Football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross looks at how shooting with a player's weaker foot can help you score more goals in online matches...
How often do you shoot with a player's weak foot in FIFA 13?
My answer to this question, until fairly recently, would have been 'rarely'. I would generally only have a go with my weak foot if I was desperate to get a shot away and there wasn't the time or space to work the ball back on to my player's dominant side, or if I had a tap-in that I couldn't miss.
Then Zlatan Ibrahimovic popped up with two crucial left-footed belters that rescued a vital point for me in an online game, and my whole approach to weak foot shooting changed. Now, with a few tweaks compared to a regular shot and as long as the player I'm using has at least a four star weak foot, I regularly move the ball on to their less dominant side and go for goal. And it's working; I'm creating and scoring a lot more chances than usual.
So in this week's Backpage we're going to look at how having players capable of scoring with their weak foot can give you an advantage in online game modes, and what you can do to give yourself the best chance of hitting the net with them.
Why It Works
Firstly, there's the surprise element of it. Let's say I have the ball with Zlatan with his back to goal on the edge of the opponent's penalty area. As a well-known right-footed player most opponents would assume that I will try to work the ball on to his dominant side, and they'd probably start to edge in that direction in anticipation of the turn or at least be prepared to move that way. A spin left then could catch them out and give me the opportunity to get a shot away using Ibrahimovic's four star weak foot, which I'd be very happy to do from inside the box.
This obviously becomes a more effective tactic the more high profile a player is, as more people know which foot he’s most likely to shoot with. Robin van Persie, for example, springs immediately to mind as someone who's dominant with his left, so most FIFA players would expect shots to come from that side, but he actually has a four star weak foot too, so is more than capable of scoring with his right. Of course, once you've caught your opponent out with a weak foot goal once it's safe to say it's no longer a surprise, but that's when you get your second advantage – unpredictability.
If your opponent knows that you're capable of going to the left or the right with one or more of your forwards then you become extremely difficult to predict. When they can't read what you're going to do next then you're immediately harder to defend against. They must take a more reactive approach, waiting to see what you'll do then attempting to stop it, which takes a lot more effort and concentration.
So that's why it works. Now to look at what you can to make sure more of your weak foot shots end up in the back of the net.
Identify The Players
An obvious but essential one. Before you kick off in any game always have a flick through the profiles of your attacking players in the squad screen to see which foot they’re dominant with and what kind of rating they have for their weak foot. You’re looking for four stars or above to give yourself the best chance of scoring on your player’s weaker side, anything less than that and I find it tougher to consistently finish.
To really make the most of weak foot shooting in a game mode like Seasons, look out for teams that have a number of players in attacking positions that can shoot with their left and right. For example Man. United have Van Persie, Rooney and Kagawa, at PSG there’s Zlatan, Lavezzi and Menez, Dortmund have got Lewandowski, Reus and Gotze while Real Madrid have Ronaldo, Benzema and Modric – all of these players have a four star weak foot. Then there are the hidden gems like Hamburg. They have two forwards that both have a five star weak foot and a CAM – Rafael van der Vaart – with a four star right complimenting a rocket of a left. This tactic would work well with all of these teams, but have a look around for more; there are plenty out there.
There are even more possibilities for FUT players. I’m yet to build my own weak foot FUT team but I’m looking forward to giving it a try.
Look For Other Relevant Attributes
A four or five star weak foot alone isn’t going to get you goals if your player can’t shoot very well or get any real power on the ball, so – when you’re checking which foot he’s dominant with – have a look to see if he has good ratings for other attributes that complement a weak foot.
Finishing is an obvious one and I find Shot Power to be especially effective too, more on that in a minute. I also look for a decent Long Shot rating so I know if having a go from range is going to be an option.
It’s handy to know what your players are capable of, so having a flick through their attributes is something I always recommend, but when your game plan is to catch your opponent out by scoring weak foot goals, it’s absolutely essential to know what is and isn’t going to be possible.
Keep The Shot Simple
Even with a player that has a five star weak foot, I’ve found it best to avoid trying to be too precise or too flash with the finish. Weak foot chips seems far less accurate than when using a player’s dominant foot, and it also feels more difficult to finesse the ball past the keeper or even drill it into the corner.
When I get a shooting chance with my player’s weak foot I strike the ball as hard as possible while making sure it’s still going to hit the target. Basically I point the left stick at the centre of the goal and – this isn’t a technical term – absolutely welly it. If I can get the ball out of my feet so my player has a short run before striking it then that’s even better as it’s likely to be a cleaner, more powerful hit. That’s why I really like weak foot shooting with players who have a Shot Power rating in the mid to high 80s or above; often it’s the power that takes the ball into the net.
Okay that wraps up this week’s Backpage, give weak foot shooting a go and see how it works for you. Thanks for reading as always, and please come back next time when we’ll be looking at bargain Career Mode players you can sign for lower league clubs.
Thanks for reading The Backpage, and see you next week.