FM19 Dortmund Tactic: Lucien Farve’s 4-2-3-1

Creative Team FM19 Tactics, Tactics 4 Comments

For the past few years since Klopp left BVB, the club has been struggling to maintain a great stand in Germany and Europe. But in this 2018/2019 season, Dortmund have put up a great impression in the German Bundesliga – Thanks to Lucien Favre. The team, nourished with exciting young players, is very close to winning the league. However, seeing their performance and tactical approach, I decided to create this FM19 Dortmund tactic, which tactically reflects Lucien Favre.

Lucien Farve’s 4-2-3-1

The tactic presented here showcases how the Swiss manager sets up his team while using 4-2-3-1. With prudence, I did the best I can to get Dortmund to play in FM19 mostly the way they play in real life. Though, it was tough because some tactical features were absent. Hopefully, FM20 will include more features, especially in role dynamics (player movements).

Build Up

Dortmund usually build their play from the back. The two central defenders stay wide apart, then one midfielder drops to provide a vertical passing option for the sweeper keeper. With the two CDs being comfortable with the ball, they can carry the ball forward to break up opposition first line.

Moreover, Dortmund always like to focus their play on the left and right sides of the pitch. In fact, majority of their goals come from the flanks. These areas are where they build up attack. The main aim is to take advantage of the half space.

Apart from building up from the back, the team can go direct (this is why I left the passing directness standard). In addition, Dortmund are blessed with a GK and CDs who are good in hitting long range passes to breaking teammates.

Attacking Animation

Favre’s men are really fast when they attack. Actually, they play an attacking kind of football. This is why I used high tempo – though it should be extremely high but it was a bit of a problem in FM19. BVB attack with 5 to 6 players (including the fullbacks). They can patiently build up from the back and then electrify with quick moves. The strategy is to move the ball urgently and run at defence. And BVB’s fast wingers make this strategy effective.

However, as mentioned earlier, Dortmund frequently use the wide areas to build their attack. With quick passing combinations and runs from the flank, they penetrate the opposition box.

Defensive Structure

Defensively, Borussia Dortmund line up in a 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation. They like to press the opposition with high intensity. Technically, Lucien Favre employs the counter press system that was once used by Jürgen Klopp. Also, they press the opposition goalkeeper, forcing him to make errors or go long.

The way Favre’s men press the opponent is quite impressive, anyway. They stay close to narrow the space in the central areas, that’s why I used narrow defensive width. The trick is to press while keeping the central areas tight, forcing them to go wide, and then press them much more in that wide area.

But, I couldn’t get this strategy to work the same way in FM19. I think SI should include more features in the defensive part of Tactics – like, more instructions on things to do when the team is out of possession – and more features in the PI window.

Favre’s Role Selection

Keeper: Sweeper Keeper (Support)

A Sweeper Keeper is just what Favre uses in his tactic. So, I kept it the same way in FM19. This kind of goalkeeper has a duty to contribute in the flow of passes from the back.

Central Defenders: Two Ball Playing Defenders (Defend and Cover)

The swiss BVB head coach uses the ball playing defender role severally. The aim of using this type of role is to allow the flow of passes from the back. Rather than lifting the ball high towards the opposition final third, the defenders indulge in simple short passes, allowing the team to play with the ball.

Defenders like Dan-Axel Zagadou, Abdou Diallo, and Manuel Akanji have that composure to play with ball. They can also carry the ball forward. And this is just how they perform in Dortmund games in real life. The same thing happens in FM19.

Side-Backs: Wing Backs (Support)

In Dortmund games, the side-backs are practically wingbacks. They both push to support attack when necessary. In FM19, the support duty gives the player the required sense to balance the attack and defensive responsibility.

On the right, I usually play Achraf Hakimi as the wingback because of his pace and off the ball ability. He also has the strength and work rate to be efficient in the role. If it’s Lukasz Piszczek, I use the fullback role (because he doesn’t have that stamina and work rate), which is what he plays under Lucien Favre.

