Thoughts on Balance

With so many attributes in Football Manager, some are always going t be more highly valued than others. Finishing, tackling, passing and dribbling are the glamour attributes, the ones that are obviously beneficial and easy to see in action in both the 2D and 3D match engines, but the closer you look, the more you see of the other attributes. One fthose attributes thr you can see from a closer look at the ME is Balance, possibly the most underrated attribute in the game. Everyone knows the merit of the smaller attributes when they see them – I’m thinking determination, agility, technique etc – but balance is much more elusive and tends to work in the shadows of other attributes. But once you see it, it becomes one of the most breathtaking tributes in FM.

What does balance do?

I think, as ever with attributes and the match engine, we need to have a look at what Cleon from the SI forums says about Balance:

Balance reflects simply how well a player can keep his balance in situations both with and without the ball. With the ball, it refers to how balanced he is running with it and evading opponents, without it, it refers to his balance when facing a player running at him, or his stability when turning/jumping. “

From this I take two details:

  1. A good dribbler needs good Balance to get past defenders
  2. When not on the ball, Balance helps players stay upright when going up for a header or in for a challenge

I suppose then, the obvious definition of “how easily someone falls over” is bang on the mark.

Balance plays a part in nearly every part of the game – in tackles, in dribbles, in challenges and in aerial battles. When you consider the vast array of actions in which Balance plays a part, it becomes one of the most notable attributes of a football match, and indeed, the FM match engine. If it were an actor, it wouldn’t win an Oscar, but combined with agility, dribbling, pace, strength and composure in a dribbler, or with strength, jumping, bravery and aggression in a big man, it can be a devastatingly good, not to mention interesting, supporting act. Even without some of those attributes, it can be a great asset – for example, weak or cowardly wingers (most of them) can greatly benefit from Balance since it allows them to keep stable on the ball even when they’ve been outmuscled and out-tackled.

In action – Bony Wilfried

Wilfried is your classic targetman. He has insanely good physical attributes, but with 20 agility, 20 balance and 15 for pace and acceleration, making him a wholly more dangerous striker. His balance is unrivalled for such a player, and you can see it in him in a way that you can’t see in many others; it is rare that a player can dribble and win headers so he is perfect to watch.

In the header

Wilfried has come from an advanced position to win this header, he’s hung in the air for quite a while and Fofana is backing into him. To be fair, Fofana has no intention of winning this, and the frame after this one shows him basically trying to bring Wilfried down, with no eyes on the ball. Winning the ball is not so impressive, but winning it under such a cynical challenge is. I think this situation shows another side of Balance – it seems to me that high Balance is a refusal to take a foul, an immovable desire to stay stable rather than allow the challenge and get a free kick for it. Most football fans will know a player that goes down easily in order to take a foul when it is much more intelligent to stay upright and keep the momentum. Players with good balance seem to be more resilient.

 

In the tackle

Most managers don’t expect much from their strikers defensively, but our man is rather good in that department.

Round One

Round Two

Anyone can keep such beautiful form during a lunge is impressive by my standard! Joking aside, there are a number of attributes playing a part here – strength, bravery, determination and aggression, but Wilfried’s infallibility in two successive tackles is impressive here. In the first tackle he is stretching to hook the ball away (and fails due to tackling/strength) but he stays on his feet and goes for it again. Imagine such stability in a strong tackler and you begin to appreciate the importance of Balance in a defender, too.

 

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