Football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross picks out two clubs you may not have tried yet in Seasons mode, then looks at why they’re great to use and how you can get the best out of them…
When I play Seasons I like using teams that are a bit different.
Usually they’ll be clubs that could perhaps be seen as slight underdogs compared to the big boys at their star level, or ones that I just haven’t played with or against all that much online. I enjoy the challenge and variety of picking a team like this and it can be really satisfying when I find one that, with a bit of tinkering, feels great to use and can more than hold its own against clubs with higher ratings.
If you like doing the same thing then read on, because in this week’s Backpage we’re going to look at two clubs that I think are great alternatives to the powerhouses at 4.5 and 5 star level, and how I set them up to make the most of their strengths.
I’ve used 4.5 star Newcastle a lot in FIFA 13 – especially since they signed some very good players in the January transfer window – and one of the things I like best about them is how adaptable they are in terms of playing style. With the players they’ve got you can set them up to play a crossing game, tie defences in knots with skills, pass the other team off the pitch or sit back and hit on the counter, so it’s possible to easily mix up your play and keep the opponent guessing.
They do lack lightning pace up front, so if you like extremely quick strikers then Newcastle may not be for you, but on the plus side they cope with speed very well defensively if you make a few changes to the line up, which comes in very handy against the many fast players you’ll face at that star level.
I stick with the default 4-2-3-1 because, as you’ll see below, they’ve got top players in this formation’s key positions. Here’s my starting line-up…
With an Overall of 79, Krul has one of the highest ratings in the squad and is ten points ahead of next-closest-keeper Steve Harper, so I always make sure he starts. He’s a left-footer so try to keep that in mind when you’re kicking with him.
There’s not a great deal between Debuchy and fellow right-back Danny Simpson – so either one will be fine – but I prefer the France international as he feels a bit stronger defensively and adds slightly more to the attack for me when he joins in going forward.
I know it seems odd to have a quality midfielder like Sissoko at centre-back, but he is incredibly effective there thanks to his outstanding pace and power. With 83 for Acceleration, 84 for Sprint Speed and 86 for Strength, Sissoko can be very dominant at the back so I think selecting him there can make a real difference when using Newcastle. For me he is one of the most important players in the team.
Sissoko partners fellow January signing Yanga-M’Biwa, who is also fast for a centre-back as well as being strong and good in the air. Coloccini has a higher Overall rating than both players but he is slower, so it’s a bit harder to recover with him when a striker does manage to break through on goal.
Generally I don’t like to have full-backs or wingers playing on the same side as their weakest foot, especially when their weak foot rating is low, because their crossing and passing usually suffers, but I make an exception for Santon because I reckon he’s the best option at left-back. He’s quick, strong and wins plenty of headers, but if you do want to go for a lefty then pick Haidara or – if you want to attack more from full-back – move Marveaux there.
I mentioned earlier that Newcastle cope with speed very well defensively and that’s because – as well as the fast centre-backs – they have two holding midfielders with good pace. On top of an Acceleration stat of 79 and Sprint Speed of 85, powerhouse Tiote has 85 for Strength and a massive 91 for both Stamina and Aggression, so I use him mostly to press the ball and break up play.
Anita is smaller than Tiote and not as strong, but he’s left-footed so it feels like the two players compliment each other well in my team because each one plays on his dominant side. He also has excellent Stamina, Aggression and Interceptions.
You might be surprised to see Obertan in my starting line-up when I could go for players like Gutierrez or Gouffran on the right side of the three, but I prefer Obertan because he’s a bit quicker and can do four star skill moves, which is a nice option to have and can really help to create chances from nothing. He only has 67 for Stamina though, so I tend to change him midway through the second half.
Hatem Ben Arfa
I try to get the ball to Ben Arfa’s feet as often as possible, because he’s a player that can really make things happen. Although he often plays on the right in the real world I pick him on the left so I have the option to whip crosses in with his best foot, and I also like to take defenders on using his 88 Dribbling and five star skill moves. His Finishing isn’t bad either so I always take the opportunity to get a shot on goal with him inside the box when I can.
Attacking midfielder Cabaye isn’t quick – he has 66 Acceleration and 71 Sprint Speed – but his technical stats are excellent. He’s a top passer and creates a lot of goals when I play as Newcastle, plus he’s lethal from range thanks to his 84 Long Shots and 80 Shot Power ratings. He’s also excellent at taking free-kicks.
