Unsung Heroes: Which Selecao Stars Should Be FIFA Icons?
The FIFA video game franchise is now over a quarter of a century old – older perhaps than most of its main demographic. However, ask any avid player of Ultimate Team who the best Brazilian is, and the universal answer will be Pele, not Neymar Jr. Along with three incarnations of Pele, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho are other notable additions to the fold, but which other great Brazilians of yore could be considered for inclusion in FIFA 2020?
For a modern equivalent, look no further than Neymar, who has adopted a role more akin to a support striker under Thomas Tuchel at PSG. He is still a goal threat though, and current football betting odds reflect this, with Brazil’s immovable ace seen as third-favourite to finish as the top scorer in the 2018/19 Champions League. There is no doubt that his style of play emulates the great Jairzinho at times, having also been known to play well in the wide areas.
In Ultimate Team, The 1970 World Cup version of Pele is rated at 98 – matched only by the Maradona of 1986. However, there is no doubt that this most powerful incarnation of Pele would be nothing without the support of Jairzinho. Equally at home at an attacking midfielder or a winger as a centre-forward, the Botafogo legend netted six times in Brazil’s ‘perfect’ World Cup.
• Strength: Excellent centre of gravity, lightning speed.
• Weakness: Easily isolated.
• Likely overall rating: 92
• MOTM Card: Brazil 4-1 Italy – The 1970 World Cup final.
Known as Mané on account of his first name (Manuel), the man who would grace this earth for just 49 years shared many similarities with Liverpool’s Senegalese speedster in his heyday. Rated as the seventh-best player of the 20th century in a 1999 poll, he won 50 caps and tasted defeat only once in the famous yellow and blue.
His flawless dribbling and peerless technique made him the most feared entity at the World Cup of 1962, and at just 5’6, Garrincha was able to ghost past even the greatest defensive brutes in existence. For those FUT players that simply love to dazzle ‘noobs’ with incessant stepovers, shimmies and inversions, Garrincha would be a fine addition indeed.
• Strength: 99-rated dribbling, overpowered under ‘Hunter’ chemistry style.
• Weakness: Lack of aerial presence, easy to knock over.
• Likely rating: 95
• MOTM Card: Brazil 4-2 Chile – The 1962 World Cup semi-finals.
Over the past five years, EA have shown a not-so-subtle leaning towards the English market. Since FIFA 15, every Premier League has been guaranteed a rendition of its home stadium, and with Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium entering the fold in FIFA 17, there is surely no better time to bring back the man whose arrival at Middlesbrough coincided with the club’s 1995 relocation from Ayresome Park.
The 1995 incarnation of Juninho back on a virtual Teeside would be a welcome addition. For all his injury-prone ways, Juninho was a real pioneer for the English game’s foreign influx to come. As an attacking midfielder, his vision was the talk of the league as Boro occupied a European spot over Christmas 1995.
So too was his range of passing and exceptional stamina, which ensured that one of the worst Middlesbrough sides in recent memory reached two cup finals in their relegation year of 1997.
• Strength: 95+ rated passing, unstoppable with ‘Engine’ chemistry style.
• Weakness: Injury prone
• Likely rating: 87
• MOTM Card: Man Utd 2-3 Middlesbrough (2x Goals, February 2004, Premier League).