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Thread: Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent

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    Dreamer Marc Symons's Avatar
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    Oct 2013

    Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent

    Thread is split into two sections - First section is simply a summery. Second section is an in-depth guide to winning. It is not written in the usual counter formation table set-up.



    If you want to choose strong, defence-minded formations, perhaps because your recent games have resulted with many goals being conceded, you can opt for the likes of the 5-3-2. This formation has one sweeper defender in the centre, with two other central defenders either side. There should then be two wing-backs, one on each side. You then want three central midfielders, and two strikers.

    This formation relies a lot on the wing backs getting forward, so you need to set their mentality to push on. Because there are five defenders and the midfielders are compact in the centre, it is a very solid basis to build upon. Use Counter Attacking combined with your wing backs to put a sting in the tail of this formation.

    5-4-1 is the next defensive formation worth considering. You can play with three center backs but because you now have four in midfield, you are able to play with wingers in front of your wing backs. This makes it a more attacking formation, in terms of getting the ball up to the lone striker. If you set your wingers and one of the central midfielders to have red arrows so they attack, you can be very strong on the counter attack with this formation.

    4-5-1 is very similar to the previous formation. By packing the midfield you are able to facilitate numerous defensive midfielders while still leaving wingers free to attack when in possession.
    Midfield and Attacking:

    All of these formations balance players throughout the team, focussing on midfield and attacking play. With most of the players in midfield and attack, these formations obviously leave the team vulnerable defensively. 3-4-3 is probably the most well known of these formations. You should be able to retain possession easily in midfield and attack at will, but will be short in defence. You can drop some of the midfielders back if you are struggling too much with this. Get your team to focus on short passes and keeping the ball.

    3-5-2 allows for a slightly sterner defence, as it has five players in midfield. This makes it easier for players to fall back and assist the defenders. You are also able to turn attack into defence quickly. You should again try to win the ball back quickly and then maintain possession. 3-6-1 is very similar to 3-5-2, but is a lot more defensive. You can put the wingers a long way forward or play with two attacking midfielders just up behind the striker.

    You can also try the 4-2-4 formation which, if you think about it, seems ridiculously offensive. With just two players in midfield, you can spread the front four out into lines. It is a good long-ball formation, where you are quite desperate towards the end of the game and are looking to bypass midfield.

    4-3-3 is one of the most popular attacking formations. It allows you to play with three strikers, normally one right up front and then two playing off them. It can easily be adapted into the 4-5-1 formation. This ability to pass through midfield makes it popular with fluid, passing teams. It is not particularly weak defensively, because of the ability to drop players back into midfield. Play with enough pace in the front players and you can counter attack incredibly effectively using these tactics.

    These formations are great for beginners and seasoned pros alike. They are relatively equally balanced between attack and defence, and allow for great flexibility on the fly as the game changes. 4-2-3-1 is a good average formation as it allows for 2 defensive midfielders but then four players focussing further forward.

    4-4-2 is the classic formation and is one that most players revert to if they are having problems with tactics. The positions speak for themselves, but you do not have to lay your players out in lines. Full backs can become wing backs and push on when attacking. You can play with two defensive midfielders and two wingers, or one defensive midfielder, two wingers and one attacking midfielder, in a diamond - generally any shape you can think of can be accommodated by this formation.

    Hard Tackling:

    You are able to order your team to use hard tackling while playing their opponents. This can be a good move if you are getting outplayed - it will intimidate the opposition. The risk is that you can get players sent off.

    Missing Players:

    If you find that a player has become injured and you have no more substitutions, or they have been sent off, a good formation is one where you try not to let the missing player's absence impact the team at all. So reverting to a 4-4-1 formation, just missing off a striker, is a good idea as you will be able to maintain the score. If you are behind and lost a player, then you obviously have more problems.


    Top Eleven Formation - Successful Manager Guide

    1. Teams. How to build one.

    2. Players.
    2.1 Age.
    2.2 Special abilities.
    2.3 Purchasing players.

    3. Training & Improvement.
    3.1 Purchasing roles & special abilities.
    3.2 Skill point assigning: Defense, Attack and P&M.
    3.3 Skill advancement table.

