eFootball: How to Defend (Complete guide)

Over the weekend, a friend and I decided to pull out a few beers and spend a some hours playing eFootball online.

However, my friend was struggling with a fundamental skill in eFootball. He couldn’t defend. And no, it wasn’t because of the Becks.

He was conceding silly goals from all over the pitch. Though balls, long shots, crosses, you name it, he conceded it. Defending was a dark art that was beyond him. Determined to help him defend more effectively, I decided to do a little research to find out how to defend in Konami’s Free-to-play soccer sim.

After some wins and many defeats, I learned, the hard way, the most effective defensive techniques in the game.

Here’s what I learned:

How do I defend in eFootball? Defending in eFootball is very similar to real-life soccer defending. You need to cut out passing lanes, show players onto weaker feet, put pressure on attacking players, and most importantly, read the game. 

In the following sections, I’ll expand on these tips, so you can learn how to defend in eFootball.

Let’s start with the most important tip: reading the game.

How to defend in eFootball: Reading the game.

In this section, I will explore why learning to read the game in eFootball is key to learning to defend effectively.

Have you ever played against an outstanding player in eFootball? When they defend, it’s like they know what you’ll do before you even do it.

How do they do this?

Well, it’s simple, really. These expert players have learned to read the game.

But what exactly does this mean? Reading the game is essentially the ability to anticipate what will happen next – e.g., where the ball will go or when a player will turn – and then take action to stop it before it happens.

For example, imagine defending against Lionel Messi on the right-wing. You know he wants to cut inside onto his left foot. As Messi slows, you position yourself closer to Messi’s left. As if you read a crystal ball, Messi moves left, you tackle him, and take the ball.

But how can you become better at reading the game?

The key is observation. You need to watch, carefully and closely, what Human players do in particular situations. For example, most players who run down the wing will try to cut back into the middle of the field. You can learn to anticipate this cutback to easily steal the ball. 

Try to observe patterns in the exponent’s play. Most players don’t realize it, but they play in patterns. For example, they might always turn on the ball or play a specific pass in a particular place. This gives you an opportunity to notice the pattern and disrupt it by reading the game, anticipating the next move, and stopping it.

In this section, you’ve learned that one of the most important aspects of defending is learning to read the game and anticipate the player’s next move.

In the next section, I’ll discuss why you should learn to push players onto their weaker feet.

How to defend in eFootball: Show attackers onto weaker feet.

In the last section, you learned the importance of reading the game.

In this section, you’ll learn why you should always look to show attackers onto their weaker feet.

Cutting in with wing players is one of modern football’s most potent attacking threats. Whether it’s Neymar cutting in from the left onto his right foot for PSG or Salah cutting in from the right for Liverpool, moving infield onto a winger’s stronger foot is a powerful weapon in a team’s goal-scoring arsenal.

And it’s your job as a defender to nullify this threat. The best way to do this is to always look to show attacking wingers onto their weaker feet.

But what does this mean? It means placing your defender slightly closer to the attacking right winger’s stronger foot. This way, if the attacking winger tries to shift the ball onto their stronger foot, you are already positioned to take the ball. So the attacking player must move the ball towards the corner flag, using their weaker foot, into a less dangerous and more containable position.

In this section, you’ve learned that by showing a player onto their weaker foot, you can usher them down the wing into a non-threatening position.

In the next section, I’ll examine why you should cut out passing lanes instead of just pressing players.

How to defend in eFootball: Cut out passing lanes.

One of the biggest mistakes I often see when playing football games is most players press the opposition players. This is wrong. 

Remember, above, we discussed anticipating what will happen next in the game? Well, instead of pressing the ball where it is now, you should always look to press where you think the ball will be going next.

So you don’t want to press the ball carrier. You want to press the passing lanes and the receivers. 

For example, imagine the attacking team’s left-back has the ball, and he has 2 passing options. The left-back can pass up the wing or pass back infield to the left center-back. 

Given what the player has done in the game so far, you anticipate that the left-back will pass up the wing.

You move a defending winger into the passing lane between the attacking left-back and left midfielder. Instead of pressing the left-back, you press where the ball will be next. The left-back attempts to make the pass, and your player moves into the passing lane and intercepts the ball.

