It’s finally here! CM9798 turns 20 this month so we’re having ourselves a little tournament to celebrate. If you didn’t read the preview last week, this will make little sense to you. Read it now and pop back, we’ll wait for you…
Caught up? Good. I’ll be bringing you the first two quarter finals today, or the top half of the draw as it should really be known. Here’s the draw in full:
Remember, every manager has two wildcards to add to their squad. Let’s get straight into it.
Barcelona vs AC Milan
Barcelona are managed by @KingOfTheRooks, a long time follower of the blog always full of helpful hints. Let’s learn a bit more about his plans for this Barcelona team.
You must be pleased with getting Barcelona, right?
Overall Im pleased with Barcelona. All the squads have their strengths and weaknesses and I guess you just have to build something that fits the players you’ve got.
You’ve made your two transfers, can you talk us through them?
From a wildcard perspective, Denilson was an absolute punt. I’ve had saves where he has been shocking and others where he’s been unplayable. Old Denis [Bergkamp] was purely to fit the formation – normally I would steal Pires from Metz but we dont have the time for him to develop. Plus, I’m of the Kevin Keegan school of thought, I’d rather lose 4-3 than win 1-0!
Who do you make favourites to win the CM9798 Cup?
Favourites, I’d say my opponents Milan, theyve got the complete squad back to front #mindgames
That beautifully segways us into the other half of this match, AC Milan. They are managed by our guest blogger @SeagullShouts – can he repeat his success with Third Division Brighton? Here’s his Milan squad
Talk us through the Milan squad – is it a good fit for you?
I’m very happy with my team. Solid at the back, the GK who is a Man Utd and Prem legend for that goal conceded through his legs by Le Tissier and George Weah!
What about your wildcards then?
Always had a thing for Brazilian WBs and with Leonardo already in the squad there was one name that came to mind right away: Cafú. Secondly I wanted someone solid in the centre with Albertini and Thomas Gravesen looked good and is quite young in this version of the game. Always solid 7 or 8 ratings when I’ve used him before.
If you were a betting man, where would your money be going?
My favourite to win has to be AC Milan. You’ve got to be confident, right?
This was actually a really tight game, where Milan kept missing the target before falling behind to Denis Bergkamp’s 14th minute goal – their only shot of the half.
However, Milan couldn’t find a way through and were indebted to Taibi keeping it 1-0 in the end. It’s Barcelona who advance to the semi finals!
But who would they play in that semi-final…
Ajax vs Real Madrid
Mark was given Ajax in the draw, but would he draw inspiration from my save with the Dutch giants or would he go his own way? He had two wildcards first…
Right then Mark, you’ve picked Javier Zanetti and Gabriel Batistuta. Two fine choices. Talk us through them please?
I was desperate for a right back as I didn’t actually have one in my squad. Zanetti is a Championship Manager legend and exactly the sort of player I wanted. Batistuta though… I have a lot of strikers in the squad but none that really excite me. I love Jari Litmanen and wanted a top class player to go alongside him. Batistuta was one of the great strikers of this era.
Do you think you can take Ajax all the way?
Ajax were a great side in the 90s but I always felt were on their way out by 97:98. It won’t be easy, especially against the side I think are favourites to win it
So why does Mark rate Real Madrid as favourites? Well, they actually won the Champions League in the 1997/98 season, so that seems fair enough. But what does Chris think?
Chris, you’ve picked Martin Djetou and Mickael Landreau. Will they improve a Champions League winning squad?
Djetou was going to be more Marcel Desailly than Marcel Desailly, wasn’t he? In real life he was going to become part of a world that had Desailly, Viera, Petit and, er, Lebouef leading France to World Cup 98 glory. That’s why. Meanwhile, Canizares always had a Mignolet moment in his locker, and Landreau (I seem to recall) matured quickly in the game. Hopefully by mature quickly we mean in time for the semi final after we see this lot off.
You must be pleased with Real Madrid though?
It’s blatantly fixed. I mean, what are the chances of me getting the squad that won the actual Champions League that season? Yes, I am happy except Real Madrid go against everything I care about in the real world. Galacticos my arse. They have Christian Karambeu for crying out loud.
Can you get the job done here?
Carruthers likes to think he knows the CM land because he’s mates with Bjorn Heidrenson (or whatever he was called). That means nothing once you’ve ghosted the great Johnny Cooper’s memoirs. Ajax’s day went after all their players buggered off to better clubs. Like Real Madrid for example. We will win, and we will win well.
Strong words there. But also a strong squad
Mark rolled back the years and played 4-4-2 whilst Chris went for good old wingbacks.
I have to say I was surprised to see a 17 year old Cambiasso lineup in central midfield for Chris but anybody playing 4-4-2 on this game is brave. As it turned out, a wildcard stole the show
Ajax’s first two goals were headers from corners, before Batistuta added a third from the spot just before half time. Although Real Madrid rallied when Ajax went down to 10, it didn’t last long and Hierro’s red card for a last man foul on Batistuta sealed the deal.
Real actually managed more shots but with a less than clever conversion rate.
As Chris picked up his things muttering about UEFA, conspiracies and Ajax playing 4-4-2 and scoring from corners, Mark will advance to the semi-finals where Ajax will face Barcelona.
Keep an eye on our Twitter during the week as we’ll be giving away out first prizes, and be back here next week for the two remaining quarter finals. Cheerio!
The CM9798 Cup in conjunction with Classic11.com