Touchline Instructions

Even if you make use of opposition instructions during a match, it is still important to make tactical alterations to react to changing circumstances during the game, or to modify your base tactics pre-match to adapt to a particular opposition team, weather conditions, pitch size or match referee. Touchline instructions can be used to adjust your tactics either temporarily during a match or for the whole game. They act as an alternative to changing multiple settings manually in the Tactics screen and allow you to make related tactical changes in an easier and more intuitive manner. However, in order to effectively use touchline instructions it is important to understand how they work, what they do, and when to use them.

Touchline instructions do not alter ticked team and player instructions. These have to be set to default in order for the touchline instruction to be applied or else changed manually. Despite this, having some individual player instructions ticked can be useful when using touchline instructions. For example, if playing in a match with a very lenient referee then you may use the get stuck in touchline instruction to increase tackling to hard for all players except one who has poor Tackling, Decisions and a bad injury history.

Note that players won’t be fully comfortable playing tactics different to those learned in match preparation. This will be the case whenever a touchline instruction changes mentality, passing style, closing down, marking, tempo or width. So such touchline instructions should only be used temporarily or very occasionally for whole matches. If you use a particular touchline instruction a lot then it would be worth creating a modified version of your normal tactics based on the effects of the instruction and selecting this in match preparation. This can be done by using the instruction in a match and then saving the tactic.

When selecting certain instructions you may need to bring on substitutes more appropriate for the new tactics, such as fast and skilful wingers when using an instruction which changes passing focus to down the flanks.

Listed below is every available touchline instruction, along with its description as per the official game manual, a summary of the particular team and player instructions altered by the instruction and guidelines on when to use the instruction. Also listed are some examples of useful combinations of touchline instructions that you can group together and save as a custom shout in the Shouts section of your squad's Tactics tab.

Read Match Strategy and Tactics to learn more about how to adapt your tactics to the opposition and different match scenarios.

Defensive Distribution

Play Out Of Defence

Encourages defenders to pass their way clear from the back rather than clear the ball long.

Instructions – Instructs defenders, defensive midfielders and midfielders with a defend duty to greatly shorten their passing style.

Use when your passes – defence percentage is low and your defensive players are playing too many wasted direct balls, or when you want to keep hold of possession, unless the opposition attack is closing down your defence. If you are playing a deep-lying playmaker in a defensive midfield position or with a defend duty then ensure they are still instructed to make mixed passes.

Pump Ball Into Box

Instructs your players to launch high, long-range passes into the opposition’s penalty area.

Instructionsfocuses passing through the middle, instructs defenders and defensive midfielders to lengthen their passing style greatly and to make through balls more rarely, instructs full backs and wing backs to cross ball often, instructs all wide players to play with less wide play and hold up the ball, instructs strikers to run from deep more often.

Use when needing a goal late in the match if your strikers have more Acceleration and Pace than their markers or are taller and stronger than their markers. Your defenders and defensive midfielders would benefit from good Passing, Technique, Anticipation, Creativity and Decisions, and your strikers would benefit from good Anticipation and Off the Ball.

Clear Ball To Flanks

Instructs your players to look to make their clearances into wider areas to be picked up by attacking players.

Instructionsfocuses passing down the flanks, instructs defenders and defensive midfielders to lengthen their passing style greatly and to make through balls more rarely, instructs all wide players to play with more wide play.

Use if your wingers have more Acceleration and Pace than their markers or are taller and stronger than their markers, particularly if needing a goal late in the match, trying not to concede late in the match, looking to counter quickly against an attacking opponent, or if the opposition is attacking and focusing passes through the middle. Your defenders and defensive midfielders would benefit from good Passing, Technique, Anticipation, Creativity and Decisions, and your wide attackers would benefit from good Anticipation and Off the Ball.

Defensive Line

Push Higher Up

Instructs your players to play higher up the pitch, starting with the line the defence holds, which should be close to the halfway line if this option is chosen.

