How to defend in FIFA 20: Tips & tricks to make you a better player

Virgil van Dijk FIFA 20

FIFA 20 is the most realistic football game yet, recreating what it's like to play high-speed football on your home console or computer.

As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to defend against top-quality opponents just like in real life. Attacking and scoring comes easy for a lot of players, but the art of defending is much harder to master.

Follow our expert advice on how to defend in FIFA 20 which will stop you conceding goals and help you win more matches.


  1. Basic defending tips
  2. How to switch players more effectively
  3. Best controls for defending
  4. Best tactics for defending

Basic defending tips

Losing too many games in FIFA 20? Conceding too many stupid goals? The simplest and most effective change you can make is to stop sprinting. Let go of the sprint button altogether, both in attack and defence. Sprinting not only wastes stamina, but gives you less control over your players when in possession and pulls them out of position when defending.

Only sprint as a last resort or when trying to catch up with a player who has burst down the wing or broken through the defensive line. Sprinting at any other time in defence is a bad idea and will leave you exposed.

Try to keep your defensive shape as much as possible. Put on pressure by coming back with your defensive midfielders rather than pushing centre-backs forward and opening space behind the backline.

Computer-controlled or AI defending is much less effective in FIFA 20 than in previous versions of the game, but you should only switch to your centre-backs when you are in close proximity to the forward and are confident that you can win the ball. 

Do not bring your centre-backs out to the wing when defending. If a winger has made space for himself out wide, try to track back with a full-back or a midfielder to close them down. The winger will either have to dribble into the box or cross the ball into the area, so your centre-backs will be needed to defend these situations. 

How to switch players more effectively

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Another simple change you can make to improve at FIFA 20 is to use manual player switching instead of automatic player switching. Automatic attempts to take control of the player nearest the ball by pressing R1/RB, but sometimes selects the wrong player or can pull your players out of position as you cycle between selected players.

Manual switching uses the right analog stick to indicate which player you want to select when defending and gives you greater control over which player you want to switch to. Sometimes you will want to switch to a player other than the one nearest the ball as they will be in a better position to close down or cut off passing lanes.

As mentioned above, you should try to keep your backline in position as much as possible and close down with midfielders or full-backs. Manual switching will allow you to select these players and help your centre-backs stay in position.

Best controls for defending

In FIFA 20, the best way to defend is to jockey (L2/LT) to move into position and then use standing tackle (Circle/X) to win the ball. A badly-timed standing tackle can leave you exposed, so only use it when close to the attacker.

Contain (X/A) used to be very effective in older versions of the game as your positioning would mirror the opponents, but now results in the defender standing at a short distance from the attacker and can be easily exploited by forwards who are good at dribbling or skills.

Team-mate contain or second-man press (R1/RB) is like contain, but uses the nearest computer-controlled player to close down the player on the ball. This also used to be effective in previous editons of FIFA, but is now detrimental to defending properly as it ruins your defensive shape and leaves gaps for your opponent to exploit.

Sliding tackles (Square/B) should only be used as a last resort when you have been left completely exposed by previous bad defending choices. A badly-timed sliding tackle will take your defender out of the game and give your opponent plenty of time to make the correct decision in attack.

In FIFA 20, you can power up your standing and sliding tackles by holding the tackle button for longer. This allows you to lunge further with your tackles, but if you power up too much, you will either miss the ball or cause a foul. Two bars should be the maximum power for any tackle.

Best tactics for defending

Certain formations in FIFA 20 are more attacking than others (such as 4-2-4) but regardless of your formation, you can still balance attack and defence by using custom tactics to make sure your defensive players keep their shape, even when attacking.

Setting your entire defensive line including your full-backs to "Stay Back while Attacking" can leave fewer gaps to plug at the back if you turn over the ball in the opposition half. This means it will be much more difficult to play fast counter-attacking play against you.

Switching the Defensive Behaviour setting of your central midfielders to "Cut Passing Lanes" will also help congest the middle of the field and leave you less exposed when defending. Similarly, high pressing can be effective when chasing the game but is not very useful when holding a lead as it will pull your players out of position.

Another good custom tactic to utilise is to set your most central midfielder to "Drop Between Defenders." This will turn your back four into a back five and also allow you to use your midfielder to carry the ball out from the back when in possession.