Now that FUT Birthday is coming to an end I wanted to give you guys a quick review of some of the new cards that I got to play this WL (finished 19-11 after a great 11-4 start, basically every WL in a nutshell tbh). I'm usually playing with a full Serie A Squad with ex-AC Milan striker van Basten as my only Icon. But this is what my team looks like atm:
After several position changes I ended up playing with 4-3-3 (4):
Why FUT Birthday and not the normal cards?
You could say that this formation is very standard and I could spare time and effort by just buying the normal cards. But there are some factors as why you might want to consider doing this too:
1.) Some cards are not as expensive as their normal counterparts (even if they are better):
FUT Birthday CDM Koulibaly is 175k, SIF CB Koulibaly is 217k (PS4)
2.) The position change comes with quite significant boosts in certain categories the cards was lacking before:
Jordan Lukaku's defending increases quite a bit which might make this one a very special FIFA 18 flashback card for some players
3.) Easy to link in a hybrid team (mine at least, but with CB Hernandez I could also imagine this in a La Liga or a Bundesliga team with RM Alaba):
I can finally get van Dijk in my team without using Alisson who has been very bad for me this year *insert Zwe's Alisson song*
4.) Baby Matthäus is so much cheaper than his other versions:
He's actually a 90 CDM, his middle version only gets a 89 rating
Get to the point man!
OK now let's have a look at the players. As I mentioned before I've mostly played with a Serie A team this year so some of my observations might not be new for people who already played with the normal cards regularly. Sorry everything's in German but I will point out the most important stats.
I played with Koulibaly some months ago and while his 87 card was quite decent, there were two major downsides: passing (SP 66/ LP 48) and dribbling (e.g. agility 50, balance 40, composure 78). As someone who likes possession play and a controlled build-up this was a nightmare. But his FUT Birthday card changes (almost) everything: while he is still somewhat clunky he has exceptional passing paired with 91 composure. I can't stress enough how much more fun his Bday card is. Whatever play style you prefer, he can do it all. He also has better defensive stats than his SIF, which makes him an 97 rated CB once you put an a anchor on him. I even liked the h/h work rates because he neatly filled the gaps between defense and midfield. I also think that the 99 shot power is not wasted here: the game often decides that one of my CBs has to stand outside the box before a corner (which is absolutely stupid and should be fixed). If the ball gets to Koulibaly, you can expect an absolute banger, that's for sure. The one thing that stood out negatively besides the agility was his pace, it's still good for a CB but I expected him to be faster with an anchor.
Would I play him as CDM? No way, that stamina is still way too low, paired with those work rates it's even worse.
TL;DR: Exceptional defender with great passing and shot power, more agility and balance would be nice though since he is still clunky.
To be honest, he really surprised me. I was very worried when I planned my new team, really enjoyed IF Alex Sandro in my Serie A squad. Lukaku's low 77 jumping didn't help with that. But you know what: I think this card was the most fun to use. He is very fast, very agile and with a sentinel very strong, too. The 87 jumping seems to be enough, I can only recall one battle that he lost in the air. Really good LB, only two cons, one of them might be a deal-breaker for some:
1.) 78 composure is a little bit too low, under pressure he tends to make mistakes (but don't we all?)
2.) 79 stamina with h/m work rates
If you want your LB to attack too, this might not be enough stamina. I noticed this when I changed my tactics during a match, but if you want him to stay back while attacking (which seems mandatory this year), it's plenty enough for 120 minutes. Oh and you can link him with Courtois which is neat.
Would I play him as CB? Tbh I don't know. He has it all, but 177 cm is probably not enough. With a sentinel he has stats for a 92 CB though, many Icons have proven that height isn't everything.
TL;DR: Very fun card, agile and strong, headers surprisingly good, composure and stamina might be an issue for some. Try him out if you can spare some coins.
