Over the years, FIFA Pro Clubs has become my favorite FIFA mode. While career mode has become stagnant over the last few years, Pro Clubs has filled the social void left by NCAA Football’s Online Dynasty with several of my buddies chatting it up until the wee hours of the night. Originally introduced back in FIFA 11, Pro Clubs has taken advantage of EA’s powerful online infrastructure offering smooth lag-free gaming since its inception. As my real-life footy time has dwindled over the years with all the responsibilities adulthood and fatherhood have brought, Pro Clubs helps fill that void by offering a team-friendly environment where I can focus on one position while trying to help my club rack up wins and promotions. While there’s no definitive blueprint in achieving success in Pro Clubs, hopefully you’ll find these hints helpful.
Get A Solid Stable of Teammates
When it comes to Pro Clubs, the more the merrier. While you’re able to field up to 11 human players at a time, the reality is that it’s very hard for all of your teammates to be online at the same time. Instead, look to get a solid core of 5-6 players who share a similar schedule and can help mitigate some of your CPU teammates’ inevitable brain farts. With a solid base, having a human teammate offering an option can not be minimized. While the CPU is capable of impressive moments, you will want a human striker(s), winger (the CPU is terrible at crossing), midfielders (presenting reliable outlets), and a defender if you can (the CPU defenders usually don’t have the pace once you start moving up divisions).
With everyone using their microphone, communication is vital when it comes to excelling in Pro Clubs. Calling out runs, pressuring defenders and passing outlets are amplified when your entire club is using their microphones. While there’s no practice mode and a formal “chemistry” rating, getting a feel for your teammates is vital. Getting a feel for what positions your teammates take up, how they defend (contain, go flying into tackles, etc.), and what kind of runs they like to make will help your club find its identity. The better understanding you have with your teammates, the better the results will be.
Do Your Job
Pro Clubs is the closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re playing an actual real-life match. With that in mind, it pays dividends to act accordingly. Knowing positionally where to be, when to track back on defense, and conversely, when to bomb forward to support the attack can mean the difference between success and failure. Sure, there will be moments where you’ll “ball-watch” or chase the ball like a toddler, but in general, good awareness and liberally using sprint to conserve your stamina are vital to success in Pro Clubs.
All of those bad habits you learned in drop-in games will need to be forgotten as actual footy knowledge goes a long way even if your stick skills aren’t up to par. While it does help to know a few tricks (R3 is very useful when trying to get out of close quarters with your first touch), don’t be that guy who gets the ball on the wing and proceeds to try every skill through countless defenders like a virtual Neymar. In general, keeping it simple goes a long way and your teammates will really appreciate it as you move the ball in a timely fashion.
Defending is also a huge responsibility in Pro Clubs. As most goals usually come from taking advantage over inferior AI players (both intellectually and as it relates to ratings), defending as a unit and limiting counter-attacking opportunities is the key to success in Pro Clubs. Keeping a man back on set pieces to stop the opposition’s counter helps prevent attacking scenarios that often resemble an NBA fast break with three on two, or two one one scenarios playing out.
Building solid lines of defense with pressure up top from your striker can often frustrate the opposition. Forcing the opposition’s attacks wide also helps as most teams like to build their attacks through the middle trying to walk the ball into the net. Trying to play it out of the back is all the rage in real-life, and while it’s fun to try and replicate that in FIFA, often the best policy is to go vintage Premier League and hoof the ball up the pitch and chase. Not only does this help relieve the pressure on your defenders, but it allows them to regroup, reclaim their defensive shape, and now and again, leads to a gaffe by the AI defenders where they turn directly into the pressure and allow you to take the ball off them and go in on goal.
Settle On A Couple Formations
In an ideal world, you would channel your inner Maurizio Sarri and settle on one formation and use it exclusively. Unfortunately, a common set gaming time for your club gets harder as you get older, especially when dealing with people who live in different time zones. Because of factors like this, you won’t always have your full roster all the time. What this means in Pro Clubs is that when you have your full squad you likely have balance (human players in key positions such as wingers, central midfielders and strikers balanced out by AI teammates). Without your full squad at your disposal, you sometimes might have to switch formations to accommodate human players and the always mercurial AI.
One way to counter this is to have a couple formations at your disposal. Trying to limit the amount of responsibility you place on the AI will generally result in less boneheaded plays with your human teammates dictating play. If you’re accustomed to running a 4-2-3-1 with humans occupying all four attacking positions and one holding mid, only having three humans on might make you reconsider a more balanced formation. While humans can and do often cover for the AI, the lack of instructions within Pro Clubs makes it hard for the AI to execute such strategies as overlapping fullbacks.
There’s no secret recipe that will lead your club to the pantheon of Division 1. It takes a lot of time, some luck and dedication to rise up the ranks to the top of the Pro Clubs leaderboard. Be sure to check back with us in this three-part series on how to build a dominant Pro Clubs squad.