Totti’s Team: Part 6

Fresh from the in-depth tactics blog of yesterday, Rob is back with the end of season 2 of what I am calling the Roma rollercoaster. I can’t take the credit for that it was the title when Rob emailed me this over. Anyway, part 5 is here if you want to get caught up but then head back here to see if Rob can bring glory to Rome.

We are back with the run into the end of the season. At the end part 2 I left you with Roma in control of the league, 6 points clear of Juve after 24 games and still in the Champions League, preparing to face Man Utd in the quarters. Without any further delay we head to Old Trafford for a tough tie against the always strong Utd side.

1

What a result, it was close but I think Utd shaded it on the night so to leave level and with an away goal is amazing. I would have taken a 1:0 loss but young Kanoute didn’t let the occasion overwhelm him and came off the bench to grab the equaliser. Here are the other results from leg one.

2

Along with our excellent cup result we get a piece of good news about our favourite goal poacher.

3

The news of his return from injury inspires Kanoute, that and Buffon bringing him down in the box in the 33rd minute. Parma were a bit of a force last season but they are floundering now and we take full advantage.

4

While he was injured Inzaghi wrote a letter a day to Daddy Maldini and his persistence paid off, he’s got an international call up. How is Petruzzi still getting one? I don’t understand.

5

Empoli come and go, well actually we do and our Icelandic regen Thor, his surname is too long to keep writing out, bags us all three points.

6

A win sets us up nicely for the tough home tie with Man Utd that is up next. It’s make or break time.

7

It’s an amazing result but before I even talk about the game I need to ask why the attendance is so low for such a big game when 80,000 will come and watch us play Lecce on a Sunday. It was their loss though, they missed a corker. An early 2:0 lead thanks to Thor and Inzie only to be pegged back just before the half. My head was in my hands when Giggs scored, it was a good run we can try again next year but then up pops the man himself and we hold on for 14 more minutes and a great win. Who will we face in the semis? The other results fall like this:

8

And we draw…

9

I’m quite pleased, we have had the better of them all season but I know they will step it up for the cup. If we can make it through I would feel confident against Ajax or Liverpool. Let’s not get ahead or ourselves though.

During the international break Totti scores on his international debut.

10

We win again in the league, it’s a 1:0 victory. Totti is riding high after his first international cap and goals. I don’t think we had a single 1:0 win last season, it seems like we have had loads this year. With seven games left we are still 6 points up on Juve but a massive 16 points ahead of Lazio in third.

It is CL semi final time with the first leg at the Stadio Delle Alpi. A good result here would go a long way and the game is very attacking but evenly matched as the stats show.

11

The score however…

12

What the hell, it was only 2:1 at half time and then it was 5:1 and I had no idea what was happening or how, then 5:2, 6:2 and finally 6:3. I have no words for this, no words. Just look at the player ratings WTF! The whole team must have been overwhelmed by the situation. Landreau concedes 6 but gets a rating of 9. Makes me think this result could have been a whole lot worse and we were lucky to get 3.

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That isn’t the word I would use. Bright side we have three away goals, negative, they will come and park the bus. Ultra defensive style.

Our poor form continues against Inter at the San Siro.

15

We were really bad and I’m a little bit worried that the wheels have come off and I’m a bit low on ideas of how to fix it. To top it all off we are only three points ahead in the league now. Then this nearly pushes me over the edge.

16

Fortunately time heals all things and a week later Milan and Capello, my new best friend (we have put aside our differences), do us a favour by beating Juve and we take advantage against Genoa.

17

Our next match is the second leg of the CL semi final and the Dirty Dane has gone and got injured for a few days with a damaged heel. Injuries and suspensions mean I have to reshuffle the team and I am pretty sure this is the end of the line but let’s see, after all that first leg was nuts.

18

Hope, we are 1:0 up after 22 mins. What’s this 2:0 up after 25 mins. We’re gonna do this Juve have sat back and it hasn’t worked. It’s 2:0 at the half and I’m buzzing we only need a goal. In an effort to help our cause Abelardo gets himself sent off in the 46th minute and the rest is history.

19

Oh yeah it is, I can’t believe it and neither can the 67,000 who came to watch, the same 67,000 who saw us pip Utd in the quarters. We are the comeback kids! Lippi’s getting sacked in the morning, sacked in the morning.

The final is against…

20

The Bergkamp signing has clearly helped Ajax. We have made the final, then this news comes in to rain on my parade.

21

22

That’s going to make the final a lot tougher. After all the excitement we can only manage a draw in the derby. Abelardo is having a mare.

23

Then this pops up and I decide Juve have had it worse than Abelardo.

24

That is a true fairy tale ending to Coppa Italia, I ring up Chievo’s unknown manager to ask for a little bit of advice prior to our Champions League final. He mumbles something in what could possibly have been Russian and then hangs up, strange.

“I should hope so” was my reaction to this news.

25

Back to the league now and my faith in Abelardo is rewarded. This result will see us through now I think, with three games left we are 6 points clear.

26

Our next match is against Atalanta and a win would mean that with our goal difference we will be champions even if lose the final two games.

27

In the end though it doesn’t matter as Juve can only draw and we beat Atalanta 3:0. The trophy is ours and I’ve completed one of my aims ahead of schedule. My thoughts turn to the CL final and the possibility of becoming Champions of Europe. I wasn’t expecting to make the final this year and especially not after that first leg with Juve but now I’m here I really want to win.

Prior to the CL final this happens

28

Will this knock Ajax’s confidence or did they just rest players? Also are PSV really so bad as to get to the final of what might I say, is the best named cup in the game only to be considered shock winners. Chievo weren’t even shock winners.

