The “Lautern” Tactic

As many of you know, the tactical side of football and Football Manager is one of my favorite topics. I love delving into tactical concepts and trying to tinker (probably too much at times) with them in FM. So in my fourth and final post about my 1. FC Kaiserslautern save, I will be giving you a brief overview of the tactic that won us the Bundesliga title.



Yes it is the 4-3-2-1 “Christmas Tree” formation, which is really just a very narrow 4-3-3 variant. Coupled with the team instructions you see above, it created some beautiful attacking football going forward, creating a lot of high-percentage scoring chances. It was also very compact and hard to break down defensively. Every tactic has its Achilles heel, and ours was that I gladly ceded the wings to the opposition. The reason for this is that I believe football, just like chess, is won in the center of the pitch. If you control that area, more often than not you win the match.

But much like Cleon wrote in his excellent series on attacking football, if you’re going to play attacking you must create elements of width and movement. After much tinkering, I settled on attacking fullbacks (not wingbacks) to provide the width. The movement came from the combination of roles, duties, instructions and the attributes of the players I used.

Here’s a quick overview of the player instructions that I used in this tactic. If a position is not mentioned then I didn’t use player instructions for that position.

Sweeper Keeper

Distribute to Centre Backs (to help build-up from the back without slowing down the tempo too much)

Ball Playing Defender & Central Defender

Close Down Less (to make sure they don’t get pulled out of position too often)

Box To Box Midfielder

Shoot Less Often (otherwise he shoots nonstop)

Close Down More (max pressing in midfield)

Get Further Forward (create movement and offer forward/overlapping runs)

Move Into Channels (create movement and open spaces for runners/passing lanes)

Advanced Playmaker

Close Down More (max pressing in midfield)

Attacking Midfielders

Close Down More (max pressing in attacking third)

Mark Tighter (creates Gegenpressing element & increases likelihood of winning ball back quickly in attacking third)

Roam From Position (create movement and offer forward/overlapping runs)

Move Into Channels (create movement and open spaces for runners/passing lanes)

Complete Forward

Mark Tighter (creates Gegenpressing element & increases likelihood of winning ball back quickly in attacking third)

Following are some quick screenshots that illustrate typical defensive and offensive positioning in this tactic.

Def. Pos. 1

Above is a typical scenario of how we would position when the opponent is forced to play a long ball from the back due to our pressing. It’s quite easy to see how well we control the central areas. You can also see our vulnerability on the wings. However, our two AMC’s easily shift wide to put pressure on opposition fullbacks/wingers. The rest of the team simply shifts over to one side and presses against the ball, thus closing down passing options.

Def. Pos. 2

In the above image you see what happens when the opposition holds the ball centrally. We quickly press and close down central passing options. The Hoffenheim player (Rupp) can really only pass backwards or out towards the right-wingback. If he does the latter, our Box-To-Box Midfielder is already shifting that way and our left-back will step up. Rupp’s best option is to play backwards and then from there hope to switch the side of attack.

Typical Off. Pos.

Now let’s switch to a typical attacking phase. Our right sided AMC (Ismael) is moving into the attacking third of the pitch. He has three teammates making runs into the opposition’s penalty area. Our left-back is also moving into space, which keeps Hoffenheim’s right-wingback occupied, thus isolating their centre-backs. Our central midfielder is also moving forward in support, in order to recycle any loose balls. Ultimately, Ismael plays a through ball into space and our Complete Forward (Colidio) scores his first of four goals on the day.

I hope this has given you a good, albeit brief overview of my “Lautern” Tactic. Given that FM18 is only 6 weeks away, I figured an extremely detailed analysis and breakdown wasn’t needed. Either way, if you have the right players (ALWAYS the key) and bring some patience, this tactic can be extremely effective.

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