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FMM18 New Role: Libero


FMM18 New Role: Libero

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In September I wrote an article asking if there was any point in using a sweeper in FMM. You can read the article here but the general gist was that I didn’t see much point in them unless you are playing ultra boring defensive football. I did however add that I would like to see the Libero role added to FMM18. Someone at SI must have heard me because they did just that. In this article I am going to take a look at the role within the game and see if it does what it says it should.

What is a Libero

The term Libero comes from the Italian name for the role libero da impegni di marcatura which roughly translates (I hope) to  "free from man-marking tasks." Like the sweeper he will sit behind the two centre backs (CB) and ‘sweep’ up any through balls and pick up spare attacking players. Unlike the standard sweeper the Libero should also push out from the back with the ball and instigate counter attacks in the same way that a deep lying playmaker would. The role of Libero is especially synonymous with Italian and German football and some famous Libero’s being Gaetano Scirea, Mattias Sammer, the Dutchman and highest scoring defender ever Ronald Koeman and of course probably the greatest of all time Franz Beckenbaur. What all these players had in common was excellent technical skills coupled with a true football brain which enabled them to read the game perfectly and to be in the right positions on the field. They all also played in midfield at times during their career and I think this shows the versatility required to play this role.

 Since the turn of the century the role has gradually gone out of fashion with many teams using ball-playing defenders (BPD) and deep lying playmakers (DLP)  instead. The use of more zonal marking, high defensive lines and off side traps has made the role of less use in modern football, as has the prevalence of 4 at the back formations. Many commentators have also blamed the prevalence of high pressing by teams on their decline. I personally don’t buy that argument because the high press would equally effect BPD’s and DLP’s but the game is full of them. The high press simply means that these players have to be one step ahead in their thinking and all the players listed above would have had no problems playing in the modern game. In the last couple of years we have seen 3 at the back become more popular again but we have yet to see a return of the libero fully, although it could be argued that a player like David Luiz at Chelsea played a similar role last season. We would see him push out of defence and join the midfield and even the attack, safe in the knowledge that his two defensive partners would hold the fort whilst he was gone.

The Libero in FMM18

The fact that the Sweeper/Libero isn’t a role that is often used these days we don’t have an abundance of top players to pick from for the role. A few of the best at the start of the game are:

·        Leonardo Bonucci – AC Milan

·        Gerard Pique - Barcelona

·        Jan Vertonghen – Tottenham

Let’s take a look at how the game describes the role. We don’t have Roley this year to explain the roles unfortunately and we just have to make do with this.

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So what attributes should we be looking for in our Libero. The below screenshot of Gerard Pique shows the stats that I would look for in a good Libero. The gold are the primary attributes and silver are secondary attributes that your player would have in an ideal world.

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Technical stats

Aerial: I have this as a secondary attribute as the two CBs either side of your Libero will most likely do the majority of the heading as that’s part of their job. I would still look for it from your Libero as he is playing at the back and will on occasions need to head the ball but perhaps it isn’t vital compared to the CB role.

Passing: If your Libero is going to step into midfield and contribute with the ball he is going to need to be able to pass it.

Tackling: I think this one is kind of obvious as it is primarily a defensive role.

Technique: You need a player that is comfortable on the ball, so he will require good technique.

Mental stats

Aggression: A high stat here can be a blessing and a curse in any player. We have all had that good defender that aggressively tackles the opposition and wins the ball back but also picks up a ton of bookings and sending’s off. A sweeper isn’t an overly aggressive role but some aggression from a defender is always a bonus. I would say Pique’s stat of 14 is a very acceptable level.

Creativity: This goes hand in hand with passing. If your Libero is going to act as a DLP with the ball he needs to be able to pick out a positive pass and not just the easy sideways passes.

Decisions: The libero needs to be an intelligent player and make the correct decisions on the pitch. He needs to know when to step up and join the midfield and when to drop back and defend.

Positioning: A great stat that all defenders need. He needs to make sure he is in the correct positions to intercept through balls. In many ways a Libero needs this more than tackling as his job is more based around intercepting through balls by being in the right place at the right time than steaming into tackles.

Teamwork: Your Libero needs to be able to work well along side his teammates and also be willing to work hard as he moves between defence and attack.

Physical stats

Pace: This gives him the ability to move quickly up and down the pitch as well as keep up with fast strikers. Pique doesn’t have this in abundance.

Stamina: This simply means he won’t get tired quickly as the Libero is a very mobile role. We all look for this stat in our players and a lower stat here won’t mean your Libero will be a bad player but he may not be able to play as long or as often as you want.

Strength: A very important stat in all defensive roles.

So we have the theory of what the Libero should do on the pitch and what abilities he needs to perform the role, lets take a look at if the role does as it should in the game.

As you would expect I have some screenshots which show the role in action. I am using screenshots from a test save I did upon release of the game. I used this save to test various roles in the game and also a few players ready for a challenge that I will be starting soon. I played around 8 games with Pique playing the Libero role so what I will be pointing out in the screenshots is based on my observations from all those games and not just this single game versus Levante. I choose the Levante game simply because it was my next game and I had the time to take the shots. To get the screenshots I want I have to play the game very slowly so it makes sense to test the role over a number of games but only screenshot one match otherwise it would take hours of play to get perhaps 4-5 screenshots.

First up lets take a look at the tactic I have been employing. This isn’t the first tactic I would go for with a team of Barcelona’s talents but it did prove to be quite successful in terms of both goal scoring and defending in the games I used it in.

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We played with an attacking mentality and high pressing in this game. I tried the same tactic with control and balanced mentality in other games but it didn’t have a huge impact on what the Libero did, but of course it did effect how high the overall defensive line played.

The Libero should be two roles rolled into one if implemented correctly by the game. He should be a sweeper when we are without the ball and be either in line or just behind the two CBs. When we are in possession he should move into the defensive midfield area and act similar to an DLP. This is why I didn’t play with a DM as he would get in the Libero’s way. I expect to see Pique move into the DM position and create a diamond midfield.

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If you look at the Libero icon you will notice it is a rectangle this denotes that it is a support role. If you play a sweeper he has a back pointing arrow to show it is a purely defensive role. This means that he should offer support to the rest of the team when we are in possession as well as defensively. The yellow arrows show that he will make runs forward from his starting position.

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The first screen shot was taken straight from kick off and we immediately see Pique (ringed in black) is in the DM position and we have the midfield diamond that I wanted to see. This diamond shape gives the midfielders an increased number of passing options. The ball is with Diawara at the top of the diamond and he has at least 6 passing options. He could pass to any player within the diamond and also to the three players indicated by the arrows. This was a common sight when we had possession and I could have included a number of other screenshots that looked similar.

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This is from the same highlight but 37 seconds later. We tried an early attack but gave the ball away. You can now see that Pique (No 2) has dropped back in between the 2 CBs and is also slightly deeper in order to pick up any loose balls. I think this screenshot also shows why this formation isn’t suited to a team like Barcelona as Levante are playing very defensively and not committing very many men forward due to our greater ability. Our two WBs have dropped in to make a back five but only two of our defenders are actually marking an opposition player.

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We have got ourselves 2-0 up and we are in control of the game. You can see just how high our back line is with our mentality set on attack and this is with a balanced back line. Levante are still bringing everyone back into defence and I feel that in this situation the Libero should be much more adventurous. I would like to see him push further forward as it is meant to be a support role but he isn’t offering much support where he is. There is little danger from the opposition at this stage and I’m sure in real life you would see a player in this role moving up and positioning himself around the edge of the box ready if the ball is headed away and he can pick it up and recycle possession.

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This screenshot illustrates perfectly why you wouldn’t try and play an offside trap and a sweeper of either sort. Pique has dropped deeper but this is actually allowing the striker to get closer to goal. A better player may be able to turn Pique here and get a chance to shoot. When playing a team as defensive as this and with only one up front the sweeper is redundant as just the two CBs could handle the one striker perfectly well. When I played against teams with two up front the CBs had more to do and the Libero became the spare man as he should. This is another reason the Sweeper/Libero role has dropped out of favour because many teams play with only one striker.

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This screenshot shows again how I would like to see the Libero be more positive in these kinds of situations. I found that once we took the ball into the oppositions final third he would drop back into the back line. I am convinced that the Libero’s of old wouldn’t do this. They would push into this space and ensure that they where an passing option. This is a real frustration for me, as we have seen the Libero will push into the midfield but I felt on a number of occasions in this match and others that he didn’t do it whole heartedly especially as we where on an attacking mentality.

