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Article Effects Of The Primary Outlet And Attacker Settings

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For the last couple weeks, I’ve been running tests to try and determine the effects of the Primary Outlet (PO) and Primary Attacker (PA) tactical options.  No one here seems to have a good explanation for how to use these options except to say that they don’t like using them.

Well, what if I told you that Primary Outlet (PO) and Primary Attacker (PA) tactical options do exactly what you think they do?  But, as is often the case, the devil is in the details.  While most of my test results have been fairly straightforward, I ended these tests with more questions than answers.  I look forward to seeing everyone’s interpretations of my tests.

But first, let’s go over the methodology.  The test match was the Community Shield match between Manchester United and Leicester City.  Each test (7 in all) shown below was simulated 25 times and all match results were recorded unless there was an injury to one of the tracked players or a red card.  There were no subs made by me on the Manchester United side for the entire match.  I used short passing to maximize the # of passes attempted to help with identifying trends.

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LC always started in highly defensive formations however MU had little trouble breaking them down as they averaged 2.75 points per match across all tests.  I consider this to be a good thing because it ensured that the base case was fairly consistent and overall match results had the potential for relatively little variance.

I tracked the stats for the six non-defensive players for my tests.  We can have a discussion about the performance of the BBMs later but for the purposes of this topic, I’ll just say that their stats stayed consistently near average for all tactical settings so they’re not included in the results shown below.

Control

control.JPG.fd14d5eeb2764782a387545a498e2505.JPG

Let’s go through the rows - results are out 75 points, average rating is for the 10 outfield MU players, possession %, passing %, shots, shots on target, clear-cut chances, open-play goals, xG.  MU on the left, LC on the right.

Table below that is - passes, completed, pass accuracy %, % of total passes between the four players, key passes, assists, shots, shots on target (SOT), SOT%, rating, goals, average of 3 highest passes attempted, average of 3 highest passes+shots attempted.  These last two stats indicate the highest range of possible actions on the ball by the player - a best case scenario, basically.  

As per my xG post, I’m highlighting xG only.  Goals scored and assists are not highlighted as those could have a high variance and are listed for reference only.

Lastly, a word on the highlights - I’m using excel’s conditional formatting for each player’s or team’s stats on a scale of green (good) > yellow > orange > red (bad).  Each field is compared to itself across all tests.  So the more green you see, the better the test went for everyone.

So with that out of the way, let’s look at the control test.  Team average rating is near the top of the range but the rest of the stats are average or worse.  xG of 59.390 was second worse out of the seven tests which makes the 71 points earned as a result of a 23-2-0 record a bit misleading due to overperforming xG.  Defensively, MU allowed xG of 16.155 which was second worst out of all tests and tied for most CCC per match.  Clearly there’s much room for improvement.

Across all tests, the two most common post-match messages were that “Wingers were a real threat” and “Midfield showed real creativity” appearing in 77% and 64% of the matches respectively.  But what I want to focus on are the three messages that I think were meaningful across tests - “Midfield supported attacked well”, “Attacking midfielders got into the box frequently”, and “Striker didn’t test the opposition goalkeeper enough”.  In the control test, attacking midfielders made good runs into the box in 16/25 matches however the striker (Zlatan) didn’t have much of an impact in nearly half the matches (I sometimes got this message even in matches he scored).

Schneiderlin as PO

589fdd5eb9121_schneiderlinPO.JPG.a81d95aec8bb27ab04013c625cccabc2.JPG

Positives: With Schneiderlin as the PO, the results were a bit unlucky.  A poor match record 19-5-1 masked some really good things.  Under this setting, MU enjoyed their highest average possession %, pass completion %, most CCC at 1.88/match, and great xG of 68.200 (but only 51 goals scored.. a win for xG metric as this tactic clearly seemed to click on the pitch!).  Defensively, MU allowed fewest shots and second fewest SOT.

Negatives: Despite the positives, there are a few oddities as well.  The three attacking players, Mata/Martial/Zlatan, all had a low amount of passes.  Total shots by the team were low as well.  Martial in particular was relatively ineffective with total shots, rating and and 3xP+S being on the low end of the spectrum.

In-game: Here’s my interpretation of the in-game implications.  PO acts as a “magnet” with Schneiderlin being the preferred pass target if all things are equal.  He attempted nearly 41.8% more passes than in the control scenario with a really high pass completion % as well.  This means that, despite the attacking mentality, there were many passes back to him instead of forward to Mata/Martial/Zlatan.  This is also supported by the post-match comments - “mid supported attack” and “AM got into box” appeared in only ~20% of the matches.  Alternatively, with the ball at his feet, Schneiderlin attempted over 50% more key passes than in any other test.  Zlatan, despite attempting a fairly high number of shots, “didn’t test the GK” in 11/25 matches.

Mata as PO

589fdd5ddc6f1_mataPO.JPG.f7c64068f4dab942b5755a1b31ccc508.JPG

Positives: With the tactical “magnet” switched to Mata, the attack seemed to operate better.  With the ball moving forward, both Mata and Martial played a high amount of passes.  The team record was pretty good at 21-4-0 with the team generating the most total shots and SOT of all the scenarios.  With the ball at his feet, Mata attempted over 3 key passes per match.  The post-match messages about the midfield showed up with decent frequency including “striker didn’t test the GK” only appearing 5 times.

