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FM20 - Mauricio Sarri’s 4-3-3 Sarriball Tactic

FM20 - Mauricio Sarri’s 4-3-3 Sarriball TacticHere’s how to emulate Mauricio Sarri’s 4-3-3 Sarriball Tactic in FM20.

In this post, I’ll show you how I managed to play Sarriball in Football Manager 2020 just like how Juventus are doing in real life and how previous teams of Sarri have done in the past.

First we'll take a look of what style of football are we going to be working here.

What is Sarriball football?


Sarriball is a style of play in football characterised by is essentially a fast-paced, possession-based style of attacking football often likened to a vertical tiki-taka. Much like the style of play made famous by Pep Guardiola during his reign at Barcelona, Sarriball features short and quick passes designed to move play as far up the pitch as quickly as possible.

Invented by Mauricio Sarri, Sarriball is characterized as a method through pushing the ball out from his back-line, and depends heavily on his defenders holding possession to begin the first instance of attacking threat. Sarri's defenders are the first instigators of the attack. Essentially, Sarriball is a method of high-pressing play (though not to be confused with Jurgen Klopp's gegenpressing) that forces defenders into making mistakes, which are then punished by the attack.

Concluding, Sarriball is characterised as a relatively intense system with players pressing to win possession back and once possession has been won, teams wait for opportunities to open up and work the ball into the box to create chances.

But, this is Sarri’s replica of Sarriball however with his previous team (Chelsea). Let us see how the tactic functions.

Chelsea tactic - 4-3-3


Chelsea tactic - 4-3-3

First, let me start by saying that it is possible to play Sarriball with almost every formation in Football Manager 2020. Since we will be replicating Sarri’s tactic we will be playing the 4-3-3 formation which also incidentally suits best for the Chelsea squad of players.

So try to look at Sarriball as a style of play, rather than the formation, and you can apply instructions from this article to your team, even if you’re not playing in this particular formation.

I can’t stress enough how important is to have a Defensive Midfielder here. He won’t contribute all that much to goals and assists tally, but will bring the ball out from the defence and secure your backline when playing with four men defence.

It’s even possible to play this 4-3-3 slightly asymmetric, by pushing one of your Central Midfielders forward to Attacking Midfield position.

Player Roles and Team Instructions


GK - Sweeper Keeper / Support duty (If your goalkeeper can initiate counter-attacks). Goalkeeper / Defend Duty (Fewer Risky Passes, Distribute to Centre Backs - if you want more possession, slow down the pace and better build-up from the back).

DL / DR
- Fullbacks with attack/support duty (depending on resources), this is crucial for them running overlapping channels therby pulling defenders wider and leaving spaces for other players to run into.

DC - Both the central defenders should be set as Ball Playing defenders and will initiate passing from the back when needed.

DMC - Deep Lying Playmaker / Defend duty Jorginho is one of the best in the world at this role.

MCL – Box to Box Midfielder, Ngolo Kante will run up and down the pitch with his industry and participate in both attack and defense. He is the best tackler in the game and prove this fact by dispossessing opponent midfielders in crucial areas of the pitch.

MCR – Mezzala attack – Mason Mount can be developed into one of the best players for this role and will be crucial in contributing a lot of key passes in this system. He will also pop up with the odd goal especially from long range.

AML / Inside Forward Attack- Hudson Odoi who is one of the best wonderkids in game as an inside forward is well suited to this role and will further develop himself into a world class player. Christian Pulisic is also a strong player who can play the same role.

AMR /Winger- Willian has high workrate and good crossing making him a competent winger from the right. He will help in creating a lot of chances for others to score from.

ST – Pressing Forward Tammy Abraham is a very good young striker and will improve to become one of England’s leading attackers.



ALSO READ: FM20 - Pep Guardiola's 4-3-3 Man City Tiki-Taka Tactic


Team Instructions


Team Instructions

In Possession you will need to have the “work the ball into the box” instruction turned on so that the players can move the ball slowly, maintaining possession and looking for the perfect opportunity to create chances. The tempo should not be too high and the players should be allowed to express themselves freely to get more creative freedom during an attack.

Team Instructions

During transition, you will need to have the counter press and counter attacking instructions turned on for when you win the ball back. The keeper’s distribution should always be to one of the 4 defenders who will be pivotal in starting an attack by passing the ball from the back.

Team Instructions

It is advisable to use the offside trap because the defensive line is high as you will aim to win the ball high up the pitch and keep possession as much as possible. You can also press the opponent keeper and prevent shorter distribution trying to win possession back quickly.

This FM20 Sarriball tactic is aimed at keeping possession rather than fast transition so you will rarely have too definitely have more possession in most of your games. You need to have players with high technique to make sure that they are able to play this Sarriball tactic effectively. Opposition instructions will vary based on individual opponents.

With your inside forwards always looking to cut in, the overlap will come from the attacking fullbacks who will take up attacking positions and are important players in this system. You can also expect a lot of goals from your Mezzala and B2B midfielder as they will often find themselves with the opportunity to shoot.



ALSO READ: FM20 - Jurgen Klopp’s 4-3-3 Liverpool Gegenpress Tactic


Football Manager 2020 Chelsea Sarriball Tactic Results


Football Manager 2020 Chelsea Sarriball Tactic Results

Results are nothing short of phenomenal with the team losing just 1 game in the entire season and comfortably winning the league despite having very young players. A high number of goals and chances are also a by-product of this system with the team coming 2nd in both the goals scored and chances created column.

Football Manager 2020 Chelsea Sarriball Tactic Results

The 2nd image shows in depth the dominance the club has achieved over the course of an entire season. Despite being under a transfer ban and having very young players it was possible to easily win the title using this tactic. The young players are also developing into leading stars.

FM20 Sariball Tactic - CONS


One of the cons of this system is you will need good technical players to play this tactic effectively. This will not be a good tactic for teams with mediocre players and you will struggle to create chances unless you have the right personnel.

Because of the non-physical nature of the tactic and the high line, your opponents will definitely get chances to score against you and will be annoying when you have 60% possession but end up being a goal down. It takes patience and the team getting used to the system for it to work effectively.

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FM Blog: FM20 - Mauricio Sarri’s 4-3-3 Sarriball Tactic
FM20 - Mauricio Sarri’s 4-3-3 Sarriball Tactic
Here’s how to emulate Mauricio Sarri’s 4-3-3 Sarriball Tactic in FM20. In this post, I’ll show you how I managed to play Sarriball in Football Manager 2020 just like how Juventus are doing in real life and how previous teams of Sarri have done in the past.
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