Papiss Demba Cisse
Cisse can be a really effective striker if you play to his strengths. He isn’t fast, so try to avoid attempting too many through balls unless he’s a clear favourite, but if you can create a shooting chance for him inside the box then you’ll see he’s a cracking finisher. He isn’t amazingly strong but he does have good Ball Control and Agility, so he can hold up the play when needed – which is important when playing as a lone forward – and he’s also pretty good in the air.
So that’s how I like to use Newcastle. Next up is…
I wasn’t sure that I could get away with calling PSG an alternative team for this week’s Backpage because they’re such a big club with a lot of top stars, but I hardly ever seem to play against them in Seasons. At 5 star level I regularly face clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern and Chelsea with just the odd player picking the French champs and that surprises me, because I think they’re one of the best teams in the game.
They’ve got a fast and powerful defence, plenty of speed and creativity in midfield and forwards that between them have pretty much everything – pace, power, skill, finishing, aerial ability and plenty of tricks. Because of that there are loads of formations that work really well with them, but I prefer to go with the 4-4-2 Diamond Wide and line them up like this…
Like Krul at Newcastle, Sirigu is the strongest keeper in the squad by some distance so always starts for me. His Overall is 84 and he has good diving and reflexes, so he rarely lets me down.
Gregory Van Der Wiel
Van der Wiel has a lower Overall than right-back rival Jallet, but he’s quicker, stronger and I just think he feels a bit better on the ball. He’s also got the Early Crosser trait and that can come in handy in attack.
You won’t find many better central defenders than Thiago Silva in FIFA 13. He has 81 for Acceleration and 82 for Sprint Speed, so he copes well when up against fast opponents, and his tackling is exceptional. He also has surprisingly good technical stats like 80 for Ball Control and Long Pass, so feels comfortable in possession when bringing the ball out from the back.
Choosing who should partner Silva isn’t easy because Alex is a top centre-back, but I go for Sakho for two main reasons. Firstly he’s a lot quicker than Alex, who has just 55 for Acceleration and 54 for Sprint Speed, and secondly he’s left footed so feels like a good fit in the left centre-back position.
There are three left-backs to choose from in the squad and I like Maxwell the best. He’s not that quick but is still much faster than Armand, and has better attacking stats than Tiene that include 83 Crossing and 81 Short Pass.
In a 4-4-2 Diamond Wide the holding midfielder can often have a lot of ground to make up quickly, so I pick Matuidi for this role in my PSG team because he’s fast and can run all day. His technical stats aren’t as impressive as Verratti or Motta’s, so you may want to go for one of them if you like to use a deep-lying playmaker, but he’s perfect as the engine of the team.
Menez is an excellent dribbler who’s very quick and can do four star skill moves, so I like to take players on with him. I start him on the right so that he’s on the same side as his strong foot, which gives me a better chance of finding Zlatan at the back post if I decide to go for a cross. Lucas is an excellent option at RM too, but I prefer to play him in the centre where he can get involved more often.
Pastore isn’t a natural fit for the way I usually like to use the wide left position because he’s not the quickest and he’s right footed, but I still think he’s the best choice here in this formation. He only has a three star weak foot so I avoid crossing with him and look to make use of his passing skills instead, which are pretty good. He makes a lot of goals for my forwards.
PSG signed Lucas in January for a reported fee of €40 million, and I’m pretty chuffed they did because he’s one of the players I like most in this team. He’s got 94 for Acceleration, 94 Agility, 91 Sprint Speed and 89 Dribbling, so I get him on the ball and run at defences every chance I get. I also like him in the centre because his long-range shooting is excellent and he gets in better positions to test the keeper when played as a CAM rather than an RM.
Lavezzi can play in a number of attacking positions but I like to combine him with Ibrahimovic up front, where his speed and agility compliment Zlatan’s physical presence and power. As well as being quick he’s also a great dribbler, so you have the option to play him in with through passes or have him pick his way through a defence with the ball at his feet.
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that Zlatan scores the vast majority of my goals when I use PSG. His Finishing is a massive 91 and he backs that up with a Strength rating of 93, Ball Control of 90, Shot Power of 93 and five star skill moves. He’s also 6ft 5in tall and has the Aerial Threat and Long Shot Taker specialities, so he can pretty much score any type of goal.
So that’s why Newcastle and PSG are two alternative clubs that I like to use in Seasons mode. If you have a great alternative team or two then please share them by commenting below or tweeting them to me @darren_cross
Thanks for reading The Backpage, and see you next week.
FIFA 13 is availble to buy now on Origin for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC.