How to Defend in FIFA 21 | EarlyGame
Defending Tips & Tricks

How to Defend in FIFA 21

FIFA 21 defending
(Image credit: EA Sports)

In FIFA 21, defending is just as important as attacking. Stay tuned and find out which defending techniques you should use in the new FIFA game.

Players with poor FIFA 21 defending skills are usually stuck in Division 6 or even lower. You need to know how to defend and what to do with your defenders in certain situations. Keep in mind that this article won’t instantly turn you into a defending master but it will help you learn and understand the basic FIFA 21 defending mechanics.

Player Instructions

Before we dive deep into defending, we need to set some basic instructions for your players. It is always useful to have two CDMs in your formation because they can cut passing lanes and this is very effective when you're on defense.

FIFA 21 defending CDM instructions
CDM Instructions (Image credit: EA Sports)

Make sure to set the defensive behavior of your CDMs to “Cut Passing Lanes”. They should also stay back while attacking and don’t force any interceptions, keep that setting at default. Their defensive position should be focused on the centre of the field as they are midfielders after all.

Another important instruction is to set your Left Back and Right Back to stay back while attacking. This tactic should be applied to every 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 formation. This isn’t real life so your Full-Backs can’t help that much in attacking but they can be very useful if they stay back. They are usually fast and they can easily stop any counter-attack created by a corner from the opposite side. Alternatively, you can have three central defenders stay back if you prefer other formations.

FIFA 21 defending LB/RB instructions
LB & RB Defending Instructions (Image credit: EA Sports)

Marking Players

The key to good defending is player marking. You basically want to stay close to the ball controller and try to capitalize on every mistake they make. Avoid using regular X/A for pressing and R1/RB to call the second player. Instead, you should learn how to jockey properly. Jockey movement is extremely effective in every 1 vs 1 situation. Just use L2/LT button to mark the player and follow him at a safe distance. Always try to maintain at least 2 meters distance so you have enough time to react to their skill moves. Let your opponent make the first move and when the time is right, strike and take the ball.

Switching Players & Falling Back

Using the CB player is the last resort when defending. Switch between players with L1/LB and use CDMs for pushes in order to take the ball. If your push is unsuccessful, make sure to quickly fall back with that player. To fall back, just press L2/LT and the direction you want to go, your player will instantly change direction and will be back in no time. As you all know, defenders blocking shots in FIFA 21 is so OP that it has actually become annoying. However, this new feature has brought many changes to FIFA gameplay. Your defenders will automatically block every shot they can. Therefore, you need to have as many players as you can behind the ball. Don’t be greedy and just wait for the right moment to strike.

Cutting Passing Lanes

The main job of your CDMs is to cut passing lanes. While controlling a CDM, try to predict your opponent's next move. If you are able to predict it, you should be able to cut the passing lane. Just point your player in that direction and he will cut it automatically. In order to make their jobs easier, try to reduce the distance and don’t stay too far away from the ball because this will make it harder to cut.

Taking the Ball

To take the ball from the opposing player, you can use the square button. Make sure to use it at the right moment when your player is close enough to strike. You can also use the L2/LT body challenge. Steal the ball and guard it with L2/LT. It is extremely useful in shoulder to shoulder situations. Use the defender’s strength against the attacker’s pace and you will always come out on top.

Another way to take the ball is by slide-tackling. Don’t use sliding too much because it is easy to dodge it. Wait for the right opportunity and avoid fouls and unnecessary free-kicks. Also, avoid using a slide-tackle with the last defender as you can easily get a red card by doing this.

Defensive Tactics

Defensive Tactics (Image credit: EA Sports)

There are four defensive in-game tactics that you can use in every FIFA game; striker drops back, team press, overload ball side, offside trap. Press the D-pad down to open the menu and activate the one you want. Using the striker drop back tactic is not recommended and you can only use it if you have a lead and want to keep it. On the other hand, if you are far behind and the opponent is maintaining ball control, you would want to overload the ball side and activate team press. Team press will only last for a couple of seconds and it can be extremely useful if the opponent had a first bad touch. The offside trap tactic is very hard to use. You need to keep your eyes at the mini-map and try to predict where the opponent wants to pass the ball. If you see he is just about to pass it and your defenders can move the line to make it offside, use it. It is really hard and you will need a lot of training to master this technique. So, if you are not experienced with the offside trap option from previous FIFAs, don’t use it. Try to learn the basics of defending first and then, and only then, experiment with advance defending strategies.

Stay tuned for more FIFA tutorials and check out EarlyGame or the EarlyGame YouTube channel for everything gaming and esports related.