Barcelona, while not hitting the highs of previous seasons, still remain on of the most popular choices in FIFA 14. While their team almost picks itself, there are a couple of things you can change to take full advantage of the talents at your disposal. This FIFA 14 guide will give you a rundown of tweaks and adjustments to take on the world as one of the best teams in history.
Move Messi wide
The default formation and line-up places Lionel Messi as a centre forward. The problem with this is he doesn’t get involved in the build-up early enough. A player as good as Messi needs to get on the ball early and frequently. To achieve this, move him to the wing in place of Pedro. You can choose whether to keep Pedro as the forward man, or swap him for Fabregas.
Fabregas is the better passer, and has greater vision, meaning he can contribute more to the early stages of play, and is still a good finisher. Pedro is the better dribbler, and has five star weak foot ability, so might prove a more potent finisher.
As Barcelona are a team that operates better when playing possession football for long periods, I found Fabregas more effective than Pedro. You only want to start increasing the tempo in the final third of the pitch, and look for key passes into the penalty box or behind a high defensive line. The problem with hitting teams on the break is that counter-attacks tend to be effective from the wing, and defenders pile into the middle quickly, forcing either a cross, which Barcelona aren’t equipped for, or slowing down the break.
When Neymar or Messi receive the ball on the wings, there are times when you want to make a pass inside, but also take on defenders and shoot because of their high stats. The default camera angle makes it difficult to see the action when the play is on the opposite side of the pitch, so you want to bring the view closer to the action, making it easier to beat opponents with close control.
The Dynamic view is best for keeping you close to play. It’s much more effective at keeping zoomed in and allows ‘face-up’ dribbles to work more often as you can time changes of pace more easily based on defender’s attempts at a tackle. Dynamic limits how much of the pitch you can see, but once you learn to use the map, you’ll soon start taking full advantage of this new look to the game.
Keep the ball
Barcelona break down opponents by keeping the ball for large portions of the match. By going and tweaking the default custom tactics, you can ensure your Barca does the same.
Head into your formation settings and select the “Custom Tactics” menu. The first thing you are going to do is make the build up play slightly slower. This will stop players making runs too early and allow your men to remain disciplined to their position, and available to receive the ball. By making build-up play fast, central midfielders often run wide, taking away passing options and also blocking passes to the likes of Neymar and Messi. Move the slider to somewhere in the 30s, and see if you feel comfortable with it. Remember you can still trigger player runs by pressing LB/L1.
Next on Build-up Play is passing, which you want to be as short, again in the low 30’s. As said elsewhere, crossing is all but useless as Barca, who carry an average height of around 5’5″, so look to keep the ball on the floor. But also make passing “risky” under Chance Creation. This encourages your forwards to try and make runs behind defenders. Sleek one-twos are what create so many of the Catalan giant’s great goals.
Make sure you select your custom tactic in the formations menu before heading into a match. The D-Pad quick settings will remain default, and not what you have just worked on. Don’t undo all your hard work by forgetting to assign your tactics beforehand.
If you find yourself in a losing position, there are some changes you can make to try and turn things around. Puyol starts on the bench, but if teams are exploiting the centre of the pitch, sub him on for Busquets, moving Mascherano into the CDM position. Masherano can work better defensively than Busquets, and is much faster too. Puyol is slower than Mascherano, but the speed of Alves and Alba should help provide cover.
You also have Alexis Sanchez, who is a great option to bring on if your wide men tire. Sanchez doesn’t have great stamina, so works better when coming off the bench.