    4. Tactics: How they work.
    4.1 Mentality.
    4.2 Pitch pressure.
    4.3 Flank, mixed and central passing.
    4.4 Some like it short others love them long (passes).
    4.5 Tackling.
    4.6 Marking style
    4.7 Free kick, corner kick and penalty takers.
    4.8 Force counter and offside trap.

    5. Basic formations and their counters.
    5.1 Choosing the right formation & advanced formations.
    5.1.1 Illegal formations.

    Top Eleven Formation - Table of Counter Formations – What to Use?

    1. Strategies & Guide Against Any Opponent Formations.

    Top Eleven Formation – How to build a team.

    If you plan on playing more than 1 competition, and specially if you plan on playing all 3 competitions (League, Champions and Cup). You’ll need a complete roster with 22 players that play as 2 separate but very similar teams of 11. For that you’ll need:

    - 5 to 6 DC’s
    - 2 DMC’s
    - 2DL/DML and 2DR/DMR
    - 2ML/AML and 2MR/AMR
    - 4 to 5 MC’s
    - 2 AMC’s
    - 3 to 4 ST’s
    - 2 GK’s
    It should look something like this:

    Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent-540_293_resize_20130801_fe9cef53594f24ad416c5784148d250d_png.jpg

    This is an example squad, notice that there isn't much Versatility in regards to players. But even with 1 injured player and 1 player suspended, you can still field a very decent team.

    Versatility is highly recommended. Players that have more than one position come in very handy when you have injured or penalised players. I try to always buy players that have at least 2 positions.

    Using a player outside their natural position should be avoided whenever possible, but isn’t the end of the world as long as it’s not too far away from that position vertically or horizontally (but not in diagonal, except for strikers).

    So a DMC will make a decent DC, DML, DMR and MC and a ST will make a decent AMC, AML and AMR. Just don’t do this too often or the player’s form will drop (Yes, in some instances your goalkeeper can have better finishing skill than your main striker, but if you use him as a striker he won’t perform according to his stats and his form will drop like a bomb).

    Top Eleven Formation – Players

    Young players develop quickly if your facilities are upgraded and you play them every day. Careful though, a young player means that he’ll be around the same number of stars for longer, not that he’ll become a great player with time (Unless you fail to qualify for the next tier, has an huge training factor or you spend a big amount of tokens in training). A 2 star player from your youth facilities will –at best- remain with 2 stars for the next season.

    Older players are sometimes preferable, as you’ll receive more stars for the same amount of money. Yes, they won’t develop as quickly, but you’ll get at least a good season from them. It comes down to the amount of money and tokens you are planning to spend. If you have a lot of resources, then buy 4 star young players, if you have limited resources, it’s better to buy a 4 star 28 year old than a 3 star 22 year old.
    The only difference will be how many seasons they’ll stay in your team.

    I don’t recommend buying players older than 27 or 28 as they develop around 8 times slower than young players. That means that next season they won’t be of much use.

    Top Eleven Formation – Special Ability

    If you have to choose between a good player without a special ability and a mediocre player with one, go for the good player. Special abilities are only really useful on players with good quality. A 5 star plain goalkeeper will be many times better than a 4 star One-on-one specialist. Of course, a 5 star one-on-one specialist is amazing (but I’d still prefer a 6 star plain goalkeeper). The above is specially true for CS and FS specialities. A plain player with 30 crossing skill will be much better at corner kicks than a Corner specialist with 20 crossing skill.

    SS-Shadow striker. This players have improved shots from the attacking midfield area. This is desirable for AML,AMR and AMC.

    DR-Dribbling specialist. This players have an easier time avoiding markers and getting to the attacking portion of the field to shoot or short pass. This is desirable on ML,MR, MC, AML, AMR, AMC and ST.

    PM-Playmaker. This players have improved passing skills and are useful both on midfield and attacking midfield.

    OS-One-on-one scorer. This players have improved scoring chances when facing the goalkeeper from a short distance. Highly desirable for ST and somewhat desirable for attacking midfielders.

    FS-Free kick specialist. Probably the most noticeable speciality if used on a good player. A 5 star FS player will rarely miss a free kick. As more and more people use hard tackling, investing on a great FS player is a must. A good free kick taker has high shooting and high crossing skills.

    CS-Corner specialist. Another noticeable speciality if used on a player with good crossing skills.

    OS-One-on-one stopper. The exact opposite of one-on-one scorer.