Negatives:  Team pass % was low-ish due to, probably, the frequent attempts to get the ball forward to Mata.  Defensively, MU allowed highest xG and CCC, presumably due to the team being higher up the pitch more often with Mata being the passing nexus for the team which left them open to counter attacks.

In-game: The team attempted to get the ball to Mata as often as possible.  His 3xP+S (the highest and “best” case scenario) was nearly as high as Schneiderlin’s.  Mata and Martial seemed to interchange pretty well however Zlatan was strangely absent as he had his second fewest 3xP+S, only slightly below control case.

Martial as PA

589fdd5d71c47_martialPA.JPG.ad7023246c9e25e3ff159348b6b33da1.JPG

Positives: This setting made Martial the primary target for many passes. Curiously then, he ended up attempting an average number of passes.  However, his shot attempts were through the roof as you can tell by his 3xP+S being highest of all tests.  The PA setting seems to give a license to shoot - Martial generated his highest shots per match and there were 3 matches in this test where he attempted 10, 12, and 15 shots (1K attempters - take note!!).  He enjoyed his highest average rating of 8.76!  With the ball driven hard at the net by Martial, Zlatan also enjoyed good matches - he attempted a lot of shots, and had best SOT% as well as best rating.  Thanks to these two, the team also enjoyed its best average rating, second most shots and CCC generated.

Negatives: Not a lot of negatives to speak of here.  With the passing focus on Martial, passing % was low and post-match comments regarding the midfield appeared in only 20% of the matches.

In-game: The team played well and seemed organized.  Mata and Zlatan interchanged effectively combining for nearly 2.5 key passes and 9 shots per match.  Team record matched control’s at a great 23-2-0 record while generating a fairly high 64.980 xG.  Defensively, the team allowed a decent 14.030 xG as well as fairly few shots and CCCs.  With the ball being driven forward to Martial, midfield was curiously absent from the attack.

Zlatan as PA

589fdd5faee82_zlatanPA.JPG.14952a4169a813b24e81e98f6108e96f.JPG

Positives: This resulted in the best team record at 24-1-0.  Defensively, the team allowed fewest xG of 13.300 and CCC.  And, predictably, Zlatan attempted the highest amount of actions on the ball out of all scenarios - passes, shots, SOT, 3xP+S.  Martial’s 3xP+S was pretty decent too.

Negatives: Besides getting the ball to Zlatan, nothing else seemed to click.  This scenario highlighted why I wanted to use xG - despite going 24-1-0, the team generated 55.870 xG, which is worst across all scenarios and scored 56 goals which is pretty poor considering the match record (conversely, take a look above at the Schneiderlin PO test - high xG, only 51 goals and only 62 points).  If we looked at the match results only, we would think that this test went great.  In reality, not quite - the team’s stats were average or worse across the board.  Mata was strangely absent from the match with the balls seemingly bypassing him on the way to Zlatan.  And despite the attempts to get the ball to him, the post-match report still said that “striker didn’t test GK” in 8/25 matches.

In-game: This seemed like a standard “hoof it to the target man” tactic.  When it clicked, Martial/Zlatan wrecked havoc as indicated by their higher than average 3xP+S.  When it didn’t, which seemed to be most of the time, the team was ineffective as the standard link-up play was ignored in favor of getting the ball to the “magnet” PA, Zlatan, who did relatively well considering he was a lone target man against a defensive mentality team.  Post-match message of “AM got into box” appeared in 12/25 matches so clearly these was some movement in the box by the midfield in support.

This is where I originally intended to stop my testing.  But the Zlatan test left me very unsatisfied.  So I decided to run a couple more tests.  The setting with Mata as the PO seemed to work pretty well while Zlatan as PA was poor so I wanted to combine the two settings.

Mata PO + Zlatan PA

589fdd5e4f329_matazlatan.JPG.2c7b83954b6125cfd37837909985a230.JPG

Positives: Uhhh.. Mata had his highest 3xP+S…?

Negatives: Pretty much everything.  The ball didn’t seem to find Zlatan despite him being the PA.  He took fewest shots, SOT and had his worst rating.  “Striker didn’t test GK” appeared in 12/25 matches while “AM got into box” appeared in only 8 matches (compared to 13 when Mata was the sole setting as PO).  Team record was 21-2-2 and they scored lowest # of goals while xG was also on the low end.

In-game: So now that we got the easy stuff out of the way, let’s dive into the hard stuff.  This didn’t work at all and I’m not entirely sure why.  I assume the team tried passing forward to Mata who then tried to get it to Zlatan (instead of interchanging with Martial as in the scenario when Mata was the sole PO).  Since LC lined up in a defensive shell, the forced passes from midfield -> Mata -> Zlatan likely broke down.  

With that last test failing miserably, I decided to test another scenario - the high possession/passing of Schneiderlin as PO combined with the high attacking prowess of Martial as PA.

