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Dealing with Winter Conditions on the Football Pitch

Coming up to Winter, the weather gets worse, the pitches get more worn, the motivation to play in such bad conditions lessens and lessens! Here are some tips to ensure you can stick to winning ways, even when you are against the storm!



The worst thing you and your team can do is to complain and moan about the weather, and the rain. Talking about it or complaining in the dressing room negatively affects your confidence and motivation to play, as well as your frame of mind that you need to be in when you go out there to kick off. During the game it is also very important you focus on the game as much as possible. Don’t stop to think about how cold you are, or how wet your hair is.. keep your head in the game, and don’t let the conditions affect your concentration!




When the rain is beating down, and the surface is soaked and slick, this can be your best friend in terms of getting off a shot that is tricky to stop. The ball will skim off the surface faster and more unpredictably than you could imagine! Use these conditions to your advantage and take some shots at goal, as the keeper will struggle more than usual to predict the speed and flight of the attempt.


A soccer ball thrown by referee Klossner lands on the pitch after he decided to postpone the Swiss Super League soccer match between Servette FC and FC Sion due to heavy rain in Geneva

Take absolutely no chances in these conditions. Get the ball out of your area as quick as possible, don’t dwell on it. The conditions as well as the pitch will make the path of any ball more unpredictable, and you just can’t predict when it’s going to skim off the turf, or stop dead in a puddle of mud. If you get the chance, clear the ball up the field as soon as you can, and ensure your team are getting out quickly to put pressure on the opponent and force them into mistakes instead. Get the ball down and play your football in the opposition half.


Like it says, do it! Hit early crosses to your strikers. Low, fizzed crosses can be devastating as it’s harder for the defenders to judge the cross and deal with it. Assuming your team mates can get on the end of it, even if they bundle it in, it makes life a hell of a lot harder for the opposition. In the conditions, the chances of a defender or the goal keeper making a mistake is dramatically higher. The ball skimming off the surface, or even the rain beating down in the face of the opposition can results in all sorts of fumbles and mis-hits, ensure you are ready to capitalise on any chances that appear!


Tell us about your games in bad conditions, and your best stories!

Top Tips for Creating a Killer 5-a-Side Football Team

Whether you’re just not as young as you used to be, or you just prefer it to traditional 11-a-side, small sided football is as popular as it ever has been. If you play, you know how important it is to have a well balanced team, otherwise you end up on the wrong side of a 23-0 thrashing. We’ve accumulated some of the very best tips to creating an absolute force of a team on the 5-a-side court.

Find the right goalkeeper


This is essential in order to create or become a successful small sided team. As the pitches are smaller, the play is tighter and the goals are closer to each other, having the right man between the sticks is important. A good team and player will find spaces behind or between your defensive line on a smaller space, and your goalie is your last line of defence, and last hope to keep the ball out of the net. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because the nets are smaller, that the best goalie is the biggest guy with gloves on, this is not always the case and in fact smaller keepers are usually the most effective at protecting the goal from low, drilled shots into the bottom corners.

Don’t go for the ‘draw straws’ or ‘take it in turns’ approach, get yourself a good goalie.

Play the right formation

In small sided football, you don’t have the freedom to play a number of players on the pitch in elaborate formations like you would in 11-a-side. Some of the best formations are the 1-2-1 formation and 2-1-1.

Those that are lucky enough to have a very good defender may be confident to play the 1-2-1 formation, using the two midfield players as box to box and contributing massively to both defensive and attacking plays. With this formation, with your midfield players dropping back into defence when necessary, you can be strong in both defence and attack. A very good defender here can often dictate the play of the game.

If you like to feel a little safer at the back, 2-1-1 is also a decent option. Giving you a more protected back line, it can allow you to minimise goals conceded however, unless you have a class striker up front, can often leave you lacking a real threat up front. With his formation, don’t be scared to allow one of your back line to push forward when attacking and be an option. Some of the best teams in this formation often play a wing back style player next to a main strong defender, in order to get that balance between attack and defence with the defender that is assigned to push forward.


Get the right players!
This seems common sense but so often are teams seen to forget that small sided teams also need tactics and people that are willing, as well as able to play in their designated roles.


This guy is the powerhouse in your team. Strong, brave and powerful this guy will dominate the area he plays in, tackling and shrugging off other players with ease. Usually deployed in the defensive line, this guy will tackle, block and defend his back side off in order to stop them scoring against you, distributing the ball to the forward players quickly upon retrieving possession.


These guys are who you definitely need in your midfield roles. These guys will run, run, run, and run some more until they are nothing but jelly. These guys will be there to help out and tuck in defence when you need them, but a few seconds later are up alongside the striker in order to offer an option. Fitness is essential for this role.



