Short Stories: Newcastle United – Part 2

Welcome back to the 2nd part of this new, short term series where I’m trying to make a success of Newcastle whilst captain and talisman Alan Shearer is injured. Things got off to a decent start in part 1, maybe not in the league but we knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League and isn’t that enough?

It’s certainly given us some confidence as things continue to improve with a mighty 3-0 win at Goodison Park. No doubt Ian Rush scoring will have pleased the Everton faithful…

0-3 everton win

That’s followed up (after an International break) with a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge. The Ian Rush statue will look great outside the Gallowgate

3-0 chelsea

It’s deemed worthy of the “shock defeat” graphic which I think is a little harsh. We’re a Champions League side. Granted we’re a side that contains Ian Rush and Brian Pinas, but that’s not the point.

That brings us to the start of the Champions League Group Stages and a home clash with IFK Gothenburg looks like a rough beginning when we go 1-0 down inside a minute. Shay Given gets man of the match which says it all but eventually our own Swede brings us level, Tomasson puts us ahead and Rush gets his now customary goal.

3-1 IFK

The games against Man Utd will no doubt be pivotal. Back to league action though and a 2-0 lead at home to Leeds is blown and it finishes 2-2. We’re a weird team, a fact underlined by our performance at Villa Park. We have a goal disallowed, miss a penalty (Andersson) and then have Darren Peacock sent off as we lose 2-0. That leaves us 10th, with 2 games in hand and still 4 months until Shearer time. Dion Dublin signs for Athletic Bilbao and on the same day, Gareth Southgate moves to Real Betis. That, in the words of Martin Tyler, sums it all up.

Barnsley’s visit is a return of the good times though. The dynamic duo get a brace each.

4-0 barnsley

That gets Rushy a recall to the Wales squad, a fact he celebrates with a goal in Latvia as Skonto Riga are brushed aside 2-0. We had 23 shots but very few successes. The celebration continues in the less fanciful surrounds of Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, where our old Welshman scores the only goal of the game to see us past the 4th placed Trotters. The most remarkable thing about the match though is that we picked up three injuries in 4 minutes before half time, including Andreas Andersson, who like John Barnes will be sidelined for a month. The International break is very welcome.

table october

Not bad…so far

Rush doesn’t get his dream Wales appearance, a dislocated shoulder rules him out though oddly only for one week. I’m relieved as he is my only striker for a few games, including Man Utd in the Champions League.

First though it’s Coventry at home and without Andersson it’s time for…Ketsbaia. Barnes and Barton are still out injured, Peacock is banned but Shearer is down to “a couple of months.” Naturally we throw away a lead and draw 2-2, but then we win at Wimbledon and everything is fine.

wimbledon 1 - 3 toon

Gary Speed’s injury rules him out of the Man Utd Champions League clash, which is going to hurt. With Rush and Bjarni Gudjonsson up front, how can we lose?

2-1 man utd

So close. First NUFC goal for Bjarni Gudjonsson, so that’s a plus. It doesn’t get any easier though – Arsenal at home is up next.

3-1 arsenal

BJARNI! Seeing as he’s my new hero, who is he?

I can’t even find a picture of him in a Newcastle shirt, but this is another Dalglish signing bought for the future. That date of birth is wrong by the way, not that it matters.

Bjarni

He went on to play 132 times for Stoke, so there is that. He nets again in a 5-1 demlotion of Carlisle in the League Cup and with Andreas Andersson returning to fitness, things look a bit rosier. Luton Town in round 4 could be a lot worse too!

Back to the Champions League and a trip to Sweden. It’s a horror night. 2-0 down and on the way out, Bjarnicakes scores twice and life is good again. Then we concede a late winner and that basically ends our involvement.

IFK loss

David Batty was meant to be my warrior but he’s just constantly injured. Anyway, we finish this update with Leicester at home. Andersson is recalled in place of the jaded Rush and it’s a bad end to a miserable week.

newcastle 0 - 1 leicester

We’re still 5th as we take a rest for the International break. It’s not that bad really.

table november

Look who’s nearly back…

pistone

Sorry, wrong screenshot.

Shearer

Just one month to go…11 days to the next game too. I’m sure he’ll be back in part 3. See you then!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Short Stories: Newcastle United – Part 1

Hello to you. As is often the case when I have “time off” from writing and I just want to write everything. I suppose it’s good I have ideas. Anyway, I will be running a series of short stories, managing a club for a small period of time probably with some sort of caveat. Obviously this is CM9798, a game we all know inside out by now, so I need to keep things interesting.

As many of you will know, I’m a Newcastle fan. I haven’t done a blog save as Newcastle, though I did take on the job in the original save (take 2) to drag them up from Division 2. Some things just need fixing. Anyway, we join the story in July 1997. Kenny Dalglish has guided Newcastle to 2nd place after replacing Kevin Keegan and SIR Kenny has celebrated by selling David Ginola and Les Ferdinand. That’s not to mention Peter Beardsley. But fear not, he’s brought in John Barnes, Ian Rush and Stuart Pearce. To top it all off, Alan Shearer has picked up a long term injury and will miss several months. In best case scenarios, I’ve had him back by November. In other games he’s been gone until March. It’s a pickle.

shearer injury

2nd place in 96/97 earned Newcastle a crack at the Champions League. This is good. Normally, I’d just spend the money on Bakayoko and be done with it. Sit back and watch the good times roll. But this is where the challenge comes in. I’m not going to make any signings in the first season. Basically, I have to make the most of the Dad’s Army Kenny has left me. Oh and Andreas Andersson. Thank goodness.

Andersson

This is the squad I’ve “inherited.” The problem is, finishing 2nd means expectations are quite high. There’s not an awful lot of pace in the forward positions, so my favourite formation might not work. Still, at least we have John Barnes.

NUFC starting squad

Shearer’s injury stands at 7 months. To make matters even more fun, Pistone has been bestowed a 6 month injury. Oh random chance, how you spoil me.

