OGC Nice: November 2020

October was a focus on training aided by our very own FMSamo. With tactics an ongoing work in progress and now our training schedules implemented, we decided to devote some time for the in-game month of November to look at set pieces. When it comes to discussing set pieces in FM there is only one person to turn to – FMRensie.

@FMRensie

When I opened the set pieces part of the tactics screen within the LQ save with OGC Nice, it reminded me of my post when I wrote about the set pieces from scratch in the past.

There was only one attacking corner set and even this one included one of the most common mistakes within the FM “community” – the set piece taker was assigned to some other role in or around the penalty area so this position/role was always empty. Because we can’t be at two places at the same time, right?

An uninspired routine hallmarked by common mistakes

I decided to adapt some my own routines to OGC Nice. But not only for corners.

We all consider set pieces as a big part of real-life football these days but we are also able to ignore them in the game. And if we concede after some set piece, we blame the game despite we didn’t do enough.

Probably the best example within FM21 is throw-in routines. The default attacking throws were changed for the new edition in terms of the positioning of all players around the pitch. There is a lot of misplaced throw-ins, mostly the short throws. It’s caused by several things.
The throws delivery is set to Mixed by default so it depends a lot on the decisions attribute of the taker.
Almost all players are set to attack within the default throw-in routine and that leads to conceding a lot of counter goals as the AI will break the defensive line.
There are usually not good enough players set to receive the ball and it leads to losing the ball and conceding too.
The solution? Just set your own routine. It’s easier than to moan on social media.
I conceded several goals during the beta version before I realised this is the issue of my routine. And I decided to regroup the players around the pitch to have more than only two players set to stay back.
And I didn’t concede from this situation since this change. But I didn’t lose the quality in the attacking phase and I’m scoring from short throws.

Same as OGC Nice scored too after we tweaked the routines.

The successful throw-in routine

This system of watching, analysing (it’s too flashy word maybe) and tweaking applies to all routines.

Sometimes, only checking the required attributes for each role within your routine, is good enough because you will, at least, find out why the player XY was not successful as the taker or why the player YX was not good as the one who offers the short option. (The key attributes are, for most roles, available to see in the right part of the set piece creator).

In my eyes, the whole FM game, not only set pieces, is about the off the ball movement. But it applies, even more, to set pieces because it doesn’t matter how good your taker is. The only exception can be direct free kicks but not every time.

I had quite a lot of hopes for Kasper Dolberg within set pieces so I recommended using him as the player who will attack the near post within corners or far post within free kicks as his attributes are perfect. But he didn’t deliver the joy to see the ball in the net.

On the other side, I think four matches are not enough of a sample to prove the routines are good/bad. It’s a lot about patience and trying. Even swapping two players can help a lot (I saw that in my own save recently).

I would surely recommend using the Delivery training session before the match. And mainly, give it some time. And check the routines before every match, especially if you are making changes in the line-up because one small change can ruin all the routine. Not only for the upcoming and nearest match but in the long-term too.

This applies to both attacking and defensive routines.


November is a busy month with six matches on the horizon. We begin with our third and fourth consecutive away games, FC Lorient in the league before Galatasaray in our European group. FC Metz is our return to home fixture before another trip away to Stade Bretois 29. We finish November with two matches at home – firstly it’s Galatasaray again in Europe and then Bordeaux in the league.

Tactic: We’ve gone back to our 4-2-3-1 as we anticipated Lorient playing a back three. They’ve bluffed us though and gone 4-4-2.

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Jordan Lotomba, Dante, Stanley Nsoki, Hassane Kamara; Hicham Boudaoui, Morgan Schneiderlin; Myziane Maolida, Rony Lopes, Amine Gouiri; Kasper Dolberg

Subs: Racine Coly (for Hassane Kamara, 61 mins), Jeff Reine-Adélaïde (for Amine Gouiri, 61 mins)

The game wasn’t even 5 minutes old when Quentin Boisgard took advantage of a calamitous error in the six yard box to side foot the ball into the back of an unguarded net.

The next 85 minutes was a painful watch as OGC Nice never truly presented any danger to the Lorient goal with any of their 4 shots on target.

Talking Points:

  • Concede with the 1st highlight and then never look like recovering.
  • We spent too much time focusing on reducing threat from 3-5-2 formation (they eventually went 4-4-2) and didn’t focus on ourselves.
  • Dante is past al dente.

Tactic: We revert to our fmadventure v2.0, a somewhat adventurous tactic for a tricky away tie in Europe but we’re in need of a revival and some positivity.

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Jordan Lotomba, Andy Pelmard, Stanley Nsoki, Hassane Kamara; Morgan Schneiderlin, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Hicham Boudaoui; Myziane Maolida, Amine Gouiri, Kasper Dolberg

Subs: Khephren Thuram (for Hicham Boudaoui, 45 mins), Rony Lopes (for Amine Gouiri, 65 mins)

Fearing we were well beyond Dante’s peak, he was dropped to the bench in favour of the more mobile Andy Pelmard. Rony Lopes also fell victim to the chop on account of his continuing to live up to the hype.

