There’s not too long to go until autumn lands along with the much-anticipated release of FIFA 15. Traditionally the new game released each-and-every year by EA is an evolution rather than a revolution of the preceding year’s title, but FIFA 15 – the first title developed to harness the horsepower of next-gen hardware – promises to be more than just an evolution as fans of the series anticipate enhanced graphics and improved gameplay to make it the best title in the series so far.
However, the game’s traditional release date in the last week of September is still three months away and in the meantime there are still plenty of FIFA 14 games to be enjoyed. Though critics of the most recent FIFA title have bemoaned its glitches, unreliable Ultimate Team mode and over-reliable aerial offence, we can all agree in saying that FIFA 14 has been the best football game EA has ever made and we should take advantage of it now in case the developers somehow drop a clanger with the next game.
To make the most of the current title, there are a handful of players who gamers owe it to themselves to use at least once before FIFA 14 becomes obsolete. These players might be hugely enjoyable to use but are under threat of an impending downgrade in the new release or their real life counterpart may have confirmed their retirement after the 2013/14 season meaning they won’t be featured in September’s new game.
Here are the 10 players you MUST use before the release of FIFA 15:
10. Micah Richards
Micah Richards is currently a favoured defender for many Barclays PL Ultimate Teams of FIFA 14. His 91-strength is impressive for a player with 84-sprint speed while his 91-jumping, 88-aggression and 86-heading accuracy mean he is sure to win those contested aerial balls. Richards has 82-sliding tackles and 84-standing tackles making him the perfect option for defending your wings. Priced at a humble 800-coins, Richards is affordable to all and is one of the most beastly right-backs available.
The Micah Richards who we will see in FIFA 15 is likely to be a vastly inferior player, and rightly so, since in the past two seasons, Richards has made just 9-league appearances. Unfortunately his 2-league appearances in 2013/14 meant that he was ineligible for a winner’s meddle despite being signed to the Champions, Manchester City. Richards hasn’t been benched due to injury though – he has been muscled out of the team by Argentine Pablo Zabaleta, who has for the past two years been one of the Champion’s finest players. With rumours circulating that Micah Richards may be bound for Hull (a move which could be greatly beneficial to the 26-year-old), expect EA to make him less dominant in FIFA 15 so have a go with him if you haven’t done so already.
There was a stage a couple of seasons ago where it was believed Hulk was going to leave Porto – where he had spent 5-seasons – and make a huge impact at one of the major footballing leagues. Instead, Hulk prudently prioritised financial gain and went to Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg; cashing in a reputed €5-million annual salary (Daily Mirror).
The hype surrounding Hulk was sky-high but has since come back to earth owing to the limited competition in the Russian Premier League. Though Hulk has scored an impressive 16-league goals this season from his favoured right-wing, it must be remembered that this was not against the hardened defences of the Premier League or Serie A. Every time Hulk has taken the step up in competition with Zenit into the Champions League, he has looked distinctly average.
Despite his mediocre stint with Zenit, Hulk is still rated 84-overall on FIFA 14 and is one of the most impactful players in the game. His 88-acceleration, 85-sprint speed and 90-strength mean that Hulk is capable of blistering runs down the wing, shrugging defenders off him as he gallops towards the danger area. He can then cut-in and line the ball up for his howitzer of a left-boot (88-long shots and 92-power) which will usually result in a superb goal. Any player who has used Hulk will know about these runs and anyone who hasn’t should in case they take the Brazilian down a notch in FIFA 15.
8. Robin Van Persie
Manchester United’s Dutch striker is an extremely dangerous, versatile, fun player in FIFA 14. His decent dribbling skills (84-dribbling, 88-ball control) make you feel like you have complete control over van Persie, while he is also a world-class finisher who can also shoot from range (91-finishing, 87-long shots, 90-shot power). Though we haven’t really seen him occupy this role in the Premier League, there are a large number of FUT players who alter Robin van Persie to play at CAM. His relatively lacklustre strength and speed mean he can be difficult to use as a striker while – at CAM – he is comparatively strong and will often win aerial duels. Combine this with his deceptively good passing game (85-short passing) and long shot capabilities and you have an amazing CAM.
