Welcome back to my RCD Espanyol blog save following on from our success of winning the League title last season. If you haven’t caught up with that one yet then Click HERE.
Firstly I’d like to apologize for the delay in this post coming out, I’ve been incredibly busy with work and college assignments, so this update is well overdue.
So into the campaign and we start with our summer transfer dealings. Now obviously due to our league and cup successes, the sharks were hovering around our players, something that we have become accustomed to in recent years.
My dynamic duo of Dolberg and Ziyech who have built such formidable partnership has unfortunately been broken apart. Manchester City were the vultures and bids started in and around the £20 mil mark, which obviously was way bellow what I wanted for him. I negotiated for his minimum fee release and they came back meeting it. £44 mil is something I couldn’t really grumble with. Very sad to see him go, but puts our finances even further into the green.
Bayern were sniffing around our versatile defender Jonny and came in straight away and match his release clause. £33.5 mil for a defender we signed for £10 mil, that’s a massive £23.5 mil profit. Include that with the £28 mil profit from the Ziyech sale and bingo, a £50+ mil profit.
7 players arrived at the club in order to bolster the squad and strengthen in all areas.
A 21 year old who looks pretty decent in all areas. Coming in on a free transfer, he has excellent potential and is versatile, being able to play across the whole AM line and even play a little deeper.
German Staricco and Guillermo are both young decent defenders who have both been loaned out to gain some first team experience. I have a keen eye on both of these guys to be decent squad players next season. Vargas comes in to as back up to Pau Lopez in goal. He also is young and has decent potential.
Jaoquin Correa and Gerard Deulofeu were added for their experience and for their ability out wide. “But why do you need wide players when you play a narrow system?” We will touch on our narrow system later on.
The last 2 years we have been playing with our strikerless 4-1-3-2 system, something which I highlighted as something we were to transition into from the ‘Four horsemen’. So after our success winning the league title last year, I decided I wanted to test myself and my players by implementing a new system. So I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and really test my bottle. What better way to do that then with a back 3.
I love the pairing of a SS with a AP(s) along with a DLP(s) and a MC(s) with a DM(d) behind. So what can I do with these 5 roles and a back 3. Well this is what I came up with.
A Strikerless 3-5-2 with Defensive wingers. I opted for DW’s because I wanted to implement some width but also wanted some protection on the flanks. “So why didn’t you opt for Wing Backs?” Well like I said earlier, I wanted to test my tactical skills in this game, WB’s are an obvious choice in a 3-5-2 so let’s see if this can work. It also gives me the opportunity to keep the CM pairing that I mentioned earlier.
In terms of our instructions and style, that has changed, more so than the last transitional shift, but nothing too drastic. We still maintain the core priciples of our style, direct passing into space, playing out from the back and working the ball into the box. The adjustments that I have made a are a few tweaks in our original set up. Our defensive line has been moved back to a normal line from slightly higher, the DM sits in the space nicely and with the absence of fullbacks I wanted some more security sitting slightly deeper.
We are still playing a very fluid style but I want the players to be more disciplined with their positional play, again due to the huge change in the defence, I want the players to really be conscious of where they are at all times. Our mentality though has shifted back a couple of notches, going from attacking to standard.
The last thing I changed, and probably the most important, going from narrow to balanced. I don’t want to give the opposition and additional room out wide due to our missing fullbacks, so I want the outside CD’s to drift out either side, not so far that we leave massive gaps, but enough to deal with wingers looking to punish us.
I know that the potential flaws with a back 3 is the lack of support in the wide areas. If we come up against a 442 or a 433 etc, the chances are is we will be doubled up out wide. This is something that I am willing to concede trying to build this system. with our CD’s pushing out wider and the DW’s coming back to help, we should be ok to cope with supportive fullbacks causing us problems.
This video is an example of some of the passing, and movement in our new system. It shows our positional layout and how we can overload team in areas. I have also broken each segment down into screenshots for a different view.
You can see in the overhead shot that our width is pretty good and the wide CB’s have their areas covered. You can also see the DM covering the space between but also close enough to act as an option in the attacking move. Our midfield 4 are all supporting the move with our AM’s . Now watch the move as we continue, our AM’s are played in from wide and they link up together and pull away the CB’s from their positions. They also cause the attention from the midfielder tacking back. This all together leaves a perfect hole for Ascaibar to burst into and finish the move. The fullback doesn’t come over because he is occupied by our DW, giving Ascaibar the perfect opportunity to score. Feel free to go back and watch the clip again to see it in its full glory.
So how have we got on?
We lost the Supercopa, after rallying at a 3-3 draw away from home we fell apart on home soil. The less said about that the better, in all honesty, if that result didn’t happen then I would never have made some of those tactical decisions I mentioned earlier. Since then though our league form has been excellent, however we have drawn too many games, especially 0-0’s, 4 of them to be precise. Although I shouldn’t grumble too much, as we are sitting 3rd and have only lost 1 league game. Not bad going for a rookie in a back 3 system.
Our CL efforts have also been pretty good, we lost our opening game but it was one of those that could have gone either way. The other loss, well, take a look at the gaff that lost us the points.
We won our other 4 fixtures meaning we qualify from the group stages for the third consecutive season. Next up is AC Milan in the last 16.
So that is where we will leave things for now. Just before you go take a look at my new kits I put together for us.
I am making kits and banners for the FM community and if you would like anything created for you FM save or content then head over to my Patreon site. FM_grasshopper, FM_Adventure, KeyseRensie and @lpqr plus many others have already got kits made up, if you want to have the next set, head over to my Patreon or DM me on Twitter or Slack.
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