• Ian Gilmour

Constructing the greatest EPL FIFA team

Let me preface this entire thing by saying: This is not my “Best XI the Premier League has to offer.” This is not the team, which on a real grass pitch, would necessarily be the most successful. Nor is it necessarily the best available player at each position.


Soccer fan or not, millions of people play the video game FIFA every day, myself included. Whether it be Ultimate Team, the new Volta mode or Career Mode, there is something for everyone and that’s a big reason why it’s one of the most popular video games in the world. 


This team I’ve compiled is the exact team I would use if I had all the money in the FIFA world and every transfer went through. I’ll call it my ultimate career mode squad.


Formation

First, I’ve gotta figure out what formation will maximize this team’s potential, as well as what formation will cater to my FIFA playing style. By no means am I a pro, but I’d like to think I’m halfway decent. 


I center my teams around pace. So I’ve got to have wingers or quick outside midfielders and pacey outside backs would be an added plus. The easy formation choice is along the backline. Four in the back is the undoubted best selection, mainly because of the two outside backs in my team.


Just because I base my attacking style of play so heavily on my wingers, I’ll go with a 4-3-3 formation, with the wide players in the front three as out and out wingers. 

Selection: 4-3-3


Now that’s settled, let’s get into the team selections. 


Goalkeeper:

This choice is harder than it may seem. My bias tells me to pick Martin Dubravka because of my love for Newcastle, and quite frankly it wouldn’t be a bad choice at all. Up until the Premier League stopped, Dubravka made the most saves in the league, though that may have been the result of Newcastle’s possession and attacking statistics being historically low.

The consensus best keepers in the league are Liverpool’s Alisson and Manchester City’s Ederson. In my opinion, Alisson is the better shot-stopper while Ederson is possibly the best keeper in the world with the ball at his feet. But goalkeeping is about what Alisson is better at: stopping shots.

Selection: Alisson


Backline:

Three of the four picks along the backline are some of the easiest anyone could make. Disclaimer: I hate Liverpool. But Virgil Van Djik, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are three guys who are the best, or in the top three in the world at their respective positions. They join their keeper in my team.



The second center back slot isn’t so simply filled. There really isn’t another center back in the Premier League who stands above the rest as VVD does. Aymeric Laporte is very good but often injured. Çağlar Söyüncü has entered himself into the top tier of the leagues center backs in less than a season. Davinson Sanches of Spurs has quietly performed very well during his time in England. His teammate Jan Vertonghen has been an exquisite servant to the club and has somehow been there for eight (!) years now. How it’s been that long, I’ve got no clue. 


But the pick I’m making is his partner along the Tottenham backline: Toby Aldeweireld. Aldeweireld has been nothing but solid and consistent in his time with Spurs. He’s got good pace for a CB and contributes every once in a while on the attacking side of things. He’s great in the air and tackles about as well as anyone.

Selections: Andy Robertson, Virgil Van Djik, Toby Aldeweireld, Trent Alexander-Arnold


Midfield:

The way I’ve set up this team, the midfield is formed in a triangle with two regular center midfielders to anchor and a center attacking mid in front of them. These three selections aren’t as easy as the first three were along the backline, but the first is a no-brainer.


Kevin De Bruyne is, for me, the best midfielder in the Prem and perhaps in the world as well. His vision is unmatched; he sees passes that no human should be able to see. The best passer of a ball in England since Cesc Fabregas, an arguably even better than the Spaniard.


The first of two midfielders to sit behind De Bruyne in the midfield has got to be N’Golo Kante. Kante has been regarded as one of the best midfielders not only in the Prem, but in the world since he helped guide Leicester City to their fairytale Premier League Title in 2016. You’d be hard-pressed to find a player who works as tirelessly as Kante and also who can influence a game at the level he does without goals or assists. 

The options left for the third spot in the midfield triangle are far and wide. You may have forgotten he still makes his money in England, but Paul Pogba would be a viable option to pair with Kante. Brazilians Fabinho and Fernandinho have cemented their status as top holding midfielders in the Prem. Gini Wijnaldum has gotten better each year since he left Newcastle (rip ): ) for Merseyside, being an integral part of Liverpool’s Champions League title. 


But the guy I’ve gotta go with has been a personal favorite of mine, both on FIFA and on the real pitch for a while, even though I can’t stand the club he plays for: David Silva. His magic left foot works wonders as he sprays the ball 360 degrees for 90 minutes each and every time he’s on the pitch. Not to mention, a curling effort from right to left off of his aforementioned magic staff of a left boot is a transcendent viewing experience.

Selections: N’Golo Kante, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne


Attackers:

For these three, I’m going with two wingers along the outsides with an out and out striker down the middle. 


The one selection I’ve had confirmed in my mind since I thought about writing this piece is the left-winger. This guy arrived in the Premier League less than a year ago and brought with him nothing but beautiful, scintillating football (soccer) that is wonderful to watch. And yes, go ahead and call me biased. Allan Saint-Maximin is my new favorite player to watch on my beloved Newcastle. Though there were close to none all season, he was a bright spot in the squad, one which you would tune in to see exclusively. Does he have all the production on paper? Maybe not. But his pace and dribbling skills make for a FIFA player with unlimited potential, especially on a team like this with stars surrounding him. 


The striker to place between Mane and Saint-Maximin may be the hardest decision I’ve had while picking this team. There’s no striker in the Prem at the moment that is head and shoulders above the rest. Some of the best are Aguero, Kane, Vardy, Aubamayeng, even Danny Ings has worked his way into the mix. But I have to think about the style of play this team is set up to thrive with. Aguero and Ings won’t get on the end of crosses from the speedy wingers. Kane won't be able to get in behind defenders as well as pacey strikers like Aubamayeng and Vardy. But then there’s no better finisher in the league than Aguero.


Decisions, decisions.


A big thing for me in the way I’ve set this team up so far is a striker who can win headers on corners, both attacking and defensive, goal kicks, long throw-ins or wherever else an aerial battle occurs. That brings it down to Kane and Aubamayeng for me. And while Auba is pacey as all get out, Harry Kane just has a killer instinct and innate ability to always be in the right place at the right time. National team experience on a big stage doesn’t hurt either. Kane it is.

Selections: Allan Saint-Maximin, Harry Kane, Sadio Mane.


So there you have it. My ultimate career mode FIFA squad. Disagree with my selections? I’d be extremely intrigued if you didn’t. But that’s my team and I’m stickin’ to it. 


And oh, for a manager? Give me Poch. And give me cans. 

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