FM19 Tiki Taka Tactic: Pep Guardiola’s Tactic at Man City

Creative Team FM19 Tactics, Tactics 12 Comments

Tiki taka has been the favourite style of most Football Manager fans. Holding the possession of the ball and walking the ball into channels has been the most attractive thing to watch in this kind of style. Actually, every coach wants his team to dominate every single match and that’s what this kind of football style does. In this article, I’m going to share Pep Guardiola’s tactic at Man City, using the FM19 4-3-3 formation.

In FM18, I found it difficult to get Pep’s tactic at Man City to work well with low ranked teams. Thus, I created a different tiki taka version to suit such teams – you can find the tactic here. However, in FM19, the case is different. I was able to get it to work very well with low reputable teams with technical, intelligent, and creative squad. Here, I used Girona – it was sensational with this team.

This tactic was created in version 19.1.2 but it works really well in version 19.2.1. Moreover, this tactic is not 100% exactly as Pep’s tactic in real life. This is because I had to make small changes in order to get it to work very well for all teams with more creative and technical players in FM19.

Tactic: The 4-3-3 (4-1-4-1 Wide or 4-1-2-3 Wide) Formation

Pep Guardiola usually sets his team to play in a balanced or positive mentality. But sometimes, because of the type of team I am managing, I use cautious (at home) and defensive (on away) mentalities.  It all depends on the team you’re using and the stature of the opposition team. Ok, now let’s discuss all the three aspects of this tactic.

In Possession

Whenever Man City is in possession, they engage in much shorter passing directness. This has been the key feature of tiki-taka. In other words, Guardiola’s men always seem to focus their attacking intensity on both sides of the pitch rather than through the middle. They also stretch their play wider, using the full width of the pitch to their advantage.

Playing from the back should be included but I removed it because it caused a lot of defensive errors – don’t really know why the AI couldn’t handle the instruction in this tactic – maybe it depends on the quality of the squad. Getting to the final third, the player with the ball tends to look for a teammate making a run inside and beyond him – that is look for underlap.  In general, the team plays in a lower tempo.

In the final third, you will notice that City players always work ball into box. Moreover, for dribbling, run-at-defence has been a factor that makes City dangerous in the final third. Be-more-expressive gives the creative players the freedom to play the game with additional vision and flair – Man City playmakers are very effective because of this.

In Transition

Pep Guardiola has been a fan of counter pressing, which he inherited from Marcelo Bielsa. His team presses hard to induce pressure on the opposition. Nevertheless, the team holds shape once the ball is back in their possession.  And once the sweeper keeper is in possession of the ball, he slows pace down and mostly distributes to the centre-backs and fullbacks.

Out of Possession

To pressurize the opponent greatly, as also seen in Pep’s tactics in Barcelona and Bayern, the line of engagement is always set much higher. The defensive line is set much higher too. And when defending, City’s defensive width becomes narrow – this has been a good defensive strategy in FM19.

The pressing intensity is more urgent and the team stays on feet while tackling.  Since the defensive line is much higher, use-offside-trap is advantageous.

Role and Duties

Keeper: Sweeper Keeper (Attack)

Pep has always installed a goalkeeper with good footwork in his tactic. The Brazilian sweeper keeper, Ederson, has been doing a good job in this role at Man City so far. You should look for a good sweeper keeper.

sweeper keeper instructions

Central Defenders: Two Ball Playing Defenders (Both on Defend)

Having defenders who can play with the ball has contributed in making Pep’s philosophy unique. His ball playing defenders have the ability to make intelligent passes that can generate effective attacking movements.

left BPD instructions

right BPD instructions

For your team to do well in this tactic, since the defensive line is much higher, your defenders should be tall enough and have a good amount of pace. This will help your team against opposition long balls and counter attacks. At Girona, I mostly pair Bernardo and Sebastiano Luperto (from loan) because of their heights and key attributes.

