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How to Attack & Defend in FIFA 17

How to defend your goal, control the midfield, and set up devastating attacks.

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FIFA 17 is a complex football game, with several mechanics acting simultaneously, and numerous control possibilities available to the player. The core gameplay itself is what you might know from other other football games, like older FIFA and PES, and knowing that core will be enough for the average player. But, if you really want to master FIFA 17's many intricacies, you will have learn, pratice, and refine your skills in several different disciplines within the game.


One of the biggest problems new players face with FIFA is the defensive mechanics. Since EA introduced a real-time tackling system a few FIFAs ago, players have constantly struggled, and FIFA 17 is no different. Be it a classic tackle or a slide tackle, you must know when to press the button - and most importantly, you must know when not to press the button.

1) Don't overlook tactics: To defend properly you must first consider the type of tactics your team is using. If the team has orders to stand back and wait for the opponent, don't be be surprised if you try pressure high and your AI-controlled teammates stay back. On the other hand, you must also know the type of defenders you have. If you have defenders with poor attributes, don't expect marking or off-side tactics to go smoothly. Spend some time setting up the tactics you want, and then play accordingly. Don't try and do something that your team is simply not capable of doing.


2) Contain the danger: Many players wrongly rush to the attacker, both leaving an opponent free to get the ball, and facilitating a dribble from the adversary. The priority should be contain the ball carrier's progress, by pressing the A (Xbox) or X (PlayStation) - this will automatically place your defender in the opponent's path. However, you should only use this option to approach the opponent, and when you are close, switch to LT (Xbox) or L2 (PlayStation). This contention button allows you to keep the opponent in check, but gives control back to you. When you are close to the opponent, try to look for an opportunity to make a tackle while cutting a passing line, but don't ever rush it or they will spin over you.

3) Avoid shots and crosses: With the opposing player contained, you must focus on two priorities, and they're avoiding dangerous shots and crosses. Sometimes you must sacrifice some positioning, but it is always better to leave the side angle open than the middle. On the other hand, it is always better to let the winger pass the ball back to a colleague over them having crossed into the area or even run towards goal. Sometimes you just can't cover all angles, so make priorities and choose wisely.

4) Use the Skill Games: The training mini-games in FIFA 17 are excellent, and they can help you greatly improve your defensive capabilities. Some challenges may be difficult, even frustrating, but if you want to improve your defense, you need to keep at it. Only after achieving positive notes repeatedly in the defensive Skill Games section can you expect to defend properly in the real deal.

Pro Tip 1: With LB (Xbox) or L1 (PlayStation), you may request the assistance of an AI-controlled teammate, which will pressure the ball carrier. This technique is a good choice when you have your opponent contained, but is particularly effective in midfield when you are trying to exert strong pressure. In defence this technique has to be used very carefully, or it will pull a defender from their position, and that can have catastrophic consequences for your goal difference. Try to limit the use of assistance to the sidelines or near the centre of the field.

Pro Tip 2: With the right analog stick you can use the 'first touch', a technique that many consider offensive, but it can also be usefull while defending. When you are trying to get to a loose ball at the same time as your opponent, you can use the right analog stick as soon as you are getting to it to change it's direction away from the opponent. This will give you precious time to pass the ball out of danger.


1) Positioning: The key to dominating the midfield is having a good idea of where players are without seeing them. Move the ball carefully, and if necessary change flank with a long pass or through ball to the right or left back. Midfield is usually the most populated area of ​​the game, so you shouldn't hold onto the ball for too long with the same player, and you should especially avoid running with LT (Xbox) or L2 (PlayStation) in the midfield.

2) One-two: A good way to catch the opponent off-guard is playing one-two passes, but this doesn't mean you should always return the ball to the running player. If a defender plays an interchange with a more advanced teammate, pass to another player and let them get back into position. A good tactic is to also use a one-two-three move. You can pass the ball in a one-two fashion to start the run, but instead of returning the ball, move it forward to a striker, for example. Then, as the running player passes you, return the ball. This is a good way of having multiple teammates running for space - but be careful, losing the ball will leave your midfield open.

