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How to defend in FIFA 23

If you're sick of being defeated in Division Rivals, then tighten up your back line with these crucial how to defend in FIFA 23 tips

FIFA 23 how to defend: Virgil van Dijk wearing the red kit of Liverpool in FIFA 23

How do you defend in FIFA 23? You might well be asking yourself this question after losing a two goal lead in your last Division Rivals game, and while we certainly have some tips to help you along your way, it’s not a question that can be easily answered.

That’s because learning how to defend in FIFA 23 takes time. EA’s latest football game feels so different from its predecessor thanks to the innovation of Hypermotion 2 and, as a result, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board when thinking about your back line.

Effective jockeying, precision tackles, and creative counter-attacks are the perfect ways of winning games, and while they might not lead to the 6-0 victories you see plastered all over the internet, learning how to defend in FIFA 23 is one way to setting yourself up for success.

FIFA 23 how to defend

As with any FIFA game, getting up to scratch with your defence demands time and patience. While you’ll need to anticipate the movements of your opponents and time your tackles, you also need to understand the new mechanics which will take your back line from a Sunday league team to a well-drilled Premier League side.

The first thing you’ll need to know is that jockeying is still king. You can jockey another player by holding down L2/LT, which will hopefully force them to make a mistake. Jockeying can also help with intercepting passes. However, arguably the most important use for jockeying is for tracking back.

Due to the new AcceleRATE system in FIFA 23, tracking back has been made more difficult, especially if you have slow defenders that don’t have the Lengthy trait. To stop you from losing ground, hold L2/LT when changing directions, and you’ll find your players do this more fluidly, without giving your opponents room to manoeuvre. This is particularly helpful when defending your box.

Of course, you can still tackle from these positions. O/B will help you perform a manual tackle and holding those buttons down will give you a harder tackle. The same can be said for slide tackles, performed by hitting or holding square/X – and in certain situations the harder slide tackle is great for dispossessing your opponent when they take a heavier touch or you need to defend a passing passage.

Managing your player switching is really important here too. The threats in FIFA 23 almost always come from the middle of the pitch, so leaving the AI to manage the wings is always a good shout, leaving you to manually switch between players inside. However, when things get tough, you might want to call on your teammates for some help, so make use of the game’s new partial team press and second player press functions.

FIFA 23 defending tips: Manchester City's Reuben Dias in the team's sky blue shirt

The partial team press, performed by double tapping and then holding R1/RB,  brings two of your teammates in to pressurise the opponent. This is best to use in your opponents half as you’ll pull players out of position. If you want to pressure your opponents without pulling three players out of position, you can do this with just a second player by holding R1/RB.

These pressing options are great for forcing mistakes, but due to the gaps they inevitably leave and the fact it reduces your players’ stamina, you have to use them effectively.

FIFA 23 defending tips

Here are our best FIFA 23 defending tips:

  • Invest in pacey defenders: The FIFA 23 meta doesn’t revolve entirely around pacey players, but having a defender who can track back quickly will be more useful than someone who feels like a slug. Also look out for players with the Lengthy trait, as they are even better at tracking back and catching up to speedy strikers.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the hard tackle: This year we have a new heftier slide tackle, which is perfect to use when your opponent takes a heavy touch or you need to block a passing lane. Be careful, though: get this wrong and you’ll end up in the referee’s book.
  • Always cover the inside: Covering the middle of the pitch is more useful than using someone out on the wing. Combine this with second player press in the box and you’ll have a solid defence in no time.
  • Change direction by jockeying: Tracking back is hard in FIFA 23, especially with the changes to AcceleRATE. Changing direction can slow you down, but if you hold down L2/LT as you go to chnage direction, you’ll find you can do so more efficiently.
  • Formation: The best FIFA 23 formations include having four or five defenders at the back. Wing backs are great for attacking, but they can leave big holes in defence, so be wary if you’re pushing players forward.
  • Custom tactics: Make sure you tinker with your custom tactics to ensure a slick, well-oiled machine. Likewise, pushing your defensive line higher or deeper might work to your advantage, depending on how you play.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about how to defend in FIFA 23. The game this year feels a bit different to FIFA 22 – something we talk about extensively in our FIFA 23 review – so you’re going to want to change your tactics if you’re looking to climb the ranks in Division Rivals.

Hopefully these tips get you on the right track, but if you’re still struggling to maintain pace with your opponents, you might want to invest in the best FIFA 23 goalkeepers, the best FIFA 23 centre backs, and the best FIFA 23 full backs.