Football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross looks at how to build a bargain FUT squad that will dominate in the air, and use it to score loads of goals…
I regularly get the urge to build different squads in FIFA 13 Ultimate Team. I really enjoy the challenge of thinking up new teams, finding the players, trading for them then seeing if they’ll work, so I spend a lot of time thinking about what to try next.
Recently I had an idea to build a team based on aerial ability, then see if I could play to that strength by focusing my main playing style on getting the ball wide as often as possible and whipping in quality balls with wingers that were good at crossing. It sounded like a different and interesting way to play so I thought I’d give it a go.
There are loads of top players out there with the attributes I was looking for, so I decided this would be a bit more challenging if I set myself a low overall budget for the starting XI. I settled on 15,000 coins then started looking for the players I needed to make the team competitive at Gold Cup level. 14,050 coins later I was under budget and ready to go.
In my first three games I scored 15 goals and 12 of them were headers. I’d just found my new favourite team and since then I've been playing as them every chance I get.
What I really like about this team is how fresh and different they feel to use. This isn't a side with blistering pace or slick skills, so looking for through balls or running at opponents – both things that I love doing – doesn’t work. Instead I have to keep finding ways to get my wingers or full-backs into space so I can feed my forwards, which becomes even more challenging once my opponents work out what I'm up to.
I've loved every minute of playing as this team, so in this week’s Backpage I thought it’d be good to look at who I signed and how I use them so that you can build your own bargain air power team and give it a go.
I wanted a formation that would include two wingers and a strike partnership so I began looking for 4-1-2-1-2 players and, since quality delivery would be vital to the success of the team, I decided to start with the wide players.
I needed wingers with great crossing ability that would also play on the same side of the pitch as their dominant foot. If I went for the other way around – lefty on the right and righty on the left – then I'd have to either cut back on to their strong foot, which could cost me a crossing opportunity, or risk a weak-foot cross that wouldn't be as consistently accurate.
There are plenty of good Spanish and Italian wingers that don’t cost too much, so I was already thinking of using those two nations for my air power hybrid when I spotted Sevilla left winger Reyes and Juventus RM Simone Pepe. I’d used both players before so I knew they could cross, and they were available at a nice price.
With those in mind I went off to see if I could find tall, strong forwards with good heading ability to match them up with so I could still get the benefits from a max Chemistry rating. Then I remembered that Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo was great in the air and a teammate of Reyes, which would mean that – because both players were linked and shared the same club, league and nation – they would pick up a 9 for Chemistry regardless of the other links around them. Perfect.
I quickly signed Reyes for 600, changed his position to LM – he’s an LW usually – and bought Negredo for 900 coins. I then started looking for an Italian striker to link with my RM and found 6ft 4in powerhouse Andrea Caracciolo, who plays for Brescia in Serie B. Caracciolo is a Silver player with a massive 88 for Heading and he was mine for 2,500 coins, with Pepe costing 550.
My front line was definitely not going to be rapid – Negredo only has 67 Pace and Caracciolo is even slower with 60 – but both would be difficult to beat in the air and putting them together gave me a left-footed striker next to a right-footer, which is something else I always like to aim for.
With my main attacking players sorted the next positions I focused on were the full-backs. I wanted them to be capable crossers so I could vary my attacks slightly and not have to rely solely on the wingers to get balls into the box, plus I needed an Italian right-back and Spanish left-back to continue with the Chemistry boosts. On the left I went for the Malaga version of Monreal, who I found for a bargain 1,200. Then I signed Fiorentina right-back Mattia Cassani for 700 coins. Both players are decent crossers so I’d knew they’d be great options to get the ball in with if my wingers were marked.
Then I moved on to my centre-backs and I decided to find two that could provide an extra aerial threat from attacking corners. As I needed a Spanish defender on the left of my defence I signed Getafe’s Alexis for 450 coins. He’s slow, with just 63 for Pace, but he’s good in the air and his central defensive partner would make up for a lack of speed anyway. That was to be Torino’s Angelo Ogbonna, who became my record signing at 3,700 coins. Ogbonna has 80 for Pace, 82 for Heading and is a little taller than Alexis at 6ft 2in.
In goal I went for the Sevilla Diego Lopez to give Alexis the Chemistry boost to 9. He cost 2,000 coins but I do think it’s worth spending on a good keeper. He has an Overall of 82 and some decent goalkeeping stats.
That just left me with the CDM and CAM positions to fill. I knew both players needed to be Italian to ensure 9 Chemistry for Ogbonna and Caracciolo, but they also had to be good at passing as well as shooting from range. I needed the passing ability to help me get the ball to my wide players and I wanted to be able to shoot from distance so I could vary my attacks every once in a while, or if my opponent was completely shutting down my wingers.
The CDM choice was obvious – it had to be Roma’s Daniele de Rossi. As well as being a great passer and lethal from range he only cost 700 coins, plus he also has 84 for Heading so would be an asset in the air both in defence and attack. Ahead of him I paid 750 coins to sign Lazio CAM Stefano Mauri, who’s an even better passer than De Rossi and has a great left-foot shot.
We were ready to go.
The Playing Style
In the many games I’ve played with this team now I’ve found the speed and timing of the attacks to be vital. If you rush the ball out to your wingers too soon then they’ll more than likely have too much work to do – too many players to beat – before they can get into a crossing position. Also, because they’re quite a lot faster than the strikers, you can find yourself with the ball in a crossing position but nobody to aim for.
It’s better to slow your attacks down, keep the ball and build the play using short passes and clever movement to open up space for the wide players. The central midfielders can play a big part here, which is why it’s important they’re good passers. I use them to play one-twos with a lot, both with my full-backs and wingers, and that works very well.
Even though your game plan is predictable in the sense that your opponent will work out that you want to cross the ball as often as you can, it’s still possible to be unpredictable in your execution. In fact, it’s essential. Mix up your passing, switch the ball to the other side, change direction, go back to the full-back, put early crosses in, basically keep your opponent guessing as much as you can so they’re never sure when you’re going to cross the ball.
Once it’s heading for your strikers make sure you use LT or L2 to get into the air as quickly as you can and increase your chances of getting to the ball first. You can read more about that here: http://www.ea.com/uk/news/fifa-13-advanced-techniques-the-backpage
Okay, that’ll do from me for now. All this talk of how much fun the team is has made me want to get straight back to it.
If you’ve got some spare coins in the bank then give a team like this a go, and if you build one that’s great please share it with the community by commenting below or tweeting me @darren_cross
As always, thanks for reading the Backpage and I hope to see you here next week.
FIFA 13 is availble to buy now on Origin for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC.