Verticalità 17 A Tactical Philosophy Inspired By Jorge Sampaoli #FM17


I am releasing this post due to the interest from the FM Community since I tweeted it last week. I am not in any way claiming that this is a super tactic that you can just plug and play and win a lorry load of titles. It’s the framework of a tactic that works for me at SD Eibar based on the philosophy of Jorge Sampaoli a disciple of Marcelo Bielsa who I hold in high regard. In FM16 I created a tactic based on Bielsa’s philosophy which I named Verticalità after Bielsa’s vision of Verticality. So this year’s version is simply named Verticalità 17. This year’s version follows many of the same principles of last year’s with a few changes along the way. A lot of people feel that you can’t translate Juego De Posicion  (Positional Play) in to FM. I disagree with this thought process. Every one of us has who plays FM and creates a tactic have our own mechanisms and instil our own ideas on how we want our system to play. The stupidly named football hipsters (sorry I think the term stinks so I apologise to any football hipsters) will correctly tell you that juego de posicion is a concept that instructs players to play within certain zones determined by the position of the ball, made famous by Josep Guardiola. We all know about how managers like Guardiola, Tuchel,Schimidt,Sampaoli, Bielsa and Co have made the system work but how do we translate that in to the game? I have had many a conversation with Saadiq Bey @Rovazzz about juego de posicion and the conclusion we come to is that if you think about any game of football what ever the systems being played, you use some sort of positional play just by setting your team up. So back to my interpretation of juego de posicion Sampaoli style. I want to control the game with or without the ball through agressive pressing to gain possession in the opponents half whilst blocking passing lanes. I want to build from the back using a high defensive line, I want my wing backs to overlap to create width whilst my midfield push on to create space for my forwards. I want to press the life out of the opposition whilst attacking on the front foot.

I have had a few people test the tactic and received some excellent feedback from all but this message received tonight gives me great satisfaction:


That message alone makes it all worthwhile, so below you can find the details to create the tactic in its rawest form so you can mould it to your club and players until your heart is content. This is the easy to follow framework to create my Jorge Sampaoli Verticalità 17.

The Framework 5-3-1-1 


Team Instructions


Opposition Instructions

Simple closing down all positions.


Training Once Tactic Is Fluid

I personally like to switch my training around on a 2 week rotation giving all categories good coverage. I keep match tactics to Defensive Positioning all season.


Individual Training

I set individual training to the specific player position.

Average Positions Without Ball


Average Positions With Ball


Please remember that this tactic is not intended to be a super tactic and requires you to watch your games and analyse what’s happening on the pitch during the game.

Thanks for reading and feel free to give me feedback from your experience if you use the tactic.


Look out for my next update in the next few days has SD Eibar enter season 2 with our new system.


8 thoughts on “Verticalità 17 A Tactical Philosophy Inspired By Jorge Sampaoli #FM17

  1. Great post – although my initial thought would be that your formation does not match your overall philosophy.

    In order to press effectively, you need to be able to press all over the pitch however your formation has gaping holes where the opposition wingbacks will be, thus offering an pressure-release valve for the opposition.

    Any time you’re pressing hard and the opposition are in a tight spot, they find the wingbacks in space who can advance freely.

    When your players react and press, you lose your shape and create gaps elsewhere. For example, your striker goes, leaving the centre back open or your midfielder goes leaving an opposition midfielder open.

    Hope this doesn’t come across too critical, intended to open a constructive debate.

    My main point is that a pressing shape needs a 2v2 situation on the flank, with an AMR/L or MR/L pressing the fullbacks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback interesting analysis do you not think that my wing backs can press the opposition full backs/wing backs adequately enough with the high defensive line we are using ? Have you created a pressing system yourself?


      1. I think that wingbacks pressing opposition fullbacks is too much ground to cover. How long will it take them to get there? 3-5 seconds even with 20 pace / acceleration!

        What’s more concerning is the wingback would leave a gaping hole at the back for the opposition attacker to exploit.

        In most leagues – 70-80% of time you’re playing against a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3. Both of these systems have a 2v1 advantage on your flanks.

        It’s very difficult to press when 1v2.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the reply. I tested a little last night and the first game i lost 2-0 but the next game was 2-2 (I had plenty chances) But i added the tactic after a few games of the season as i was testing my own kind of ideas.

        Will start a new game and report back. Love the idea of Sampaoli. Have you any other tactic/formations from other managers? I’ve seen the Bielsa one just now.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like your thinking, would you completely change the formation or tweak the on I am currently using ? Interesting enough my friend as tested it with Atlético Madrid and gone unbeaten all season whilst doing the treble. He feels the tactic is pressing the life out of sides. Have you tried the tactic to analyse it ? He said at Atlético the back 3 / 5 were solid defensively. I will definitely look at my games to see if it’s causing me a problem. Interesting stuff thanks.


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