Good defending keeps goals conceded to a minimum. In this tutorial, you will learn about the various aspects of defending.
- Key Defending Abilities
- Basics of Defending
- Player Switching
- Defending Techniques Based on Location
- Defending Player’s Runs
- Defending Against Lofted Through Balls
- Defender Play Styles
1. Key Defending Abilities
Center defenders should ideally have high ratings in the following attributes.
Defensive Awareness – How quickly the player responds to the ball when defending.
Tackling – The ability to perform tackles, standing or sliding.
Aggression – The combativeness of a player on pushing, pulling and tackling.
Defensive Engagement – Ability to participate in defence when their team does not have possession of the ball.
Heading – Accuracy when using the head to pass, shoot, or clear the ball.
Jumping – Ability to jump and challenge for headers.
Speed – How fast a player can sprint.
Acceleration – How quickly a player can reach full speed.
Physical Contact – How well the player can hold off opponents and keep his balance when physically pressured
Players with the following skills will be an asset in your defence
Man Marking – Enables the player to stick to and persistently chase down an opponent.
Tracking Back – Strikers with this skill will help you pressure opponents from the front.
Interception – Enables a player to stop passes by staying in passing lanes.
Blocker – Improves the player’s chances to block passes and shots.
Aerial Superiority – Improves the player’s chances to win aerial balls.
Sliding Tackle – Improves the player’s chances to win the ball back through sliding tackles.
Acrobatic Clearance – Enables the player to clear the ball even from awkward positions.
It is hard to find a player that is strong in all areas. For example, a player who has high Physical Contact is unlikely to have high Speed. It is thus important to have a number of defenders, each with their own strength for them to complement their fellow defenders. If you are playing with 2 center backs, play a tall, strong defender with a fast defender. If you are using 3 center backs, play the tall, strong player in the center, and the fast defenders on the sides.
2. Basics of Defending
When facing an attacker, you have many options to win the ball back.
2.1 Match Up
The defending system has improved over the years. We can no longer go rushing towards the opponent and expect to win the ball. Konami has added realism to defending, requiring you to follow the attacker closely and deciding on the right time to make the tackle.
Adopt the Match Up stance by holding L2 (PS) / LT (XBOX) and using the left analog stick to adjust your position. This defending stance ensures that our defender is facing the ball carrier all the time, no matter which direction the ball carrier goes. Match up gets your defender ready to make an interception or a tackle. Your opponent will find it much harder to dribble past you. When you notice that your opponent is losing control of the ball, or just hesitating, put in a tackle, sliding tackle, or shoulder charge.
Do note that your defender will commit to fake shots on a match up stance. He will make a tackle and take time to recover from the failed tackle. Anticipate fake shots and release the L2 / LT button at times. Quickly switch to another defender if you have made a failed tackle.
2.2 Regular Tackle
Double tap X (PS) / A (XBOX) for your defender to make a standing tackle. Ensure you time it well, as a failed tackle will allow your opponent to easily move past you.
2.3 Sliding Tackle
Tap Circle (PS) / B (XBOX) for your player to attempt a sliding tackle. This is used when the attacker managed to evade your last defender, is through on goal, and you are desperate to stop him. Sliding tackles cover more distance than a standing tackle, thus you can try a sliding tackle to stop him in his tracks. It is also useful to intercept opponent’s passes. Similar to a standing tackle, time it well or your opponent will move past you easily. Sliding tackles require more time to recover from. Be sure to not draw a foul as well.
2.4 Shoulder Charge
A new addition to eFootball, press Square (PS) / X (XBOX) to shoulder charge your opponent. This is useful for challenging an attacker who is running close to you. I use this as my default tackling option as I find standing tackle too static and sliding tackle too hard to recover from. A defender who is physically strong will help you win the ball easily via shoulder charges.
Hold X (PS) / A (XBOX) for your defender to move towards your opponent and pressure for the ball. Alternate between pressuring and releasing the button at times. A mindless pressure allows the opponent to sidestep your defender easily. Alternate between Match Up stance and Pressure, depending on the situation.
2.6 Double Team
It is easier to defend in numbers. Hold down R1 (PS) / RB (XBOX) for a teammate to pressure the ball carrier. Double team is useful in 2 ways. Firstly, if you are pressuring the ball carrier, you will have another teammate to assist you. He may come in from another direction, which corners the ball carrier and cause him to lose possession of the ball.
Secondly, you can use your controlled defender to adopt a Match Up stance, while your teammate to pressure the ball carrier. This prevents the defender you are controlling from getting beaten by the ball carrier, and ensure that the path to goal is obstructed. You will also be letting your teammates do all the work of harassing the ball carrier, while the defender you control can go in for the tackle once the ball carrier loses control of the ball.