To finish off lets take a look at his match stats. As this was quite a one sided affair, despite Levante coming alive in the last 10 minutes and getting 2 goals neither of which could be blamed on the Libero, I have decided to show a couple of other games stats as well.

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Here are the stats from the Levante game and the first thing that leaps out at me is the fact that the two other CBs made more passes than Pique. What we don’t know is what type of passes these were, the two CBs may have played a lot of simple 10 yard passes to feet and Pique may have played less passes but they may have been more ambitious in nature. This is a situation where we don’t see everything even on extended highlights. Another factor may have been that Levante only played one up top and Pique dealt with him for much of the match which left the other two CBs spare to recieve the ball under less pressure. I think this was what caused Pique to have to make 4 tackles in the game, which is the highest number of tackles I saw him make when playing as a Libero. image.png.671c7a60aefafc8e07f697dcaa8880ed.png 

This is the stats from the Seville game which was my first game using a Libero. Seville played a 3-4-3 and we can see that Pique only made 1 tackle but made 5 interceptions. The interception is bread and butter for a player in the Sweeper position and is the reason I made positioning a must have attribute. In the modern game where tackling is cracked down on, defenders need to be more intelligent and rely on their ability to read the game and intercept the ball more than diving in for tackles. I was pleased to see both Pique and also Umtiti winning the ball back in this manner. We again see that Pique didn’t have a many passes as the other two lads and all three had less than the Levante game. I put this down to Sevilla playing three strikers and pressing high, which gave my back three less time on the ball.

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Chelsea played their favoured 3-3-2-2 in this Champions League game and despite both teams playing with three CBs it was a high scoring affair. We see for the first time that Pique made the most passes out of our back three. This was a classic game where the Libero was truly the spare man at the back as our two CBs dealt with the opposition strikers. We also saw him make 7 interceptions and unlike the previous games he had to make four headers, showing that some times the Libero does need to head the ball.

Conclusion

So what have we learned? Well for one thing we have seen that the Libero will move around the pitch as he should. In defence he will sit just behind the CBs and then push up into midfield when we win the ball back. I would like to see him be more aggressive and push further into the midfield to truly support those players especially when you are playing a more attacking mentality. Maybe next year we could see a third sweeper role of the attacking Libero. I hate to compare FMM to the PC game but it is possible to play with an attacking Libero on that version and perhaps in the future we could see it replicated for FMM.

Would I use a Libero long term in a save? The answer is I would if I had a player to fill the role but not in every game and not if I was managing a club like Barcelona who have some crazy attacking talent. I would consider using it for games where I wanted to be a little more conservative at the back but still keep a good attacking threat and play out from the back. The role is quite versatile and the cushion that 3 defenders can bring is helpful in big games, whilst still having that player who can push into the DM and help bring the ball out from the back.

The way football works it is highly likely that we will see the term Libero reappear at some stage in the future. Everything is reinvented and brought back at some stage, just look at how we have seen teams playing 4-2-3-1 for the last 10 years and many are now moving to three at the back systems or the success of Leicester and Atletico Madrid using the 4-4-2 in recent seasons, despite being told that formation is dead.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you would like to know more about the Libero please check out this article

Thank you for reading.

 

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Fantastic, awesome post! I love in-depth analysis and this cranks it up to 11.

i have to admit that I hadn’t realised the Libero was added to FMM18, but knowing this it allows me to starting using my favourite sort of FM tactic - one where a player moves between the DM and CB lines to create flexibility. 

This role seems to be like a reverse version of the HB role from the full fat FM, allowing you to have a back 4 with WBs. I was kind of able to replicate it last year with John Stones in a BPD role, but this addition looks like it will work so much better.

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1 hour ago, Meestercat said:

This role seems to be like a reverse version of the HB role from the full fat FM, allowing you to have a back 4 with WBs.

I'm glad you enjoyed the article:).

It is a reverse HB that is true with the difference that the Libero will drop a little deeper out of possession compared to the HB role on the PC.

54 minutes ago, Kingsolop said:

Top notch stuff... Regrettably not many players have high stats in your recommended attributes

Thanks:) Yeah its a shame you don't have more options but I guess it reflects the lack of sweepers/libero in the modern game. Depending on the size of DB you load their are a good number of players who can play sweeper but not many good ones if you are a top club. 