Champions league day arrives and I make a bold decision. Forgotten man Antonio Carlos is in at centre back, I don’t trust Petruzzi and Abelardo is suspended. This is Carlos’ first European game and only his 4th game all season, he will at the very least be feeling fresh, if not a tad rusty.

29

The game is an anti climax after the drama of making it here but I really don’t care. I’m blown away by how well we have played this season and we are the best team in Europe. The real story of the match though is Antonio Carlos. Ajax didn’t even show up.

30

A MOM performance, maybe there is still a place for him here. Nah, I’ll most likely sell him if I can. I also wonder if Aldair wishes he had stayed for that extra year, I check how Galatasaray did this year, they got knocked out of the cup winners cup in round one, money isn’t everything buddy.

The final league table looks like this:

31

All is left to do is to share some of this seasons squad stats.32

The whole team performed really well but Totti was outstanding, Pirri has turned into a great player too.

33

Again Totti leads the way with goals and good returns from Telli and Inzaghi as rotating strikers.

34

Looking at these stats I’m starting to think we are a little bit of a one man team, although others are pulling their weight, Totti is shining.

35

The Dirty Dane only gets 21 disciplinary points and finally a category Totti is not top in. MB promises to do better next year, I try to point out that it’s not a category you want to be top in but I feel like I was ignored.

36

Wonder side Chievo are promoted to Serie B so they finally appoint a real manager. Bit harsh on Mr Unknown after his masterminding Coppa Italia success. Bellotto has big shoes to fill.

37

Red Star 93 have a new manager, will he last longer than Houllier did? I kind of want to manage them at a later point in this save.

The end of year awards come out and Totti’s outstanding season is rewarded. I also get the manager award. Capello calls to congratulate me, then asks if I have thought about playing Totti at sweeper, and we had just started to get along.

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The end of season two, it can only be described as a success with three trophies won. I would have been happy with just the league. We will be back next season (if Dave will have me) with six trophies on offer. I hope my success has increased my reputation. I spent season two one place above Souness in 136th, rated as ok and I know I’m definitely better than him.

You can follow Rob on Twitter @Taitanator

 

 

 

 

 

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Townsend’s Tactics – The origin of the Tactics Truck?

With the CM9798 World Cup just around the corner, he of Roma-save fame Rob Tait has written up a tactics bible to help our competitors decide how to set-up. He’s got some help from a stricken member of the Irish squad…

I’ve recently named my Republic of Ireland World Cup squad and unfortunately (on many levels) Andy Townsend is out due to injury. Luckily Andy has a plan for after he retires, he is going to become a pundit, offering valuable insight into the tactics used during top flight football matches. He has decided to use his enforced time off to develop these skills and help our World Cup bid. He has bought himself a Winnebago from Bill Murray in order to travel around Europe and discover the best tactics for us to use on our World Cup adventure. He’s even named it “The Tactics Truck.”

Townsend

What Andy wants to know is, should we run a custom formation or one of the CM9798 in-game formations. To find out he is going to visit 6 teams who are all using a custom formation I have found from looking on the internet, thank you internet and thank you people who put these tactics out there. He will then travel back in time to the beginning of the season and watch those teams running one of the in-game formations. Andy only wants to see a Direct style of play, it’s his favourite.

In order to make it as fair as possible I decided to do the following;

  • I copied the save just before the first game of the season so that both times through each team will have the same players with the same stats and the order of games will be the same.
  • I decided to only buy a player if he was really needed for the formation and again this was all done before a ball was kicked so squads are identical. (Well almost but more on that later, Spurs).
  • I tried as best I could to find a squad who had players who fit well into both the in-game formation and the custom one.
  • I played 10 league games minimum with each team.
  • If injuries happened, and they did, Liverpool, then I just accepted this and didn’t sign a replacement. I decided part of what might make a formation good is the ability to move players in and out while still getting results.
  • I didn’t change any of the runs on the in-game formations, I just left them as is.
    As was said above we only played a Direct style.

So to the teams and formations, and a little comparison of the two saves. All the in-game formations are on the left. I really just want to see how the custom formations do against the standard ones after about 10 league games. Would there be any obvious differences in the team’s performance. Let’s look at the stats for each team in turn and then Andy will help us do a final summary, after all this is all thanks to his truck.

From England we have,

Liverpool, with the 4-3-3 attacking formation and a custom 4-3-1-2.

1

Liverpool signed CM legend Bakayoko for a measly £3.2 million

I loved the custom formation here, I felt like it was raining goals. The first couple of league games started started slowly but then this and it just continued.

2

3

We only lost two league games out of 12, both away and both 1:0 to Leeds and Man Utd. It was pretty even against Utd.

4

We even overturned a 2:0 home defeat to Udinese in the UEFA cup by going to their place and winning 3-0. I felt like we could win every game, we didn’t, but I felt like we could. Even at the point in the season when this happened.

5

We kept scoring goals, even with Mark Kennedy up front.

The attacking 4-3-3 I did not like as much. The formations are so similar I thought that we would score a similar amount and it started so well, 2:0 and 6:0 victories but after that the goals dried up and I never felt confident of a win. The 4-3-3 just didn’t seem to get the best out of the players. After 12 games of each here are the two leagues and results list.

Custom:

6

In-game

7

I would say a victory for the custom tactic. I think I am going to try this one at some point and it seems like it was built for Bakayoko behind your front two. Also David James only conceded 6 league goals so if it can do that for him then it’s surely worth a try.

On to Tottenham, with the classic normal 4-4-2 and a custom 3-4-1-2.

8

Spurs, I thought didn’t need to sign anyone as they had players to fit both tactics. I was so very wrong.

I had high hopes for the custom tactic here, however after 10 league games I had only won 3 times and two of them were in August. It just wasn’t working and I couldn’t help myself, I had to buy a couple of players to see if it was the team or the tactic. I bought Heidenstrom and Emmers in at the beginning of October after crashing out of the League cup to Middlesbrough. We did win the last two games scoring 5 and not conceding but it was all too little too late. We made lots of chances in some games but even when we scored the other team seemed to score more, which is really the opposite of what one is aiming for.

The classic 4-4-2 normal felt like it worked much better but when you look there wasn’t much in it. I signed Emmers and Heidenstrom again but didn’t play them until October as in the previous game. In all honesty I didn’t really feel like I needed them but I wanted to make it as similar as possible. I didn’t lose as many games with the classic 4-4-2 but I didn’t win any more either.

Custom

9

In- game

10

All in all both tactics were a bit duff with Spurs, maybe Spurs just aren’t that good at the start of the 97/98 season. To make either tactic work better I think a number of new signings would need to be made. The tactics might also work better if passing style was used but that is just me speculating.

Andy’s off to Spain next and the capital Madrid.

Atletico Madrid, are playing 4-4-2 attacking and custom 3-1-2-2-2.

11

Atletico signed Welsh central defensive goliath Robert Page for £2.9 million

Both of these tactics seemed to work really well with the direct style and in terms of team performance it was very close with the attacking 4-4-2 edging it on points, league position and goals conceded. The custom bagged you more goals, at close to one extra per game. I love goals and they are the hardest thing to come by in this game yet sometimes it seems the easiest things to give away cheaply. I wonder if a bit of playing with the full back runs and buying some quality in defense would make the custom tactic fly? Vieri and Kiko combined for 23 goals in the custom tactic but only 13 in the attacking 4-4-2. Lardin didn’t take to the attacking 4-4-2 averaging a 7.00 compared to his 7.54 in the custom, others were relatively similar. He’s a pretty good player so if you can get him firing as well that is good.

Custom

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In-game

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I would say that both tactics have held up well here and either would be a good choice and give you a chance of great things. As was said earlier I only made one signing, if you played for longer and started to identify areas to improve and make a few more strong acquisitions both of these could do really well.

Real Betis, play a diamond and my favourite custom tactic, the 2-3-1-2-2.

14

Betis signed Swede Par Zetterberg for £1.8 million and highly rated (in this game) Michael Brown for £1 million.

Well what can I say about the custom tactic here. I have used this on many saves, you just seem to score so many goals compared to the AI. When I compared Alfonso and Oli’s returns they were very similar for both tactics 15 in total with the custom and 14 with the diamond. With the custom however lots of other players chipped in which just wasn’t happening with the diamond. Custom goals on the left.

15

Where this custom tactic falls down is in defense, you concede a lot of goals and the only way to stop this is find real quality defenders, fortunately there are some around early on in the game, Worns, Santos and Page to name a few. The other challenge is the wing back positions, traditional fullbacks will work there, I’ve had great success with Panucci who is a right back rather than a wing back but I’ve also struggled at times to find a player to fit.

The diamond was a little disappointing in my opinion. On CM2 it was my go to formation but I haven’t found it as successful in 97/98. I really don’t like the player behind the front two running back to the middle of the park and I usually remove this run when I use it. It might also suit passing style rather than direct. I was better at defending with the diamond but scored less than half as many goals which for me is just not what it is about. The final thing I will say about the custom formation, and it really highlight it’s strengths and weaknesses is just look at this result, what entertaining mayhem.

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Here are the league tables to compare.

Custom

17

In-game

18

A clear win for the custom formation here, 8 more points and no lost games. Sort out the defense and you are on your way to being world beaters. On a final note Finidi George is amazing on this game as that inside right support player. I’ve had him average close to 8.00 at the end of a season, and he does it consistently. If you can sign him do, then play him there and enjoy. Just don’t call him George Finidi like the game does!

Finally Andy is off to Italy.

Fiorentina, playing the 5-3-2 attacking and custom 4-2-3-1.

19

Fiorentina signed two full backs in Mirko Conte and Francesco Cozza, both rated by League Scout 1 and costing a combined £4.4 million.

Fiorentina were really fun to play with using the custom formation, Batistuta scored 17 goals, he was a one man wrecking ball, the problem seemed to be that if he didn’t score, which was rarely then we didn’t have any other players to get those vital goals. Again conceding too many goals was an issue, too many score draws and not enough wins. It’s another formation that could have some of the runs played around with and also might be helped by having some qualify defenders. It’s worth a try as it seems very free scoring which is what I like, especially if you can find a goal machine to play up top.

Attacking 5-3-2 direct did not work for me at all. I’m not sure why or what happened, maybe I had the wrong players or it needs to be passing rather than direct but I was bad, really really bad. Batistuta got 2 goals, 2 goals in 10 games. I know people love this formation and have made it work really well but it just didn’t work for me this time. I would have been sacked or we would have got relegated, or both, if I had played the whole season like those first 10 games.

Custom

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In-game

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So I would try the custom tactic here, with some tweaks and I know that attacking 5-3-2 can work well even though it didn’t here.

Inter, 5-3-2 normal and custom 3-1-2-3-1

22

Inter signed Dane Morten Bisgaard for £4.1 million.

