Here you can find very interesting tips on with and without ball tweaking
Many people are scared of changing the position of goalies, including me. This is because of all those “player X was out of position” commentary and such like. The best, and only, good idea I have heard and applied is from Martin O’Neill. He suggested moving the goalkeepers position back one unit on the final quarter of all with ball screens. A unit being the smallest possible registered movement on the screen. This is basically to prevent him from straying too far outfield, and I think it works because my goalie is very rarely “totally stranded” or “out of position”. Another theory is to put the goalkeeper on hard tackling. This can increase his aggression and make him rush to stop opponent attackers. Most of the time this happens, but occasionally it can get him sent off for a rash challenge. It’s up to you, but I would say it is a little bit risky. I think, and so do many, that goalkeepers should be on short passing to help build attacks through your more skillful outfield players, however if your goalie happens to have 20 in passing and creativity there is nothing to stop you getting him to hit it long or direct to your forwards. Finally, it is generally accepted that no marking is the thing to use, it is there by default and too risky to experiment with.
The main decision you have to make concerning defenders is whether to play three central defenders or back four. Either way is good, some like the extra width provided by attacking full backs and some like the safety of having a man free to pick up anyone who gets through the other two defenders. If you play three central, it is obvious that the two wider ones (DLC and DRC) should be on man-marking if the opposition is playing two in attack. I find the system is particularly useful against defensive counter, because you can then switch the central defender to man marking to mark the extra forward. Playing four at the back it is up to you whether DC should be man-marking or not. I have found that man-marking is a lot safer against two attackers, but if computer plays defensive counter or alone striker then marking should be switched to normal.Normal tackling is definitely the thing to use for defense, because you don’t want them standing off and you don’t want to concede needless penalties. Pressing should be off for the same reason. You can instruct each defender to pass a specific side if you want to get the ball to wingers or you can get them to pass it short to your midfield or somewhere else. I think having your defenders on anything other than short passing is a bit of waste of build up play.The obvious instruction is to have forward runs off on DC. The final decision is will I play the offside trap. Well, if you do, you should push back three slightly on the with/without ball screen, or if you are playing a back push the full backs even more to make “curved back four” so it is easier for your two DC.If you want your full backs to get forward you are going to have to heavily modify the with ball screen. For this your players will have to be very high in stamina to get up and down the pitch. For each screen on the wide areas of the pitch push your full back up the pitch, slightly in your own half and more in the opposition half. The best position for them to cross in is about level with the 18 yard box, so make sure that they are round about there on the final quarter. Make sure you also push them up in the central areas so they don’t have to make weird diagonal runs whenever the ball is passed to the centre. If they are good at dribbling, stick them on run with ball, and pass to centre to get them to swing them in for the players to attack (more on attacking crosses later). I am not sure about forward runs, in this case I don’t think so because they are forward enough already.
Many feels this is the most important position on the pitch. Your defensive midfielder, as well as being the link between the defense and the attack, is your main repellent against opposition attacks. You have a choice of playing one or two defensive midfielders. I like to play at least one hard man in this area, with hard tackling to maximize the amount of tackles he wins, and pressing to stop the opposition scoring from long shots. Forward runs should be definitely off as you want him to stay back and defend. Hold up ball is one of the recommended instructions because then your player can hold the ball until he sees the right pass and they can gain many assist this way. I like to have mine on hold up ball and mixed passing. If you play with one keep him back on attacking set pieces, if you play with two keep at least one of them back. I have not heard many ideas on changing the position of a DMC, but I think a few push them slightly wider on the without ball screen if their formation lack width, to stop any pesky wingers. On the with ball screen you should definitely not push them forward too much. Finally, marking should usually be set to zonal. However, I have found a very useful tactic away from home is to have them man-mark key opposition. This has resulted in me picking up more points against the big teams and in European games.
