No matter how we choose to play Football Manager 2018 only one thing counts at the end of the day, results. Fine margins can be the difference between success and failure, so how can you maximise your chances of winning before you even take to the field?
Knowledge is power so try to learn everything you can about your opponent before the match day to gain the upper hand. To do that make sure one of your staff is set to look at your next opponents as one of their assignments. You will then get a report in your inbox a few days before the game. Being able to predict how your opponents will line up can help you identify where their weaknesses could be.
1. Check your opponents’ likely formation
Once the report lands in your inbox a few days before the match it is time to start considering if you can take advantage of the information. Below is how it looks and theres a number of places you can check. Start by checking how your opponents have lined up in their previous three matches. This will give you a good indication as to how they’ll set up against you. To do that click ‘Recent Match Analysis’ to move through to the information.
Below we can see how they lined up in their last match, a sort of 5-2-2-1 formation with the key players being the two attacking midfielders. Many sides use different formations for home and away games so be careful to check if they set up differently as this could change how they take to the field in your game compared to their last. Simply click on the last result with the down arrow to open up the other options.
2. Identify any areas of weakness
Now that you know how they should line up you can plan where the best chance of gaining an advantage will come from. If they play a narrow formation perhaps overloading the flanks will bring success. If they favour three at the back then an advanced wide man may be the way to go. The bottom right of the report details which tactic has caused the opposition most problems during the last five games. In our example, they conceded a high number of chances when facing a 4-4-1-1.
By clicking the title ‘Tactics Analysis’ it brings up more details from the team report which shows the tactics this team have been successful against, and ones where they have conceded a high number of chances. In the 79 minutes facing 4-4-1-1 they conceded eight chances but only created two, would this be enough to make you change formation?
3. Know where the attacks will come from
Will they overload the middle or attack down the flanks? Left or Right, where should you position your best defensive players? We have already established where the opponents’ weaknesses are but what about your own? No formation is perfect and from the scout report, you can clearly see where the opposing manager attacked in the previous game. does this change your game plan? This information could also be used to adjust your attack. If the opposition is mainly attacking from one side then this could leave gaps behind to target.
In our report the opposition attack mainly through the middle. Perhaps a more defensively minded centre midfield would stop this and we could profit by attacking our wide.
4. Check how they score and concede their goals
The ‘goal analysis’ section of the pre-match analysis report gives the top location, assist type and goal time from which the opposition has scored or conceded during the season so far.
Clicking ‘Goal Analysis’ will bring up more information with tabs for each option so you can see more details on how and where the opposition goals come from. In this report, the opposition has scored a lot of their goals in the first 15 minutes so you might want to start cautiously and soak up some early pressure. They have conceded half of their goals from short passing so you may also consider setting your attack up in this way to give yourself the best advantage. On the right is a map of where they score and concede from to help you target these areas.
5. Pick out their missing players
Okay, so from the above steps we can predict how the opposition will line up and where the attacks will come from. There is another check we can make to help come up with a plan to win the game. The information is in the match preview rather than the scout report. It is always worth checking which of their players are injured or suspended ahead of your match.
Chances are that as the season progresses a sides key players may pick up a knock and miss a couple of games. Two main reasons to check this are because it may force a change in formation. Or, if their back up player is not as good as the absentee then this could be an area to target. This is really the final check to make sure you’re planning from earlier in the week won’t fall apart at kick-off.