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Cannavaro - an overlooked gem

‘The Berlin Wall’ is one of the best defenders in the game

Netherlands v Spain: 2010 FIFA World Cup Final Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Today, we’ll be looking at the Italian Legend, Fabio “ll Muro de Berlino” Cannavaro. Widely considered to be one of the greatest defenders of all time, Cannavaro is only the third defender in history to win the World Player of the Year. A member of the legendary Galacticos of Real Madrid, as well as title winning teams Parma and Juventus, Cannavaro truly deserves his legend card.

In FIFA 17, Cannavaro is largely overlooked due to his height (he’s only 5’9”) and lack of blistering pace. However, he has some superb in-game stats:

Cannavaro IG Stats
FUTBIN

He has some of the best defensive stats in the game, as well as great strength, remarkable jumping, and very decent dribbling stats. I used him with the shadow chemistry style, taking his stats to:

Cannavaro IG Stats with Shadow
FUTBIN

As you can see, applying the shadow chemistry style gives him great pace, as well as perfect defending stats.

Here are my stats for Cannavaro:

Stats

Price: 256,000

Games: 31

Goals: 4

Assists: 1

Chemistry Style: Shadow

Let’s get to the review:

Pace: 8/10

He’s fast enough to catch up with most forwards, especially with the Shadow chemistry style. But he’s not the fastest centerback out there, and he’s still going to get caught out by the Aubameyangs of the world. That being said, he has enough pace to close down most attacks, and to recover and catch up with attackers that get past him.

Shooting: 1/10

It doesn’t matter what foot he’s on - his shooting is atrocious. I tried a couple of long shots, and one went out of the stadium, and the other barely reached the goal keeper. His finishing is awful - he had a couple of chances in the box after corner, and he hammered the ball wide of the goal.

His heading is a completely different story - I’ll talk about it more later.

Passing: 4/10

His passing is quite poor - he can pull off short passes with ease, but he cannot pass further than 20 yards. His crossing is terrible, and the one freekick I tried with him went out for a throw in. After a couple of games, I stopped trying to play long balls with him, and just resorted to making short passes to players who could actually pass the ball. His one assist came from a shot that ended up being a pass to Ronaldo.

Dribbling: 10/10

It may seem odd that I’m giving a centerback a 10/10 for dribbling - however, this is very deserved in Cannavaro’s case. He has incredible agility and balance for a centerback, which means he is never caught flatfooted by an attacker. Players find it very hard to dribble past him, as he can change direction almost instantly. As a result, the only way to get past him is to pass your way through a defense (which is incredibly difficult with his high interceptions) or out-strength him (which is no easy task). His high reactions means that he can react instantly to a loose ball, winning it back, or pulling off a perfect clearance. His dribbling and ball control feel a lot better than his in-game stats, and he’s composed and reliable on the ball.

Defending: 10/10

This is where it gets good. His defending is perfect. His tackling is the best on the game - he wins the ball every single time. His standing tackling is the best I’ve seen, and his dispossesses every player who he encounters, and his sliding tackling is as good as any player I’ve ever used - he just reaches his leg around the player, and steals the ball from them. His interceptions are just magnificent - he made more interceptions than even IF Kante. He’s always in the right place to cut out the pass, or stop an attack. His positioning must have prevented at least 10 goals - he’s even in the right place to make goal-line clearances.

Physical: 10/10

Great stamina, decent aggression that feels a lot better in game, and fantastic strength. He’s strong enough to bully any player including a SIF Lukaku and POTM Zlatan that I came up against. He’s an absolute tank at the back. His jumping is superb, and completely makes up for his height. He will win everything in the air.

Heading: 10/10

I know what you’re thinking - heading hasn’t been a card stat since FIFA 14. But it’s not possible to talk about Cannavaro without addressing the greatest of his abilities - his aerial prowess. In game, you forget that he’s 5’9” - he is dominant in the air. His man can fly, winning headers against players almost a foot taller than him (looking at you POTM Zlatan). At the back, no cross results in a goal - he wins them all and clears them. Going forward, he’s a monster in the air. All his goals came from corners, and all of them were scored against one of two defenders - Chris Smalling, or Jerome Boateng. I’ve never seen a player better than him in the air, especially when you consider his height.

Summary:

Cannavaro is an old-school defender - a no-nonsense tackling and intercepting machine, with tremendous strength, composure and aerial ability. His height is rendered irrelevant by his ability to fly, and his pace is compensated for by his is perfect interceptions. He is a brick wall at the back, and deserving of his nickname (“The Berlin Wall”).

However, he is lacking in some crucial stats. His inability to finish meant he missed sitters from corners, his lack of passing ability means that you have to build attacks slowly instead of capitalizing on counters, and his decent pace just doesn’t cut it against attackers who utilize their blistering pace. In real football, Cannavaro was perfect, but in FIFA, he’s far from that. Defenders in this game need to be strong and defensively solid, but they also need to be able to pass the ball, put away their opportunities, and catch up with any attacker.

I ended up selling Cannavaro - he’s a fantastic defender, and a joy to use, but for ~260K, you can do better. For far less than him, you can pick up Boateng, Ramos, Chiellini or Smalling - all of them are stunningly good center backs. However, if you are looking for a legend, you won’t find one much better than Cannavaro in his price range.