La Liga is back after its winter break! Which means Girona are back! Rejoice football hipsters everywhere; the most entertaining team in the world right now (I think that is the case) have still got it.

Girona’s rise to the top of La Liga has been one of the season’s stories so far. And a suitably bonkers 4-3 win over Atletico Madrid last night suggests they weren’t a half-season flash in the pan.

If you can slightly overlook their status as part of the City Football Group, Girona is as feel-good as football can be on the pitch, playing an attractive attacking brand of football overseen by a manager who has all the positional play credentials of the biggest names in the game, but with a stated desire to emphasise rather than stifle the individual qualities and characteristics of his players.


Watching Michel’s team is so much fun that I’ve found myself tuning in to almost every game and inevitably couldn’t resist replicating his system in Football Manager. After a lot of fine-tuning, I finally feel it’s perfect in the match engine. So here it is for all of you!



As word of their exciting football has spread, a number of excellent tactical breakdowns of how Michel’s Girona play have popped up online. To see more about them check out these videos by The Overlap, The Purist and Football Meta.


I’ll keep things much briefer and focus on what we need to know to play the Girona way on FM.


Girona’s football is possession-based. They average 57% of the ball in La Liga this season and are fairly patient. So we’ll go with shorter passing but keep their tempo balanced as they move swiftly when it is on. They also often set up camp in the opposition half, looking to work an opening. So a higher line is important to replicate this.


Michel’s side play out of the back and express themselves on the ball, often dribbling and committing defenders before finding an extra man in space. You can see that DNA in the team instructions I’ve added to my tactics.


Out of possession, they press well, but they are also perfectly capable of sitting off in a midblock to try and open up space in behind when they get the ball in transition. I’ve made these tactics to press initially, but you can move things to a midblock and take off  prevent short distribution as and when you see fit. 


Structurally, Girona line up in a variety of different formations, all of which create roughly the same shape when they’re on the ball, an exciting 3-1-3-3 reminiscent of the three-at-the-back diamond systems rolled out by Ajax back in the day. 

Three centre-backs progress the ball with the help of the wonderful Aleix Garcia, a playmaker who can do it all but who has been asked to sit and conduct the orchestra by Michel this season.


The three No. 10s ahead of that are the key to chance creation. Numerous players rotate into these spots, all bringing slightly different qualities. The most eye-catching of the lot, though, is Miguel Gutierrez. Nominally a left-back, Gutierrez inverts and has the freedom to drift all over the pitch looking to create chances. He is most commonly found as the left 10, and to ensure he gets plenty of the ball, we need to emphasise underlaps down that side.


Up top, big Ukrainian striker Artem Dovbyk offers a mobile physical presence. To his left is the direct-wing magician Savio, who has been extremely exciting all year. To ensure he finds the ball in space, Girona tends to build up more on the right before the ball makes its way dangerously to the left in the final third, with more space to operate in. 



My main way of accurately getting Michel’s champagne football in FM24 has been a four-at-the-back system. I’ll break that down for you first.


Our goalkeeper, Paulo Gazzaniga, is decent with his feet, and we need him to sweep, but nothing too dramatic. The Sweeper Keeper on support is fine.


Using the new inverted full-back player role on the right (Eric Garcia or occasionally Arnau Martinez) in conjunction with a ball-playing defender instructed to stay wider on the left (Daley Blind) gives us the back three we desire.


Aleix Garcia is a DLP on defend. Because he is the only player at the DM level in the system, he naturally roams and tends to find himself sitting central at the base of our midfield diamond in possession despite being on the left of a double pivot out of possession. Perfect.


A CM on support sits alongside him at times before pushing on to be the right of our three 10s. Different players take on this role in real life, so I’ve left the instructions blank to allow you to emphasise the skillset of whoever is playing there. For example, if it is Yangel Herrera, I’d add tackle harder, and Ivan Martin dribble more. For a cog in the system that isn’t incredibly eye-catching, you mustn’t play about with this player role too much. Lots of CM roles in the game trigger the new positional play rotations at the heart of the FM24 match engine and will displace the central AM ahead.


