If you’re into football (or soccer, if you will), then Fifa’s yearly installments have probably provided you with a ridiculous amount of fun over the years. Its game modes are so varied, and its statistical depth so rich, that you’re never short of something to do. Taking a team from the bottom tier of its national league all the way to the top and beyond is ridiculously satisfying. Playing Ultimate Team is a superb way to while away the hours. Then there’s the multiplayer – inventing ridiculously close matches, or just playing with random teams, it’s a game that you never want to put down.
That being said, it can be frustrating if you’re new to the series or a rookie player. The AI is smart enough to be able to tear you apart if you’re clumsy. Your friend even more so, with any gaps in your defenses ruthlessly exploited. In this article, I’ve pulled together some of the most important tips for the casual player. If you’re looking to sharpen up your attack to create those lethal chances, want to know ways to tighten up your defense, or want to finally score from a free kick, you’ll find it all here. This guide contains all you know to improve your game, and improve quickly. Want to beat your friends and the AI with ease? Read on, and you’ll learn the skills you need to be the video game equivalent of Lionel Messi in no time.
25 Don't Sprint All The Time
Sprinting. Holding down that right bumper button is so tempting, isn’t it? You’re running down the wing with Mbappe and you’re loving life. Then you get to within touching distance of the goalkeeper and smack it clean into the crowds. Slow down. Sprinting affects every aspect of your performance, and can absolutely destroy your ball control and shooting accuracy, not to mention that using it too much tires your players out extremely rapidly. Cool off as you move into shooting range, and you’ll nail accurate shot after accurate shot.
24 Skill Moves Are Worth The Practice
Skill moves can be a plain pain to get used to sometimes. This is particularly the case if you’re playing as a lower league team – you won’t catch a player for Yeovil Town or Cadiz pulling off Ronaldo-style magic. If you’re a fan of Ultimate Team or like playing as a top-tier team, it’s well worth putting in the time to learn a few moves. The Rainbow Flick, for example, performed by flicking the right stick down, then holding it up, and then flicking it down again, can set up amazing volleys.
23 Scoring From Free Kicks
Free kicks in Fifa 19 are hard to master. There is, however, one little routine that you can use that will pretty much guarantee you a goal. Hold the left trigger to call a second man, then the right trigger to call a third. Get the third man to do a dummy run, and run into space, then pass it to him and nail an easy goal. Works (almost) every time. Any human you use it against is going to hate you for it, but you’ll be savoring victory too much to care.
22 Exploit Handballs
Handballs. If you’ve ever played soccer much, you’ll know how irritating they can be. If you’re a casual player, you may assume that they’re not in the game, but they ARE! Go to settings, then game settings, then rules. Turn it on. If you’re playing on a lower difficulty, and spending a lot of time in the AI’s penalty area, guess what’s going to happen? Occasionally, the ball will hit their hand, and through no fault of their own, you’ve got a pen. This sort of thing is going to lead to Skynet’s rise one day.
21 Say No To Four-Four-Two
The depth of Fifa’s tactics, while not approaching Football Manager levels, can be a little intimidating. If you want to score more goals though, there’s only one formation you want to use. Good old 4-4-3. There’s a reason it’s worked so well for Liverpool. Grab a bunch of pacey players, with a good finisher as your CF. You can even play it with a strong false 9, if you’d prefer, with someone like De Bruyne. Just make sure you don’t neglect the back four. Winning every game 6-5 does get tiresome after a while.
20 Pay Attention To Stats
Good lord, does Fifa love stats. If you’re playing as a lower-level club with a transfer budget that couldn’t afford a night’s stay in a hotel, here’s what you’ve got to look for. Your outfield attacking players need pace, and shooting. Just pace will work wonders. A very, very speedy player can be dangerous, even if in the real world they couldn’t hit a barn, because that bit’s on you. For goalkeepers, look for height. Not much else matters, you just want a gangly, reasonably agile guy. Nottingham Forest’s Costel Pantilimon is worth a look.