Nice again were on the receiving end of an early goal, this time when Arda Turan popped up in the area in the second minute to head his side into the lead. Yes, an Arda Turan headed goal. Hope was restored in the 9th minute when the Galatasaray goalkeeper dropped the ball from a corner and Belhanda’s half clearance found Myziane Maolida unmarked to volley through a crowd of players and level the scores.

Deflation turned to elation on 15 minutes as some of that trademark Nice passing play saw Hassane Kamara in down the left and his cross was headed into the bottom corner to give Nice the lead. Truly “one for the neutrals”, the game had a fourth goal after just 22 minutes after Mbaye Diagne swept home following Benítez’s parried save.

Both sides came out slightly hesitant after the half time break but it was Galatasaray who found their feet first. Arda Turan finding himself a pocket of space in the box to head Galatasaray into the lead for the second time today. Yes, another Arda Turan headed goal. Try as we might, Nice couldn’t get a grip on the game and it was Arda Turan’s hattrick goal that sealed the 3 points for the Turkish side. Turan’s neat movement from the corner allowing him to head beyond the reach of Benítez to double their lead. Yes, a hattrick of Arda Turan headed goals – is this a world’s first?

Talking Points:

  • Back to 4-3-3, we looked better. But who honestly concedes three Arda Turan headers and expects a result? He rose up each time like a tuna, Arda Tuna. Never liked the stuff.
  • Goal for Dolberg as AF!
  • Ondrej says he likes Maolida as a winger but would probably take Shorter Passing off and add Counter.

Tactic: We persist with the fmadventure v2.0, we know there’s gold in it but it just needs some more refinement. This is also the first match back after handing over the save file to FMRensie to work his set piece magic.

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Youcef Atal, Andy Pelmard, Stanley Nsoki, Hassane Kamara; Morgan Schneiderlin, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Hicham Boudaoui; Myziane Maolida, Rony Lopes; Kasper Dolberg

Subs: Amine Gouiri (for Myziane Maolida, 60 mins), Alexis Claude-Maurice (for Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, 67 mins)

We needed a reaction and this was part of the decision to give Youcef Atal and his 19 for aggression a run out in defence.

FMRensie’s set piece work pays off just 13 minutes into its debut as we hold possession following an attacking throw and find Morgan Schneiderlin lingering on the edge of the Metz box. He strikes the ball and leaves the Metz goalkeeper with absolutely no hope of reaching it, a glorious start to the game for Nice.

The lead lasted a mere ten minutes as Nice’s defensive frailties were laid bare once again. The defence’s inability to track the movement of a forward dropping deep gave rise to Aaron Leya Iseka’s opportunity to break beyond his marker and level the scoring. The warns came on 42 minutes when Metz had a second disallowed by a marginal offside, Julián Álvarez sneaking in behind his marker as Nice stepped their way lazily out of a defensive situation.

With a mere 46 seconds of the second half gone, Metz had themselves in front. There was perhaps a touch of misfortune for Nice in the way that Leya Iseka’s blocked shot landed kindly at the feed of Habib Maïga for the easiest of finishes. However, it was a common theme to the game as the chance arose from a ball in behind the lackadaisical Nice defence.

In the 62nd minute Nice appeared to have learnt something from this game. Not how to shore up their own defence but how to exploit the high line of another. Hicham Boudaoui’s inch perfect lofted ball found Kasper Dolberg running into the box and the move with finished delightfully to bring Nice back on a par with their opponents.

It was all in vain though as Metz pounced in the 70th minute to take the victory. Maïga’s shot appeared to be headed straight for the arms of Walter Benítez when somehow Aaron Leya Iseka nipped in ahead of him to knock the ball into the net.

Talking Points:

  • We scored two goals. One of them was a Rensie set piece (thank you comrade).
  • We conceded three.

Tactic: We stubbornly and steadfastly stick with the fmadventure v2.0, minor changes made but the ethos remains the same.

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Jordan Lotomba, Andy Pelmard, Stanley Nsoki, Hassane Kamara; Danilo, Hicham Boudaoui, Morgan Schneiderlin; Myziane Maolida, Rony Lopes; Dolberg

Subs: Róbson Bambu (for Andy Pelmard, 61 mins), Pierre Lees-Melou (for Morgan Schneiderlin, 61 mins)

Andy Pelmard and Stanley Nsoki continue to partner in defence, hoping that consistency will breed results. Lotomba returns in place of Atal though due to the latter’s failure to show any of his promised aggression over 90 minutes. It’s a much awaited return from injury for Danilo, hopefully to inspire a turnaround to our form.

If I were to say Nice started slowly it would be a lie. As truthfully Nice never really started the game at all. 2 shots on target in the whole game tell the story of a team far from glory.