In this section, you learned that you should always press where the ball is going, not where it is at the moment.

In the next section, we’ll look at why you should use R1/RB to put pressure on your opponent in their own half.

How to defend in eFootball: Use R1/RB to apply pressure in the opposition’s half.

In the last section, you learned the importance of anticipating the attacking team’s next move and cutting out passing lanes.

In this section, you’ll learn why you should use R1/RB to team press in the opponent’s half.

Putting pressure on attacking players is a great way to win the ball back. Liverpool and many other world-class teams constantly press throughout a match. But why is this?

Well, pressing hard with a defending team denies the attacking team time to make good decisions. 

When Liverpool press high up the pitch, maybe one time out of ten, they’ll actually tackle a defender and steal the ball.

But that’s not the goal of pressing high. The goal is to force the defenders and midfielders into rushing and making mistakes. 8 times out of 10, when a team is pressed hard, they will make a mistake. 

Maybe they’ll pass to the wrong player, play the ball out of play, or kick the ball long.

Pressing hard stops teams from playing their normal game or forces them to play at a much higher tempo than they are used to. 

This leads to errors in their game. Errors you can exploit. This tactic works particularly well if you have quick strikers and wingers with plenty of stamina.

However, if a team does manage to pass the ball out of your pressing onslaught, you should avoid pressing in your own half. Pressing in your own half can lead to defenders running out of position. This leaves massive defensive gaps that can be exploited by a half-decent through ball.

So in this section, you’ve learned to press hard in the opposition’s half and then stop pressing in your own half.

In the next section, you’ll learn how to stop through balls from being played.

How to defend in eFootball: Stop through balls by tracking runners.

In the last section, you learned why you should press the opposition in their half.

This section will teach you why you should track runners to counter through balls.

Through balls, in eFootball, are incredibly powerful. Just as they have been throughout ISS and PES’s history.

They are a deadly tool that can split any defense in the blink of an eye, giving the striker an easy one-on-one chance. However, defending against them isn’t too hard. You just have to track runners.

In eFootball, the AI constantly makes runs behind your defense to create through-ball chances.

The defending team should always look for runs behind the defence and position yourself between the runner and the ball carrier to intercept a through ball. 

It takes some time to learn where to position yourself. But, with practice, you should be able to spot a runner, then move a defender just a little bit to close the gap to snuff out the through ball opportunity.

Do not tightly mark the player making a run. This may lead to you playing the player onside and failing to intercept the ball. Plus, fast strikers can easily outrun defenders. Instead, stay in the through ball passing lane, and you’ll end the threat.

In this section, you learned that you should position yourself between the striker and the player playing the through ball to end a through ball threat.

In the next section, you’ll learn why you should wait for the attacking team to make mistakes.

How to defend in eFootball: Wait for attacking players to make errors.

In the last section, you learned to stop through balls by tracking player runs and positioning your defender between the runner and the ball carrier.

In this section, you’ll learn why waiting for the attacking team to make mistakes is important.

A lack of patients is one of the leading reasons teams concede in eFootball. Most players hate defending and run around like headless chickens to “win” the ball back. They drag defenders forward, wingers in field, and strikers deep. This quickly disintegrates the teams organised formation leading to multiple gaps all over the pitch.

This leads to so many problems that I’d need another article to list them. However, the main two problems of constantly chasing after the ball are:

  • It pulls all your players out of position.
  • It tires out your entire team. Tired defenders are tempting targets for fast strikers in the last 15 minutes of a game.

So what should you do instead of not constantly press?

Instead of constantly pressing, you should wait for the attacking team to make mistakes. Stay calm, and don’t pull defenders out of position except to track runners. Use midfielders to close down passing lanes. Stay disciplined and wait for the attacking team to make a mistake. 

Sitting deep with your defense forces the attacking team to take more risks. For example, they may play rushed through balls or bring wingbacks forward to give them more options for passing. 

As you wait, the attacking team will grow frustrated. This will lead to errors. Perhaps a misplaced pass will lead to an easy intercept. Or, the attacker dawdles on the ball, making for an easy tackle target. 

Attacking teams will make errors, so just wait for them. As soon as they make one, pounce on it! Then counter-attack!

