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D-Pad Tactics Deep Dive

Learn all about FIFA 20’s different d-pad tactics, and when you might want to use them.

Pitch Notes

Hey FIFA fans,

Did you know you can activate 8 different Tactics during a FIFA 20 match using the d-pad?

Since introducing D-Pad Tactics, we've seen questions come up about their functionality, and we want to take this opportunity to explain the in-game impact that they can have.

We designed them to give you more on-the-fly control of your tactical setup, and they allow you to modify certain aspects of your play style without having to pause a match.

So let’s take a look at how D-Pad Tactics can impact the game and when you might want to use them.

Note: this article mentions the “d-pad” which refers to the PlayStation 4 directional buttons, the Xbox One D-pad, and the PC keyboard arrow keys.

How To Activate D-Pad Tactics

When you’re playing a match, you have the ability to activate attacking and defending D-Pad Tactics.

On PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, pressing up on the D-Pad will display tactics related to attacking play. Pressing down will display tactics centered around defensive play. On PC, pressing the up and down arrows will display the attacking and defending D-Pad Tactics, respectively.

Once you press up or down a menu of 4 options will display and now you can press any direction on the D-Pad to activate the accompanying tactic, as listed below. You can mix and match any of the D-Pad Tactics to best suit your play style and preference.

Note that when you activate a D-Pad Tactic it will remain in effect, where relevant, until you turn it off.* To deactivate a D-Pad tactic, you have to perform the same input used to activate it in the first place.

* The only D-Pad Tactic that doesn’t need to be deactivated is Offside Trap. The Offside Trap is a temporary action performed by your team’s defenders, as described below.

Attacking Tactics

Get In The Box (d-pad up → d-pad up) - This tactic maximizes the amount of players that will try to get inside the box when you’re in a crossing situation.

Note the number of players trying to make themselves available for the cross. The difficulty level has been set to “Beginner” for all clips in this article in order to easily demonstrate the effect of D-Pad Tactics.

Get In The Box can have a significant impact on your attacking play, but keep in mind that it could leave you exposed to counter attacks when losing possession.

Attacking Full Backs (d-pad up → d-pad left) - This tactic results in your Full Backs moving to a more advanced position until you lose possession. They push forward similarly to how a Wing Back can push forward in some 5 defender formations.

Note the advanced positioning of both Full Backs. The difficulty level has been set to “Beginner” for all clips in this article in order to easily demonstrate the effect of D-Pad Tactics.

Having Attacking Full Backs can add extra width when you’re in control of the ball, leading to different attacking opportunities. Just keep in mind that that Attacking Full Backs can leave a lot of space open behind them, meaning that you could get exposed to quick counter attacks down the wings.

Hug Sideline (d-pad up → d-pad right) - This tactic helps increase the width of your wide players, meaning that they’ll be more likely to play close to the sideline. Wide Players are Wingers (including Left and Right Midfielders), Full Backs, and Wing Backs. 

Note how Marcelo moves close to the touchline at the top of the clip. Also note how the attacking players are unaffected because the formation used here did not have Wide Players. Furthermore, Carvajal doesn’t move much at the bottom of the clip because he’s already gone wide, and the ball carrier is favoring that side. The difficulty level has been set to “Beginner” for all clips in this article in order to easily demonstrate the effect of D-Pad Tactics.

Bonus Tip - Want to send your goal kick wide but your players are narrowly positioned? Activate the Hug Sideline D-Pad Tactic before taking your kick, and your wide players will instantly try to spread out.

Note that your players might already position themselves as wide as possible, depending on your formation and custom tactics.

Extra Attacker (d-pad up → d-pad down) - This tactic helps bolster your attack with an additional player. The Extra Attacker tactic considers the attacking attributes and instructions of your players before determining which player should act as the Extra Attacker. It weighs these factors during player selection, meaning that it will try to follow your player instructions in most cases.

For instance, if you have your CDM set to Stay Back When Attacking, it’s highly unlikely that they will be chosen as the Extra Attacker.

Note the Extra Attacker running forward to join the attack. In this case, Casemiro is the Extra Attacker, he doesn’t have the instruction to Stay Back When Attacking. The difficulty level has been set to “Beginner” for all clips in this article in order to easily demonstrate the effect of D-Pad Tactics.

Bonus Tip - Are you trying to overwhelm your opponent’s defence? Activate Extra Attacker, Get In The Box, and Attacking Full Backs at the same time. These instructions help maximize your team’s attacking efforts. Just remember, this could leave you very open to counter attacks.

Defending Tactics

Striker Drop Back (d-pad down → d-pad up) - This tactic instructs your Striker to help your team out defensively by acting more like a midfielder. If you have more than 1 Striker in play, Striker Drop Back will consider defensive work rates and the marking attribute before selecting which player will drop back.

Note how the Benzema is playing more like a midfielder. The difficulty level has been set to “Beginner” for all clips in this article in order to easily demonstrate the effect of D-Pad Tactics.

The Striker Drop Back Tactic can reduce your offensive options, but the trade off is that your team can have more defensive support.

Team Press (d-pad down → d-pad left) - This tactic encourages your AI controlled teammates to apply heavy pressure to your opponent. Using this tactic is exactly the same as setting your Custom Tactic Defensive Style to “Constant Pressure.”

Note how the defending side is pressing the attacking side. The difficulty level has been set to “Beginner” for all clips in this article in order to easily demonstrate the effect of D-Pad Tactics.

Since your team will be covering a lot more ground with Team Press active, expect to be losing a lot more stamina than usual. Your defensive line will also be playing higher, increasing the risk of counter attacks.

Overload Ball Side (d-pad down → d-pad right) - This tactic encourages your team to play compactly in defence. This can greatly reduce your team’s width.

Note how compact the defending team is, and how their shape shifts. This is easiest to notice by watching the radar. The difficulty level has been set to “Beginner” for all clips in this article in order to easily demonstrate the effect of D-Pad Tactics.

When Overload Ball Side is active, your team shape will try to shift towards the ball, potentially ignoring defensive Player Instructions and marked opposition players. It can be beneficial for trying to control the middle area of your half, but it can leave you exposed to wide attacks.

Offside Trap (d-pad down → d-pad down) - This tactic tells your defenders to quickly push up as a unit, with the goal of catching an attacker offside.

Note how the defenders push up to form a straight vertical line. The difficulty level has been set to “Beginner” for all clips in this article in order to easily demonstrate the effect of D-Pad Tactics.

Be extra careful when triggering an Offside Trap though, using it at the wrong moment can often lead to easy breakaways for the attacker.

Left And Right On The D-Pad

Although pressing left or right on the d-pad won’t activate any tactics, it’s important to note that these buttons have their own functions.

Pressing left or right on the d-pad during a match will give you the option to select the various Game Plans you’ve set up in your Custom Tactics. Your team will start each match on the Balanced Game Plan by default.

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I hope this deep dive on D-Pad Tactics has been helpful and enables you to have more control of your team’s actions on the pitch. The best way to familiarize yourself with these tactics is to practice of course! Feel free to try some of them out the next time you’re in a match.

Cheers,
Goran Popovic (PFO Producer), Thomas Caleffi and the Gameplay Team

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For more deep dives on FIFA from members of the game team, check out the Pitch Notes Page.

Please Note: This article is describing in general terms how d-pad tactics work in FIFA 20 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. We are constantly looking to improve the gameplay experience for everyone, so this article may become outdated as we make adjustments to keep our game fun for everyone.


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