Darren Cross


In this week’s Backpage… football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross reveals how you can prepare yourself for FIFA 12…

In this week’s Backpage… football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross reveals how you can prepare yourself for FIFA 12

As a football journalist and, more importantly, a massive football fan, I’m not too keen on summer.

Unless it’s a World Cup or European Championship year, the wait between one season ending and another beginning can be agonising and that, combined with the total confusion of what to do on a Saturday when there’s no football, leaves me counting down the days until pre-season finally begins and I have something to do again.

But when pre-season arrives it can be quite an exciting time for fans. For starters we’re just happy to have something to watch, but it’s also a chance to take a look at any new signings and see how they’re shaping up. For players, of course, it’s an absolutely crucial period; six weeks or so of conditioning and fitness work that will prepare them for the season ahead. Some players I speak to absolutely hate it, and some absolutely love it, but all of them agree that it’s vital. No player wants to head into the season lacking fitness or sharpness and find themselves unable to compete with the opposition.

Right now, us FIFA fans are approaching our very own pre-season.

There’s only a couple of months to go before FIFA 12’s release on September 30, and there are a number of things you can start working on now that will definitely help you adjust to the new game far quicker than those who skip FIFA 12’s pre-season training.

I know what you’re thinking… “I won’t need to adjust to FIFA 12 because I’m great at FIFA 11!” Right?


The game has changed, absolutely for the better, and you will need to change with it or you’ll be playing catch-up against everyone else for the first few weeks and months.

Fortunately, there are a handful of things you can do in 11 that will genuinely get you ready for 12, and that’s what we’re going to look at this week.

The new Tactical Defending feature is going to surprise you. I briefly touched on this in an earlier Backpage called Tactical Defending Explained but I want to go over it in a bit more detail because it’s important to stress just how noticeable this change is when you first start playing 12.

Even if you think you don’t use the press button all that much in FIFA 11, you probably do. It’s become such a natural reaction for me after losing the ball that it just happens automatically, which is why trying to defend in 12 felt a bit weird for the first few hours – every time my opponent had the ball I’d go straight for the press button then wonder why my defender stopped a few feet short of the ball each time.

If you can start to get yourself out of the habit of doing this now, you will adjust to Tactical Defending much quicker, I promise you. The difficult thing here is that pressing in FIFA 11 is so chuffing effective. Not doing it in 11 is going to make things a little harder for you in the short term, but just think about the head-start you’ll have when you go online for the first time with 12. You WILL have an advantage.

It’s important to think about FIFA 12’s Tactical Defending system as a training tool. Basically, you hold one button to close down the space between you and the attacker without diving in on the ball, use the left stick to control your movement and finally press another button to make a standing or sliding tackle. You’re getting help with a good chunk of the hard work – specifically the positioning part – and the point is to show you where your players should be and when, in relation to the ball.

That’s because the ultimate goal of this new gameplay feature is for you to eventually bypass it and take complete control over defending for yourself. Advanced defending like this can be far more beneficial than having the CPU do the work, but to get to this level you MUST master the jockey function in FIFA.

Jockeying is all about denying your opponent time and space. It’s NOT about heading straight for the ball and trying to instantly win it back.

In the real world, a player jockeys by staying goal-side and facing the play while standing side-on to the attacker – so they don’t have to make a full turn if they need to sprint. In this position, they’ll use their body to either slow the opponent by forming a barrier, direct them towards other team-mates who may be able to win the ball, or they’ll close the distance themselves – to within an arm’s length of the player with the ball – and eventually make a tackle when the time is right.

This is your goal with jockeying in FIFA and you need to be good at it to take your defending to the next level. To jockey in game, press and hold the left trigger or L2, then use the left stick to shepherd the defender. If they start to sprint, keep hold of the jockey button and hold sprint but do not let go of LT or L2. If you do, your player may turn his back on the ball – pretty much the worst thing a defender can do in a one-on-one situation – and you’ll mostly likely be turned if the dribbler knows what he’s doing.

If you currently use the secondary press function in FIFA 11 – getting a CPU player to press the ball possessor while you control a separate player – then you may want to think about remapping your controller. That’s because the secondary press button in 12 has moved to the right bumper or R1, because what was previously secondary press in 11 now initiates a standing tackle in 12.

I found myself launching into tackles at completely the wrong moments by tackling when I thought I was pressing… not a good idea for a defender.

Switching those buttons over now should see you using secondary press effectively straight from the off when you make the switch to 12.

The new Precision Dribbling feature in FIFA 12 gives you far more options when you’re running with the ball (to find out why, head here: but dribbling is a little neglected in FIFA 11 because the current pressing system is so effective.

As a consequence, you rarely see players dribble at defenders and take them on in 11. The good news is that dribbling is back in a big way in 12, and you don’t need to know a ton of different skill moves to get past a defender; a quick change of direction and pace will do it.

So in the couple of months we have before release, try to get back into the habit of having the occasional run with the ball. Yes, you’ll get tackled more often than not, but console yourself with the knowledge that you’ll be the one laughing when FIFA 12 kicks off.

That’s it for this week.

Thanks for reading. As always, please feel free to leave feedback and to follow me on Twitter @Darren_Cross, where I’ll keep you updated with any FIFA stuff I think you might like.

Thanks again and enjoy the rest of pre-season!




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