Pro Tip 1: The pressure exerted by the opponent in midfield is very strong, and moving straight towards them is a quick way of losing the ball. A good way to avoid this is by holding the ball with LT (Xbox) or L2 (PlayStation). This is the ball shield button, which causes the player to turn his back to the opponent and keep the ball away from him. This won't hold forever, but it can give you precious seconds that buys time for another teammate to provide backup.

Pro Tip 2: The through ball it not only useful while attacking, it can also be very effective in the midfield. When a colleague comes running from behind, you can nudge the ball to them by clicking the through ball button. Learn to use this pass properly if you want to dominate the midfield.



1) New shots: One of the new features in FIFA 17 is the introduction of new types of shots. If you hold the shoot button the ball will gain power, but it will also raise. Now it is possible to charge a powerful shot, but keep it closer to the ground, by pressing the button a second time before the player hits the ball. This will result in a very strong low shot, and it will also work on the air and while heading the ball. For the first time in FIFA, you can now head the ball downwards, and this is sometimes the best option when the ball is crossed with great speed (otherwise it can go over the bar).

2) Know individual tactics: Just as it is everywhere on the pitch, tactics are important when attacking. Not only team tactics, but also individual application. For example, you can ask a striker to try and get behind the defence when you have the ball in midfield, or you can ask them to pull back and receive the ball. You may also request them to always stay central, or to go out on the wing. If players are not behaving as you want them too, go check the individual tactics.

3) Know the type of players you have: If you have a short striker who can't jump, you can cross the ball all day long and you'll have a hard time scoring. Study your players, their strengths and weaknesses, and play accordingly. You must adapt to the players you have, not the other way around.

Pro Tip 1: With the LT and RT (Xbox) or L2 and R2 (PlayStation), you will make your player with the ball turn around to the opponent and face him. With the two buttons pressed, you can nudge the ball to the sides and back without ever changing direction, which is good for setting up passes or a skill move. This movement is particularly useful against the left/right back, near the sideline.

Pro Tip 2: If you keep the LT (Xbox) or L2 (PlayStation) pressed during the moment you shoot you will perform special shots. These include bicycle kicks, volleys, heel touches, and other special moves - and it also works with passes. When the ball is in the air, if you press LT / L2 and the right analog stick, you will nudge the ball away from the defender with a touch to the chest or the head. It will of course work best with a high skill player.

Set Pieces

1) Corners: There is now a completley new corner system, and it's a lot more effective. You will now see a crosshair on the ground, showing the direction in which the ball will travel. This is great for more specific crosses, like when you want to put the ball around the near or far post. That determines the direction of the ball, while the power applied determines the type of cross. If you only tap the cross button, the ball will reach your destination with a high trajectory, almost balloon-like, but if you keep the button pressed, the cross will go lower and faster. The first type is good at putting the ball behind the back post, avoiding the goalkeeper, while the other cross is good for headers at the near post.

2) Free kicks: Free kicks work mostly the same. Mostly. You can now change direction and distance, and his will increase the power of the shot, or even the way you kick the ball. If you opt for the front kick, the ball will not gain curve, and the shoot will go up and down (similar to a Cristiano Ronaldo free kick). If you position the player on his preferred foot you will kick the ball with the outside of the foot, similar to a Roberto Carlos free kick.

3) Side throw: There are more options while taking a throw, including a fake throw. If you press the shoot and pass buttons simultaneously, the player will fake throwing the ball - a particularly effective trick against a human opponent. With the left stick you can walk the line, while the right analog stick lets you take control of another player and call for the ball.

4) Penalties: The penalties have undergone major changes this year, and like free kicks, you can now set the direction and distance from the player to the ball. To start running towards the ball, press foward. Then, with the player running, press the direction you want to give to the ball and and strength. It may take a few tries but you will eventually get used to it.

Our gameplay guide ends here, but if you want more tips and guides for FIFA 17, keep checking Gamereactor.


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REVIEW. Written by Ricardo C. Esteves

"FIFA 17 is a robust package, which builds on all aspects and solves some major problems from the previous edition."

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