This week saw the demo release of FIFA 16 on Sony and Microsoft consoles – and its improved midfield play, punchier shooting and additional celebrations (we’ve already posed into the pitchside camera more than a dozen times) has only served to whet our appetites for the finished version. With that in mind, here are the 14 teams we can’t wait to play as in career mode and online when the game proper lands on September 22...
The 90-rated finishing of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling’s pace attribute of 92, David Silva and Yaya Toure’s OVRs (overalls) of 87 and 85 – it speaks volumes for the strength of Manchester City’s squad that Fabian Delph is rated as only their eighth-best midfielder. Expect to see a LOT of these fellas in ranked online matches. And, as the old saying goes: if you can’t beat ‘em...
Cover star Lionel Messi is once again the highest-rated player in the game, with an OVR of 94 and almost perfect dribbling, ball control and balance statistics. But if your opponent does succeed in stopping Leo, they still have Luis Suarez (89), Neymar (87), Andres Iniesta (89) and Ivan Rakitic (84) to contend with. Like in real life, this is a side packing an embarrassment of riches.
In addition to being the entire British Isles’ topical darlings, Chris Coleman’s virtual charges also present one of FIFA 16’s most challenging tactical conundrums: how best to utilise their multi-skilled, ballerina-toed, 87-rated cheat player? And no, we’re not referring to Hal Robson-Kanu.
Last year, England’s Premier League got bespoke, TV-broadcast style presentation for the first time. In FIFA 16, it’s the Bundesliga’s turn. Who better to sample it with than a squad featuring no fewer than eight players rated 86 or higher, including two 90s in Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer? In videogame terms, this is probably the best German club side ever.
Think the men’s team is good? Wait ’til you see the ladies’. Our first, behind-closed-doors play as the Deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaft der Frauen (catchy, no?) back in May ended in a 8-0 victory over the USA – so it’s no surprise that their stats have been toned down. A front three of Nadine Kessler (OVR 89), Anja Mittag (84) and Celia Sasic (85) is the stuff of nightmares for Torhüterinnen of any nationality.
New York City
Robbie Keane, Didier Drogba, Steven Gerrard, Kaka, Clint Dempsey: for a reunion tour of FIFA favourites from the last 10 years, you’ll definitely want to sample a season in the MLS. And with an 84-rated Andrea Pirlo and 79-rated Frank Lampard laying on chances for David Villa (80), the recommended team to do it with can only be the Big Apple's Manchester City/New York Yankees hybrid.
The Scottish Premiership is such a dead rubber these days that overseeing the Bhoys in career mode offers next-to-zero challenge. Even so, the green-and-white half of Glasgow should still deliver entertaining online matches thanks to two players with five-star skill sets in Gary Mackay-Steven and Nadir Ciftci, and the formidable engine room pairing of Scott Brown and Kris Commons.
What’s this? A League Two side? Well, yes. Fratton Park becomes the first ever fourth-tier stadium to be recreated within FIFA, in honour of series creative director Simon Humber – a Pompey supporter who passed away from ocular melanoma earlier this year, aged 45. Its inclusion is a wonderful tribute from his former colleagues. If you’re looking for a long-term career mode challenge, this is the team to be.
Despite Manchester United’s slow start to the season, the Red Devils have 18 ‘gold’-rated players in FIFA 16 – more than any other club on the planet. Incredibly, four of those are goalkeepers (David de Gea, Victor Valdes, Anders Lindegaard – yes really, although once you've applied the update he'll hop over to West Bromwich Albion – and Sergio Romero). Suggestion: maybe, just maybe, do what Louis van Gaal didn’t and make trading one (or even two) of those for a striker your first career mode priority.
Unlike in real life, there’s plenty to tempt budding managers into the Rangers hot seat in FIFA 16’s career mode. Despite their relegation Loftus Road is still in the game, Matt Phillips and Charlie Austin offer top-flight-calibre pace and finishing respectively, and there’s a budget as large as Tony Fernandes’ smile to cover Premier League loanees or a promotion-sealing January shopping spree.
The effects of pace and power have been toned down somewhat for FIFA 16, but are still lethal when teams have them in abundance. Teams like Alan Pardew’s Eagles. Bakary Sako, Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha provide penetrating flank options, only made deadlier by Yohan Cabaye and Jason Puncheon’s string-pulling abilities through the middle of the park.
Another club with their stadium featured for the first time, keeping Eddie Howe’s side in the Premier League represents one of FIFA 16’s toughest career mode challenges. Yet it’s doable, thanks mainly to one of the fastest forward lines in the entire game: Christian Atsu (rated 92 for pace), Callum Wilson (91) and Max Gradel (88). Speed demons will love this south coast joyride.
The most intriguing club on offer should you fancy a career in France, having just kicked off a first Ligue 1 campaign in 21 years. With no player rated above 73, genuine quality within the squad is scarce, but you can at least enjoy scoring goals with perhaps the best-named attacker in the entire game: Vilayphone Ketkeophomphone. Little wonder he prefers to be known as ‘Billy’.
Remember how we said the German ladies team’s ratings had been toned down over the summer? Unsurprisingly, the opposite is true for the Women’s World Cup champs. Three players (Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach) have OVRs of 90+, and keeper Hope Solo is virtually unbeatable with her 87 rating. On the evidence of the demo, they’re more fun to play as than most of the men’s teams.
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