Though RVP is one of the most dangerous, versatile players in FIFA 14, it wouldn’t be wise to expect him to be this good in FIFA 15. His rating of 89-overall puts him as the joint-fifth best player in the entire game, a rank his performance this season doesn’t warrant. Many players underperformed and disappointed at Old Trafford this season under the leadership of David Moyes; van Persie is irrefutably one of them. While he still managed to net 12-league goals for United, he didn’t look like the same player who had had that exceptional 2012/13 where he was the league’s top goal scorer.
7. Steven Jovetić
As it stands in FIFA 14, Stevan Jovetić is one of the deadliest strikers in the game and is often the first-choice striker on Barclays PL Ultimate Teams. Aside from being a versatile athlete (82-acceleration, 81-sprint speed and 85-agility) and technically skilled with the ball at his feet (87-dribbling and 89-ball control), he is also capable of scoring goal-after-goal for your club. His high rating and affordable price tag make Jovetić incredibly fun to use. Don’t expect this to continue into FIFA 15 though, as the Montenegrin international will likely receive a heavy downgrade.
Deep-pocketed Premier League big boys Manchester City may have won the title last season, but this was with very little support from their new £22-million striker. A series of calf and hamstring injuries meant that City were only able to squeeze 11 league performances out of the new signing and even when he did start he hadn’t been able to build up any momentum, scoring a measly 6-goals in all appearances. Make sure to use Jovetić while you still can as he won’t be the same player on FIFA next season.
6. Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole’s current overall rating of 85 makes him the best left-back in the entire game on paper. Anyone who watches the news will know this evaluation of Ashley Cole’s skill is off-the-mark as he was controversially left out of England’s World Cup squad; instead, the more youthful combo of Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw were chosen for the position. Cole would subsequently retire from international football. When it rains it pours, or so the saying goes. This proved true for Ashley when – after the England snub – he was also released from Chelsea. While he had still played well when picked, for most of the season Cole was dropped by Mourinho in favour of the younger César Azpilicueta.
Cole has expressed that he is looking for a new club, but who knows where or even if we will see the left-back playing football next season. If he is successful in finding a suitable club, expect Ashley Cole to be heavily downgraded from his 85-rating on FIFA 14. It would be prudent for you to make the most of the world’s best left-back while you still can. His 92-sliding tackle, 87-standing tackle and 82-interceptions make him incredible difficult to get past on the wing.
5. Christian Benteke
Benteke is a sleeping giant in the Premier League. He may not promise the glitz and glamour of the Agueros, Suárezes and Sturridges of the world but he is a massive goal scoring threat who nobody should underestimate. His 90-finishing means that Benteke is a reliable s corer in the box but his real strength is his aerial supremacy. A gigantic 6’3” frame makes Benteke taller than most of the centre-backs marking him so combine this with his 93-strength and 84-jumping and you see why the Belgium scores so many in the air.
Part of what makes Benteke such a prolific goal scorer is how easy it can be to score a headed goal in FIFA 14. Indeed, it can be far easier to knock one in with your head than to use a player’s feet. Many critics of FIFA 14 are outspoken in their belief that the next game should tone down the supposedly overpowered offensive heading system. If EA listen to these complaints Benteke (and a handful of others) could be far less dominant in FIFA 15. This combined with a relatively lacklustre season for Aston Villa compared to his memorable 2012/13 potentially resulting in a statistical downgrade, mean that you should use the beastly FIFA 14 Benteke while you still can.
4. Diego Forlán
Forlán has made a name for himself while at the many clubs he has had stints at for being a naturally gifted goal scorer with a devastating long shot. He may have played at many different teams, but EA has always honoured Forlán with fittingly potent FIFA stats. When FIFA 14 hit store shelves, Forlán was in his second season with Brazilian club Internacional. Though not as fast as he once was, his 85-long shots, 85-shot power, 83-finishing and 5-star weak foot made Forlán an incredibly dangerous forward when used correctly, with the ability to shoot from just about anywhere.