I did not enjoy either formation with Inter. The custom was solid, we didn’t concede many and we scored a similar amount to the teams around us. After 10 games we were 3rd, two points off the lead but at no time was I excited. I had the best striker in the game up front and he wasn’t getting it done. In hindsight it might not have been the best custom formation for Inter, it had clearly been used very successfully by the person who had it on their website so there is potential.

The standard 5-3-2 is what Inter start the game playing but they make more signings than I did, probably because they have too many non-EU players. It was difficult to get all the best players I had on the pitch. We didn’t defend as well playing the normal 5-3-2, six more goals conceded in 10 games hence four places further down in the table. Normal 5-3-2 might also be better suited to a passing style.

Custom

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In-game

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These two saves upset me the most out of all of them, I just wanted to see Fat Ronaldo who at this point in time was The Ronaldo, and for me always will be The Ronaldo, score lots of goals and it didn’t happen. As I said the custom has potential and maybe some personnel changes would get the goals flowing.

So that is it, 12 tactics have been looked at and given the once over. One of the things I like about this game is a number of tactics that can be successful, both in-game and custom. There is a lot of satisfaction in building a team to fit the formation you have chosen especially if that formation brings you goals, goals, goals and more goals. I’m not sure if the less successful formations were due to style of play or just not quite having the right players for the job. I would have to play a season properly and see how it went. It was very interesting to see that moving Lardin from wide left to inside left raised his performance from 7.00 to 7.54 that is only a small positional change that brought big benefits, maybe indicating a small tweak to any formation can have a big effect.

Rating them is hard to do, even with all the variables I tried to control there are still many more that I didn’t. The best I can do is break them down into groups based on my preferences.

25

All that is left to do is say thanks to Andy for collecting all this information using his Tactics Truck and ask him his opinion regarding our World Cup bid.

Me: So Andy you’ve watched all the matches, what do you think?

Andy: Well Rob I think one of those formations will be the best one to choose. If you want to win the World Cup you will need your strikers to score goals but you don’t want your defense to concede too many. If you can just score more goals than your opponents then you have a chance in every game.

Me: Thanks Andy, that’s really insightful.

Thanks to Rob for taking the time out to solve all your tactical needs. Rob will be back tomorrow with the latest from Roma, or you can catch up with him on Twitter @Taitanator

The Stockport Diaries: Season 2 – Part 9

After a brief bout of sickness, Matt Porter returns with the latest from Stockport County. It’s been a couple of weeks so you can catch up with the previous episode here, before heading back here to see how Matt gets on in March. Is a European push back on the cards?

Well February was hard. The weather was miserable, the football miserable, but let’s put it in context. We had 3 very tough away games and no home league games, and we did compete in most of them. Plus, we are still 5th in the Premier League and mathematically safe (I think), on balance the folk of Stockport are still rather pleased with their football team. Having said that we don’t want to settle for mediocrity, we want European football, so we need to get out of this rut.

Only 4 games this month and 3 are at home, starting with the trickiest fixture as Arsenal visit, desperate for revenge for their defeat at Highbury. Skipper Duberry is out for a month so Matty Bound returns, otherwise it is as you were.


1

An encouraging first half, we don’t create much but Arsenal create absolutely nothing. We could nick this one you know…

2

We have stopped the rot! A 1-1 full time result, Dugarry scores against Arsenal again and the crowd go mad, but Ian Wright quietens them quickly. We are on top without really making many chances, and Overmars almost nicks it at the end but we breathe a sigh of relief. Hopefully we can kick on from what is a really good performance, and the crowd go home happy, back up to 4th here we go!

3

Interesting venue choice…

4

A bit of a break to the next game which means my players are at 100% except for Duberry and Youngs who are both still out for another 2 weeks. It’s Middlesbrough away next for our boys, our only away game, and we are miles ahead of the only team to finish above us in Division 1 last year. Nick Wright comes in for the injured Youngs in the only change, it was an impressive performance last time out after all. Will the break help? Alun Armstrong makes the bench for Boro, to be fair he’d have had a decent chance of starting for me today.

5

Once again we are comfortably the better side but can’t find a breakthrough in the first half. My mood is not helped when Schwarzer takes out Dugarry… The ref pauses… then waves play on! Are you blind ref?! I hate blaming referees and would prefer a rugby type system so they actually get some respect, so I bite my tongue so hard it bleeds.

6

Full time nil nil. Schwarzer who should have been sent off in the first half gets man of the match. Predicatable really isn’t it?! I don’t make a mention of the incident in my post-match interview, focusing on the positives in our performance instead, I think I deserve a medal. Still, unbeaten in 2! Or no win in 6, depends on your viewpoint really…

7

Could really have done with a win there, the next 2 home games are going to be vital…

8

Unchanged side against Coventry at home, we could really do with that overdue win…

9

Nil nil at half time, God that was boring

10

Well it’s another draw but that’s only half the story, we go 2-0 down to Darren bloody Huckerby, but then Dion Dublin gets sent off, however on 85 minutes we are still 2-0 down, but super sub Graeme Tomlinson nicks 2 in the last 5 minutes to gain the point. I give the rousing speech, this is the run in, we’ve done incredibly well to get this far, just one more big push lads… The atmosphere in the dressing room is electric, we know we’ve been playing well this month, we just need that win!

11

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I feel I need some flair, and who is the first player who jumps into your mind when flair is mentioned? Well it’s obviously Chris Bart-Williams isn’t it…

13

Arsenal are really taking the piss here ,and he has a big club release clause so I can’t refuse!

