If you’ve read part 1 of my FM20 challenge with Chelsea, you will have seen that a tactical rethink early on in the season significantly turned our luck around. We went from an opening loss in the Premier League and the Champions Cup group stage, to winning 11 games in 14, finishing top of our Champions League group with 15 points, and in the race for the League title. You’’ see shortly in part 2 that the tactic continues to work brilliantly (for the most part), so I thought I’d share my tactics for this team, as hopefully it can be useful for plenty of teams, mainly ones with a strong midfield and quick wingers.

It may seem quite obvious, but of course we are using the Gegenpress mentality, which is almost necessary when using a big team in FM20 if you want to compete in the competitions against the endless 4231s that you come up against. 

Rather than the standard 4231 that the likes of Liverpool and Man City use that make them so dominant in FM20, I have been using a 433DM. This is due to the attacking nature of our full backs. That Ball Winning Midfielder at DM just assures up the defense, creating a beautiful balance across the whole pitch. As of the screenshot below we didn’t have our full strength team out, as Kovacic was in need of a rest, along with James and Tomori. You’ll see there are some minor issues where the full backs are because they aren’t covering the defense as much, but honestly this hasn’t been marked as an obvious issue for me at all throughout the entire season. If you feel more comfortable doing so, you can put the Full backs to full back support, just make sure to focus the players training so that they’re more natural in that role. The other area with some minor issues is just behind the striker. Again, with the way we’re set up, the midfielders and Abraham do cover that space from what it seems, but if you want to ensure that that space of the pitch has no issues, you can drop Tammy back to a pressing forward attack.

 In possession, I’ve made a few changes to the initial Gegenpress tactics, choosing to focus play down the middle with Mount and Kovacic being so prevalent in our setup. For most games we go with an attacking mentality, so I’ve dropped down the tempo from extremely high to much higher, and we play for set pieces because that’s where a lot of our goals come from, which I’ll plug once again, is due to these beautiful tactics courtesy of Liam Bond: How to Get 20+ Goals From Centre Backs on Football Manager 2020

The changes I will sometimes make to the In Possession tactics just so we’re not found out are switching to more direct passing, and changing from work ball in to box to hit early crosses, with floated crosses instead of mixed.

Moving on we have our in transition tactics, pretty short and sweet, the Gegenpress has you set to counter-press, counter, and distribute quickly, which is exactly what we do. Alongside this, we distribute to our full backs. I mainly have this set for safety, as if you’ve ever had the instruction on for your keeper to distribute to the flanks, or to a target man, you’ll see 9 times out of 10 that your team lose the ball.

For some games I will choose to Hold Shape if we’re not the favourites, this just limits the chances your opponents get of breaking through your defensive line.

And the final part of the main tactics for this Chelsea team; Out of Possession. As the name gives it away, Gegenpressing is all about pressing your opponent, and winning the ball back as high up the pitch as possible so you can capitalise on the opposition being out of shape. For this reason, at minimum, you will have engagement set to higher for both attack and defense. For most games I tend to put the attack to a much higher engagement line, which really pushes the opponent back, and we often see ourselves dominating games until the players get a bit jaded later on in the games. The Gegenpress does have it set to extremely urgent pressing and Get Stuck In, but I find there isn’t much difference in the level of pressing that you set, and a Get Stuck In mentality can quite often get you in trouble. For fitness reasons I tell my team to stay on their feet, and mark tightly, and just a more urgent pressing intensity.

In Scenarios where we’re maybe chasing a game, or want to get a winner and it’s late on, The out of possession tactics are an important part to change in game. To go as attacking as possible, switch both engagement lines to much higher, make your defensive width wide, set an offside trap, turn off tight marking, turn on get stuck in, and increase the pressing intensity.

On to the player instructions we have set, which I can’t lie, I leave alone for the most part because I like the preset instructions for each position. However, I do like to give the wingers a couple of extra instructions, mainly instructing them to aim their crosses far post. If anyone else does this with this formation, you’ll know how great it is at getting goals from your wingers. From either side the ball comes in, and your other winger, usually unmarked has an easy opportunity to score. So simple yet so effective.

And essentially that is it, the previous tactics for set pieces that I hyperlinked do more of a job than I could ever imagine, and the players on the pitch do the rest of the work without really needing any other instructions. I know it seems really obvious for the most part, I’ve only made a couple of tinkers to the automatic instructions, but honestly, if you read part one of my challenge:  The Chelsea Transfer Ban Challenge, and watch out for part two in the next few days, you’ll see that this tactic has worked an absolute treat for me.