Trap Inside vs Trap Outside: Football Manager Tactical Guide

The introduction of the new pressing trap in Football Manager 23 is simply a rebrand of defensive width in the previous iterations of the game. 

Pressing traps helps a team funnel the opposition’s play in certain areas of the pitch, forcing them to play in areas where they’re less dominant. 

So, how to implement it in your game? Should you try it out, or leave it alone?

Today, we’re going to explain how to implement this sophisticated instruction with your tactical approach in Football Manager. 

Trap Inside Vs Trap Outside: Key Differences

AspectsTrap InsideTrap Outside
ObjectiveCut access to wide players, encourage central play.Force opponent to play wide during build-up.
Defensive WidthWide Defensive WidthNarrow Defensive Width
Tactical ApproachPlayers restrict space for wide play, channeling towards the center.Players screen the middle, forcing the opponent to play wide.
Cross EngagementAllows less room for crossesAllows more crosses
Image of the pressing trap instruction in Football Manager

Trap Inside vs Trap Outside: Things To Consider for Setting Up Pressing Traps

Before we begin comparing every aspect of the pressing traps in Football Manager, you should know these three things that the game doesn’t tell you about:

  • The pressing traps only apply outside the defensive third. Once the opposition gets into the final third, your players won’t follow the instruction. 
  • Trapping inside/outside affects your team’s defensive width
  • Trapping inside/outside will impact the angles of your team’s pressing.

Alright, with that out of the way, let’s break down every single detail about the tactical instruction in Football Manager.

Defensive Width

This tactical instruction sets up the defensive structure and compactness of a team out of possession. 

Although this instruction has been prevalent in the previous versions of the game, SI has recently implemented a new, dynamic way to set up defensive widths. And that’s through the new ‘Pressing Trap’ instructions. 

Trap Inside

Trapping Inside is basically done by adopting a wide defensive structure to force the opponent to play through the middle. 

Trap Outside

Trapping Outside, on the other hand, restricts space for opponents in the middle of the pitch, forcing them to play near the touchline. 


The two instructions give a team completely different sets of advantages depending on the formation and playing style of their opposition. 

Trap Inside

Trapping the opposition inside effectively blunts out the opponent’s attacking threats through wide areas. This means your team will restrict the opponent from reaching the byline from where they can dish out dangerous crosses. 

Enabling a wide defensive trap also lowers the risk of your fullbacks getting outrun by pacey wingers frequently.

Trap Outside

On the other hand, teams that are not particularly dominant in the wide areas can be forced to play outside, lessening their attacking threat. 

Defending Final Third Play

Here’s where the defensive instruction becomes interesting. 

Teams in Football Manager usually have three different Final Third approaches:

  • Work Ball Into Box
  • Hit Early Crosses
  • Shoot At Sight

Depending on how your opposition plays in the Final Third, the pressing traps can help to nullify their play, rendering them toothless in attack. 

Trap Inside

Not confident in your centrebacks’ capability to stop crosses? Maybe the opposition is playing their 6’6’’ Dutch Target Man who is making life hard for your 6’2’’ center back

Teams who struggle to deal with crosses can trap the opposition inside to lessen threats from wide areas.  

It’s also effective against teams who are efficient in progressing the play through the wide areas. They’ll try hitting early crosses from deep, or from the byline to find a target man at the end of the cross. 

Setting your team to trap them inside can limit their movements in the wide areas.

I usually prefer trapping my opponent inside if I’m confident of my Center-back’s pace, anticipation, acceleration, and agility to win long balls behind my defensive lines.

Slower forwards can be easily trapped inside, with a high defensive line to limit their movements. It forces the opposition to play one-dimensional passes through the center of the pitch, resulting in a high turnover in possession.

Forcing the play through the middle is also a brilliant idea if you’re defending in numbers, making it difficult for the opponent to find shooting opportunities from a distance. 

Trap Outside

Generally, teams that look to play a tiki-taka style of football prefer to dominate the midfield, creating chances through the central area of the pitch. Some counter-attacking teams also look to exploit spaces in the middle. 

For those teams, it’s wise to show them the wide areas of the pitch by trapping them outside. 

This will restrict any available space in the middle, forcing the play outside. 

Teams that are reliant on working the ball in the box will have a harder time creating chances if trapped outside. 

Forcing the team outside can also help teams face fewer long balls through the center. 

If your defense is not fast enough to deal with the opponent’s long balls behind the defensive line, then it’s best to lead them in the wide areas where they’ll be forced to hug the touchline. 

Defensive Line

Not considering the defensive line when setting up your pressing traps can have a disastrous effect on your execution. 

Here’s how:

Trap Inside

If you trap the opposition inside with a high defensive line, you’re asking for a lot of long balls behind your defense, which is asking for trouble when playing against a pacey advanced forward.

