September is a special month for sports fans. College football and the National Football League get underway. Major League Baseball pennant races finish up.
EA Sports releases the latest FIFA video game.
EA takes real life domestic and international player performances into account when rating players for FIFA titles. Not too surprisingly, the players ranked No. 1 and No. 2 come from the two La Liga giants. One would have to look far and wide – or to a hardcore Barcelona fan – to find somebody who would seriously claim that Lionel Messi had a better 2013-14 than did Cristiano Ronaldo.
Did EA rank accordingly for FIFA 15?
Top 50 FIFA 15 rankings here
10 LM Eden Hazard - Chelsea/Belgium: 88 Overall
Hazard has quickly emerged as one of the top attacking play-makers in the world. The 23-year-old made the move to Chelsea in June 2012. Since that time, Hazard has cemented himself as one of the best overall footballers in the Barclays Premier League.
Hazard is a maestro when he has the ball at his feet, and that is reflected in this year's edition of FIFA. EA rated Hazard at 91 in dribbling, which puts the Chelsea star in the top-five (tied) in that category among players featured in this piece. Hazard has 89 pace, 82 shooting and 84 passing, making him a dream acquisition for FIFA Ultimate Team players.
9 LM Franck Ribéry - Bayern Munich/France: 88 Overall
Ribéry has consistently been one of the best and most underrated players on the planet. The 31-year-old who continues to outdo peers five and ten years younger seems to stretch out the length of his physical prime every season. Ribéry is the second oldest player to make the top-ten list for FIFA 15.
FIFA players keen on using skill moves might feel that they hit the lottery if they land Ribéry in an Ultimate Team pack. The Bayern Munich superstar is a five-star skiller. His weak foot is rated at four stars. Ribéry has 92 dribbling, 89 pace and 85 passing.
Good luck defending against that.
8 CM Bastian Schweinsteiger - Bayern Munich/Germany: 88 Overall
Schweinsteiger is a player who has done it all during his professional career. He has seven Bundesliga titles to his name. He has kissed the Champions League trophy in celebration. Germany national team manager Joachim Löw has recognized the importance of the 30-year-old, recently naming Schweinsteiger as the country's new captain.
FIFA players who love to feature footballers with loads of pace may choose to shy away from Schweinsteiger. His 61 pace is far and away the lowest among field players who are listed in the top-ten of FIFA 15. Schweinsteiger has 82 dribbling, 85 passing, 81 shooting and 78 defense.
7 ST Luis Suarez - Barcelona/Uruguay: 89 Overall
Suarez has earned the reputation for being one of the more despised athletes in all of professional sports. He racially abused a player during a Premier League contest. The former Liverpool front man has bitten opposing players no fewer than three times, once during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Suarez is also arguably the top striker in the game today, and thus Barcelona paid £75 million over the summer to acquire his services.
There is no ban keeping Suarez out of FIFA matches, so go ahead and grab him if you can. EA may have underestimated how good of a finisher Suarez is as it pertains to the latest edition of FIFA. The striker has 87 shooting, lower than the shooting ratings given to three other players in this list.
6 CM Andres Iniesta - Barcelona/Spain: 89 Overall
Iniesta is regarded by many to be the best attacking midfielder of his generation. The 30-year-old made his first-team Barcelona debut at 18 years of age, and he has since netted a plethora of personal and club honors. Iniesta has been named the best player in Europe, the top player in a European Championship, and he has hoisted the Champions League and World Cup trophies.
Iniesta is as well-rounded a midfielder as you will find in FIFA 15. His 75 pace is not blinding, but his 91 dribbling and 89 passing more than make up for the fact that Iniesta won't be burning past defenders. One would be wise to start with Iniesta if building a La Liga Ultimate Team.
5 GK Manuel Neuer - Bayern Munich/Germany: 90 Overall
Casual fans of the sport who tuned into the 2014 World Cup learned what diehard soccer fans have known for years: Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world and he is an all-time great.
Neuer was awarded the Golden Glove for being the top 'keeper in the World Cup. It was an honor he rightfully deserved. In fact, the German No. 1 performed so well on the world's biggest stage that many analysts believed he was worthy of being named the tournament's top overall player.
Neuer is the undisputed best goalkeeper in FIFA 15, and he is the only 'keeper to crack the top-ten. The sweeper-keeper has 90 positioning, 87 diving, 86 reflexes and 92 GK kicking. Each of those stats have been boosted since last year's version of the video game.
4 ST Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Paris Saint-Germain/Sweden: 90 Overall
Ibrahimovic is practically a walking real-life video game character. The 6-foot-5 striker who has been responsible for highlight-reel hits and cheeky back-heel goals during his career is one of the best finishers in the world and in FIFA 15. EA gave him 91 shooting this time around. That is better than all but one player listed in the top ten.
FIFA players would be wise to “dare to Zlatan” while they still can. Ibra will turn 33 years old this fall. There are multiple rumors that Ibrahimovic could end his professional career in Major League Soccer.
You should wish to be so lucky, North American sports fans.
3 RM Arjen Robben - Bayern Munich/Netherlands: 90 Overall
The Dutch wonder made headlines this past summer during what may be his final World Cup. Robben was accused of committing a dive that helped Holland complete a comeback win against Mexico. That one moment aside, Robben was also undeniably one of the top performers of the tournament. Some even argued that Robben deserved to win the Golden Ball (award given to the best player at a World Cup).
Robben's defense and his defensive work rate are low in FIFA 15, but you won't be starting him for what he achieves on that end of the pitch. FIFA players will want Robben for his 93 pace, his 86 shooting, his 83 passing and his 92 dribbling. Feature Robben down the right wing, and allow the goal onslaught to commence.
2 LW Cristiano Ronaldo - Real Madrid/Portugal: 92 Overall
The inevitable complaining and unending debates begin!
Ronaldo earned the privilege of being recognized as the top player in the world last season. While the highest-rated player in FIFA 15 was sidelined because of injury, Ronaldo found the back of the net a total of 51 times. He won his first ever Ballon d'Or, and he is the reigning Best Player in Europe.
Five-star skills. 93 pace. 93 shooting. 91 dribbling. 81 passing. 6-foot-1 with an ability to nod the ball home from anywhere inside of the box.
You're sure Ronaldo shouldn't be atop this list, EA?
1 CF Lionel Messi - Barcelona/Argentina: 93 Overall
Those interested in debating video game player ratings should remember two things: There isn't much a difference between a 93 and 92 rating, and Messi has, for years, been the cover man for FIFA video games.
Of course Messi is one of the best real life footballers of his era. His ability to dart through and between defenders while holding possession of the ball is unrivaled, and Messi is a world-class finisher who can strike seemingly at a moment's notice.
Messi's 96 dribbling puts him atop that category in FIFA 15. He has 93 pace, 89 shooting and 86 passing. While Ronaldo was given five-star skills, Messi is only a four-star skiller.
Messi vs. Ronaldo. Who would you take in FIFA 15?