Now that the Underdog National Team challenge has seen the light of day, it’s time to dive in and explore the potential of retro-PES as a platform for it.
The game is PES5. We’re presenting the worst National Teams of the game, which means, the best suited for the challenge. We’re going to dissect them all to their core, present the scouting report and leave you better prepared for the overwhelming task you’re ready to take on.
It’s time to go to the Retro-PES Lab. Have a seat, get your notebook and pen out of your pocket. The scouts have arrived.
Latvia. Somehow, they were able to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2004, which was their only presence on an international football tournament as an independent country. Honouring that achievement, Konami introduced their National Team as a playable team in PES4, and it appears in PES5 as well. Unsurprisingly, Latvia is one of the worst NTs of the game, and an obvious candidate for this collection of underdog nations for the player to control, and try to do the impossible and win them a trophy.
Starting XI: (4-4-2) Kohebiko; Stefaan, Shepirdes, Zigemas, Moyraz; Asyuhinkes, Ladeowas, Bgunizos, Rutsnos; Vejavusiwaniks, Prihohroukes.
Goalkeepers: Kohebinko, Pianis
D+. Kohebinko’s top-tier Balance (91) and solid Response (84) are hardly able to compensate for his below-average Defense and GK Skills, both 78; which combined with his shockingly low Agility, is often the recipe for trouble. He’s still better than Pianis and an obvious choice for the spot, but both are not good enough to compete at top-level international football.
Centrebacks: Stefaan, Shepirdes, Zebrisaneus, Zaroentkov.
D+. God help Latvia. Looking at Stefaan and Zebrisaneus’ defense stats (both 78), one could get optimistic about their solidity at the back; however, their full statsheets reveal how awful all of the CBs are. They’re slow, technically horrible and, as if this wasn’t bad enough already, the two that theoretically could form the more evolved partnership have low 70 Stamina attributes – which given PES5’s trademark merciless energy consumption system means they’ll have trouble lasting 90 minutes…
Sidebacks: Zigemas, Moyraz, Iujales, Lobinques
D. Aaaargh. The only good news here is that all four of them are so very mediocre…but equally so, which will give you the feeling that you have plenty to choose from. Well, you do have, but don’t expect any of your SB “partnerships” to work well when up against the best wingers and SMFs of the world.
Moyraz actually looks like he could pass as a professional football player, even if his balanced statsheet is not brilliant at all; as for the rest, I could praise Zigemas and Iujales’ stamina, or Lobinques’ mental stats, but that pretty much sums up their abilities. Oh, and none of them are left-footed, though Zigemas is able to play as LB with his above-average weak foot skills – albeit redundant, considering his whooping 63 Short Pass Acc. or his 67 Technique.
Defensive Midfielders: Asyuhinkes, Ladeowas, Bgunizos (Moyraz).
D+. Asyuhinkes and Ladeowas are the only two registered DMFs, though Bgunizos and Moyraz are able to play there as well – as well as Zebrisaneus, but I couldn’t count him in given his shockingly low stamina. A DMF with low stamina is like a striker who can’t shoot, or a midfielder who can’t pass the ball…
Anyway, none of them even look like your traditional DMF, as they’re all rather offensive-minded. Asyuhinkes is a kind of Pirlo-wannabe, a “regista” building up play from the back with +80 mental stats, but is still otherwise unimpressive. As for Ladeowas, he looks like a decent box-to-box (75 Att. + 67 Def., 80 Stamina) who in theory might complement Asyuhinkes’ lack of mobility.
I can’t rate the DMF bunch higher than a D+ because of the lack of depth. If both Bgunizos and Moyraz are viable options for the role, they’re absolutely needed elsewhere on the pitch – Bgunizos as SMF and Moyraz as SB. So, despite the fact that you’re able to form an interesting DMF partnership with fake-Pirlo and lesser-Gerrard (quite the overstatement…), you’ll have no actual substitutes for them.
Side Midfielders: Bgunizos, Rutsnos, Virtonavs (Kosemenimerinko)
D+. There’s no doubt that a Bgunizos + Rutsnos SMF duo is Latvia’s best option. Bgunizos is the lesser National Team’s typical SMF: not that talented, but useful to help his SB defend the wing. Rutsnos, on the other hand, is one of Latvia’s most potent offensive weapons with his speed (85 Top Speed + 85 Acceleration), as well as his dribbling (77 Accuracy + 88 Drible Speed). He’s an interesting FK taker (81 FK accuracy + 82 Curling) and a decent crosser of the ball (77 Long Pass Acc. + 75 LP Speed).