14

Good lad Chris…

15

Last game of the month and Sheridan is only fit enough for the bench so CBW comes into the side, and of course Tomlinson has to start so Wright makes way. The game comes a bit too soon for Youngs and Duberry. Derby are dead bottom with only 12 points, so surely this is the day?!

16

Well that was a first half! As you may have spotted we score from the first attack before I can even screenshot, and then we score again, and again. Graeme Tomlinson is making a big fat point to me, and I quite happily will eat humble pie if he carries on this form.

17

Well it’s a pity that we can’t keep the clean sheet, but that is a relief. 4 games unbeaten this month, a few too many draws but we can’t complain really!

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So April may well be the decisive month, it’s been a successful season regardless, but how successful? We’ll soon find out…

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I think you’ll agree it’s great to have Matt back. You can also follow him on Twitter @PorterMatt

The Gialloblu Chronicles – Part 8

Part 8 already? Ross is back with the latest from Parma but is he having a Part A? It’s the end of season 2 and Parma are looking for the Serie A title and the Champions League to go with it. Can they do it?

Hey there, a more serious intro this week. My Parma side on the cusp of something great. We are going for both Serie A and Champions League. In all honesty I’d be happy with one but something tells why not go for both. Although later I work out it was Buffon whispering through the air vent.

Anyway, enough of that I have trophies to win.

We welcome Lazio to the Ennio, a tough team to break down.

1

Or maybe not. We are fast out of the blocks and 3 up within 15 mins. A few changes on 75 mins lets Lazio back in, but we stand up and are a step closure to the holy grail.

2

As you can see its tighter than ducks behind. Odd that with players like Ronaldo etc Inter haven’t out scored us. I’m not showing the lads this, as I’ve said in previous weeks the numbers will just confuse them all.

We host Rangers next up and training has gone a bit crazy. Like a bunch of kids in a school playground they are over excited. I tell them to cut training short and go have a sleep. Problem is, no one set an alarm and we were all still there at 7pm.

The semi-finals await us. I tell the lads to keep it tight and we will easily go through.

3

Odd game. Rangers barely came at us and Hernan just pocked on home.

Udinese are dealt easily; a 2-0 win and my pager comes up with the massage that Inter have lost. Two horse race? I’m not ruling them out.

4

The semi final draw for the CL throws us against the Mighty Barcelona. We have to go the Nou Camp or Camp Nou or whatever people call it, I swear it changes every week.

5

Wow what a match. Niclas stupidly went in two footed on Nadal, oddly Nadal was seething and decided to try and decapitate Crespo. Chiesa slams home the winner. What would I do without these two?

Someone must be laughing at Serie A HQ as the next game is Inter away. With them slipping a bit I’ll take anything bar a loss.

6

Two injuries on a already tight squad isn’t helping, but the draw I’ll take. Not seen who are playing next.

Who? Juve? At home? FFS. I need some strong minds out there.

7

EASY EASY EASY!!! Surely that will sew up the title. Leroy’s sending off really helped. Forgotten man Helveg helps himself to a goal. Dyer was rested, turns up in his PJs. Lad never learns.

8

Somehow still only 1 point in it. But as long as I can keep the squad healthy a I’m still confident. Next is the 4th big game in a row. 2nd Leg vs Barca.

A few more rotations. Dyer comes back in. I remind them not to panic, and the longer the game goes on with them scoring the more spaces will open up for us.

9

Oh yeah!!!! Final here we come. Never thought it would be as straight forward. But no parties yet. Much to the squad’s disappointment, a local McDonalds had offered a free burger for getting through, I’m not having that.

Next is another good performance, having to come from behind doesn’t do much for the worry.

10

4 to play and 2 points in it. I still can’t shake off the fact Inter may come back strong.

11

They do win the cup, maybe that’s their launch pad?

12

Ravenna prove tougher than previous games. But we have a happy knack of nicking games.

13

Mass celebrations in the stands when the fans get wind of Juve losing. A 6 point lead with 3 to go. Surely, we won’t throw this away now?

14

Damn it. 2 to play and the lead is down to 3 points.

Chievo at home is our next game. I’m starting to think maybe playing the top teams benefits us.

15

Or maybe not… at full time I’m being hugged and kissed, I know its back to winning ways but this is a bit ott. Chants of ‘CHAMPIONS’ start. I need to get back to the changing room to find out what’s going on.

I find the figure of Thuram smiling.

16

I could not be prouder. In only 2 seasons we have gone from a top 5 team to top of the lot. I dedicate this to the fans who have never won it.

We celebrate long into the night.

I leave you on tenter hooks. You will have to wait until next week for the Champions League final.

Ciao for now.

You can follow Ross on Twitter @Riddley82

 

What a gem!

Greetings and welcome to the final update of season 7. I’ve made a house a home here in Waregem, Belgium, as we look to break the dominance of the big 3 here and hopefully pinch a Champions League spot. We’re still in the UEFA Cup but face a big task to overturn an Aberdeen lead, but we’ve still got the Belgian Cup to go at too. It’s all happening. We pick up in the first weekend in March and a tricky away trip.

3-3 germinal

It feels like they are scoring every time they break forwards but eventually Emmers heads in an equaliser. Is it points dropped? I really can’t tell anymore.

No such troubles against Lommel, who are brushed aside ahead of out Aberdeen rematch.