Schneiderlin PO + Martial PA

589fdd5f3b7bb_schneiderlinmartial.JPG.04ef172ff9af9a018b3a99aaa8617f8e.JPG

Positives: Schneiderlin with plenty of time on the ball.  Team went 24-1-0 and generated a very respectable xG with 64.375.  Team seemed to play well together with a high average team rating of 7.54.

Negatives: Individually, none of the attacking players stood out.  Unlike in the original test when Martial was the sole tactical setting at PA, here his shot volume was very low with top 3 matches having 9, 9, 8 shots only.

In-game: The idea here was to have Schneiderlin’s measured passing to route the ball to Martial and let him dominate like he did in previous tests.  In practice, that doesn’t seem to have happened.  Martial’s 3xP+S was on the lower end and the other two attackers didn’t seem to fare much better.  The post-match message "Moves broke down in the final third" appeared in 7/25 matches so something didn't fully click.  However, midfield seemed to do fairly well with Mata in particular having his best rating and nearly 3 key passes per game.

Bonus Round

Honestly, I’m not sure how to explain these last two tests.  Out of curiosity, I ran two shorter tests with Zlatan as CF and PA.  I thought that maybe the Target Man role assignment was too constricting for him.  So I ran 5x with Schneiderlin as PO, and 5x with Mata as PO.  PO’s performed as you would expect them to perform based on previous tests (higher # of passes attempted).  However these attempts still failed getting Zlatan into the match.  With Mata as PO, he averaged 7.6 passes and 11.40 3xP+S which is massively worse than in any of the previous tests.  The team was on pace for 60.25 xG which is not great.  With Schneiderlin as PO, Zlatan did slightly better with 11.2 passes and 14.0 3xP+S with the team on pace for 62.95 xG.

The only thing that may explain this is that a single striker against a defensive team just doesn’t work.  Even if that striker is ZLATAN.

Conclusion

I think it’s clear that the Primary Outlet and Primary Attacker settings seem to work as you would expect them to.  We always ask SI for more tactical options.  And I’d say that they delivered here.  Now we can argue about how effective these options are but additional options are always welcome.  PO & PA instruct your team to route the ball through those players.  And while the PO is pretty easy to get right since you’re likely passing to a player under little pressure, PA is a bit more difficult.  That player is often surrounded by defenders so his effectiveness is usually dependent on opponent tactics.  

When using both options at once, interplay between the target players seems to be very confusing and very difficult to get right.  But I hope these tests encourage everyone to test these tactical options more frequently.  

I look forward to seeing everyone’s explanations of my tests as well as future tactics that use PO/PA to great effect.

P.S.  Fun fact: there were 18 draws in my tests.  MU won 17 of them on PKs.

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Thanks for the test mate its really interesting to be honest I don't use PO or PA 

But I have a question about the PO is it should be the AM or CM or DLP or other positions? 

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I'm a little short of time so I'll re-read once more in detail later, but one thing I can say is that I'd also be interested in testgames with no selected PO vs the best PO (Mata). Curious to know if the same set up results in significant differences.

Also, I'd be inclined to use PAs depending on the careers/ challenges. Regular careers probably no PA as he'd be easier to mark/ nullify - exception tho playing lone strikers and/or low quality of fellow forwards. 1K challenges probably yes as they'd be on the ball more.

Will get back to you with more feedback later. Thanks for sharing these time-consuming tests. Great stuff from you once again!

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Wow.. Great work here. However, I declined to use it because it seemed to be limiting my game play. Like you said, my primary attacker Alexandre Vittoria (CR7) had problems with his efforts. Though he was a winger, had more attempts and scores more goals when he had the PA role,  the team looked to convert more chances without any specifically assigned the role. But my primary outlet, Bernd Hartmann (Toni Kroos) had no problems moving the ball around as shown by his key and completed passes.

I'm just wishing to get any lower division Spanish save, Almeria particularly, so I can sink into the management world.

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Great work and it's nice to see something being proven to do as intended.

 

One thing (sorry I work a lot on Excel) but the conditional formatting on the first 2 columns aren't right as you've formatted columns all together rather than individually.

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10 hours ago, Sousa_XI said:

But I have a question about the PO is it should be the AM or CM or DLP or other positions? 

That depends on your team formation and player skill.  Take a look at the tests where Schneiderlin was the PO deep compared to Mata as the PO up top.  Ideally, you should want your best player on the ball more often.  But if it's an attacking player and he's marked out of the game, your team's moves will break down frequently as the team tries to get the ball to him and fails.

9 hours ago, BatiGoal said:

one thing I can say is that I'd also be interested in testgames with no selected PO vs the best PO (Mata). Curious to know if the same set up results in significant differences.

I'm not sure what you're suggesting?  No selected PO is the control...  But you did give me an idea (mainly because I originally misread your post) - to run Mata as the PA instead of PO.  I'm running out of mindless TV to watch during these tests, lol, but I think I can do one more.  I assume he'll have similar stats as PO except with more shots but it would be a good comparison between the two options.