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Nice article - I particularly like the diagrams. 

When would you use a L over a DM or DLP who both also like to venture forward a bit. Put another way - what's the advantage of the L when you could achieve similar defensive benefits from the other roles with the added benefit of having an extra guy in the midfield more often?

Only thing I can think of is using an underdog team against pacy forwards but, ironically, underdog teams wouldn't have a good L anyway. 

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Thanks mate - I was wondering how the libero was going to work in this game. Do you think if you'd chosen a libero with better pace, he might have got forward more?

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:)Good read! 

7 hours ago, FuddledFox said:

:) Yeah its a shame you don't have more options but I guess it reflects the lack of sweepers/libero in the modern game. Depending on the size of DB you load their are a good number of players who can play sweeper but not many good ones if you are a top club. 

I found Rodrigo Caio who from SPO, and he has nice stats to play as Libero, I would try to use him in EPL.

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I employed a similar tactic and mindset with AC Milan but with a 2-man midfield (AP and CM). Bonucci also had the least passes, but  the midfield did go through him once in a while. Probably due to us having only 2 there, but I agree that he should be more like a DLP in possession and be involved more in the build-up.

I noticed that he was always the one making interceptions on clearances and goal kicks.

I also think that with a Libero/Sweeper, the team was more defensively sound, as I had a season where we only conceded 13 goals in the Serie A, most of them due to this year’s unrealistic set-piece conversion rate.

4 minutes ago, Ares_2 said:

:)Good read! 

I found Rodrigo Caio who from SPO, and he has nice stats to play as Libero, I would try to use him in EPL.

I also signed him as my back-up, did well with a very young line-up. Haven’t seen his stats go up to world-class levels but he did have a 10-month injury spell.

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3 minutes ago, itimatpula said:

I also signed him as my back-up, did well with a very young line-up. Haven’t seen his stats go up to world-class levels but he did have a 10-month injury spell.

:laugh:God 10-month.

I have noticed that he was one of the most injury pones in fmm2017, but in 2018 his injury percentage from 80% down to 50%, so shock to heard a 10-month injury for him.

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21 minutes ago, Ares_2 said:

:laugh:God 10-month.

I have noticed that he was one of the most injury pones in fmm2017, but in 2018 his injury percentage from 80% down to 50%, so shock to heard a 10-month injury for him.

Yeah, injured during training with 2 gold prevention physios. 😂 Another solid SW I used would be Filippo Romagna.

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Quality article (y)

To me Libero is like a BPD with oomph :)

Have you looked into the possibility to retrain suitable players for this position? Are there enough alternatives for the very few present in the game. If so it'd make playing Libero's a much more interesting concept. 

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This is the article I am waiting! So great!

I also did some test on Libero role. Same conclusion.

In current version, I think libero will move forward when we control the ball in our half. When the ball passed to opposite hald, libero will come back. I also expected libero should have more chance to move into oppsite half like a DLM, even go into box to finish in overload mentality.

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Oh @FuddledFox oh @FuddledFox where for art thou @FuddledFox

writing another amazing article that’s where thou art

fantastic write up as always dude and a nice way to introduce people to one of the new roles, I can see one of these articles  for each of the new roles

keep up the amazing work 

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Brilliant enjoyable piece there @FuddledFox    Really in depth which gets us all thinking and raises as many questions as it answers. 

I personally won't be using that particular role because you have brilliantly highlighted some of the flaws. I would want my libero to be much more involved in the attacking build up and quite frankly the centre backs have had more effect on the games, regularly passing the ball more and making key passes which the libero didn't manage. 

Apart from the excitement that comes with having a new player role, I'm struggling to see the point of that position. It could become so much more but could, would, should can be labelled at a lot of the game. 

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I'm running out of compliments to give you Mr Bingo as you've once again smashed it out the park! It was an absolute pleasure to read and we're so lucky to have you! For my money you're the best content creator in the community! 

As for the role it really excites me yet it's so limiting it's hard to care about lol. However I do have a formation in mind where I need to give this a trial run, if it works as it could this role could take that formation to the next level. 

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Thank you for all the comments. I'm pleased that so many of you enjoyed the article enough to want to comment:) This is the reason I keep producing content for this great site.

 I am going to try and reply to as many of you as I can.

20 hours ago, veerus said:

Nice article - I particularly like the diagrams. 

