April 27th and I stumble across an amazing article based on Marcelino’s work at Villarreal. It simply grabbed me by the horns and I was hooked. I was itching to get home and dive straight into a save to see if I could emulate his work. Before we dive into the save I want to spend a bit of time talking about the fantastic piece of analysis by The Tactics Room. If you wish to check them out (and I suggest you do) you can find them on Twitter @ or thetacticsroom.com. The article is a great read and also suggest you read it before you continue with this post. https://t.co/Mw6anZnuHR
The article studies Marcelino’s 4-4-2 approach. It is a highly structured machine with a rock solid defence and patient attacking style which is a balance to be admired. We can all see the rise of Villarreal over the last few years since their promotion back to the top flight. Finishing in 6th place in the last 2 seasons and currently sitting in 4th place hoping for a champions League spot. Everyone involved with the El Submarino Amarillo should be very proud of their successful rise under Marcelino.
So here I am taking over at Villarreal hoping to emulate the success that Marcelino has achieved in real life this season. I wanted to keep the squad the same as much as I could and create a tactical system that mirrors Marcelino’s side. Now when I say keep the same side, I was filled with the intentions that I would do just that. But when Chelsea wave the cheque book in front of you and basically say “how much do you want?” Then sometimes you just can’t say no. I brought in a massive £38m on selling 2 players to the blues, £16m for Manu Trigueros and £22m for Mateo Musacchio. Now I could have spent the same amount of money bringing in some massive stars, but like I said earlier I wanted to keep the original squad. I did replace those 2 players with like for like replacements. Håvard Nordtveit for £1.8m to add a bit of steel in the midfield and Emanuel Mammana for £6.5m. We all know that Mammana turns into a quality CB but during the first season he is nowhere near his full potential.
So the team shape is pretty obvious, an attempt to mimic Marcelino’s 442. Pretty simple with a flat back 4, 2 standard CB’s and both FB’s on support. These would change to defend duty if facing a sides who create their most goals from out wide. The midfield 4 would sit nice and narrow, with the wide man cutting inside. The front 2 are made up of a defensive forward, he added as an extra midfielder without the ball but provided great link up play between the midfield and striker. The other striker is the advanced forward, his role is to play on the last line of the defence, running onto though balls, but also having a hand in the link up play itself. We played on a Structured shape with a standard mentality, this would change to counter depending on the opponents, but generally was on standard. I wont bore you with the team & individual team instructions but if anyone would like to try the tactic, I am happy to upload it to steam for anyone to try. Just drop me a DM and I can upload it.
So how did we get on
So this is how the table stands for Villarreal at present they are pretty much set on achieving Champions League football and are leading Liverpool 1-0 ahead of the Europa semi final second leg. An all round great season for the yellow submarine, but did I manage to beat this. We finished in 7th place which sounds worse on the surface of things, but Valencia preformed much better with Gary Neville in this save then what he did in real life.
Deportivo & Granada clearly overachieved. We actually wasn’t that far off how Villarreal are in real life. 14 wins 15 draws and 9 defeats. 7 points less off, scored more goals, but conceded 17 more. On another day we could have turned some of the excessive draws into wins then the season may have looked a little different.
An incredible pre season, winning all our fixtures and without conceding. The League itself started pretty poorly but the second half of the season is really when the results start going our way.
The silver lining to this season was the Europa League. We lifted the trophy claiming a Champions League spot. So in a round about way, we have matched the real Villarreal but in a bit of a scroungy way. I was most pleased with the act that we beat Real Madrid and Atletico twice and beating Barcelona at home. Quite a few of the draws came from conceding goals in the last 10 minutes. This is where I decided to change mentality to counter during the last 70 minutes if we were ahead. This helped some of the time but didn’t eradicate the draws. We also made it to the semi finals of the Copa Del Rey beaten by Real Madrid.
A quick review over some of our statistics. Our average possession was the 3rd highest in the league with 53.26%. Only Real Madrid and Barcelona were above us, as you would expect. Real averaged 54.71%. This was a shock to me as we were not playing possession based football. Our discipline was pretty good ranking 16th in the league with almost the lowest amount of fouls, 355, receiving 49 yellow and 1 red. From the 50 goals we scored we achieved 38 of them from direct play, 0 from free kicks or penalties, 4 from corners and 8 from indirect free kicks. We achieved 10 clean sheets and conceded from 4 corners and 3 indirect free kicks, the 41 was from open play. We completed a total of 16993 passes ranking the most in the division and a 80% success rate. Our biggest problem was scoring goals, we made the chances but could not finish teams off, this came back to haunts us many of times. from 189 shots we converted 36% of them, shocking, 17th in the division, but I did have Roberto Soldado, and spurs fans all know what he is like. Joking aside he actually finished 8th in the division with 56% of his shots on target. what on earth does that say for the rest of my side. Bakambu scored 14 league goals and 5 Man of the Match awards in 27 games with an average of 170.86 minutes per goal, not bad. He had 118 shot and only managed 48 on target and 70 off target, that is 41% and he only scored 15 of those 48, that is 32% conversion rate from the 41% target rate, ouch.
I think its fair to say that with a few more tweaks and maybe if I kept Trigueros and Musacchio perhaps things may have been better. But overall I am happy with the outcome. My first real attempt of studying a style of play and trying to emulate it with the same side in FM.
Thank you all for reading, please share, like and subscribe. I will be venturing back to Romania for the next blog. Once again if anyone would like to try this tactic out and give the challenge ago I am happy to share it with you.
Don’t forget to catch me on social media
Tifo Group: +limitedfullback