FIFA 14 is set to replace the current FIFA franchise in the standard annual substitution, and with fans worldwide eagerly anticipating its release on September 27th (in the UK), it's time to start predicting which teams will be this year's most used in online gameplay.
Here are the five teams I expect to be used most in this year's edition of the FIFA franchise.
Note: All stats were taken from soFIFA.com.
They lost by quite a considerable margin.
That being said, heading into this years edition with the signing of Carlos Tevez (who is likely to be rated 85-86), more players worldwide could look to the Serie A champions as their team of choice.
Gianluigi Buffon keeps goal for the Italian side. He's rated at 87 and is protected by three centre-backs in Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini (84, 80 and 84, respectively) in a very strong defence. Ahead lies an 87-rated Andrea Pirlo, behind Arturo Vidal (84) and Claudio Marchisio (84).
The wingers look to be the only weak point in the side. Kwadwo Asamoah is quick but rated at 79 and can frustrate, whilst on the other flank, Stephan Lichtsteiner is used out of position (he is a right-back by trade) by Juventus and therefore lacks the creativity and skill that has become so integral in FIFAs of late.
A solid defence, midfield and attack for Juve, who may well appear a lot in FIFA 14.
Brazil are a favourite to those who have adopted a more skillful approach to online gameplay for FIFAs in the past, and this won't change this year. With FIFA making skill moves much easier (you now only need toggle the right stick to perform skill moves) in 14, expect to see a lot of yellow and blue this year.
Add to that the fresh hype surrounding wonder-kid Neymar (and his 5-star skills), the touch of class and legend in Ronaldinho and the over-powered defending in David Luiz, and it becomes obvious why Brazil may well be the team of choice for many this year.
After their success in the Champions League, Bayern shot up the popularity rankings in online gameplay.
It's pretty easy to see why.
Manuel Neuer in goal—it's nearly impossible to beat him from distance.
PhilippLahm, Dante, Holger Badstuber and David Alaba make up a defence which is nearly perfectly balanced in terms of speed and strength, protected by the brilliant Javi Martinez.
But then you move into attack. Bastian Schweinsteiger is a passing machine with 86 vision, 88 short passing and 85 long passing, but it gets better than that when you take shooting into account and the fact that his long-shot stat is only just shy of the 90 mark.
Move to the left and you find Franck Ribery, with his 5-star skills, flair and finesse trait and incredible speed, partnered by Arjen Robben, who also knows a trick or two about how to shoot from distance.
Into the central attacking midfielder spot and you have a choice to make. Mario Goetze, who will be rated at 86-87, is a new addition to an already ridiculously good side. Thomas Mueller (84-85) is another option for those who prefer to have a physical presence supporting striker Mario Mandzukic.
Maybe some more skill and speed to partner Robben and Ribery? Look no further than Xherdan Shaqiri, rated just shy of 80 but lacking no skill or pace.
The attack in the Bayern side is second to none.
Yep, expect to see them a lot this year.
I expect FIFA 14 to be the first game in which Ronaldo's Real Madrid are not the most-used team online.
Not that there is anything wrong with their side.
Iker Casillas keeps goal for Real, representing arguably the most solid goalkeeper in the game. The Spanish keeper is protected by Sergio Ramos and Pepe, who are perhaps the most solid centre-back paring in the game, and flanked by the speed of Marcelo Vieira and Fabio Coentrao.
Moving ahead, you find Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric, who pull the strings from midfield (the latter adopting a slightly more advanced role) just behind the elusive Mesut Ozil (to be rated between 87 and 89).
To his right, Angel Di Maria, who, though he can frustrate at times, is one of the best crossers in the game and possesses a burst of pace few can match. Karim Benzema, usually the beneficiary of his crosses, is a frankly brilliant finisher and decides some online games on his own, and for that reason, he's only another reason why so many have used Madrid in the past.
But the main reason is Cristiano Ronaldo: 5-star skills, 92 long shots, 94 pace and 93 dribbling. He just doesn't miss. Ronaldo is the best player on FIFA due to his height, strength and pace, making it so easy to burst through defence and score goals at will.
He's just so fun to use.
If/when Real Madrid sign Luis Suarez and/or Gareth Bale, the Madrid side becomes an even scarier one.
Barcelona have been a very difficult side to use for many in the last few editions of FIFA. Those who adopt a possession-based, quick-moving style online often use the La Liga champions, but given the fact that most players tend to play a more direct style of play, Barcelona have simply been overlooked in online gameplay.
This year, though, that will change.
Enter Neymar, who boasts 5-star skills, scintillating pace and a flair trait, as well as the ability to play effectively anywhere in the Barcelona attack. In FIFA 13, a plethora of players put up with the mediocre aspects of the Santos side just to play with Neymar. Now they can use the Brazilian alongside Xavi (90), Iniesta (90) and Lionel Messi (94).
There's just so many options.
A 4-3-3: Victor Valdes, Daniel Alves, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Iniesta, Messi, Neymar, David Villa.
(I find playing Xavi in Sergio Busquet's role more effective, as Xavi lacks pace but can dictate the pace of a game with his passing.)
Note that the side above has Busquets, Javier Mascherano and Alexis Sanchez on the bench. Just let that sink in.
You have a midfield trio with passing stats all over 90 in Fabregas, Xavi and Iniesta. You have raw pace and ability in Neymar and Messi (arguably the second- and third-best players in the whole game, respectively) and you have the finishing ability with Villa up top.
Something different? You could go with two strikers in Neymar and Messi, flanked by Tello and Sanchez. The possibilities are endless and, frankly, quite scary.
Let me know what you think in the comments below as well as the team you will use. For those of you who are interested, I usually use Liverpool in online gameplay since I am a Liverpool fan, but sometimes I enjoy using Real Madrid.
Thanks for reading.