3 hours ago, Dec said:

One thing (sorry I work a lot on Excel) but the conditional formatting on the first 2 columns aren't right as you've formatted columns all together rather than individually.

Which columns?  I'm not seeing it.

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control.JPG.fd14d5eeb2764782a387545a498e2505.JPG The Passing and Completed columns here, as well as key. There's no green. Saying that also the Shots column and the top bar seems to be globally globally formatted.

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Each stat is compared to itself for each player across all tests.  What that means is Schneiderlin's 41.6 passes attempted and 37.7 completed was his worst out of the 7 tests in those categories.  For Mata/Martial/Zlatan, they're about average. 

The fact that there's no green means that their stats were all average or worse in this test.  Look at how much red there is in the Mata/Zlatan test.  It was just a disaster all around for some reason.

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@veerus 

Thanks for the information but I have a question it might be strange a bit

While I'm selecting my PO I discovered that I was able to Select my WB as PO 

Tell me what do you think about it? 

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3 hours ago, veerus said:

I'm not sure what you're suggesting?  No selected PO is the control...  But you did give me an idea (mainly because I originally misread your post)

Glad my sputtering brought you ideas. Never mind about my earlier suggestion...you already tested it. so well done!

I'm glad your conclusion matches what I'd expect this PA and PO to do. It does seem to hurt the team if the inappropriate player is selected for this role. Which also makes sense of course as is the case with any sort of role on the pitch. So either select a guy fit for the job or select none at all. Which brings me to my next question..what type of players do you think are best suited for these two tactical options? Very creative players as POs? On AMC or flanks? A TM type as PA? or an AF? etc.. Are they more effective in specific formations? Lone striker vs 2-3 striker formations? Just thinking out loud here :) haven't done a great deal of testing with these myself.

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This is a great read...  I use the PO and PA but havent done any research like this, what I did find was playing 4-4-1-1 with my centre midfield triangle being AM in front of a DLP and BBM, the DLP was more successful than the AM in term of being the PO, I tend to find that my defence give the ball away less, I guess as its a shorter safer pass to the DLP than trying to find the AM over a longer distance.

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This is Mata as PA.  Sorry, it's too much of a hassle to re-do the conditional formating so we'll have to go through the highlights manually.

58a0cdab2343a_mataPA.JPG.8d6144f959e0237f69151afc2d367c64.JPG

Positives: Not a lot, especially when compared to how successful Mata was as PO.  Decent CCC and xG for the team.  Similar to how Martial was successful when Mata was the PO, Martial had fairly good stats here as well.  He had his best passing stats, key passes, and 3xP+S (but worst shots attempted).  "Striker didn't test GK" only appeared in 8/25 matches which is on the lower end as Zlatan attempted the most shots.  Oh and, as expected, Mata had the most shots per match.

Negatives: This did not work nearly as well as when Mata was the PO.  I expected similar stats to that test except more shots.  Only thing I got right is the more shots part...  Possession %, pass %, SOT, team rating and xG were all average or worse.  The team earned a low 66 points as a result of a 21-3-1 record, which may have to do with underperforming xG by nearly 11 goals.  Schneiderlin attempted the fewest amount of passes, same for Zlatan.  Mata's were also on the low end.  3xP+S for Mata and Zlatan were really low as well.  Total passes attempted by the four tracked players was also worst out of all the tests.  Not a whole lot in the post-match comments about the midfield either.

In-game: So the PA setting encouraged Mata to shoot more but not significantly more.  The poor passing numbers seem to indicate that the team did try to get the ball to Mata more often but failed due to LC's defensive mentality.  Schneiderlin's poor passing figures here are similar to the test when Mata was PO.

Conclusion, part 2

I'm a bit at a loss here.  This didn't really help clear anything up.  But let's keep one thing in mind - many of these tests improved on the control test.  It was one or two things individually that went up typically at the cost of something else going down.  The safest option seems to make the DLP the PO.  This results in a "safe" possession-based tactic.  Alternatively, if your front players are good, making your AP the PO results in an aggressive attacking game (assuming you can get the ball to him).  Same with the PA settings - good if you can get the ball to the designated player.  This seems complicated and very dependent on the opponent's formation.  Many people play the game at a very fast pace - too fast to tinker with such complicated options.  Combined with the lack of feedback in-game on why things work or don't work makes this a very risky option to use so it's very understandable that most people avoid these options altogether.  This game is often played as "set a formation and blast through a season" and given the inconsistency of test results here, using these tactical options will often be detrimental.

What do you guys think is going on here?  How can we utilize these options effectively?  Especially the PA option?

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First of all, thanks for the hard work put here.

Although I have never tried such an extended testing and I understand FMM is a stats game, I have found that having an AP in an AMC position as your PO does not really work because the area that this player occupies is just outside thw box. And as we know reaching outside the box is the primary objective of the team, so you want a player that helps you reach that area of the field in an organized manner. I think this is the reason why a PO (CM, AP or DLP) works better in CM position.