Lommel 3-0

As usual the problem is that we have far too many non-EU players, plus injuries. Also Zetterberg is banned, the wily old Swede gets booked every game pretty much. It’s not the best squad I’ve ever put out but we’ll have a go. With the Scottish front two we’ll always have a chance.

squad to play aberdeen

Peter’s come to hold what they have. Why would you do that?

aberdeen team

Aberdeen score first which means we need 3 for extra time and 4 to win. Monaghan nets twice before the break before Emmers hauls us level just after half time. Just as I’m gearing up for a big finish, Nalis plunders one in from 30 yards. The dream is over.

3-2 aberdeen

It’s a shame but we’ve punched well above our weight to get this far. As it turns out, Aberdeen go on to win the UEFA Cup. Great days for the under pressure Beardsley.

Back to our bread and butter and Dermot’s at the double again.

4-2 charleroi

That’s followed up with a nervy win at Tongeren. We struggled to get a foothold in the game and were lucky Koshery blasted his pen over.

0-1 tongeren

To put this in context, with 7 games to go we are embroiled in a 5 way scrap at the top. We love a goal, everybody else loves to keep them out. Something’s got to give.

7 games left

A couple of Easter wins are not pretty but very welcome. Are the nerves getting to us?

1-0 cercle brugge2-0 turnhour

It’s actually quite a relief to come to our Belgian Cup semi-final. Having beaten Lierse and Standard in the previous rounds it seems only fair we face the trip to Club Brugge next. We’ve been drawn away in every round, somehow. Anyway, it’s a classic.

3-3 brugge cup

Three times we lead, three times we are pegged back. It goes to penalties and hold our nerve, even if Zetterberg didn’t. What a result. It’s Anderlecht away in the final, because that seems fair.

Take that, Gent.

3-0 gent

Remarkably that puts us top of the table as Anderlecht and Standard fail.

4 games to go

All we have to do is win our remaining 4 games and the league is ours.

2-0 aalst

I ask you to do one thing…

As luck would have it, nobody can take advantage. Except Brugge, they’re coming like a freight train, vengeful for our cup win no doubt.

3 games to go

Lierse are basically out of the running now but if they come to our back yard and win I’ll be pretty mad. Fortunately the proclaimers get the job done

2-0 lierse

Two games to go then and strictly speaking it’s still a 4 horse race. Remember, our last game is against Standard. That’s going to be fun.

2 games to go

Off we go to Harelbeke, so often the graveyard of our hopes (well at least twice that I can recall) and Monka puts us in front early on. They equalise but have a man sent off. We have a whole half to basically secure Champions League football.

1-1 harelbeke

Damn. Standard actually beat Anderlecht 3-2 which preserves our top spot but means we can go into the final day unsure of even Champions League qualification.

1 game to go

last games

Because we face Anderlecht in the cup final on Saturday they’ve moved the fixtures to midweek. I’m nervous.

The game is on a knife edge. It’s 0-0 forever with few chances. 10 minutes from the end Buchanan hits the post and Hoekstra turns in the rebound. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS

1-0 standard

Anderlecht fall to a draw and Club Brugge win 3-0 to snatch second by a couple of goals. Bit of a shocker there

JL FInal S7

To the cup final then and honestly, I don’t care what happens. We’ve won the league when I didn’t expect to and if we win the cup, well that’ll be nice too. I tell the players to go out and have a great time.

anderlecht 5-0

I mean that is a great time. We’re magnificent. Playing like champions, Dermot plunders yet another hat-trick and we win the cup in Anderlecht’s back garden. We’ve won at Standard, Brugge and Anderlecht to complete a hat-trick of our own and the most deserved cup win ever.

Elsewhere, Rangers are the Scottish Champions. Aberdeen win the UEFA Cup but they are so far behind the Old Firm now it’s a real shame.

scots prem top final S7

A single tear rolls down my cheek.

mulryne to celtic

The Man Utd dominance continues, the North East try to peg them back but fail. Man Utd also win the Champions League.

Prem top final S7

Euro 2004 is held in Italy and England remarkably take home the trophy.

Euro 2004 final

Scenes.

Awards time now and I’m the greatest man in Belgium.

MOTY

I don’t think I’ve ever won the Fair Play Award, so that’s nice. Buchanan top scorer is also nice.

belgian awards S7

John Curtis wins player of the year. I made you, John.

english awards S7

We’ve got good times ahead, but we’ll have no money to spend. The board act on our success and spend all of our money on 5000 new seats. That’s lovely it really is, but now we have literally nothing in the transfer kitty.

stadium

Season 8 promises to be very interesting indeed! See you next week.

Don’t forget you can vote for us in the FBAs in the category of Best Gaming Football Content Creator – cast your vote here

Totti’s Team: Part 5

Rob’s been moved to Thursday so now you get your Totti update a day earlier than previously. Roma are entering the middle third of season 2 and momentum is building in the capital…(Catch part 4 here if you missed it)

Well part one was busy busy, we have made a positive start to our second season and apart from our slip up in the Coppa Italia to Chievo we are going well in the Serie A and the CL.

Some news fresh out of Amsterdam starts our second part of the season.

1

Dennis returning to where it all began, he left Ajax in 93 to go to Inter before signing for Arsenal in 95. By 98 he is obviously homesick, I love the fact that in 1998 £7.5 million was a national record, everything was simpler back then.

Champions league group action at the beginning of November, with Barca in our group we need to win all our other games to make sure we are one of the two best second placed teams. My words of wisdom fall on deaf ears.

2

Want away TSL scores a much needed equaliser but really not the result we want, especially since they scored with their only bloody shot on target! I don’t feel confident about getting anything off Barca so getting out of the group just got a whole lot harder.

We win our next game away to Perugia 2:0 and head into the international break on a high.

