The W-M Formation – Match Analysis

In the last part of the Paysandu series I wrote, I spoke about the W-M formation and explained how I was going to use that. This post is a follow-up to that but this time, we focus on the stuff that happens during a match. I’ll highlight the pros and cons of what I see and explain about possible fixes, if it’s something that is happening constant.

My Analysis Breakdown

Don’t Make Knee Jerk Reactions

If you’ve followed me for a while or read some of the other stuff I’ve written then you will know that I like to play three games without changing anything. Even if something isn’t working, I don’t change anything. The reason for this is because when I’m creating a tactic I like to get a feel for it over several games. This way, you can see if something is a one-off or whether you see patterns in each game of things that aren’t working. You don’t want to make knee jerk reactions and change things without knowing if it's a one-off or not. Friendlies can kind of help with this but I believe competitive games are better because players know the difference between a friendly and a competitive game.

Split The Analysis Into Sections

When I am trying to spot issues I keep it very simple and split it into two categories;

  • With the ball
  • Without the ball

The reason for splitting what I am looking at during a match into with and without the ball is because it shows us what’s happening during different phases of the game. Just because you defend solid or cause the opposition a massive threat in the final third, doesn’t mean you have balance and can do both simultaneous. It also makes it very quickly to identify issues because you have a lot less going on.

By breaking it down into sections, this allows you to focus on different aspects and also limit what you are seeing. This will hopefully take some confusion away as there are only certain scenarios/outcomes you are seeing. You can add them all together later to see the bigger picture. But find a way to break things down and make it easy for yourself. Break it down into even more sections than I do, if you feel it helps.

There are no rules. It’s all about making it easier for yourself.

Focus on the Opposition Or Not

If you’ve read my stuff before you’ll be familiar with how I analyse games and pay no attention to the opposition. You can pay attention to them if you wish but for the way I play it just doesn’t fit my overall approach. The reason for this is that I like to create my own style of play and would rather focus on what my side does, rather than trying to adapt to the opposition. If you are always adapting then how can you truly create your own brand of football? I don’t believe you can.

Forcing the opposition to adapt to me is my preferred way of playing. This doesn’t mean I don’t change stuff during the game. But normally any changes I make are based on how the match is going and what my players are/aren’t doing. You’ll see examples of this throughout the whole series.


Normally I dismiss friendlies and what happens in them and use them mainly for fitness. However this year, due to playing without attributes I can’t really do this. I need to use them to get to know my players and see what they’re capable of. So I’ll be using friendlies and competitive games this year for analysis as I have to watch them and assess the players anyway.

The results in these games doesn’t matter. I could win 4-0 but see things during the game that I believe will be problematic long-term. Or I could lose 4-0 yet see the signs that our overall play will be fine. So take the results with a pinch of salt and instead, focus on the context of the game above the results/stats. However you can possibly use the result to grab a quick snapshot of possible formations you might struggle against once the season starts.

Preseason friendlies
Paysandu FM19 friendly results

If we look at the friendlies I have played so far you’ll see their nothing special results wise really. But it does show that when I play the 4-2-3-1 wide whether with midfielders or defensive midfielders, I have struggled so far in both games. It could be problematic or it could just be pure coincidence that this formation (or a variation of it) caused me trouble twice. Now what I need to do, is make a mental/written note about this so the next time I face this formation in a competitive environment, I can look further into it and maybe pay more attention to this match that I might normally do.

If you enjoy the tactical side of the game then I’d highly recommend adding the opposition formation custom view to your overview. You can also add your own formation, this can be helpful if you use many different formations throughout the reason. It makes it easier to see what you used and against who and to see the score.

I find by having some kind of structure like the above, it helps when trying to pinpoint potential issues and just analysing things in general. I’m not saying you should copy this or my methods are better than anyone else's. They’re just what works for me.

Match Analysis

I’ll now go back and review all the friendlies I’ve played and list some of the more common issues that I saw happening. I’ll not discuss them all as there will be lots more analysis and refining issues once the season officially starts.

One of the first things I noticed when reviewing the friendlies back, was the half back role. In the red circle we have the left-sided half back who knows there is danger and has dropped back to mark the opposition player. The second half back is a lot more advanced as there is no real danger for him to pick up, so he didn’t drop as deep.

I also notice maybe the first issue in this screenshot and that’s the space between the inverted wing-back on the right hand side and the no-nonsense centre-back. Due to the shape I am using, this kind of space is expected and might seem worse than normal because we lost the ball seconds ago and my defence had already split to go wide. However I would like the other half back to take up this kind of space to eliminate these kind of threats. Or at the very least, my central defender to be aware of the opposition player and get closer to him.

Is this a one-off or does it happen regular. I still don’t actually know as this is just the first 15 seconds of the game I am reviewing. But we can add it to the list of things to keep an eye on.

This screenshot bothers me a little bit. I’ll explain why. My Inside forward is deep and helping out defensively which is great. However, the inverted wing-back is also deep. This means when the opposition has the ball in these areas, they always have a spare man because the inverted wing-back is deep which is creating a huge gap that the opposition are exploiting. I’ve noticed this on a few occasions throughout the game.

Later in the move, it shows why it’s problematic. When the opposition made the original pass, it meant my inverted wing-back and the inside forward both come inside chasing the player cutting inside. When this happens, the oppositions wide player continues his run down the wing. The player currently on the ball passes is to the player were the red arrow ends. Then that player plays the ball into the path of the rampaging wide player. I get cut open really badly here. On this occasion nothing really comes of the move but it still troubles me.

There are a few options to explore here though. I could do one of the following;

  • Change the IWB role to something else
  • Change the line of engagement
  • Push the whole defensive line higher
  • Change the duty of the IWB

All of those are possible options I can explore to limit this happening. I’m unsure as to which option I will explore the first though as this article is just about spotting issues. Fixing them and discussing why I selected one option over another, is for a later article.

Wide play in general is causing me a lot of headaches at the minute but that’s expected due to the shape we are using. Play in these areas specifically when being hit on the counter make us a mess at the back. I lack the numbers at the back to begin with, so when we are hit on the counter the situation worsens. All the opposition has to do here is to play a simple direct ball to the striker and he's in behind the defender and clear in, on goal.

The W-M Formation is very much a risk vs reward system but I’m not sure the roles I’m using are helping at the back. The no-nonsense centre-back and the two half backs don’t seem to have the synergy I was hoping for. They both function okay but it looks like I might want something a little different from both players, rather than using the same role for both. It’s a tough one though because from an attacking standpoint they contribute and offer exactly what I want and expect. It’s just defensively which is an issue.

Now I’m in a dilemma, do I sacrifice defensive player for the potential attacking output and stick. Or do I try to go for more balance, which might take away from the attacking intent. Playing risky doesn’t bother me but I’m not a great side and not knowing the attributes that the players have, is making me question everything. If this was a normal save and I could see the attributes, the risk vs reward debate wouldn’t be an issue. But I can’t, so it is. It’s something I’ll think about in more detail before the next update though.

I don’t want to overload this article with too many examples, I just wanted to pick out a couple to get us on the way. This series will be very analytic heavy, so I don’t want to give too many examples in a post. I just want to highlight how we can look for potential issues and give a few tips for breaking it down into parts to make it easier to understand.

In the next article we’ll focus on more issues but this time it’ll be from competitive games and be a lot more detailed, due to them being more important. I’ll also discuss any changes I’ve made.

One thought on “The W-M Formation – Match Analysis”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.