1-2-1-4-2 : Libero-Strikerless Shape at Glance


Matthias Sammer was one of the most prolific libero of all time. What he did for Germany and Dortmund in mid 90’s was something nothing more than classy. Sammer could always find the right timing to rush forward, supported the attack, and made huge impact on it. He was just incredible.

Matthias Sammer along with Franz Beckenbauer are the inspiration for this save. A save which I play with a libero. Since I never created any tactic with libero, I think this is the time to try it. This is the article of how I implement the 3 at back (with Libero) in a strikerless shape. The reason is so simple. A 3 at back, marauding libero, in a strikerless shape is the sexiest thing I can imagine so far πŸ™‚

The Basic Shape

ryan-tank-libero-2-early-shapesTwo (early) basic shapes

With this shapes, my defensive line was too much exposed. When the libero rushed forward, no player interchanged with him covering the vacant space. From bad to worse, on many occasions, my offside trap was executed badly. I have to tweak it. The aims are libero has to become one of team strength when on attacking phase and being the supervisor and a great defender as well.

ryan-tank-1-2-3-1-2-liberoOne of my tweak. In fact, this shape is actually tweaked from basic shape of 1-2-2WB-2CM-3AMC, which I tweaked into 1-2-2WB-1DM-2WB-2CM-3AMC. But, again, this has not been the appropriate shape for my team. I still have to make something to deal with that.

Before finally find the last set-up for my tactic, I reviewed my idea of play. How I want my team to play. Which formation may be appropriate and able to generate my idea and how to realize it. Here are the four crucial things :
(1) I have to make sure the libero gives enough support for attacking transition, so I have to pick a Role that interchange with my libero and covers vacant space as well. (2) Because I have only one layer on the flanks, I have to ensure my wide men can keep the balance of defensive and attacking. (3) One Role on central midfielder slot with high β€œRun From Deep” so my team have enough players in the penalty area. (4) One role on central midfielder slot with good defensive awareness.

ryan-tank-libero-attacking-transitionAttacking transition when the defensive Winger (Left) with ball

ryan-tank-libero-defensive-shapeDefensive shape when team under attack from the right side

Based on how I want my players to play our football, I then choose the basic set-up (final basic shape). It seems to be more balance and promising, compared to a lot of previous shapes I had tried. You can see it below.

ryan-tank-libero-last-set-upTwo last tweaks. The basic differences are the role on defensive pocket and the defensive role
on central midfielder slot

The Tactic

I play with Rigid Fluidity, because :
(1) I want each roles to more focus to the specific element of play (defensive, attacking transition, attacking, and defensive transition)
(2) In this tactic, I use 3 specialist roles (libero, half back and trequartista), plus one Role that can be considered as the cross-over, second striker.
(3) I want my players to be more discipline. With Rigid Fluidity, the natural Creative Freedom supposed to be lower than the more fluid ones.

Attacking Mentality :
(1) Bayern is a High-Level Reputation Team. I have to make use of it by controlling the game.
(2) When playing with Counter, Standard, and Control, what I saw on pitch was far from how I want my team to play. The transition speed and playing aggressiveness seems to be too low. With Attacking Mentality and some adjustments on Player Instruction and Team Instruction, I find it more satisfying.

The Tactic in Action

basic-shape-central-defender-covers-the-wide-areaDefensive Winger presses and the Central Defender covers him. On the other hand, you can see the defensive indication movement of Half Back (light blue arrow).

basic-shape-central-defender-covers-the-wide-left-areaAgain, the four (and half) men defensive shape. Half Back (HB) is a perfect shield for the defensive line. As the Central Left Defender moves wide to cover the Left Defensive Winger, the HB ready to cover his place. The Libero, another Central Defender, and the Right Defensive Winger, form a good shape of 4 men behind.

libero-half-back-intercharge-4-men-defense-situationAnother defensive positioning. The Libero presses and the Half Back covers his place.
Two layers of defense in front of the goalie.

libero-half-back-intercharge-4-men-defense-situation-1The Libero moves forward to support the attack. The Half Back (HB) drops deep to form defensive partnership with the two central Defenders.

ryan-tank-libero-football-manager-right-attackingAttacking Movement. The blue arrows show the movement directions. Second Striker, Trequartista, and Defensive Winger are the most aggressive roles to get into the penalty area. The Box to Box (BBM), and Ball Winner (BWM) keep their moves moderately and cover the outside area.

ryan-tank-football-manager-libero-defensive-winger-2On this picture, you can see the Defensive Winger and Deep Lying Playmaker (defensive-pocket) attacking awareness. They move forward as the team on attack.

The Libero

ryan-tank-football-manager-libero-goal-1The Half Back (HB) receives the pass from Central Midfielder. He then passes (light blue arrow) the ball to the left flank, where the Left Defensive Winger has been waiting. Take notice on the movement indications (dark blue arrows) of Defensive Winger and Libero.

ryan-tank-football-manager-libero-goal-2Libero moves forward gradually, untill he gets into the penalty area and heads the float cross released by the Defensive Winger

So guys, that’s the overview of my newest tactic. Hopefully with the pictures I have shown above, you get the big picture of this tactic performance. For more detail of it, here are some of my matches against the big boys. You can see how my players play and how I execute the tactic based on match condition.

Against Dortmund

Against Chelsea

Against Barcelona



11 thoughts on “1-2-1-4-2 : Libero-Strikerless Shape at Glance

  1. Pingback: Real Life Tactic Interpretation into Football Manager 2014 | footballmanager ryantank

  2. Hi, i’m fascinating with the work you have done here, haven’t seen a tactic like this before. Can you please post player instructions as well,


  3. Pingback: 1-2-1-4-2 : Libero-No Striker Shape at Glance | footballmanager ryantank

  4. Hi, just curious, is there any special instruction to make libero run forward? I’m using libero with attack duty in my tactic with 14.3.1 patch. I expect him to go forward as much as possible, but it just never works. Initially, he ran forward, but after reach the middle of the field, then he just stop there, acts more like a central defender instead of stepping into midfield. So, I’m so surprised when I see the screenshot above, which show Javi martinez penetrate the box and scored. Are there any special PPM, for example, Get forward whenever possible, or get into opp. area maybe? But, as far as I know Javi didn’t have such PPMs (unless you train him)

  5. Pingback: Persiba Balikpapan 2015-2016 : When the 4-4-2 Perfectly Executed | kynTnaRa

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