It’s not a bad squad, really. If you ignore some of the ages. I’m thinking Rush and Andersson as the front two we were so cruelly denied, Tomasson and Gillespie in behind, happy days. Don’t really fancy Stuart Pearce as a wing back but I’m actively considering playing Barnesy there. Or Brian Pinas.

Rush

We’re a bit light up front, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Maybe it’s stupid to play two strikers when I have so many decent midfielders. Perhaps I could borrow Adam Turner’s Belgium tactics.

Belgium team vs Chile

That could work.

It’ll fucking have to.

CL draw

That’s a nightmare draw, obviously. Can’t wait to see Ian Rush lead the line on his own in the Nou Camp.

AA injury

The deck is stacked. But before we head to Barcelona, it’s Derby at home. In Adam we trust.

tactics first game

If this is a sign of things to come, we’re ruined. We fortunately go ahead when Russell Houly chucks one in but Gary Rowett equalises. Tomasson and Gillespie put us 3-1 up and everybody relaxes. Obviously, Derby get two goals and it finishes 3-3. I didn’t expect defending to be our achilles heel but really, why did I expect anything else?

3-3 derby

Perfect warm up for the trip to Barcelona.

We haven’t exactly got loads of room for rotation but I’m going for experience in the Nou Camp. Warren Barton is in at right back and Barnesy starts after making a decent impression against Derby.

Just don’t embarass me, alright?

barca away

Louis Van Gaal and Barca are typically reserved.

barca tactics

We lasted 23 minutes before Luis Enrique got on the end of a free kick. That was bad, but Stuart Pearce being sent off for deliberate handball just before half time was a disaster. Obviously Anderson scored the pen. I decided to put Watson on as a left back for Rush and played without a striker. Modern football. Anderson scored for 3-0 and I started to wonder why I even bothered trying this. But one man had other ideas. Gary Speed kept plugging away throughout and he latched on to a through ball, knocked it past Vitor Baia and it’s game on. Sort of. We’ll have to overturn a two goal deficit in two weeks.

3-1 barca

David Batty has broken a toe, too. Anything else? It’s bad enough that I’m going to have to play Andy Griffin against Barcelona, but now Jimmy Crawford is first reserve in midfield.

Blackburn at home is up next after a needless International break. Andersson has recovered, he’s in for Rush. It’s Rob Lee for Batty and we could do with a win. We lose 2-0. It’s rancid. We’re rancid. Barcelona must be terrified.

Now what? We’ve shipped 8 goals in 3 games so I’m not sure it’s really working. I’m going back to the old faithful formation. I’m going to play young Brian Pinas a left wing back because I really hope to write the headline Pinas sticks it up Barca but that’s just the immaturity in me. Primarily I want to make the group stages.

barca home

We need to win 2-0 or by three clear goals. We can do it but we’ll need a miracle. Van Gaal has parked a big talented bus in front of Vitor Baia and we need to break it down. Twice.

barca tactics home

We are able to do a lot of the pressing because of how Barcelona have set up. Gillespie is put through by Tomasson and my word, he scores. That’s 1-0 and we survive a few scares at our end but offer a small threat at the other. Time is running out but then it happens. Andreas Andersson heads past Baia and the joy of 36,000 is felt. Maybe they should extend the stadium. Either way, WE’RE IN THE GROUPS

2-0 home

Despite all of those heroics, Fernando Couto gets man of the match. For keeping Ian Rush quiet? Stupid.

ratings barca

Our reward is a stupid group. English teams shouldn’t be able to be grouped together but here we are. Playing for second I fear.

CL group draw

I’ll round off part 1 with the last game in August. It’s yet another home game, this time against Tottenham. Ian Rush scores and Darren Peacock gets a 10. I’m not sure which is less likely.

1-0 spurs

That’s it for part one, we’re actually 17th in the table but we’ve only played three times and every one else has played five. So don’t worry about it. Yet. See you soon.

 

 

CM9798 World Cup Final: France take on Italy in the World Cup final, featuring the all important 3rd place playoff match

Hello! Welcome to the final update of the CM9798 World Cup. It’s been quite the three weeks, but I am pleased to say the tournament has been mostly a success. I’ll probably get all soppy at the end but in case you don’t make it that far – thank you for giving this whole thing the time of day. Let’s hand out some rosettes.

3rd/4th Place Playoff

I’ve never been happier to have a 3rd/4th place playoff match. A one match update would have been a much shorter affair. It also gives Gilles De Bilde the chance to win the golden boot outright. Nobody wants to share a boot. I’ll make this gag one more time then I’m done – the good thing about this year’s World Cup is that they have agreed that the two losing semi finalists will have to join host Euro 2000. It’s Holland vs Belgium everybody!

Ash Rose is in charge of Holland as you will of course know by now. They ran out of steam somewhat against a rampant host nation but won’t want to lose to neighbours Belgium. With 3rd place on the line, Ash is able to recall Michael Reiziger who served a suspension for the semi final, but has lost the services of Bergkamp who is now serving the same punishment. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is in for him.

Holland tactics

Adam Turner’s Belgium side have been a breath of fresh air, though I do have a strong feeling of hatred for him eliminating my Scotland side. Never mind. He’s opted to change it up again, moving to a 4-2-3-1 with De Bilde looking to add to the 7 goals he has already netted this tournament, including two hat-tricks in the group stages.

Belgium tactics

Oh yes it’s on video. Normal words are below.

As you’d expect this is quite an open fixture with nothing really to defend. 3rd or 4th…nobody really cares. Gilles De Bilde cares an opens the scoring. He really can fix it. Holland miss a few chances where the commentary is all “he must score” and such like but they don’t.

HT stats

As you’d expect there’s better ratings on the Belgian side. It still could all change.

HT ratings

This is basically just a warm up for the final. The final is coming I promise. Anyway, Holland rally and score twice in the space of 3 minutes, firstly Overmars equalises then with Belgium reeling Jimmy smashes in a rebound. What drama here. Michel Preud’homme is not as good as Bodart, is my assessment. It finishes 2-1. Holland are third! Get the bronze medals!

FT stats

A fairly tight game, Belgium didn’t really look in much trouble then Holland snatched it away in a great 3 minute spell.

