In this week’s Backpage, footy journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross looks at how to win a Head To Head league title using a 5* club…
Want to know how to win a H2H title using a 5* team?
Okay, that about wraps things up for this week. Come back next time and we will… eh? You want to know more?
Well good, because in this week’s Backpage we’re going to look at why I think the Samba Boys are the best – and most entertaining – 5* team to use in Head To Head Seasons, and how I think you can set them up to be as effective as possible.
As some of you regular readers may know, I won my first Division 1 title with Russian Premier Division side Anzhi Makhachkala, a 3.5* club. They’re a great team to use because they’ve got a bunch of really useful players and a truly world-class striker in Samuel Eto’o who, with the right set up behind him, destroys defenders at that level.
After the win with Anzhi I wanted to have a go at the title at 5* level, because the challenge is quite different. Many of the in-game players are exceptional, so one small mistake can often lead to a goal and that means concentration levels have to be higher.
So I began using lots of different 5* teams, all of which had their strengths and weaknesses, but none of them really got me hooked in the way that Anzhi did the first time I started playing as them.
Then I faced someone who was using Brazil and I got a real whupping.
The defence was strong and fast, the midfielders were electric on the counter attack and the strikers were lethal. With a bit of damage control I managed to only lose 3-0 and, although I’d lost, I was excited about what I’d seen and couldn’t wait to try Brazil out for myself.
One H2H season later and I’d got my virtual hands on the Div 1 title after an almost-perfect campaign. A crazy defeat – you know, one of those games when you have 20 shots at goal to your opponent’s two, but still lose – and a comedy 3-3 draw at 2am stopped me from taking seven wins on the bounce, but I wasn’t too gutted. Brazil had delivered and what made it even better was that they were great fun to use – in the nine games played I scored 25 goals and conceded just seven. Highlights included a 5-0 win over Barça and a 6-0 and 5-1 against Milan.
Now I was hooked, and have been ever since.
So now that you know why I love using Brazil, let’s have a look at how I use them, starting with…
I use two. I’ll kick off with the 4-1-2-1-2(1), which is a really well balanced formation that suits Brazil’s players. It gives you the protection of a holding midfielder, the option to play wide and get low crosses in, a link-man between midfield and attack and a pair of strikers working together up front. I always start with this and nudge my team mentality to Attacking.
From my experience most players prefer to be cautious and will stick with the Balanced mentality setting or even switch to Defensive, so I like to go at them from the off. A fast start can make a huge difference, particularly if you can get an early goal as – just like in a real match – it knocks your opponent’s confidence and often forces them to change their game-plan.
If I fall behind in a game or just feel that my opponent isn’t the best defensively, then I’ll almost always switch to my custom 4-1-5. Yes, you read that right – it’s four at the back, one in midfield and five up front. It’s all about blitzing the other player, outnumbering him in and around his own third, and you can find a detailed explanation of how it works here: http://www.ea.com/au/news/the-backpage--fifa-12-4-1-5-anyone
Lately I’ve also been using a 2-3-5, but let’s save that for a future Backpage. For now, let’s move on to…
GK – Julio Cesar
This is a no brainer, as Cesar is obviously better then Jefferson. The only thing worth noting with the Brazil No.1 is that he’s left footed, so keep that in mind when he has the ball at his feet.
RB – Dani Alves
Everyone I’ve spoken to about Brazil uses them in different ways, and one of the reasons for that is they have so many great players battling for the same positions. At right-back that’s Dani Alves and Maicon. It seems a shame to leave one of them out, but – as you’ll see later – I think shoehorning either one into the midfield weakens the team, so I stick with Alves and leave Maicon on the bench. Alves is a lot faster and better technically, but Maicon is bigger and more physical, so go with the one that you think best suits your style of play.
RCB – Thiago Silva
Silva’s one of my favourite centre-backs in FIFA 12. He’s fast for a CB, strong, good in the air, not too bad on the ball and – should you find yourself with a goalscoring opportunity – has a rocket of a shot. He has to be in.
LCB – David Luiz
The second centre-back spot is a straight fight between Lucio and David Luiz. Lucio starts by default and looks a lot better on paper, but Luiz really dominated me in that game against Brazil I mentioned earlier, so I started using him instead of Lucio and I haven’t looked back. Whether you pick Luiz or Lucio, both are phenomenal so try them out and go with your personal preference.
LB – Marcelo
An easy decision; Marcelo is far better than Andre Santos so I stick with him at left-back. Santos has a useful Long Shot rating though, so if you like to regularly have a pop at goal from downtown it’s worth considering him. Again, it’s about picking the players that suit your formation and style.
CDM – Ramires
This is another simple one for me – although Ramires has a slightly lower Overall rating compared to Lucas Leiva, he’s much more mobile and can keep going for 90 minutes. Sandro is also an option, but he’s the weakest of the three in my opinion.
RM – Robinho
I bring Robinho back slightly to play as my right winger. Again there are a ton of options for this position, but I like Robinho out here because he’s really fast, has 91 for Dribbling and can do 5* skill moves, so he’s great for taking defenders on and getting in behind them. You could use Maicon here – and his Crossing is better than Robi’s – but I think that extra skill and Dribbling ability really makes a difference with Robinho. Hulk’s also an option, but I use him elsewhere…
LM - Hulk
Although he’s an RW, Hulk is left-footed and I really like having wingers play on the same side of the pitch as their dominant foot. You could go with Ganso, Ronaldinho or Andre Santos here, but Hulk is faster and more powerful than all of them. He’s so strong that I often shift him to one of the striking positions if my forwards are being dominated, but more on that in a second.
CAM – Lucas
My link-man is Lucas. Not Lucas Leiva, the other one. Lots of players go with Kaka at CAM, but I prefer to start with Lucas because he feels so much faster and more responsive on the ball, so he’s perfect for my fast-start strategy. His weaknesses are Stamina and Strength, so I often bring Kaka on for him midway through the second half and that seems to work very well.
RS – Alexandre Pato
Pato’s the best striker in the squad for me. Yes Neymar is a bit nippier from a standing start and the better dribbler, but Pato is more physical and far better in the air. Because of the difference in Strength – Pato has 73 while Neymar has 33 – I have a look at my opponent’s centre-backs then pair Pato up with the more physical of the two, otherwise the lightweight Neymar can get dominated. If things get really desperate here I’ll bring Hulk up to play next to Pato and move Neymar back into midfield.
LS – Neymar
The little striker more than makes up for his lack of size and power with his incredible ratings for Acceleration, Agility, Ball Control and Dribbling, all of which are in the 90s. Try to play Neymar in behind the defence to get the best out of him, rather than have him come deep to pick the ball up, as he is so easy to dispossess.
STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES & STYLE OF PLAY
Brazil have an awesome defence, fast, creative midfielders and strikers who can be lethal if you play them the right kind of passes. Their weakness – if you use my line-up – is size and power, so try to avoid a crossing game. Instead, work the ball through the middle using Lucas, or have Robinho and Hulk take their markers on and get into a position to hit a low cross – a triple tap of the cross button – as this works really well.
They have three players with 5* skills in this starting XI, and three with 4* skills so – as you’d expect – they’re great to use if you like beating opponents with dribbles and skills.
They also cope well against Real Madrid, who are very popular online, so give Brazil a try and see what you think. If you have any thoughts on this line-up, or suggestions of your own that you’d like to share with the community, tweet them to me @darren_cross using the #H2HBrazil hashtag and I’ll happily retweet.
As always, thanks for reading the Backpage.
See you next week.