Paris Saint-Germain have been playing really well under Thomas Tuchel. At the start of the season, the German manager started with a 4-3-3 lineup but later moved to a 3-5-2 setup (though he used 4-4-2 in few matches). The game against Liverpool in UCL group-stage (second leg) brought the very best of Tuchel’s 3-5-2 lineup. The way PSG played in that game was impressive. Therefore, this influenced me to create this FM19 PSG tactic.
In Ligue 1, this back 3 system became a great success for PSG. Oppositions were finding it hard to shut down PSG (although, Lyon did a good job in countering this system). Thus, PSG became a great force to be reckoned with in the French league. In this post, I will show how this tactic was set up in FM19 to match the way the Ligue 1 champions played when lined up in 3-5-2.
Tactic: 3-5-2 or 5-1-2-2 DM WB
With the Ball
When PSG is in possession of the ball, they engage in shorter passing more often. They tend to hold the ball and move it into channels. In terms of build-up, the team plays out from the back and most often focus play down the right and left side of the pitch.
During the game against Liverpool in UCL group-stage (2nd leg), PSG’s attacking width was wide. And, the position of the PSG’s strikers forced The Reds’ fullbacks to stay narrow, creating spaces for the wingbacks to attack from the wide. This is just how PSG build their attack. The screenshot shows this positioning in FM19.
However, in FM19, the screenshot below shows how I set the in-possession part of this tactic to match Tuchel’s tactical approach.
Without the ball
PSG do engage in counter press system when out of possession. If Cavani is in play, he starts up the pressing. Then, followed by Kylian Mbappé. These two press the opposition defenders, including the keeper, thereby forcing them to make the wrong decisions.
To promote an effective press, PSG’s line of engagement is always high.
For the defensive line, it stays high to support the pressing system. Though, the team’s defensive line is really cautious, just to avoid falling out of position. Fortunately, the excellent positioning and pace of Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe, and Thilo Kehrer in FM19 made setting a high defensive line an advantage. Oppositions found it difficult to get a successful counter attack while using this tactic in FM19.
The screenshots below show the in-transition and out-of-possession parts of this tactic.
When Paris SG attack under the 3-5-2 setup, they attack with at least 4 players. The formation dynamically changes to 3-1-2-4/3-3-4. Sometimes, one midfielder will move to provide an extra man in the opposition box. Then, the other midfielders stay outside the box to recycle break up attacks or shoot from outside the box if the opportunity presents.
While defending, Tuchel’s PSG seem more disciplined and compact while using the back 3 system. Dynamically, PSG defend in a 5-1-2-2/5-3-2 formation. Nonetheless, one of the strikers (especially Mbappé) usually drops deep to support the midfielders while defending. Also, he sometimes drops to create a diamond shape (like a 5-4-1 diamond) with the midfielders in aim of marking the opposition properly in the midfield. This sort of animation proves the fluidity of Tuchel’s tactic. The screenshots below show these.
Keeper: Sweeper Keeper (Attack)
The sweeper keeper role has been the role of Buffon and Alphonse Areola at PSG under Thomas Tuchel. Therefore, I kept it this way in FM19. Both of them are great SKs with the attack duty.
Centre Backs: 3 Ball Playing Defenders (2 on Defend and 1 on Cover)
The 3 centre backs in Tuchel’s back 3 system are all ball playing defenders. They have the ability to play with the ball. In build-up, they have the composure to carry the forward and look for shorter passing lane.
However, as the side centre backs have the defend duty, the middle DC is given the cover duty. The middle defender has to stay deeper just to be able to sweep up through balls.
Side Wing Backs: 2 Complete Wingbacks (Support)
Practically, PSG’s wingbacks are complete wingbacks. Therefore, they are more offensive. When the team has the ball, they push up high to enhance the attacking phase. In FM19, the support duty is perfect because it keeps the team shape fluid. Also, it influences the wingbacks to balance their attacking and defensive mentality.
Defensive Midfield: Deep Lying Playmaker (Support)
Moreover, in Tuchel’s 3-5-2 tactic, one midfielder stays deeper. Sometimes, Marco Verratti takes up this position as a supporting deep lying playmaker. His main job here is to switch plays. When the team moves the opposition to one side of the pitch, with the help of the 2 strikers, the team may give the ball back to the deepest midfielder to make a quick switch to the other side of the pitch. By this time, the wingback in the other side has enough space to cause damage.
Furthermore, if Marquinhos occupies this position, he takes up the defend duty. That is, if there’s a need for a more defensive responsibility. You can make such change in FM19 if it’s necessary.
Central Midfield: Roaming Playmaker (Support) and Advanced Playmaker (Support)
Both the RPM and AP roles do the same job. They dictate tempo, drop deep, and make themselves available for teammates’ passes. However, the RPM is more offensive. This was the role of Neymar during PSG’s game against Liverpool.
Defensively, both midfielders drop to tighten up the central area. In addition, they press the opponent with the ball, forcing him to retreat or lose the ball.
Centre Forward: Deep Lying Forward (Support) and Pressing Forward (Attack)
In the front line, Kylian Mbappé (or Neymar) is more like a supporting deep lying forward. He comes deep to receive the ball. And frequently, because of the fluidity of this tactic, he comes deep to help defensively.
On the other hand, Edinson Cavani plays as a pressing forward. Most times, he starts the press in the opposition half.
During the course of my season with PSG in FM19, I found these roles very effective. I think deep lying forward is the perfect striker role for Mbappé. However, they both contributed in scoring a lot of goals in Ligue 1 and UCL. Neymar was ineffective because he kept getting injuries. I really don’t know why he was an injury prone in my PSG save.
In this tactic, just like in this FM19 Barcelona tactic, I only use zonal marking in open play, no use of specific marking (or man marking) at all. Nevertheless, you can use specific marking if you wish. For defend set pieces, I employed mixed marking.
Please Note: This tactic was created around PSG players in FM19. Therefore, due to quality status, this tactic might not work well with teams lacking high quality of squad – especially when it comes to defenders. But you’re welcome to try.