FT ratings

Always weird when a defender from the opposition gets man of the match but that’s where we are now. A nice open game to warm us up for the final. Thanks to Ash and Adam for their participation, but now there are only two…

World Cup Final – France vs Italy

So here we are then. It all boils down to this. The tournament that started out with me buying 16 kinder eggs and conducting a draw culminates in France hosting Italy. 17 blog posts, well over 20,000 words plus two preview blogs, 16 hopeful humans have become two. It’s @90sfootball vs @fplhints!

France have spread the goals out a bit but top scorer Trezeguet is suspended. Other top scorer Papin is recalled in the only change, as the diamon is retained. Yes, diamonds are forever.

france team

@FPLhints or the Tinkerman as he has become known has meticulously plotted Italy’s route to the final. No stone has been left unturned and in Ravanelli the Chief has found the perfect partner for Roberto Baggio. Baggio has 5 assists, an impressive number, whilst Ravanelli has 7 goals and requires two here to grab a share of the golden boot. A big ask, but the stage is set. Maldini continues in defensive midfield in the absence of Tacchinardi, an issue Michael Marden flagged up in his preview, you may recall. He’s a wise man.

italy tactics

For the final time, the video is below, or you can scroll past it for the text coverage.

France come out on all cylinders in front of a buoyant home crowd. Karembeu hits the bar and it’s a surprisingly open match, but once Italy whether the storm they get a foothold in the match and it’s not long before Ravanelli is wheeling away with his shirt over his head. His 7th of the tournament puts him one behind De Bilde. Chief knows which way his bread is buttered and immediately moves to a back 5. There’s 77,000 in the stadium and most of them are French fans, but there are some worried faces as half time arrives.

HT stats

It’s a pretty even game but Italy have managed to take one of their chances.

HT ratings

Deschamps and Di Matteo doing their best to dominate the midfield and it’s always odd to see a goalscorer on less than a 7. Paddy has seen enough. Djorkaeff is on, Thuram is off. If Italy are going all out defence then France are going all out attack. It’s brave.

It’s a time to be brave. Six minutes into the second half and France are level! Djorkaeff makes an instant impact and Paddy is lauded as a managerial genius. For 3 minutes. The celebrations have barely died down when Roberto Baggio puts Italy back in front. Would you believe it? The man who missed the decisive penalty at World Cup 94 has put Italy in front in the final. You couldn’t write this.

France are trying to find a way back and Deschamps is off and Maurice is on. They are ripe for a counter attack and sure enough on 83 minutes Ravanelli gets the chance to seal it and he does, securing the golden boot in the process. France slump everywhere. Gilles De Bilde puts his head in his hands. It’s a cruel game.

FT scoreboard

This was a very enjoyable final, fairly open and thankfully not drab like the 2010 or 2014 finals which…haven’t happened yet. France fall just short of emulating their real life win, whilst Italy gain some revenge for the penalty shootout defeat they suffered in the quarter finals. It’s complicated comparing in game events to real life so I’ll stop.

FT stats

Deschamps takes man of the match for marshalling the midfield before beign sacrificed for the final 20 minutes, which isn’t surprising. Deschamps of course will lead France this summer, which wraps everything up in a neat little package.

ratings FT

@FPLhints/@CM_hints takes home the trophy – there is a trophy, it just hasn’t arrived yet. Look out on Twitter for that. But what a thoroughly enjoyable final, in some ways, everyone is a winner. But in another, more accurate way, Italy are the winners.

Final Words

I’ll sign off with a few thank you messages. There’s a lot of planning gone into this and I have to thank the 15 lads who gave up their time to pick and manage these teams, putting up with my constant badgering as I desperately tried to get this done to schedule. We have managed and you’ve made a stupid man very happy. So thank you for that.

To Tom and Michael for the brilliant preview pieces, again I am indebted to you both and on the off chance I can ever do anything for either of you please do let me know. I’m also grateful to my good friend Paul for tweeting several posts for me as I nipped off for a holiday mid-tournament, again done out of generosity which I only hope I can replicate for you one day.

Finally, to you, yes YOU reading this now. I don’t get too hung up on views and that sort of thing as you can drive yourself mad but the blog has had record numbers of views over the past 3 weeks and it’s down to all of you reading, re-tweeting, telling your friends – it goes a long way and is enormously gratifying for me as a blogger to see anybody interested in the words I spew onto this page. Thank you all.

The BBC’s World Cup 98 coverage ended with the below. I was going to mash together a load of CM9798 match footage and swap the audio onto it which would have been given me a titter for about a minute, but it would have taken several hours to create due to my drastic lack of skills. So just imagine it.

The blog is taking a break now until after the World Cup. I’ve got loads planned for the new season – guest bloggers old and new, another season (at least) with Waregem before moving on to a new save and all sorts of stuff with other versions of CM. Have a wonderful summer, enjoy the World Cup.

Dave

 

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 16: Can hosts France book a spot in the final by defeating Holland? Will it be Italy or surprise package Belgium joining them?

Welcome to the penultimate update of the CM9798 World Cup. I’m welling up as I write this, thinking of all the great memories we’ve made over the past three weeks. On the plus side, you only have to put up with two matches in each of the remaining updates. Small mercies.

Semi-finals baby! (I promise I won’t do that again).

France vs Holland

It is one of life’s mysteries that Holland have never won a World Cup. They have a style of football named after them for goodness sake, that has to be worth something. In the other corner is France, the host nation, who have also never won the World Cup (ignore the real 98 tournament please). Only one of these great nations can advance to the final to have the chance to break that duck, but who? WHO?

@90sfootball (Paddy) has shuffled his pack. He can afford to that with the talent he has at his disposal. With that, Trezeguet, Henry and Diomede all come into the side and at this stage of the tournament they’re fresh, which is perhaps more disconcerting. They have home advantage, too.

France Tactics vs Holland

Ash Rose (Alive & Kicking) has stuck with his favoured 4-4-2 that has done so well for him. Michael Reiziger is banned and without another recognised right back, veteran Ronald Koeman is in at right back. Edgar Davids makes his first start of the tournament replacing the injured Zenden (who himself had replaced the injured Cocu) and Jaap Stam is back from suspension.

holland tactics vs france

Hey look it’s on video! Or my comments are below.

