For a more impressive possession, pressing tactic (in my opinion) why not check out this –

The complete football manager pressing & possession package, not Barcelona

I’ve been playing football manager for a few number of years. I’m one of those players who go through all the details, watch the reserve games (key view only), attempt to get the highest possible number of stars for coaches training, create training schedules for the type of players I have, etc. I have probably played with over a hundred teams for periods ranging from 2 months to 3 years in game time as each career I choose to begin is inspired by a manager’s tactics, or his sporting (player recruitment and management) philosophy or a club’s philosophy. These ventures include a perplexing MLS experiment, an enlightening Eastern Europe only game, and the very popular but extremely frustrating Blue Square Experiment

Recently, I read an article on Soccerlens by Johnny Karp – How To Play like Barcelona in Football Manager 2011, the brilliant creator of Football Manager Story and that article is the inspiration for this one. I have a few tweaks to the system I will recommend here.

An important thing to note is though Guardiola changes his tactics at times, he usually employs a 4-3-3 which will be discussed here.

Barcelona System


Víctor Valdés: He plays as a Sweeper Keeper as the last line of defence. As Barcelona play a high line, he has to be prepared to rush out to acquire balls over the top. His mode is Attack mode to enable him be involved in play and to utilize his Creativity of 13 if necessary. His distribution though is set to Defender Collect to ensure he doesn’t attempt hoofing the ball up the pitch.

Eric Abidal: Plays as a Wing Back in Automatic mode. He makes frequent bursts down the flank but his role alternates between defending, supporting, and attacking as he sees fit.

Carles Puyol: Captain Caveman. Plays as a Centre Back in Defence mode. Stays in line with Piqué and can be assigned to man-mark any opposing striker if required.

Gerard Piqué: Plays same role as Puyol but the natural difference in their preferred moves will highlight the differences. Due to the fact that he is at Barcelona, his accurate direct passes are not always required. His 15 Passing, 13 Creativity and his tendency to “Get Forward Whenever Possible” can be maximized by making him a Ball Playing Defender in Defend mode. His Run From Deep, Run With Ball and Through Ball can then be set to Sometimes

Daniel Alves da Silva: He plays as a Wing Back in Attack mode. His Closing Down should be set to Maximum.

Sergio Busquets: Plays as an Anchor Man which is only available in defend mode. His role usually alternates between the space two centre-backs and ahead of the defence. But he also advances up the pitch to close down opposition. His Mentality and Closing Down might be reduced to Defensive and Own Half or Own Area depending on the manager or they might as well be left unchanged.

Xavier Hernández: Deep lying Playmaker in Support mode. The heartbeat of the side controlling the tempo. His incredible Mental attributes and Preferred Moves make him superb for this role.

Andrés Iniesta: Advanced Playmaker in Support mode. He plays an advanced role in relation to Xavi looking to be more involved in action around the box. His equally impressive Preferred Moves allow him to play in Xavi’s role too.

Pedro Rodríguez Ledesma: Winger in Support mode. He starts wide but as a winger in support mode, he puts in a number of crosses but his through balls into the centre are also key. Also pops up as an option in the box.

David Villa: Inside Forward in Attack mode. Also starting wide, attack mode ensures his energies are geared towards goal-scoring as he cuts in from the flanks on and off the ball. His highly advanced position up the pitch lets him get behind the defence very often. In this position, he will be on the end of lots of through balls.

Lionel Messi: The most talented of the truly world-class players of his generation. He can play as a deep lying forward or complete forward in support mode or as a trequartista. The problem with him playing as a forward is he doesn’t drop as deep as he drops at times when Barcelona defend in real life situations. The problem playing him as a trequartista is trequartisti in FM11 prefer glimpses of that brilliance but with Messi, you want it every single time. Finally settling on a position in midfield as an Advanced Playmaker in Attack Mode, he is practically a midfielder. He works hard, he gets on the ball a lot, and he dribbles defences to score or set-up another player.


Xavi plays as playmaker because he is the playmaker for the side and his tempo dictating abilities are key. Another possible player for target man is David Villa with “Run Onto Ball” supply but to get Messi on the ball as much as possible, I’ve set him as the target man with ball into feet supply.


For choice of Philosophy, Barcelona play Very Fluid as the whole team is on the same wavelength being involved in attacking and defending together.
For choice of Mentality, this option is easily flexible. Control is what I suggest as this is designed to “move the ball around the park and patiently probe …..”. Other options include Attacking, Overload (Piqué playing getting forward so often he seems a centre-forward does sound like overload). One key attribute to watch is tempo as the quickest of tempos does not go in line with “patiently probing”.
Passing Style – Short, Creative Freedom – More Expressive, Roaming – More Roaming, Crossing – Drill Crosses and Closing Down – Press More are easily associated with Barcelona’s game.
The decision to push the Defensive Line as high as possible is to ensure the team reduces the opposition’s playing space putting them under constant pressure and this is also in line with Valdés playing as a Sweeper Keeper. The Offside Trap is also key as a high line without an offside trap is suicidal.
Zonal Marking is employed as Guardiola’s side attempt to occupy spaces as seen with his belief in using 3 at the back when attacking.
Tackling is More Aggressive as the Barcelona players attempt to win the ball back as soon as they lose it getting as close to the opposition player as possible putting him under intense pressure.
The Counter Attacking option has to be enabled so the side utilizes this option (outlet usually comes in form of David Villa) in game-time whenever possible.


Having created this tactic a long while back and utilized it, I currently do not possess any proof of mind-blowing results but they were impressive. I do believe there are so many ways to play with Barcelona and win games (I’ve used direct tactics with them before and won), but striving to attain Guardiola’s system is what this tactic attempts and I think it does.

Here’s a link to download the tactic – Barca! Barca!! Barca!!!

Please leave comments on what you think about this system. All comments welcome

3 thoughts on “Barcelona Tactics on Football Manager

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