19 Train With The Trainer
If you’re new to FIFA, the trainer is a superb way to improve, and improve quickly. If you enable it on the pause menu, it’ll give you greater insight into the direction of your play. Enable it in instant replays by pressing in the right stick, and you’ll get overlays showing you the trajectories of your passes, and more. It’s an invaluable way to learn from your mistakes, and that’s the first step to correcting them. Keep practicing with the trainer, and you'll improve in no time.
18 Use Chips Instead Of Lobs
The chip modifier, mapped to the left bumper button, is easy to ignore, but whatever you do, don’t. Instead of hitting the square/X button to try and lob a ball across the pitch, use chipped through balls with the triangle/Y button instead. They’re ridiculously accurate if done well, and can easily get you out of a sticky situation. You can use chips on shots too. If a goalkeeper is rushing out to meet you, try a chipshot. If it works, it’ll go sailing over is head as he stares on forlornly.
17 Keep Moving
When you watch a real soccer match, you’ll notice something (at least if the team is any good). They keep the ball moving, always passing it around and moving forward with momentum. Don’t try and attack with crazy long runs by your striker, 99% of the time it won’t work, and your opponent can break easily. You need to find the balance where you’re moving forward rapidly but with a whole group of players, giving you far more attacking flexibility.
16 Don't Give Star Ratings Too Much Attention
You can spot rookie Fifa players a mile away because they’ll always pick one of a handful of teams: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Man United or City. Why? Because they take the star ratings as gospel. They aren’t. As I mentioned earlier, individual players’ traits can really, really affect the game’s flow. Former Middlesbrough man, Adama Traore, who now plays for Wolves, is one of the speediest players in the game, despite that club’s four star rating. Look beyond the stars, and you may just find a team that works better for you!
15 Speed Boosts
Are you in need of a little speed boost? Maybe you're running down the wing and want to jink around a defender who's coming out to you, or feel the need to just get that bit closer to the penalty area. There's a fantastic trick you can use to get a boost. Hold down the left bumper, while holding down B/circle, and tapping A/X, then choose your exit direction with the left stick. Do this correctly and you'll be rewarded with a nice little boost of speed that can really help you.
14 Don’t Be Afraid To Move Backwards
This is something of an expansion upon #17. Don’t, repeat, don’t, just charge forward with your striker. This is an easy way to get dispossessed and broken on the wheel by your opponent. If their defense is solid, pass around, probe, and find a gap in it. Don’t be afraid to move backwards. You’re not Stalin. There isn’t a “not a step back” order in play. Pass it to your midfield, even back to your keeper. Draw your opponents out. Take your time.
13 Don’t Splash The Cash Unnecessarily
Playing as a big team with a transfer budget so big money is coming out of your stadium’s windows? Don’t just buy the big names you know. While Messi is amazing now, he’s only got a few years in him, with Eden Hazard representing a more prudent investment. This applies to other players too – buy Hector Bellerin while he’s young, because by God does he get good quickly. Grab Donnarumma for pennies, instead of De Gea for a fortune. Scout around and read about different players, and get yourself a bargain.
12 Stay In Shape
When you’ve got your formation set, try and stick with it on the defensive. Your back three, four, or five players need to stay as a strong stumbling block. If your center back comes rushing out to try and meet the attacker alone, the more agile player will often simply dribble around him and then run through the gaping hole you created in your back line. If you stay together and go three on one, you’ll find that the opponent more often than not will come undone. Be smart.
11 Jockeying Is Key To A Strong Defense
When I say jockeying, what comes to your mind? Do you get visions of short men riding horses? It’s also a crucial move in Fifa 19’s defensive toolkit. Hold down the left shoulder button, and use your defenders to prester the strikers and wingers who are all up in your final third. This is particularly good if you’re controlling a player with a high strength rating. Take Adebayo Akinfenwa of Wycombe Wanderers. He might not be much good on the speed front, but he’s ridiculously strong, and can force other players to mess up with ease.