Side Backs: Fullback (Support) and Wing Backs (Attack)

At Man City, Fabian Delph plays more like a fullback because he usually stays narrow (according to instruction), approaching toward the midfield. In FM19, the fullback role allows the player to operate that way. Sometimes, Pep will instruct him to play as an inverted wingback, giving him the freedom to roam from position. However, in FM19, I prefer the fullback role because it defends better.

fullback instructions

But Kyle Walker, on the other hand, plays as an attacking wingback. He offers extra width and gets further forward all the time to support the team’s attack. You need to assign a player with good pace, acceleration, and crossing abilities in this wingback role.

wingback instructions

Defensive Midfield: Deep Lying Playmaker (Defend)

A good holding midfielder has been part of Guardiola’s tactical plan since his time at Barcelona. The likes of Fernandinho have been giving the Spanish manager exactly what he wants at City. The defensive deep lying playmaker helps the team in defence. He can also appear to be a third central defender in this tactic, depending on the situation. However, he has the duty to intercept passes, maintain possession, recycle forward play, and dictate the game’s tempo.

DLP instructions

Any player you place in this role must be a technique player with good mental attributes. Consider his marking, passing, vision, tackling, anticipation, and positioning greatly. Personally, I observed that placing a tall player in this role is advantageous, especially when playing against teams that rely on long balls. I play Juanpe sometimes in this role.

Central Midfield: Two Advanced Playmakers (Attack and Support)

In this tactic, both advanced playmakers stay wide. Instructing them to stay wide will help the team attack better from the wide areas. In City’s game, both midfields usually stay wide (almost operating in the half space). Sometimes, they both display the characteristics of a mezzala. But actually, they don’t play as mezzalas.

left attacking AP instructions

right AP instructions

While the attacking AP serves his duty as a central midfielder, he also advances to operate as an attacking midfielder. The AP with the support duty also does the same work of the attacking AP but stays a bit deep.

Side Attacking Midfield: Two Wingers (both on Attack)

At City, Guardiola makes use of the attacking winger role more often. Leroy Sané (a left footer) stays at the left wing while Raheem Sterling (a right footer) stays at the right side. He places these two players like this because of their speed and dribbling abilities. But if this arrangement isn’t working (maybe a winger who can easily cut inside from the flank will work better), he tries the attacking inside forward role by playing Riyad Mahrez (a left footer) on the right side. You can also do this in FM19 if you want.

left attacking winger instructions

right attacking winger instructions

Central Forward: Complete Forward (Support)

It may look like both Gabriel Jesus and Agüero operate as false-nines but they don’t. They actually play as complete forwards. The complete forward role is like a combination of the false nine and advanced forward roles. He has the freedom to do anything to help the team get goals.

complete forward instructions

In case the complete forward role isn’t working for your team, use the advanced forward role.


I don’t think you need to bother about the general training sections here. Your assistant manager can do the job well. The AI is smart enough to set up impressive training sections that will suit this tactic. What you should handle is the individual trainings.

Get your defenders to work on quickness and defensive positioning. Then, your defensive midfielder should train to improve his passing and defensive positioning.  Central midfielders need to focus more on final third and attacking movement. And both your wingers and striker should focus more on quickness, attacking movement, agility and balance.

Make sure you select the particular role you want them to train. Try not to give them a heavy individual training workload. Heavy workload makes them susceptible to injuries


Under Guardiola, Man City use zonal marking. However, if you wish to improve the defending nature of this tactic, you have to include man marking too. That is what I do in FM19.

The screenshot below shows four formations and the position you need to man mark. Use this as an example.

Team Results and Statistics

You can view all the match results on our Facebook page. Go ahead and like our page.

final league table. we managed to get into 3rd place after beating Barcelona in our final game.

Tactical Analysis

Goal Analysis 

Against Formations

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Download Tactic


Comments 12

  1. Hi ! I can’t download the file. It’s a .dmg file and not a .fmf. Could you provide a google drive link, like others tactics please 🙂

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      Yes it does. Though, it was created in version 19.1.1.

      However, it depends on the kind of players you have. Are they technically and mentally enough to handle high possession football? That is, can they hold the ball without giving it away carelessly? Not all teams can play tiki-taka.

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