This player will find an inch of space where they looked to be not any space at all. These players can contribute massively in terms of goals, managing to weave their way into dangerous areas, or get themselves that little bit of extra space in order to get off a shot or play a pass. With small sided pitches being much smaller than large sided, it is important to try and find space to cause problems for the opposition. Do not mistake this role for the guy that knows the most tricks, or the greedy one who calls himself ‘Jonny Neymar Skillster Smith’ on Facebook, this breed we want are smart players and more importantly are also ‘team players’. Finding space doesn’t need to be about step overs roulettes, and the best players can often get that space with a little drop of the shoulder, or a quick foot taking the ball away from the defender at the last moment.


Small sided games are very different to large sided, and so your reliable goal-scorers may be completely different players to who you would choose to lead your line on an 11-a-side pitch. These are not just the fastest players on the pitch, or the tallest target man.
What we want here is a powerful, and more importantly, ‘hungry’ player up top. We want someone who has the desire to score, and the hunger to see that ball in the back of the net.  However, we also want someone that is reliable, these players have a great foot and a great shot, who will hit the target more often than not, and consistently cause problems for the defence and keeper. Get the guy that can hold off a defender and find space to get a shot off, but also someone who is hungry to have the ball, and hungry to move and find dangerous spaces near their goalmouth.


Small sided football is as much about tactics and intelligence as 11-a-side. Marking is essential, and marking players well can be the difference between winning and losing. Keep your eyes on your player you are marking and stay switched on at all times. Every player on that pitch is a threat at all times and with smaller pitches, it can take two passes to get behind you and they’ve scored before you even know that your man has eluded you. Always communicate, and make sure you are heard on the pitch, keep your team mates on their toes and help them in picking up their men. Train and develop yourselves in marking and watching what is going on around you at all times, on a large pitch you can often go idle for periods of time if the ball is not near you or there is no immediate threat, this is something you will not experience in 5-a-side.



Counter-attack in small-sided football is and can be just as effective as possession play. You’ll find that most goals scored are quick bursts up field. By letting teams pass it around aimlessly in non-dangerous areas you will frustrate them and make them start to lose their shape in attempts to draw you out of your own. Eventually a loose pass or touch will allow you to burst quickly and can leave them in your dust, scoring on a quick counter attacking play. This will frustrate them even more, especially as they will have originally h that fake confidence in that they are dominating the game. On pitches such as the ones you will be playing on, 1 or 2 passes before shooting can be all it takes to create that opportunity for you.

However, play what suits your team and your abilities, if you are a team that is able to dominate possession and the game, tiring out opposition players and drawing them out of position with intelligent passing play, then do it! You may never know what style suits you best until you have experimented and seen what works for you.


Top 5 Tricks for Beating Legendary Difficulty on FIFA 18 for BIG Squad Battles Rewards


FIFA 18 Ultimate Team’s BRAND NEW game mode Squad Battles is taking the FIFA community by storm. Pitting your squad against the sometimes frightening line-ups of other gamers around the world in order to accumulate as many points as possible in a specified number of games and climb up the SB leaderboards. The higher you finish in the leaderboards, the more valuable your rewards upon completion of the weekly event.

To cut a long story short, if you want to be up towards the upper tiers of the ladder when the week is over, then you need to be playing on Legendary difficulty at least.. and winning! As you probably already know, squad battles difficulty is strongly linked to not only the strength of the squad you are playing, but the chemistry too. Difficulty levels on Squad Battles are more difficult than their respective difficulty levels in other game modes due to these fluctuating squads and chemistry ratings. Ultimately, the higher the chemistry of your opponent, the more challenging you will find it to play against them.

Legendary difficulty on any game mode is challenging enough, so how can you be expected to play against not only an even harder Legendary difficulty, but also against star studded squads packed out with the likes of Messis, Ronaldos, Hazards and more? Well, there are a few very important, and very effective tricks in order to do this. I’ll narrow it down to my Top Five Tips for Beating Legendary Difficulty on Ultimate Team Squad Battles.

Trick #1 – Legacy Defending


This is probably the first tip I would give to anyone who is struggling against higher difficulty AI. Ever since coming across this, I’ve felt like I’ve almost been cheating on the game. Legacy defending is an in-game feature that you can activate in your gameplay settings. The feature allows you to almost automatically chase down and press the opposition with the player you are controlling, and they’ll even put in the tackle for you too. By holding the ‘A’ button (XBOX) or ‘X’ button (PlayStation), your player will pressurise the opposition player with the ball and make the tackle, without you having to direct them, or press to tackle. All you have to do is change player. Like I said, almost a cheat, right?

This is crucial because trying to press and tackle against legendary difficulty on the almost manual style ‘Tactical Defending’ setting, sometimes feels impossible. Not only does this win the ball back for you over and over again, when you get better at timing it, you’ll be winning the ball so high up the pitch and become a lethal counter attacking force. This for me, is by far the most effective trick I’ve come across to improve your chances against the harder difficulties.

Trick #2 – Counter, Counter, Counter!