Virgil van Dijk
van Dijk is not an easy one. He is still one of the best defenders in the game, but should you choose this certain card? His defending is slightly worse, his passing too, but everything else is better. I think that the +9 pace is worth it and the better shooting gives you more options after corners; better dribbling stats would have been nice, +3 isn't that much for his stature. It definitely gives you the advantage to put him on a different spot in the team to increase chem in certain situations. And it's cheaper, too. I don't want to sound unenthusiastically, but unlike Koulibaly you are not going to feel too much of a difference when you play him at CB. With anchor you get a similar rating to his SIF. And you know what? With a sniper he looks absolutely playable at ST, didn't want to try it out during WL though.
Would I play him as ST? I think so?! At least for fun. His stamina is good enough, they increased the jumping which is good for the (terrible) current meta and with a sniper he has 90 finishing with 92 composure. Agility goes up to 77 – and you'll need that, he's no Sergio Ramos ST after all.
TL;DR: One of the best defenders in the game gets a great overall upgrade, which is not much use for the CB position apart from pace and jumping, that dribbling boost is nice though.
The only thing that could make Mo Salah's card better is a better physical presence. And this is the card to give you exactly that. I love that they increased his already good stamina even more, he can run all day long, I think I only had to take him off once (and I don't remember if it was because of his stamina). He can play everywhere on the pitch except from CB. It was so much fun to win balls back with him and to change his position once his teammates in the midfield got tired. Love the jumping and strength boost too, he scored 3 out of 9 goals that WL via header. He worked best for me in a 4-1-2-1-2 as right striker or at CAM, his work rates are perfect for these positions, noticed that too late unfortunately. Love his finesse shots (not timed, terrible feature, the normal ones) even though I don't use them as often as I used to after the patch. His shooting is a little bit worse than his IFs, but you can compensate that with a finisher. He's no bully mind you, but I was surprised how well he could handle my opponent's defenders. And he's so cheap too! His striker card is about 200k more expensive than this.
Would I play him as LB? No. Even though he's an upgraded version, he still lacks strength. His playermodel is just too small. In that regard, J. Lukaku felt much better, even though he is 177 cm, just 2 cm bigger than Salah.
EDIT: Thought about it again, with a sentinel he looks quite decent actually. But I think the playermodel might still be an issue.
TL;DR: Very good upgrades, if you want him and he fits into your team, give this card a go, he can play almost everywhere on the pitch.
BONUS: Lothar Matthäus
When I first saw this Baby Matthäus, I hated that he's a 174 cm CB: the only Matthäus below 1kk and not usable. But with the current team he's perfect for me. I was a bit worried that his agility and balance would not be enough, but they feel way better than 71. He is phenomenal as a second CDM, everywhere on the pitch, 98 defending with an anchor. Passing is great, composure, long shots, he's got it all. BUT his 86 stamina with h/h is just not enough. He also lacks strength which is quite unfortunate as a CDM, that's why I'd recommend to pair him with someone with h/l or h/m work rates like FB De Rossi. Would love to have a better version of him just because this one is so great.
TL;DR: Perfect for swapping him with FUT Birthday cards like Boateng or Ramos, almost complete midfielder but lacks strength and stamina for 90 minutes.
The first half of the WL was the most fun I had in FIFA in some time. Being creative with my squad, trying out new cards, different versions of them, was really enjoyable. I think that this shows that we have great promos this year, even if it doesn't appear to be so at first. When I saw LB Salah I was like: "Who needs that sh*t?" Turns out I do.
But it also shows that we have not enough coins to earn through gameplay. I seldom can experiment, would love to have a Bundesliga Squad next to my Serie A one, but I just can't afford to have two better-than-average-teams. This team was only possible because I started trading two months ago. Yeah I know, FIFA points, EA, but a man can dream.
Having a better team also showed me how much of a difference it makes to have good and "meta" cards. Van Dijk is just better than Skriniar, even if I miss his agility. My 88 Perisic on 7 chem was noticeable weaker then the rest, if anyone has experience with his 90 SBC card, feel free to comment below. 420k though. And don't get me started on that 930k Robben card. Man I wish I could get that.
There are different reasons I still couldn't manage to get to more than 19 wins this time. Some of my opponents were better players, for sure. But there are also problems like hitting the post sooo many times, horrendous 1v1s, bad gameplay, broken skills etc. pp. You know it. It's not a good game. But for one day (out of the two I played), it was at least fun.
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