Hummels: Ball possession is key
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"I play with BVB and I’m not just saying that," is Mats Hummels’ reply when asked about his favourite team in EA SPORTS™ FIFA 13. The Dortmund defender is sitting in the commentary box chatting to former Bayern Munich striker Alan McInally, switching comfortably between German and English as they watch the final of the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2013 Germany Territory Showdown.

Hummels appearance at the Territory Showdown, held at Signal Iduna Park on 17 April, is a brief and welcome distraction for the No15 who is in the middle of preparing for Dortmund’s semi-final first-leg against Real Madrid on 24 April. “Watching the games today, the guys looked tense. It reminds me of when I play my brother at home,” he says.

The Germany Showdown brought together the three best online FIWC gamers and the 2012 national champion for a knockout tournament that would send one player to the FIWC13 Grand Final in Madrid. After some fierce competition the Final comes down to defending champion Kai Wollin and challenger Marius Popp. Kai selects Real Madrid while Marius sticks with underdogs Fortuna Dusseldorf, a team his used throughout the tournament.

Kai’s Madrid is too strong for Marius, scoring three goals without reply. Watching the match, Hummels thoughts return to the Spanish giants. "Ball possession will be a key factor against Real Madrid. I remember our match at Real during the Group stage. In the second half we did not have the ball for longer than ten seconds before we lost it again, and then it is really difficult against them."

Fielding a variety of questions sent in by fans via @FIWC on Twitter while at the showdown, Hummels is asked to name the toughest forward he has had to defend against. "Dzeko is a very good striker,” he says. “When I played against him it was so difficult because he is so tall and strong but also he has such a good technique and nice control. This makes it very hard to play against him."

Dortmund virtual enthusiasts
“I would have to say Moritz Leitner is the best FIFA 13 player in our team. I'm good but I couldn't keep up with the level being played here. In our team, I am not even in the top three,” says the 24-year-old professional footballer, perhaps a bit too modestly.

So just how much FIFA 13 does Mats Hummels play? It turns out quite a bit judging by his performance in an exhibition match against two-time Germany champion Kai Wollin. “Of course a player can always use what he already knows from actual football in the game [FIFA 13],” says Hummels, “and one can maybe also learn from the game for real life.”

The Germany international will be hoping that his virtual performance against the national champion is a good omen for Wednesday’s semi-final. Hummels managed to shut out Kai for the remainder of the match after scoring a 15th-minute penalty with the FIFA 13 version of himself. "Kai is one of the best players, maybe the best player I have ever played against. I hope he will be successful in Madrid and I hope he wins the title.”

So what does Hummels think of his virtual self’s attributes in FIFA 13 (a score of 85/100 for defence and 65/100 for speed.) “That is a very nice evaluation for me,” he says. “I would have been pleased if they had given me five more points for speed, but more than this would then have been too presumptuous…When a player thinks back to their childhood, they recall hoping that someday they would become part of this game and when it is at this level then it is even better," he says.