FIFA101: “Don’t let the game get to you and influence you”

Diogo “Diogo” Mendes recently came runner-up in the Xbox bracket of the ePremier League 2020/21, with Manchester City’s Shaun "Shellzz" Springette eventually lifting the trophy.

Diogo is currently ranked in the top 25 FIFA players in Europe and represents Falcons, an esports team part-owned by Chelsea’s captain Cesar Azpilicueta.

The teenage FIFA prodigy caught up with RealSport101 in the latest edition of FIFA101 to share his top attacking advice.

Know your game

A crucial aspect of playing FIFA that all the pros seem to echo is understanding your own style of play.

There is no right or wrong formation and tactics, as long as you practice them and they work for you.

“My biggest strength in FIFA is my attack,” says Diogo.

“My FIFA game style is focused on attacking. I like to score more goals than my opponent instead of trying to concede less.

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CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES - Attacking play can be rewarding on FUT 21

Playing to your strengths is a great way to start, but understanding your weaknesses can also help your game.

“My biggest weakness is defending and the mental aspect of the game. Simply because when something is not going according to plan, is important to stay calm, don’t let the game get to you and influence you, and I am not very good at that.

“I let the game get to me and influence me and when that happens, you play worse and most of the times you won’t get the best result.”

Good things come to those who wait

It is not always an all-out attack for Diogo, sometimes there is a tactical battle to be won too.

“Before each ePremier League game, my coach would analyse my opponent and sends me their tactics, the way they play and advises me on everything that I have to do to win,” explains Diogo.

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KEEP THE BALL - You can't concede if your opponent does not have the ball

“During the games, I adapt to my opponent. For example, if my chosen tactic is not working against his or her tactic, I analyse it and come up with a solution, a different tactic to use to get the best possible result against them.

“When I play against a player that can defend very well, I try to adapt my style of game and try to play more in possession, calm, and wait for a mistake from their defence so that I can score,” he said.

Retaining possession will not only limit your opponents’ chances to attack but can also frustrate them and lead to mistakes.

Set them up

If you aren’t sure how to set up, Diogo has some tips to help you out.

“My favourite FIFA formation is 4-4-2. I recommend it to everyone,” he said.

Keeping it simple with a 4-4-2 can allow you to have defensive stability while leaving two attackers forward at all times.

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HIGH LINE - Keep your forwards high up the pitch

“One thing that I hate on FIFA 21 is a tactic called "Pressure after Possession Loss,” said Diogo.

This tactic can catch your opponent out if they try to pass it out from the back as your players will instantly press the ball for a short time.

This can be a gamble though as if your opponent does play their way out you can be left short at the back.

Tricks of the trade

If you can't seem to find space around the box or are finding it difficult to beat your man, then skill moves can make the difference.

“I think that the best skill in FIFA 21 is a skill that you can get pressing L1/LB, R1/RB and the right stick,” says Diogo.

“Simply pressing L1, R1 and with the right stick, move it into any direction, at the same time, to perform the best skill of the game.

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FLAIR PLAYERS - The FUT Birthday cards have improved skill moves

“There are other skill moves that I normally use. For example, the roulette.

“With the right stick, simply move it from the bottom to top, going right. That is one of the best skill moves on FIFA 21.

“But, most of the skill moves are tough to use, especially against other pro players, because they also know them and know how to defend against them.”

Portuguese playmaker

When it comes to discussing Diogo’s favourite player to use on FIFA 21 Ultimate Team there is one name that stands out.

“My favourite FIFA player is Bruno Fernandes,” he said.

“He is the player that I must have in all my teams.”

There are plenty of different Fernandes cards on FUT 21, but his best by far is the 97-rated Team of the Year (TOTY) card.

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FAN FAVOURITE - This Bruno Fernandes card is epic

Costing in the region of 2 million coins on both PlayStation and Xbox, TOTY Fernandes is an incredible card.

The next step down is a 92 OVR Headliners card which is a bit more affordable at just under a million coins and is still a top-class CAM.

There is no doubt in Diogo’s mind when it comes to the Messi/Ronaldo debate though, with Diogo once again favouring his Portuguese compatriot.

“The best player in the world in real life is Cristiano Ronaldo,” he says confidently.

One to watch

Diogo was born in Norwich but admits that is not where his footballing allegiance lies.

“In real life, I am a Sporting CP supporter, but right now I support Chelsea, especially in the Premier League because my esports boss Cezar Azpilicueta is Chelsea’s captain,” said Diogo.

The teenage FIFA star currently represents Azpilicueta’s Falcons esports team and is clearly relishing the opportunity.

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CHAMPION - Shellzz took home this year's ePL trophy

“When I was invited to join the Falcons, I got very excited,” he said.

“I was not expecting it, I was a free player and had had proposals from other teams, but to get an invite from a team like the Falcons from someone like Cezar Azpilicueta was huge and after a few weeks of discussion, we reached an agreement and here we are.”

Diogo is still waiting to win his first major FIFA competition but came close to the ePremier League grand final this year having narrowly lost out to Leeds’ Olle "Ollelito" Arbin in the Xbox final.

Track Diogo's progress and keep on top of the latest results in the FIFA 21 Global Series here.

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