With the glory that is FIFA15 set to release within the month, EA Sports has decided to release the top 50 players in the upcoming version of the game. Now, while I am a big enough nerd to possibly argue about the number scores given to certain player stats (Toni Kroos is slower than Xavi?!?!), this post will not make you suffer through those types of arguments. This post is meant to point out how FIFA15 might be bowing to customer demand instead of being as accurate as possible. How? Well, let me tell you…
For the sake of this article, we will remain within the confines of the EPL.
In any sports video game, a genre within which I have spent far too much time, teams and players are based off of their performances from the previous campaign. Any sports fan that plays any sports game is aware of the struggle that comes after your team has been poor in the preceding year…you get the video game, your team is poor, and you have to decide how dedicated you are to the franchise. Certain players tend to remain immune to their team’s failings (i.e. LeBron James, Messi, Sidney Crosby, Tom Brady, and Alex Rodriguez), but EA Sports tends to lower their teammates in order to portray a semi-accurate team rating. However, whether out of too many fans in the office or the simple fact that most of the upcoming EPL-loving FIFA customers will choose this squad, Manchester United may have been given a bit too much love.
First, let’s bring out the facts. Manchester City won the league last year. Without getting into any great debate and for the sake of a video game, this makes them the best team in the league. In second, was Liverpool. Now, considering their lack of outside competition for most of the season, it is plausible for them to have less talent in the top 50 than Manchester City (and Chelsea, and (perhaps) even others). In third, was Chelsea. A team that made it to the semi-final of the Champions League and a team that was in contention for the title for 99% of the season. In fourth was an Arsenal squad that, without getting too deep into opinion, was bitten pretty harshly by the injury bug. In 5th and 6th sat Everton and Tottenham, both performing admirably and (for Tottenham) a decent job of juggling Europa League play with their domestic league. Then, in seventh place, was Manchester United.
With the above paragraph in mind, let me break down how the top 50 players from the EPL stand in EA’s eyes. United possesses 5 players in the top 50, matched only by Chelsea (with 2 of the 5 being keepers), and all the other teams sitting behind the Red Devils. City has four players in the top 50, Arsenal and Tottenham both have 1, and both teams from Liverpool are absent from the top 50 (Suarez is #7, but his transfer to Barcelona eliminates him from this list). While there is no arguing the talent level of the United players that have been chosen to represent the top 50 (Rooney, Mata, Falcao, Di Maria, and Robin Van Persie), it feels a bit off. Robin Van Persie played well in the group stage with his country at the World Cup, but was largely ineffective outside of a penalty in the 3rd-place playoff. Plus, the Dutchman is flirting with his injury prone days of Arsenal-yore, and is not the goal scoring beast that led United to their most recent title…the 11th best player in the world? No…absolutely not. Falcao was an absolute beast with Atletico Madrid, but only scored 8 goals from open play with Monaco before succumbing to a massive knee injury…all while accruing ZERO assists. Di Maria is the only player whose build-up to this season suggests being a top 50 player, with a great World Cup and previous season with Real Madrid (Rooney and Mata both flamed out spectacularly with their countries in Brazil and the 2013-14 campaign was anything but kind to the pair of them).
Manchester United is a fantastic club with an immense history. However, despite opening up their wallets BIG-TIME this summer, a 7th place finish has to be taken into account. Is this petty? Perhaps. Is it a video game? Yes. Do I harbor anything negative on Manchester United? Only for making me think that a Chevorlet logo might look decent on a kit (that was before actually seeing it…). Hopefully the overall squad build-up equals out their rating so that the game feels as accurate as possible. City and Chelsea should be the easy (easy) choices to be the most powerful squads in FIFA15. Liverpool fans will need to take a serious look at how their season was helped by not having too many outside tournaments, but their squad should jump back from 4.5 stars in the last few FIFA incarnations to the coveted 5 stars of the top teams. Arsenal’s propensity to flounder in the home stretch cannot be computed into FIFA, so we expect them to have 5 stars as well. Despite United’s big spending, to have them (as a team) at anything higher than 4.5 stars would be disappointing. Don’t mess with my FIFA…that junk needs to be accurate!