Tactical Interview – The Prof

We are actually at the end of the 124thTop Eleven season and I’m sure that many of our managers who are active in the game are participating in one of the Top Eleven communities.
This is how through the almost 10 years that top eleven has been around, we have been meeting and learning from different managers who have made history with their clubs.
Today, we have managed to have a manager whom many of you know, like “The Prof”, leaving a free space in his agenda to attend us and thus be able to do an interview to learn more about his playing style, and why not? Know what is hidden in his mind.

So, here we go;

Khris – Let’s start with the classical courtesy thanking our interviewee who is dedicating time to our readers, so it is a pleasure to be here with you, Prof.

The Prof – Ty Khris  my pleasure to be here

Khris – You finish this season getting all the points in the league, and winning a World Cup with Italy, how does this feel?

The Prof – It feels nice , finish the league unbeaten against good teams helped me to save a season where i was unlucky with cups but winning the World Cup was the best achievment for me, winning it with my style – with a different way of playing against very good managers made me really happy , cause in a way it was another confirmation that my way of playing can work against many tactics and great managers out there.

Khris – What do you think has been the most influential factor in managing your team in recent times? lately your fans are watching you play without strikers, with a 3-1-3 (ML-MC-MC) -3 (AML-AMC-AMR) Is this a way to baffle the opponent? why this philosophy?

The Prof – At the beggining when i came back playing in 2015( i had 6 months brake ) i was very inspired by Guardiola way of playing, the way he let Messi play, and the way he play football matches like ” chess “. So i accepted this challenge: find a way to “replicate” it in this game. It was not simple that time, i was in a Platinum asso ( I’m actually the captain of it ) so points were needed to help the team maintain the plat grade, and i was in “study” phase that time so my results weren’t good sometimes. Fortunately the captain of my asso that time was a football passionate and got very interested in my way of playing and he decided to keep me in the asso , he helped me a lot by doing friendlys , tests and more. He gave me tactical freedom, he didn’t forced formations or % , so that’s why when he retired and made me captain i promised him to do the same.

why this philosophy?

I watched many football matches and what i saw is that one of the most important things is controlling the space, move the opposition team,”destroy” their defensive shape in order to create space where you want is a key to win matches.

Khris – pros and cons of playing from the second line in attack?

The Prof – Ok before i explain the pro & cons i have to explain my way of playing

– The “overload theory”.

When I started to play strikerless during a lot of tests, friendlys, by swapping-changing positions/formations i saw that the game allow movements of a player if this have a space ( for example a DR will go up if there is not a winger in his flank ) so i did a test one day and i noticed that if you play with a ML and AML (or MR and AMR )and leave the ST spot free the ML go up and the AML cut inside occupying the ST “free” spot becaming a sort of a stricker. So this opened a world for me and i started to work on it.

These are some examples of the movements i saw my team doing during the matches against varoius formations :



(Check post #5 for more examples; https://forum.topeleven.com/top-eleven-general-discussion/76883-interview-sketch-prof-dont-ask-here-plz.html)

So the aim is to use these overloads to move the oppostition players out of position in order to create space to exploit.

Pros :
– having always 1v1 during attacking phase that are enough to create difficulties for the opposition team( especially if your team is stronger )

– having a +1 man in defensive phase ( like you can see in the animations ) and all the players cme back defend ( ST’s dont came back to defend ) so the
opposition team will have more difficulties to score

– Dominate possession : You will always have a ” free” man in the field and this give the team always a “passing solution” to escape the opposition team
pressing ( my average seasonal poss% is around 70 , in difficult matches from 60 to 65 )


– Experience is needed : In order to play in this way you always need to adapt your formation according to the opposition and sometimes when the other
manager is watching you need to change fast during the match. This require fast thinking . You need to have in mind the formations that are needed to
counter a new formation that the oppo can use.

Khris – Static formation, or variable according to the opponent?

The Prof – When they ask me what formation you use ? i always say ” i have no formation ” , i always adapt. When i started the game my aim was to find a ” Universal ” formation that can be good against all other formations, but at the end i realise that there is no perfect formation. Of course you can find a formation that is good vs many but every formation have pros and cons. Is up to the manager to find a suitable formation for every match that have more pros than cons. I believe that this is one of the reasons why that some managers get trolled in some matches even if they are stronger, 1 day you can you meet a weaker team have a formation that is ” effective” against yours and this is where a tactical change/ formation change can save your day.

Khris – Imagine that the game starts, possession against, foul against, and goal in the minute 1 ‘… what would The Prof do?

