In this week’s Backpage, football journalist and FIFA gamer Darren Cross reveals his strongest line-ups and tactics for the teams in Group B…
Group B is the clichéd Group Of Death at this summer's Euro 2012, but in FIFA terms it's a cracker as some of the most popular online teams can be found here.
In this week's Backpage we'll take a look at my top line-ups and tactics with Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Portugal so that you can win more games in tournament mode, both online and off.
First up is...
Many people fancy Holland this summer, but in FIFA terms they’re not for everyone as their team lacks some pace through the middle in all areas of the pitch. If you’re a player who likes to rely on speed to either get you out of trouble or get you through on goal, Holland are probably not for you.
But if you’re looking for a good technical side packed with creative players and lethal finishers then have a go with the Dutch. They’re also perfect for you if you like to play a crossing game, as all of their real speed is out wide and they’ve got strikers who can put headers away.
That’s the way I like to play with Holland, so the first thing I do is change from their default 4-2-3-1 formation to a wider and more adventurous 3-4-1-2.
Stekelenburg is a better keeper than Vorm so he keeps his starting spot but I lose Mathijsen from the defence, so Heitinga takes the central position with van der Wiel to his right and Pieters to his left. These three are the quickest defenders in the Dutch squad and the right and left-sided players will both be on their dominant side, so it’s well balanced. The only negative is that it’s a little on the short side as van der Wiel and Heitinga are both under six feet tall. If you’re facing a team with big strikers and good wingers then you may want to bring Mathijsen and Bruma in.
Elia comes in from the bench to fill my RM spot. He’s a left winger but is right-footed so he feels comfortable there and – with 92 for Acceleration and Pace as well as 87 for Dribbling – you’ll cause huge problems for any sluggish full-back. He can also do 5* skill moves so can be a real handful.
Arjen Robben takes the LM place, obviously. He’s on the bench in the default version of my squad, but you’ll want him in the team as his 94 Dribbling and 86 Crossing are crucial for feeding your strikers. Robben’s also got a great Long Shot and is really useful from free-kicks, although you’re spoilt for choice in that department as we’ll see in a minute. Should you need to change either of your wingers Holland have ready-made replacements in Affelay and Emanuelson.
In central midfield I like Mark van Bommel for the RCM role and Rafael van der Vaart at LCM. MVB is your ball winner while VDV is your creator and they compliment each other well, especially as both are playing on the same side as their dominant foot, which can be a factor.
Ahead of them in the hole is Wesley Sneijder who’s one of the best players in the Dutch squad, only Robben has a higher Overall rating. Sneijder’s the complete midfielder – he’s quick, has great ball control, incredible vision, can shoot from long range and is comfortable with either foot. He’s also the squad’s free-kick expert and his 90 rating in this department will get you plenty of goals.
Talking of goals, your front pair should be Huntelaar on the right and Van Persie on the left. Lots of players like to play strikers on the opposite side to their dominant foot so that they can cut inside, but I think this makes attacks too easy to read for decent defenders so I stick them on their strongest side.
Huntelaar is an incredible finisher inside the box thanks to his 91 Finishing rating and the Poacher specialty, and he’s also dangerous in the air so look to get him on the end of those Robben crosses. Strike partner RVP needs no introduction. He’s less effective in the air than Huntelaar but far more technical and better from range, so take a pop with him outside the box whenever you get the opportunity.
So my Holland line-up looks like this…
RCB van der Wiel
RCM Van Bommel
LCM Van der Vaart
LS Van Persie
I’m not a big fan of using Denmark in Euro 2012. I think they’re one of the weaker 4* teams – Poland, Greece and Ireland are all better – and they don’t have much pace or any great finishers.
That makes them a real challenge that could appeal to many FIFA players; win the Euros with the Danes and it’s fair to say you’re better than average at the game.
To give you the best chance of doing that you’ll probably want to ditch the default 4-2-3-1 again. Formations like this are good for keeping goals out, because you get the protection of two holding midfielders, but it can be hard work to score goals unless you’ve got players capable of a quick counter, which – Rommedahl excepted – Denmark do not. Plus, I always prefer having a second striker so 4-1-2-1-2(2) makes sense here. This formation is balanced between attack and defence and is also quite narrow, which suits this team as the Danes lack a natural left winger.
In goal, there’s not a great deal between Sorensen and Lindegaard. The Stoke keeper is bigger and quicker but the Man. United stopper has slightly better Diving, Handling, Kicking and Reflexes attributes, so I go with him.
The back four doesn’t need to change at all as I feel it’s the strongest possible. The sub left-back Boilesen is quite decent though and I’ve also used him in the centre when I’ve had to, so it’s worth keeping him in mind if you’re forced into a change.
Kvist keeps his place as the holding midfielder in my Denmark line-up. He’s not quite as responsive as Zimling but he’s a little better at winning the ball back and much more useful in possession as his passing is decent. My RCM is the rapid Rommedahl – the fastest player in the squad by far – and next to him at LCM I go with Krohn-Dehli. He’s one of the better central players and a more attacking option, so if you’d rather be more cautious go for Zimling or Silberbauer here instead.
Christian Eriksen starts as the CAM and he’s the key player in the squad for me. He’s easily the best technically and will create a lot of chances for your strikers, plus he has a 5* weak foot and 4* skill moves.
He’ll be supplying the ammo for Nicklas Bendtner at RS and Mads Junker at LS. These two are the best finishers in the squad, both have 77 for Finishing, and Bendtner is a threat from corners as he’s useful in the air.
Here’s my Denmark starting XI
While Denmark are one of my least enjoyable teams to use from the 16 who made it to the tournament, Germany are probably my favourite. They’ve got quality players in all positions and, with a bit of tinkering, it’s possible to set them up to be ruthless in attack and defence.
That tinkering is important though as, by default, I don’t think they make best use of their players. They’re another side using 4-2-3-1 and I always change this to the wider 4-1-2-1-2(1) which – in my opinion – is one of the strongest formations in the game.
No need to change the keeper though, as Neuer is class, so you can move straight on to the back four.
At right-back I bring Lahm over from the left. He’s one of the highest rated players in the squad – Schweinsteiger and Ozil also have 87 Overall – and he’s better on his more natural right side in my opinion. At left-back I select Aogo from the bench as he’s much quicker than Badstuber who is really the only other competition for this position.
My centre-backs are Boateng and Hummels who aren’t the quickest but more than make up for it with their physical presence; both are 6ft 4in and very strong. If you want even more physical presence you could select Mertesacker here, but with an Acceleration of 29 he gets nowhere near my team.
My CDM is Schweinsteiger who I use as a deep-lying playmaker. Defensively there’s not much difference between him and Khedira, but Schweiny brings a lot more to the attack and I play a very attacking style with Germany.
At RM I go with Muller. It’s very close between him, Reus and Goetze but I just prefer Muller because his crossing is better and he’s more of a goalscoring threat.
My LM is Podolski and my CAM is Ozil, although you could swap these two around if you prefer as they’re both comfortable in either position. I find Ozil’s passing abilities are more use in the centre, but he’s also a better crosser than Poldi so if you prefer to pepper the box with crosses then you’ll want him on the left.
Up front I change both of my strikers, bringing Gomez in at LS with Schurrle at RS. This change is essential for getting the best out of Germany, as both are really effective players for very different reasons. Schurrle is extremely quick and very good at running with the ball, while Gomez is much stronger, better in the air and a lethal finisher.
Here’s my strongest Germany line-up…
There’s one big reason why so many players like to pick Portugal; Cristiano Ronaldo. And it’s easy to see why – Ronaldo is arguably the best player in the game and a constant threat in matches, especially against defences that lack pace or power.
Another plus point for Portugal is the fact that you don’t have to do a great deal of chopping and changing to send out what I think is their strongest line-up – I only make two changes before heading into games.
The default 4-3-3, despite being a lone striker formation, works best for Portugal as their attacking wide players are brilliant. Plus that lone striker is Cristiano Ronaldo and he doesn’t need a lot of help, but we’ll get to him in a minute.
Sticking with 4-3-3 Patricio keeps his place in goal as he’s better than Eduardo, and there’s no need to change the back four at all. It’d be difficult even if you wanted to as Portugal only have six defenders in the whole squad.
Miguel Veloso is the best – well, the only – holding midfielder in the squad so he starts at CDM and I also keep Meireles and Moutinho at RCM and LCM. Both players have bags of stamina, are capable of picking out good passes and can be a threat when shooting from distance.
Nani is the obvious choice at RW as he’s the second best player in the squad behind Ron. He’s a fantastic dribbler and can really open up defences with his speed, agility and 5* tricks, so there’s no need to change him. Speaking of changes, the first of my two involves moving Ronaldo to the middle. With all the attributes of a great finisher I feel like it’s a waste not to have him here, plus he’s approximately seven thousand times quicker than Hugo Almeida and just as good in the air.
Finally, for my second change, I go with Quaresma at LW although it’s very close between him and Varela. Quaresma edges it for me because he’s faster, a slightly better dribbler and can also do 5* skill moves.
So my Portugal XI lines up like this…
Well that wraps up another Backpage.
Thanks for reading, and remember to come back next week when we take a look at Group C – Spain, Italy, Ireland and Croatia.
As always, thanks for reading and see you next week.
READ PREVIOUS BACKPAGE ARTICLES:
Football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross returns with more top FIFA 12 prospects for you to sign up!
Darren Cross looks at how the 3-5-2 formation could be your key to FUT 12 success.