It was Irvin Cardona who gave Stade Brestois their win on 41 minutes with a goal almost identical to that we conceded against Metz in the last game. Romain Philippoteaux’s shot was headed straight for the clutches of Walter Benítez when Irvin Cardona popped up out of virtually nowhere to poke the ball into the Nice goal.

It’s officially time to panic. Four losses in a row, eight games without a victory in all competitions. The 6-1 hammering of Lille feels a lifetime away now.

Talking Points:

  • Merde!

Tactic: After lengthy discussions (and that is no exaggeration) and with the help of FMRensie again, as a trio we evolved to the fmadventure v3.0, subtle tweaks designed to get the most out of a team on the cusp of free falling.

fmadventure v3.0

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Jordan Lotomba, Róbson Bambu, Stanley Nsoki, Hassane Kamara; Hicham Boudaoui, Danilo, Morgan Schneiderlin; Myziane Maolida, Rony Lopes; Kasper Dolberg

Subs: Youcef Atal (for Rony Lopes, 77 mins), Khrephren Thuram (for Hicham Boudaoui, 86 mins), Jeff Reine-Adélaïde and Amine Gouiri (for Danilo and Kasper Dolberg, 90 mins)

With the new tactical set up in place there was only one other matter to deal with: Arda Turan. The players were instructed to press him, mark tighter and tackle hard. We would not accept any repeat of the three headers debacle from the last game.

Nice’s play throughout was neat and the minor changes made appeared to be having majorly positive effects. It was a result of the attractive passing game that allowed Myziane Maolida in behind the Gala defence to pass the ball under the diving goalkeeper.

With just five shots in the whole 90 minutes, we won’t claim that we were dominant throughout but we were confident in our play. For the first time in almost in over seven weeks we come away with the win and knowing that we deserved it!

Talking Points:

  • We made some tactical tweaks, after all…8 games without a win says it all. We changed CM-A to AP-A and had CM-S either side of him. The left sided is told to Hold Position, given that he has the IF-A and WB-S to his left.
  • We said goodbye to a lot of instructions that limited our GK’s distribution. We would simply let Walter B do his thing.
  • Stay On The Feet was dropped. “Welcome to Nice, Gala”
  • 1-0! Up the Adventure-ball!

Tactic: It’s fmadventure v3.0 again! We’ve regained our confidence and have the feeling that we might just be back…

Starting XI: Walter Benítez; Jordan Lotomba, Stanley Nsoki, Hassane Kamara; Hicham Boudaoui, Danilo, Morgan Schneiderlin; Myziane Maolida, Amine Gouiri; Kasper Dolberg

Subs: Rony Lopes (for Danilo, 71 mins) Jeff Reine-Adélaïde (for Kasper Dolberg, 90 mins)

We don’t want to mess too much with a victorious side and so only one change, Rony Lopes is dropped as he continues his failure to impress with Gouiri given the go in his stead.

This was the Nice we remember from the start of the season. A side with confidence and swagger. From the moment the game kicked off we had a feeling that we had this one in the bag.

With 20 minutes gone we took the lead. Recycling possession from a broken down freekick, the ball was moved back goalward. Kamara picked out Maolida whose header down was met by the right footed half-volley of Danilo! The Brazilian has become our beacon of hope this season and he drilled that one into the back of the net like a man on a mission.

Defensively we were strong, the newly formed partnership of Bambu and Nsoki looking impenetrable. We could have coasted out to a solitary goal win in the second half but we wanted to press on and get a second, really boosting our morale. So, the second goal came in the 58th minute with the midfield trio progressing the ball through the centre of pitch before offloading to Maolida who played a perfect through ball for Gouiri to meet with the finish. It was a delightfully, aesthetically pleasing goal and it raised the question – are we back?

I’d love to say this was the perfect game but the sting in the tale came in the 90th minute when Kasper Dolberg picked up a serious knee injury – torn ligaments – that would rule him out for the next 3 months.

Talking Points:

  • Great goals. Maolida’s knock down for Danilo’s half volley was great…but his 2nd assist to Gouiri was awesome.
  • Another clean sheet but…
  • Kasper Dolberg, our only Striker is out for 3 months. RIP guys.

Despite just 3 points from our last four league games, we’ve only actually dropped two places in the league. With a decent run of form we could put ourselves back into contention for a European spot but our immediate attention must be on returning to the top half.

The win against Galatasaray keeps us right in the mix for qualifying from our Europa League group. Sporting CP away and Real Sociedad at home are our remaining group games. Can we turn our season around by being a European success story?

It was an absolute joy to have FMRensie not only to give us a lesson on Set Pieces but also to get involved in turning our form around.

December is an even more busy month than November for us. We have our remaining Europa League group games along with five Ligue 1 matches to round of the 2020 calendar year. All of this comes at a time that we will have to seek an answer the the problem of replacing our only recognised striker.

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