The Prof – I experienced this sometimes and the advice i give is : Always maintain the calm. You need to focus and try to find why your team is not performing like you want. Is not easy especially when you are under pressure during important matches. Always take a bit of time and think then make changes.

One way to avoid this is doing a “pre-match” planning , by asking your self some questions like :

-What i will do if my team take a red card ?
-What if he change formation ? ( assuming that you watched some of his matches so you know what formation he is going to use )
-Who will be my sub in case my best player get injured ?
– and etc..

Khris – To a new Top Eleven player, what advice would you give him?

The Prof – This is a hard question, the game evolved during the years so giving an advice is not easy. Some request i saw mostly from new players are :
– formation?
– How to train players?
– How to win titles ?

Regarding formation , like i said before , always adapt according to your oppo.

Regarding the players training the forum , Fb groups and also YT are full of guides about building “well-trained ” players, is like a culture.

Winning titles: In Italy we say ” ci sono mille modi per arrivare a Roma ” – there are many ways to arrive to rome and of course there are many ways to win titles, some are easier and some are more difficult , my advice is to choose the one that let you enjoy the game,having fun is the main purpose of a game

Khris – Is it a mutant, a factor as decisive as it seems to many? And most importantly, from when should we consider that a player is a mutant?

The Prof – Old school mutants

Players with 400+ white skills ( back then you can find also players with 1000 lol ) are no longer present in this game cause of some Nordeus moves in the past ( 340 limit , no more gk training exploit and no more MOTM in friendlys ) and these where really game changers, they could score from any posistion ( even from midfield ).

Todays mutants players deserve to be called well-trained players and from my experience yes they can make the difference but in some matches their perfonmance can be ” nerfed” due to the new engine configuration that make the life harder for the stronger teams against the weaker sides.

Khris – 50 % for attributes, or a Special Ability? And which would you chose for every single line inside your team?

The Prof – I usually always go for attributes cause i consider them more stable, Special ability is a boost for attributes but get triggered in certain moments and certain scenarios. I will always prefer a MC with 200 passing than a MC with 150 passing + Playmaker SA.

For the defensive line – 1 defensive wall and 1 aerial defender are a must

For the midfield line – DMC – playmaker sa
– MC – playmaker sa
– ML,ML – playmeaker sa or dribbler sa

For the attacking line – AMC,AMR,AML – shadow striker sa ( i usually give 1 of them a playmaker sa, he will be the assist man in front ) or free kick specialist
– ST – 1 on 1 finishing or Free kick specialist

Khris – What you consider a reasonable expenditure on resources for a season?

The Prof – Well i think that the 100T income from a platinum asso + daily greens are good enough to play a good season ( especially if you have a good team already ). It also depend on the way you play cause if you manipulate the season by selling some player at the end of the season you will need less resources instead the harder way ( finishing the season over 120% Q) will demand more resources according to the goals you want to reach ( double, trebble or quadruple ). So the difficult part is the beginning , building a good base, but after that is not hard to maintain it.

What are your orders when you play hard attacking and when you play hard defending?

The Prof – I’m an attacking minded manager and i always play Hard attack, i like my team to play more in the oppo half than mine but some times i use also other mentalitys according to the opposition way of playing and %.

Playing a high defensive line is a high risk style of playing and you need good players and the right formation , cause basically you are leaving a lot of space behind your defeners. The advantage of playing in this way is that you force the opposition team to lose the ball by doing mistakes ( wrong passes ) and once they lose it your team is more close to the goal.

By keeping the defensive line high , you decidehow much space the opposition team have to play, but in order to keep this space you need a ” virtual chain ” and this chain is the offside trap. once they manage to pass the D line the trap will kill the oppo counter attack. But if you play vs a good team that play defensive mentality it will be difficult to play such a high D line cause they can “escape” your press with a good passing pattern and exploit the space behind your defence.

My Orders when i play hard attacking:
– focus passing – mixed ( but can change according to the opposition )
– type of passing- short most of times ( i chnage it sometimes to mixed when i low my mentality )
– Fource counter ON ( but sometimes i change , explanation below )

Force counter:The role of this commad need to be explained cause is not always clear to many
Basically it says to give up possession in order to have chances by countering fast the opposition. So is a
Tempo command.

Force counter OFF ( SLOW Tempo ) : This should be used when you want max possession , and it says to
your players ” once you get the ball , keep it “. they will play patiently till
they found space to exploit ( TIKI-TAKA)
Force counter ON ( HIGH Tempo ) : This should be used when you want you team to play more fast, they
will not waste time by keeping the ball and they will perform high
speed counters to reach oppo goal, and you will see more shots from
player than passes ( an example is Kloop Liverpool style of playing)

So i usually play short pass+ counter ON, is a balance between good poss% and good amount of chances, when i’m winning like 4-0 and want to
waste time last 20/30 mins i switch counter off .

