The Beat

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The Backpage | FIFA 13 Defending Tips

Football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross looks at how using Teammate Contain can help you keep more clean sheets in FIFA 13…

How often do you use the Teammate Contain function when you're defending in FIFA 13?

If your answer is either, 'Not much,' 'All of the time,' or 'What's Teammate Contain?' then read on because this week's Backpage is for you.

I use Teammate Contain – AKA Secondary Contain – regularly in every game and I'm convinced that, when used properly and in combination with a number of other great defensive tools, it is one of the most effective ways of stopping the opposition from scoring.

So in this week's Backpage we'll take a close look at what Teammate Contain is, when you should and shouldn't use it and what else you can do alongside it to improve defensively in all game modes.

What Is Teammate Contain?
When you hold down the Teammate Contain button – RB on Xbox 360 and R1 on PS3 – you ask the closest AI-controlled defender to attempt to contain the opposition player in possession. They won't full-on press the ball, just attempt to slow the play and protect crucial areas, effectively like your player would if you we're holding the Contain button close to an opponent who has the ball.

So what's the point? Well the great thing about having a teammate do the containing is that it leaves the player you have selected free to move wherever you like. You can get into a position to block a potential pass, drop off to pick up a runner or advance forward in support of your AI-controlled pal and become a second barrier for the other player to beat. This multitasking takes concentration and effort on your part, as you must quickly identify exactly where the threats are and do something about them, but when you get it right it's very rewarding. Using Teammate Contain while trying to stay one step ahead with the player you're in control of really puts more responsibility on you, and I love that about FIFA 13. When I concede a goal it's almost always because I've made a mistake defensively somewhere during the move, so when I keep a clean sheet it's good to know that it was also down to my decisions and actions.

When Not To Use It…
Not using Teammate Contain at all can decrease your chances of keeping a clean sheet, but using it incorrectly is even worse.

Let’s say for example that you hold the Teammate Contain button when the opposition player is passing the ball around the edge of his own area. Your player nearest the ball, most likely to be your striker, will start chasing it across the line while you move a different player to block a potential pass. If you’re holding down sprint while doing this then you’ve now got two players beginning to use up their stamina pretty quickly.

If you don’t change the players doing the pressing then you’ll be pulling your team shape all over the place and leaving nice big gaps for your opponent, who simply has to pass the ball around you and move into them. The worse part of all this is that you’ll be tiring your players out and ruining the shape of your team for no reason at all, as your opponent isn’t going to score a goal against you from his third of the pitch.

The solution is to let him have the ball there.

At any level of football, when one team knocks the ball across its own back four without advancing then it gives the other side time to get their shape set. The attacking team then has to find a way to break them down, which is much harder because more players are now behind the ball.

So although it may feel like the other player is controlling the game because they’re keeping possession at the back, resist the urge to go chasing. Instead, take a look at the radar and make sure your players are where they should be. If you really must go and hunt the ball – maybe you’re losing the game with just a few minutes left – then use Teammate Contain but make sure your players stay roughly in the areas they’re supposed to be. You don’t want an RW following the ball all the way over to the left wing, so make sure you release RB or R1 and hold it again as the ball moves across the pitch, so that the player closest to it does the chasing.

In The Middle Third…
When your opponent is about to enter the middle third of the pitch – so just before the edge of the centre circle – that’s the time to begin applying ball pressure, and I do that with Teammate Contain.

Now you’ve got to watch the AI-controlled teammate attempting to contain the ball, the player you’re in control of, the off-the-ball runs of opposition players and of course the guy in possession.

At this point you should be thinking about what you would do if you had possession, then working to counter it as the defender. Is there a player in space that looks like an obvious target for an easy forward pass? Then get the defender you’re controlling into the path of the pass. Does it look like the attacking player is going to turn back, and could you get someone there to block his path by quickly changing the player you’re controlling?

Remember to only apply pressure with teammates when the ball is more or less in their zone, and the same goes for the player you’re in control of; don’t keep the same one selected and run around trying to block every pass. Use the player change button or nudge the right stick in the direction of the player you want to control as the play heads over towards their part of the pitch.

It sounds like a lot to think about, but you’ll be surprised by how quickly you get used to doing this. Watching the play, predicting it and changing players accordingly will soon become automatic.

In Your Third…
As your opponent advances towards your box, be very careful with how you use Teammate Contain. It’s very easy to begin panicking and start bringing your back line out of position by asking them to step out and apply pressure. The absolute worst time to do this is when you have an opposition player running at two centre-backs who already have a couple of strikers for company… as soon as you hit Teammate Contain one of them will abandon his man, who then simply has to receive a pass and head for goal.

Whenever you hit the Teammate Contain button, immediately look to see which teammate starts moving towards the ball. If it’s a centre-back then make sure he doesn’t already have a man to mark. If he does, take your finger off that button and get him back into position as quickly as you can.

Ideally you want one of the midfielders to apply pressure on the ball so that you can take manual control of a central defender. That way you’ll be able to track the movement of the striker much better, and get into a position to prevent what you think is going to happen next. For example, if it looks like a through ball is coming then you can get your defender deeper so that he’s between the attacker and the ball when it’s played through, which will allow you to be a physical barrier. Or if the defender you’re controlling is the last man then you may want to step out and go for the offside. It can be risky, but is sometimes the best option if you know the striker is much faster than your player. That’s how I use Teammate Contain and it works really well for me, especially when used alongside a few other handy defensive tactics.

Extra Tips…
When you’re tracking an opposition player closely while a teammate is containing, face the ball as the pass comes towards your opponent by holding LT or L2 to Jockey. That way you’ll be in a great position to move, change direction or step in to make a tackle when the guy you’re marking receives the pass. Remember that the game will tackle for you once you get close enough to the ball, but that’s not going to happen if you’re facing away from it. You can also use Running Jockey by holding the sprint button while jockeying.

The push/pull function is your friend. Strikers are generally quicker than centre-backs, but not often as strong. Use this to your advantage by hitting the push/pull button once or twice if it looks like the striker is about to burn away from you. Sometimes you’ll be called up and punished for it, but often you’ll fairly muscle your opponent off the ball. I use the push/pull regularly and it’s saved me a load of goals.

Don’t take risks with any high balls heading into or around your area. By this I mean forget about trying to bring the ball down with a great first touch when you’re under pressure then playing your way out of trouble, or going for a nice cushioned header to a nearby team-mate that already has an opposition player close by. In situations like these you should avoid the pass button completely and hit the shoot button instead. It might not look pretty, but will prevent needless goals being conceded.

Okay, that wraps things up for this week. If you’ve got any other defending tips I haven’t mentioned here, tweet them to me @darren_cross and I’ll share them with the community.

Darren
@Darren_Cross