In this week’s Backpage, football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross looks at five things you can do to improve your first touch in FIFA 13.
Yesterday I went mad at one of my strikers after he blew a chance to grab a late equaliser by taking a shocking first touch.
But it wasn't really the player's fault, it was mine.
I was attempting to control a fast-moving bouncing ball while spinning 180 degrees past the defender. In one touch. With a 66-rated striker. On his weak foot.
What did I expect? It was never going to work because – in my desperation to score – I was asking too much and rushing things. I should have kept my cool, got the ball under control and worked for an opportunity to shoot.
Mid-way through my rant at the unfortunate Middlesbrough player I realised that it was all my fault and I quietly sat back down while muttering under my breath. That's one of the many things I really like about First Touch Control; the outcome makes it immediately obvious when you've made a bad decision, and so you learn for next time.
There's a real logic to it. Try to do too much, like I did, and you'll mess up. But make the right choice and your control will be better, as will your chances of scoring and winning. So in this week's Backpage we're going to look at a bunch of things you can do to significantly improve your first touch in FIFA 13. Work on these until they're second nature and you'll see your control become much more consistent and reliable. Of course, you may still have the odd explosion of rage like I did yesterday, but at least you won't be able to blame the little guy on the screen.
Having said that, I still dropped him for the next game. That showed him.
Anyway, let's start with...
Regardless of the game mode you’re playing, it helps to be familiar with the players you’re controlling because this can help you make the right decision on what you’re going to do with the ball when you receive it. For example, in my Middlesbrough Career Mode save I know that the striker I just mentioned doesn’t have strong technical abilities, so there’s less chance of him taking a great first touch on the ball compared to one of my more technical players. Because of that I’m now much more realistic about what I ask him to do when the ball is played to him. I keep things very simple, usually concentrating on nothing more than getting the ball under complete control before I attempt to do anything with it. So no immediate 180-degree spins, no flicks, no sprints and no sharp turns. All of that can come after I’ve got it under control.
On the flip side I’ll be much more likely to try something a bit more creative when using a player with greater abilities, because there’s a better chance it’ll work.
So get to know your players. Learn what they’re capable of and adjust your expectations accordingly. It doesn’t take long to become familiar with a team – three or four games will give you a good base knowledge – and once you’re there you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll be able to identify the selected player and make a decision on how to control the ball with him, which is going to have a huge impact on your first touch.
Use L2 or LT
If you hold down L2 or the left trigger when you receive the ball then your player will stop and – nine times out of ten – take a vastly improved first touch on the ball. I use this all the time in games.
It’s especially effective when you’re either not sure about the abilities of the player you’ve got selected, or if you’re attempting to take a particularly difficult ball, like one that’s coming at an awkward height or bouncing rapidly. It just makes your player slow down and put more emphasis on control, which increases your chances of taking a better first touch.
The only downside to doing this is – because it effectively makes you stop to control the ball – you can lose a bit of attacking momentum, so it’s not so great if you’re trying to break quickly or shift the ball across the pitch to take advantage of a space that’s just opened up. At all other times, including key moments like the one I mentioned in my intro, it’s a great way to be as sure as possible that your touch will be good.
Never Sprint Into The Ball
Question… the ball is played left directly at your player, who sprints to the right – head-on into the ball – to receive it. What happens next?
Yep, the ball either bobbles up or the first touch is so heavy you could be forgiven for thinking it’s an attempted driven pass. Sprinting into the ball is never a good idea, even with the very best players, because the chances of taking a good first touch are tiny. Lionel Messi can’t run into the ball at a full sprint and take a perfect touch. It isn’t possible in real life or in FIFA 13, so don’t even try it.
Sprinting on to the ball is usually okay though, as long as it’s on the ground. Never hold full sprint while trying to take a high pass in your stride, because chances are you’ll either take an awful first touch or a series of small touches to reduce the speed of the ball, by which time you’ll probably have been tackled anyway.
Use The Right Stick
When timed well using capable players, a first touch with the right stick can be a lethal weapon.
You can use it to change direction and wrong foot a defender, to nudge the ball away from an incoming tackle that would otherwise have succeed or – and this one is my favourite – you can turn defenders completely when you’re receiving the ball with your back to goal. It works really well with mid height passes too, as using the right stick here can result in a dramatic flick over the head of the player who’s rushing forward to stop you.
Give it a go in your next game and experiment with the different things you can do. Just remember to keep my first point in mind; be realistic with your expectations according to the ability of the player you’re controlling. Flicking the ball over a defender’s head is possible with Samuel Eto’o, but less so with 66-rated Boro strikers (I’ll let it go in a minute, honest).
Take The Right Touch
Regardless of the abilities of your players, there are some situations when you need to forget about trying to control the ball and instead make your first touch a pass or a clearance.
The obvious one is when the ball is dropping to your last man who has a striker applying pressure nearby. Of course it’s best to do what a real-life defender would do here and clear the ball away rather than attempt to bring it down. Others are less obvious, like when your player receiving the ball has opposition defenders so close that any attempt at control is going to give them the opportunity to make a tackle before you can do anything about it.
Here’s it’s best to play a simple short pass back in the direction it came or to a nearby team-mate who has more space.
Keep possession, build again. It’s what Barça do, and they’re not bad at football.
Okay, that wraps things up for this week. Give these tips a go and see how you get on. I’m certain your first touch will improve.
As always, thanks for reading and I’ll hopefully see you back here next time.