-High pressing ( sometimes low press if the oppo is really weaker so i don’t need to waste too much energy )
-Zonal marking ( i only use MTM if i’m really much stronger and want to close the game fast )

-Hard tackle: Tackling is very important cause determines the team aggressivity and if you play hard attacking is a must cause if oppo team manage to pass the press you need to kill the counter by doing the offside trap or ( if they fail it ) a hard tackle risking a card. Some say ” i don’t use hard tackle cause the risk of a red card is too high ” but this depends on how much poss% you are doing , if your team have more time with the ball than your opponent they will not need to do much fouls. I played many seasons with hard tackles and i don’t even remeber the last time i got a red .

-Offside ON : is a must like i explained before

When i play hard defending ?

I play hard defending i some cases

1– When opposition team is playing defensive, like i said before play a high line vs a defensive team can be a huge risk so what i do to beat defensive teams is “Counter the Counter“. The aim of the defensive team is to exploit the space behind your defenders, ok, so why giving them that space ? you need to “counter the counter”, lure them out, sit more back than them and they will come at you. They will leave space behind them and you will counter that.

2-When i play vs a much stronger team ( like 15+%) that play attacking( or hard attacking ) mentality, while against stronger team that play normal mentality hard defending is not much good ( from my experience ) cause they don’t concede much space behind them and your team is to far from that line to perform an effective counter so in this cases i play normal+low press ( or defensive + high press ) in order to stop them near the midfield line( this helped me a lot in many events that Nordues did where there are 40% stronger teams, like the last one we had )

3– When i want to keep a result but only in the last 10 mins


Usually MTM marking isn’t a good idea against fast attackers but DCs in the game have speed as a grey skill.
Does MTM just give a defensive bonus and there are no situations when we should not use it in the game?
Because in reality, this shouldn’t be the case.

The Prof – Usually fast attackers have great dribbling too so i never use MTM to stop them. The defender weapons are Marking and Positioning (+ speed for DL and DR ) and if they very good attributes they will not have problems to stop them ( especially Positioning ) by using the offside trap. Actually ( and also in the last 2 seasons ) i have 2 very fast wingers ( 250 + speed , one of them 270 ) and against very good defenders ( with low speed but high positioning ) they get trapped by offside. If your defenders are not very good in positioning play a lower defensive line.

I always play zonal marking cause is more a team effort defending, they help each other so sometimes you can see also 2 of your players against 1 of the oppo one that enter in their “zone”. With MTM your players will followr and stick near the oppo ones and this can be good in case you are the stronger team cause you will put more pressure on them, but only in this case so it should be used only if you team is much stronger , faster and good on marking. So yes is a like a bonus in that case. Be carefull with it cause is really high demanding , so players need to be 90%+ condition.

In reality nowadays all teams ( or the majority of them ) play Zonal

SillyBQ: Offside trap is good with attacking and counter is good with defensive. Do you think it applies in the game?

The Prof – Yes both correct 

Narrative Writer;
Are the best orders with attacking (against equal teams) are

A. Normal tackle
B. Man to man (I do this given in high press you use it to win back ball quicker)
C. Offside on
D. Counter off
E. Short pass
F. High press

2. Are the best orders with defensive are

A. Normal/hard tackle
B. Zonal
C. Offside off.
D. Counter on
E. Long pass
F. Low press

Please clarify my confusion on when to use man to man and when to use zonal? My idea is that if the strikers are too strong than
defenders I play zonal.

Why is the normal mode so vulnerable in this game? It always seems to be the losing case. Or the orders of counter ON doesn’t work well with normal?

I play 4 2 3 1.

The Prof – 1 – Most Important orders for attacking that should be always used are : – hard tackle – offside trap ON . These are a must for attacking mentality

While the other orders can change according to oppo formation , % and your style of playing.

B – MTM only if you are much stronger. Always Zonal and you will be ok

D – counter can be either ON or OFF with attacking , it depends on you if you want to play a more fast attacking(On) or possession based(Off) game

E – You can play attacking football also with mixed and long passes not only short, like i said earlier it depends, for example if you are playing against a weaker team
and your team is struggling with short passes to find space cause oppo is playing a very compact formation that is not simple to open you can use long passes to
surprise them and win the match. I usually use always short passes but when i searche for goals sometimes i change.