 

 

It’s a cagey start where the highlight is Trezeguet getting booked in the first minute, which means he’ll miss the final if France get there. Bergkamp then looked like like he had given Holland the lead only to be denied by a fabulous Barthez save, but sadly that’s as good as it got for Holland. Zidane played Trezeguet through and he finished sublimely past Van der Sar to give France the lead on 28 minutes. Trezeguet then turned provider as he set up future Liverpool flop Bernard Diomede for 2-0, before Van Der Sar spilled a routine Henry effort to allow Christian Karembeu to make it 3-0. Oh my.

ht stats

None of this makes good reading for Holland. Except maybe Clarence Seedorf.

HT ratings

Can Holland salvage anything from this? They need a massive improvement. Paddy withdraws Zidane on the hour mark, clearly feeling the job is done. Holland throw on Hasselbaink to try and find a way back but with the Dutch pushing on, Trezeguet gets in to make it 4-0 and Henry rounds it off with the 5th and final goal. 5-0. The hosts are partying!

FT stats

The fact the stats are only 51% and 49% is a little misleading.

FT ratings

Bernard Diomede getting man of the match in a World Cup semi final? This is what Liverpool thought they were getting.

Final score then and the only question that remains is not “why was this played at Stade Veledrome? but rather who will join them in the final?

scoreboard

Italy vs Belgium

It’s been 4 years since The Divine Ponytail stepped up and blasted his penalty over the bar. Roberto Baggio has been preparing to right this wrong ever since (probably) and now he stands one game away from doing just that. Belgium meanwhile have been the surprise package of the tournament, cast in the role of Croatia from the real life tournament they find themselves on the cusp of a World Cup final. Gilles De Bilde is joint top of the golden boot chart having netted 7 times and he will hold the key to success if Belgium are to better their 4th placed finish from 1986. I mean even if they lose they could still do that. Sigh. We nearly got through a whole introduction in a serious manner there.

@FPLhints aka the Tinkerman can welcome back Christian Panucci but with Tacchinardi’s tournament over, there’s a gap to fill in defensive midfield. Paolo Maldini has been given the nod in that role, vacating his defensive position but he’s more than capable. He could play anywhere probably. He even played tennis last year, what a lad.

Italy tactics vs belgium

Belgium are managed by Adam Turner, the real hero who showed me how to make this whole thing happen. He’s worked wonders with Belgium and, much like he did against Germany, has opted to change the shape to nullify the Italian threat. It might work.

Belgium tactics vs Italy

Video! You know the rest

 

Belgium might have tried to park the bus but it’s more of an open top bus in the early stages, with Italy finding gaps with relative ease. Eventually, the pressure tells and Italy take the lead through Roberto Baggio, who moves a step closer to putting right the wrongs of 1994. Belgium, like a boxer on the ropes, are hanging in for the bell. They reach 45 minutes but before the referee can blow, Ravanelli makes it 2-0. His 6th of the tournament is very probably a critical blow for Belgian hopes.

HT stats

A bit one sided. We’ve seen nothing from Belgium in an attacking sense, so Adam changes things up. Grun’s off, Mpenza is on. It’s 4-4-2 diamond. It’s serious business.

HT ratings

It makes no difference. A dull second half sees Belgium manage a singular off target shot, whilst Italy hit the target a further three times but can’t increase their lead. It’s a shame for Belgium, they’ve won a lot of fans in this tournament. But the 1998 final will be a prequel of the 2006 final. Yes, that’s a thing.

ft stats

Bodart has had a wonderful tournament but even his brilliance here couldn’t save Belgium. They will have a chance to play for 3rd place – and remember, the rule this year is that the contestants of the 3rd/4th place match must co-host Euro 2000. How handy.

FT ratings

The stage is set…

WC final

That’s Wednesday 13th June to you and I. That’s also when the 3rd/4th place match will be. Making memories. See you there!

Golden Boot

The race for the golden boot is almost run:

De Bilde – 7
Ronaldo – 7
Ravanelli – 6
Rozental – 5
Shearer – 5
Bergkamp – 5

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 15: Four great quarter final matches including Brazil vs France & Spain vs Italy

We started with 32 and now a little over two weeks later we are left with 8. Things are getting serious. In this post we’ll half that number again and be left with our final 4. A World Cup is considerably swifter when you get all the games done in one day.

Let’s see that last 8 draw again so we know what we are dealing with.

Last 8 Draw

Stories, stories everywhere. A real life final re-match, Holland looking for Euro 96 revenge, two titans clashing and…Scotland vs Belgium. All four games are recorded for your viewing pleasure so let’s crack straight on with that World Cup 98 final.

France vs Brazil

I guess in this alternative universe, the final hasn’t ever happened. Zidane is still waiting to really make his mark and Ronaldo hasn’t been left out of the lineup only to be reinstated. That was chaotic.

There is at least one similarity and that is the whereabouts of Ronaldo. Sadly for Brazil manager Mark Carruthers, “O Fenômeno” has torn his calf and will miss the rest of the tournament. Whether that equates to one game or three is about to be seen. Edmundo is in and Leonardo is back from a suspension. It’s still a strong side.

brazil tactics vs france

Paddy aka @90sfootball has sent in his teamsheet. What lovely handwriting. Honestly, that’s exceptional calligraphy.

France teamsheet

The hedline here is that Florian Maurice gets the nod to start but it’s a change of shape, with Deschamps and Vieira both starting. Whether it’ll be enough to nullify Brazil remains to be seen

France tactics vs Brazil

Here it is on video anyway, or there’s some wording below.

