Football manager describes ‘Pass Into Space’ as a team instruction that asks your players to look to make passes into open spaces for teammates to run on to.
This is as opposed to your players passing directly into a teammate’s feet.
The Pass Into Space carries the obvious threat of the opposition getting to the ball before your player and quickly launching a counterattack that could see you regularly give up cheap goals that would have easily been avoided if your players chose the more conservative choice of passing into their teammates’ feet.
However, should you manage to make it work, ‘Pass Into Space’ has the potential to break down stubborn defences while also providing you with some good gameplay and satisfying goals to watch.
To lessen the chance of turning over possession cheaply while passing into space, it is advisable to ensure you have quick, agile players who have good awareness and will react to passes quicker than the players marking them.
If it is your winger against the opposition’s fullback. The winger or raumdeuter should quickly read that the team’s playmaker wants to make a pass in behind the fullback for him to run on to.
The winger should then start his run, and if he has better acceleration and pace, he will receive the ball with sufficient space to decide whether he will send in a cross to the complete forward or make a cutback to an onrushing roaming playmaker from deep.
Pass Into Space also makes it possible for a player to have a chance of getting on the ball even when he is tightly marked.
A pass in this situation can be made to his right or left, then from his starting position, he will use his agility and speed to leave his marker and run to receive the ball.
The Pass Into Space team instruction is associated with risk, however, it can still suit possession-based teams that play short passes, relying on their superior passing and vision to create clear-cut chances.
Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona side played some beautiful Tiki-Taka brand of football that relied on the ball covering short distances, but the players had to have supreme movement to always receive the ball in space.
Therefore, it is possible to combine playing short passes and passing into space.
Your players, however, would need to have the necessary passing and technical ability to make the measured passes, and the agility and speed to more often than not always get to the ball first before the opposition.
Combining pass into space and more direct passing, while possible, is not advisable. More direct passing involves players choosing to pass to a teammate who is considerably far from them, this already carries the risk of losing possession.
Adding Pass Into Space into that risk guarantees your team will be losing possession almost immediately after they get on the ball. It is that kind of risk that will fail more often than not.
I would only try such kind of tactic if I am a massive underdog at Anfield or the Etihad and expect a thrashing.
In this case, I would leave one or two pressing forwards up top for some counter-attacking threat and have everyone else back defending with everything they have got.
The hopeful long balls from deep could then find my forward players with some space to work with and maybe luck into a goal or two.
On the other hand, Pass into space and Work Ball into Box can work together. In this case, you are essentially telling your players to refrain from taking long shots and instead patiently wait for an opening that can come through passing into space which will free your attacker and put him through on goal.
If you have loved this explanation, check out our article on attacking width in FM, and when to use very narrow, wide and extremely wide.