10 Timed Finishing
A new mechanic in Fifa 19 is timed finishing. This, as the name suggests, puts the emphasis less on shot placement than on your timing. Tap the shoot button after you've let fly, and, if it's timed right, you'll score some absolute bangs. It's like finesse on overdrive. The easiest way to learn how to use this is by turning on the trainer. As you take your shot a little bar will appear over your player's head. Land the meter in the green, and you'll ace the timing, and be more likely to score.
9 Control The Center
The center of the pitch is arguably the most important place to maintain control of. If you let your opponent run through the center, they can pass to either side, do one-twos, and absolutely wreck your defense. If you instead force them to one wing or the other, you close down their options massively. Give their players a bad case of claustrophobia by keeping close to them, absolutely dominating anything outside of the first few meters of the wing. That is how you win.
8 Know Your Attacking Channels
When you attack, and are looking for a weak spot — make sure you constantly look for good attacking lines. When you’re on the back foot, the same lines should still be in your mind. Don’t always chase the player dribbling the ball, instead run along their attacking line, and close off their options. You’ll often have to do this manually, but the payoff is worth it, as it can really let you close down attacks.
7 Learn Passing Triangles
Triangles will rapidly become your favorite shape thanks to Fifa. This may seem a little complicated to get your head around, but I’ll explain as best as I can. Try and make your passes to your outfield players roughly triangular. E.g., pass a ball back in a straight line to a midfielder, who can then pass it along the halfway line to another midfielder, and back and up the pitch to an attacker. The AI will focus on who has the ball, which opens up all kinds of passing lanes.
6 Nurture Your Youth Squad
Don’t neglect the power that a good young player can bring. In career mode, recruit a youth scout and send him out to look for new talent. If you find anyone with 80+ potential, get them signed quick. Train them up, and you can use your wonderkid to soar up the leagues. If you need cash, you can also add sell-on clauses to their transfers, should you sell them on. This will net you a percentage of the cash from their next transfers, which can make you very rich indeed.
5 Don't Rely On Timed Shooting
Now, timed shooting is all well and good. As we discussed earlier, it really can be a gamechanger once you've nailed the timing. However, that doesn't mean it's something you should always use. If you're one-on-one with the keeper, or in another position that should be very easy to score from, don't waste your time with it. The risks of messing up and flubbing an easy shot far outweigh the reward of scoring some outrageous shot from 12 yards when a toe poke would do.
4 Understand Chemistry
If you’re a fan of Ultimate Team, you’ll know how chemistry works. Players from the same club/league gain it, and higher chemistry means a better team. However, there’s a little trick that you can use, if you want. See, chemistry is set from the start of the match, and after that, altering your players’ position doesn’t change it. This means that if you get good chemistry from a not-so-efficient formation, you can change it as soon as the match starts and still reap the benefits.
3 Don't Tackle Too Hard
So tackling is something that rookie players tend to have a big issue with. It’s all too easy to go sliding in with both feet and get your player sent off. Don’t tackle unless you’re sure you’re going to get the ball cleanly. If you’re not sure, use jockeying, or simply get in the player’s path and attempt to dispossess them without pressing a button. Often, that’s more than enough. Only ever use a slide tackle from in front of the player, and even then, make sure that you nail the timing.
2 Keep The Keeper In His Spot (Most Of The Time)
The AI does a generally good job of managing the goalkeeper for you, and almost all the time, that’s all you want to do. That almost is important. If there’s a couple of attackers in the box, you’re probably screwed anyway, and doubly so if you try and run out to grab the ball, since they’ll just get a sweaty goal past you. However. If there’s just one player up, particularly if they’re not an attacker, you CAN try and charge them by holding triangle/Y. This is a risky move, but can reap dividends if you’re smart about using it.
1 Control Possession, Control Speed
Every team is different. Sometimes, you’ll come up against a team that is blindingly quick that makes you sweat just trying to keep up with them from the comfort of your couch. The important thing to remember is to control the game’s flow. If you’re smart with passing and maintain possession, you can slow the game right down to a speed that your team is more suited for. If you’re faster than your opponent, this also allows you to run rings around them. Quite literally. Possession is key. Pass often, and pass cleanly.