    PS-Penalty specialist. Generally a waste. Any decent player will score a penalty and there aren’t many penalties to be scored anyway.

    PS-Penalty kick stopper. Generally a waste. It’s hard to stop penalties, even for 5 star GK’s with this specialty. It’s only useful in Champions and Cup matches that are defined in a penalty shoot out.

    DW-Defensive wall. This players have improved chances of stopping mid range shots on goal. Highly desirable for Defenders.

    AD-Aerial defender. This players have improved chances of blocking crosses. Highly desirable for Defenders.

    Top Eleven Formation – Purchasing

    Buying players requires a lot of thought, skill and luck, or a bunch of tokens. Sometimes a combination of both. The higher your level, the steeper the curve. The first few seasons you can buy 4 star players with very few tokens, but as you advance, you’ll find that an 18 year old 4 star player with a speciality can easily be sold for up to 3 times it’s value after 50+ rounds.

    Luckily, the difference between players is also reduced with each season. In season 1 the skill difference between a 2 star player (10 skill) and a 4 star player (20 skill) is 100%. By season 4 the skill difference is only 25%. In higher seasons where it’s very hard to purchase 4 star players, the difference is barely noticeable.

    So if you are struggling to keep a good team because you can’t afford to buy tokens, focus on advancing to the next tiers. It’ll be easier to have a competitive team then. Of course, in those tiers most players will have a lot of skill.

    Top Eleven Formation – General Strategy

    Most advanced and wealthy managers will target the youngest, most expensive best available players. If your target is a 4-5 star 18 year old with a speciality, be ready to compete against people that not only know what they are doing, but also have the resources for it.

    That young player can easily be great for 4 seasons, good for another 2 and decent for his final 2. You can play him beyond that, but he’ll just won’t make the difference he did when you first bought him. On the other hand, you can purchase 2 older players of comparable skill for less resources and hassle. The downside is that they won’t last as long.

    Top Eleven Formation – When To Buy

    Plan ahead and buy at the start of a season. If you buy a 4 star player the last day of a season, he’ll have become a 3 star player next season with a much decreased value. This is very important for young players you want to develop, as you want them to grow along with your team while they are useful at the same time.

    For example: If you buy an expensive 21 year old 4-star player at the end of the season, he’ll become a 22 year old 3-star player within a couple of days and he’ll remain with 3 stars much of the season, then reach 4 stars by the end of the season and repeat the cycle until age catches up with him. This player will be mediocre for as long as you keep him. You would be much better off waiting for next season and buying an older 4 star player.

    The exception to this is to look for bargains at the end of the season. As the season end draws near, I “unload” the players that I feel won’t be able to keep up with the rest of the squad. This commonly means 4 star players, sometimes with a speciality, that I sell for their lowest sale value just to make room for players next season. Die-hard fanatics (like me) do this every season. If your team is below par, many of this players will be above average even after the new season starts.

    Top Eleven Formation - Comparative value between players.

    You’ll often see 2 players with the same age and number of stars with different value.
    This is because of a combination of 2 reasons:

    -Training speed and speciality

    A player with a speciality will be worth somewhat more than a plain player, but the main difference comes from training speed. To spot this difference is vital if you wish to buy a young player.

    A young player with slow training speed won’t develop fast enough to make a difference or keep up with the team. In time he’ll age without ever having grown to fulfil your expectations. On the other hand, a young player with fast training speed will probably outgrow your older players and be with the team a long time. The difference can be huge, with some players gaining skills 2-3 times faster than others of the same age.

    Notice the hefty difference in improvement between this players after a normal stretching session.

    Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent-insert-1.png

    So how can I spot the comparative value? Simple. Just look for 3 players with the same age & skill level. The most expensive one will train faster. (The difference can be up to 3 times the value between each player)

    Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent-insrt-2.png

    For older players this isn't nearly as important, and if anything, it’s important in the opposite way. You don’t want to overpay for a 28 year old with a high training factor since he won’t develop much anyway. You’d be better off with a cheaper player with more stars.

    To clear some confusion. The value of a player depends on his skill, age and training speed, not the other way around.

    Top Eleven Formation - Training & Improvement.

    Training your players is one of the key factors to this game. How fast a player improves depends on 6 factors:

    - Average skill

    Undeveloped players will gain skill points faster than players that are already very good. For instance, a 2 star player will train roughly twice as fast as one with 4 stars (Considering the remaining 5 factor are the same for both).

    - Intensity & Type of training

    There really isn't a reason apart from time to use anything but normal intensity. Hard intensity increases your gains by the same amount it increases the condition loss but with a higher chance of injury.

    Remember, always train after you played all your matches for the day. First add how much condition you’ll recover until your next match the next day and train accordingly. Players recover 5% every 3 hours, so if it’s 10:00AM and my next match is at 9:00AM the next morning I’ll recover 35% condition. That means I should train until my players are around 64% condition, that way they’ll be back to 99% condition by the time I need them to play.

    Note: Be careful not to over-train your players as this will lead to poor performance in your games if they start out already tired

    Top Eleven Formation – Age

    I’ve already covered much of this above. Players from 18 to 21 train very fast. 22 to 25 train fast. 26 to 29 still improve (although slowly) and players older than that improve only a small portion of what a young player does.

    To exemplify, this is the result after 1 normal stretching session (which should yield 10% increase):

    Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent-insert-3.jpg

    As you can see, the age multiplier is around x8, x4, x2 and x1 for the youngest bracket to the oldest. This means that under equal circumstances, the youngest players will gain 8 times as many points as the oldest.

    Note: Please consider that all the other factors affect the result so it’s possible for an old player with a high training factor that played a match to actually train faster than a young player with a low training factor that didn’t get any time on the pitch.

    - Level of your training facilities.

    It’s imperative that your training facilities are improved to the maximum available level. Not only will you get green medkits more often (to restore player’s condition) but your player’s improvement is enhanced by them.

    - Training factor.

    Also discussed above in the players & purchasing post (comparative value).

    - Playing regularly.

    In order to improve at it’s fullest, a player must play every day. Not only do you get valuable skill point after the match, but those who played will get extra benefit from their training that day. Players in the bench also gain some improvement, but much less than those on the starting 11. Lastly, players that don’t play will gain very little improvement. Be warned however, players also need rest from time to time. If you always use the same players their form will drop (this is discussed below).

    This is where having 2 complete teams of 11 players becomes important. It gives you the opportunity to improve everyone without over-exerting your key players. Successful and lucky managers, will be playing 2 games per day (League and CL or Cup). In case you only have 1 game, play a friendly match so everyone gets some pitch action.

    Top Eleven Formation - Purchasing roles & special abilities.

    As I mentioned before, in earlier levels, better quality players are more desirable than players with a specialty. But there’s no reason you can’t have both if your player has a high training factor and he’s young and undeveloped enough to make it worth it. I don’t recommend buying specialities for older players for the reasons I described in 2.2, mainly that most specialities require that your player is very good to make any difference and that it’s very hard to earn skill points with those developed players.

    If your player already has 3-4 stars and is 18 or 19 years old (maybe even 20) and you plan to keep him for a long time, then go ahead and purchase a speciality or a new role. Just keep in mind that it takes 40-50 training points to do so, enough to earn 3 skill levels. So the choice between a normal striker with 40 skill or a one-on-one striker with 37 skill is yours.

    On the other hand, older players will probably take over a season to gain 50 skill points, and by the time your 4 star 26 year old striker manages to become a one-on-one striker he won’t be very good anymore. Even if you use tokens, they are better spent in younger players, as you get a much better return in training/tokens used.

    As you level up, this changes a little every season. Since the difference between skill levels becomes less dramatic (as described in point 2.3), the cost of opportunity to gain a speciality becomes less steep. For instance, a plain DC with 90 skill VS an aerial defender DC with 87 skill.

    Top Eleven Formation - Skill point assigning: Defence, Attack and P&M.

    A common question is whether to spend any skill points in defence in a striker, or attack in a defender, and there is no undeniably right answer to that. It’s a matter of personal choice.

    All skills are of some value to each kind of player. For instance, a striker that you never spend skill points in defense will have very low heading skill, receive a lot of crosses and miss them. He’ll score most of his goals through his shooting and finishing skills. A defender that you never spend any attack skill points will have a very low passing score, so even after a successful tackle, he’ll send a pass that’ll get intercepted.