France have set up to contain Brazil and I guess in a way it has worked, as it’s 0-0 at half time. But it’s not for lack of trying. Barthez makes 4 decent saves and Edmundo hits the underside of the bar. France haven’t managed a shot. The Stade de France crowd are worried.

france brazil HT stats

Barthez and oddly Aldair getting the ratings praise. On we go…

france brazil ht ratings

Paddy brings on Papin for Vieira and goes back to the formation that got them this far, basically a 4-3-2-1. Angloma heads over from a corner to ironic cheers. Brazil are actually less fluid for some reason and they manage two efforts very late in the day but one of the least eventful halfs in World Cup history comes to a close. It’s 0-0. It’s sudden death

france brazil FT stats

Not much extra to report. Barthez kept France in it and has done well when called upon, but they’ve only mustered one shot in 90 minutes. At home.

france brazil FT ratings

Both sides make changes, with Elber on for Edmundo and Trezeguet replacing Maurice.

Obviously, straight from the restart France win a penalty for a handball. Zidane scores with France’s only shot on target and that’s that. Robbery!

Brazil France scoreboard

Yep…

france brazil AET ratings

Barthez rightly takes man of the match. Incidentally if you watched the video and wondered why there was 3 minutes of nothing at the end, I forgot to stop the recording whilst I consoled Mark. Yes I could have edited it but here we are.

france brazil AET stats

France have sort of muddled their way to the last 4 now. They have more gears to go through. I think. But who will they face in the last 4?

Holland vs England

Some people call this the greatest England performance of the modern era. Those people did not see a 5-1 win in Germany. Either way, it lit up one of the best English summers and we did smash the tits off Holland, nobody can deny that.

Looking to stop a repeat of that is Ash Rose. You must have come to know who Ash is by now but if not I’ll just leave a series of clues. With his Simple Mind, Ash has opted for a 4-4-2 to keep his tournament Alive & Kicking. With Cocu injured, Ash has gone for the left field choice of left forward Bolo Zenden in centre midfield. It might work.

Holland formation

In the role of Terry Venables (yes I’m sticking with the Euro 96 thing) is Dan Barker. He’s played 4-3-1-2 throughout and has little reason to change. Teddy keeps his place with Owen injured.

England tactics

Video time again!

All I can assume from this is that Holland are really mad. They come flying out of the blocks and England are like rabbits in the headlights. Bergkamp makes it 1-0 after just 9 minutes, his 5th of the tournament. Overmars makes it 2 six minutes later. England have that sinking feeling. There’s a definite hole in the boat as Kluivert makes it 3-0 before the break. Bloody hell.

holland england HT stats

Those England ratings…

england holland HT ratings

Can England salvage anything from this? Even some pride? Not really. One shot on target in a drab second half. Zenden departs injured in the one piece of bad news for the Oranje

holland england FT stats

Err Franck Verlaat takes man of the match. Reiziger’s yellow means he’ll miss the semi final. All the blame seems to be on Dave Seaman. No doubt he’s still laughing about it.

holland england FT ratings

Let’s see the result confirmation.

scoreboard

That’s one semi-final complete, but what about the other half of the draw?

Scotland vs Belgium

There’s been a lot of conspiracy theorists (mostly Chris Darwen) who think I’ve swindled the draw by giving Scotland the easy ties. Bitterness is an awful trait. I have to admit though, the draw has really worked out for us. Don’t hate us for it, we had an average group which still needed winning and who really expected China to knock out Morocco and USA in Group B? Meanwhile Belgium have seen off Germany, among others, so this is all a big surprise for everybody.

I do fear for our participation from this day on though. Matt Elliott is out injured, which might not seem a big deal but he’s been a rock. Duncan Jupp is in for him. Neil Sullivan is now my undisputed number 1 because Andy Goram keeps getting injured. 1977 World Snooker champion John Spencer is banned, so Scott Booth gets the nod. He plays for Dortmund, so he must be good.

scotland tactics vs belgium

Adam Turner has done a great job with this Belgium team, he’s got the best out of what is already a decent bunch. De Bilde is sharing the golden boot with Ronaldo at the moment and seeing as he is quicker than all of my centre halves combined he’ll fancy his chances of taking an outright lead in that race.

Belgium Formation vs Scotland

The third video of the day…

De Bilde is wired and he tests Sullivan twice in the opening 10 minutes. No matter. The Belgian pressure eventually tells though as Sullivan makes an error from a corner and Oliveira smashes home. Boo. Not to worry though, minutes later Colin Hendry hits the bar and Kevin Gallacher is on hand to equalise. My celebrations are cut short by the referee, who’s decided there was a foul. Half time, Belgium lead.

scotland belgium ht stats

Belgium have been organised across the park and Scotland have been second best.

scotland belgium HT ratings

Big Dunc is on. We only have 45 minutes to sort this out so go and sort it out Dunc. We are better but not brilliant, so on 63 minutes it’s time for Gordon Durie. It’s not pretty but we’re throwing the kitchen sink at it. For the last 5 minutes we leave just one at the back and three cente forwards. Durie forces a save. Ferguson heads wide. It’s over. Belgium advance, Scotland ask Del Amitri if it is too soon to come home.

scotland belgium FT stats

Neil Sullivan takes man of the match for making 3 saves and making the mistake that lead to the goal. Football is stupid.

scotland belgium FT ratings

Well done to Belgium though, their party goes on. They will be underdogs against whoever wins the final quarter final but I don’t think that will bother them

scotland belgium scoreboard

One to go.

Spain vs Italy

Tom Reed’s Spain have made quiet progress so far. They won Group E with little fanfare then came through the toughest last 16 tie to knock out Argentina. The short times between games is starting to take effect though and Alfonso is not able to start this one, but he is on the bench.

Spain Tactics

FPLChief/CM_Hints is one of the most meticulous managers we have in the competition. He prepares for every game very thoroughly and as you’ll see in the video, he loves a tinker. He’s opted here to put Robero Baggio in the number 10 role in a slightly more conservative formation but will it work?

