Rocking with Atalanta B.C, using FM19 4-4-2 Diamond

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I don’t know for you, but the 4-4-2 diamond tactic has been a difficult tactic to work on in FM19 for me. I have been trying some ways to get it to work well in FM19, starting from version 19.1.1, but I couldn’t. This made me not to share about Pochettino’s diamond 4-4-2, which he used in Tottenham’s 2018/2019 campaign.  The tactic wasn’t satisfying, so I abandoned it.

However, this time, in this version 19.3.5, I got things right. Therefore, in this post, I will be sharing about the 4-4-2 diamond I created with Atalanta.

Tactic: FM19 4-4-2 Diamond

Build Up

The DM dropping deep during build up

In terms of build-up, the team builds up from the back. Just like the way most teams play out from defence, the two central defenders spread apart while the two wingbacks stretch high up to provide diagonal passing options. However, like in Ten Hag’s Ajax tactic, the holding midfielder drop very deep to become the third defender in the build-up – part of the strategies my team uses to outplay the opposition.

My team’s passing directness is shorter but with a higher tempo. I figured that using this setting is more effective in most 2-striker formations. Moreover, this setting influences a quick movement of the ball while maintaining possession, as seen in Sarriball philosophy.

In Possession

Attacking Animation

My Atalanta team usually attacks quickly once they win the ball. The purpose of enabling “counter” assures that. Moreover, in this tactic, there’s no particular place enabled as the main attacking focus (see the in-possession screenshot, under Approach Play). But practically, they focus their attacking play on the flanks. The wingbacks are the main attacking carriers. However, the con is when the wingbacks aren’t doing the expected job, the team struggles deeply.

In Transition

However, as the team attacks, the midfielder with the ball usually finds a wingback in open space for him to exploit that space. The wingback may now penetrate the box and hit on target or launch a deadly cross.

Defensive Shape

According to the basic formation setting, the team defends with 4 defenders. But due to role setups, the team technically defends with 5 defenders. This is because the halfback drops deep (in between the CDs) often times to assist in defending. Furthermore, the formation can change to 5-3-2.

Defensive Animation

When the team defends, they defend as a close unit – just like what happens in Sarriball and Quique Setién’s tactic. Moreover, the team stays compact in order to close the central areas. Thus, this forces the opponent to go wide. Setting the defensive width narrow influences this.

In terms of pressing, the intensity is set more urgent. And I adopted the counter pressing system in this tactic – part of the reasons why the Line Of Engagement and Defensive Line are much higher. Enabling the Off Side Trap is very helpful in this situation.

Out Of Possession

Roles and Duties

Keeper: Sweeper Keeper (Support)

The sweeper keeper role is perfect for this tactic. He can initiate counter-attacking moves with direct through balls to breaking players. In this tactic, the breaking players are usually the two strikers. 

Central Defence: Two Central Defenders (Cover and Defend)

I just decided to use two central defenders in this tactic instead of ball playing defenders. The CD role can do a bit of the job of the BPD role. But, the CD role influences the assigned player to explore more of his physicality rather than technicality. Nevertheless, for preference reasons, you can use the BPD role here. Both roles work well in this tactic.

In other words, the one with the cover duty drops a little deep to win through balls behind the defensive line, thereby making it difficult for the opponent to find One-on-One chances with the keeper. Moreover, the defender with the defend duty has to move a bit forward to break up attacks by intercepting passes.  He also tries to prevent the ball from getting into the box.

In my Atalanta team, I usually play Gianluca Mancini and Rafael Tolói in these positions. Both José Luis Palomino and Andrea Masiello come as backups.

Side Backs: Two Complete Wingbacks (Attack)             

Here, the CWBs are attack-minded. And they are very import in this tactic. The players assigned should have good acceleration, stamina, anticipation and work-rate. This would help them move forward and make intelligent overlapping runs toward the opposition final third to support forward play. Defensively, with good work rate and stamina, they return as quickly as possible to defend once the team loses the ball.

Players like Timothy Castagne, Robin Gosens, and Hans Hateboer have been excellent for me in the right and left back positions. Arkadiusz Reca is a very good rotation player at left back.

Central Defensive Midfield: Half Back (Defend)

In this tactic, the halfback is the deepest midfielder among the four midfielders arranged in diamond. When necessary, the assigned player drops deeper to become the third defender. With him doing that, he helps the team in building up play. However, when the team attacks, he sits outside the opposition box. In case the attack breaks, he finds himself in a position to recycle possession. His main job in this tactic is to support both the defenders and central midfielders.

DM

In my team, Marten de Roon became the perfect guy for the job.

Central Midfield: Two Mezzalas (Support)

Well, since I have a DM and an AM, I decided to install the Mezzala role. Because, this role makes the player to work as a central midfielder and do a little work of a winger. Also, because I needed the player to operate in that half space, I chose this role. He can drift wide (according to player instructions) and hit a low cross to any available striker to drive the ball home.

I figured that using this role for the two central midfield positions would be better. And it worked absolutely well that way.  Though, if you need your central midfielders to shuttle between lines, which is good in situations where the midfielders are arranged in a diamond, you can try the carrilero role – it might work too. For my Atalanta team, using Mario Pasalic, Remo Freuler, and Matteo Pessina (as backup) as mezzalas made absolute sense for me. I didn’t need to sign an extra natural mezzala.

Central Attacking Midfield: Attacking Midfielder (Support)

AM

This role serves as the strikers’ backbone. Since the AM is on support duty, he tends to drop and help the MCs dominate the central areas. Defensively, he helps in compacting the middle spaces, thereby making it difficult for the opponent to take advantage of the midfield. The talent of Josip Ilicic made this role effective in this tactic. Moreover, I brought in Charles Alena on loan from Barcelona as a second choice AM.

Central Forward: Target Man (Attack) and Advanced Forward (Attack)

Since most of my team’s attack come from the wingbacks, I used the target man role to take advantage of the crosses – just like what Allegri did in his tactic by using Mandzukic as TM. With the target man role, the striker will be swayed to make good use of the crosses. Luckily, I have Duván Zapata. He’s strong in air and physically fit to disrupt the opposition defence and struggle for the ball.

On the other hand, Alejandro Gómez takes up the advanced forward role. He has the agility and technicality to render the services of an AF. He can dribble, roam around, assist, and score. Because of this, the AF role proved effective with the TM role in this tactic.

Marking

I only used zonal marking in open play in this tactic. There was no use of using specific marking (or man marking) at all. Nevertheless, you can use specific marking if you see fit. However, for set pieces, I employed mixed marking.

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