    For the above reason, I try to keep my players somewhat balanced. My defenders have no more than 6 points in their primary skills (defensive) than in attack, and my strikers have no more than 6 points in their primary skills (attack) than in defensive. My midfielders are perfectly balanced while defensive midfielders are a little tilted towards defensive and attacking midfielders towards attack.

    Physical & mental skills are valuable to everyone so I keep this skills at the same level as the primary skills for a player. If you spend all your striker’s skill points in attack, he’ll not only miss all his headers, but will also be very slow, will lack stamina and will lose the ball frequently when contested.

    A matter of great controversy are the skills needed by a Goalkeeper. Sadly, I don’t have an answer. I like to think that instead of needing the actual skills, a goalkeeper’s success is measured in raw level, something like a 40 skill level GK is better than a 39 skill level GK no matter where the points are spent. Of course, at the moment, I’m just guessing like everybody else.

    Top Eleven Formation - Skill to advancement table.

    1 star = 5 skill levels.
    1 skill level = 3 skill grades.
    1 skill grade = 5 skill points.

    So it’s 75 skill points to earn a star.

    Top Eleven Formation - Tactics: How they work.

    To understand the tactical choices in Top Eleven, you must see them as tiny parts of a machine, formations included. They can’t be taken apart as they are part of a whole. You must understand what you are doing like if it were real players in a real match. After all, you don’t see Pep Guardiola managing Barcelona using 3 strikers and 3 attacking midfielders and ordering them to play defensively while chasing the ball all over the pitch trying man-on-man marking, do you?.

    Top Eleven Formation - Mentality.

    This is the measurement of how much your players will attempt to go forward and attack. Defensive mentality means they’ll play cautiously, and attacking mentality means that even your defenders will move forward to support your attacks. It also affects how much your players will shoot, cross and pass, which could lead to goals (good), losing possession (bad) and even counter-attacks (awful).

    Top Eleven Formation - Pitch pressure.

    This is the measurement of how far into the pitch your players will “chase” the ball.

    Own half means that once the ball is in your opponent’s possession and within your half of the field, available players within their marking reach will attempt to take the ball away from the attacking player.

    Whole pitch means that all your players will attempt to take away the ball from all opponents within their marking reach no matter where they are. This tires the players more, but as you gain control of the ball further into the opposing side of the pitch, it also improves your chances at goal. Of course, it also means that all your players will be further up the pitch, leaving you vulnerable to counter-attacks.

    Top Eleven Formation - Flank, mixed and central passing.

    This is where you choose where most of your passes will be, or where your players will try to move the ball from and to. Among the most important tactics, as this is the “steering wheel” of your formation.

    This can make or break a formation if chosen right or wrong. Obviously, in order to use flank passing, you need a formation with wingers and in order to use centre passing effectively, you need players in the middle.

    Top Eleven Formation - Some like it short others love them long (passes).

    Short passing: High ball possession, a lot of time between plays. Needs a solid midfield that can feed passes to the forwards.

    Long passing: Low ball possession, little time between plays. This passes may fly past opposing midfielders and land successfully near a striker. Ideal for counter-attacking football.

    Top Eleven Formation - Tackling.

    This is the intensity with which your players will try to disposes the opponent.

    -Easy tackling. Use this if your opponent has a high skill free kick specialist or if you don’t want to risk getting penalised, specially if your players have low form.

    -Normal tackling. This is what you’ll use most of the time, a decent tackling rate without having to deal with too many free kicks and cards.

    -Hard tackling. Use this when playing against better teams, specially those without Free kick specialists. Using hard tackling and having defensive wall defenders and a good goalkeeper is a good strategy. Be aware that players with low form will get penalised very often with this kind of tackling.

    Top Eleven Formation - Marking style

    By far, the most difficult tactical aspect to understand, adapt and use. There are too many factors that affect and are affected by marking type to write a simple walk-through: Length of passes, crosses and shots, difference in defender VS striker quality, formations, condition… The best I can do is point the guidelines to help understand when to use each kind of marking.

    Top Eleven Formation - Man-on-man marking:

    This kind of marking means that every player is assigned an opposing player. They’ll chase that player wherever he goes when defending and only leave his side when attacking. Defenders are assigned to block strikers, defensive midfielders and wing-backs are assigned to block attacking midfielders, midfielders are assigned to block the opponent’s and lastly, strikers are assigned to mark the occasional attacking defenders.

    For the above reasons, man-on-man marking is only useful if your formation has enough defenders to stop the strikers, enough defensive midfielders to stop the attacking midfielders and so on.

    There is a definite advantage of man-on-man marking over zonal when it comes to intercepting long passes, through balls and specially blocking long shot attempts. The downside is that since only one player is marking, if the opponent manages to dribble or nutmeg past his marker, he’ll be in the clear unless the defender is much faster and catches up.

    Notes: If the opposing strikers are better than your defenders, don’t ever use man-on-man marking. it also works the other way around, if your defenders are better you should probably use it.

    One of the best ways to lower your opponent’s possession is to use man-on-man marking, as his players will be forced to try to dribble, nutmeg, shoot, cross or pass earlier instead of holding the ball around the zone.

    Top Eleven Formation - Zonal marking

    A much more modern approach to marking. Players are entrusted with an specific part of the field (zone) and then marks any attacker that enters his zone. This also means than more than 1 player will mark an attacker that enter their zone. In Top Eleven, this zone is defined as 1 “square” away from the player in every direction.

    Zonal marking is like “minesweeper”, in the picture below you can see a 4-4-2 formation (left) and how many players are guarding a square zone (right).

    Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent-insert-4.jpg

    Zonal marking allows a greater number of formations; not having to limit your defense to fit your opponent’s exact attack. The downside of zonal marking is that it leaves open spaces that can be exploited by long shots and that it allows your opponent to take his time when in possession of the ball, which isn’t a good idea if you are behind in the score.

    Top Eleven Formation - Free kick, corner kick and penalty takers.

    Free kicks come in 2 kinds: Shots on goal and crosses. For those reasons, your free kick takers should have high shooting and crossing skills.

    Corner kicks: They are crosses from either side of the opponent’s goal. Your corner kick takers should be right footed for right corner kicks and left footed for left corner kicks and in both cases have high crossing skill. Using the correct footed player is very important, as a plain right footed player will be better crossing a right corner kick than a left footed corner specialist (unless he also has a much higher crossing skill).

    Penalties: Hard to stop even for the best goalkeepers. Your designated penalty kick taker should have high shooting skill.

    Top Eleven Formation - Force counter and offside trap.

    -Force counter: With this tactic you allow the opposing players to come forth into your half of the pitch before you attempt to deposes them and send a long pass or through ball in a fast counter-attack that catches the defenders off-guard. If successful, the defenders will be too far up to catch the counter attacker, if unsuccessful, you let the opponent run uncontested into your half.

    Since you are letting the opponent run free until they are in an attacking position, using force counter leads to an obvious and voluntary loss of possession.

    Force counter can only work while pressing your own half. Defensive mentality is highly recommended as you don’t want to let the opponent into your half and have all your players on his own at the same time.

    -Offside trap: This style of play means that your defenders will try to stay ahead of the opponent’s attackers so they can’t receive passes of any kind. If successful, the opponent won’t be able to get close enough to the goal, if unsuccessful, the attacker will be able to out-run the defender. For that reason, offside trap requires very fast defenders.

    Offside trap can only work while pressing the whole pitch, as you need your defenders to try and stay as far up as they can. This also means that offside trap is much better suited for attacking mentality.

    Top Eleven Formation - Choosing the right formation & advanced formations.

    Undoubtedly the most important part of winning a match, a carefully chosen and deployed formation is what separates the wheat from the chaff. While people spending tokens will have a much easier time winning, people who understand how formations work have a very good chance of competing.

    Recently I was asked if I had (bought or found) a guide with all the formations and tactics. The answer was a categorical NO. As some experienced managers (myself included) have pointed out, there aren’t magical formations that allow you to win every time. In fact, it’s actually the opposite, the most important skill in Top 11 is the ability to adapt to different situations. Relying on ANY given formation only leads to disaster. So instead of trying to post a guide saying what formation to use VS another, I’ll post tips that aim to teach how to choose your formation for each game. As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime”.

    While much better than the average player, I'm far from unbeatable, and with a little practice anyone can become better than me. It’s all a matter of learning to use what I call “Counter and deploy”. This concept, in it’s purest form, means that you counter the opponent’s attack and then deploy an attack that exploits his weak spots.

