Welcome back to On the Break and the second post of my Tactical Aspects series! If you missed the first post where we covered the Defensive Line, click HERE to check it out! This time out we’ll be looking at the differences between a Regista and a Deep-Lying Playmaker; What do they do, how do they differ, and when is it best to use them? Let’s find out!
The Regista and the Deep-Lying Playmaker are two of the roles that can be assigned to your Defensive Midfielder in Football Manager. They’re both creative roles, as opposed to the likes of the Ball Winning Midfielder, Anchor Man, Half Back etc which are more defensive, hard-working roles. If we look at the descriptions that Football Manager gives the two roles, we can start to see some of the similarities and differences.
The Deep-Lying Playmaker operates in the space between the defence and the midfield and aims to initiate attacking moves via pinpoint passes to players positioned higher up the pitch. Although primarily a creative player, the Deep-Lying Playmaker also has to be competent in the art of defence.
In a Support duty, the Deep-Lying Playmaker will bring the ball out of defence and operate with a more expansive passing range.
In a Defend duty, the Deep-Lying Playmaker will fulfil extra defensive responsibilities by holding position in front of the defence and will rarely look to support attacks.
The Regista is a more aggressive version of the deep-lying playmaker suitable for possession-orientated systems that press high up the pitch. Given complete freedom to dictate play from deep positions, the Regista offers a dynamic and unpredictable creative outlet from behind the attack who seeks to maintain intense pressure by constantly looking for new chances as his more advanced teammates get into goal-scoring positions.
Both roles aim to take hold of the ball and play predominately forward passes, with the Deep-Lying Playmaker holding their position in front of the centre-backs and recycling possession whilst the Regista is a more specialised role and will roam from their position to dictate play and constantly start attacking moves. ‘Regista’ translates to Director, a recognition that the role is expected to be the heartbeat of the side, and to use another analogy is the ‘Quarterback’ – although sat at the base of the midfield they are the deepest attacking player, and aren’t expected to provide much defensive cover, with one of the other midfield players tasked with this work instead.
The Deep-Lying Playmaker is a far more static role, and will offer more defensive protection, even on a Support duty. Despite this they can still be a very effective contributor to attacking moves, they just do their work from deeper, allowing the rest of the midfield or the full-backs to push forward with progressive runs, depending on the rest of the system around them.
Registas are best suited to teams that dominate the ball and push high up the pitch, but also to teams that have players willing to graft to allow the Regista the space to work in and the freedom to take control of the game. A Deep-Lying Playmaker is more suitable in a wider array of situations and systems, but generally doesn’t have that same ‘take the game by the scruff of the neck’ impact, preferring to quietly go about their business and allow other players to shine.
Think Michael Carrick for a Deep-Lying Playmaker, and Andrea Pirlo for a Regista.
To look further into how the roles play in Football Manager, I’ve simulated three seasons with the same side, using the same player in the same tactic, only changing the role of the Defensive Midfielder in each. From here we can have a look at the differences in how the roles perform in equivalent systems.
NB. I planned to look at chance creation separately from passing, but with the current state of the in-game stats not collecting properly I couldn’t rely on the data and so I’ve added in assists with the passing data, which I believe functions correctly in game.
Looking first at the bread and butter of all of these roles, the passing stats, the numbers are very similar across all three but they do give us our first glimpse at a difference in their impact. The DLP – D completed more passes at a higher completion rate than the other two roles, but had the lowest Key Pass/90 metric, a clear indication of the safer approach of the role, leaving the more advanced midfielders to create the side’s chances while playing safer balls out wide to the full-backs.
Despite both the Regista and DLP – S having the same pass completion rate at 87%, the Regista both attempted and completed more passes per 90 and was also a long way clear in Key Passes/90. This shows that although there isn’t a lot of difference in how much the Defensive Midfielder gets on the ball in this system, the Regista is by far the most threatening role in terms of creating from deep, due to the freedom they have and not being relied on for their defensive work. The higher conversion of key passes into assists also shows the quality of chances created is higher from the Regista as more are being converted, an average of an assist every other game.
At first I was surprised by some of the defensive data, on the face of it there are a few contradictions, certainly compared to the passing data which was a lot more straight forward. However, when we take into account the movement of each role and their positioning in transition, the data starts to make a bit more sense.
