Football Manager 2020 Tactics: Defending In A José Mourinho Mid-Block

7. Line Of Engagement

Mourinho Fm2020
Sports Interactive

The line of engagement is the first step to setting up an effective mid-block. Pressing high would cause you to lose your defensive shape and expose your central areas so you want to draw teams towards you. You want to give them a chance to advance out of defence leaving space to attack when the ball is won back. With this in mind, you have two options.

First, you could opt for a lower line of engagement. It will help close the distance between the midfield and defence, tightening up the middle even further. This is actually best employed against weaker sides. Although that might sound counter-productive, there are a couple of reasons for this. Weaker sides tend to play more direct so when your side drops a little deeper, it will provide you with more bodies to challenge for the first ball in the air and win the second ball on the ground. If a weaker side does attempt to play out from the back they are faced with a robust structure that they need to break down. A centre back with low vision, passing and dribbling will struggle to play successful passes or carry the ball effectively leaving them prone to mistakes.

The other option, and what I would recommend as a default setting, is a standard line of engagement. The opposing centre backs will still have more time on the ball in comparison to a high press but when the ball moves into midfield your team springs into action. You will see your side look to nullify passing options centrally, apply pressure and engage in a tackle around the halfway line. Reading scouting reports will tell you if you’re expected to be the stronger or weaker side in the next game and can help you set your line of engagement accordingly.


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