Mark my words, the FIFA 17 Physical Play Overhaul is the first thing you’re going to want get to grips with when you fire up the game. Here are a few important things about physical play and how to shield the ball in FIFA 17.

Out of all of the new FIFA 17 features we’ve heard of so far this is by far the most game changing in terms of attacking gameplay.

The way players interact physically all over the pitch has been dramatically transformed. From an attacking stand point you now shield the ball in a number of different situations and back into your opponent and defensively push/pull mechanics has been tweaked and you can shoulder barge your opponent off the ball.

How To Shield the Ball in FIFA 17

In FIFA 17 you’ll be able to get your body in between the ball and the defender and shield the ball from them. 360 degree shielding means you’ll be able to move with the ball whilst holding off the defender either to create space for a pass or just to hold the ball up and bring your team mates into play.

Shielding in FIFA 17 will be controlled by holding LT/L2. When you hold LT/L2 you’ll see you player become aware of the closest threat to the ball and position themselves to make it difficult for your opponent to nick the ball.

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As you move your player will drag and roll the ball keeping his body in the way protecting the ball. You’ll also be able to back into the defender whilst holding up play.

You can also shield the ball when receiving a pass. Holding the LT/L2 button when receiving the ball will make your player protect the ball with his body whilst controlling it with the foot furthest away from the defender. This will allow a lot more careful build up play in than previously where you had to either be in space to receive the ball or flick the right thumbstick to knock the ball into space.

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Another way to shield the ball in FIFA 17 is when it’s in the air. From set pieces, crosses or from lumped balls forward instead of heading it, now you’ll be able to fight for position and chest the ball down. In an interview with Operation Sports EA have said that this won’t work in all situations but will depend on the context of the battle and on the strength of your player compared to who is challenging him.

Whilst I’m optimistic that this will change build up play in FIFA 17 making it more thoughtful and tactical rather than the most successful tactic this year of just drilling it forward and running in zigzags I can’t help but worry that this might be open to exploits or will be controlled by the AI too much lowering the skill cap even more. Time will tell but hopefully EA will nail the execution and keep it nice and balanced.

I’ve got faith. Have you? Let me know in the comments.