Virtonavs is a Rutsnos in the making, though not as talented, who’ll be useful if you’re able to take advantage of his above-average speed and agility. Kosemenimerinko (uff) is a registered striker who’s able to fill in the SMF role, and given his awful shooting stats, he’d be wise to accept it as his main position. He’s utterly unimpressive except for his Stamina (82) and speed (84 Top Speed + 80 Acceleration).
Center Forwards: Vejavuswaniks, Prihohroukes, Blonkov, Ridazis, Docmoptos, Kosemenimerinko, Midelegs, Kylies.
C-. There’s a special place in hell for the man who thought it’d be a great idea for one of the worst NTs in PES5 to have eight CFs on the squad. No, not eight attackers, eight goddamn strikers. According to the team’s default formation, two of them will play on the starting-11, but if you’re the one controlling Latvia, would you be willing to risk playing a two-striker formation against the Brazils, Argentinas, Netherlands and Italys of the world?
Regardless of whether you’ll play one or two strikers out of this extensive forward list, Vejavuswaniks has to be one of them. More on him later. Now, while there ain’t any other who’s half the player V-Man (Dejà Vu Swaniks?) is, fortunately you still have enough talent to create an interesting partnership up front. Prihohroukes, Ridazis, Docmoptos and Midelegs are obvious candidates for the role. Ridazis compensates for his dreadful shooting stats with his heading (80) and his 80 Balance + Stamina, yet the other three seem to be better than him. Docmoptos is the most evolved shooter of them all – your typical poacher – while Prihohoukes and Midelegs are more complete footballers, able to participate in many areas of the game.
The dark horse here is Kylies, an otherwise unimpressive footballer except for his heading (80), his Scoring and Post Player stars, and his wonderful 90 Balance attribute. Given he’s 193cm tall, he could form the perfect partnership with V-Man up front, as they’re the complete opposite of each other.
As for Blonkov, he looks like a SMF in the making (84 Top Speed, 86 Agility) but with below-average dribbling and overall, a statsheet that will make him virtually useless – especially when comparing him to the other 7 forwards of this team.
Key Player: Vejavusiwaniks. The only Latvian who actually looks like a professional footballer. And this is quite the interesting player: strong attacking skillset (80 Attack + 80 Shot Acc./Shot Technique + 82 Shot Power) combined with wonderful speed (92 Top Speed + 86 Acceleration), Agility (86) and Dribble Speed (84). Throw in Scoring and Lines stars and you have the Key Player of this team. Without V-Man, Latvia will be hopeless; with him, they’re still hopeless but you can still dream of scoring a goal once in a while – and that’s better than nothing. Use him wisely though, for his low Balance, Stamina and aerial ability could seriously hurt your chances at taking full advantage of skillset.
Latvia uses an assymetric 4-4-2 with the potential to naturally morph into a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1, depending on the occasion. Bgunizos the RMF lies much deeper than Rutsnos the LMF, who’ll tend to explore the wing as more of an actual winger than a SMF; while Bgunizos tucks in and sits closer to the two DMFs: this often gives the illusion that Bgunizos is a CMF and Rutsnos is a LWF. As for the CF partnership, Vejavusiwaniks is joined by a striker who sits much deeper, almost as if he were an AMF, and who’s expected to defend much more than Latvia’s undisputed star.
- The team defends very deep, quite close to its own goal – the 4-men defensive line is glued to the goalkeeper on the formation screen! This is a wise strategy, given the lack of speed of Latvia’s defenders. All players are instructed to participate actively on that moment, except for Rutsnos and V-Man…
- …who’ll be the two options for to start a counterattacking effort once the team gets the ball back. Counterattacking is set to ‘A’, which means a lot of emphasis is put on trying to harm the opposition with a brand of fast-paced transition football.
- One of the CFs drops back and waits for a long ball, he gets the ball, then passes it, then Rutsnos and V-Man…do something with it! This is Latvia’s offensive gameplan – and rightfully so, as there’s not enough talent to reproduce a more evolved and dynamic style of play.
- Possession football is strictly forbidden! Neither the players nor the tactic are built for that.
- Despite its focus on producing counterattacking opportunities, Latvia’s offensive transition is more often than not poorly done and therefore ineffective, simply because Rutsnos and Verpakovskis (and the other striker, when he’s not defending) are the only ones ready to carry the ball forward immediately after the team wins it.
-> As much as I’d like to see them play a 5-men defense which would be a much more solid option at the back, this squad is built to play a 4-4-2 and this particular system + player/team instructions works best for Latvia.
Next up: Slovenia