FIFA 21 Attacking Tutorial: Tips, Controls, Formations And Tactics To Score More Goals In Ultimate Team
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FIFA 21 Attacking Tutorial: Tips, Controls, Formations And Tactics To Score More Goals In Ultimate Team

Chris Trout
6 October 2020

Attack-attack-attack

One of the fundamentals of FIFA is attacking, being able to attack successfully will improve your chances of banging in the goals.

FIFA 21 has changed the gameplay to better suit attacking gameplay this year which is always great to see.

But how can you unlock your full potential going forward? What's the best tactics, strategy, formations and shooting choices?

Here's our guide to attacking in FIFA 21.

Read all about attacking with by clicking the links below:

Attacking Controls

  • Ground Pass/Header: X/A
  • Lob Pass / Cross / Header: ▢/X
  • Through Pass: △/Y
  • Shoot / Volley / Header: ◯/B
  • Time Your Shot: ◯ + ◯ (Timed)/B + B (Timed)
  • Chip Shot: L1 + ◯/LB + B
  • Finesse Shot: R1 + ◯/RB + B
  • Low Shot/Downward Header: L1 + R1 + ◯/LB + RB + B
  • Fake Shot: ◯ then X + Direction/B then A + Direction
  • Fake Pass: ▢ then X + Direction/X then A + Direction
  • Threaded Through Pass: R1 + △/RB + Y
  • Protect Ball: L2/LT
  • Driven Ground Pass: R1 + X/RB + A
  • Lofted Ground Pass: X + X/A + A
  • Lofted Through Pass: △ + △/Y + Y
  • Lobbed Through Pass: L1 + △/LB + Y
  • Driven Lobbed Through Pass: L1 + R1 + △/LB + RB + Y
  • Driven Lob Pass/ Driven Cross: R1 + ▢/RB + X
  • High Lob / High Cross: L1 + ▢/LB + X
  • Ground Cross: ▢ + ▢/X + X
  • Whipped Cross: L1 + R1 + ▢/LB + RB + X
  • Driven Ground Cross: R1 + ▢ + ▢/RB + X + X
  • Trigger Run: L1/LB
  • Call for Support: R1/RB
  • Dummy a Pass: L + no direction + R1 Press and Hold/L + no direction + RB Press and Hold
  • Cancel: L2 + R2/LT + RT
  • Flair Pass: L2 + X/LT + A
  • Flair Shot: L2 + ◯/LT + B
  • Flair Lob: L2 + ▢/LT + X
  • Let Ball Run: R1 Press and Hold + L (Away From Ball)/RB Press and Hold + L (Away From Ball)
  • Flick Up For Volley: R3/R3
  • Disguised First Touch: R1 Press and Hold + L (Towards Ball)/RB Press and Hold + L (Towards Ball)
  • Set Up Touch: R1 + R + Direction (Hold)/RB + R + Direction (Hold)
  • Pass and Go: L1 + X/LB + A
  • Pass and Move: X + R + Direction (Hold)/A + R + Direction (Hold)
  • Directional Runs: Tap L1 + R (Flick in any Direction)/Tap LB + R (Flick in any Direction)
  • Player Lock: L + R/L + R
  • Switching (Player Lock): L (Flick in any Direction)/L (Flick in any Direction)
  • Hard Super Cancel: L1 + R1 + L2 + R2/LB + RB + LT + RT
  • Cancel Foul Advantage: L2 + R2/LT + RT

Attacking Tips

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when attacking:

  • Play to your strengths
  • Pick a formation you are comfortable with
  • Pick players based on your gameplay strategy and formation
  • Attack down the wings
  • Try to isolate players in two-on-one situations
  • Mix up your attack whenever possible
  • Identify what your opponent's defensive weakness is
  • Use off the ball runs
  • Utilise through balls on a high line defence
  • Trigger dribbling and skill moves
  • Use LT to shield the ball and use your player's strength

Wing Play

Let's start off with wing play. Just like last year, it's incredibly effective; particularly at the start of FIFA due to a limited number of budget full-backs that are pacey and good at defending.

It's very easy to exploit these full-backs by using high 80 and low 90 pace players, not to mention that pace is critical this year and can really unlock doors for your attacks.

When playing you should always have an objective in mind and for me, it's to move down the wing where possible.

This is the least populated area on the pitch and can really stretch a defence from its structure. It also opens lots of avenues and options for you once you get there - you can cut inside and come down the centre or hit it straight to the byline.

Both crossing and byline cutbacks are extremely potent so defenders will have to respect both attacking strategies.

People are generally very concerned about defending in the middle, that they overlook the wings and I've felt the taste of a few defeats because I've made the same mistake.

NEVER commit defenders this far up the pitch

In this scenario, my opponent is playing a very narrow defence and has committed one of his defenders.

I know I have the edge on him if I can turn and get the ball off down the wing. Because he's committed to stopping me there and then, he commits almost his whole defence over to stop me.

In doing so, he neglects the other half of the pitch and can't pick up my oncoming winger, who is bearing down on goal. So I've easily stretched the play and taken the attention off my other players.

Stretch the play and you can make lots of space

In scenarios like this, you should be able to play a simple through ball on the ground, but sometimes the game will decide to correct a player's mistake and force a horrible pass.

Instead, I chose a lofted through ball to negate that, while assuming his keeper wouldn't charge me down. At this point, the guy is ball watching and not focusing on what my players are doing off the ball and I easily slot it to another player to score.

Isolating Defenders

Next up, you really want to isolate defenders and make their job as difficult as possible.

Most teams will play with at least one CDM in their side, you want to take that player out of the game or outnumber them as often as possible.

Not only that, but you want to create as many two-on-one scenarios as possible against the backline to create quick one-two passes and open up space.

Draw out the CDMs so you can get in-behind

In this situation, my opponent is using his midfielders to shield his defence and stop me from going forward. They're quite far from the backline and rather central.

It gives me the opportunity to bring in my midfielders and provide some nice passing triangles to get around them.

Instead of managing his midfielders and recalling them, he tries to win the ball in an impossible scenario and ends up isolating them from his backline.

Once behind, I know that he's going to take control of his back four so I can tap the LB/L1 button to initiate off the ball runs from my two strikers and on-rushing midfielders.

Off-the-ball runs can be mayhem for defenders to deal with

My striker makes a darting run in-behind, forcing him to track him. With his fullbacks completely out of the game, I am effectively two-on-one and two steps ahead of him.

Quick one-two-passes forces an opponent to make a snap-shot decision and increase the chances of error

He needs to either tackle the player with the ball or mark the man off the ball and it's a tough choice on which path to take. Before he can make any decisive choice, I get the ball inside the box and score.

Mixing It Up

Mixing up your strategy can be so effective in unlocking goals in FIFA 21.

It also gives you a chance to analyse what your opponent is weakest at and allow you to see how they react to different scenarios.

You don't need to do anything huge, just slight differences help. If I run to the wing every time and cut back, my opponent is going to expect it and start anticipating my actions.

But throwing a curveball can quickly confuse them.

Wait for your opponent to make a mistake

In this goal, it's late into the game and 1-1. I've been playing down the wing for a while and he's caught on to my strategy; now sitting a bit deeper. To his credit, it forces me to try and cross which doesn't work out, but I do regain the ball.

On the second attempt, I make my way up the left-wing and wait to see how he reacts; he drags his CDM out to deal with it as we're in the dying moments and FIFA can be FIFA...

I play a short through ball to get around the CDM and pick the ball up, now he's unsure if I will play it again to my overlapping midfielder or wait for my winger to come back on-side and selects his right-back.

Exploit any space your opponent gives you

If I pass the ball to my striker, his centre-back should be able to deal with it. So I throw a spanner in the works and ask my midfielder running from deep to join the attack and play it to him.

Overload with options to force your opponent into a decision

He drags his full-back out and isn't watching what the other players are doing. I hand it off to my deep midfielder, which delays his reaction to switch to his centre-backs and gives my striker just enough time and space to get a chance on goal.

Off The Ball Runs

Alongside through balls, this is one of the most important moves to use and when paired together will be deadly.

To start an off the ball run you need to press LB/L1, which will start the player in the direction of your analogue stick or the way you're facing to run forward.

You can do this with the passer of the ball as well, hold the LB/L1 button as you pass, once they have released the ball they will immediately run forward.

Look around and use the LB and RB buttons to force off the ball movement

As we build up this goal, I use the passer to start an off the ball run and push the defensive line back; this opens up space in the centre.

My centre midfielder passes it to the striker and here I initiate another off the ball run from my other centre-midfielder.

Initiate more than one run to give you more options

I can start to see a potential opening in the middle, but I need more time and a better angle.

Stretch the play and force the backline out of shape to create gaps for goals

So I pass the ball to my winger, who has created lots of space in behind and wait for my midfielder to makes his run into the box before passing it to him for the goal.

