Define your Mentality

It may sound silly, but one of the most helpful things you can do to improve your win-loss ratio is to simply go into games with a premeditated game mentality. This means you need to decide whether you’re going to sit back and defend and hope you might get a goal or two for the win, or if you’re just going to go for all out attack and hope whatever comes your way does not end up in the back of the net.

The best way to determine the strategy you’re going for is to by paying attention to the team you’ll be playing against. If you’re anything like most players, playing against Real Madrid is extremely difficult if you are at equal skill-level to your opponent because they have such a formidable array of attacking players such as Ronaldo, Benzema, and Di Maria, to name a few. While you may be a better player than your opponent, if you just play normally and go for goals most of the time, you’ll catch yourself being countered a lot, and the problem is that Real Madrid takes advantage of counter attacks on a regular basis.

To neutralize this advantage Real Madrid has, you can play with a very defensive mentality. Don’t be so quick to play balls through the midfield and advance your team forward. Pass the ball around a bit almost aimlessly in safe regions -- cement your possession when you have it and pounce on an opportunity only if it presents itself. Forcing an attack almost creates a counter attack for a team like Real Madrid, so the main theme here is to just simply calm down and play a more laid-back passing game. Defensively, you need to be very sharp. To make things easier, you can use D-pad controls to make your team play defensively (hit all the way to the left to ‘Ultra Defensive’) and provide more of a challenge for oncoming Real Madrid forwards.
This also naturally makes your team sit back more, as they can collectively absorb pressure as it comes and they will naturally be caught on a dangerous counter less often. However, you may question why one would want to play so defensively when the only way to win a game is by scoring goals. The answer is that playing like this does not make it impossible to score goals, it just requires you to approach scoring differently. Again, you can pass the ball around safely while you have it, but obviously look to pass forward up the field when you can and advance towards the goal slowly. If you are patient, you will find yourself with decent attacking numbers in the final third and then you can proceed with your attack as you normally would, it just might take a bit longer for you to get to this stage. Overall though, you benefit from this kind of Defensive Mentality when playing against teams who are very offensively strong and might trouble you.

On the converse, there are a multitude of scenarios in which you may choose to play with an Attacking Mentality and opt to be more aggressive with your possession down the field and advances on goal. One of which is when you are playing against a team that does not boast much of an attacking threat -- you won’t be losing much by playing a more attacking style. You can take advantage of this mismatch by piling offensive players on their defensive line which will in turn create more chances. You also might want to employ this kind of attacking mentality when you feel you can really take advantage of a particularly weak or slow offense. They say that “offense is the best defense” and this can prove particularly true in FIFA 14. At the end of the day, the team with the most goals is victorious, so why not just try to outscore your opponent if you feel he has a weak back line.

If you’re going to play with an attacking mentality, you can again use the D-pad to supplement this. When playing Ultra Attacking, all of your players will just play a higher line and your team will play further up the pitch. From experience, I can say that this also causes your team to move forward on advances up the field (normally or by counter) much faster, allowing you to string together much quicker attacks.

Understanding your Opponent

This is another one of those sections which might seem completely useless, but trust me, if you try to think like this when you play FIFA 14, you will be very surprised with the edge it can give you over your opponent.
When you first begin playing with someone, you need to pay attention to how they approach certain situations in order to defend well against them. You need to specifically note which direction they turn when there is a defender on their back and the ball is coming to them, whether or not they cut inside when they have a player dribbling down the wing, etc. Of course, they won’t always do the exact same thing, but it can help to know what they are most likely to do in a situation. It’s always better than guessing.

What’s interesting is that many players do not switch up how they approach these pivotal scenarios in a game. Some players always look to cut inside for a shot just outside the box with a player like Robben or Hazard, so you simply position your defender to the inside and note where your backup is if he gets past him. It then becomes rather simple: as soon as he begins to make it past your first defender, switch quickly and steal the ball away with the inside defender before he can react. If you were not constantly analyzing what he’s going to do, you would be caught off guard as you’re just rolling with the punches as they come. You may have been unable to react with the second player and he’d get a shot off.

Paying attention to more simple scenarios such as which direction a player tends to turn can also be to your advantage. Again, he may not always go those directions, but it’s funny how people tend to do the same thing over and over in a game like FIFA. People get comfortable with what they have seen work in the past and always just opt to go with that again. Similarly, people defend the same direction over and over, but you can beat the cycle by predicting based on previous attempts.

Making Substitutions
In reality, FIFA players have so much energy that you don’t really need to make all that many substitutions. What I’m saying is that theoretically, your team should last for pretty much the whole game and they won’t show any kind of tiredness or anything. Your players can get tired, but it definitely doesn’t play all that much of a part in the overall success of your team and it certainly isn’t all that noticeable.

Substitutions can be, however, very important to your success. If you notice that your winger is not taking advantage of a particularly weak/slow fullback, then you may want to sub him off for a much faster, albeit maybe slower winger to take his place. If your forward is just not strong enough to win anything in the air against big center forwards, then you might want to consider getting someone else in his position.

It’s all about just evaluating positions and really just seeing who is underperforming. In this lies one of the biggest benefits of knowing the team you’re playing with or simply bringing real football knowledge with you when you play soccer. Many teams will feature players who play the same position but are fundamentally different in style. There is no situation where the are both equally effective -- one player will be more successful against certain types of defenders than the other. Obviously, you should try to recognize this when you are picking teams and not when you are making substitutions, but this is where substitutions can be used to rectify your mistakes in this area.

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