If you’ve been struggling on Legendary Squad Battles, you’ll already know by now that you’re not going to see much possession. Particularly the higher rated and higher chemistry teams, will often knock the ball about like a Barcelona squad on steroids. We’re going to turn this into one of our most deadly weapons.

The AI will pass, pass, pass, and especially on Legendary, will push its players further and further up the pitch in an attempt to make you concede. Something you may not know, is that on Squad Battles, the AI is programmed to win at all costs. There are no draws, as the games lead onto extra-time and ultimately, penalties. Due to this, the computer will play to win. This means that if the scoreline is a draw, or you are winning, the opposition will become more and more aggressive in it’s attacking as the game progresses. You may have noticed that you seem to score most of your goals late in the game? Well, as the computer becomes more aggressive in order to win, they will commit more players further up the pitch, take more risks in passing, and push their defensive line higher, playing straight into your hands.

So, now we know the opposition game plan, how do we use this to our advantage?

The starting tactic? Stay compact and defend well! Let the AI control most of the ball, let them knock it round, and almost let the time run down a little. Your aim is to try not to concede. So don’t take too many risks and try to minimise mistakes. If you manage to counter attack and steal a goal or two, then that’s even better.

Secondly, if you’re drawing, or ahead towards the start of the second half, this is the time to take more risks. Press higher, attack more, and play risky but cutting passes through to your forwards. You will definitely notice more space between the opposition defence, and you’ll find it easier to find openings and hit them on the counter. You still have to defend well though and do your best not to concede.

So your overall game plan is stay tight and compact for as long as possible, focus on not conceding and defending well. As the game progresses and you see more openings start to appear, and the opposition being more aggressive, then you start taking the game to them and picking them apart on the counter.

Trick #3 – Don’t Panic, Things Change Very Quickly


I can’t stress this enough; DON’T PANIC! There has been countless games where it’s been 0-0 on the 70th minute, and I’ve gone on to win 4-0 or 5-0. As mentioned previously, the longer the game progresses, the harder and more aggressively the AI will try to win the game. As the game reaches it’s later stages, you’ll find it easier and easier to pick them apart with ease, and make the most of the huge gaps that they leave in their defence. Trust me, once that first goal has gone in, the flood gates well and truly open. Keep calm, stick to the game plan, and you will come away victorious.

Trick #4 – Prioritise Points Awarded

You aren’t only awarded points for just winning the game. Whilst winning is your utmost priority, once you get a little more comfortable playing against Legendary, you should start prioritising how you need to perform in order to achieve the maximum points possible per game. Here should be your priorities, in order:

  1. Goals – Goals, Goals, Goals. Every goal you score earns you more points after the game. Scoring five goals past your opponent earns you significantly more points, so if you’re able to, scoring five is the main target.
  2. Clean Sheet – You also are awarded bonus points for keeping a clean sheet. As hard as this is against Legendary difficulty (because sometimes there’s just nothing you can do for the goals scored against you), it is absolutely possible to keep them out for the full ninety minutes, and you should be trying to do so. Once you concede a goal, prioritise fully on scoring. You only lose a mere 20 points per goal conceded, so winning a game 5-4 will actually earn you more points than winning 2-1, for example.
  3. Possession – So, you’ve bagged five against them. Maybe you’ve even managed to keep them out of your goal up to now. Focus on keeping the ball, you earn more points for having it around 60% in your favour.
  4. Shots on Target – Again, another match stat that you should keep in mind once you have prioritised the above. If you’ve scored your required goals, you will earn more points for shots on target, fire in a few accurate attempts to maximise points.

Trick #5 – Substitutions


Keeping in mind the previous tips, substitions can be the difference between winning or losing, or the difference between a 1-0 or a 5-0 victory. Like stated, as the game progresses and the AI gets increasingly aggressive, your substitutions will play a key part in your in-game success. As your opposition gets more fatigued, and space starts to open up in the latter stages of the game, it’s time to bring on your whippets.

You’ll want fresh legs, and fast ones to burst into those gaps in their defence, and tear apart those tired and sluggish defenders. I like to have on my more technically gifted, and more physical players from the start of the game, to hold the ball up, keep possession and stay defensively compact, like Alvaro Morata. As soon as the gaps appear and counter attacking becomes easier, on come my faster players who will leave their defence in the dust, my personal favourite super-subs being Marcus Rashford and Leroy Sane. This is why it’s important to keep a cool head if the result isn’t what you hoped for towards the latter stages, these substitutions if timed well, can completely change the flip the game on it’s head. Like I said, you can go from a frustrating stale mate in the 70th minute to a 5-0 victory with such ease.
Put these five top tips all together to create a lethal winning formula. It takes a little while to get the hang of it, but keep at it and eventually you’ll be earning the best rewards that this new and exciting game mode has to offer. I’ll see you in those Elite bandings!