Defending is an essential part of football both in real life and in FIFA. EA Sports has revealed a plethora of new features in FIFA 21 that will aim to freshen up the experience for returning players who tend tend to develop an over-reliance on tackling, which can be problematic at higher skill levels. The heart of defending lies not in a spectacular sliding tackle, but deeper elements of the game such as pressuring the opponent and intercepting the ball.
FIFA 21 gives you all the controls you need to make this possible, but the key is to know how and when to do it. If you’re interested in learning the ins and outs, we’ve got you covered in this guide.
(c) EA Sports
Pressure is perhaps the most critical aspect of defending. It’s all about applying pressure to your opposition and putting them in a situation where they’ll make a mistake and turn over the ball. To do that in FIFA 21, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the following buttons.
|Contain||Hold X||Hold A|
|Teammate Contain||Hold R1||Hold RB|
|Running Jockey||L2 + R2||LT + RT|
|Pull and Hold||Hold ◯||Hold B|
|Change Player (Manual)||R||R|
|Engage Shielding Opponent||L2 + L towards shielding direction||LT + L towards shielding direction|
|Rush Goalkeeper Out||△||Y|
|Goalkeeper Cross Intercept||△ then hold △||Y then hold Y|
|Jockey/Grab and Hold||Hold L2||Hold LT|
The first and foremost way to apply pressure is to use the contain button. This will make your player lock on to the player with the ball and match their speed as they move around the pitch. It’s an easy way to shut down the surrounding space and limit their options while drawing closer to them ever-so-slightly without over-committing.
Once you’ve gotten close enough to them, you can attempt to make a calculated tackle with more precision and less risk. The running jockey works similarly, except it gives you even more control. If a player manages to slip through into open space, you’ll want to quickly change to next the nearest player and continue applying pressure by containing them.
To make things a little easier, you can also use the teammate contain button to call over an AI player and get them to help you out. This can be particularly effective because it applies twice as much pressure, but it will open up space elsewhere on the pitch, so don’t use it all the time.
Pulling and holding a player’s shirt is an excellent way to apply pressure from behind. Similarly, engaging a shielding opponent works in the same way, except it will help you niggle a player shielding the ball instead. But avoid using it too aggressively, as one too many presses of the button can lead to a foul and potentially a card.
If all else fails and an opponent’s striker is through to a one-on-one, rushing the goalkeeper out is an excellent way to apply some pressure in a last-ditch effort. Once they see your goalkeeper barreling towards them, they’ll either lose the ball or be forced to make a quick decision.
(c) EA Sports
Rushing the goalkeeper out can be effective when timed correctly, but if you mess it up, you’ll give your opponent a golden opportunity to score and maybe even get your goalkeeper sent off.
Also, you can adjust your team's tactics to apply different amounts of pressure. But they all have different strengths and weaknesses, so unless you know what you’re doing, it’s better to master the basics and apply pressure yourself.
Intercepting is equally as important as pressure. To do it, all you need to do is position yourself to be in the right place and at the right time to stop the ball from reaching its target. It’s easier said than done, but to make it easier, you’ll want to use all the relevant defensive controls at your disposal.
(c) EA Sports
Generally, you’ll need to use a combination of containing, jockeying, switching players, and even sliding to intercept the ball. It’s harder for the opponent to release a pass if the surrounding space is all occupied with your players.
But perhaps the most important tip is to keep an eye on your opponent’s surrounding players as well as the ball, and try and figure out where they intend to pass it before they do.
If you’ve guessed correctly, an interception will be as simple as switching to the desired player as quickly as you can and moving them in between the ball and the target. However, if it’s slightly out of reach, which can often be the case, you might need to slide into the open space to get there a little quicker.
So, if you want to up your defensive game, you’ll want to do correctly utilize pressure and intercepting. Not only will it make a world of difference, but it will make tackling a lot easier too.
For all the tutorials about FIFA 21, visit our Beginners and Advanced guides: