In just a few years, Marcelo Bielsa transformed Leeds United from a fairly average Championship team to a team that can rival the elite of the Premier League.
Marcelo Bielsa’s tactical strategy involves constantly high pressure when off the ball and heavy possession and sharp passes when in possession of the ball. Thanks to his tactical brilliance, the Argentine built up Leeds United to a team that has gotten the fans excited once again.
As a result, many fans from all over want to play like Leeds United in FIFA 22 and for that reason, in this comprehensive guide, I’ll show you how to play like Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United in FIFA 22.
I’ll cover everything from squad formation to custom tactics and individual player instructions.
Under Bielsa, Leeds United plays the 4-1-4-1 formation. It really makes sense, especially with the offensive and defensive tactics that the Argentine has prepared.
This formation allows for a lot of ball possession and high pressure when off the ball without creating many gaps in the defense. It’s also not super defensive to the point where the attacking is severely compromised.
Custom Leeds United Tactics
To help you better understand the tactical aspects of Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, I decided to break it down into two pieces – defense and offense.
Note: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United tactics are extreme. In the large majority of cases, most of your players will have little to no energy left by the 60th minute so it’s vital for you to have a squad built up of players with above-average fitness and stamina stats. You’ll also want to adjust the tactics for small sections of the game to let players rest a little.
When Leeds United doesn’t have possession of the ball, the players are instructed to constantly pressure the opponent until they get back possession of the ball. They don’t tend to press super high up the pitch and spread their lines too wide in order to effectively suffocate the opponent and close down any passing opportunities.
To mimic Bielsa’s defensive tactics, set your defensive style to “Constant Pressure” and set your team’s width and depth to “60”.
If you want to press higher up the pitch, feel free to increase the depth to whatever you feel is suitable but be wary that a single long ball can be the start of a counter-attack and land you in danger.
In terms of offense, Marcelo Bielsa has instilled a possession-based playstyle, similar to that of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City tactics with a fast build-up of play that involves a lot of sharp and quick passes in tight spaces.
The goal of that is to destabilize the opposition defensive line and put key defenders out of position so that the space can be exploited by the Leeds United side.
Despite the high pressure and possession tactics, Leeds United players are rarely seen to populate the box in high numbers from set pieces such as free kicks and corners. Perhaps that is the reason why teams often struggle to score against them?
To replicate Leeds United’s offensive tactics, set your build up play to “Fast Build Up”, chance creation to “Possession”, width to “60”, players in the box to “4 bars”, corners to “3 bars”, and free kicks to “3 bars”.
Leeds United Player Roles
Similar to any football club out there, Leeds United have dedicated players for every set piece or post-fault event out there. While Cooper carries the responsibility of being the team captain (pretty useless in FIFA 22), Philips is responsible for left short free-kicks, long free kicks, and left corners.
Raphinha is responsible for right corners and right short free kicks, while the striker, Bamford has been given the toughest job amongst them all, taking penalties under pressure.
The sole Leeds United striker has the responsibility to simply score as many goals as possible. Bamford is often seen to do that by getting in behind the defensive line and is then met with a sharp pass by one of his teammates in possession of the ball.
When it comes to defense, he provides a decent level of support but not as much as the wingers. He’s the only player that stays up to hopefully make something happen from counterattacks.
To mimic the real-life duties of Leeds United’s striker in FIFA 22, set his support runs to “Balanced Width”, attacking runs to “Get In Behind”, interceptions to “Normal Interceptions”, and defensive support to “Basic Defense Support”.
Under the Argentine, the wingers at Leeds United have a very busy set of instructions. During an attack, they are supposed to provide decent supporting runs and cut inside to create chances for a strike or a sharp pass to a nearby unmarked teammate. When off the ball, the wingers are instructed to rush into the box for a cross-in with the hope to score an easy goal by simply overpopulation the box and tapping, heading, or volleying the ball at the back of the net.
When defending, the wingers are instructed to come back in defense and help the rest of the team, which again, involves a lot of running thanks to the applied pressure all around. Under Bielsa’s management, the wingers of Leeds United have exactly the same set of instructions.
