#26: Aston Villa hosts Liverpool in FIFA 12

With so many teams available to choose from in FIFA 12, it’s easy to start up the game and end up playing as squads you’ve never used or played against in your time with the game.  This was true for me this week for STAT BOX STORIES, as I’d never previously used Aston Villa and never played as or against Liverpool.  My real-world knowledge of each side is also quite limited, so I was essentially going into this week’s entry blind regarding what I was getting myself into.  A cursory glance over the Starting Eleven for each team prior to the match revealed few names that I was familiar with at a moment’s notice, so with each possession of the ball and each step taken by a player I was controlling, I would be trying to feel out what my side had to offer.

Enough for the preface; read on for this week’s entry for FIFA 12, where I hosted Liverpool playing as the underdog Aston Villa.

Despite being a 5-10 ratings point underdog in the three team rating categories used in FIFA 12, I was able to end up on the winning side of this match.  That said, the final score line should have been significantly greater in my favor, and I was fortunate not to let a win slip away from me due to not capitalizing on my opportunities.

It did not take long in the match for the first—and what ended up being only—goal to find its way onto the score sheet.  Some deft passing put Darren Bent in with an opening on Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina, and the shot found its way into the back corner of the net for a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute.

The rest of the first half passed literally without incident, and it wasn’t until the start of the second half that anything else ended up on the list of Match Events; substitutions for Liverpool, which was greatly overmatched in the opening half.  Despite those changes, however, it did not inspire the visiting team to any further success.  Indeed, in the 68th minute, Liverpool’s Andy Carroll committed a foul in the box on his side of the field and Darren Brent of Aston Villa once again faced a shining opportunity to add to his numbers.

Unfortunately for him, Pepe Reina guessed correctly and steered aside the shot, keeping the deficit at a single goal and allowing Liverpool to remain in the game.  However, that would be the best chance either squad would see for the rest of the game.  Aside from substitutions in the closing minutes by the home side to keep the pressure on with fresh legs, the final whistle blew with the score line the same as it was at the end of the first half.

In looking at the Match Facts, it’s easy to see why I feel a sense of disappointment even in this Aston Villa victory.  In terms of both Shots and Shots on Target, I had a comfortable advantage over Liverpool; 12-4 and 9-2 respectively.  I even gained a rare advantage in terms of Possession with the 54%-46% number.  And—for the first time since beginning these STAT BOX STORIES entry—I finished the game with Pass Accuracy above 90%, and 6% higher than Liverpool’s.  Yet despite all of these statistical advantages, I was only able to bury the one goal.

Obviously, a big part of this was due to the stellar play in the match by Man of the Match Pepe Reina.  His ten saves in the game were the crucial element keeping the game so tight when the 10 men in front of him proved unable to put more than two shots on target.  Despite Darren Bent’s game-winning score, his five shots on target—over half of Aston Villa’s total for the match—means that his day should have been so much more successful, if not for the steady hands of Liverpool’s keeper.

And thus, at the end of the match, I am left with mixed feelings about this 1-0 victory and strong statistical showing.  I was able to put together some of my best numbers in a single game of FIFA 12 so far, but the score line does not reflect it, even in spite of the victory.  In previous wins I’ve been able to convert multiple opportunities to goals, despite facing a deficit in other numbers.  While this may be due to bad luck in terms of a few shot opportunities which went begging just wide of the goal, it is also a reminder that FIFA 12 remains a game that I am still becoming familiar with and trying to improve my performance at.  Even though today’s win gives me the first FIFA 12 winning streak of STAT BOX STORIES, next week will still need to see improvement.

Until then, be sure to come back tomorrow for the first Bowl Game entry in NCAA Football 12; the 2011 New Mexico Bowl, contested between the Temple Owls and the Wyoming Cowboys!

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