It all began at the start of 2015 when I made a thread on the original forums asking if people would be interested in such a guide. Three months and 6000 words later, it’s finally here! I know a lot of people have been waiting patiently for this – I hope you understand that I wanted to wait for the new forums to arrive. Be warned, this is a very theoretical and text heavy guide, so I don’t expect anyone to read through it all in one sitting.
As a student at Swansea University with 12 contact hours a week, I probably have a lot more free time than many of you reading this…and while I try not to spend all of that time on FIFA, I have played a fair few matches this year. That said, being a student means I don’t have the money for packs, even if I don’t drink (much), and since I only trade here and there, I haven’t had the chance to use many of the elite players. In summary, lots of playing time with good but not the very best players has put me in a position where I feel comfortable I can give people advice on how to improve at the game.
So why are these things even relevant? Quite simply, it is to address the people who will be asking, “Why should I listen to you and this guide? What experience do you have?”…and to those people I say this: trust me, I’m the Doctor.
With regards to FIFA, I’ve had every copy since 2004, however my desire to play possession football was inspired by the domination of Barcelona in 2011 – of course, this coincided with the release of FIFA 11 on PS3. A few years on, I still pride myself on playing this way no matter who I use, or who I come up against.
Having the ability to dictate the tempo of the match is a very powerful tool – it allows you to nullify your opponent’s playstyle whilst forcing your opponent to adapt to having less time on the ball. For example, if your opponent is pressing high up the pitch, you can keep the ball until a gap opens up between their midfield and defence. Once it does, exploit it with a driving run or a few sharp passes, and I guarantee you will create a chance. Put simply, having more control of the match leads to higher chance creation – assuming you have the ability to finish, more chances equates to more goals, and thus, more wins.
In addition, I truly believe that anyone can become an effective possession player, no matter what your skill level is. While it does require practice to become efficient in possession, the real test is having the right mentality – the mindset that you won’t try to force a pass if it isn’t on, you are willing to recycle possession through the defence when necessary, and most importantly, you won’t change your style if you go behind. If you can embrace this philosophy, then you go a long way to becoming a successful possession player.
And lastly, it’s not just about improving your record; the way in which you win is just as significant. For me, the satisfaction from winning via possession football is matched by no other style on FIFA, and I hope many of you will also come to appreciate this as you read this guide.
The goalkeeper is an exception to this part of the guide, in that having high stats in all of the goalkeeping attributes is clearly important. That said, I feel having a high weak foot is a nice bonus …at times you will have to use your goalkeeper when recycling possession, thus having the confidence to go either way will aid you in this task.
In addition, taller keepers have had a history of performing well in previous FIFA’s, and it’s the same this year (I’d consider anyone 6’1’’ and below too short, although there may be exceptions).
Finally, having the ability to dependably find you own player via a long throw (rather than having to fight for the ball from a drop kick) is a useful option to have. Consider this: when you lose a header off a goal kick, how many times do you find yourself immediately under pressure again as the ball drops perfectly to the opposition striker, who can then run at your defence? A reliable long throw out wide can eliminate this risk.
Many people see the fullback position as an afterthought when it comes to squad composition, but it’s still important to select a fullback who can compete both offensively and defensively. It goes without saying that your fullback’s primary role is to help mitigate the threat of opposing attackers – as a result, having high tackling stats are a given, but marking and jumping are also key in being able to reliably track runners, as well as win the aerial battle from OTT through balls and crosses to the back post.