Many beginners often feel that defending in FIFA 23 is just about using basic standing and sliding tackles to win the ball from the opponent. That’s not the case at all. There are several ways to defend, so you are not limited to tackling. Let’s take a look at these methods, starting with the basic tackling technique.
Sliding and Standing Tackles
We are all familiar with this one. When the opponent is dribbling towards you with the ball at their feet, you wait for them to come within reach and press the sliding tackle button on your controller. But wait! Are you sure you are not overusing the sliding tackle? While it’s great and extremely satisfying to wipe the ball clean from your opponent, you will likely mistime your slide and instead commit a foul, resulting in a yellow or even a red card depending on the severity of the tackle. Even worse, if your opponent manages to evade your tackle, you won’t be able to catch up with them as they sprint towards your opponent’s goal, leaving you very exposed.
Therefore, I recommend using standing tackles whenever possible as they are much safer, both in terms of cards and keeping up with your opponent in case you mistime it. Use sliding tackles if you have some cover at the back or if you need to take one for the team and sacrifice yourself for a deadly counter-attack in the dying embers of the game.
One thing about defending in FIFA 23 that beginners often don’t know is that they can hold down the sliding and standing tackle command to add more power to their tackles. Of course, the catch here is that it takes a fraction of a second more to load up the tackle, meaning a greater risk of mistiming it.
Second Man Pressure
This is a great way to outnumber your opponent while defending in FIFA 23. While you manually control your player, hold down R1/RB to instruct your AI-controlled teammate to apply pressure on the holder of the ball. To get the best out of this technique, I often instruct my AI teammate to press the player while I cut off potential passing lanes with my manually controlled player. This often results in me winning the ball back quite quickly as the opponent gets congested for space. However, this method of defending takes a lot of time to master. The timing is crucial; getting it wrong by even a fraction can result in huge gaps for your opponent to exploit.
Manual Player Switching
While most of us rely on the CPU to switch to the most appropriate player by pressing L1/LB at the higher level, this isn’t always effective while defending in FIFA 23. Often you need to analyze exactly which player is most well-positioned to stop the opponent’s attack, and this isn’t always the one closest to the ball. This is where manual player switching comes into play. With your right stick, you can swipe in any direction to take control of that player and carry out your defensive actions, whether tackling, second-man press, jockeying, or anything else. Be wary, though; timing is essential here, and messing it up could completely disorient your team’s shape.
This is a great way to hold your position while defending in FIFA 23 against a top dribbler of the ball and improve your reaction speed to sudden opponent movements. As the attacker moves towards you, hold down L2/LT to jockey, and move around with the left stick. Watch your opponent’s actions closely, and gradually move as they move. When they break into a sprint or skill move, time your sliding or standing tackle to perfection to knock the ball clean from their feet. Remember, though, that jockeying significantly reduces your pace, so don’t use it during a counter-attack. It’s best to use it when the opponent’s winger is isolated on the wing and looking to cut in towards the box. You can also perform the quick jockey by holding down L2 and R2 together, but this comes at the expense of control.
Picking the right players
If you are playing FIFA 23 Ultimate Team, you’ll often be up against pacy, electric players like Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele. Remember that in FIFA 23, pace is king. Therefore, you’re going to want to have a quick and agile backline to contain these speed demons. These include the likes of Joan Cancelo and Kyle Walker as your fullbacks and Antonio Rudiger in the CB position. It’s not all about pace, though; you will also need traditional, powerful center-backs such as Virgil van Dijk and Marrquinhos, who boast excellent tackling and awareness attributes, adding to your chances of stopping even the deadliest of attackers.
Finding the right balance of players to have in FIFA 23 Ultimate Team squad can be challenging, especially early on when you don’t have many funds to work with, But as time goes on, you can slowly build up your defense by using a combination of loans and direct purchases.
Often, the outcome of a game of FIFA 23 depends on the tactics you set before and during the game. Study your opponent’s lineup to look for their fastest attackers, and on that side, instruct your fullback to stay back while attacking. This will ensure that your fullback doesn’t fly forward while your team is on the attack, in which case, if the opponent manages to win back the ball and launch a counter-attack, that fullback’s side will be left completely exposed and exploited. While setting your fullback to stay back may sacrifice some of your attacking output, I believe the benefit outweighs the cost. Besides, you can always manually get your player to rush forward if the opportunity presents itself using pass-and-go (L1 + X/LB +A).
That about sums up this FIFA 23 Beginner’s Guide to defending. It’s best to try these techniques in offline mode to get the hang of them. Your best resources, however, are the Skill Games (accessible in the FIFA 23 Menus), as these target every one of the defensive skills. Try to combine these different skillsets together to get the maximum defensive stability possible.