Set your defensive line too low, and the opposition target man can win the ball ahead of your defensive line and simply play it forward to a winger or a supporting attacker before you can press him down. 

That’s why you need to maintain a standard line at first and observe how your opposition is building up the play. 

Are they using a target man? Deep Lying Forward? Or a forward?

Are they playing direct? Or are they playing short passes?

Depending on your opposition’s play, you should decide whether to drop deep or push up when trapping inside. 

Trap Outside

The midfield is off-limits when your team is trapping the opposition outside. 

But is it?

If you have set your Line of engagement and Defensive line too far apart, you’re leaving acres of spaces between your central midfield and defense. 

No amount of traps can keep the opponent from breaking into your midfield.

But if you’re playing a very high line of defense, fast wingers can beat your slower full-backs and easily reach the final third, unchallenged.

Thats why, depending on your team’s pace, you should set up your defensive line appropriately when trapping outside. 

And make sure that there’s not much room allowed between the Line of Engagement and the Defensive Line.

Pressing Intensity

Regardless of the pressing trap instruction, the pressing intensity slider will decide the intensity your team will impose on their pressing game. 

Be careful about how you want to go along with the pressing intensity. Too much or far too less intensity can break your team’s defensive structure, or invite unnecessary pressure. 

Trap Inside

When trapping the opposition inside, you’d want your players to press the opposition wide players to force the play in the middle. 

Not applying enough pressure will allow the wide players a huge amount of space to exploit the sidelines.

Similarly, too much pressing can leave your back line in disarray, which opens a whole new avenue of problems.  

So while pressing intensity should be high for your advanced wide players, you want to individually instruct your defenders to press less often to maintain their defensive shape. 

Trap Outside

When you trap the opposition outside, you want a compact, narrow defense that’ll focus primarily on maintaining a solid shape to defend the middle. 

So if you implement a high pressing intensity, the players will be more aggressive in pressing the opposition, leaving gaps in the defensive shape. 

That’s why you should be careful about setting up individual opposition pressing instruction and the team’s overall pressing intensity when trapping outside. 

Trapping Formations

How to set up your team formation massively impacts the effectiveness of your pressing traps. If not executed properly, it can break your defensive structure, leading to disaster at the back. 

For example, A 4-4-2 will fail to trap a 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow formation inside. 

Although it makes sense to do so at first because the Diamond Narrow formation focuses through the middle, your two-man midfield, however, won’t be able to cope with the Advanced midfielder and Defensive midfielder supporting the midfield.

On the other hand, your 4-4-2 formation will be much more helpful against a 4-3-3 DM Wide, where your wingers and full-backs can play an active role to force the opposition into the wide area, by defensively positioning themselves narrower.

It’s also important to know that some formations are incapable of implementing certain traps based on how they are structured.

So you need to make sure you get your team shape right against particular formations.

Trap Inside

Trapping inside works best when you use formations that has adequate defensive players, covering the central areas of the pitch. But you must also possess wide players in the formation who’ll will cover the wide areas to restrict access.

These are the best formations to trap the opposition inside:

FormationsEffective Against
4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide4-3-3 DM Wide, 5-2-3 DM Wide, 
4-3-3 DM Wide4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide, 4-2-2, 5-2-3 DM Wide
5-2-1-2 DM AM5-2-2-1 DM AM, 5-3-2 DM Wide, 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide,  5-2-1-2 DM AM
5-2-2-1 DM AM5-2-3 DM Wide, 5-3-2 DM WB, 4-4-2
5-3-2 DM WB4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide, 5-2-1-2 DM AM, 5-2-2-1 DM AM, 5-2-3 DM WIde

Trap Outside

You’ll need adequate midfielders forming a compact defensive shape in the middle in order to funnel the opposition to play wide. 

Wide players in your team will sit compact as well, pushing the opposition towards the touchline. 

The following formations can be effectively used to trap outside against certain opposing formations:

FormationsEffective Against
4-4-24-3-3 DM Wide, 
4-3-3 DM Wide4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide, 5-2-2-1 DM AM, 5-2-3 DM Wide
4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide, 4-4-2, 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow
4-4-2 Diamond Narrow4-3-3 DM Wide, 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide, 5-2-2-1 DM AM, 5-2-3 DM Wide, 4-4-2
5-3-2 DM WB4-4-2, 4-3-3 DM Wide, 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide, 5-2-2-1 DM AM 

Note: Although the 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow is one of the best formations to trap opposition outside, it’s highly vulnerable against crosses from deep areas, especially from full-backs, as they are mostly left unchallenged. 

Final Words

It’s really difficult to understand the situation for using pressing traps as there are a lot of factors to take into consideration before implementing the tactic. 

So if you’re not sure about your tactical approach, it’s best to leave the instruction to default. 

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