Why do you play with an attacking midfielder? Well because this is a vital part of a team. The most important link between defense and attack. You want the player to score goals and gain assists. For this reason passing should be short and probably to centre, and long shots off or he will just shoot instead of pass. If he is a good dribbler then definitely run with ball. On the with ball screen, make sure you have him in the box in the final quarter, so he can attack crosses. Generally his position shouldn’t be altered much, because he is, positioned quite well by default. If your player in this position is absolutely superb, then a free role is recommended because it can really confuse a defense if they don’t know what he is going to do next.
Wingers are strange bunch, sometimes they perform brilliantly, and other times they are rubbish. It really depends on the opposition formation. First, look at your wingers stats. If they are good at dribbling, put them on run with ball and forward runs off. This will enable them to pick up the ball deep and run at the defense. And defenses really hate a running winger. Position them wide on the with ball screens and slightly further back when in your own half, and then get them to drift inwards as the play progresses upfield. The idea being they can attack the centre of the defense and leave your forwards unmarked. If your winger is just good at crossing and passing, place him further upfield and very wide on the with ball screens, and in the best crossing position possible in the final quarter of the pitch. Run with ball should be turned off, and direct passing to centre should do the trick.Defending with wingers is probably a bit pointless. You want them really to attack, defending is for wing backs. Therefore marking should be none. Tackling could be set to hard, just to scare the opposition if you like.
In my opinion you should play a lone striker or two forwards. Three strikers does not give you enough men back and a lot of goals are conceded. If the attackers have good off the ball skills, forward runs is a must. The offside count might be slightly higher but so will be quality of the chances and you will score more goals. If the forwards are good at dribbling, of course get them to run with the ball, more penalties will come your way. Long shots is definite no, because you want your strikers inside the box when the shoot. I have had success playing with one striker. In the last two seasons my lone striker has scored more than two put together. Obviously you can master this position it is preferable because you then have an extra player to win you the ball. I have altered my with ball screen, so my striker is much further upfield in all positions, on the without ball is much the same except very slightly further back. With forward runs on as well, I may get up to ten offsides if the opposition is playing offside trap, but if they are I just turn forward runs off and get very easy chances. The striker should have good pace, acceleration, stamina and off the ball most importantly.
I think everyone is aware of the man behind ball idea. If you like the game played beautifully then this is the style for you. The basic concept is to have players in various positions arranged in triangles on the with ball screen with specific passing instructions to get the players to pass between them. I think the starting formation was 3-2-2-1-2, which produced a lot of triangles. The DLC, DMLC, and ML made the first triangle, and all were set to pass to left. The ML, AMC, FLC made the second triangle, with the AMC set to pass to centre to get the ball into the central strikers. This was obviously reflected onto the other side. I have personally never got this to work, in fact I have not spent much time on it, but I know it worked for Martin and I suppose it should work with a bit of effort and time put into designing tactic.
This is a very good theory which works brilliantly in practice. The idea is to, instead of having players already in heading positions, to have players in positions to run in and head. So on the final quarter of the with ball screens, you should have at least three players in the box already to attack. One should be near post level with about the penalty spot, one should be back post, and the other should be even further back to receive any over hit crosses. You can even fill the box with more players in and around the six yard box to create confusion among the opposition defense.
In the oppositions half in the without ball screens your players are positioned quite far up the field, so they are basically trying to win the ball back in the oppositions half which could leave you vulnerable to a quick attack. This concept has you dragging player further back on these screens, so as to let the opposition have the ball in their own half, but as soon as they come into your half your players will be ready to swamp out their attacks. I think the best idea is to bring all your players back except the forwards so at least someone is pressing the ball. “Cross-over runs”Originally only designed when play switches from the with the ball square in front of the opposition penalty box, to inside the penalty box, cross-over runs for strikers have worked wonders for me. To achieve the cross-over I merely swapped the two strikers positions in the opposition penalty area. A simple drag and drop. This led to both strikers running to opposite post, hopefully losing their marker and confusing the opposition defense!Alternatively this can be applied to other areas of the pitch as desired, the same theory still applies. On other area I decided might be useful was deep in your own half when defending. I switched the strikers around when the ball was in my penalty box, therefore making them cross-over when we won the ball back – hopefully creating quick break-away chances with the strikers crossing and confusing their markers