Football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross reveals why he thinks Sao Paulo are a great team to use online in Seasons, and how you can set them up to get the best from their squad…
If you caught last week’s Backpage then you’ll know we covered how you can use your goalkeeper to help you win more games. If you missed it, you can catch it here: http://www.ea.com/uk/news/fifa-14-tips-using-the-keeper. Since then I’ve given my keeper one more job… scoring goals.
That’s because I’ve been playing loads of Seasons mode as Brazilian club Sao Paulo, whose goalkeeper also happens to be their best free-kick taker. They’re loads of fun to use but there are many more reasons to pick them than just the novelty factor of bagging a goal or two with your stopper; I honestly think Sao Paulo are one of the best teams in the game at their current star level and in this week’s Backpage we’re going to look at why.
Sao Paulo were a four star club when I first started playing as them in FIFA 14 and I instantly had that feeling you get when you know you’re using a top team, thanks mostly to their well-balanced midfield and quick, tricky attacking players. Recently, following the departure of attacking midfielder Jadson – who wasn’t in my starting line-up anyway – they dropped down to 3.5 stars and it really is party time for them against the competition at that level.
STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES & PLAYING STYLE
Sao Paulo share similarities with FC Shakhtar in that they’ve got lots of fast, creative midfielders and forwards who are excellent on the ball, but the main differences for me are that the Brazilian club are a bit more solid defensively and have players that can work really well in a 4-2-3-1(2), which is easily my favourite formation in the game now. Sorry to go all linky on you this week but here’s more on why I think that formation is so good: http://www.ea.com/uk/news/fifa-14-tips-4-2-3-1-formation
The centre-backs are quick, strong and good in the air; the full-backs can attack and defend effectively; the two holding midfielders compliment each other superbly; the wide players are full of pace and tricks and the CAM works well as a second striker to the lone frontman – former Porto and Sevilla goal machine Luis Fabiano. Oh and the keeper can score free-kicks. Did I mention that already? We’ll take a more detailed look at each position in a moment, but basically Sao Paulo are going to suit you if you like to use a similar formation and play varied, attacking football with plenty of movement, loads of passing and exciting dribbles like I do. I’ve even had quite a lot of success with crosses when using them, so they could be a good fit if you like to play that way, too.
They probably won’t suit if you’re a counter-attacking player or if you tend to look for direct passes and through balls from deep often, as I don’t think you’ll get the best from their players or the 4-2-3-1(2) formation that way. Sao Paulo don’t have many weaknesses, but stamina levels can sometimes be a problem. It’s very tempting to sprint and dribble a lot with this team – especially with the wingers – so the players do get very tired towards the end of games. It’s worth keeping that in mind and trying to use bursts of pace rather than constant sprints when you play with this club.
THE STARTING XI
Using the 4-2-3-1(2)
my strongest line-up is… GK Rogerio Ceni * 75 OVR Ceni would be my number one in this team even if he wasn’t the best free-kick taker in the squad, as he’s the top keeper overall anyway. As you’d expect from a GK that’s so good with his feet, his kicking is exceptional and that can prove very useful – as we talked about last week. His Handling and Reflexes stats aren’t especially high but that doesn’t seem to stop him making important saves, which he does regularly for me. RB Douglas * 68 OVR I think Luis Ricardo is a better right back overall, but I move him into the centre to give me some much-needed pace there, so Douglas is my starting right-back. His main attribute is his speed, but he’s also a capable crosser and can hit a decent shot, so I often use him to support wide attacks. He’s 5ft 7in and has a Strength rating of 51, so I try to avoid physical or aerial battles with him when possible.
Luis Ricardo * 74 OVR
Antonio Carlos starts at centre-back for Sao Paulo by default, but he’s a little too slow for my liking so as I mentioned above I shift Luis Ricardo across to make use of his greater speed. Moving a full-back into the centre of defence is something I’ll only do if the player has the height and power to cope with the physical demands of the role, and fortunately Ricardo has both. The bad news is that by playing him as a CB I lose his Crossing ability, which is very good for this level, but I feel the positives of having Ricardo next to Caio definitely outweigh the negatives.
Rodrigo Caio * 74 OVR>
With 72 Acceleration and 70 Sprint Speed, Caio has enough pace to cope with the quick strikers I face at this level and, even though he isn’t the strongest physically, he’s a good tackler and is excellent in the air. He’s also very comfortable on the ball and a fantastic passer over short distances.
Alvaro Pereira * 75 OVR
On loan Inter Milan star Pereira feels like a winger in attack, thanks to his speed and good technical abilities, but he’s also pretty solid defensively. Like Douglas, I get Pereira forward whenever possible and look to use his overlapping runs and deep crosses to create chances. A lot of my attacks with Sao Paulo start down the left side, so Pereira is an important player in my team.
Wellington * 73 OVR
Defensive midfielder Wellington lacks Strength but more than makes up for that with his speed, which is very high for a holding player. He’s also got great Stamina, so he tends to be one of the busiest players in my team – working box-to-box supporting his team-mates at both ends of the pitch.
Ganso * 77 OVR
It’s a good thing that that Wellington is so quick, because Ganso has just 49 Acceleration and 48 Sprint Speed – even substitute goalkeeper Denis is faster. But the Brazilian midfielder is far more creative than his midfield partner and offers a much better goal threat, so the two compliment each other very well. A left-footer, Ganso can also do four-star skill moves.
Ademilson * 69 OVR
Although he’s an ST in the game, I think Ademilson’s attributes are suited to a wide role so I play him on the right wing. He’s got 87 for both Acceleration and Sprint Speed and he’s an excellent dribbler who can also do four-star skill moves.
Osvaldo * 72 OVR
As soon as I get the ball with winger Osvaldo, I can’t help busting out tricks and trying to take loads of defenders on. That’s not the way I usually play with other teams but it’s just too tempting with him, as the Brazil star has 90 Acceleration, 89 Sprint Speed, 84 Dribbling and can do four-star skill moves. He really makes things happen in my team so I try to get the ball to him as often as possible.
Dorlan Pabon * 75 OVR
Pabon is a great second striker as he’s quick, good on the ball – he’s another player with four-star skill moves – and he’s an excellent finisher from inside or outside the box. I get Pabon linking up with Fabiano when I can, and the two seem to work really well together in this formation.
Luis Fabiano * 79 OVR
While Osvaldo is probably the one I like using most in this team, Fabiano is undoubtedly the star man. He’s a great finisher with the ball at his feet or in the air and does a top job of using his power and technique to keep the ball and link up with team-mates. He does lack speed, which isn’t ideal for a lone striker and does take a bit of getting used to, but I haven’t found that to be too much of a problem as long as I play to his other strengths and generally try to avoid any races.
Hopefully that’s convinced you to give Sao Paulo a try. One final thing before I go though… free-kicks with the keeper. It’s a very long, slow run back to your own goal if you take a free-kick with the goalkeeper and don’t score, so be sensible about when you send him up there. I only really do it if I’ve got a good lead or if I really need to make a set piece count in the last few minutes of the game. And I always go for too much power rather than too little – if you float your shot harmlessly into the opposition keeper’s hands or don’t clear the wall then you’re just asking to be countered. Have fun with Sao Paulo and their goalscoring keeper.