Defending in FIFA 19 isn't that different from what it was in FIFA 18, at least at a technical level. The buttons do the same things, and the philosophy is similar, but there are some key differences, which is why we've got a guide to help you defend better with some basic tips, while also addressing what's new and how to take advantage of these features.
Note: For practical reasons, we will be using the PS4 controller layout as an example for most actions.
Tactical or Legacy Defending
FIFA uses a real-time defending method called Tactical Defense in which your defender will try to go for the ball as soon as you press the standing tackle button, Circle. In our opinion this is the best method, but if you find it too demanding, you should go to the controller definitions and change defensive type from Tactic to Legacy. This changes the defensive method to the older, more automatic format, but be warned - whenever you play online, you will be forced to play with the Tactical style, so we recommend you get used to it.
Timing is crucial
If you use the tactical defensive method, you should pay close attention to when you press the standing tackle button (Circle) or the long tackle button (Square). If you mistime them, your player will miss the tackle and become exposed, so timing really is crucial in the tactical method. Practice makes perfect, as they say.
Shoulder battles and pulling
Circle usually allows you to go for a tackle, but this action can change depending on the context. If you're chasing your opponent and you press circle, your player will try to grab his shirt, and if they are side by side he will try to win the ball with his body. This is possible by pressing Circle, but if you hold the button your player will perform a stronger pull or shoulder tackle. This is a bit risky, as it can result in a foul, but it may be better than letting your opponent get away from you.
Shield the ball
L2 allows you to shied the ball when you have it, and therefore it's usually used when attacking, but you can and should use it defensively too. If the ball is being fiercely contested by both players, your player might take it and shield it if you press L2, which is particularly effective if your player is physically stronger than the opponent, and less riskier than a regular tackle.
Block passing and crossing
There are times when you should go for hard pressure, and there are times when it's best to keep distance and try to block passing or crossing lines. The best way to do this is by pressing L2 (X also works, but it's automatic), which will keep your player facing the ball, regardless of the directions you press. You can combine this with the help of another player on your team by pressing and holding R1, which will get your friend to try to put pressure on the ball carrier. This will allow you to position your controlled player between the ball carrier and the target.
Tactics are super important
To properly defend you must consider the type of tactic you are using. If the team has orders to defend behind and wait for the opponent, don't be surprised if they don't press forward - they're just obeying the tactics they're given. EA Sports has redone tactics this year, and we will be looking into them in detail in another article, but for now, just make sure you play as the tactics demand.
Play the Skill Games
The FIFA 19 training system - formed of several skill games - is excellent, and it can help you immensely in improving your defensive skills. Some can be difficult, and even frustrating, but if you want to improve your game you have to practice. Only after achieving positive grades in defensive Skill Games can you expect to properly defend when it counts.
How to defend in corners
When we're defending a corner, we like to select the striker and pull him closer to the area so he can try and block potential rebounds. We also use this to allow the AI to position itself in the area, as it tends to do a good job at that. We then wait for the game to automatically change control to the player who will head the ball. Just be aware in case an opponent runs to the edge of the corner, because if that's the case, it's almost certain that the ball will be passed to him, so be prepared to press him.
AI help is improved
This is the most important new feature in FIFA 19 at a defensive level. Artificial intelligence has been greatly improved, not only in general but also with regards to defending specifically. Player positioning tends to be more compact, marking more effective, and the AI tends to block shots and passes with a higher frequency. In fact, in this year's controller settings, you will find an option that allows the artificial intelligence to automatically try and intercept any ball that goes in its vicinity. We advise you to leave this option on.
Pay attention to the wings
Following the previous point, the AI now tends to defend more compactly in the center of the pitch, but for this reason it also leaves more space in the wings. Take special care for any runs down the line, and if necessary, follow them with your defender and leave the ball carrier - instead ask the AI to press him with R1. If you can block the pass line to the winger, you'll turn over or block a lot more balls.
<em>That's it for our defensive guide. Practice makes perfect, and if it can get frustrating at first, but don't give up. This is a process of learning and adaptation, and that requires patience. You can also expect new guides for FIFA 19 coming soon.</Em>