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IF Koulibaly - the Great Wall of Napoli

He’s one of the best defenders in the game.

SSC Napoli v FC Crotone - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Today, we’ll be looking at IF Kalidou Koulibaly. This is the second special card the Napoli and Senegal center-back has received this year, as well as an upgraded 83-rated base card. This card is heavily boosted from his previous special card, with sizeable increases in his dribbling, passing and defending stats.

Koulibaly is a relatively unique defender - not only is he 6’5”, but he’s also incredibly quick with great dribbling stats, making him feel smooth on the ball. Throw in some monstrous defending and physical stats, and you have a truly world-class centerback.

Let’s take a look at his in-game stats, without any chemistry style applied:

Koulibaly IG Stats
FUTHEAD

Even without receiving a chemistry boost, he has some truly extraordinary in-game stats, including 82 sprint speed, 99 reactions, 89 interceptions, 92 standing tackle, 91 sliding tackle, 90 aggression and 97 strength.

I played him with the Anchor chemistry style, giving him the following boosts:

Koulibaly IG stats with Anchor
FUTHEAD

With this chemistry style, he moves up to 85 pace, with 94+ on all his defending attributes, as well as going up to 93 physical, with 99 strength and aggression and 91 jumping.

As you can see, he has all the stats needed to be an incredible defender, and that’s exactly what he is in-game.

I picked up Koulibaly to replace the great “Smalldini” in my WL team, and he plays alongside Maldini, with Van der Sar in goal.

WL Team
FUTHEAD

Having grown tired of losing aerial duels to the likes of 4IF Lukaku and POTM Zlatan Ibrahimovic, I decided to replace Smalling with Koulibaly, and see how it worked out. In the 17 games I have used him, he has not lost a single aerial duel.

Here are my stats with Kalidou Koulibaly:

Price: 93,500

Games: 17 (12 in WL, 5 in online singles)

Goals: 6 (5 in WL, 1 in online singles)

Assists: 1

Clean Sheets: 15 (10 in WL, 5 in online singles)

Goals Conceded: 3

Yellow/Red Cards: 0/0

Chemistry Style: Anchor

As you can see, my defensive record with Koulibaly is incredible - I conceded just 3 goals in 12 WL games, and didn’t concede a single on in the online single matches. His goal-scoring record is fantastic too, with 7 goal contributions in those 17 games.

Let’s get into the review.

Pace: 10/10

With the anchor chemistry style, he’s incredibly fast in game. In all the games I used him, not a single attacker managed to get past him - his high pace stat, combined with his long stride, makes him feel lightning quick in-game. This stat feels like it is in the 90s, instead of in the mid-80s. He’s fast enough to recover from a bad position and catch up with an attacker, or quickly cover ground to win back the ball by making a game-saving tackle or interception.

Shooting: N/A

Despite his H/H work rates, he never gets too far up the field, and doesn’t really get any shooting opportunities. All his goals came from headers.

Passing: 7/10

Surprisingly good. He has great short passing, so he never misplaces a simple pass out of the back or to one of his fellow defenders. His long passing leaves a lot to be desired - he’s not capable of playing long-balls up the field, or curling in a cross. That being said, I don’t look for that in defenders, and if I need to play a long-ball, I have three other defenders capable of doing just that.

Dribbling: 8/10

Very good. His high reactions, decent agility, balance, ball-control and dribbling all make him very composed on the ball, and elegant on the dribble. He has a good first touch, and is very responsive in game. I was really surprised by this - his base cards and first special card all felt clunky in game, but this card is fantastic. That being said, don’t try and go on any mazy runs with him - he can get the job done, but not do anything spectacular.

Defending: 10/10

His defensive partner is Paolo Maldini, possibly the greatest defender to ever have played the game and my favorite of all time, and yet, Koulibaly manages to rival him in defensive prowess. His defending is perfect - he reads the game perfectly, and makes a handful of crucial interceptions every game. His marking is incredible, and he manages to keep track of and control several player at once. His tackling is actually perfect - he will always win the ball back, regardless of whether the opponent is shielding the ball or not. He’ll just stick a leg in, and emerge with the ball.

Physical: 10/10

In all the games I used him, he didn’t lose a single aerial challenge, and was only muscled off the ball once (by 94-rated MOTM Zlatan). His physicality is unmatched - with 99 strength and aggression, he will never get bullied on the ball, and he will win every single 50-50 challenge. He’s an absolute monster at the back.

Aerial ability: 11/10

When I reviewed Cannavaro, I dedicated a section to his aerial ability, because it was the best I had ever seen. This man is better. He’s 6’5”, with 91 jumping, 96 heading, 99 strength and aggression, and the power header trait. Whip that corner in, and if he can get there in time, it’s a goal. In the first game I used him, I won a corner in the 3rd minute, whipped it in with Bale, and Kalidou Koulibaly headed it with so much power and placement that it almost ripped through the top corner of the net. There isn’t a defender in this game who can contain him, and there are no strikers who can beat him in the air. He is truly unstoppable.

Summary:

He’s one of the best CBs I have ever used. He has it all - great pace, good dribbling, phenomenal defending and awe-inspiring physicality. He’s a little hard to link up, and his work-rates might put some people off (they are absolutely not a problem), but if you can get him into your team, do it. He’s my second favorite defender this year, after Paolo Maldini (check out our review of him here), and he’s miles ahead of other elite defenders I have used this year. For only 100K, you are getting an elite centerback with some of the best stats in the game.