Crosses are one of the significant attacking threats in the beautiful game. And it’s the best feeling in the world if those crosses connect!
But it’s equally unpleasant if you’re at the defensive end!
So, how to stop conceding crosses in Football Manager?
That’s what we’re going to figure out today.
How to Defend Crosses in Football Manager
Conceding from crosses a lot in FM23?
You need to notice two things first:
- The type of crosses you’re dealing with
- The location of the crosses.
If you can figure out these two things, then you can sketch up a rough idea in your mind on how you can defend opposition crosses in FM23.
How to Stop Floated Crosses
|High Defensive Line
Alright, let’s start with the floated crosses.
Mostly used by underdog teams playing with a Target Forward upfront, the floated crosses aim to “float” the ball in the air for the Target Forward to attack.
These types of crosses give the Target Forward enough time to position himself and take on the opposition center backs.
What makes floated crosses dangerous is that they’re difficult to defend once the cross is executed. And if you don’t have towering defenders to challenge the ball aerially, then you better brace yourself for a tough 90 minutes.
Now, the key to defending against floated crosses is to press the playmakers from making the crosses in the first place.
Instructing your team to “Stop Crosses” can lead them to press the flanks heavily to stop potential crosses, stretching the defense in the process. However, this is pretty safe for defending floating crosses as your defense gets enough time to organize themselves by the time the cross reaches the box.
So you should aggressively press the playmakers from making any attempt at crossing the ball. This will discourage them from making those dangerous floating crosses.
Maintain A High Defensive Line
The Target Man role usually tends to be slower than your average forwards. Thus this makes them less effective outside the box. And that’s what you should aim to exploit.
Use high defensive positioning to restrict the movement of the Target Forward. Play your strongest centreback on Stopper duty to win the ball immediately from the Target Man.
Center Backs with high Strength, Balance, Jumping Reach, Heading, and Bravery are better suited to defend against floated crosses.
The more you keep the Target Man outside the box, the less threatening they get from floated crosses!
Trap Opposition Inside
I like to trap the opposition inside to force them to play through balls instead of crosses. This is a perfect strategy to counter the floated crosses as it gives the opposition very few opportunities to get the ball in wide areas!
How to Stop Low Crosses
|Standard Defensive Line
|Less Often / Standard
Low crosses are completely different from floated crosses and should be dealt with accordingly.
Unlike floated crosses, low crosses don’t give your defenders enough time to position themselves, making them difficult to deal with. It’s a highly effective crossing tactic for teams that have agile and quick attackers.
Low crosses are usually played from a narrow attacking width, mainly from the channels. And the attacking team usually has several crossing targets.
So, how do we stop low crosses in FM23?
Maintain A Standard Defensive Line
A problem when dealing with low crosses is that you can’t rely on a high defensive line as it leaves too much space to make in-behind runs. Neither can you defend too low as it opens up room for attacking midfielders arriving late in the box.
That means we’ll maintain a standard defensive line to defend low crosses.
Our focus should be on restricting the opposition’s runs into the channel.
For that, we’ll individually instruct our full-backs and wing-backs to stay narrow all the time. Staying narrow restricts movements into the channel, reducing most of the threats of low crosses.
Your defenders must have adequate Pace, Acceleration, Agility, Positioning, Anticipation, Bravery, and Marking to deal with low crosses.
Next, we’re going to invite crosses instead of looking to stop them.
One of the best ways to defend low crosses is by restricting the space in the box. Actively pressing to stop crosses will make the opposition stretch your defense, opening up huge gaps inside the box.
And you don’t want that to happen when defending against quick and agile attackers!
Staying compact allows your players to crowd the final third, making it easier to block and win low crosses easily.
Lastly, mark the attackers tightly to give them no room to capitalize from low crosses.
How to Defend Whipped Crosses
|Lower Defensive Line
Whipped crosses are the most difficult crosses to deal with if the opposition has all the right cards!
In Football Manager, the whipped crosses are delivered into the box with speed, swerve, and dip. This makes the cross hard for the defenders to deal with.
It requires the finest crossers of the ball and also needs an equally aggressive attacker at the end of it.
That said, here’s how you can defend whipped crosses in Football Manager.
The main objective of a whipped cross is to exploit the space behind the defensive line to look for pacy forwards.
And if you restrict that space behind the defense, you’ve got a better chance of standing against those deadly balls inside the box.
Going low with the defensive line gives your defenders better positioning to deal with whipped crosses, while the goalkeeper also gets to win the crosses as the ball flies too close to him.
Specifically Mark Player
Usually, strikers at the end of whipped crosses tend to be well-rounded attackers with good physicality along with high Anticipation, and Off the Ball movement.
And once they get past your defensive line, it’s pretty much game over.
Pick a center back with good Anticipation, Agility, Acceleration, Teamwork, Concentration, and Marking to tightly mark the opposition attacker.
You’re not going to get enough time to react to whipped crosses.
So your best course of action is to press constantly. Both the crosser and the crossing target. Aggressively closing down the playmaker will reduce the success rate of the crosses.
But it’ll leave massive gaps in your defense. Which is why, we’re going to add more numbers in defense.
Playing with Back Three
Playing with a defensive back-three provides an added layer of security, allowing more players to guard the box.
It also allows your full-backs to push further up in pressing, without worrying about leaving the defense wide open.
Now, I like to give my center backs separate roles for dealing with whipped crosses.
I always use the center back in the middle as a stopper. His job is to win the ball as soon as possible from the attacker.
If I feel heavily outpaced by the advanced forward or poacher, then I also throw a center back with Cover duty in the mix to act as a safety option in case my stopper fails.
How to Defend Early Crosses
|Standard Defensive Line
Teams looking to hit the early cross tend to exploit the wide areas and play crosses at the earliest chances.
They also usually play a 2-man forward lineup to increase their chances of connection to those crosses.
Press the Full Backs
You’re highly likely to see your opposition building the game through the flanks. And most of the time, it’s the fullbacks who will try to play a long ball to your wingers. Once your winger receives the ball in a crossing position, he’ll immediately dish out a dangerous cross inside the box.
Engage your wide players to press the full-backs by providing long balls to the wingers. Restrict the play in the midfield by trapping the opposition inside.
Tightly Mark The Wingers
Another thing you can do to restrict early crosses is the tightly mark and aggressively press the opposition winger.
Teams playing with a “Hit Early Crosses” system in Football Manager are less likely to dribble their way out to find crossing space. Instead, they’ll immediately look to play crosses.
Marking them tightly all the time and immediately pressing them off the ball significantly cuts off that threat.
One Last Thing…
One last thing before I take my leave. Be sure to always recruit Defenders with high Concentration in your squad. A centre-back with immense concentration will make sure they see the end of the game without conceding any late goals.
Team mentality also dictates how well your team will handle the opposition’s crossing barrage. Keep that in mind as well!