We all knew that FIFA 08 was an inevitability, and some of the biggest stars in world football would grace the inlay sleeve when it appears in Europe later in 2007 (go on, tell us we're not wrong). That said, the list of international clever clogs EA Sports has announced as cover stars makes for interesting reading.
The man who some regard as the world's greatest contemporary goofball - sorry, football player - Ronaldinho, is present and correct, but a chorus of "Who the f*****g hell are you?" goes out to the likes of Andreas Ivanschitz and Tranquillo Barnetta.
Some of us here are huge footy fans, and yes, we've heard - and sniggered at - their names before, but would you recognise them on the front of the box? No, us neither. And the players we do know by sight, well, they're hardly catalogue models. But worry not, you English scumbag so-called football fans, you! The selection of players announced so far is purely for mainland Europe. Say hello to the following cover stars and their respective countries:
Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen) will be on the Swiss cover. 'Cos he's from Switzerland. Ronaldinho (Barcelona) and Miroslav Klose (Werder Bremen) will share the German sleeve. Let's hope it's an October 31 release for that one, eh? Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) will grace the cover of FIFA 08 in Spain, Andreas Ivanschitz (Panathinaikos FC) is an Austrian national and will therefore feature on the Austrian release.
And finally, French duo Florent Malouda (Olympique Lyonnais) and Olympique Marseille's Frank Ribery (steady girls, he's spoken for) will join up with the ubiquitous Ronaldinho for the issue Francaise.
Electronic Arts also revealed that literally as we write this, Barnetta, Ronaldinho, Ramos, Klose and Ivanschitz are involved in the motion-capture larks that provide that oh-so-accurate body movement that you see in-game. "We are proud to call some of the world's best football athletes our partners. The access, guidance and insight they give us means that FIFA 08 will create a next-gen experience that not only looks authentic, but that captures the emotion, finesse and beauty of the game," said Joe Booth, senior producer for FIFA 08. "Through sessions like today, and the continued investment in our next-gen football engine, our world-class development team continues to revolutionize the authentic gameplay experience."
"Ronaldinho and all the FIFA 08 cover stars bring a passion for the sport that is raw and true. They enjoy helping us bring that real-world experience into the game," said Matt Bilbey, International Director, EA SPORTS. "Their expert skills, commitment to success and passion for football inspire our development team and help us make FIFA 08 the most natural-feeling football videogame in the world."
Hey! Who's gonna star on the cover of the UK release of FIFA 08? The SPOnG kitty is on THE best player in the world and easy pushover Cristiano Ronaldo, especially as all the Liverpool players ran out of steam last night in the European Cup final.
(Maybe EA's arch-rival in the soccer-kicking stakes, Konami, will have forgotten how the Reds had the stuffing knocked out of 'em with a soft free kick by the time the next PES cover stars are ready for selection.)
FIFA 08 is due for release on every format imaginable - and possibly some you've not heard of as yet - sometime later this year. Fingers crossed, we'll be able to bring you some hot photos from the motion-capture sessions later today.
SPOnG is fair-minded when it comes to football - we hate every team above League 1 (Division 2 in old money).