As you become more proficient at spotting errors, you’ll be able to exploit smaller mistakes to win the ball back.

Now you’ve learned that you must wait for and take advantage of attacking team errors.

In the next section, you’ll learn why you should drag defenders out of position.

How to defend in eFootball: Don’t drag defenders out of position.

In the last section, you learned that you should wait for attacking teams to make errors and then exploit them.

In this short section, you’ll learn why you should pull your defenders out of position.

Stop pressing with your defenders. Just stop.

Pressing with your center-backs will leave large gaps in your defense. You will leak goals if you do. The eFootball AI is superb at exploiting defensive holes. 

Instead, you should only ever use defenders to track players running in behind. Defenders should only ever move sideways or backward. They should only move forward when you are about to tackle a player who’s run into them or when you are attacking.

Instead, use your midfielders to close gaps and press. That way, you’ll still have an intact defensive line to protect your goal.

This section looked at why you shouldn’t pull your defenders out of position.

In the next section, we’ll examine why you should use double tap X/A (tackle) sparingly and why holding X/A is more than enough.

How to defend in eFootball: Double-tap X/A sparingly.

In the last section, you learned not to use your defenders to press as it pulls them out of position.

In this section, you’ll learn why you should not use the double-tap X/A tackle often and how a normal X/A press and hold is more than enough to win the ball back.

Using the double-tap tackle often will lead to your defending player being left behind by the attacker.

The problem with the double-tap tackle is it has to be timed perfectly. Yes, it’s a powerful lunging tackle that effectively wins the ball back. But only when it’s timed well. You’ll miss the ball or foul the player if you get the timing wrong.

The better option is to hold down X/A when you want to tackle. This forced your player to press the ball carrier. It’s very effective and won’t lead to your defender lunging in and making a mistake.

You can also use L2/LT jockey to tackle players.

But we’ll look at that in the next section.

In this section, you learned that the double-tap X/A tackle is often too risky to use. If it’s miss-timed, it can lead to an opening for the attacking team or a freekick in a dangerous position.

In the next and final main section, we’ll examine the importance of L2/LT jockey.

How to defend in eFootball: Use L2/LT to jockey.

In the last section, you learned that you should sparingly use the double-tap A/X tackle.

In this last major section, you’ll learn why you should use L2/LT jokey.

The L2/LT jockey is a vital tool you should pull out often when defending. 

When jockeying, your players take up an agile stance on their toes. This makes them more agile, easier to control, and ready to auto-tackle attacking players or intercept errant passes.

When cutting out passing lanes, as soon as you are in the passing lane, you should pull the L2/LT to go into jockey mode. This increases the chance of your player intercepting the ball. When jockeying, players who have the intercepting skill can intercept the ball nearly a full body length away from them. This covers a huge area of the pitch behind them.

Also, jockeying is great for staying on an attacking player’s stronger foot. By pulling the jockey trigger and sparingly holding down X/A, you can wait for a player to make a mistake and then quickly take the ball from them.

Ok, so in this section, you learned that you should use jockey to increase your chance to intercept the ball and to help you show position players onto their weaker feet.


That’s a lot of defending tips and tricks listed above. Enough to turn you into an eFootball defensive superstar! I’ve included a handy bulleted summary below to ensure you remember them all. Enjoy!

  • You should learn to read the game. This is the art of anticipating where the ball is going next or what the attacking player will do next before they do it.
  • You should show attackers onto their weaker feet.
  • You should cut out passing lanes. Press where the ball will be next, not where it is now if you want to win it back.
  • Use R1/RB to apply pressure in the opposition’s half. This denies the poison team time and space, forcing them to make mistakes.
  • You should track players running in behind your defense. Then you should position defenders between the runner and the ball carrier to cut out the through ball.
  • Wait for attacking players to make errors. When they do, exploit them and counter-attack.
  • Don’t drag defenders out of position. This can lead to massive holes forming in your defensive line.
  • Use the double-tap X/A tackle sparingly. Just holding X/A is good enough for 95% of all tackles you’ll need to make.
  • Use L2/LT to jockey. It makes your player better at intercepting the ball. Plus, jockeying makes your defender more controllable in one-on-one situations.

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Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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