Another important thing is the passing focus : lot of variables are involved with this setting like oppo formation weak point , you players rating and more. So you need
to give a look at the oppo formation and players to decide where to focus your ” attacks “.

-Examples : – oppo is using a 3DC + 1 dmc formation and i’m playing with AML;AMC;AMR. in order to have more good chances i should exploit his flanks, mixed
would be abit of a waste cause my AMC vs his DMC( if he si good) can have some problems so better use the “free space”.
– during the match i see my wingers rating and the AML have 9+ while the AMR have a 6.9 and missing some goals in front ( even if is your best player ) , in
that case i focus the attack in the left flank ( and this saved some matches ). Always watch players rating ,
these are the only iteraction between the manager and his players during the match, and with experience you will know when a player is having a bad day
or not performing.

2 – Most Important orders for defending that should be always used are : -Counter On – Mixed pass( or long )

Short passing is not good cause your team will be too slow , Slow = oppo team have time to reorganise their defensive shape -> fail counter. Your team
need to exploit fast the space that the oppo left behind.


Usually defensive teams low press but this will be good if you are equal or stronger than your oppo, so that means you are”confident”
with the oppo entering inside your half and they are sure to regain the ball . But if you play against a stronger team you can’t allow them to enter too much
in your half cause they can outplay your players( non more confidence) so in this case you need to play high pressing + defensive. Your team instead of
regaining the ball inside in your half they will start pressing more earlier the oppo and recover balls near the midfiled line, always a defensive approach but
more agressive in order to stop very good teams. To help understand this here some examples

(Example of this is Mourinho’s Inter defensive + high pressing trying to stop the oppo before they go more inside in their half – advantageof this is that the attacking players are near the oppo defensive line and if they are fast they can easily go past )

(Here instead a “confident” defensive team that low press and allow oppo entering deep in their half – Pro = more space to exploit cause oppo will be very high
Con- if the team lose the ball ( or don’t regain the ball )in that zone oppo will be very close to goal and probably score )


Offside trap for a defensive team is a risk cause the defensive line is already low and if they fail it the oppo player will be really near the goal and in a 1v1 vs the gk, but it doesent mean that they can’t do it. For example i use it , but you need players that have very good positioning, all of them. While in attacking style few players are involved in performing the trap ( only defenders ) so easier cause they are less, in defensive style almost all the team is involved in it, cause they are near each other , and if only 1 of them fail to be in line = trap failed -> oppo score. So defensive teams can do offside trap but is more difficult cause the are amore players involved in it ( a MC for example that in not much good in defending can ruin the trap even if your defenders are very good )

Does overall rating matters when your player’s white skills are terrific?
I’m a bit worried about playing with a 90%+ AMR this season even though his white skills are very good.

The Prof – From my experience no, white skills still matter, my Legend player retired 2 seasons ago and was at 85-86% Q and he did a great season by winning a quadruple. So no worries  but prepare a good sub in case in some matches is not performing

Der rayan M;
Are formations counter a thing or why are you playing irregular formation?

The Prof – My aims are to : 1- counter opposition formation
2- exploit opposition formation weak points by using these overloads
3- have 1v1 during attacking pahse and +1 man in defensive phase ( in some case +1 man is not doable but still a 1v1 in both phases)

“Weak points” = you control that area = cheap poss%, so you can change opposition defensive shape, and create space for you players to exploit

So that’s why i play this strange formations 

I want to ask @Illmaestroll but it’s not about tactics.
– Do you play for the challenge or for the titles ?
I mean, do you drop quality to avoid +1 lv opponents or do you accept friends from the same lv and server with strong teams ?

– Did you ever stay same season on purpose ? Why ?

The Prof – I play for both, i like the challenge but i’m also trying to get more titiles , I always play vs +1 lvl oppos and i got used to it , i like to play under pressure with good hard battles.

This was my league 2 season ago for example ( won it for 1 point )

Some matches from this season for example

But like i said in a post of a Fb group this doesn’t mean that some managers are better cause they play without manipulation, both ways have their obstacles , trolls, etc. Both ways are called harder and easier ( but it doesn’t mean that the easier way= easy, you still have to manage the team) so no discriminatio everyone is free to play like he wants since the game allow it.

No i never tanked, i don’t consider it a way of playing cause is just a presence. if you want to take a brake is ok , but some managers tank badly conditioning a fair league battle and that’s the thing i hate most. If you want to tank do it properly without interfere.

Khris – Ok so, the interview is over here. Thank’s to @The_Prof for his dedication answering the Questions. Sure that this will help many managers to see the game from another perspective. 



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