Also I have found that when playing a lone striker as a Poacher, it is best to not use him as you PA. That makes also sense, because he is not the player to focus all of your attacking mentality on, as he plays always on the shoulder of the defender looking for the easy goal. The AP in an AMC position has worked for me as a PA when I play a lone striker formation, or even no one.

However when you have a potent TM (paired with wingers or WBs) or a world-class striker who can play as a CF, setting him as a PA does wonders even if he is the only striker.

I have also made some interesting goals in the counter attack mentality placing my lone striker (TM or T) at the FR position and using a super quick AML as an IF making him the PA so that all counter attacking opportunities can be focused on him and the space that he now has and can exploit with his pace.

 

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26 minutes ago, tenere1982 said:

First of all, thanks for the hard work put here.

Although I have never tried such an extended testing and I understand FMM is a stats game, I have found that having an AP in an AMC position as your PO does not really work because the area that this player occupies is just outside thw box. And as we know reaching outside the box is the primary objective of the team, so you want a player that helps you reach that area of the field in an organized manner. I think this is the reason why a PO (CM, AP or DLP) works better in CM position.

Also I have found that when playing a lone striker as a Poacher, it is best to not use him as you PA. That makes also sense, because he is not the player to focus all of your attacking mentality on, as he plays always on the shoulder of the defender looking for the easy goal. The AP in an AMC position has worked for me as a PA when I play a lone striker formation, or even no one.

However when you have a potent TM (paired with wingers or WBs) or a world-class striker who can play as a CF, setting him as a PA does wonders even if he is the only striker.

I have also made some interesting goals in the counter attack mentality placing my lone striker (TM or T) at the FR position and using a super quick AML as an IF making him the PA so that all counter attacking opportunities can be focused on him and the space that he now has and can exploit with his pace.

 

That's really interesting the IF is PA it worth a try and about the PO I agree works better in CM position 

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I just want to say great work @veerus . That's a huge amount of effort on your part - Thanks! 

I've been using the PA setting for a Poacher in my 1KC challenge and although I've been happy with the results, I'm now wishing I'd experimented with it more. He'd get a lot of header opportunities, which he'd mostly lose, being a shorty. I thought that was because of the tactics (single striker with lots of space around him, direct passing to get it in quick to him), but maybe the PA role was part of it too. Anyway, too late this time around, but I'll play with the settings in future, to see which works best for my situation.

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Thank you very much for the input, its a very interesting read - keep up the great work and thanks for sharing :)

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Ok, let's talk about Box-to-Box Midfielders.  This analysis was inspired by the discussion I had in this thread.  The main points of interest were as follows:

  • BatiGoal suggested that primary attributes for a BBM are tackling, shooting, teamwork, stamina.
    • However, he wasn't sold on shooting being a primary attribute but insisted that tackling should be.
  • I made the point that both should be secondary as a BBM is supposed to race up and down the pitch and that primary attributes should be passing, dribbling, decisions (plus teamwork/stamina)
  • There is also a belief that BBMs shoot a lot.

I'm choosing to have this discussion in this thread because the BBM data I will present is from the same 200 matches I simulated in the PO/PA tests above so I won't have to repeat explanations about the methodology and terminology.

Also, a caveat - this year's engine seems to under-report tackle stats, I believe.  I figure I should mention it since I will be talking about tackle totals for these players.

Let's dive in.

Herrera.JPG.f8358398ce33b9ebf9da94dc2a3bd025.JPG

Meet the "right" BBM, playing on the side of the AP, Mata.  I mention this because BatiGoal suggested that BBMs may shoot less if they are on the same flank as IFs (implying that IFs occupy prime shooting positions).  Here are my observations:

  • Herrera's passing numbers were very consistent
  • He had better Key Pass numbers when a PA was not selected (not sure why)
  • He attempted 1.37 shots per game.  At first glance, his shooting accuracy of 55.1% may seem sucky but is actually pretty decent.  For context, Martial & Zlatan in this test hit the target 53.6% and 52.4% of the time, respectively.
  • Herrera also attempted 1.31 tackles.  I don't know if this is high or low but, for context, the DLP Schneiderlin averaged 0.44 tackles attempted per game.

Pogba.JPG.308e0edd6b8a6a46b1d8b61f8347efa1.JPG

Pogba, the "left" BBM, playing on the side of the IF, Martial.  What do the numbers tell us:

  • Pogba's passing numbers were even more consistent than Herrera's
  • He had better Key Pass numbers when a PA was selected in front of him (not sure why)
  • He attempted 2.42 shots per game with a shooting accuracy of 62.5%(!)
  • Pogba attempted 1.22 tackles winning a larger share of them than Herrera.

For comparison, let's also throw in Mata's numbers (the AP) even though we've already analyzed his performance above.

Mata.JPG.bfa95b3c6c15ca9ce12791a5265a3209.JPG

  • Mata's passing numbers varied somewhat based on tactical settings
  • Key passes indicate that he was most influential as the PO (or when Martial was the PA)
  • He attempted 2.43 shots per game with a shooting accuracy of 52.7%

Before we start drawing conclusions, let's check the role traits for these players.