3

That’s not the result they were looking for but in some ways I don’t want Italy to qualify. I would really like the national job so I need Daddy Maldini to get sacked. It’s also double bad news for Roma fans.

4

This however, I care about even less than when Antonio Carlos had a cold. (see season 2 part 1).

5

I’ve tried to trick Balbo into signing a higher paid contract that expires this season but he saw right through it. As it is he will be hanging around on £34,000 till June 2001 at this rate. Please somebody buy him, he is still getting called up by Argentina after all.

Back to the league after the international break and we batter Fiorentina but only manage a draw.

6

We are 2:1 up at half time but they equalise in the 61st minute and we can’t get back ahead.

Tommy is finally off.

7

A tidy profit on a player who I bought for about 200 K and only played sporadically. A day after TSL leaves and four days after Di Biagio goes down this happens.

8

If only TSL had stayed he would have had the chance to prove himself. As it is I now have a mini crisis in centre midfield. I’m lacking depth and experience at the position. The only positive is a while back when I first found Pirlo was on the game I changed his position in the editor from Forward Left to Centre Mid. I think Pirlo is also a -1 potential player so I know if I play him a bit he should keep improving.

Thanks Diego, that could have been a whole lot more tricky.

9

We are still ticking along nicely in the league and for good measure Pirlo gets on the score sheet. We host Bromby mid week in the CL. It is a must win game, I really hope they understand that this time.

10

They do, I don’t know why I was worried. We are second with 10 points, maybe we can beat Barca at the Stadio Olimpico, we are playing really well at the moment. Our good form continues as we beat Genoa 3:0 away in our final game in November. The manager of the month awards are handed out and Lippi gets it for the second time. I mutter darkly under my breath.

The 6th December is derby day, we are in the home team dressing room and on a good run of form, what could go wrong?

11

Nothing! That is unusual for this game. It’s a great result, Telli and Totti are turning into a deadly duo the board will be ecstatic.

12

Come on… bragging rights in the local derby and all we get is ‘a good result’ where is their passion? Next up is our final CL group game against Barca, in second place with 10 points I feel like we really need something from the game to get through and i have almost accepted that this is probably the end of our European adventure for the year.

13

Oh well, that’s disappointing especially when you look at the stats.

14

It was very close and you could argue that we outplayed them so how did we lose 0:3? We will need to see how the other results went.

15

Woo hoo, we have snuck in, Lady Luck was on our side, it’s knock out football now and anything can happen.

16

Very pleased, we are getting there, they might even smile soon, soulless robots.

Ahh, not the easiest draw, off to face Fergie in his prime.

17

Here is the whole draw:

18

Post CL qualification we are off to Turin for a big game 2nd vs 1st at the Stadio Delle Alpi.

19

What a result, a come from behind victory. I really can’t believe how good our league form is. I think Micky Landreau is making himself irreplaceable and he is only 19. I could get 15 more years out of him which isn’t bad for £5 million. I do question the logic of Lippi buying Raul when he has Del Piero, they play in exactly the same position, he’ll probably go after Henry next. I check the stats out for the game and decide that i might actually have robbed Juve blind in this one.

20

I decide to strengthen the midfield with this guy, his stats are beastly I only hope he can live up to them but for £220k it is a gamble worth taking.

21

22

A future Black Stars captain I hope. Our final game before the christmas break sees us waltz past Atalanta 3:0. I think we have earned our Turkey dinner looking at our results so far this season. Napoli send us an early christmas gift.

23

The league at Christmas and we can finally defend like Italians, even though we don’t have a single Italian defender in the usual starting eleven.

24

Bet Lazio wish they hadn’t called that impromptu Christmas break kick about.

25

At last, justice. I almost buckled and started playing Telli as a sweeper during December but I’m glad I’ve won it the right way and not the Capello way.

26

We pick up where we left off before the break, although a 6 week injury to Bisgaard is not helpful, however it will give young Matteo Pelatti a chance to show us why he is rated as an U21 star.

27

Our 17th game of the season sees us beat Piacenza in the Stadio Olimpico 2:0. At the halfway stage we 11 points clear of Juve and Fiorentina who are 2nd and 3rd respectively on 36 pts. Game 18 and another clean sheet and another win 1:0 at home to Lecce.

One of the longest injuries I have seen. Poor Albert, but anything that weakens Juve is good for me.

28

No way, my three way rotating strike force was working really well. I was never the biggest fan of Inzaghi as a player in real life but as a name in a flashing box on this match engine I imagine him to be a digital lightning bolt exploding onto the scene to score a……..cheeky rebound probably. He will be missed.

29

Because Inzaghi is injured I strengthen my squad with…

30

A defender, Pistone was highly rated when Newcastle signed him and the infamous ‘Euro Scout’ recommended I bring him back to Italy. He will add versatility as a Defender L/R, he can take over from Cafu as he gets older and he was once touted as the next Maldini. Since Maldini refused to sign for me in the summer I buy what I hope (in this game) will become the next best thing.

Next up is Capello’s Milan, I bring my Manager of the Month trophy to gloat and wonder who will be playing sweeper today but he surprises me with a classic attacking 4-4-2 this could mean trouble. No it is fine we take a 2:0 lead a minute after half time.

31

What happened? A very disappointing result we only manage a draw, Landreau scores an own goal and Dario Smoje equalises. Smoje is a Croatian who in my opinion turns into a top notch player on this game. I’m might try and sign him in the close season as his contract is expiring. I can’t help but feel Karma has come back to bite me in the ass, I’ve been a bit mean to Capello in this blog for no good reason really.

