How to defend in FIFA 20

Keep a clean sheet with our handy guide on how to park the bus in EA Sports' new kickabout.

Subscribe to our newsletter here!

* Required field

Since it adopted a manual defence system years ago, FIFA became a more demanding game in terms of defensive gameplay. In FIFA 19 however, that process became a little easier, with more forgiving timing and better help from the AI. This year the situation has been reversed once again, meaning it is harder to defend in FIFA 20 than it was in FIFA 19, but don't worry as we have spent many hours playing FIFA 20 on the hardest difficulty, and we've adapted to the best forms of defence in the game. That being the case, if you want to improve your defensive game, then check out our tips below.

Tactical Defending vs. Legacy Defending: As before, there are two types of defensive styles in FIFA 20. Tactical Defense, which is a more manual scheme, is the default style, but you can change it to Legacy Defending in the settings. Some players find Legacy easier because it is less demanding in terms of timing. We won't recommend you to change it since online play only supports Tactical Defending, but if you only play offline and you can't really get to grips with Tactical, go ahead and try Legacy.

This is an ad:

X/A: The player automatically runs towards the opponent with the ball. It's a good option to position the player, but when you're close, release the button and take direct control while holding the L2/LT.

L2 /LT: The player places himself in a ready position, always facing the ball and alert to intercept the ball. Great for carefully pressuring the opponent while cutting lines of sight.

O/B: Depending on where your player is relative to the opponent and the ball, he might do the following: tackle, push with the body, or pull. The longer the button is held, the stronger the tackle, the push, or the pull, but be careful as that increases the chances of getting a card.

Square/X: The typical sliding tackle. Good for intercepting passes and shots, or for cutting the ball out from in front of an opponent, but it can be dangerous, especially if done from sideways or from behind. Avoid at all costs within the area! Pro tip: If you press Square/X right after the slide, your player will get up faster.

This is an ad:

Triangle/Y: Forces the goalkeeper's move towards the ball. Use this if you notice that your opponent is wide open, but if the distance is too long, don't move out too far, just enough to shorten the opponent's shooting angle. A good way to do this is by double-tapping Triangle/Y, which makes the goalkeeper run to the penalty spot.

R1 /RB: A second player controlled by the AI will run to the ball carrier. This is good for increasing pressure, but be careful not to take that player out of a crucial position, or you might leave an opponent in the open.


Goalkeeper Controls
Triangle/Y: The goalkeeper drops the ball to his feet, which is a good way to buy time and attract an opponent while also letting a colleague loose, although it should be done with space. Hold onto the ball too long or miss the pass, and you will most likely be punished with a goal against.

X/A: Throws the ball to a colleague - just be careful not to throw the ball at a pressed colleague, or you risk turning over the play and handing your opponent the advantage.

R1/RB: The goalkeeper grabs the ball if it is on the floor.

Square/X: Kicks the ball in the chosen direction - don't press too long or it will go out.

R1 + X/RB + A: The goalkeeper throws the ball, but this time faster and with a lesser arc - great to quickly put the ball forward, but be careful as there's a greater chance it will hit an opponent.


Tactics and Formations
To defend well you must first consider the type of tactics you are using, and you should do so while also taking into account the team at your disposal and the quality of the opponent. If the team has orders to defend and wait for the opponent to play, don't be surprised if your players don't press. On the other hand, you should also know what kind of defenders you have. If you have weak players at the back, don't expect your offside trap to work that well. Spend some time defining your tactics, or at least find out which preset you are using, because the team's behaviour and defensive effectiveness is dictated by how you're setup.

On the other hand, your formation can also play an important role. If you are having difficulty defending, try a formation with two defensive midfielders, preferably strong and tall and able to shield your defenders. It's almost guaranteed that two defensively-minded midfielders will improve your goals against, although you won't have as many capable attackers on the field if you decide to play that way.


Containment and Pressure
Many players do the mistake of rushing to their opponents, but doing so is actually making their lives easier. The priority is to contain the progress of the player who has the ball pressed on A (Xbox) or X (PlayStation) - this will automatically put him on the opponent's route. However, you should only use this option to approach your opponent, and when you are near you should switch to LT (Xbox) or L2 (PlayStation). This containment button allows you to keep your opponent in check without giving him the opportunity to do a skill move. When you are close to the opponent, then you can try to cut inside if the opportunity arises.

In FIFA 20 EA Sports changed the way acceleration works by increasing the time it takes a player to reach his peak speed. This means that catching a running forward with a player who is not yet sprinting is much harder than it was in the previous game. It's inevitable - eventually your opponent will get a clear run in behind. Instead of running after the ball carrier, which is usually a lost race, run parallel to him, closer to your own area than the ball carrier. This will allow you to get to the area faster. Then you should approach to try and minimise the chances of them crossing the ball or progressing their move towards goal.

Good pressure on the ball carrier and good blocking of the passing lines can be very effective. This will force the AI into riskier passes, increasing the likelihood of a missed pass (it happens more frequently in FIFA 20). Skill moves are less effective now, so you shouldn't worry too much about that, but the changes in direction and speed are more effective. Get too close or mistime the tackle, and you'll be left behind.

One thing to consider is that FIFA 20 has tackle animations, and timing is more important than ever. Timing is always necessary to take the ball, but if you get a "clean" tackle in terms of timing and positioning, your player is more likely to hold onto the ball after taking it from an opponent.


Training pays-off
The FIFA 20 skill-games/training system is great and includes some new options that can help you greatly improve your defensive skills. Some may be difficult, even frustrating, but if you want to improve your defence, you have to train. Only after having performed in defensive Skill Games can you expect to defend effectively in real games. Particularly noteworthy is a new counterattack Skill Game, where after stealing the ball, you have the opportunity to attack.

Advanced Technique 1: L2/LT is used to focus on the opponent, but right after winning the ball, it can be used to protect it. Do this to gain time or space to pass the ball to the goalkeeper or a colleague, but don't overdo it. The AI is good at taking the ball, and if you keep protecting it for too long, you'll get tackled.

Advanced Technique 2: With the right analog you can perform the "first touch", a technique that many use offensively but also has great utility in defence. When fighting for a loose ball, the right analog stick is a good way to quickly change direction when you get there, gaining precious distance to the adversary.


Related texts

Loading next content