FIFA

The ultimate FIFA 21 passing & crossing guide

by Isaac McIntyre

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When passing comes off to perfection in football, à la the famous “Hollywood pass,” there isn’t much better. FIFA passing is the same; breaking open an opponent’s defence with a pinpoint cross or pass can be scintillating. Here’s everything we know about passing in FIFA 21 so far, and a guide to being the next Andres Iniesta or Francesco Totti.

Passing is king in FIFA, as it is in football. You simply cannot go from one end of the pitch to the other without a pass or two, unless you’re Lionel Messi. It’s a core part of the sport, and is just as vital in FIFA 21 as well.

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So, it stands to reason you’d want to be the very best you can be at passing, crossing, and creating chances for Wissam Ben Yedder to smash home in the Weekend League, right?

Of course you do. So listen up ⁠— here’s everything you need to know about passes, crosses, shot creation, and “beautiful football” in FIFA 21. We’ll cover all the basics, this year’s all-new ‘’Creative Runs” feature, and plenty more.

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EA has promised a hefty overhaul of attacking and defending systems in FIFA 21.
EA SPORTS
FIFA 21 has upped the ante on passing again, "overhauling" the former playmaking system.

How to pass in FIFA 21

Let’s start with the basics. You pass the ball with X (PS4) or A (Xbox), which is a very simple “ground pass”. The longer you hold the button in, the harder and further your player will pass the ball. That’s as simple as it gets.

The second basic is the “lob pass”. This aerial pass gets some lift for your ball, and let’s you pull off those long-ranged cross-field passes. Pull this off with Square/X. The same theory is at play here too; press for longer for more distance.

All FIFA 21 passing & crossing controls

All up there’s 13 different passing and crossing moves that you can pull off in a game at any one time. Here’s all the controls for the passes, and what they will do in-game:

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  • Ground pass (X/A) ⁠— Short pass is a ground pass that sends the ball to a teammate in a short distance.
  • Lob Pass/Cross (▢/X) ⁠— Lob pass is an aerial pass used to send the ball to a teammate in a high arc. Players can also cross with this method.
  • Low Cross (▢ + ▢/X + X) ⁠— By double-tapping the lob button, your player will perform a low-range cross when passing the ball into the opponent’s box.
  • Through Pass (△/Y) ⁠— The through pass is a forward pass that travels into an open space through your rival’s defenders so your attackers can run onto the ball.
  • Threaded Through Pass (R1 + △/RB + Y) ⁠— A through pass which is more straight and lets the ball bounce so it brings more perspective to your pass.
  • Driven Ground Pass (R1 + X/RB + A) ⁠— A ground pass which is powered and is faster than a normal pass. This type of pass has better accuracy, but is harder to control.
  • Lofted Ground Pass (X + X/A + A) ⁠— A short ground pass that flies low and close to the ground in order to avoid the interceptions by defenders.
  • Lofted Through Pass (△ + △/Y + Y) — A through pass which goes over the head of your opponent’s defenders – technically, a combination of through ball and lob pass.
  • Driven Lobbed Through Pass (L1 + R1 + △/LB + RB + Y) ⁠— A lobbed through pass which is more straight and lets the ball bounce so it brings more perspective.
  • Driven Lob Pass/Cross ⁠(R1 + ▢/RB + X) — A lob pass that has more power and pace than a lob ground pass.
  • High Lob (L1 + ▢/LB + X) ⁠— A lob pass with more height. Can be useful for crossing to bypass your opponent’s defenders and keeper when you have tall strikers.
  • Flair Pass (L2 + X/LT + A) ⁠— A fancy and powerful ground pass which is less accurate than Driven Pass, but more powerful.
  • Flair Lob (L2 + ▢/LT + X) ⁠— A lob pass with even more height than a high lob.

FIFA 21 has also added three new cross trajectories; one was even inspired by newly-crowned Premier League Young Player of the Year, Liverpool’s fullback star Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Trent Alexander-Arnold was a direct inspiration for one of the new FIFA 21 passing techniques.
EA SPORTS
Trent Alexander-Arnold was a direct inspiration for one of the new FIFA 21 passing techniques.

These new types of crosses are at a higher level of gameplay, meaning you might want to work on the basics first. Once you’ve got them down pat, think about adding these to your FIFA 21 game-day repertoire.

  • Whipped Cross (R1 + L1 + ▢/RB + LB + X) ⁠— These fast, dangerous crosses travel through the box and are perfect for a teammate to just ‘put their head in the way’.
  • Driven Cross (R1 + ▢/RB + X) ⁠— Similar to whipped crosses, this cross is fast and dangerous, but tends to travel at waist height, being ideal for a volley or shot.
  • Ground Driven Cross (R1 + ▢, then ▢/RB + X, then X) ⁠— An extremely fast cross that travels on the ground.

Intelligent Passing

There’s also been a bit of a change in terms of passing heading into FIFA 21. According to EA SPORTS, this year’s FIFA title will give AI “a more perceptive understanding of space and opposition.” This will allow players to “play a more intelligent passing game.”

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There have been a handful of major changes to try and find this “intelligent” new level of footballing from FIFA 21 AI characters. The first is ‘through passing’ changes. EA has rebuilt this “from the ground up” this time around.

There are two things to keep aware of in the new through-passing system:

  • Pass openness ⁠— This provides “smart passers” with the ability to open up the pitch by leading the receiver away from opponents.
  • Pass complexity ⁠— New passing trajectories and targets are now possible in FIFA 21, allowing “killer” through balls that put the receiver in great positions.

Chelsea and Manchester City in FIFA
EA SPORTS
FIFA passing and crossing "fundamentals" are changing this year.

Creative Runs

Perhaps the biggest change coming to FIFA 21 in terms of passing, and creating attacking chances, is “Creative Runs”. This new feature “gives you new options for influencing a team's movements off the ball” as you pass up-field.

FIFA 21 passing is going to be more of a balancing act, it seems. You will now have to look at where you’re passing early, and direct your AI teammates there (with the analog-sticks). This should let you “break down the defence better” in every game.

There are a few controls that you’ll need to learn here. The most important one is the new right-stick AI run control (R3 on both consoles). This lets you control where your teammate goes after you have fired off your pass.

You can also simply flick the right-stick to “take full control of the direction of runs” your AI squadmates make. Finally, clicking in both sticks during an attack locks you to your current player if you want to avoid the “creative run” swap.

Auto Flair Passes

One final thing you might want to do before heading into FIFA 21 is changing your “Auto Flair Passes” setting. This is “on” by default. That means your players to use the new feature in all appropriate situations on their own.

If you don’t want this, make sure you flick it to “off”. This will mean that all your players will never attempt flair passes, unless you actively decide to pull off a flair move with the LT or L2 buttons mid-game.

Kylian Mbappe FIFA 21
EA SPORTS
FIFA 21 is coming out in early September — make sure you're ready.

So there you have it ⁠— everything you need to know about passing and crossing in FIFA 21, and how to master the “overhauled” features when the title finally drops later this year.

FIFA 21 will be released on Friday, October 9. Champions and Ultimate Edition versions will open three days earlier, on October 6. Some lucky players are also already being invited to the closed beta from now until September 1.