The Scottish Premiership season is sure to be entertaining – both in reality and in the virtual world.
We were lucky to receive a copy of FIFA 17 ahead of the game’s release on Thursday and have been giving it a good going over since.
Its new features include The Journey – which is a brilliant new mode allowing players to take over the life of Alex Hunter as he tries to forge a career in the game. Think the Call of Duty campaign mode but applied to FIFA. With less blood and guts obviously too.
There are also new ways to take penalties and corners, while all of the teams in the game get a makeover after a summer of new signings.
But we’ll get to all of that in the next few days – we had to check out the Scottish Premiership first.
We’re already seven games into the Scottish top-flight season with Celtic leading the way on 16 points – four ahead of Aberdeen and seven in front of rivals Rangers.
Partick sit at the foot of the table with five points – one behind Dundee, Hamilton and Kilmarnock.
However, there’s so much more to come and it’s anyone’s guess how the Premiership table will look come next May.
While we don’t have a crystal ball into the future, we do have FIFA 17 – and we took the opportunity to simulate this season and see what happens.
We assumed responsibility for Kilmarnock because we thought it might be quite tough for them.
Here’s what happened:
Best place to start is now. It’s a little bit later than the stage we’re currently at in the season, but the picture above shows the table after the first weekend in October. Rangers sit top, on 20 points, just one above Celtic, who beat them in the first Old Firm game of the season. Inverness occupy bottom spot on five points, with Motherwell and Dundee closest to them on six. The surprise package of the early games? Partick up in fourth. Some job from Alan Archibald.
You’ll see the result of the first Old Firm game at the top – Celtic winning 2-0 at home.
Picking out a particular result in the following months, Rangers edged a six-goal thriller against Kilmarnock at Ibrox. We reckon Rangers fans would be happy to see their starting XI include Matt Crooks and Michael O’Halloran regularly. As for Killie, Souleymane Coulibaly scored – no doubt a 40-yard belter!
Table at Christmas
Moving forward to Christmas, and the league table had changed at the top, but not at the bottom. Celtic now had a two-point lead over Rangers at the top, with Aberdeen eight points further back. Partick were still going strong, but Hamilton climbed above them to sit in fourth. As for the bottom, Inverness were still set for relegation, while Motherwell, Dundee and Ross County were the other teams in trouble.
Rangers and Killie faced off again in 2017 – and we found the result particularly interesting considering Joey Barton, who currently finds himself banned by the club, scored both goals in a 2-0 win.
How did the next Old Firm game go? Celtic emerged victorious again, this time winning 2-1 away at Ibrox.
Now we fast forward to March and the table gave us a clear idea of who would finish where at the end of the season. This was before the run-in really started – and you’d have been happy if you were a Celtic fan.
As you can see, Celtic led Rangers by six points after 31 games and still hadn’t lost a single game the whole season. Brendan Rodgers’ men were heading for an invincible campaign. Aberdeen were still hot on the heels of Mark Warburton’s men in second. But it was continuing to go bad for Inverness – as they sat four points adrift at the bottom of the table and looking more and more likely to go down.
There another Old Firm game in March – and this one ended 0-0. Hopefully we don’t see any of these for real this season.
As is the norm, the league split after 33 games and there was still loads to play for at both ends of the table. Celtic led Rangers by five points at the top, while Inverness were four away from Motherwell at the bottom. By this time, Partick were too far away from third-placed Aberdeen to make a play for the last remaining Europa League spot.
So, on to the split and the decisive part of the season for every team. As you’d probably expect, Rangers were unable to put a strong run together to rival Celtic and the Hoops finished the season as champions on 86 points. By then, their unbeaten run had ended. Aberdeen took the other Europa League spot, while Partick sat in fourth, St Johnstone in fifth and Hearts in a disappointing sixth.
The bottom half of the table doesn’t look good for Inverness supporters and they’ll be hoping it doesn’t turn out to be the case for Richie Foran’s men this season. They were able to equal Ross County’s points tally of 32, but the Staggies had a better goal difference to sit in the relegation play-off spot and consign Caley to the Championship. As for our Killie, they finished strong for seventh, followed by Hamilton in eighth, Dundee in ninth and Motherwell in a rotten 10th.
So Celtic are champions, Caley are down – but who were the players to impress throughout the season?
Leigh Griffiths took the Player of the Year award for his impressive displays with Celtic – something he’ll be looking to take for real if he can continue his strong form for Rangers throughout this campaign. In the game, he bagged 15 goals and got eight assists for the Hoops.
While Griffiths was the top player, he lost out on the Golden Boot to team-mate Scott Sinclair. We’re not surprised, the English winger has hit the ground running for the Scottish champions and the game is pretty spot on with his full season. He finished with 17 goals and four assists.
Craig Gordon took the Goalkeeper of the Season award, and was included in the Team of the Season alongside five of his Celtic team-mates; Emilio Izaguirre, Erik Sviatchenko, Sinclair, Scott Brown and Moussa Dembele. Where’s Griffiths? We’re not sure the game got this right. There are three Rangers players in the team and they are Rob Kiernan, Michael O’Halloran and Joe Garner. Aberdeen duo Shay Logan and Ryan Jack complete the team.
Here’s a full list of the season’s top scorers, with Motherwell’s Scott McDonald and Aberdeen’s Adam Rooney impressing in particular.
When it comes to assists, Gers winger O’Halloran takes the top spot with 11 goals laid on for his team-mates throughout the league campaign. Fans would love to see him given the opportunity to do that in reality.
Now for the disciplinary list – and you’ll be surprised to see Barton doesn’t make either.
And that rounds off the 2016/17 Scottish Premiership season as simulated by FIFA 17.