58fc20598ff79_roletraits.JPG.575b5131fd566e286fe6fbc2815a6737.JPG

The only thing that sticks out is that Pogba (and Mata) like to try first time shots.  As far as midfielder roles are concerned, that seems to be worth about an extra 1 shot/game.

Capture.JPG.135cdd15907450855cfa9ef8a1779bbd.JPG

So what conclusions can we make from this data:

  1. This may have to do with hidden traits (not sure which ones there are so this is a stab in the dark) but it appears Herrera played deeper than Pogba as implied by the fact he had fewer passes, key passes, assists, and shots while attempting more tackles than Pogba.  Positionally, I don't think playing on the IF side or AP side would account for this difference.
  2. APs and BBMs seem to generate a lot of key passes compared to the rest of their teammates.  This makes sense, really.  But while APs are a considered to be the standard "creator" role, I think BBMs can also be used to create chances if you can't afford a pure attacking midfielder in your formation.
  3. BBMs tackled more frequently than the DLP, a role I personally expect to be a secondary tackler in my midfield.  This seems to support BatiGoal's hypothesis that tackling is an important attribute for BBMs.
  4. Pogba attempted 2.42 shots per game, in line with Mata's 2.43 while Herrera attempted 1.37 shots.  That's less than 4 shots/game from two(!) BBMs (plus 2.43 more from Mata) out of 14.82 shots/game that the team generated across the 200 games.  Is that shooting "a lot"?  I suppose you could go either way here but, for me, that's within reason.
  5. Herrera/Pogba averaged 2.2 interceptions per game.  DLP Schneiderlin averaged 2.85.

So what does this all mean?  I may be biased but, to me, this confirms my initial hypothesis in the other thread that "Their main role is to race up and down the field and be the team's engine. ... Basically a BBM is a mix of CM and AP kind of like a CF is a mix of all forward roles."  So when discussing primary/secondary attributes, the best way is to single out a few general attributes as absolutely necessary (passing, decisions, teamwork, stamina) with everything else as secondary (tackling/positioning, shooting/movement, creativity/technique/dribbling, pace).  Because these players do EVERYTHING in the midfield and we can't only use this role with a player who has 20s in everything. :) 

So what do you guys think?

P.S. has anyone had success with using PO/PA in their tactics after I ran these tests?

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Interesting findings and thanks for the time and effort you put into this. Certainly seems like it wouldn't hurt to demote shooting and tackling. Also, doing a search on BBMs ingame throughout different careers and time periods the decent to good ones do cover the primary attr. Passing - Decisions - Teamwork - Stamina. Adding Shooting and Tackling to the search leaves the best ones behind only so it makes sense giving this role a little update.

As for the PO/PA, I don't bother using these if my team is worldclass or balanced in terms of quality. I only pick these when I have a stand out player in the team or focus on a single striker for 'goal' challenges.

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On ‎2017‎年‎4‎月‎23‎日 at 12:59, veerus said:

Ok, let's talk about Box-to-Box Midfielders.  This analysis was inspired by the discussion I had in this thread.  The main points of interest were as follows:

  • BatiGoal suggested that primary attributes for a BBM are tackling, shooting, teamwork, stamina.
    • However, he wasn't sold on shooting being a primary attribute but insisted that tackling should be.
  • I made the point that both should be secondary as a BBM is supposed to race up and down the pitch and that primary attributes should be passing, dribbling, decisions (plus teamwork/stamina)
  • There is also a belief that BBMs shoot a lot.

I'm choosing to have this discussion in this thread because the BBM data I will present is from the same 200 matches I simulated in the PO/PA tests above so I won't have to repeat explanations about the methodology and terminology.

Also, a caveat - this year's engine seems to under-report tackle stats, I believe.  I figure I should mention it since I will be talking about tackle totals for these players.

Let's dive in.

Herrera.JPG.f8358398ce33b9ebf9da94dc2a3bd025.JPG

Meet the "right" BBM, playing on the side of the AP, Mata.  I mention this because BatiGoal suggested that BBMs may shoot less if they are on the same flank as IFs (implying that IFs occupy prime shooting positions).  Here are my observations:

  • Herrera's passing numbers were very consistent
  • He had better Key Pass numbers when a PA was not selected (not sure why)
  • He attempted 1.37 shots per game.  At first glance, his shooting accuracy of 55.1% may seem sucky but is actually pretty decent.  For context, Martial & Zlatan in this test hit the target 53.6% and 52.4% of the time, respectively.
  • Herrera also attempted 1.31 tackles.  I don't know if this is high or low but, for context, the DLP Schneiderlin averaged 0.44 tackles attempted per game.

Pogba.JPG.308e0edd6b8a6a46b1d8b61f8347efa1.JPG

Pogba, the "left" BBM, playing on the side of the IF, Martial.  What do the numbers tell us:

  • Pogba's passing numbers were even more consistent than Herrera's
  • He had better Key Pass numbers when a PA was selected in front of him (not sure why)
  • He attempted 2.42 shots per game with a shooting accuracy of 62.5%(!)
  • Pogba attempted 1.22 tackles winning a larger share of them than Herrera.

