This week, football journalist and FIFA gamer Darren Cross looks at how your favourite European teams could look very different in FIFA 12 after a summer of spending…
Did you know Italian side Juventus have signed ten players this summer?
If you like using Juve on FIFA 11 then you’re going to have a lot more decisions to make when you select them in FIFA 12, because they basically have a whole new squad.
But The Old Lady aren’t the only club that have been getting busy in the transfer window. Tons of your favourite FIFA 11 teams from all over Europe have been buying new players since July 1 and many are set to keep on spending.
So it’s not just the game of FIFA 12 itself that’s new – and I’m talking about the gameplay improvements and new features here, which I’m sure you know about already – but many of the European clubs you regularly use are brand-new too.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at who’s been doing what in the transfer market this summer and how that might influence which non-Prem clubs you’ll choose to play as most often in FIFA 12.
Seeing as we just mentioned Juventus, let’s start with them. Juve have lost skillful forward Sebastian Giovinco, who’s gone to Parma, midfielders Mohamed Sissoko, Tiago, Hasan Salihamidzic and Felipe Melo, along with three strikers and their loan signings from last season, so it’s no wonder they’ve been scrambling to bring more stars in. Headline signings like playmaker Andrea Pirlo, forward Mirko Vucinic and box-to-box midfielder Arturo Vidal are joined by a bunch of other players that will give you something to think about when selecting your starting XI. Expect Vidal to receive a stats boost after a top season with Leverkusen last year – so he should be worth including – while Vucinic brings pace and tricks to a frontline that won’t be short of service if you use Pirlo’s passing ability.
Inter have been very quiet – only signing Brazilian defender Jonathan from Santos so far – but that could all change depending on what happens with Sneijder. City rivals AC Milan – very popular with FIFA 11 players – seem to have been concentrating on their defence and have added some much-needed pace with left-back Taye Taiwo from Marseille and a solid-centre-back in Philippe Mexes. Lazio have also been very active and could be a good underdog choice in FIFA 12 now that they’ve signed the speedy Djibril Cisse and heading king Miroslav Klose. Not to be outdone by their rivals, Roma have bought six players so far, including defender Gabriel Heinze, keeper Maarten Stekelenburg and strikers Bojan and Marco Borriello.
For once, it’s not Real Madrid or Barcelona that are grabbing Spanish headlines, but newly rich Malaga. They’ve made seven major signings so far – in addition to stars like Martin Demichelis and Julio Baptista who joined back in January – and have incredibly hinted that they might not be done yet. Their most expensive addition is Santi Cazorla, who cost around £20 million, and he is backed up by legendary striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, winger Joaquin, midfielders Isco and Jeremy Toulalan as well as defenders Sergio Sanchez, Joris Mathijsen and promising Spanish left-back Nacho. Definitely worth having a look at in FIFA 12.
The big two have done a bit of business though. Real Madrid got their fat wallet out pretty early on and signed up midfielder Nuri Sahin, who was so impressive for Dortmund in the Bundesliga last season. They’ve also brought in Hamit Altintop from Bayern and beat a host of clubs to sign pacey left-back Fabio Coentrao from Benfica. 18-year-old defender Raphael Varane came in from Lens – he should get a significant stats boost in 12 – and quick forward Jose Maria Callejon gives you more options up front. Barcelona’s big signing so far is powerhouse forward Alexis Sanchez from Udinese, but that could all change if Cesc Fabregas ends the most boring transfer saga ever and finally returns to the club. If that’s already happened by the time you’re reading this, please accept my apologies, but even us journalists are a bit confused by what’s actually going on there now. Anyway, needless to say if he does join you’ll have a real selection headache over who to go for in midfield.
Elsewhere Atletico Madrid have brought a few players in but are now a less attractive prospect on FIFA after losing Sergio Aguero, and you may also be giving Sevilla a miss after they let Diego Capel leave for Sporting Lisbon, which brings us nicely on to Portugal.
