The Tactical Principles of Will Still at Stade de Reims

The Tactical Principles of Will Still at Stade de Reims

ThrowingCopperFM has posted about the tactical principles of Will Still at Stade de Reims and their implementation in FM23, including downloadable link to the tactic.

A lot of people will be aware of the rapid rise of Will Still at Stade de Reims. At the age of 30, he became the youngest head coach in Ligue 1 history and has made a significant impact since his appointment in October 2022. Still Will cites Football Manager as a crucial component of his football education, and he guided the team to a long unbeaten run, which included two matches against PSG.

This article will examine the primary principles of Still’s tactics at Stade de Reims and attempt to implement them into Football Manager 2023


Stade de Reims, much like many other teams, use a 4-2-3-1 formation What distinguishes it, however, is not intricate player instructions or unusual positions, but rather a solid tactical framework and a team of players who evidently support William Still’s objectives.



Typically, teams with limited budgets tend to be cautious in attacking their opponents, wary of exposing themselves to counterattacks by pushing too many players forward. However, this is not the approach taken by Stade de Reims under Will Still. Refreshingly, every touch of the ball appears to be positive, aimed at creating difficulties for the opposition.

When in the final third the system, which is quite rigid defensively, becomes more fluid, with lots of player movement, The defensive midfielders remain stationed, seldom venturing into the box, while the central attacking midfielder transforms into a second striker, making aggressive forays into the area.

The fullbacks on the flanks advance forward to stretch the opposition’s defense, frequently swapping positions with the wide attacking midfielders. The space created by the width leaves underlapping opportunities in the space between the opposition’s fullbacks and central defenders.

Stade de Reims has experienced a significant improvement since Still’s appointment, notably in the number of shots taken from within the penalty area. However, they are not simply taking shots without consideration. With the opportunity to make an additional pass frequently taken, the expected goals (xG) per shot has also risen.


When the ball is with the goalkeeper, Stade de Reims tend to line up in more of a 4-1-2-3 formation, This is accomplished by having one of the defensive midfielders advance higher up the field, while the wide attacking midfielders push up to the same level as the striker.

If facing heavy press, this formation provides ample numbers upfield to win for the first or second ball, should the goalkeeper or a central defender opt to play a long ball to bypass the pressure.

On the other hand, if Stade de Reims try to play through the press, the intelligent movement of the central midfielders disrupts the opposition’s positioning, thereby opening up space for the wide attacking players to move into and receive the ball.

When not facing a press, Stade de Reims is content to initiate plays from the back through their central defenders. They’re neither a short-passing team nor are they a long-ball side, rather each pass is aimed at advancing the ball forward, and they select the best option available for the good of the team.

One player who stands out for me is the right Attacking Midfielder, Junya Ito. As a Japanese international, constant threat and his position is forever changing on the field is constantly evolving. At one moment, he is hugging to the touchline like a conventional winger, while the next he’s central and bursting ahead of the striker like an attacking inside forward or shadow strikershadow striker. Recreating his impact is something I’ll look to achieve.


Favourite thing about this Stade de Reims team is the way they play when out of possession. Upon losing possession, Stade de Reims forward players aggressively counter-press.

The act of counter-pressing serves three objectives:

  • To win the ball back in a dangerous position.
  • Force a long pass which can be intercepted.
  • To slow down the opponent’s attack, allowing the defensive players to get into position.

When the counter-press fails or in any other out of possession play, Stade de Reims switches to a compact 4-4-2 formation. This formation utilizes the striker and central attacking midfielder to block passes into the midfield, compelling the opposing team to play the ball wide. The 4-4-2 then effectively shuts down the flanks, making it challenging for the opposition to advance, and providing Stade de Reims with an opportunity to regain possession.

Stade de Reims adopts a mid-block formation, which reduces the space between the lines, making it difficult for the opposition to maneuver and control the ball. Additionally, two defensive midfielders tirelessly shield the defense, while the wide attacking midfielders work tirelessly to form a compact bank of four by dropping deep.

Stade de Reims is not only aggressive in their counter-pressing, but they are also not afraid about getting stuck in,. They currently rank first in Ligue 1 for the combined number of tackles and interceptions. Their strong determination to regain possession is also evident by their third position in the most yellow cards and second position in the most red cards.

Note – Will Still’s desire to prevent passes into the midfield is demonstrated by his decision to field a natural defensive midfielder, Munetsi, in the AMC role. The defensive skills, positioning, and ability to win the ball also come in handy during counter-pressing situations.


After understanding how Will Still’s 4-2-3-1 works in and out of possession, the next step is how do we recreate this in FM23?

Below are the four elements that I am striving to replicate:

  • Attack in a 4-2-3-1 with an aggressive central Attacking Midfielder pushing up alongside the striker. Generating a high number of high-quality shots.
  • Replicating the influence of Ito in the attacking play is a key priority.
  • A disciplined and compact 4-4-2 formation in defense, aimed at forcing opponents to play out wide.
  • An aggressive counter-pressing strategy when the team loses possession.

Build-Up Play Will Still @:

There were noticeable changes right after he assumed control, but he didn’t alter the team’s identity significantly. He opted to maintain the 4-2-3-1 formation, which has yielded positive results thus far. When initiating attacks from their own half, they often opt for a long ball from the goalkeeper, although they also attempt to build up play from the back on occasion, which typically results in a formation of 4-1-2-3.



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