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Napoli's Secret Tactic: How to Dominate Football Manager 2023 with Luciano Spalletti's Philosophy

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Learn how to dominate Football Manager 2023 with Napoli's secret tactic. Replicate their success with this customizable guide.
Napoli Tactic FM23 Luciano Spalletti

Learn how Napoli's tactical acumen led them to success despite losing key players, and replicate their stunning attacking football on FM23 with this customizable tactic guide.



Note: the tactic below is intended as a guideline only to replicate the playing philosophy of a particular manager. As such, this is tailored to the relevant club and may require slight changes to ensure success at other clubs. This tactic does not include set pieces.


There’s no doubt that Napoli have been the story of European football this season. The Serie A leaders are on course for their first scudetto since 1990 and have their best chance of success in the Champions League in a generation. All this despite losing key players such as Lorenzo Insigne, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Fabian Ruiz at the beginning of the season. How have Napoli managed to sustain an incredibly successful season despite these departures? It’s largely due to the tactical acumen of Luciano Spalletti.

The Tactic


Spalletti doesn’t restrict his side to a specific shape, explaining his philosophy that “it’s all about exploiting the spaces left by the opposition”. This allows them great flexibility in attack and explains how Napoli have managed to break down a wide variety of defensive systems. This is achieved by prolonged periods of possession, patiently recycling the ball between midfield and defence to invite the opposition into a press. This is heavily reliant on Lobotka’s exceptional passing ability, as he looks to keep possession moving to attract the press, and also has the ability to find the open man and break the opposition’s press with a pass.

To complement this, Napoli require their wingers to stay wide at all times, particularly when play is on the other side of the pitch. They trust the technical abilities of their midfield and defence, so they’re comfortable allowing plenty of space in the middle of the pitch for Lobotka to operate. This stretches the playing area and makes it difficult for the opposition to cover everyone. With good horizontal movement, they force the opposition into mistakes, freeing up spaces through the centre of the pitch.

Defensively, Napoli employs a high press, looking to win the ball back before the opposition settles into their own possession phase. Disrupting transitions like this is crucial to being able to attack the open spaces left by the defence, and is a key part of Victor Osimhen’s success. However, if the opposition breaks this press, they drop back into a mid-block to retain a solid shape and prevent easy central passing for the opposition.

How does this look on FM23?


Football Manager 2023 Luciano Spalletti Napoli Tactic FM23

Spalletti may not believe in a set shape, but for the purposes of FM, we’ll be using a 4-3-3. This is the best way to replicate Lobotka’s positioning to receive possession from the centre-backs. I define Lobotka as a pretty classic Regista, his main job in possession being to find the best passing option to draw the press, and then having the vision required to spot the open man on the far side. Playing as a Regista allows Lobotka to roam horizontally across the midfield and keep up with the play, constantly offering an option when not in possession.

Our team instructions dictate the players to spread the play as wide as possible, and while the wingers are both listed as inverted wingers, their player instructions are set to stay wide when the team is in possession to achieve the width we’re looking for, but they’re encouraged to attack the central areas as quickly as possible once they receive the ball. They’re also encouraged to dribble more than everyone else in the team. The CM partnership also creates a dynamic presence in midfield, the carrilero, of course mainly concerned with maintaining possession and cycling wide to provide a passing option for the back line. The CM on support is expected to do similar; however, he also has more pressing responsibilities when out of possession.

While Spalletti, in real life, often uses the full-backs as a wide option, I’ve chosen to set them to sit narrower as a safe possession option. This replicates the pseudo-back three often seen when the far-side full-back tucks in when the ball is on the wing. However, I’ve also set the full backs to run wide with the ball, helping to stretch play and create triangles on their own side of the pitch. Napoli are also comfortable with their full-backs taking on more attacking roles and Lobotka dropping into defence while in possession, so if you wish to experiment with this, simply switch Lobotka to a half back and remove sit narrower from your full-backs player instructions.

Conclusion


I hope you enjoy using this tactic, whether you’re starting a Napoli save or at another club. With the right DM, the successes of Gli Azzurri are fun to replicate on FM23, and produce stunning attacking football you’ll never tire of watching.

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FM Blog | FM24: Napoli's Secret Tactic: How to Dominate Football Manager 2023 with Luciano Spalletti's Philosophy
Napoli's Secret Tactic: How to Dominate Football Manager 2023 with Luciano Spalletti's Philosophy
Learn how to dominate Football Manager 2023 with Napoli's secret tactic. Replicate their success with this customizable guide.
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