Penalties are a pain in FIFA 14. Surprisingly difficult, and arguably easier to score in real life, it can really feel like a game of chance. Sportra has collected some tips and tricks to help you become as cool as Balotelli when taking on goalies from 12 yards.
Before learning some tips, it’s important to know the basics of penalties in FIFA 14. There are three basic steps to taking a penalty. The first thing you must do is get the timing right on the ‘composure bar’. This bar will affect your player’s ability to take an accurate kick. Your aim is to stop the white line in the middle (the greenest section). Landing in the red zones will cause him to fall over and sky the ball horrifically high and wide, bringing shame to you and your family. On the next-gen versions of the game, the white bar moves a little faster, so take your time.
Next is the power meter, which will begin to build up after you press the shoot button to stop the composure bar. While adding power, use the left stick to aim, the further left or right you move, the faster the invisible cursor will move, making it increasingly difficult to place a shot in the corners. Players with higher penalty stats will have a larger green area in the composure bar, and moving the cursor around the goal will be less sensitive.
Now that you understand the basics, let’s take a look at the different ways players can kick the ball.
There are three variations other than the standard shot for penalties: the stagger-shot, the Panenka and the placed shot. By pressing shoot a second time during your run-up, you will stutter before shooting. This serves next to ZERO benefit. The reason why, in real life, players stutter their run is to force a goalkeeper into diving early, or fooling them into guessing the wrong way based on the positioning of the kicker’s body. Fake players do not succumb to such mind games, mainly because there are a limited number of animations, and also, they can’t dive before the ball is kicked.
Stutter stepping is especially redundant against AI goalkeepers. You will not trick robots. Simply don’t bother using the stutter step tactic as it unnecessarily over-complicates things, and makes your kick more inaccurate. After the stutter, the placement cursor will widen (though you can’t see it, a quick view in practice mode will show you the difference), even more reason to not bother.
The Panenka is the chip straight down the middle of the goal. It’s a risky move, but against human opponents, can be a great way to showboat your superiority. Against AI, it isn’t worth the risk, especially as ‘keepers can save these shots with their trailing feet or hands after a dive.
By holding RB/R1 during your shot, the kick-taker will strike the ball with his instep, allowing for greater accuracy and swerve on the ball, but less power. Using the placed shot is more useful when striking the ball to the same side as your player’s kicking foot. The reason for this is the slight movement on the ball will help take it back into the corner and keep it away from the goalie. If you imagine a right footed player taking a penalty, a placed shot will cause right-to-left swing, making it start wider than its eventual destination, making it harder to save. Of course, with penalties, there isn’t much time for the ball to move as drastically as a free kick, but the ball does move a small amount.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of penalties, here are some general tips to follow to help make sure the ball ends up in the back of the net and not the hands of goalkeepers.
Placing a decent amount of power on a penalty helps take the goalie out of the equation. Putting at least two bars on every shot will help increase your success ratio even when the ‘keeper dives the right way.
If you’re using a forward, or one of the best players in the game, you can afford to slide the power to the early red-levels. This means that it will take an excellent save to stop the shot. If you decide to fire a rocket at the goal, try aiming straight down the middle, but high into the roof of the net. Even if the goalie doesn’t move, unless (in the case of human opponents) they press up on the analogue sticks, or the AI makes a concerted effort to move towards the ball, they will simply flap at the shot and be unable to prevent the goal due to its power.
Aiming high makes the shot more difficult to save. You don’t always have to be in the very corners of the goal to score, the power means that the ball will already be in the back of the net before the ‘keeper dives across, and won’t be able to get a lucky touch with his legs either.
Against human opponents
When playing against human opponents, the controls make it so that a player’s only options (as the goalkeeper) are to either dive all the way right or left, or stand still in the middle of the goal. As the player, you should be aiming for a particular area of the goal that human goalkeepers can very rarely reach, the 25% and 75% marks of the goal, and hit close to the roof of the net. This means that players will either dive the wrong way, or dive straight past the ball and miss it completely.
Alternatively, you can use the previous tactic of shooting down the middle, into the roof of the net. In a penalty shoot-out, it’s important to vary up your shots, don’t always stick to the same place. If you win a penalty during play, don’t use the Panenka, as it is a frequently used tactic in multiplayer. Don’t waste the opportunity, place the shot and put as much power as possible behind it.
Head over to the practice menu and take as many penalties as possible. Learning the timing of shot placement without sending penalties high and wide can make a real difference. If you tend to play as a particular team across all modes, pick the number one spot-kick taker from that team to use in the arena. Becoming accustomed to the speed of the accuracy bar and the cursor across the goal will help massively in real matches.
As mentioned above, pressing LT/L2 will bring up the aim-assist circle, the same as in the lower level Skill Games, which will help you get started with each player.
We also did a video guide for how to become more successful with free-kicks, which you can read here.