Italy tactics

Here it is. Remember, the Chief is meticulous and I am too lazy to edit. So…

So, this wasn’t great. Spain barely got going whilst Italy missed a lot. The ratings say it all

spain italy HT ratings

Thriller.

spain italy HT stats

The second half was only mildly better. Spain did at least have two shots, though neither were on target. Italy managed to work the goalkeeper, eventually, but this was always destined for extra time.

spain italy FT stats

The Tacchinardi injury caused mass re-shuffles for Italy who briefly deployed a sweeper. The ratigns are still rubbish. Except Nesta, who’s having the time of his life.

spain italy FT ratings

Extra time is sudden death. But then, a shining beacon of grey light – Ravanelli scores! It’s over. Italy will play Belgium in the last 4 and it will be hard pushed to be worse than this

italy spain scoreboard

No doubt Italy deserved the win, though it was like next goal wins in the playground during extra time. Which I guess is where Golden Goal was derived from.

spain italy AET stats

Nesta takes home man of the match for not giving Spain a sniff. They really missed the suspended Luis Enrique, truth be told. Tacchinardi’s tournament is over.

spain italy AET ratings

So there you have it. All 4 of our remaining teams will play two more matches, but nobody wants to play for 3rd.

SF draw

I’ll have those ties for you on Sunday, so until then, take it easy and remember to be back here for more fun. Bye for now!

 

 

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 14: Spain vs Argentina takes centre stage plus Italy face Republic of Ireland

Welcome back! It’s hot and cold in terms of content at the moment and today is the second day of a rather warm spell. Yesterday we saw the first four last 16 ties take place, so you’ve guessed it – today we’ll see the remaining four. That’s everything from Spain vs Argentina down on the below graphic.

Last 16 draw

Admittedly, that would work better if it filled in the results as they were played. Let’s cut some corners. Who will join Brazil, France, Holland and England in the last 8? (Nailed it)

Spain vs Argentina

I’m excited for this. It’s the game of the day without doubt, in fact it’s probably the tie of the round. Tom Reed’s reward for having a fairly simple group (where he was the only human competitor) was always going to be England or Argentina and it just so happens Chris hasn’t got Argentina firing on all cylinders in the group stages. But now he’s realised Ortega is a good bet.

Tom has a strong team to choose from and was able to rotate the squad in the final group game, so he’s somewhat spoilt for choice.

Spain tactics vs Argies

Chris is missing Inter Milan pair Simeone and Zanetti to suspension so Veron is in whilst Pochettino retains his place as Chamot is shifted to right back. This is going to be a high quality game. I bet Maradona is wired.

argentina tactics vs spain

As with yesterday, all the games have been recorded but my unique brand of summary is below

Spain are out of the blocks the quicker and they take the lead thanks to the most expensive man in the game Alfonso who heads in from a corner. Solid start. It’s a bit tight with both teams cancelling each other out but Argentina finally stir shortly after the half hour. Ortega’s shot rattles the woodwork bur Parma man Crespo is on hand to turn in the rebound. 1-1, game on, half time. Game on pause.

spain argentina HT stats

Bit rough on Toni Prats. Was it really his fault?

spain argentina HT ratings

On we go then. Spain lose captain Alkorta to an injury but they are very much on top. Argentina introduce Balbo for Ortega and just seconds later they take the lead, Maradona feeds Crespo who is denied by Prats but Batistuta is there to give his side the lead. The game is wide open now, almost resembling a basketball match as both teams go looking for another goal. It’s Spain who get it though, Luis Enrique on hand to score after Roa spills a shot. Extra time it is…

spain argentina FT stats

Spain have slightly edged it but the more of this the better. Every World Cup has a dramatic game like this.

spain argentina FT ratings

Can either side find a winner or will it be penalties? Well, actually, yes. Straight away. Alfonso nips through one on one, rounds Roa and books Spain into the last 8. What a night.

spain 3 - 2 argentina

Kiko takes man of the match. I should also point out that Sergi’s tournament is over.

spain argentina AET ratings

Only one more shot in extra tine. It went in.

spain argentina AET stats

Phew. An incredible game and really all I can say is good luck to those following that.

Italy vs Eire

When did we stop calling Republic of Ireland “Eire”. It was so much easier to type Eire.

Italy are managed by @FPLHints (Or CM_Hints if you prefer a CM account) and the man we know as Chief has brought a unique brand of attacking style the likes of which Italy have rarely seen. There’s no playing for 1-0 here. 4 goal Ravanelli is banned, as is Panucci, so there’s a bit of a shuffle with Vieri the headline team news.

Italy tactics vs Eire

Rob Tait’s Eire got the miracle they needed in the last round of group games and have had more success in a 4-2-3-1. You know you’ll get 100% effort from this lot it’s just whether they can get the goals. Alan Moore is in for the banned Kennedy.

Eire tactics vs Italy

Video time!

It takes only 8 minutes for Italy to make their mark, Vieri is in behind the defence and Shay Given is slightly late on Vieri. It’s a penalty and Del Piero converts it, as you’d expect. That’s not a fear to Ireland though who take tough situations as a personal challenge. Collectively I mean. What I’m trying to say is that Roy Keane heads them level from a corner and that’s how we go into half time.

italy eire HT stats

The two captains leading by example.

italy eire HT ratings

The second half starts in a similar manner to the first. Roberto Baggio feeds Christian Vieri who dinks it over the advancing Given and Ireland have it all to do again. Can they? No, they can’t. Italy do a good job of shutting them out, shocker, and that’s that.

italy eire FT stats

Stunning display from Roberto Baggio who moves another game closer to putting right the wrongs of 94.

italy eire FT ratings

Final confirmation then:

italy eire FT scoreboard

Italy vs Spain in the last 8. Sign me up.

Belgium vs Norway

I tipped Norway as a dark horse before the tournament whilst Belgium won all three of their group games to really get people talking. This could be a breakthrough tournament for these nations. Ignore Belgium’s 4th place in 1986. This is what it’s all about.

Adam Turner has struck gold with this formation. Gilles De Bilde lead the race for the golden boot after his two hat-tricks in the group stage, but Ronaldo’s burst of 4 goals against Chile has put him in the lead. His tournament is over though and Gilles leads the line here, so you never know.

Belgium team vs Norway

KingoftheRooks took a gamble leaving the likes of Solskjaer and Tore Andre Flo at home but they’ve made it out of a tricky group and they’re capable of beating anyone on their day. Will that day be today?

norway tactics vs belgium

Video may have killed the radio star but we’re not worried about that yet. Text is alive and well below.

