I'll preface this by saying that I stopped playing Weekend League and FUT in general around Christmas-time, occasionally coming back for a nice SBC when the mood took me. The thought of getting a sweet, sweet EPL TOTS card – most of which don't fit in my team whatsoever – brought me back to put myself through torture for 30 of the most soul-destroying games of online football around. Plus, I had Friday off so figured I may as well give it a go.
Here's my team. Most of them are untradeable, apart from Cruyff, Promes and Tagliafico. Promes has been with me since OTW cards first came out, and is the card I've been unable to get rid of despite there being better options out there allegedly at this stage of the game. I play four-four-fucking-two (shoutout to you Mike Bassett fans out there) and although I used to have loads of custom tactics to run through depending on the situation, I couldn't be arsed to set that up this time.
The following is a retelling of my first Weekend League in six months.
F R I D A Y
My first game of WL in 2019 gets off to a good start, and I can remember exactly why I stopped playing this game mode. Rijkaard, who can put in a bloody good tackle when the mood takes him, decides that each challenge for the ball needs to end in it going straight back to the opposition. I try to switch players but despite my feverish LB pressing, I'm stuck on the lumbering oaf as he desperately chases the ball before clattering into another poorly timed challenge. I look longingly to my bench at Milinkovic-Savic, a sad victim of chemistry requirements.
I lose 2-1 to an 87th minute winner when Neymar gets into the box and does that shimmy trick thing repeatedly before slotting past a helpless Courtois. My opponent runs to the camera, a single finger resting on Neymar's lips. It's going to be a long three days.
What do you know, I can play FIFA again? My players feel smooth and responsive, De Jong bosses the midfield and Rijkaard even wins the ball after a tackle occasionally! Carvajal, possessed by the spirit of Cafu, bombs up and down the wing. Best fizzes balls into the box, and Ibra is only too happy to gobble them up. On the other wing, Promes tears opposition right-backs to shreds, cutting in and either curling one into the top bin, or threading through balls into Tagliafico to square back to Cruyff. 3 of the wins are rage quits before the end of the first half. Gold 2 is going to be easy!
Did I say easy? I meant really, really fucking difficult. I lose the next four games, with no complaints apart from being matched against better players with better teams. One guy even does that flick up skill move into cross thing that everyone complains about on here all the time. He had a TOTY Mbappe finish it with an overhead kick from just behind the penalty spot. I don't begrudge him watching the replay. I put the controller down and decide to go for a run. That's enough for today. My head hurts.
Well, what do you know – I can't stay away. After getting home from the cinema (Detective Pikachu, in case you were wondering), I play three more games. The gameplay is fantastic again. I dominate three consecutive games. Tagliafico and Promes have developed a telepathic relationship down my left flank, and combine with deadly precision. Cruyff, although lacking in the goals department, has chipped in with a good 15 or so assists. His through balls to Promes or Ibra are un-deal-with-able. Rijkaard does Rijkaard things, putting lots of effort into his tackles though generally not winning the ball. Milinkovic-Savic gets a run-out each game, being a much more disruptive presence and putting in some killer passes. I win three and lose one, ultimately satisfied with how my comeback is progressing. I dream of electric blue Wijnaldums, dancing round Signal Iduna Park.
S A T U R D A Y
I awake refreshed, refuelled and with fresh ideas of how to spam crosses to my 6'5" striker for 90 minutes. Those ideas turn out to be just that, as the dreaded input delay strikes again. Player switching seems to be the worst affected, as no amount of LB or right stick flicking seems to put me in control of my desired player. Throughout this, Sergio Ramos decides now is the time to make his move into midfield, leaving Sergio Ramos-sized gaps in my defense. Rijkaard, ever diligent with his mistimed tackles, attempts to put in an extra shift to cover for his team mate. It goes as expected, and I lose my first four games. After eating a family-sized bag of Crunchy Nut Chocolate Granola, I make lunch and take a break from my self-flagellation.
After a short trip to the gym, I decide to stay in on Saturday night and order a large curry (bhuna), family sized naan (peshawari), poppadoms and a pickle tray. My appetite satiated, I continue my quest for Gold 2. I lose one before going on a streak of sorts, winning three. The FIFA Gods are on my side though, it's quite obvious from how my opponents are struggling to adapt quickly enough to my below-average passing and mediocre chance creation.
My evening ends in controversial fashion, an 89th minute penalty from my opposition tying the game before I eventually lose on penalties after a goalless extra time. Rijkaard, the culprit of this error due to what I can only assume to be an elbow in the back unseen by the cameras, is blameless in my eyes. Dissatisfied with my night's ending, I go to bed.
S U N D A Y
I awake with a sense of unease. My stomach is gurgling and rumbling, almost as if it knows my whole weekend rests on the next few FIFA games. For dramatic purposes, I choose to ignore the possibility that last night's curry was a bit dodgy.
After a comprehensive loss to a Del Piero-inspired opponent in my first game, I clinch Gold 3 with my next two games – the highlight of which includes a hattrick of assists from Tagliafico in one game and a first goal for De Jong in another. I check the Saudi League's TOTS, and shudder at the thought that my whole weekend's efforts might result in an 84-rated Ukranian goalkeeper. I must continue. A promising start in my third match gives way to my first rage quit, whilst my fourth consecutive win is clinched with a last minute winner from POTY Martinez after – get this – a Rijkaard tackle rebounds to George Best, who weighs a perfect through ball through to my little Venezuelan supersub. I go into the 30th and final game with it all to play for.
My players are at full fitness, and know what's at stake here. The chance to open my rewards on Thursday morning and pack a nice, blue,
James Maddison Van Dijk or Wijnaldum. My back line is solid and immovable, my midfield a sea of guile and creativity and my attack a lethal combination of pace, skill and strength.
The game itself is a strange one. My opponent sits back on what appears to be -10 depth, hoofing the ball forward to Mbappe on the wing who does little with the ball before being dispossessed by the ever-reliable Tagliafico. After taking the lead and my opponent equalising, I take a 3-1 lead in the 62nd minute thanks to some Cruyff trickery.
He pauses, and I assume he's going to quit and gift me a nice, easy win to finish off my weekend but he does not. Instead, he brings Bale on and changes his tactics. Mbappe now sits behind the striker. Whereas before, he was comfortable sitting behind the ball and lumping up field when the opportunity arose, now all his men are behind the ball and my players are feeling the pressure. We concede in the 68th, 69th, 73rd and 75th minute, a rare poacher's finish from Kante and a hattrick from Mbappe which included the most demoralising dab I've ever born witness to. I choose not to substitute Gnabry, Milinkovic-Savic and Martinez on. I don't know why. I'm in shock.
The final whistle blows, and my players slump to the ground in defeat. I turn off the Xbox, a defeated and broken man. So close, yet so far in the end. I close my eyes, already picturing the 83-rated Saudi left-back I'll pack on Thursday.
16-14. I finish Gold 3.
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© Post "I just played my first Weekend League since December. Here’s my diary of events." for game FIFA 19.
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