Transcending Borders: Adapting Fernando Diniz’s Tactical Ingenuity to the Icy Plains of Akureyri is the first of many tactical articles in our new series for FM24.

Introduction FM24

The ambition brewing within the heart of Þór Akureyri is palpable—to ascend not only as a club but to uplift the footballing stature of Iceland on the global canvas. The journey, however, craves a novel tactical narrative, one that could harmonise with the robust ethos of Icelandic football while introducing a fluidic choreography on the pitch. The answer might just lie across the Atlantic, in the vibrant footballing philosophy of Fernando Diniz at Fluminense.

Diniz’s style, a blend of fluid, possession-based football with a dash of creative freedom, orchestrates a beautiful game where each player is both a maestro and a part of a larger symphony. It’s a dance of control, expression, and tactical ingenuity. Imagine this South American footballing saga resonating amidst the cold breezes and the poetic northern lights of Akureyri.

Transplanting this tactical blueprint into Þór Akureyri’s Nordic framework is an expedition of its own. It demands meticulous adaptation to resonate with the strengths, culture, and competitive spirit of Icelandic football. Yet, the essence remains untouched—a football narrative that cherishes possession, champions creative expression, and seeks to dominate not just the scoreboard but the rhythm of the game.

With each season that unfolds, this venture is an open narrative. It’s an invitation to peek into the tactical evolution and witness how Diniz’s philosophy melds with Þór Akureyri’s ambitions, creating a novel football narrative. From player recruitment to development, from the in-game notes shedding light on player evolution to the tactical tweaks echoing on the pitch, it’s a holistic footballing journey.

Each game played, each tactic adapted, and each goal scored will not just be a chapter in Þór Akureyri’s journey, but a step towards a new footballing narrative that could echo from the stadiums in Iceland to the footballing hearts across continents.

Yet, this endeavour transcends the ambitions of a single club. It’s a spark aimed at igniting a footballing renaissance across Iceland, envisioning a future where the Icelandic football saga is not merely a whisper but a dominant narrative on the global stage. Through Þór Akureyri’s adaptation of Diniz’s tactical finesse, the aspiration is to set a precedent, inspire, and elevate the game across the nation, nurturing a footballing culture that could see Iceland emerge as a formidable force in the world of football.

Join us as we delve deeper into this tactical narrative on FM24, exploring how Diniz’s fluidic football philosophy could be tailored to echo within the hearts of Þór Akureyri’s squad and fans while aspiring to etch Iceland’s name into the annals of European football.

  1. Playing style FM24

While the specific shapes that Fernando Diniz employs with Fluminense can be elusive and challenging to pin down and recreate, the underlying foundation of their style of play remains consistent. This foundation is more defined and set in stone, transcending the various systems they deploy on the field. 

The core elements of Diniz’s footballing philosophy, fluid possession-based football, permeate every formation and tactic he utilises, providing a cohesive and recognisable identity to Fluminense. These elements include:

  1. Anti-positional play: A fluid and dynamic style that allows players to interchange positions and move freely on the pitch rather than adhering to rigid positions or formations.
  2. High pressing: Applying pressure on the opposition high up the pitch to win back possession quickly and disrupt the opponent’s build-up play.
  3. Possession-based football: A tactical approach that emphasises maintaining control of the ball, dictating the tempo of the game, and patiently building up attacks.
  4. Playing out from the back: Building up play from the goalkeeper and defenders with the aim of maintaining possession, drawing out the opposition, and creating space for attacking opportunities.
  5. Overloads: Creating numerical advantages in certain areas of the pitch, often by having multiple players in close proximity, to overwhelm the opposition and break down their defensive structure.
  6. Verticality: A focus on direct and purposeful forward passing, aiming to progress the ball quickly up the pitch and exploit gaps in the opposition’s defence.
  7. Interchangeability: Encouraging players to swap positions and roles during a match to confuse the opposition and create more dynamic attacking patterns.
  8. Ball retention: Prioritising keeping possession of the ball, often through short and accurate passing, to control the game and tire out the opposition.
  9. Quick transitions: Rapidly switching from defence to attack (or vice versa) to exploit the opposition’s unpreparedness and create goal-scoring opportunities.
  10. Off-the-ball movement: The movement of players without the ball to create space, drag defenders out of position, and support teammates in possession.
  11. Creative freedom: Diniz allows his players the freedom to express themselves on the pitch, encouraging them to take risks, improvise, and harness their individual skills to create goal-scoring opportunities.
  12. Fullbacks as attacking outlets: Diniz’s teams often rely on fullbacks to provide the width and attacking support, stretching the opposition’s defence and creating chances through overlapping runs and crosses. However, there is an argument to be made for them playing narrow too. 
  13. Versatile forward roles: Forwards are encouraged to drop deep, link up with midfielders, and create space for teammates, while also exploiting spaces and making runs behind the defence.
  1. Building from the back on FM24

Fernando Diniz, the innovative manager of Fluminense and the Brazilian national team, is well-known for his preference to play out from the back. This approach is closely tied to his overall football philosophy, which is centred around several key principles.

First and foremost, playing out from the back allows Diniz’s team to control possession and dictate the tempo of the game. By patiently building from the back, they can establish the rhythm of play and force the opposition to adapt to their style. This method ensures that every player on the team, including the goalkeeper and defenders, is actively involved in the build-up play. As a result, technical skills, composure on the ball, and effective decision-making are promoted throughout the team.