    To understand what counter & deploy means, first we need to divide formations into 2 categories:

    - Generalist

    - Specific attack

    Generalist formations: The Jacks of all trades but masters of none. They allow you to use them more often against a varied number of formations. The downside is that while they don’t have major weaknesses, they don’t target specific parts of the opponent’s defence. When used in conjunction with zonal marking they become auto-pilot formations, ideal for those times when you won’t be able to play for a few days or when you sincerely don’t have the slightest idea how to beat an opponent.

    4-4-2 , 4-4-1-1, 4-1-4-1, 4-1-3-2 wide, 4-1-3-2 narrow, 4-2-3-1, 5-3-2 motivated flat, 5-4-1 flat and 3-2-3-2 are some examples (but there are plenty more, specially if using total football philosophy).

    As you may notice, they are somewhat tilted towards defence, they are solid both in their flanks and in the middle, and any combination of attackers will have a relatively hard time scoring unless your opponent focuses on an all-attack formation, in which case he’ll leave his formation open to a small but somewhat effective attack from your team.

    On the other hand, you won’t target an specific weakness and this kind of formation’s attack is sub-par. You are also a little exposed to specific attacks. It’s important to mention that in the long run, a well-managed team with specific attack formations will beat generalist formations most of the time.

    So, how do I set a Generalist formation?

    While it’s possible to use man-on-man marking with Generalist formations (GF), most of the time you’ll be using zonal marking. The reason is simple: in order for a GF to work, your players need to be deployed in such a way that there are the least amount of “uncovered” squares in your half of the pitch. Zonal marking allows your players to move 1 space around them to block an opposing player (A more detailed explanation about marking is explained in above in 4.6).

    Use no less than 7 players between midfield and your half. Your midfield should be strong, (with and a special emphasis on flank defence) as you want to have as much possession as possible . Most of the time this means deploying a ML and MR, but an exception can be made if you are using DML/DMR such as in 3-2-3-2. Short passing is highly recommended, also to increase possession.

    Your passing focus will generally be mixed, so attacking winger (AML/AMR) use is discouraged.

    Pressing the whole pitch is the antithesis of general formations, as I said previously, this are cautious formations that grind and wear out your opponent and shouldn't be used for offensive tactics or mentality. I don’t recommend using force counter, as this will lead to a loss of ball possession, which I can’t strain to say how vital this is for a GF to work.

    Specific attack formations.

    Somewhat easier to understand than General attack formations, this kind thrives in a focused defence and attack. Instead of using 7-9 players to fend-off any possible attack, it uses the least amount of defenders and marked midfielders and uses the remaining players in the attack.

    This is where “counter & deploy” comes into play.

    Let’s start off by saying that in order to consider an opposing player “covered” he needs to be marked by at least 2 players. Sometimes this isn't possible, but your goal is to have the number opposing players that aren’t double+ marked to a minimum.

    Here’s an example using zonal marking.

    Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent-insert-5.jpg

    want to counter 4-5-1 V (Left image). The first thing to consider is the number of strikers (RED). Since he’s only using 1, you can use the minimum of 3 defenders (RED on the right image).

    -Next come attack midfielders. He’s using AML and AMR (ORANGE) so you know his attack will come from the flanks so you need to place a DL and DR to block them. The DL and DR will also provide coverage to the lone ST if needed.

    - So far you've double marked the ST and single marked the AML/AMR, you need to double mark them. Since you are using zonal marking, you can place 2 DMC’s (ORANGE on the right image) that will move left or right if needed.

    - The MC’s follow (Yellow). You already have 2 DMC’s providing single cover, so you need to use 2 MC’s of your own to double mark. And you are done! all the attackers and midfielders are double marked.

    - Now comes the fun part, deploy your own attack: You only have 3 players left for attack and since 4-5-1 V doesn't’t have wing blockers or mid wingers the best thing to do is deploying attacking wingers (CYAN on the right image). This also means that you should use flank passing.

    - Last, deploy your lone ST. If you notice, he’s only marked by 2 of the 4 defenders, because your opponent’s defence will split by double marking your AML/AMR -or- your ST, but not both.

    Now an example using man-to-man marking.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The opponent is using “floating pyramid” formation and your defenders are fast and good markers so you decide to use man-on-man marking.

    The process is very similar to that of zonal marking, but actually easier to deploy. All you have to do is “mirror” your opponent’s attackers and midfielders and then deploy your opwn attackers in a way they are the least covered possible.