Double team should be used selectively. Holding down the double team button all the time will open up gaps in your defence. It should only be used when there is enough cover at the back, and when there are teammates close to the ball carrier to approach and pressure him.
2.7 Clearing the Ball
When under pressure, press Square (PS) / X (XBOX) to boot the ball away. Avoid trying to pass the ball to safety when pressured by opponents, as there is a high chance that you will lose the ball and end up conceding a goal.
3. Player Switching
Player switching gets a lot of flak from online players. Many players are unable to select the player they want, which hinders their defensive work. While the system is not perfect, it is manageable through practice.
3.1 Auto Switching
Tap L1 (PS) / LB (XBOX) to switch the cursor to a player closest to the ball. Note that this is generally determined by the AI, and you have little control on where the cursor ends up.
3.2 Manual Switching
Push the right analog stick towards the player you wish to take control of. This gives you more control than auto switching. Most pro players use this method to switch players. Manually switch to your desired player, usually a centre midfielder, early after losing the ball, so that you will be prepared as the opponent approaches your goal.
4. Defending based on Location of the Ball
The location of the ball and the ball carrier calls for different defending techniques. Here, the pitch is split up in 5 different areas, with specific defending techniques for each area.
4.1 Ball In Opponents’ Half
There is no need to put in too much effort to pressure your opponent. Avoid holding the sprint button in this area as this uses up our players’ stamina, opens up our midfield, and makes our team prone to through passes. Players should be used to close down the line of passing, which means that we try to anticipate which opponent will be receiving the ball, and stand in the line between the ball carrier and the opponent. By doing this, we can close down the opponents’ options without running our socks off. We stand a chance to intercept the ball, while also forcing the opponent to send a long ball forward, which often is an inaccurate pass.
Control your player to stay around the center of the field. Your teammates will also automatically take up relevant positions around you. The position of your teammates will be determined by your tactical settings.
4.2 Ball In Center Of Field
Once the ball has crossed the halfway line in centre midfield, we should use our forwards to assist in defending. Select them and run back into your own half to pressure the ball carrier. This makes the field more congested for the opponent to work on their attacking moves or make any through passes. We can attempt sliding tackles in this area, as even if we miss, there are still plenty of defenders behind us to act as cover. An important note here would be to prevent attacks down the middle. We should pack the middle such that the opponents have to build their attacks down the flanks, which is a longer route to our goal.
4.3 Down The Flanks
The opponents are attacking down the flanks, just the way we wanted them to. Now, we have to adopt the Match Up stance to prevent the winger from cutting into the center, and to channel them down the flank. Simply stay between him and the goal to achieve this. Occasional tackles can be made here to send the ball out for a throw in. This disrupts the momentum of the opponent’s attack and give us time to regroup. A better method will be to activate Double Team and send a teammate to pressure him, while we use our controlled player to make a tackle once the ball carrier loses control of the ball.
4.4 Near the Corner Flag
As the ball carrier approaches our corner flag, it becomes dangerous to commit a tackle as once our player is beaten, he can either dribble into the penalty box or send in a cross. When possible, I will control my center midfielder to follow the ball carrier, leaving my defenders free to take up space in the penalty box. There is actually little need to make a tackle here. Maintain the defending stance and keep our position between him and the goal, moving back slowly as he moves forward. If he makes a cross, it will be blocked by our player. If he choose to try and dribble past the defender, there are many teammates around you to crowd him out. Again, use double team and send a teammate to pressure him while our player maintain his position. If you are chasing him down, try and stay slightly in front of him. This position will enable you to block any crosses from him.
4.5 Around/In the Penalty Box
This is the danger zone. Any mistakes here will lead to a goal. The ideal defending technique will be to crowd the defence, such that the attacker would run out of space to dribble and lose the ball when he runs into one of our defenders. We may have to avoid using double team now as it would leave some opponents unmarked. If we find it hard to make a clean tackle, simply follow the ball carrier around and stay in front of him. He is bound to take a shot, thus by staying in front of him, his shot will be blocked. Defenders with ‘Blocker’ ability will do this better than others.
Ideally, use a defender who is tall and has a large frame, as this gives you a larger surface area. The defender’s presence in front of your opponent also limit his shot angle. Being around the ball carrier will also affect the shot’s power and accuracy, due to eFootball’s realistic simulation of real life soccer where strikers will feel pressured when defenders are around them.
Adopting different defending techniques for different parts of the field will help you counter all sorts of opponents’ attacks.
