What is tiki-taka? Characterized by short passing, movement and working the ball through various channels, the tiki-taka style also places reliance on positional discipline and the understanding between the players. All helping to retain possession effectively and purposefully. The style involves roaming movement and positional interchange, moving the ball in intricate patterns, and sharp, one or two-touch passing. Because the aim is to always be in possession, there isn't usually much defending needing to be done so the style can be equally effective defensively as much offensively. In possession, you want to stretch the opponents by making the pitch as wide as possible and when the ball is lost, the team narrows their shape in order to make the pitch seem very small for the opponents play. Usually coupled with slightly intensive press, making it more difficult for the opponents but also to put the team back in possession. Pep Guardiola, who claims his Barca side never used tiki-taka, has been associated with this style of play since the beginning of his managerial career. He loved to create overloads on one side of the pitch to then exploit the weakened side. And that theory is one I will attempt to use for my FM21 tiki-taka tactic.
From build-up, the aim is to have a numerical advantage in front of the first line of the opposition press. By having the defensive midfielder drop deep within the backline, we create a back 3 and in most cases, this will create a 3v2 situation.
If the opponents choose to press with 3, due to the full-backs staying relatively deep during the first stages of build-up and the use of a sweeper-keeper (extra player), the numerical advantage is always on, helping us ease out of our first build-stage.
Therefore, the keeper being good with his feet is a must. On the ball, he must be willing to dribble out with it inviting pressure to allow a player to find space now vacated by the defensive player. That space was not free before the keeper invited the press and one of the central midfielders can now look for space between the first and second line of pressure to receive the ball. Once the first line of the opposition's pressure is broken, the full-backs will then advance down the flanks with both wide wingers then inverting occupying the half-space. Whilst the full-backs have the job to maintain the width during the 90mins.
As mentioned in the image, to allow us to progress with the ball with fluidity, we'll place an emphasis on creating triangles throughout our structure. Within my tiki-taka system, the idea of creating wide overloads means that these triangles on the side of the overload are very important.
We look to overload one side of the pitch to progress play. By encouraging the defending team to naturally shift over to defend that side of the pitch, we leave a player on the opposite side of the pitch, unmarked, for a quick switch of play.
On the flanks, there's also an emphasis on rotations between the inverted winger, central midfielder and full-backs.
In the final 3rd, we aim to create a 2-1-2-5 shape. (2 CB's, 1 DM, 2 CM's, 5 ATT's). To achieve this, the wingers must invert into central/half-spaces to allow the full-backs to make overlapping runs and join the line of attackers.
The attackers will give us various options when in the final 3rd. The striker will look to drop deep into the line of midfield at times when progressing to the final third. If the striker does drop deep, this allows for one of the inverted wingers to then move into the space vacated by the striker.
With players roaming, rotating and operating between lines is vital for us to have our tiki-taka feel. Players in close proximity allows us to keep play intricate and enables us to keep a high tempo playing one or two-touch passing.
The striker dropping deep also plays an important role in allowing us to switch play when overloading to isolate. He must be disciplined with his positioning to allow us to use him as a constant option for switching the play.
Teams are likely are to defend in a deep block against a tiki-taka style, assuming the team using the style are technically superior. So the full-backs are also key in breaking down teams. Due to the attackers being narrow, that will force the opponents to defend narrow so the full-backs will need to understand when to attack any spaces out wide left by the opposition's defence. In this system, they'll look to run in behind from deep and get a cross or cut back put into the box.
Out of possession, we've set our pressing trap/trigger out wide. We look to remain very narrow and central to give up space out wide. Once the opponents wing-backs receive the ball, we'll begin with our intense pressing to try and win the ball back. The purpose for trapping opponents out wide is so they can not escape the pressure easily. For example, a right wing-back can not turn out wide to his right because of the touchline, effectively acting as an extra defender for us. If the right-wing back looks inside, the pass has to be precise or risk losing the ball in a costly area.
4-3-3 ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES BY ERIC LAURIE
FOOTBALL MANAGER TACTIC