FIFA 14 Team Rankings: My Top 5 Teams Right Now as the Season Comes Down to the Wire
Most major football leagues around the world are reaching their ends, with the two biggest still in the thick of title races. Liverpool have edged ahead with scintillating form in the Premier League despite all expectations at the start of the season, and Atletico Madrid are likewise in a surprising lead in La Liga over Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Things are slightly different in FIFA 14, though: teams like Liverpool may be playing very well in the real world, but there's still a ceiling to certain players' ratings and attributes in EA's game that prevent the teams from being the most effective squads when competing against another player or the AI.
Liverpool's attackers have very high ratings, for example (as they should), but there are some lowly-rated players who make a huge difference when it comes down to it in FIFA 14. This may bother some who feel the team's performance in real life deserves a place in the rankings, but (while I take that into account), the primary basis for this list is how good the squad is to play as in the latest FIFA 14 update.
That said, EA's Matchday feature updates squads based on real-life results, which has significantly changed some teams and lead to several rises and falls on my list. The top 5 ranking from earlier in the year can be found herey--check it out to see who made the cut back then so you can compare.
Things were different in most leagues around the world back in February, so which teams are the best in FIFA 14 now, at the climax of the season? Here is my current top 5:
1. Real Madrid C.F.
The Spanish giants maintain their position atop the list based on their great form since a bumpy start and a deep run in the Champions League under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. The already-amazing roster has received further boosts via Matchday due to their great form, and the side's current attack is listed at a pitch-searing 89 overall.
Cristiano Ronaldo sits at a 92 rating, while Gareth Bale and Angel Di Maria are up to 89 and 87 respectively. The Argentinian midfielder has been hugely influential this season in his new role in the middle of the park, and this lightning-fast attack force is even better in FIFA 14 than it was earlier in the year. There's simply no better team when combined with its top-notch defense and near-superhuman goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
2. FC Barcelona
This is a clear example of where FIFA effectiveness and real-life form diverge fairly significantly. Barcelona find themselves moved up to second in this list despite poor performances and being knocked out of the Champions League. This has more to do with the regression of Bayern than success of Barcelona--with the German club tailing off, the Catalonian side is indisputably the next-best squad in FIFA 14 right now after Madrid, rightly or wrongly.
Messi is still a 94 despite what are, for the world's best player, disappointing performances, and the supporting cast is too strong to drop below any other teams in this ranking. With the speed of Pedro and Sanchez in support ahead of the creative magic of Xavi and Iniesta (rated 88 and 89), this team is still about as good as you're going to get outside of the Spanish capital.
3. FC Bayern
The German club has hit rocky form compared to its dominating performances from last year and earlier in the season. It still won the Bundesliga by a considerable distance, losing for the first time only after it had clinched the title, but have slipped since. They're also still in the semi-finals of the Champions League and are last year's winners, but lost the first leg 1-0 to Madrid with an uninspiring performance.
To reflect this, EA has dropped ratings for the majority of the players pretty significantly. Schweinsteiger has lost 3 points from his overall number, and the team is listed at just 83 in every category. Like Barcelona, the squad is still one of the top sides even when it's not playing at its best, which is why it dropped no lower than third.
4. Chelsea FC
Chelsea are into the final four of the Champions League alongside Real Madrid, Bayern, and Atletico Madrid, having drawn away 0-0 with the current La Liga leaders in the first semi-final leg earlier this week. Eden Hazard is currently rated a 90 overall (which, even as a Chelsea fan, I admit is probably a little high considering he's not at his best and has been injured the last few games), making the attack of this team quite deadly in FIFA 14. Chelsea may have its offensive struggles in real life, but Oscar Willian and Eto'o are very effective in the game, and their midfield and defense (one of Europe's best) have received attribute boosts that make the Blues a top FIFA squad right now across every position.
5. Atletico Madrid
I could have kept Manchester City on this list, arguably above Chelsea as well, but it's Atletico who claim the last spot. The team has been a real force under former player Diego Simeone and stacking the lineups against one another, Atletico's great form helps edge them past City. Diego Costa is playing like a man possessed this season with his goal-scoring in top gear, and I'm surprised he's not higher than an 85 in FIFA 14 right now.
Chelsea's on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been one of the best in the world this year at just 21 years old, and has risen to an 86 in the latest update, beating Joe Hart's 82 rating by a good margin. Atletico's resolute midfield and back four get Atletico into my top five, and they have a great chance to go on and win La Liga this year.