5. Defending Player’s Runs
You are caught in a counter attack. Your opponent has the ball and is dribbling towards goal. His teammates are running into space to give him more option. Go for the ball carrier, and he will pass to an open teammate. Mark his teammates, and the ball carrier will continue his run towards goal. What should you do?
One technique has proved to be effective in addressing such situations, and this will be presented in a series of steps below.
I will first mark the teammate that pose the greatest threat to goal. One of the opponent teammate will be making a run into space towards goal, and I will shift my cursor to one of my defenders to follow his run.
Lets call the opponent ball carrier ‘A’, and his teammate ‘B’.
Push right analog stick in the direction of the defender closest to B to select the defender. Use that defender to follow and track the runs of Player B. Following B will prevent A from passing the ball to B, which forces A to hold onto the ball and dribble further since he has no passing options. As dribbling with the ball is much slower than passing the ball forward, this technique actually slows the attack down. Our defender should ideally adopt the Match Up stance while following B. This ensures that the defender, while following B, is constantly facing A, which makes it easier to intercept any pass. Always stay close to B, and ideally between B and A to close down the line of passing, which prevents the pass from being made.
While doing this, activate Double Team pressure on A. If the first teammate fails to get the ball, send a second defender with the double team pressure button. If he fails to get the ball as well and there are no other defenders available other than the one we are controlling, we will have no choice but to gradually approach A, at the same time staying in the line between A and B. As our defender approach A, there is a high chance that A will pass the ball to B, so anticipate that and try to intercept the ball. Sliding tackle may have to be used, either to intercept the ball or to tackle the ball carrier. In the event that there are more opponents around, always stay close to the opponent nearest to goal. If all of them are near to goal and we only have one defender, stay around the center of the penalty box as this position increases our chances of either intercepting passes or blocking shots made.
6. Defending Against Lofted Through Pass
The lofted through pass is a highly effective method to split the defence in eFootball, and this had led to many online players sending these passes to fast players. To defend against such passes, we require a combination of techniques.
The first thing we can do is to set man-marking on the center forward. Doing this will command our center back to stay close to the striker, and this gives us a better chance of intercepting the through pass. When possible, employ a fast center back to do the man-marking. His pace will aid us in chasing down the center forward in the event that he gets the ball.
Next, playing the offside trap slightly increases the difficulty for our opponents in pulling off a successful lofted through pass. The striker will be caught offside and we will win back possession of the ball. The offside trap will also serve as a deterrence to the opponent. To activate the offside trap, double tap the Forward button on the Directional Pad (not the analog stick).
Third, as mentioned in section 5, control the center back to mark the center forward running into space, while using the double team pressure button to command a teammate and approach the ball carrier. As much as possible, stay close to the running teammate and position yourself between him and the goal, such that you will be able to get to any lofted through passes earlier than him.
Forth, move the defensive line during the game. This can only be done when you do not have possession of the ball. Assume that you are attacking from left to right. When defending, hold the Left button on the directional pad to move your entire defensive line backwards (a line will show up on your radar to indicate the movement of the defensive line). This pushes your defenders towards goal, and give you more defenders to help out in defending the through ball.
While there are no surefire methods to defend against all kinds of opponents, a combination of these techniques will help us reduce the frequency of successful lofted through passes.
7. Defenders Play Styles
Play Styles in eFootball replicates the defensive prowess of top defenders in the game. Aim to have a combination the following styles in your team.
7.1 Box to Box
A player who tirelessly covers every blade of grass for the full 90 minutes.
Having numbers at the back is a basic step in defending. You can be confident that this player will track back and help out in defence.
7.2 The Destroyer
A tenacious battler who keeps opposition attacks at bay through hard tackling and pressing.
This player is reliable in harassing opponents and winning tackles.
7.3 Anchor Man
A deep sitting defensive midfielder protecting the backline.
This player rarely moves forward and is a constant presence in the defensive midfield spot to break up attacks.
7.4 Defensive Full Back
A solid full back who prefers to stay back and stick to defensive duties.
Field this player if you are facing strong wingers and wish to avoid gaps on the flanks. If you have an offensive full back, you can overwrite his attacking instincts by using a ‘Defensive’ tactic on him in your game plan.
As with all things, balance is key. Rarely do you need more than 1 play style on the field. This ensure that you strike a balance between attack and defence.
Scoring goals win us games, and good defending prevent you from losing. Through the application of the Match Up Stance, Double Team, and various defending techniques presented in this tutorial, you will be able keep goals conceded to a minimum.
All images credit: Konami