Anyway onwards and upwards we host Sampdoria in the next game so I hope to return to winning ways however Fabio Rustico (sounds like a biscuit) has other ideas and after Santos gets sent off in the 17th minute I am happy with the 0:0 draw.

32

Just before the transfer window closed I tried to pull off three big money moves just because they were all available and I have £30 million burning a hole in my pocket.

33

It didn’t work, not even one of them wanted to join, miserable (insert expletives)

As we move into February and towards the end of this chapter I notice something funny. Serie C side Chievo Verona, the team that knock me out in the third round of the Coppa Italia have made it to the semi finals, not only that but they managed to do what I couldn’t fours days earlier and they beat Sampdoria 2:1 away in the first leg.

34

And they did it with 10 men. Go on Chievo

Up next for us is an away trip to Florence which doesn’t work out well for us. We are clearly the better team but despite 10 of our 16 shots being on target we only score one and they, quite unjustly I might say score two.

35

As the stats show it was a little bit of daylight robbery and we leave frustrated and upset. Our unbeaten league run is over, you can’t win them all.

Last year Valentine’s day didn’t work out too well for us and today we travel to Naples for a potentially tough match where I have had to make a few changes due to injuries and suspensions. Petruzzi is back at centre back and Pistone gets a first start.

36

I don’t know why I was worried, Pistone scores on his debut but the Petruzzi injury, it’s because he is so weak, means I now only have 2 fit centre backs. Maybe this why we started season one with 10 players who could play there. To top it all off Totti is suspended for two matches for reaching 21 disciplinary points.

More importantly though the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi finals at the end of the week see Chievo win 1:0 against Sampdoria to book there place in the final with Juve. This is quite the side story. They don’t even have a manager because they are in Serie C so the game just says manager unknown, whoever he is he is amazing.

37

We beat Verona 1:0 at the Stadio Olimpico but another suspension looms Pirri Pirri’s fiery nature lands him in hot water as he hits 22 disciplinary points and a two game ban. We seem to be a lot more ill disciplined this year and I can only assume the Dirty Dane MB has been doing some after hours training with the team.

Our final game in February and the end of this part of the blog see us travel to Sant’Elia the home of Cagliari.

38

Good to see Kanoute get a goal his stats are amazing so I hope he can live up to them, he hasn’t really had much of a run in the team yet but he is young and his time will come.

I leave you with a third of the season left to play. We are sitting pretty in the league although Juve made up some ground after our loss to Fiorentina. We would have to capitulate heavily (is that tautology) to lose it now. I imagine it is something Harry Redknapp would say or has said so I’m going to stick with it. We are straight back into Champions League games when I return with the first leg of our Quarter Final tie against Man Utd. Here is the league table to finish.

39

The CM9798 World Cup is a week closer! Rob will be managing Republic of Ireland but you can follow his Twitter in the meantime @Taitanator

The Gialloblu Chronicles – Part 7

Ross is doing rather well with Parma but is that a bump in the road I see? Catch up with Part 6 if you missed it.

Hello my fellow Parmesans. Cheesy intro I know but I feel like we are family now. We left off last time 3 clear of the chasing pack, well Inter and Juve. And we can’t rest on our laurels.

We win our next two games and the other two can only win one and lose one each to give us a tiny bit of breathing space.

1

We can’t let this chance to win the league slip and up next is a very winnable game at the Ennio vs Vicenza.

2

Like a flan in a cupboard we go flat, barely landing a glove on a very stubborn defence.

I want to inject some much-needed energy to the squad. The chairman is a big ballet fan so invites a local ballet school to help the players with mobilty.

3

This is what happens when you try to show off. What also didn’t help is Kieron Dyer trying to heal the leg with crystals. I blame late night TV.

Without our Brazilian wizard I call upon my dependable Swede to help us out.

Away to Milan is out first test without Den.

4

A real ding dong of a game. Sibby shows he will survive without his mate on the left.

Another away game, this time Bari. Don’t let the score line fool you. It was a lot closer than it looks.

5

But only one lose since the winter break gives us a good platform for the run in towards a title.

6

For some reason (Note from Dave: When the German league is loaded the German teams play their last group game in February) the above draw takes place well after the previous stage, but I’ll take it. We should be just about too strong for the blue side of Glasgow.

Yet another away game, not seen my family in ages, and for 89 mins Jesper is showing us why we shouldn’t worry about Denilsons broken leg.

7

Not sure what I’m more worried about, the last-minute goal or Sibierski’s injury. It shouldn’t be too bad, and I have cover just not up to that standard.

Finally we are at home, and we want to stay on this unbeaten run.

8

We send the 35 Sampdoria fans home empty handed. Nice to see Helveg score. Chiesa and Crespo are having great goal scoring seasons. Though if one of them got injured there isn’t much to come in. But we are getting a lot of away games out of the way. Speaking of away games…

9

Melli is the main man, on top of that the goals are being shared about. I can almost smell the trophy. This sets us up nicely for our trip to Scotland.

We touch down in Glasgow, oddly Dyer has been very professional all week during the build-up. Even wearing a club suit and tie, we don’t have one but its nice to see him put the effort in.

10

Seems as though it helped. He scores the equaliser after Rangers take the lead with a player I’ve tried to sign many times. Melli scores again and we can go into the home leg confident. Might suggest all the players wear suits and the made-up tie.

Can we do the double? I’m not sure. We are carrying a few injuries and I need to keep Kieron focussed on football.

I end this part early for reasons you will find out next time. You will want to read it.

Ciao for now.

You can follow Ross on Twitter @Riddley82

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