    - So you are against a ST (RED), use 3 defenders (RED). 2 AMC’s(ORANGE), use 2 DMC’s (ORANGE), 2 wingers and a MC (YELLOW) use 2 wingers and a MC (YELLOW). Spread your defenders into DL,DC,DR so they can provide extra coverage against the opposing wingers.

    - You only have 2 players left so let’s exploit the fact that the opponent isn’t using a DMC (CYAN) and use an AMC (CYAN). This means that your attack should come from the middle, or possibly mixed if you motivate your wingers.

    - Lastly, deploy your ST, which will only be marked by 2 of the 4 defenders.

    Top Eleven Formation - Illegal formations.

    While there are many possible formations in Top 11, not all of them are valid. This is what it’s commonly refereed as “illegal formations”. The exact rules and consequences aren't publicly known, but it’s generally accepted that if your formation is illegal, you’ll be penalised with a heavy loss of ball possession. And while it’s possible to win with one of said formations, it’s not a common occurrence.

    In order for a formation to be legal it must have:

    -At least 3 defenders.
    -At least 1 striker.
    -At least a player in each flank.
    -A goalkeeper.

    Here’s 3 examples of common illegal formations:

    Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent-insert-7.jpg

    Special thanks to Kasper Pedersen
    Last edited by Marc Symons; 12-11-2013 at 01:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Like this very good read thanks

  3. #3
    Champion Saransh Vatsa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Milky Way
    Well written. I appreciate all the hard work u put up writting all this. Did not read full, but whatever I read, it was right IMO.

    P.S U can mention in the defensive formation part that the 5 at back without any DMC or any AMC in ur team, like 5-3N-2, can be broken up if ur opponent uses Counter Attacks. So ones using it should take care of that. And ya, I think u mentioned this, force counter attack when using 5 at back. I will read the rest later and if any point to be added, I will point it out.

    Again well written.....

    Any MOD, please stick this. It is very important thread.
    Marc Symons likes this.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    GREAT !!!

    I'd say.., "clear & understood, SIR!!!".
    Marc Symons likes this.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Bravo.... carry on with your good work.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Not sure if i quite get the "counter and deploy" part using zonal marking

    can you do another formation sample?

    lets say an opponent using 4-1-2-3

    st st st
    mc mc
    dl dc dc dr


  7. #7
    Rookie Rafał Intruz Zasadziński's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Gdańsk, Poland
    if i understand correctly u should deploy something like this : u need 8 players to cover his 3 STs and MCs - so 2 can go to attack

    DL DC DC DR (4 def + dmc to mark 3 TSs)
    ML MC MR (3 MC to double mark both MC - better to use ML and MR cause he doesnt def wings that strong)
    AMC (i think its the best thing to do .. he cant cover both ST and AMC at the same time if u motivate ML and MR )
    ST (so he will be covered only by 2 out of 4 DCs enamy has)

    is this correct thinking ppl ?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Quote Originally Posted by Rafał Intruz Zasadziński View Post
    if i understand correctly u should deploy something like this : u need 8 players to cover his 3 STs and MCs - so 2 can go to attack

    DL DC DC DR (4 def + dmc to mark 3 TSs)
    ML MC MR (3 MC to double mark both MC - better to use ML and MR cause he doesnt def wings that strong)
    AMC (i think its the best thing to do .. he cant cover both ST and AMC at the same time if u motivate ML and MR )
    ST (so he will be covered only by 2 out of 4 DCs enamy has)

    is this correct thinking ppl ?
    DL DC DC DR (4 def + dmc to mark 3 TSs)
    You only need DL DC DC DR to be able to double mark the 3 ST if you look at the picture in the guide right?
    But DL DC DC DR + DMC would triple mark them.

    So I guess a defense counter could also look like this
    MC MC MC


    ML MC MR

    Is this right?

  9. #9
    Newbie محمد البركاتي's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Hi every body
    I ask what against this
    Top Eleven Manager Guide, Formations and Tactics Guide To Counter Any Opponent-imageuploadedbytapatalk1396903041.615390.jpg

    تم الإرسال بواسطة iPhone بإستخدام Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Newbie ulmis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Google Top Eleven Counter Formations

    Lähetetty minun GT-P5110 laitteesta Tapatalkilla

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