Starting with the interceptions, I was initially surprised to see the Regista making more in total and per 90 than the DLP – D. With the role stepping further forward in possession however, it makes sense that when the ball is turned over and the side transition back to their defensive shape the Regista will be closer to the opposition midfield and therefore be able to intercept progressive passes as the opponent try to build attacks. The same goes for the DLP – S, with it’s balanced mentality (compared to the defensive mentality of the DLP – D) and behaviour of bringing the ball out of defence, although as a more defensively minded role than the Regista it’s no surprise to see the DLP – S top the interceptions chart.
Moving onto the tackling metrics, I was surprised to see the Regista come out with more Tackles/90 than the DLP – S, although with a higher success rate and the number of tackles won being so close I’d put that down to situational differences in matches between the saves. Where I’m not surprised is seeing the DLP – D make a lot more tackles, at least 1.3 per 90 clear of the other roles, as the role sits deeper in front of the back two, and is therefore in position to stop any runners through the middle more-so than either the Regista or DLP – S, who are more likely to have been bypassed higher up the pitch.
WHEN TO USE THEM
So now that we’ve had a look at the differences and similarities between the different roles, let’s apply what we’ve found to Football Manager and see how each role best fits into the midfield.
DEEP-LYING MIDFIELDER – SUPPORT
As the DLP – S steps up into the midfield when the side as the ball they are far enough forward to be the main creative outlet of the side, so I’d use one with roles that allow them to shine. The CM – A will give attacking impetus to the midfield and join the attack to offer a goal-scoring threat, but also a progressive runner for the DLP to find between the lines. I’ve chosen to put a BWM alongside as although the DLP offers defensive cover they do step forward (the role is hard coded with a positive mentality in-game) and can be caught out by quick transitions, so the BWM will help to offer stability while also being a mobile enough role to give the DLP space to work in with the ball.
If the DLP – S is used in a system with an overly deep defensive line they may leave a large space between the lines for opponents number 10’s, IF/IW’s or even an attacking CM to exploit, so to avoid this it’s best to push the line up to match the movement of the DM (check my article on the defensive line to learn more on this point) either in a mid or high block. If the defence don’t have the pace to cover this high line or the side are constantly being played through, it may be worth looking at a more solid DM.
DEEP-LYING PLAYMAKER – DEFEND
There is a theory that is often talked about surrounding Football Manager tactics that says that two playmakers in the same side will get in each other’s way and have a negative impact of the performance of both. While this can certainly be true in the wrong system, I’ve often played systems with two or even three playmakers and had success, due to giving each enough space to work in. With the DLP – D happy to sit in front of the central defenders and play simpler, safer passes an Advanced Playmaker can also be included further forward to provide a more potent creative threat, sitting in the gaps between the opposition’s defence and midfield and supplying through-balls to the forwards and overlapping full-backs. A Box-to-Box midfielder will provide energy and hard-work to an otherwise creatively focused midfield, covering a lot of ground and contributing in every phase of play, being the ‘engine room’ that is so often talked about. The DLP – D suits a side set up to play mainly through the middle, as their static nature allows two other midfielders to join the attack without threat of leaving the middle too open in transition. They can also bring marauding full-backs into play with regularity, meaning they are flexible in their application and can play to the strengths of the rest of the squad.
The Regista is a role that demands the rest of the midfield, and to extent the whole side, is built around it. A defensive minded role is an absolute must, the Regista just doesn’t provide enough cover unless you’re certain to dominate an opponent and don’t fear the threat of them playing through you. I’ve gone for a CM – D, just because I trust it more than a BWM as the only defensive cover. The other essential factor in successfully using a Regista is making sure they have plenty of players ahead of them in space to pick out. For this reason I’ve gone with a MEZ – A, as that role provides an attacking threat but is also hard-coded to sit wider, which has the dual advantage of naturally providing the Regista more space around him, but also a player sat in the half-space and between the lines, meaning there will be an uncertainty in the opposition’s ranks on who picks him up; either he’ll be left alone and can wreak havoc or somebody will be dragged out of position, allowing a team-mate to exploit the space left behind.
Similarly to the DLP – S, the Regista is most suited to a system that pushes higher up the pitch, so at minimum I’d say a mid-block is essential, but the most effective Registas come in systems that utilize a high block and aim to play the match almost exclusively in the opponent’s half, so that any pass he plays is to a team-mate in at least a semi-advanced position.
So there we have it, my thoughts and findings on the Deep-Lying Playmaker and the Regista. Let me know which you use most and why, either in the comments to this post, or over on Twitter!
Thanks for reading.