Feature Article
How To Guide An Icelandic Ultimate Team To Glory In FIFA 16

I’ve never been opposed to the idea of Ultimate Team. In my mind, it’s an engaging mode that I’m more than happy to spend time with, even if I don’t take it as seriously as some fans do. That said, obtaining the "best" players never appealed. I'm more invested in lower league soccer, where the quality isn’t quite as good, but there’s still a lot of heart, determination and aspirations of glory.

So, when Iceland did the unthinkable and eliminated my home country from Euro 2016 this summer, I didn’t know how to feel. Naturally, I was disappointed in my team’s efforts, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of immense joy for those Icelandic underdogs. During one particular moment of madness, I booted up FIFA 16, quick-sold ALL of my Ultimate Team players, and replaced them with Icelandic hopefuls. Yep, I’m insane.

I had a goal in mind: destroy the vastly superior online competition. So, I enlisted in the "Champions Shield" -- an online knockout competition in which I could put my team to the test. Initially, I struggled. However, it wasn't long before my fortunes changed and success was in the cards.

Pre-Match Preparation

Despite being far from the best FIFA player out there, I won the online Champions Shield with the team you see above. It isn't even close to the best Iceland lineup money can buy, but I was working on a tight budget due to my aforementioned moment of madness. I’m going to tell you how I conquered this task, and give you tips to replicate the feat for yourself. To start, here’s what you need:

Skill – The ability to confuse opponents, pass with flair and defend oncoming attacks.
Patience – Accepting that you won’t get many chances per game. Resisting the desire to panic after conceding.
Defensive Focus – Getting men behind the ball and focusing on defense above all else.
An Eye For Goal – When those chances come, you need to be ready to take them.

The key to my Iceland lineup is that the majority of the team is strong. Strength is an important factor in FIFA 16, especially on defense. This means you can afford the ability to play defensively and get men behind the ball instead of going gung-ho. In every contest, I lined up with the following tactics:

‘Defensive’ Tactic
‘Long Ball’ Tactic (Occasionally 'Counter Attack')

On The Pitch

Throughout the tournament, I encountered players from the lower end of the Gold scale (low-80s) to 90s and above. You can’t let your mentality begin to falter due to the difference in quality. Always go into every game believing you’re going to win, no matter who you’ve got in your lineup. Intimidation will quickly affect your performance, so don’t let it creep in.

Defense – You never want to give skilled opposition a clear path at goal. If you’re going to pull out of position with a defensive player, you better make sure you’re going to get the ball. Otherwise, you’re presenting big gaps for quality players to exploit. Another good tactic is to push the other team out wide as much as possible. They’ll constantly be looking to cut inside, so cover that area and encourage them to stick to the wings.

Attack - When pushing higher up the pitch, you need to be careful. Due to your defensive mentality, your two strikers won’t get as much support from the midfield, so you’ve got to build attacks patiently. From here, it’s all about seeking the space and playing killer through balls to find those strikers. If the attack fails, get everyone back as quickly as possible. Forget about pressing the defense; your only concern is making sure the opposition can’t counter your attack quickly.

Desperation Tactics - If desperate for a quick goal in the dying minutes, push to an ‘Attacking’ mentality. This is also when you can equip the ‘High Pressure’ tactic to try and overwhelm the opposition. If you’re not ready to go full desperation mode, try switching to the ‘Counter Attack’ option. This will give you more players to utilize as you’re pushing forward, but will leave you slightly more absent at the back.

Winning all four rounds of the Champions Shield was a thrill. There's nothing quite as gratifying as scoring a last-minute winner with your 69-rated striker against a lineup containing Gareth Bale, Neymar and Luis Suarez. There are additional benefits to undertaking this challenge aside from basic gratification though. Most importantly, it'll teach you how to make the most of your possession, and you'll discover the importance of patience when things aren't going your way. Who knows, it might even give you a new-found appreciation for Ultimate Team?

If you decide to take this challenge, I’d love to hear how you get on! What's the biggest underdog story you've encountered in FIFA 16? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


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