For this week’s fan vote, you readers were asked which recent World Cup Final you wanted to see in FIFA 12. The choices were Spain versus the Netherlands from the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Italy versus France from the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, and Brazil versus Germany from the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea/Japan. When the vote totals were tallied up, the winner was France versus Italy; a game which—in real life—was not short on drama as the game was a 1-1 tie heading into extra time and eventually needed Penalties to decide the World Cup Champion. Though Italy prevailed, it was not a game without controversy, as France’s Zinedine Zidane was sent off after he head-butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi following a heated verbal exchange on the pitch.
Indeed, of the three games to be played, this battle between European soccer powers was certainly a favorable match to play here for STAT BOX STORIES. Though France holds a slight ratings advantage, I decided to attempt to rewrite history and lead the French team to victory.
Unfortunately, I was unable to achieve a different result from what ended the 2006 World Cup in Germany over five years ago. The game did not start favorably at all for me as Italy controlled possession to an extreme percentage in the early moments of the game. In the 7th minute of the match, Italy earned a Penalty kick which was put just wide of the net by Giuseppe Rossi. I felt as though I dodged a bullet with that result on the kick, and in the 18th minute I was able to score with Florent Malouda to take an early 1-0 lead after nearly going down early.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Italy’s Rossi managed to put home a goal in the 29th minute to even the score line and make up for his miss in the opening minutes of the game. The score remained tie going into the half, but then it only took five minutes into the second half of play for me to retake the lead on a scoring strike by Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. This time my lead was preserved for a considerably longer period of time; it wasn’t until the 81st minute that Italy managed to equalize the score line once again on an improbable headed goal by Giampaolo Pazzini—who had come on as a substitution for the Azurri—which squared the game at 2-all and set up Extra Time.
After numerous substitutions to begin the Extra Time period—perhaps a downfall for me, as I removed key players who had contributed to the scoring in the first 90 minutes of the game in order to have fresh legs on the pitch—Giuseppe Rossi once again found himself lined up for a Penalty Kick in the 94th minute after a French foul in the box. This time I was not so fortunate, as Rossi put the ball into the back of the net to take a 3-2 lead.
In the second half of Extra Time, Rossi completed his hat trick on a breakaway goal and the score line seemed insurmountable at 4-2 in favor of the Italian squad. Though I was able to score a late goal with Franck Ribéry in the 117th minute to move the deficit to 4-3, it was the last scoring result of the game before the final whistle and Italy was able to prevail in this World Cup Final rematch.
In considering the match facts, Shots were even at 12 and Shots on Target were just about equal as well, with France holding a 9-8 advantage in that category. Of course, Italy’s two Penalty Kick opportunities—even though only one resulted in a goal—certainly gave them the upper hand in the match. As is typical for my FIFA 12 game experiences, I was far behind in terms of possession; Italy controlled the ball nearly 20% longer than I did over the course of the 120 minutes. Pass Accuracy was also a particularly bad result for me, while Italy was able to connect with passes all over the pitch on their way to controlling the flow of the game and ending up with the higher number on the final score sheet.
Italy’s Rossi was the clear Man of the Match with a hat trick on the day and an assist on the only Italian goal that did not come directly off of his foot. On the French side, Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri were instrumental to the squad in regular time as the game stayed tied at 2-all. Unfortunately, both players were quite fatigued at the beginning of Extra Time, necessitating their substitutions out of the game and quite possibly keying the French loss.
Though I was unable to achieve another 4-0 sweep in STAT BOX STORIES against the CPU AI this week because of this loss in FIFA 12, it was an evenly-contested game in many ways and I feel as though my skills in the game are still developing positively with each match I partake in. Unfortunately, there is still work to be done before I can put up winning score lines with the same regularity I’ve been able to achieve in the other games featured here on the blog.
Tomorrow we’ll recap this fifth week of STAT BOX STORIES and preview Week #6; there will also be details about the first fan-submitted entry, coming soon here at STAT BOX STORIES!