Assigning FIFA Card Ratings to 21st Century Barcelona Legends

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2017

27 Oct 2001:  Rivaldo of Barcelona runs with the ball during the Spanish Primera Liga match against Real Betis played at Nou Camp, in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won the match 3-0. \ Picture taken by Nuno Correia \ Mandatory Credit: AllsportUK  /Allsport
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It's that time again: FIFA 18 is ready to take over the focus of fans across the globe, and one of the most playable sides in the gameBarcelonaare sure to be favourite picks for many once again.

There's no secret why so many choose to operate with the Camp Nou side: top-tier talent, lots of pace in attack, good depth to choose from and a certain Lionel Messi—the second-highest rated player on the newest iteration of the game.

For Barca fans in particular, this latest version of FIFA might be the best timed of all: Unrest over transfer activity in the summer can be sorted to each supporter's wants, while the recent injury to record signing Ousmane Dembele can be overcome by delving into the market for a replacement.

But what if they could turn to former greats to fill the voids?

Barcelona's captain defender Carles Puyol celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on December 13, 2008.       AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE
PHILIPPE DESMAZES/Getty Images

That can already be done in part, with legends such as Luis Figo, Hristo Stoichkov and Carles Puyol all having their own Legends cards. Gary Lineker, Michael Laudrup, Gheorghe Hagi and Jari Litmanen are other former players who have had the same honour bestowed upon them.

This year, the FUT ICONS cards take over, including appearances for Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Diego Maradona—but at Barcelona, there are always more stars who deserve a mention, more greats of the past who supporters would like to restore to the team.

Here, we've curated those who might be of particular interest to supporters and rated them in accordance with other former greats listed on the game.

           

Pep Guardiola (Overall rating: 89)

17 Feb 2001:  Josep Guardiola of Barcelona shields the ball from Emerson of Deportivo during the Primera Liga match between Barcelona and Deportivo La Coruna played at the Nou Camp, Barcelona. Mandatory Credit: Firo Photo/ALLSPORT
Firo Foto/Getty Images

Now regarded as a managerial legend, it shouldn't be forgotten that Pep Guardiola was one of the finest holding midfielders in Europe.

He departed Barcelona for Italy just after the turn of the century after coming through the ranks at the La Masia academy, having captained the first team and won six La Liga titles along the way.

His role then was the same as Sergio Busquets' is now: defensive protector, metronomic passer from deep and orchestrator of those around him.

FIFA card rating

Pace: 64Dribbling: 79
Shooting: 54Defending: 86
Passing: 92Physical: 78

Guardiola's passing was sublime, both over short distance and long range, as he sought to get his team on the front foot while rarely giving up possession. 

He didn't score many—a dozen goals in over a decade at Barcelona—but his ability to sit and shield the back line and initiate play from deep was almost unsurpassed.

For those fans looking to find the successor to the Xavi-Andres Iniesta partnership and return Barcelona to their dominant midfield displays of old, bringing back the man whose style inspired their own would be appealing.

                

Rivaldo (Overall rating: 91)

23 Oct 2001:  Rivaldo of Barcelona takes on Claudio Cacapa of Lyon (left) during the UEFA Champions League match between Olympic Lyonnais and Barcelona played at the Stade de Gerland in Lyon, France.  Barcelona won the match 2 - 1. \ Mandatory Credit: Jam
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Rivaldo was Barca's biggest attacking star across the turn of the century, and at times he had to haul the club to victory himself.

His all-round offensive threat was in equal parts majestic and brutal: a powerful figure who could hold off defenders when needed, but one who also had that innate unpredictability to find space or invention where no other player could.

FIFA card rating

Pace: 85Dribbling: 86
Shooting: 89Defending: 34
Passing: 81Physical: 73

Using the Brazilian on FIFA would be an exercise in mirror-imaging Cristiano Ronaldo of a few years previous: cutting in off the right with explosive power and unleashing a left-footed shot of magnificent force from range.

Capable of playing across the attacking lineeven as a second forward himselfRivaldo possessed so many traits to his game that lovers of dribbling, a passing buildup or the need for speed would all find great service from the former No. 10.