Instructions – pushes up the defensive line and instructs all players to close down higher up the pitch.

Use when the opponent is very defensive or when they are having too much space on the ball. Do not use if the opponent’s strikers and wide attackers have more Acceleration and Pace than your defenders. Also do not use if the opponent’s attacking and supporting midfield players have good Dribbling, Acceleration and Pace, unless already instructing to never close down such players using opposition instructions. You would benefit from having players with good Determination, Work Rate and Stamina on the pitch.

Drop Deeper

Instructs your players to retreat into their own territory and defend it from there.

Instructions – deepens the defensive line and instructs all players to close down closer to their own area.

Use to give players more space when you have changed to a formation with more defenders and defensive midfielders, either for a particular match or for part of a match; when the opposition’s attackers have more Acceleration and Pace than your defenders; or when the opposition is very attacking.

Tackling

Get Stuck In

Instructs your players to be aggressive and strong in the tackle. This may increase the risk of fouls and disciplinary action.

Instructions – instructs all players to tackle hard.

Use when chasing the game to win back possession quickly; when the match referee is very lenient; or when the opponent’s players have low Bravery, Determination and Strength, Do not use if the tackles won percentage is low or if the opponent has players with high Dribbling, Agility and Balance, unless already using opposition instructions to tackle easy on such players.

Stay On Feet

Instructs your players to stay on their feet when making tackles instead of going to ground.

Instructions – instructs all players to tackle easy, except the ball-winning midfielder in the counter and more attacking strategies.

Use when the match referee is strict; when conceding too many free kicks, particularly if the opposition has a good success record from free kicks, has good free kick takers or is dangerous in the air; when the opposition’s attacking players appear to be riding your defenders’ challenges; or when the opponent has players with good Dribbling, Agility or Balance.

Passing

Pass Into Space

Instructs your players to look to make passes into space.

Instructions – instructs players to make through balls more often.

Use when creating few good chances, particularly on a long pitch, or when the opposition’s defensive players have less Acceleration and Pace than your attacking players or poor Marking, Anticipation, Concentration and Positioning. Your midfielders would benefit from having good Passing, Anticipation, Creativity and Decisions, and your attacking players would benefit from having good Anticipation and Off the Ball.

Pass To Feet

Instructs your players to look to make passes into the feet of the receiver.

Instructions – instructs players to make through balls more rarely.

Use when leading to limit the opposition’s possession and chances; when your possession percentage is low; when your passes completed percentage is low; or when the opposition’s defensive players are often intercepting attempted through balls, particularly if they have more Acceleration and Pace than your attacking players or good Marking, Anticipation, Concentration and Positioning.

Width

Play Wider

Instructs your players to look to stretch the pitch and play wider.

Instructions – increases width and focuses passing down the flanks.

Use when you have changed to a formationwith good attacking wide players, either for a particular match or for part of a match; when more space is needed in attack, particularly on a narrow pitch; when the opposition is focusing passing down the flanks; when the opposition’s full backs or wing backs have poor ability, are tired, or have less Acceleration and Pace than your wide players; when the opposition is playing with a lot of defensive central players; or when the opponent’s defence is easily dealing with attacks focused through the middle. You would benefit from having good wide players on the pitch.

Play Narrower

Instructs your players to look to narrow the field and play in the middle of the pitch.

Instructions – narrows width and focuses passing through the middle.

Use when you have changed to a formation without attacking wide players or are playing with poor ability wide players, either for a particular match or for part of a match; when the opposition is focusing passing through the middle, particularly if they are also playing with wide width and leaving gaps centrally or you are playing on a wide pitch; when the opposition is playing with fewer defensive central players; when the opposition is playing with very good defensive wing backs or full backs; or when the opposition’s full backs are easily dealing with attacks focused down the flanks. You would benefit from having good central players on the pitch.

Attacking

Run At Defence

Instructs players to run at the opposition more than your tactics allow by default.

