Welcome back to Three of the Best, a series here on Doublejump where we take a look at FIFA 22 Ultimate Team’s major promotions and list some of the cards that you might have overlooked. A couple of notes about the series before we get started:
- We will be focusing on cheaper cards. It’s obvious that any new version of Neymar or Kylian Mbappe is going to be worth the coins, so there’s no point saying it again;
- We’re also avoiding any cards that are only available for a limited time (namely SBC and Objective cards) since we want this series to be as relevant now as it is in June; and
- We’ll also typically wait to release these articles until after the promotion, given EA’s penchant for a “mini-release” this season.
With all of that out of the way, let’s dive in!
For a company that’s so very focused on profit, EA — or at least, its FIFA division — loves to get into the holiday spirit. The Winter Wildcards promotion isn’t distinctly Christmas themed, but it’s one hell of a Christmas present for FIFA 22 Ultimate Team players all the same.
Winter Wildcards is exactly what players have been dying to see in a promotion. Yes, the first of two Winter Wildcard squads features Neymar and Paul Pogba, but it also features significant changes (a version of Fabinho who’s built like a striker, for instance) a bunch of players who were not previously thought of in the “meta” like the formerly-Silver Axel Tuanzebe or the ageing genius Adel Taarabt (more on him in a moment). Players don’t want to see the same cards over and over again; they want to see new cards, new options for fun squads to build to break up the monotony. They want to see exactly what EA has delivered in these three cards, along with the rest of the first Winter Wildcards team.
Adel Taarabt (Morocco, CM, Liga Portugal — Benfica)
Price: 12,500 (PS5)
Best Position: CAM, CM, CDM (hear me out!)
Chemistry Style: Deadeye, Hunter, Shadow
Adel Taarabt has been a “cult favourite” since FIFA Ultimate Team launched (with the exception of his “silver years” on FIFA 17 and 18), and that’s because he’s a skiller’s dream; tight control combined with a solid frame and decent base of strength means he’s not only been a safe pair of feet with the ball, but he’s also been capable of embarrassing defenders in a multitude of different ways. Father Time has started to catch up with the Moroccan, but EA Sports loves to defy Father Time through its promotions — it did so with Taarabt himself on FIFA 20 with his Flashback version and then his Team of the Season, and it’s done so here again.
The card’s overall rating of 86 looks good, but it’s also deceiving: even a Basic chemistry style — which every FUT card has when it’s first packed — shoots him up to a rating of 92 at CAM and 91 everywhere else in the midfield, which paints the picture of a really, really versatile card. The Deadeye chemistry style turns him into a lethal 94-rated CAM, while combining Hunter with his excellent 89 Stamina, 81 Strength and 98 Aggression(!!!) turns him into a super-juiced, version of FUT Versus Adama Traore… at less than a tenth of the price.
But that’s not the best part. Long-time fans of the beautiful game will know of the immense value a regista, or deep-lying playmaker, has to a team. Think Xavi Hernandez or Andrea Pirlo, those types of players who weren’t outstanding defensively, but could kick a two-dollar coin into a money box from 100 metres away. Apply a Shadow chemistry style to Mr. Taarabt here, and you’ve got one of those… with five-star skills and 94 pace. Now that could be some serious fun…
…And it was. After writing this article, I built a squad with this card in it for a weekend while accruing coins, and he was dominant. He’s only out of my team now because I could afford Alessandro Del Piero, one of my all-time favourite players, to go alongside the next card on this list.
Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy, LB, Serie A — “Roma FC”)
Price: 195,000 (PS5)
Best Position: LB/RB, LM/RM in a 3-5-2
Chemistry Style: Sentinel
The best value-for-money full-back in the game has gotten a whole lot better… and kept the value-for-money aspect to boot. Spinazzola started FIFA 22 as a right-footed left-back with four-star skills and a four-star weak foot combined with height, solid pace and good-enough defensive stats to be one of the best full-backs you could find for less than 20,000 coins. He fell out of favour a little bit as Theo Hernandez’s price started to drop — especially since Theo is stronger and has better chemistry links available — but this new card, complete with five-star skills, has brought him right back into the mix.
There’s no doubting that Spinazzola’s best position will still be as a full-back due to his lack of Strength, but the beautiful thing about this card is that there’s absolutely no need for pace: his Acceleration is maxed out and his Sprint Speed is close enough to it. Applying a Sentinel to this card gives him 95 Interceptions and 96 Defensive Awareness, which is outstanding anywhere in defence, while his 82 Positioning ensures that he’s not just going to bomb forward and leave Mohamed Salah unmarked on the right wing. 92 Jumping and a 6’1” frame mean he’s going to win aerial battles against most — if not all — wingers, and the five-star skills coupled with great Dribbling and solid Passing mean he’ll do more than a bit of good going forward as well.
Pau Torres (Spain, CB, LaLiga Santander — Villareal)
Price: 15,000 (PS5)
Best Position: CB
Chemistry Style: Shadow
Putting a centre-back into an article full of cards you can’t miss might come across as a strange selection, and it is, but the first Winter Wildcards team was pretty black and white — most players saw the cards and immediately knew which ones were worth picking up and which ones weren’t.
The one they might have gotten wrong, however, was Pau Torres, whose card looks almost identical to the Showdown version of Gerard Pique that came out not long before him. This man is 6’3”, with 78 Pace and elite defensive stats to go with solid physical stats. He’s also got decent Agility and Balance for his size, but it’s once you look into his Passing stats that you’ll be truly amazed. 72 doesn’t look overly impressive, but his Short Passing is at an 86 and his Long Passing is at an 82; the “face stat” is weighed down by his 29 Free Kick Accuracy, 48 Curve and 59 Crossing — three stats completely irrelevant to his position.
Pop a Shadow on him, and what you’ve got is an absolute monster of a centre-back who can break up the play, win more than his fair share of challenges, and then play the ball out of the back with complete confidence. All for 14,000 coins.