Norway made the better start but found Belgium captain Bodart in great form between the sticks. Typically, Belgium were able to score with their first shot on target as future manager Marc Wilmots powered in from a knockdown to give his side a 1-0 half time lead.

belgium norway HT stats

It wasn’t necessarily deserved on the balance of play but still plenty of time for more goals.

belgium norway HT ratings

Norway had a few more big chances but poor finishing and Bodart brilliance kept it just 1-0. Norway rather blew themselves out and De Bilde was able to seal the victory with his 7th of the tournament. No fuss, but Belgium look solid all over.

belgium norway scoreboard

Norway created by far the more chances but found a goalkeeper in great form. Belgium were clinical.

belgium norway ft stats

Wilmots takes home man of the match whilst Erik Nevland made no impact whatsoever.

belgium norway FT ratings

That’s 7 of the last 8 sorted out, but who will be the final team?

Scotland vs China

Not many would have predicted this. China edged out USA and Morocco to get this far whilst Scotland topped a group at the expense of Russia and Nigeria. Oh and Jamaica. Hardly football’s top table but such is the draw, one of these nations will make a maiden quarter final. This is already further than either team have ever got, so there’s that.

Scotland are of course my team in this tournament and I’ve largely been able to stick with a settled side, but John Collins is suspended. Young Martin Lauchlan is in, purely because he has by far the highest creativity stat of my midfielders available.

Scotland tactics vs China

Somebody asked me why I don’t have Gary McAllister on pens – look, you don’t know where Uri Geller is. The obvious conclusion on that faithful day at Euro 96 is that Uri was helping England – how do you know he doesn’t just hate Gary Mc? I’m not willing to take the chance. China are the last computer controlled nation standing. Yer Ma’s up front.

China tactics vs SCotland

Last video of the day

I don’t know if you can really have a favourite here but Kevin Gallacher scores after 8 minutes to settle us down and it’s a cakewalk from there. It’s not all good news. Man of the tournament Matt Elliott gets a knock and Duncan Jupp is on in his place. He scores from a corner shortly thereafter. We are a threat on set pieces, that’s definitely our thing.

scotland china HT ratings

One of our better halves. Belgium, we’re coming for you.

scotland china HT stats

We need an early third goal and we get it. Gallacher is the main man and he’s on a hat-trick now. Hopkin adds a 4th and everything is great. Except John Spencer, who picks up a yellow card and will miss the next game. Big Dunc is readying himself.

scotland china FT ratings

Four games played and only one conceded. We’re functional if nothing else.

scotland china scoreboard

Heavy. Easy. Scotland in the last 8!

scotland china FT stats

Let’s take a look at that draw. Every team in yellow is a relief, was dreading having to give the trophy to the computer.

Last 8 Draw

Sticking with the “4 games an update” theme I’ll be back on Friday with the last 8. It’s serious business time now, unless you’re Scotland. We’re off on the piss. See you in a few days!

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 13: Four last 16 ties including France vs Russia and Holland vs Romania

Day 13, unlucky for some but now that we’ve reached the knockout stages, we’ll be waving goodbye to four more teams today as we try to wittle our last 16 down. For those in need of the maths help on that, we’ll see four last 16 games today and the other four tomorrow. We’ll be focusing on the top half of the draw, but let’s take a look at that draw to remind ourselves:

Last 16 draw

The good news is, if you can call it good news, every knockout stage game is being recorded. I’ve found some free software called FlashBack Express – I don’t work for them so if you try it and it’s crap, it’s not my idea. It’s just an easy way to record your screen. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

Brazil vs Chile

Chile have been dealt a rough hand here. After their last gasp qualification, their reward is not only a clash with Brazil but only two days of rest. It makes the scheduling all the more odd, given that Group H was being pushed forward for no reason in the early rounds of group matches…gah. I’ll never understand.

Mark Carruthers, non-league mogul by day, Brazil manager by night, is only missing the suspended Leonardo. When Mauro Silva is his replacement, you’ll probably be ok. It’s a strong team that will take some beating.

brazil tactics vs chile

Chile, under the guidance of out 20 year champ Dan Williamson (@winkveron) had the world gripped by their last minute qualification. As somebody really hoping the game generates something interesting to talk about, the final minute of the final group game suited me just fine. If they can pull this one off, it’ll be the greatest miracle of all.

chile tactics vs brazil

Here it is in video form, scroll down for a slower dissection of events.

If there was one thing Chile didn’t need, it was for their already overworked goalkeeper to get injured in the first minute. His 39 year old replacement is not up to much, plus you’ve got to remember that Tapia, the original number one, broke a pelvis before a ball was kicked. We’re down to the third choice and he gets battered. Ronaldo scores a minute later before completing a first half hat-trick on 31 minutes. Oh and a fourth on 39. That’s it really. The job is done.

brazil chile HT stats

Chile couldn’t gain a foothold as Ronaldo runs riot. There’s some sorry ratings on the Chile side. Brazil on the other hand, couldn’t be happier.

brazil chile HT ratings

That is until one minute into the second half. Ronaldo is down. He looks in pain. He’s signalling to the bench. Edmundo replaces him and scores a 5th but this is like Neymar going off against Colombia (in the future, yes. Insert ‘what year is it’ gif here) but at least Sonny Anderson is here. He doesn’t score. It finishes 5-0.

brazil chile FT stats

That’s er, an odd choice of man of the match really given one player scored four goals and left on a stretcher. Nike will have a word. He’ll be back.

brazil chile FT ratings

Here’s how it finished, stats fans:

brazil chile scoreboard

Ronaldo has a torn calf and will miss the rest of the tournament. Wow.

That’s potentially good news for hosts France…or Russia.

France vs Russia

Paddy’s (or @90sfootball if your prefer) reward for topping Group B is a meeting with one of three computer managed side left in the draw. Russia lost to Jamaica last time out and drew 0-0 with Scotland. How do these things happen?