Through Balls

Through balls this year are far more effective than last and should be used whenever you can. Having said that, they still suffer from a case of 'missed-identity'. By that I mean the game sometimes seems to fail to determine what kind of through ball you want and will play it into space when you need it at feet and vice versa, but I guess that's FIFA.

But, they are very strong when they work out and can easily unlock a stubborn defence. It should be used especially when you have a faster striker than your opponent's defender, not to mention it will allow the player to run on to the ball without breaking their stride, where a pass can slow down play.

While there are many variations of it, the standard Y/Triangle version does just fine. It definitely provides more intuitive options than before (despite what I mentioned above).

In this goal, using wide play, through balls and off the ball runs allows me to execute a quick counter-attacking play and exploit the space in behind my opponent without slowing down the run.

Trigger Dribbling And Skill Moves

Once you get into a deadly position, such as inside the box, using the trigger dribble or certain skill moves can work a treat. It could force your opponent into a tackle or delay a response long enough to give you that space and make a pass.

It's always a great idea to throw them in to keep your opponent guessing as well as making your movement less clunky in certain situations e.g. using a scoop turn to quickly turn instead of using the analogue stick.

Some of the best ones are often the simplest and some of my favourite:

If you're not a skiller, just using the left and right trigger to adjust your player's movement sharply can work wonders. Likewise, you can hold RB to execute agile dribbling.

In this scenario, I've used the wings to break in behind my opponent and as a result, have found myself in plenty of space.

But his two centrebacks have caught up with me and pose a threat. I can't go for goal and taking on two defenders at once will be tough, but the angle is on my side.

I execute a quick body feint and shuffle inside, before changing the direction again with a fake shot. It's at this point I have a half-chance at shooting but with the position of my player and his ability I can't say I am confident of it; really I want the pass into the middle.

But, my opponent doesn't know that and thinks he has the pass covered. He's so focused on stopping the shot, a quick lofted pass parallel to my striker helps us get a goal back.

Formation And Tactics

The formation to choose depends very much on how you play the game and what you're most comfortable with.

With the ability to set custom tactics in the game, you can adjust your formation on the fly and create multiple presets to suit the situation.

Here are some recommended formations to try when attacking.

41212 (2)

This formation is great for those that love to pass the ball and play quick tiki-taka football, preferring to stay away from the wings.

To make it work from an attacking perspective, you'll need to have two well-rounded centre-midfielders that can get up and down the pitch.

Using them can greatly improve your chances and options off the ball in attack.

It creates great passing triangles and opportunities to pass the ball off while giving you the ability to recycle the ball and buy time while you wait for an opening.

Using player instructions such as 'free roam' on your CAM will help you make more creative and free-flowing options in the attack; giving you an outlet on the counter and offering more passing scenarios.

If you want to change it up, tell your strikers to 'Drift Wide' and act like wingers while asking your CAM to 'get into the box for crosses' to act like a false 9.

I think using the 'Possession' tactic for this formation works a treat, as it plays into the passing style and will counter any attempts players take to box you in.

It's a slower build-up play and offers less offensive movement, but if you can get to the opposition's half you should have no trouble executing runs manually.

Finally, you can adjust the width of the formation to spread play more and offer more opportunities to stretch the play and disrupt the backline.

4231

This formation is fantastic for those that create most of their chances from wing play.

To make it work from an attacking perspective, you'll need to use fast wingers that can get in behind and a strong solo striker with good positioning.

Your pacey wingers will exploit space in behind your opponent and your striker will offer easy opportunities to knock the ball home.

Using player instructions such as 'free roam' on your three CAMs will allow players to be more flexible in attack and look for the ball.

It's also good to set the 'Get into the box for cross' instructions on all of them to overload the box with options when you hit the byline.

I think using the 'Balanced' tactic for this formation works best, as it offers the most well-rounded approach to attack.

Finally, you can adjust the width of the formation to condense play if you're finding it's too stretched to offer quicker passing sequences.

Shooting

Finally, once you've got all of the pieces together you need to put the ball into the net.

Shooting is very similar to FIFA 20, so if you played the previous game you should shoot as you always have done for most of the year.

Finesse shots (R1+O or RB+B) are still king and if you get into the box, you should look to open up your striker's body and use it to place into the corner.

A regular shot is great when you're shooting across the face of goal or firing in at the near post.

If you're struggling for space and running into the keeper, try using a ball roll to open up your striker's body and hit a finesse shot around.

Of course, if you're able to control your run, use a chip shot (L1+O or LB+B) to loft the ball over the keeper.

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