that happen.

The way BPD role works in FM17 is almost the same in FM18. The only difference is that in FM18, this role can provide a much better accurate long pass and also close down the opponent in a very fine manner.

With both defenders having the same duty of a “cover,” they are expected to drop a little deep with the aim of winning through balls behind the defense line.

Key attributes like marking, tackling, positioning, heading, and jumping-reach should be considered. Passing and vision are the secondary attributes to look out for.

Ball Playing Defender Instructions. The same settings are applied to the 2nd defender.

Side Backs: Two Wing Back (Attack)

With the Wing Back (WB) role, the assigned player has two jobs to fulfill. Firstly, he must be able to move forward as an attacking winger and deliver aggressive crosses into the opposition box. And lastly, defensively, he must be able to close down the opposition forward, make good tackles as a fullback and block crosses. However, bearing the attack duty makes him move forward effectively to provide a cross from the byline.

Since this tactic doesn’t have attacking wingers and fullbacks, these wingbacks have to perfume tirelessly to balance the two missing roles. That’s why stamina, work-rate, and acceleration are indispensable for this role.

It will help your team’s defensive ability if you specifically instruct the left WB to mark the opposition player operating in the AMR (Attacking Midfielder Right) position, and the right WB to mark AML (Attacking Midfielder Left). In situations where by the opponent has ML (Midfield Left) and MR (Midfield Right) in the formation, you don’t need to instruct specific marking.

Wingback Left

Right wingback

Defensive Midfield: Ball Wining Midfielder (Defend) or Anchor Man (Defend)

This role, Ball Wining Midfielder (BWM), is important in this formation because the assigned player helps in closing down all the loop holes in defense roles, such as the right backs and the center backs. He usually goes forward to disturb or challenge the opponent with the ball in order to allow both the wingbacks return for defense. With the defend duty, he stays back. He doesn’t need to get forward in this tactic because he has to help the two central defenders in closing down.

Moreover, another effective role you can apply in this position is Anchor Man (A). You can choose any one. It depends on which your team responds better to. If your team needs strength, physique, and aggression, go for BWM. But if your team needs something technical and a bit intelligence, then install the anchor man role.

Ball Winning Midfielder Instructions

Central Midfield: Box-To-Box Midfielder (Support), Advanced Playmaker (Attack), and Deep Lying Playmaker (Support)

The Box-To-Box Midfielder (BBM) role always defends, transits tempo, and attacks when needed. He works tirelessly to offer support to both attackers and defenders. When you instruct him to get forward, the BBM makes impressive forward moves to the opponent’s third when your team has the ball. But you don’t need to instruct him to run wide. He just has to maintain his moves in the middle and then distribute the ball to the attacking wingback. However, any player you choose in this role should have a good long shot attribute.

Box-To-Box Midfielder Instructions

For the Advanced Playmaker (AP), his main job is to distribute key passes to overlapping wingbacks or attacking teammates. His usual way of dominating the game is to switch the ball to the flanks or hit through balls to the strikers. However, the player operates anywhere around the pitch and always aims to create a lot of chances for the strikers. The operations of the AP role in FM17 are the same in FM18.

The player’s dribbling, first touch, passing, vision, technique, anticipation, decisions, and off-the-ball should be the key abilities.

Advanced Playmaker Instructions

Making up the central midfield, a Deep Lying Playmaker (DLP) is placed. This is because a DLP is like an all-round midfielder who can dominate the midfield, improve the connection between the defenders and strikers, and still control the game with deceptive passes.

Deep Lying Midfielder Instructions

Central Forward: Trequartista (Attack) and Defensive Forward (Support or Defend)

A Trequartista is a technically inclined attacker with a good off-the-ball skill. He can operate as an attacking midfielder and also drop killer balls to his teammates; such striker is very dangerous in the box. I decided to install such striker in this tactic with a physical striker as a partner.

Since there’s already a technical striker in place, while this tactic is a defensive one, I decided to place a Defensive Forward (DF) role beside trequartista. The defensive forward (with support duty) will help in pressuring the opposition defenders in order to give away the ball carelessly. But if you select the defend duty, the DF will drop deep to pressure the opposition DM.

Defensive Forward Instructions

Trequartista Instructions

Opposition Instructions

Setting the opposition instruction for this tactic depends on the type of formation the opponent is using. The following screenshots provide some good settings you can try.


This tactic faces a lot of challenges while facing a formation with 2 strikers, example 4-4-2 formation. It becomes tough to beat these kinds of formations when the opponent plays long balls and relies on counter attack.

Nevertheless, 4-2-3-1 DM Wide is another formation that gives problems to this tactic. Hertha Belin manager Pál Dárdai uses this formation very well in FM18. He uses the wide players as his attacking force, and then uses the two DMs to disrupt or prevent passes from getting to your strikers.

To make it hard for this 4-2-3-1 formation, you have to instruct your right wingback to specifically mark their AML while your left wingback does the same to their AMR. Then, instruct the DLP to mark their attacking right defender while the BBM does the same to their attacking left defender. Note: Perform each action in the “Mark Specific Player” box.

Set Pieces

The settings for the set pieces are definitely up to you. You can decide to create yours in a way you like. But in case you don’t know how to create a solid one, you can use the one I created with another tactic here. Carefully observe the arrangements in those screenshots.

Results and Stats


The screenshots below show the full analysis of this defensive tactic.

Do have any question? Feel free to use the comment box.

Download Tactic 

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