During the build-up play, Fluminense adopts a 4-2 formation, with the goalkeeper taking on an active role. The involvement of the goalie and the two defensive midfielders is essential for gaining a numerical advantage. Two key principles in this phase are proximity and numerical superiority.

The players are constantly on the move to create ideal passing lanes, allowing the team to advance through various zones on the pitch. By having the goalkeeper and the two defensive midfielders work in close collaboration, Fluminense achieves numerical superiority through proximity. The concept of the third man is also employed during the build-up phase. Players positioned further up the pitch offer support by providing a third passing option and an outlet for moving the ball forward. It’s crucial for Fluminense to progress from the middle third to the final third while maintaining total control of possession and operating as a cohesive unit.

As the team builds from the back, they can draw the opposition forward, which in turn creates gaps and opportunities to exploit further up the pitch. This approach often leads to numerical advantages and overloads in key areas, making it easier to break down a compact defence. Additionally, playing out from the back forces the opposition to press higher up the pitch in an attempt to regain possession. Consequently, they may overcommit players and leave spaces behind, which can be exploited by Diniz’s team with quick and precise passing.

Playing out from the back is also an integral part of Diniz’s anti-positional philosophy, which emphasises fluidity and interchangeability among players. This encourages the players to adapt to different situations and move freely on the pitch, contributing to both offence and defence. This strategy enables Diniz’s team to control possession, involve all players, create space and opportunities, and promote a fluid and dynamic style of play.

The Core Team Instructions

These team instructions aim to replicate Diniz’s fluid, attacking style of play while allowing players the freedom to interchange positions and express themselves creatively. The high-pressing and counter-pressing systems help to win the ball back quickly and exploit any spaces left by the opposition.

In Possession:

  1. Attacking Width: Narrow – Encourage players to operate more centrally and facilitate positional interchanges.
  2. Approach Play: Play Out of Defence – Maintain possession and build attacks from the back.
  3. Passing Directness: Shorter Passing – Focus on maintaining possession through short and quick passes.
  4. Tempo: Higher Tempo – Keep the ball moving quickly, making it difficult for the opposition to press.
  5. Creative Freedom: Be More Expressive – Allow players the freedom to improvise and take risks in attack.
  6. Dribbling: Run at Defence – Encourage players to take on defenders and create opportunities through individual skill.

In Transition:

  1. When Possession is Lost: Counter-Press: Regain possession quickly through high pressing.
  2. When Possession is Won: Counter: Exploit the spaces left by the opposition when they lose the ball.
  3. Goalkeeper Distribution: Distribute to full-backs and center backs. Involve the goalkeeper in the build-up play and maintain possession.

Out of Possession:

  1. Defensive Shape: Much Higher Defensive Line: Compress the space and make it difficult for the opposition to play through the lines.
  2. Trigger Press: Much More Often: Apply constant pressure on the opposition to force errors and win the ball back quickly.
  3. Prevent Short Goalkeeper Distribution: Force the opposition goalkeeper to play long balls and increase the chances of regaining possession.

By focusing on these core concepts, we will begin to see us start resembling something that looks like Fluminense, regardless of what shapes we use. These instructions are the core of his tactical style and football identity.

  1. Lots of Support Roles.

Using support duties on FM24 makes the team more fluid for several reasons. Support duties help bridge the gap between attacking and defensive duties, creating a balanced approach and promoting better teamwork. This better replicates the fundamental principles of Fernando Diniz’s systems. Here are some factors that contribute to increased fluidity when employing support duties:

  1. Balanced Teamwork: Support duties encourage players to participate in both the attacking and defensive phases of play. This approach creates a more balanced team, with players contributing to multiple aspects of the game. As a result, the team becomes less predictable and more adaptable to changing game situations.
  2. Smoother Transitions: When players have support duties, they are more likely to be involved in transitional play. This involvement ensures smoother transitions between defence and attack, as well as between different areas of the pitch. Support players help connect the team’s various units, facilitating better ball movement and overall team cohesion.
  3. Enhanced Adaptability: Support roles enable players to adjust their positions and responsibilities depending on the match context. This flexibility allows the team to adapt to different opponents and tactics more effectively. By filling gaps and providing cover for teammates, support players contribute to the team’s overall adaptability.
  4. Better Exploitation of Space: Support players are often instrumental in creating and exploiting space on the pitch. Their movement off the ball can open up passing lanes and create scoring opportunities for their teammates. This spatial awareness makes the team more fluid and challenging for opponents to defend against.
  5. Increased Possession: Support players tend to focus on retaining possession and circulating the ball within the team better than attacking duties. Their ability to link up with teammates and maintain possession helps create a more fluid style of play, as the team can patiently probe for openings in the opposition’s defence.

We want players to play close together on FM24, working as a unit while moving up and down the pitch as one. That’s why support duties are the absolute key to achieving something that even remotely resembles Fluminense’s style of play on FM24. We will have some restrictions on FM24 and be limited to the actual style we are building. That’s why we are taking elements of how Diniz plays and then adapting this to FM24.

 

Author

  • Cleon

    Cleon is a distinguished figure in the Football Manager community, known for his tactical acumen and profound understanding of the game's intricacies. With a penchant for sharing knowledge, Cleon has authored "The Football Manager Playbook," offering a deep dive into crafting effective tactics. He's the brains behind the well-regarded blog "View From The Touchline," where he elucidates on football philosophies, game strategies, and more. Beyond the written word, Cleon engages with enthusiasts through social media, making complex football management concepts accessible to many.

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