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7 essential PES 2021 tips to know before you play

(Image credit: Konami)

PES 2021 tips are your path to a very different footballing experience from FIFA 21. This year's Konami-produced effort is officially a simple roster update, but in truth PES 2021 plays out differently to last year's game thanks to a variety of patches and other minor tweaks. It's only available on last-gen machines, but that shouldn't prevent you giving it a whirl if you're looking for an alternative to Ultimate Team. Below are seven key PES 2021 tips to know before you do so.

Finesse is your friend

(Image credit: Konami)

It’s rare that matches in PES 2021 flow as fast as they do in the likes of FIFA 21 (opens in new tab). Konami has focused more on build-up play, making thought and skill essential – rather than just charging up and down, arcade style. One of the best tools when taking on other players is using the right stick in order to dribble with finesse and break away from a defender. For example, if they approach fast from the left, use finesse in the opposite direction to create the space to pass them. It’s a skill that becomes natural as you invest time in mastering right-stick moves, so experiment with them as often as possible in your early weeks with the game.

Use the through ball

(Image credit: Konami)

The most useful pass you can make around the box is a through ball. Timed right it should split the defence and place it directly in the path of an attacker. Whilst it won’t always work, it’s more effective than in FIFA, where it often feels as if the game arbitrarily decides to overhit or underhit the same type of pass – hence regular accusations of scripting. Holding in LB/L1 lobs the through ball, setting a forward up to smash home with satisfying volley if timed correction. Through balls are also a great way to get the ball to your wingers so they can deliver a cutting cross into the box.

Know your player stats

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Before every match, spend time looking at your player’s statistics. In FIFA the majority of players focus on pace; PES’ attributes are more nuanced and so really can help you shape a deep and detailed game plan. High dribbling and passing stats naturally mesh well with PES’s traditional focus on calm build-up play, but the long ball tactic really pays off this year, making powerhouses such as Robert Lewandowski just as deadly as in real life. Just don’t expect Andy Carroll to quite match the big Pole’s 2019-20 feat of 55 goals in 47 games.

Sprint only when you need to

(Image credit: Konami)

Since the invention of the footballing videogame in 1723 (give or take a few years) sprinting has been a worldwide obsession. PES devotees aren’t quite as obsessed with spamming that button as their FIFA counterparts, but it’s still a common problem. And it shouldn’t be. In PES 2021 too much sprinting causes your players to grow tired, and likely requires you to tap into your subs bench earlier than necessary. Using sprint on the wing is really effective, as there is less traffic on the outskirts of the action, but it’s easy to be tackled when haring through a packed central midfield. When defending, instead of running towards a player who has the ball, always switch to the player closest to the ball to conserve energy and maximise positional attributes.

Work with the clock

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With your team in the lead, it’s important to play more conservative when in possession. It may be boring for the computer-generated fans to watch, but passing back and forth between your team-mates wastes time, and in online matches can often draw fouls from a frustrated opponent. If you are not in a position to do this – for instance, if the other team is deploying ‘frontline pressure’ – control the ball close to the touch or goal line in order to force a throw in or corner kick in your favour. Play cleanly as well so that there is less injury time added onto each half, thus reducing how many opportunities the opponent has to score against you.

Defend with patience

(Image credit: Konami)

It can be tempting to mow down the opposition with a sliding tackle, or run at them in the hope they lose control. The problem with this approach is that it’s often costly, allowing unnecessary space to open up and get your players booked. Play with patience, hold your line, and wait for them to come to you. Setting your team up with ‘all out defence’ or ‘frontline pressure’ tactics both help with this aim. It can be daunting as Cristiano Ronaldo comes charging at your back four, but the more players you have primed to force an error, the more chance you block his shot or make a tackle.

Don’t force your attacks

(Image credit: Konami)

A classic Liverpool FC mantra was 'pass and move,' and that works well when it comes to your approach attacking the opposition. Carefully passed balls and getting into space is vital when breaking through their defensive lines, and utilising this with calmness can provide some fantastic opportunities. Counter attacks are effective, but they don't work every time. Find a strategy, and build the play. Never rush it.

Chris White

Chris is a freelance journalist, photographer, and charity consultant. He specialises in sports, both in real-life and in the gaming space. He's written for publications including GamesRadar, The Sun, Daily Mail, The Times, The Mirror, and more.