Instructions – Instructs wide players in midfield and attack, attacking midfielders (but not centre midfielders with an attack duty) and strikers to run with ball more often.

Use when struggling to break down the opposition's defence through passing moves using a slow tempo and shorter passing style, perhaps because they are standing off your attackers, as long as you have attacking players quick and skillful enough. It can also be effective when the opposition's tackles won percentage is low.

Play Through Defence

Instructs players to play their way through an opposition’s defence with passing along the ground.

Instructions – Instructs wide players in midfield and attack (except those in the winger role), attacking midfielders (but not centre midfielders with an attack duty) and strikers to run with ball more rarely.

Use when your attackers are losing the ball too easily when running at defenders, perhaps because the opposition are closing down too quickly or defending in numbers.

Shooting

Shoot On Sight

Instructs your players to shoot when the opportunity arises instead of waiting for a more clear-cut opening.

Instructions – instructs players to take long shots more often.

Use when needing a goal but creating few chances, particularly against a very defensive opponent or when other touchline instructions are unsuitable or not working. Your midfielders and strikers would benefit from good Long Shots.

Work Ball Into Box

Instructs your players to work hard for their opening, remaining patient and not forcing the issue.

Instructions – instructs players to take long shots more rarely.

Use when shooting a lot from outside the area but creating few chances inside the area, except against a very defensive opponent.

Wing Play

Hit Early Crosses

Instructs players to cross the ball early.

Instructions – Instructs full backs and wing backs to run with ball rarely, cross ball often and cross from deep, instructs wide midfielders to run with ball rarely and cross from mixed, and instructs wingers to cross from mixed.

Use when your wide players are struggling to beat the opposition's full backs to get to the byline due to lack of pace or skill, as long as they are decent crossers and you have a suitable target man to aim for in the box. Against a high defensive line this would be a quick striker able to run onto angled balls behind the defence, whereas against a deep line, a taller target would be appropriate. It can also be combined with exploit the flanks when focusing passes through the middle is proving unsuccessful but you do not have quick, skillful wide players to make use of.

Look For Overlap

Instructs your players to hold onto the ball and look for an overlapping player in support, most likely a marauding full-back.

Instructions – instructs full backs and wing backs to play with a more attacking mentality, run from deep more often, cross ball more often and cross from closer to the byline, instructs wide midfielders and wingers to play with a more defensive mentality, run from deep more rarely, play with less wide play and hold up the ball, and instructs wide players in midfield except those in the winger role to run with ball more rarely.

Use when needing extra passing options or penetration on the flanks to break down a very defensive opponent; when the opposition is playing with few wide players or narrow width; when the opposition’s full backs or wing backs have poor ability, are tired, or have less Acceleration and Pace than your full backs or wing backs; when the opposition is playing with a lot of central players or their central players have very good defensive ability; or when the opponent’s defence is easily dealing with attacks focused through the middle, particularly on a wide pitch. You will need good attacking full backs or attacking wing backs.

Possession

Retain Possession

Instructs your players to prioritise keeping hold of the ball.

Instructions – Shortens passing style and slows tempo.

Use when leading to limit the opposition’s possession and chances; when your possession percentage is low; when your passes completed percentage is low; or when direct passes are being easily dealt with by the opposition defence, particularly on a short pitch or when your strikers or wingers (depending on your passing focus) have less Acceleration and Pace than their markers or are shorter and weaker than their markers.

Get Ball Forward

Instructs your players to look to get the ball into the attacking third.

Instructions – lengthens passing style and increases tempo.

Use when creating few good chances, particularly on a long pitch; when needing a goal late in the match; or when your strikers or wide attackers (depending on your passing focus) have more Acceleration and Pace than their markers or are taller and stronger than their markers. Your defenders and midfielders would benefit from good Passing, Anticipation, Creativity, and Decisions, and your strikers or wide attackers would benefit from good Anticipation and Off the Ball.