However, last January Forlán signed an 18-month deal to ply his trade at Japanese side Cerezo Osaka. While it is admirable that Forlán – who has never liked to stay at a club for too long – is making the pioneering move to a relatively unknown league, it will mean he will not feature on the Ultimate Team mode of FIFA 15. He may not make an appearance on the game at all if he doesn’t play for Uruguay in Brazil. As it stands he may be needed to replace injured Luis Suárez (England breathe a sigh of relief) though Forlán hopes the Liverpool striker recovers, even if it pushes him out of the team. What a class act.
3. Carles Puyol
Despite still having two years left to play on his contract, earlier this year Puyol announced that he would be retiring from football. A long career filled with many injuries and surgeries – most recently on his right knee – left the Barça legend feeling like he could no longer compete at the level required of him at the Camp Nou. In a moving farewell speech, Puyol reminisced “I came here as a boy and I leave with a family” (FCBarcelona.com). Puyol had spent a staggering 15-years at the club (10 as its captain) and his 593-appearences, leaving him second only to his long-time teammate Xavi in all-time appearance for the Catalans.
This will be the last year we are able to use Puyol on FIFA and – though the 36-year-old’s age has taken its toll on his physical stats – he is still a very solid centre-back. As long as you have a suitably rapid wing-back to compensate for the sluggish Puyol, he can be a great asset to the team. With his 82-sliding tackle, 85-standing tackle, 87-marking and 88-interceptions, he is still more than a match for even the most dangerous forwards.
2. Antonio Di Natale
Di Natale is not only ridiculously enjoyable to use in a game of FIFA 14 but he is also one of the most dangerous strikers in Serie A. Despite being 37-years-old, Di Natale is somehow still blisteringly fast – with 89-acceleration, 82-sprint speed and 91-agility, you wouldn’t believe this man is approaching his 40th birthday. Di Natale is equally brilliant technically. Not only is he a superb dribbler whose 4-star skill moves allow him to breeze past would-be tacklers, but he is also a natural-born goal scorer with 89-finishing and 84-long shots.
The many, many FIFA players who have loved using this supremely talented player over the years will be extremely pleased to learn that the Udinese forward scrapped plans to retire at the end of last season. However, a comparatively underwhelming season by his standards failing to score 20-league goals for the first time since 2008 means EA will likely begin toning down his impressive physical statistics, as they are prone to do with aging players. Di Natale should still be an incredible player in FIFA 15 but expect that astounding pace to diminish.
1. Frank Lampard
When news broke earlier this week that Frank Lampard would potentially be making a departure for the newborn MLS franchise New York City FC, the hearts of many Chelsea fans dropped. Not only was Super Frank a paragon professionalism, discipline and class, but he was also still a vital cog in Chelsea’s team; despite being 35-years-old, Lampard has scored over 20-league-goals from midfield for the blues in the past two season. In an emotionally charged interview with Sky Sports, Lampard gave the following eulogy on his time at Chelsea:
Whatever the next challenge is for me I will always be amongst you and have Chelsea in my home and in my heart. Hopefully I will get to see you all soon to say goodbye properly. In the meantime thank you for the memories and keep making history!
It shouldn’t only be Chelsea fans who mourn Frank’s departure from the Premier League. Though he will still be playable on FIFA 15 with NYC FC, it will be a challenge to build Lampard into your Ultimate Team while maintaining good chemistry (unless of course you are fielding a MLS Ultimate Team). Moreover, in other game modes you are far more likely to use Chelsea over NYC as they have a deeper, richer selection of talent. The 35-year-old may no longer have the best physical attributes, but he still retains many of the skills which allowed him to enjoy such success in the Premier League – 85-long passing, 89-shot power and 90-penalties to name but a few. You should certainly consider using Lampard before he fades into the relative obscurity of MLS. We’ll miss you Frank!