That AM is utilised on support to make sure they drop off into midfield and get on the ball plenty. Ivan Martin, Pablo Torre, and occasionally Viktor Tsygankov can all play this role. I’d ask them to take more risks and dribble more. 


If the more boring right 10 in real life required a lot of discussion in the game, the more exciting left 10 in real life, Miguel Gutierrez is simple to line up as an FM role. Inverted Wingback on  attack. We just need to make sure he has space to shine, which again is why I’m keen to make sure we don’t accidentally shift the AM across to the left and close off the channel in which Miguel should shine!


Savio is our wide, one-on-one outlet on the left. Setting him as a winger on attack ensures he hugs the touchline, again creating a nice channel of space for Gutierrez to surge into on the underlap. You can instruct him to cut inside to make sure he’s a goal threat on the ball or leave him as a two-way threat. 

Over on the other side, our wide players are less direct and isolated and tend to involve themselves in build-up more. A support role with roam from position added works best. For Tsygankov that’s as an IF. Yan Couto, however, could come in here as a winger with those instructions still selected. 


As suggested before, you’ll notice a lot of support roles on the right to overload options for build-up, with attack roles on the left to isolate dangerously when the ball makes its way there.


Centrally, Dovbyk is our lone striker. In many ways, his game is best thought of as a Target Man on attack with move into channels selected to make him more mobile. However, I found that in a game this meant he dropped in too often, crowding out space already occupied by our assembled three number 10s. We need him to push the defence back and make space for us to play in. Pressing forward on attack does this more effectively, and you’ll still find him dropping in to hold up the ball from time to time in this year’s game with that role. 


As mentioned, Girona is quite flexible in its formations and personnel but never really compromises on the DNA of how they play. So the style of football already described is often rolled out with something that looks more like five at the back. 

Above is how we construct that in FM. We switch to a back three and bring in Yan Couto to hold the width on the right. He’s best at WB on attack with stay wider-triggered.

We need our RW to come inside as our third 10 now, so make him sit narrower and crucially emphasise overlaps on that side in team instructions. The rest are the same.

The only other change is that our RB from the 4-2-3-1 now is at RCB so stick him on BPD with stay wider to mirror what Blind does at LCB. 

In game I initially noticed the central CB and DM were on top of each other a bit too much, so making the CB cover means he drops slightly to make the shape we’d expect. 

When you watch Girona play with this line up in real life I really do think you can easily think of Couto as a winger on the right rather than a wingback. So rather than playing five at the back you could adapt the first four at the back system with him in it. Just ask him to mark the opposing left winger as a player or position to make him track back a bit more. 



You can download both tactics here – I’ve also created mirror image tactics which flip things so you can play Michel’s way but build things around an exciting RB in your team who operates as a creative spark inside like Miguel Gutierrez.

Like all tactics though the key elements leave you some space to play about slightly without breaking things. In most games I’d tweak team mentality and instructions depending on how things are going.

For example, if you need to sit back a bit and be a bit more direct you can change the mentality to balanced, move to a midblock and increase your tempo and passing length to operate on the break. 

If you need a goal you can put Aleix Garcia on support and let him break free a bit, or even move the mentality to attacking with higher tempo.

If you feel you’re crossing too much you can look to feed cutbacks by working the ball into the box and prioritising low crosses.

If you want to get the ball into Dovbyk earlier there is nothing in this system that means early crosses aren’t worthwhile in the right situation. 

Reading more about Michel, the lesson of his Girona team’s success so far has been to have a clear DNA to how you want to play but with flexibility for game state and individual player qualities. Hopefully my Girona replication lets you do exactly that!

Enjoy! And do let me know if you have any feedback. I’m on Twitter (no I won’t call it X!) @CottageTactico where I largely provide analysis for my club Fulham. However I’m going to try and average one FM tactical recreation a month this year as I love doing them. If you have any you’re desperate for let me know there too!



  • 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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3 thoughts on “Girona FM24 Tactic Recreation

  1. Hey, nice read, thanks! I’m very interested to see how this tactic plays out. I’ll try it with my Bayer04 side as I am in need of a new one and it seems to fit my players and playstyle perfectly. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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