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FIFA 15 Ultimate Team guide: How to build a cheap squad

FIFA Ultimate Team's new season is underway, and gold cards are in short supply. How do you get the best bang for your virtual buck? Nick Akerman puts together a winning squad for slim budgets.

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Manchester United signed Angel Di Maria for a British record transfer fee of £59.7 million during the summer. Blackpool progressed through pre-season with just eight players — four of which were strikers — forcing the side to scramble a host of free and loan signings just to submit a first XI on the opening day of the season. Football is a game of contrasting wealth.

As players of FIFA 15’s Ultimate Team mode will already be finding out, the David vs. Goliath scenario is apparent in the virtual world of last minute winners and conspicuous hair transplants.

Many players choose to spend the funds of a Russian oligarch on their teams. Real dollar. Others will have tremendous pack luck from the off. If you tick neither of these boxes and prioritise the in-game currency above all, it can be extremely intimidating to continuously face top-notch sides at this point of the title’s life-cycle.

Fear not, penniless vagabonds of the FIFA world: there is an answer that won’t require you to sell your body—including postage and packaging—on eBay.

Creating cheap gold teams is particularly difficult right now due to limited amounts of each player being available on the market place. Prices typically cheapen as the year progresses and each professional becomes more common. This means it may be wise idea to wait before making any major purchases. Until that time arrives, you’re going to need a side worthy of the recession we’ve so gloriously embraced.

I set it upon myself to scour the market for bargain stars who can easily compete with the best. The purpose? To show exactly what attributes you should be looking for in your team, no matter your budget. Focusing on the English Premier League — which offers the most expensive golds across the board right now — I aimed to create a side that offers pace, power and versatility. Remember, chemistry and work-rates are key.

Here’s what I came up with:

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Head on to the second page for tons of information and an explanation of the concepts behind Nick's squad.

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This is the second part of Nick's guide on building a budget team in FIFA 15 Ultimate Team. Be sure to grab the first section.

Firstly, it’s important to realise that speedy players generally cost more. This is most apparent in defence, an area where most users feel vulnerable. Even the paciest of bronze centre-backs — Marvell Wynne, I’m looking at you — can cost around 40,000 coins on bid.

While FIFA 15’s changes ensure speed is once again vital, defenders are more inclined to sit off those with thunder in their boots. As such, cheaper teams are best placed to combine one powerhouse centre-back with another who flaunts a decent turn of pace. Ashley Williams is an excellent all-rounder and enjoys a surprising top speed. His lack of rarity and poor offensive skills ensure he is available for approximately 500 coins on the market, making him a key choice for budget sides and worthy of a place on the bench for more extravagant spenders.

I’ve placed Ron Vlaar alongside him to secure an advantage against physical strikers, as even the most expensive forwards will find it difficult to out-muscle Aston Villa’s immovable stalwart. By focusing on key stats, not the overall, we have a pairing who rival the best at a fraction of the price.

Full-back choices are limited if you’re looking for speed and aren’t willing to spend real funds. Don’t be afraid to add silvers into gold squads; quite often there is very little difference between those rated 74 and 75. For example, Martin Kelly’s key stats are comparable to the cheapest gold right-backs such as Daryl Janmaat, but the latter will set you back approximately 2,000 coins more.

Kelly is also a smart choice for this particular side because he isn’t going to leave the defence exposed with his medium/medium work-rates. He naturally sits alongside the two centre-backs when attacks are launched from the left, which is where Luke Shaw’s greater offensive instincts come in. The Manchester United youngster ranks among the cheaper gold left-backs and offers high/medium work-rates, meaning this side has the option to drive forward from deep if needed. Vitally, Kelly’s willingness to sit means you won’t be caught with a lack of numbers when the opposition breaks. Most players will utilise full-backs with the same work-rates, but switching it up helps focus your play and can provide extra support on either side of the pitch.

The midfield battle is more important than ever this year, largely due to passing and tackling becoming more precise. Costless players from last year — think Paulinho, Fernandinho and Mohamed Diame — are currently major investments due to their multi-faceted skills. Even so, the Premier League is crammed with alternatives who can combine to create a hard-working, creative line-up through the centre.

Notice I have opted for three central midfielders, one of whom is Aaron Ramsey. He would typically cost thousands on bid but can be snapped up through the loan system, which permits you to spend catalogue currency, not FUT15 coins. Take advantage of this. EA Sports offers you world-class players for little work via this system, making Ramsey a leading choice when you’re trying to maintain your pennies. The Welshman enjoys green link with Williams in this side and acts as the team’s playmaker with his high/high work-rates.

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Notice I have opted for three central midfielders, one of whom is Aaron Ramsey. He would typically cost thousands on bid but can be snapped up through the loan system, which permits you to spend catalogue currency, not FUT15 coins. Take advantage of this.

It is smart to offset this via the two other central midfielders, who should offer medium/high and medium/medium work-rates. I’ve opted for Fabian Delph because of his acceleration and Abou Diaby due to his size. Alongside Ramsey, their work-rates ensure vital areas are covered in both attacking and defensive phases of play. Leaving free space is a killer on FIFA 15, but slotting a trio of different styled players in the middle will cover it. This side has quality on the ball, pace and tackling prowess; three components which allow you to gain momentum against the elite.

I’m not the type of guy who usually opts for 4-3-3, but I’ve found plugging the midfield with an extra player key to success so far. It helps that Raheem Sterling is available to loan through the catalogue and slots into the right wing spot without any modification. There aren’t many better at shifting through the gears in the English top division, so grab him while you can. He offers incisive attacking runs and will also track back to the halfway line, providing cover for Kelly.

Playing one up front ensures your striker will need to work avidly, both when darting onto through balls and getting into the box. He will also become something of a target man, holding up possession while waiting for wide support and distributing when necessary. Mame Biram Diouf is a hidden gem and is likely to be favoured by many of those who spend decent money. He can be bought for just 3500 coins and represents the costliest player in my line-up, but his speed, agility and first class finishing make him well worth the cost. He is the type of player who could get price-fixed at any moment, so be snappy.

To the left of Diouf is his Stoke City team-mate Marko Arnautovic, whose medium/low work-rates allow him to almost double up as a striker when countering (feel free to switch him from LM to LW for extra chemistry). While Sterling will take a few seconds to support, Arnautovic will hug the touchline about 3/4 up the pitch before moving inwards when Diouf has the ball. Use him to aid the striker, but also to allow Shaw’s overlap on the left.

Delph’s high defensive rates will stop Shaw being exposed after flying up the pitch on this side. Differing work-rates once again allow multiple positions to be filled and ensures everybody is useful no matter where the ball is. Nobody is shying away from making an impact and the team can be fine-tuned to your needs through the individual player instructions. Most importantly, your opposition will find this selection difficult to judge, as the work-rate mix is unconventional.

Obviously, plenty of other formations and leagues offer great value for money. Don’t be afraid to experiment (offline if you’re worried about the consequences), as knowing your squad’s strengths is pivotal to giant killing. Be adaptive and give yourself time. It takes more than 20 computer minutes and an outraged disconnect to work out how to use your players. The side I posted will set you back 10-12k on the Xbox One version, making it easily attainable for everyone.

Next time you face Sergio Aguero and the Premier League’s sweatiest side, just remember the best teams are “greater than the sum of their parts,” a cliché FIFA 15 takes very seriously.

Head over to the rest of our FIFA 15 guide for more help.

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