To replicate the responsibilities of both Leeds United wingers, set their defensive support to “Come Back On Defense”, chance creation to “Cut Inside”, support runs to “Balanced Support”, support on crosses “Get Into The Box For Cross”, and interceptions to “Normal Interceptions”.
Similar to the wingers, the center midfielders have the same set of instructions. Their instructions involve aggressively joining the attack when in possession of the ball and covering the wing when defending while the wingers apply high pressure to the opponent high up the pitch. This way, they prevent the possibilities for counterattacks.
To copy the real-life instructions of the center midfielders under Marcelo Bielsa, set their attacking support to “Get Forward”, support on crosses to “Balanced Crossing Runs”, interceptions to “Normal Interceptions”, positioning freedom to “Stick To Position”, and defensive position to “Cover Wing”.
Now, if you want to further increase the creativity and chance creation that stems from your center midfielders, what you can do is set their positioning freedom to “Free Roam”. This will allow the player to move out of position when needed to benefit the team further.
I’d recommend that you only change that to one of your midfielders as you don’t want to leave your midfield completely empty of players. It’s just not a good idea if you are someone that easily loses possession of the ball.
Center Defensive Midfielder
Leeds United’s CDM, Kalvin Phillips can often be seen to play deep and stop the ball from getting through to the attackers. This alone not only reduced the chances of shots on goal from outside the box but also helps the defenders catch a breath.
During an attack, the CDM at Leeds United is often seen to stay back while attacking and fall between the two center backs – forming a line of three – while the full-backs join the attack.
To mimic the real-life instructions of Leeds United’s CDM, set your FIFA 22’s CDM defensive behavior to “Cut Passing Lanes”, attacking support to “Stay Back While Attacking”, interceptions to “Normal Interceptions”, defensive position to “Cover Wing” and positioning freedom to “Stick To Position”.
If you wish your CDM to play a more defensive role and stay down the middle rather than cover the wing, set his defensive position settings to “Cover Centre”.
Like Bayern Munich’s tactics, Leeds United have too instructed their full-backs to join the attack and overlap the wingers to help with all attacking efforts. The advantage of that is that there are simply more players upfront, which helps tremendously with holding possession and destabilizing the defensive line.
The downside would be that there are only two defenders and the CDM to deal with any counterattacks that are created as a result of a lost ball. This is where the high and constant pressure of the team is super useful. The Leeds United players will virtually pressure until they get the ball, which is a very tiring practice indeed.
To imitate their left and right-back’s in-game individual player instructions, set their attacking runs to “Join The Attack”, interceptions to “Normal Interceptions”, run type to “Overlap”, and defensive position to “Stick To Position”.
Under the management of Bielsa, the center backs have one role – to defend. They don’t join the attack and certainly don’t risk being caught out of position as that often leads to dangerous scenarios that Bielsa doesn’t particularly like to see.
To replicate the real-life instructions of Bielsa’s center backs, set your team’s CB attacking support to “Stay Back While Attacking”, interceptions to “Normal Interceptions”, and defensive position to “Stick To Position”.
The Leeds United keeper is seen to come out on crosses and either catch or punch the ball away on crosses – be it crosses from set-pieces or crosses from the wing. It is quite a risky practice but Meslier seems to have it spot on.
To mimic Meslier’s instructions with your team’s goalkeeper, set his saving on crosses to “Comes for Crosses” and saving outside box to “Balanced”.
There’s no secret that Marcelo Bielsa has completely transformed Leeds United as we used to know them. Under his management, the starting XI is a lot more aggressive off the ball and possessive when in possession of the ball.
Their attacks are much faster and sharper, making the defensive efforts against the team from Leeds a huge challenge regardless of the opponent at hand.
As I said previously, using the exact custom tactics that I’ve suggested above will eat away your entire team’s energy very quickly. By the 60th minute, everyone bar your keeper will have little to no energy left in the tank, which can be problematic if your opponent has been playing slow all game and has plenty still to give.
Despite that, playing like Leeds United in FIFA 22 is super fun. Whether you’re a big fan or not, I’d recommend you to give it a go and see for yourself.