When would you use a L over a DM or DLP who both also like to venture forward a bit. Put another way - what's the advantage of the L when you could achieve similar defensive benefits from the other roles with the added benefit of having an extra guy in the midfield more often?

Only thing I can think of is using an underdog team against pacy forwards but, ironically, underdog teams wouldn't have a good L anyway. 

I guess that is part of the reason we don't see the role used that often. It does give the mixture of benefits that you can have a back 3 and also that extra man move into midfield. I certainly wouldn't use the role at a club like Barca because you would get far more benefit from having that extra man in midfield.

17 hours ago, phila said:

Thanks mate - I was wondering how the libero was going to work in this game. Do you think if you'd chosen a libero with better pace, he might have got forward more?

Thats a great question and something I hadn't thought about. I may try a quicker player in the role at some point and see if it makes a difference.

12 hours ago, BatiGoal said:

Have you looked into the possibility to retrain suitable players for this position? Are there enough alternatives for the very few present in the game. If so it'd make playing Libero's a much more interesting concept. 

I never have much luck with retraining players so havent yet tried. Their are a decent number of sweepers in the game depending how big a DB you load but of course Libero is a very specialist role so they may not all suit the role and certainly not at the top leagues.

10 hours ago, Taff said:

Oh @FuddledFox oh @FuddledFox where for art thou @FuddledFox

writing another amazing article that’s where thou art

Shakespeare is turning in his grave:laugh: Thanks for the kind words mate.

 

9 hours ago, billy2shots said:

I would want my libero to be much more involved in the attacking build up and quite frankly the centre backs have had more effect on the games, regularly passing the ball more and making key passes which the libero didn't manage. 

 Yeah the role is OK but also frustrating at the same time.

5 hours ago, Kubey said:

Is this gold/silver atribute marking yours or is it applied in game. How to turn it on? 

Sorry but the gold/silver is my creation on my photo editing software, It would be a great feature in the game though wouldn't it.

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1 hour ago, FuddledFox said:
2 hours ago, FuddledFox said:

Shakespeare is turning in his grave:laugh: Thanks for the kind words mate.

 

 Thought you were old Bill reincarnated 

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9 minutes ago, Taff said:

 Thought you were old Bill reincarnated 

Well I don't live far from Stratford upon Avon so you never know.

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Great article. I've been meaning to try out the libero role as well with my 5-2-3 setup but haven't been able to find a suitable player yet. 

I also must confess that I hadn't thought about the different shaped boxes (defensive/support/attacking) on the tactics page. But not that you say it, it's makes perfect sense and a very nice and simple touch. 

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11 minutes ago, haykay said:

Can you do something like this for ANCHOR MAN?

When life stops getting in the way😟 I am sure that will happen😃

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:DCan't wait for ANCHOR MAN's guide. @FuddledFox

And if you can explain more of the difference between MC and DMC roles that will be perfect, such as DLP/BWM in MC and in DMC. Maybe when you have time to do so, Just hoping HAHA.

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6 minutes ago, Ares_2 said:

And if you can explain more of the difference between MC and DMC roles that will be perfect, such as DLP/BWM in MC and in DMC. Maybe when you have time to do so, Just hoping HAHA.

The DLP and BWM do the same job in DMC or MC but they start further up the pitch when placed in the MC positions which can be good if you are playing a pressing game. If I am using attacking WBs I like to play someone in the DMC position to protect the CBs but if I am using more defensive FBs or 3 CBs I would push the DLP/BWM into the MC position so they start higher up the pitch. Its all about getting the balance of the team right.

I did do a piece on DLPs for FMM17 here is a link if any of you guys missed it. It was voted the 2nd best article on Vibe last year (just saying:P)

 

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5 minutes ago, FuddledFox said:

The DLP and BWM do the same job in DMC or MC but they start further up the pitch when placed in the MC positions which can be good if you are playing a pressing game. If I am using attacking WBs I like to play someone in the DMC position to protect the CBs but if I am using more defensive FBs or 3 CBs I would push the DLP/BWM into the MC position so they start higher up the pitch. Its all about getting the balance of the team right.

I did do a piece on DLPs for FMM17 here is a link if any of you guys missed it. It was voted the 2nd best article on Vibe last year (just saying:P)

 

;)Wow Thanks!

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