Benfica have been very active and have really boosted a squad that was pretty decent already – I like using Benfica on FIFA 11. Although Eduardo Salvio (end of loan spell) and Fabio Coentrao (after joining Real) are no longer with them, they still look a good choice after signing quality players like Joan Capdevila, highly-rated midfielder Alex Witsel – who should also be in line for a stats bump – Real Madrid defender Ezequiel Garay and quick Spanish forward Nolito.
Defending Champions Porto, who walked the Super Liga last season, have so far managed to hold on to their best players with both Falcao and Hulk recently extending their contracts. They are already pretty handy on FIFA 11 and will now give you an even stronger squad to pick from after spending over £20 million this summer. Defender Alex Sandro and midfielder Danilo – both from Brazilian club Santos – are the standout additions. But if you’re looking for a Portuguese team to use online in FIFA 12 then you should consider Sporting Lisbon. They don’t have a great deal to offer in FIFA 11, but they’ve bought and sold tons of players so far and now look a whole lot better. Their big-name signing is Diego Capel, who I’ve used many times to good effect online. Dutch goal machine Ricky van Wolkswinkel is a useful FIFA player and he should be partnered by Valeri Bojinov, once of Parma and Man. City. Winger Jeffren has also come in from Barcelona and giant defender Oguchi Onyewu brings height to the back four. Be sure to check them out.
Bayern are always a popular choice in FIFA 11, especially with players like me who like to use two fast wingers to beat defenders and whip crosses in, but they lack a bit of pace at the back. That looks to have been sorted now though after the club bought Man. City’s versatile centre-back Jerome Boateng and Brazilian right-back Rafinha from Genoa. Ex-Schalke stopper Manuel Neuer strengths the goalkeeper position and it will be interesting to see if former Tranmere wonderkid Dale Jennings is in the squad, following his amazing move earlier this summer.
As for the rest of the Bundesliga’s popular teams, there’s nothing very exciting to report. Dortmund have signed a few players so far but none of them really make the defending champions more attractive as a choice in FIFA. You may even be less likely to pick them in 12 since they let Nuri Sahin and Dede leave the club. Hamburg, a team I seem to face a fair bit on FIFA 11, will almost certainly be less popular in 12 after Ruud van Nistelrooy, Joris Mathijsen, Piotr Trochwski and Ze Roberto were all allowed to move on.
In Ligue 1, everyone is talking about PSG. After being taken over by Qatar Sports Investments earlier this summer, they’ve spent a huge amount so far and don’t look close to being done yet. At the time of writing they haven’t yet sealed the deal for Palermo’s Javier Pastore, but if that goes ahead he’ll top the list of big-name signings ahead of Jeremy Menez, Mohammed Sissoko, Blaise Matuidi and Kevin Gameiro. Menez, in particular, is excellent on FIFA and both Matuidi and Gameiro should get stats bumps, so PSG are well worth a look.
I quite like using Lille in FIFA 11 but loads of their players have moved on, although they have so far managed to keep star man Eden Hazard. The big loss to them, and to you if you’re thinking of playing with Lille in 12, is Gervinho, who joined Arsenal. Lyon – who used to dominate France – haven’t really done a great deal so far, Marseille have been buying and selling but are weaker in FIFA terms following the departures of Gabriel Heinze and Taye Taiwo, and Saint Etienne might help you get a few underdog wins after they brought in Steed Malbranque and Florent Sinama Pongolle among others.
If you’re still searching for inspirational team choices, take a look at Turkish club Galatasaray in FIFA 12. They’ve loaned powerhouse midfielder Felipe Melo from Juventus, signed defender Tomas Ujfalusi from Atletico Madrid, ex-Lazio keeper Fernando Muslera and Swedish striker Johan Elmander from Bolton. Elmander and former Liverpool forward Milan Baros could cause teams a few problems in FIFA 12.
Hopefully that’s brought you up to date with what’s been going on in Europe and got you thinking about FIFA 12 – not long to go now until the game is out! Pop back next week and we’ll take a look at what’s been happening in the transfer market closer to home, and how that might change things for you when you get your hands on the game at the end of September.
Thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter @Darren_Cross if you’re into all that.