For comparison, let's also throw in Mata's numbers (the AP) even though we've already analyzed his performance above.

Mata.JPG.bfa95b3c6c15ca9ce12791a5265a3209.JPG

  • Mata's passing numbers varied somewhat based on tactical settings
  • Key passes indicate that he was most influential as the PO (or when Martial was the PA)
  • He attempted 2.43 shots per game with a shooting accuracy of 52.7%

Before we start drawing conclusions, let's check the role traits for these players.

58fc20598ff79_roletraits.JPG.575b5131fd566e286fe6fbc2815a6737.JPG

The only thing that sticks out is that Pogba (and Mata) like to try first time shots.  As far as midfielder roles are concerned, that seems to be worth about an extra 1 shot/game.

Capture.JPG.135cdd15907450855cfa9ef8a1779bbd.JPG

So what conclusions can we make from this data:

  1. This may have to do with hidden traits (not sure which ones there are so this is a stab in the dark) but it appears Herrera played deeper than Pogba as implied by the fact he had fewer passes, key passes, assists, and shots while attempting more tackles than Pogba.  Positionally, I don't think playing on the IF side or AP side would account for this difference.
  2. APs and BBMs seem to generate a lot of key passes compared to the rest of their teammates.  This makes sense, really.  But while APs are a considered to be the standard "creator" role, I think BBMs can also be used to create chances if you can't afford a pure attacking midfielder in your formation.
  3. BBMs tackled more frequently than the DLP, a role I personally expect to be a secondary tackler in my midfield.  This seems to support BatiGoal's hypothesis that tackling is an important attribute for BBMs.
  4. Pogba attempted 2.42 shots per game, in line with Mata's 2.43 while Herrera attempted 1.37 shots.  That's less than 4 shots/game from two(!) BBMs (plus 2.43 more from Mata) out of 14.82 shots/game that the team generated across the 200 games.  Is that shooting "a lot"?  I suppose you could go either way here but, for me, that's within reason.
  5. Herrera/Pogba averaged 2.2 interceptions per game.  DLP Schneiderlin averaged 2.85.

So what does this all mean?  I may be biased but, to me, this confirms my initial hypothesis in the other thread that "Their main role is to race up and down the field and be the team's engine. ... Basically a BBM is a mix of CM and AP kind of like a CF is a mix of all forward roles."  So when discussing primary/secondary attributes, the best way is to single out a few general attributes as absolutely necessary (passing, decisions, teamwork, stamina) with everything else as secondary (tackling/positioning, shooting/movement, creativity/technique/dribbling, pace).  Because these players do EVERYTHING in the midfield and we can't only use this role with a player who has 20s in everything. :) 

So what do you guys think?

P.S. has anyone had success with using PO/PA in their tactics after I ran these tests?

Great test and analyzing, mate!

To compare Bogba and Herrera is not fair. Bogba has higher CA than Herrera.

From my experience, higher CA player will have more chance to take the ball.

 

 

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23 hours ago, rseven said:

Great test and analyzing, mate!

To compare Bogba and Herrera is not fair. Bogba has higher CA than Herrera.

From my experience, higher CA player will have more chance to take the ball.

Thanks!

It's interesting that you say that.  This test is nice to try to guess at the difference between the two BBMs since this is a largely symmetrical formation.  If we consider "actions on the ball" ("AOB") as passes+shots, then we have Herrera (3.5 stars) with 33.17 AOB and Pogba (5 stars) with 36.42 AOB.  That's almost a 10% difference for Pogba.  Plus more goals, assists and crazy good SOT% considering he often shoots from distance.

I hate to say that the conclusion here is that a better player is better... but I guess that's kind of what this is.  

Bonus Data Point:

Since I'm on the topic, let's take a look at the other 5-star participant here - Zlatan.  He barely made an impact in the 200 games above with 14.9 passes attempted + 2.24 shots attempted compared to Martial (4 stars) who had 20.2 passes + 5.75 shots.  Now, you may say that Zlatan as TM is probably not the best role for him, and I would agree.  

Which is why when I ran my tests, I also gave Zlatan a shot as a CF (also selected as PA) for 10 games with Schneiderlin as PO (5 games) and Mata as PO (5 games).  In that test, he averaged 9.4 passes + 3.3 shots (12.7 AOB) and the team averaged 4th lowest xG per game (out of 9 possible scenarios) of 2.464 and 2nd worst points per game at 2.6.  On the other hand, he enjoyed his best shots per game average of 3.3, goals per game average of 0.6 and rating of 7.7.  This data set also featured the best goal-scoring game where United won 7-0.

So this improved Zlatan's performance a little (though worse for some reason than when he was the TM & PA in previous tests) but at the cost of the team's performance.  You'll note making Zlatan PA in the original tests also resulted in the worst xG performance (despite the great results).  This stuff with the tactical "magnets" is kind of confusing and hard to get right.  But if there's one thing that I can conclude with some degree of confidence here is that if you're playing single striker formations, avoid making your lone striker the PA.

Alternative interpretations welcome...