                     

Victor Valdes (Overall rating: 86)

Barcelona´s goalkeeper Victor Valdes celebrates at the end of the Champions League Cup match against Manchester United on May 27, 2009 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Barcelona defeated  Manchester United 2-0 in the final of the UEFA football Champions Le
MLADEN ANTONOV/Getty Images

Not too many goalkeepers make the grade, but Victor Valdes was such an integral part of a successful Barcelona side that he would have to be a consideration.

The former Spain international was the instigator of many Barca attacksor at least periods of dominating possessionwith his willingness to play out from the back, pass short to his defenders even when under pressure and his capacity to take the ball from them and redistribute when they were pressed.

FIFA card rating

Diving: 79Reflexes: 88
Handling: 82Speed: 56
Kicking: 91Position: 79

There were shortcomings with his style, particularly off set pieces towards the near post or claiming high crosses, but these faded into irrelevance more often than not given what he brought to the team elsewhere.

Valdes' reflexes and shot-stopping ability were prominent attributes, and the fact he was La Masia-trained also lent itself to his popularity.

                       

Phillip Cocu (Overall rating: 88)

BARCELONA - NOVEMBER 9, 2002:  Philip Cocu of Barcelona in action during the Primera Liga match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF, played at the Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona, Spain on November 9, 2002  (Photo by Firo Foto/Getty Images).
Getty Images/Getty Images

Dutch legend Phillip Cocu was an integral part of the Barcelona team across the end of Guardiola's time as a player, right up to 2004 when he returned to his homeland with PSV Eindhoven.

A classy performer who was comprised of equal parts intelligence on the ball and defensive resilience, Cocu was just as happy striding forward to impart his creative side in the attacking third as he was chasing back to break up opposition play.

FIFA card rating

Pace: 78Dribbling: 65
Shooting: 72Defending: 87
Passing: 86Physical: 80

One of those all-rounders who would fit into any midfield style, Cocu could adapt to shine alongside different team-mates—an appealing trait on FIFA that would allow either a more offensive-minded partner in the centre or to switch up formations.

There were goals in his game, too, which led to Cocu featuring on the wing at times—though speed was never regarded as his best attribute.

                    

Ludovic Giuly (Overall rating: 86)

Barcelona, SPAIN:  Barcelona's Ludovic Giuly controls the ball during a Spanish league football match against Real Sociedad at the Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, 09 December 2006.  AFP PHOTO/LLUIS GENE  (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Image
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

It seems difficult to believe but there was life on the right wing at Barcelona before Messi came along, in the shape of Ludovic Giuly.

A French winger who had incredible pace and close control on the run, Giuly formed part of the attacking trident alongside Samuel Eto'o and Ronaldinho as the Camp Nou side won the 2006 Champions League under Frank Rijkaard.

FIFA card rating

Pace: 88Dribbling: 89
Shooting: 77Defending: 56
Passing: 78Physical: 62

It's not tricky to spot why he would be a favourite on FIFA: great speed, the ability to beat defenders one-on-one and a knack for scoring plenty of goals, at least in the first half of his career, make him a well-rounded wide attacking threat.

Giuly would go on to lose his place to Messi's emergence, but that's hardly a put-down on the winger.

                 

Eric Abidal (Overall rating: 87)

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 23:  Eric Abidal of FC Barcelona in action during the UEFA Champions League group H match between AC Milan and FC Barcelona at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 23, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Finally, we come to left-back Eric Abidal, the French defender who served Barcelona for several seasons under Guardiola and even returned to playing for the side after surgery on a liver tumour.

In his prime he was a fleet-footed and powerful full-back. He wasn't always the most graceful in possession, but he was rock solid defensively and more than capable of playing centrally when needed.

FIFA card rating

Pace: 81Dribbling: 69
Shooting: 58Defending: 86
Passing: 68Physical: 89

Abidal was happy to get forward and support the front three, overlapping thanks to his great pace rather than dribbling ability, but his aerial prowess also made him useful in the box in both offensive and defensive situations.

He left Barcelona in 2013 after winning four La Liga titles and two Champions League medals, but he's perhaps most fondly remembered for his refusal to admit defeat—on the pitch and off it.