It’s not only the likes of Messi and Klose competing for World Cup glory in Brazil this summer. From today (July 2), 20 of the best FIFA game players compete in Rio de Janeiro to become the champion of the annual FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC).

We caught up with Ty Walton and David Bytheway, two UK-based pro players who are fifth and sixth seed in the tournament, to share their tips on how you can improve your own FIFA skills, from defending a crucial lead, taking penalties, and choosing the best teams.


1. What teams should you pick?

In FIFA 14, the pair agreed that Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are the best teams to choose for both new and experienced players, but it also depends on your play style.

“Real Madrid are a good fast counter attacking team, whereas Bayern are a lot more solid defensively and maybe rely on crossing a bit more. The same can be said about Brazil and Germany [in the FIFA World Cup 2014 game],” said Bytheway.

As an aside, no single team has been overpowered to the point they have been banned from the tournament, but it’s something the pair would like to see.



“It would make it a lot more interesting and better for viewers,” said Bytheway. “A lot of the time you get Real Madrid vs Real Madrid which isn’t that great to watch. The FIFA Interactive World Cup have implemented a rule where two players can’t play against each other with the same team which is a great start!”

2. Skill moves aren’t just for show

While Bytheway said most moves are “just to keep us entertained”, others – such as step overs, scoop turn and ‘McGeady’ spin – are worth mastering for tight situations.

“The most effective skill move for me is the step over, it allows you to open up space to take a shot and draw in multiple defenders,” said Walton.

Bytheway added: “The rest can be useful but a lot of the time just aren’t needed.”



3. Team management is “extremely important”

Both players recommended the 4-2-3-1 formation, which was “balanced” and “great for defence and attack”.

“[Team management] is very important, you can set the team up to play with your own style and formation,” Walton explained.

As well as the set-up before a match, Walton added that pressing left on the D-pad twice as soon as the game kicks off will put your team in a defensive mentality, which stops players pushing ahead so much. This also helps stop being caught so easily with counter-attacks.

4. How to defend against through balls

Stopping through balls isn’t easy, especially against speedy attackers, but there’s a few things you can try to stop them. One is closing down opponents before they try to pass; another is positioning a defender to where the ball is going to be, or position them deep enough so even if you don’t get the ball, your opponent doesn’t have a one-on-one chance with the keeper.

“[Another] way would be to rush your keeper out, similar to how Hugo Lloris plays,” Bytheway explained. “This is extremely risky, though, as your opponent can become wise to it and just shoot from distance with your keeper off his line.”

5. Keep a cool head when ‘parking the bus’

“Defending a lead is always hard, no matter who you’re playing,” said Bytheway. “It’s all about keeping your head and not making stupid mistakes. Be calm under pressure and don’t keep kicking it up field. Try and keep the ball and of course, try and score another.” 

Walton added: “There are many formations on the game, so once you’re winning you can switch to either a 4-2-3-1 formation or a formation with five defenders.”


6. Can you get better at scoring from corners?

Hoping for some cast iron tips to get more goals from corners and crosses? You’re out of luck; reliably scoring from these positions is one of the hardest things in the game.

“There’s no one thing that can make you consistently score,” Bytheway explained. “It’s one of those things that if you keep doing it, eventually one will go in.”

Not all hope is lost, though. Crossing from the goal line is “the best way to cross”, even if Bytheway admits it’s still inconsistent, while Walton said aiming for the tallest players gives you the best chances of scoring that winning goal.

“With crosses I try to time the run of my striker entering the box to score the perfect header,” he added.


7. There’s no magic trick to taking great penalties

“Penalties are just about practice, if you practice them in the arena you’ll start to know how much power and direction you can use,” said Bytheway.

Walton agreed, as “penalties will always have that element of luck as if they dive the right way, usually they will save it”, but he did have a useful tip to catch your opponent off guard.

“When taking a penalty, time the marker so it lands in the green area, hold up for a few seconds and it should go through the keepers hands.”

8. Practice makes perfect

While the pair have access to the world’s top players to practice against, playing against someone of a higher ability than yourself is always the best way to improve.

“You don’t have to play for hours a day, as just playing [better] players will allow you to pick up some important little things that you may be missing out on,” Bytheway concluded.