Pressing

Stand Off Opponents

Instructs your players to give the opposition a lot of time and space on the ball, forcing them to play their way through you.

Instructions – decreases tempo and instructs all players to close down as little as possible, zonal mark and loose mark.

Use when the opponent is very defensive and more time and space is needed to break them down; when trying to contain a superior opponent; when the opposition’s attacking players have good Acceleration and Pace; or when the defensive unit is losing its shape and allowing the opposition to exploit gaps.

Hassle Opponents

Instructs your players to give the opposition little time and space on the ball, attempting to force a mistake.

Instructions – increases tempo and instructs all players to close down as much as possible, man mark and tight mark.

Use when chasing the game to win back possession quickly or when the opposition is having too much space on the ball. Do not use if the opposition’s attacking players have good Dribbling, Acceleration, Anticipation, Off the Ball and Pace, unless already instructing to never close down or tight mark players as appropriate using opposition instructions. You would benefit from having players with good Determination, Work Rate and Stamina on the pitch.

Midfield Distribution

Exploit The Flanks

Instructs your players to look to take full advantage of wing play, perhaps due to an opposition weakness.

Instructionsfocuses passing down the flanks, instructs full backs and wing backs to play with a more attacking mentality, run from deep more often and cross the ball more often, instructs all wide players to play with more wide play, and instructs centre midfielders to hold up the ball.

Use when you have changed to a formationwith good attacking wide players, either for a particular match or for part of a match; when the opposition is playing with few wide players or narrow width; when the opposition’s full backs or wing backs have poor ability, are tired, or have less Acceleration and Pace than your wide players; when the opposition is playing with a lot of central players or their central players have very good defensive ability; or when the opponent’s defence is easily dealing with attacks focused through the middle, particularly on a wide pitch. You will need good attacking wide players on the pitch.

Exploit The Middle

Instructs your players to look to take full advantage of playing through the middle, perhaps due to an opposition weakness.

Instructionsfocuses passing through the middle, instructs defenders and defensive midfield players to play with a more attacking mentality and make through balls more often, instructs all wide players to play with less wide play, and instructs supporting and attacking midfielders and strikers to run from deep more often.

Use when you have changed to a formation without attacking wide players or are playing with poor ability wide players, either for a particular match or for part of a match; when the opposition is playing with wide width, fewer central players or their central players have poor defensive ability; when the opposition is playing with very good defensive wing backs or full backs; or when the opposition’s full backs are easily dealing with attacks focused down the flanks, particularly when playing on a narrow pitch. You will need central players with good ability on the pitch.

Other

Take A Breather

Instructs your players to keep hold of the ball but simply take a moment to recover physically before attacking again.

Instructions – decreases tempo and instructs players to run from deep more rarely.

Use when leading comfortably or playing in hot conditions to help keep players fit. It can also be used temporarily before greatly increasing the tempo in order to try and catch the opposition off guard.

Play Even Safer

If you wish to preserve a lead, selecting this option will instruct your players to play with safety foremost in their attentions.

Instructions – instructs all players except strikers to run from deep and make through balls more rarely, and instructs all players except wide players in the winger role to run with ball more rarely.

Select when using a contain strategy and facing very heavy attacking pressure from the opposition late in the match to make your players less adventurous when in possession and focus on holding out.

Take More Risks

If you are chasing a game, this option will instruct your players to take whatever risks necessary to get themselves back in it.

Instructions – instructs all players to run with ball more often, instructs all players to make through balls often, and instructs all players except those with a defend duty to run from deep often.

Select when using an overload strategy and in desperate need of a goal late in the match to make your players more adventurous when in possession.

 

Useful Combinations

Further Reading

Inverting the Pyramid - guaranteed to give you a greater tactical knowledge and understanding.

The Manager: Inside the Minds of Football's Leaders - learn how to think like a football manager

Will You Manage? - tells you the skills needed to be a great manager and gives essential tips for fantasy football success

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