Paddy’s had the pen and paper out again

France Russia scribbles

Flattery will get you everywhere, though there is little I can do in truth. I’ll just set them up as Paddy instructs. Djorkaeff is given his chance to shine whilst Vieira is in for the suspended Deschamps.

france tactics vs russia

Russia are playing this bloody counter attack formation which is as restricting as it is dull. No wonder they couldn’t beat Jamaica or Scotland.

russia team vs france

Video time. Do enjoy.

For those who prefer the written word, I hope you are familiar with the phrase “putting lipstick on a pig.” Because this was desperate.

Not necessarily from France mind you. They had a good go but their finishing let them down whilst Russia just sat in their own half, soaking up wave after wave of French attacks. They made it to half time without having a shot but only having to actually save one of France’s efforts.

france russia HT stats

Emmanuel Petit picked up a knock and it seemed unnecessary to rest him with Benarbia available and Russia not coming out to play.

france russia HT ratings

The second half however…1 shot. ONE. If you’ve watched the video, please forgive me.

france russia FT stats

The only plus for France is that they managed to injure three of Russia’s team, plus one sub, so Russia are down to 10. With this looking awfully reminiscent of France vs Paraguay in the real life tournament, it’s time for golden goal extra time. Shout out to Valeri Karpin by the way, seemingly the pig with the lipstick if you’re following that metaphor.

france russia FT ratings

Anyway, France introduced Papin and a sense of urgency to get this shit sorted out and with a couple of shots on target the crowd stirred. The clock ticked around to 119 minutes. Trezeguet, a 63rd minute sub, latched on to the ball and slipped a pass in to Papin. He might be ageing but he knows how to finish. I’ve never been so relieved to see that flashing blue text. France are through, Laurent Blanc has an out of body experience that this has already happened in his life and Russia depart without a shot on goal. Honestly.

france russia AET stats

Good grief. Ovtchinikov got man of the match against Scotland but he gets it here for making 3 saves. What a time to be alive.

france russia AET ratings

As a neutral, I’m quite pleased to bring you France vs Brazil in the quarters.

france russia scoreboard

Phew. Two more to come and our next game is probably the hardest to call on paper.

Holland vs Romania

Romania didn’t win their group but they thrashed two teams and lost to Italy. No shame in that, they racked up 10 goals and will be a handful for any team. We all know how good the Dutch can be but we also know they are prone to a lapse every now and again, so they can’t afford that here.

One such lapse came against Ireland last time out. Holland still topped the group and it would have taken a remarkable set of results for them not to, but it was still an alarming result. Ash Rose, 90s connoisseur and host of Alive & Kicking 90s Podcast, has kept a cool head through all this playing a no frills 4-4-2 and letting Bergkamp and Kluivert do the talking. Bogarde is in for the banned Stam, who you may remember did a whoops against Ireland.

Holland Tactics vs Romania

Romania are managed by @CorinthiandHead who you may recall is MK who blogged his Brighton save for me last year. He’s struck gold with this formation that has freed Hagi and generally caused utter carnage. Except against Italy.

Romania tactics vs Holland

I’m on a roll with the videos, though as ever I’ve written stuff below.

It’s a decent game, both sides not holding back which is a ruddy relief after the Russia debacle. It’s Romania who take the lead though, Prodan being left unmarked from a free kick to strike just after the half hour. It’s tight and it sets up the second half nicely.

holland romania ht stats

Cocu’s at Man Utd so his injury is probably a greater deal than I give it credit for. Aaron Winter is on, he’s barely been involved.

holland romania HT ratings

Holland keep plugging away but Romania are still looking for that killer second goal. Bergkamp hits the post, Ilie misses a wonderful chance from a rebound. Ash throws Hasselbaink on with 5 minutes to go and there’s just Blind at the back. It’s stoppage time and just when you think you’ve seen it all, Kluivert feeds Bergkamp who scores and forces extra time. MK can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. The Dutch look chilled.

holland romania ft stats

There’s barely a cigarette paper between these two though the timing of the goal will be a kick in the tits for MK. An urgent reshuffle from Ash to stop Holland playing quite so many up front

holland romania FT ratings

Straight after the restart, Papura stops Hasselbaink’s march towards goal with his hand. Penalty and a red card. Kluivert converts and this is over very abruptly. Wow.

holland romania scoreboard

I think I’ve played this too much or I’m overtired, as I felt genuine sympathy for MK. Follow him @CorinthianHead to cheer him up. Ridiculous scenes but Holland go through to the last 8.

holland romania AET ratings

I guess they probably edged it on stats but it’s a cruel way to lose. Golden goal is not missed.

holland romania stats AET

Who will the Dutch face?

England vs Japan

Dan Barker’s reward for England getting the better of Argentina in the group stage is a meeting with Japan, leaving Argentina to battle Spain tomorrow. Dan will fancy his chances here of setting up a memorable Euro 96 re-match. More of the same from Dan, with McManaman back in the fold after his ban. Michael Owen is injured (shocker).

England tactics vs Japan

It is refreshing for a computer team to play 4-4-2 rather than that silly counter attack bollocks. Remember, most of Japan’s squad is made up of fictional players.

Japan tactics vs England

Last video of the day…

It was going quite serenely for Dan and the expectant English, no doubt singing Vindaloo. Shearer gave his side the lead but the easy win never followed – it never does with England – and Japan took control of the tie and deservedly equalised just before half time.

england japan HT stats

Is a shock on the cards? Is it even a shock?

england japan HT ratings

Paul Scholes has no time for this. He puts England ahead and it proves to be the winner. England are in the last 8 – let the hyperbole commence.

England Japan Scoreboard

Just about deserved in the end but both shots on target were the only goals. Work to be done I think.

England Japan FT stats

At least Teddy proved to be an able replacement for Owen. England will hope Shearer and Sheringham can put Holland to the sword as they did in Euro 96.

England Japan FT ratings

With that, this mega update comes to an end. The problem is 2 games wouldn’t be enough so it’s 4 games I’m afraid. I’ll be back tomorrow with the next 4, including Spain vs Argentina and Italy vs Republic of Ireland. I’m off to prepare Scotland to face China. Bye for now!