Then, on the left, I play both Raphaël Guerreiro and Marcel Schmelzer as wingbacks. They both have that stamina, pace, off the ball, and work rate required.

Central Midfield: Deep Lying Playmaker (Defend) and Ball Winning Midfielder (Support)

The DLP, usually Axel Witsel (sometimes Julian Weigl), does make those decisive passes that change games. Apart from dictating the tempo of the game, he also marks and tackles properly. Moreover, he’s really good at intercepting passes – thanks to his excellent anticipation. He’s actually the most efficient midfielder in Favre’s 4-2-3-1.

On the other hand, Thomas Delaney is more like the aggressive ball winner under Favre. Though, he shows some characteristics of a box-to-box midfielder in Dortmund games. But in FM19, the BWM is more effective in this tactic.

In general, when the team has the ball, one the midfielders move towards the half space with the aim of supporting their attacking strategy. This is why I selected “stay wider” in the PI.

Central Attacking Midfield: Second Striker (Attack)

This is where Marco Reus is most dangerous. So far this season, Favre has developed that preference of playing Reus in this position. As the role’s name implies, the German international is the second striker. He is the focal point of attack in Dortmund games. Because he’s given that ability to roam, he can move towards the half space where the ball is and help create an overload in that area. This overload gives the team an advantage as they attack.


However, he can even receive the ball and make a switch to the other side of the pitch. Thereby, causing another huge defensive work from the opposition.

Sometimes, Mario Götze takes up this AMC position as an advanced playmaker because of his vision.

Side Attacking Midfield: Inside Forward (Support) and Trequartista (Attack)

Both wingers in Favre tactic at Dortmund operate in the half spaces. Their positioning gives the fullbacks the space to overlap and offer more width while attacking.

Here, the player on the left, which can feature Jacob Bruun Larsen, Reus, or Sancho, is an inside forward. However, the right player takes up the trequartista role. I think both Christian Pulisic and Jadon Sancho are play more as trequartista when placed on the right flank. This is because they are good in exploiting spaces and can switch positions, making it difficult for the opponents to mark.  However, it’s totally acceptable to use the inside forward role in this right position in FM19.

Central Forward: Deep Lying Forward (Support)

When Mario Götze (or Philipp) is playing, he often drops to receive the ball. He also has the freedom to roam. Therefore, he can make out way for the second striker to get into the box. Götze just has that natural talent of creating chances and he does that by acting as the false 9 –  the DLF role is just more effective than the F9 role in FM19.


However, when Paco Alcácer is in, the role changes to advanced forward. Paco Alcácer provides more forward runs. That’s why he’s usually the AF under Lucien Favre and he’s really making a positive impact in this role. Though in FM19, I prefer playing him as the complete forward (support).


I do hand the general training over to the assistant manager, especially since FM19 training section is just overwhelming. For individual training, you have to get your more playmakers to develop their physical abilities. Because, this tactic requires high strength, speed, and endurance.

Tactical Challenges

Well, I faced a few big challenges while test this tactic with Borussia Dortmund. Since this is FM19, things aren’t just perfect. Playing against 4-4-2 and 4-1-2-3 was a problem, especially in Away games. However, I later found a little tweak that works.

When playing against 4-4-2, I switched the attacking width to narrow. Then, I use my AML and AMR to mark the opposition’s MR and ML. this helped a lot. That’s how I knocked out Porto and ATM. But winning RB Leipzig on away was impossible. They were just too strong.

Against 4-1-2-3, I used wide attacking width. No specific marking needed here. This was how I beat Barcelona and won the UCL. But you can use specific marking if you find their wingers worrisome. Just mark their AML and AMR with yours.

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Download Tactic


Dortmund Team Guide

Here’s a great FM19 Dortmund team guide video made by our friend, Nik. Enjoy

Feel free to drop any question using the comment box below.

Comments 4

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          Positive or attacking mentality for home games. Balance or cautious for away games. It all depends on the status of the opposition team.


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