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10 hours ago, veerus said:

Wich is why when I ran my tests, I also gave Zlatan a shot as a CF (also selected as PA) for 10 games with Schneiderlin as PO (5 games) and Mata as PO (5 games).  

Not sure if you have taken it into account but it matters whether those 10 games were at the start or the end of the season. And of course the more games you give it the more reliable the number but these sort if test are very time-consuming, I know.

10 hours ago, veerus said:

But if there's one thing that I can conclude with some degree of confidence here is that if you're playing single striker formations, avoid making your lone striker the PA.

Alternative interpretations welcome...

I couldn't tell the difference tbh. During my 1KC career I used it on and off but wasn't sure which was the better option.. Oh but that was a 5 forward formation btw. Different scenario obviously. We could use some feedback from others on this one.

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31 minutes ago, BatiGoal said:

Not sure if you have taken it into account but it matters whether those 10 games were at the start or the end of the season. And of course the more games you give it the more reliable the number but these sort if test are very time-consuming, I know.

To remind you about the methodology - all games were Community Shield games. And I only did 10 games because I didn't see a meaningful difference to keep going and that was the last thing I looked at. 

34 minutes ago, BatiGoal said:

I couldn't tell the difference tbh. During my 1KC career I used it on and off but wasn't sure which was the better option.. Oh but that was a 5 forward formation btw. Different scenario obviously. We could use some feedback from others on this one.

Yeah, it's not a lone striker if he has 4 other forwards around him. :) The main reason why I think it doesn't work well is because the "magnet" forces the ball forward before the rest of the team is in position to support.

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10 hours ago, veerus said:

Yeah, it's not a lone striker if he has 4 other forwards around him. :) The main reason why I think it doesn't work well is because the "magnet" forces the ball forward before the rest of the team is in position to support.

I used it with Armstrong in a 4 3 2 1 and it seemed to work well - but of course I had a lot of trouble with other players taking 'his' goals because he wasn't as good as his teammates and he wasn't selfish. My whole tactic was built around playing it into Armstrong quickly and getting him to do his stuff before the rest of the team arrived, so I guess that makes perfect sense...

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On 4/23/2017 at 11:59, veerus said:

"Their main role is to race up and down the field and be the team's engine. ... Basically a BBM is a mix of CM and AP kind of like a CF is a mix of all forward roles."  So when discussing primary/secondary attributes, the best way is to single out a few general attributes as absolutely necessary (passing, decisions, teamwork, stamina) with everything else as secondary (tackling/positioning, shooting/movement, creativity/technique/dribbling, pace).  Because these players do EVERYTHING in the midfield and we can't only use this role with a player who has 20s in everything. :) 

Just to add, I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm almost certain the engine's interpretation of these roles are "tweaked" every so often to keep us, the users, guessing and to keep the game -as the developers like to put it- realistic/hard. If we manage to pinpoint each and every role the game would become dead easy, how else would we explain different behaviours on different versions. This time IFs BBMs and BWMs .. What's next? Anyone's guess. So re-analyzing these roles is the best we can do but don't expect the current interpretation to last.

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3 hours ago, BatiGoal said:

Just to add, I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm almost certain the engine's interpretation of these roles are "tweaked" every so often to keep us, the users, guessing and to keep the game -as the developers like to put it- realistic/hard. If we manage to pinpoint each and every role the game would become dead easy, how else would we explain different behaviours on different versions. This time IFs BBMs and BWMs .. What's next? Anyone's guess. So re-analyzing these roles is the best we can do but don't expect the current interpretation to last.

They do re-evaluate the roles every now and again, but only if they feel that the tweaks will make them more realistic. That's got nothing to do with keeping the players guessing...

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10 minutes ago, Jens said:

They do re-evaluate the roles every now and again, but only if they feel that the tweaks will make them more realistic. That's got nothing to do with keeping the players guessing...

That latter adds to the "realistic bit" so I'm not convinced it isn't one of their objectives.

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17 hours ago, BatiGoal said:

That latter adds to the "realistic bit" so I'm not convinced it isn't one of their objectives.

But it would imply that sometimes they'd have to make certain parts less realistic, which is counter to their aims?

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1 hour ago, Jens said:

But it would imply that sometimes they'd have to make certain parts less realistic, which is counter to their aims?

Maybe call it "juggle with the primary/secondary attributes". For example, I've seen/read more than once here that pacey players in particular get good ratings/bring good performances in this year's engine. BWMs for example -assuming I'm right about the "juggling"- behave differently in this years engine compared to the previous one. I think certain prim/sec attr get promoted/demoted if you will which would explain certain players (despite their attr update) play better/worse on different engines.

I can't prove it so it's speculation on my part. I'm not that into "over"analyzing things anymore, just enjoying the game as it comes :)

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7 minutes ago, BatiGoal said:

I can't prove it so it's speculation on my part. I'm not that into "over"analyzing things anymore, just enjoying the game as it comes :)

Which is how I've always done it tbh. I never play the game, looking at the stats screen like @Ashez does. I've heard some things about the BWM as well, but I doubt they'd break certain roles on purpose.

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