Hello champ fans! and welcome along once again to another blog squad battle, as myself, Dave, Andrew, Matt, Dean, Rob, Philip, Zak, Nathan, and Ross gather to pit our wits against each other in our very own CM97/98 European Super League. We’ve two rounds of league fixtures for you this week, with the Coca-Cola Cup final thrown in between them for good measure, so let’s get down to business…
Andrew and Dave got us off and running. Andrew was as optimistic as ever, and Milan scored with their first shot and led 2-0 at half time, during which Dean apologised after his son (a Man City fan) shouted “f*cking hell ref” in the background, the joys of Zoom eh? Andrew made a couple of subs, and it looked to be working as they threatened late on, but my commentator’s curse struck again, and after implicating a late Bayern flurry, it was Milan who scored twice more to win 4-0. Andrew’s closing statement was “what a bunch of absolute shits”, which I think summed up his team’s performance nicely.
Match number 2 was Nathan vs Dean. Nathan was using the 2-3-1-2-2 formation with a flat back four, and it seemed to be working as his side went 2-0 up after a quarter of an hour. Dean thought Ajax had pulled one back but it was chalked off, and Dortmund led at the break. The introduction of John Van den Brom for Dean had little effect, and Dortmund further increased their lead through skipper Möller, who made it 3-0, which is how it stayed.
Matt sent his apologies this week, and his managerless old lady played host to Ross’ Man Utd. United took the lead through an unlikely source (or likely if you ask Andrew) in Phil Neville, and Ryan Giggs made it two just before the half hour mark. When Dwight Yorke made it 3-0, United looked to be in cruise control, but a Del Piero strike and a Vialli penalty set up a nervy ending for Ross, but to his relief, up popped Ronnie Johnsen to seal a 4-2 victory.
Zak was also not with us this week, but his instructions were “same team, same formation”. As for Rob, it was the completely the opposite, and his mentality was different team, different formation, and he rung the changes from last week. Andrew was concerned for his Bayern side, and asked Rob if he could not win, and this appeared to be a cue for Marseille to start scoring, and they found themselves 3-0 up at half time. Rob decided not to tinker at half time, and although Red Star had a better second half, they failed to register a shot on target and the score remained the same.
Finishing off the first round of league matches was myself and Philip in the second El Clasico of the season. My side had picked up a bit of form of late, and I was hoping to avoid a repeat of the 7-3 hammering that Philip have me earlier in the season. Stoichkov opened the scoring on 17 minutes, but this faze my side, and Suker got an equaliser just before half time. The second half was action-packed, both of us made a few changes, and Barca looked to have won it at the death, but I breathed a huge sigh of relief to see the goal disallowed, and a draw was probably a fair result in the end. Although his side didn’t win, Philip was awarded his third manager of the month award after the match, well done, Philip!
So… Now for the first cup final of the season. Zak was not there to lead his team out at Hampden Park on a cold Wednesday night, but Ross proudly strolled out in front of his Red Devils for the finale of the much-coveted Coca-Cola Cup. United drew first blood through Andy Cole, but Alen Boksic struck in the same minute and again 9 minutes later to give his side a 2-1 half time lead. Both sides had a goal disallowed around the hour, and after Ross made some changes, there was some relentless late pressure from United, but they just couldn’t find a way through, and l’OM held on to lift the trophy.
Back to the league action, and there was no rest for the wicked as Marseille were back on again, this time against Ajax. Dean was without his star man, Van Vossen, so he gave a start to his “crap” striker, Patrick Kluivert. There were a total of seven shots at goal in the first half, sadly none of them were on target. The hour arrived, and Dean made a sensible move and brought Reuser on for Kluivert, but he lost his other star man, Jari Litmanen to injury on 76. The second half did bring three shots on target, but none of them found the net and it ended a stalemate.
Philip had forgotten to put a young Pep Guardiola in his side for the El Clasico, but he wasn’t making the same mistake twice, and he was straight in for this one. Andrew decided to clear his squad and have a bit of a play around for this one, adopting a 3-4-2-1 formation, and although Bayern trailed 2-1 at half time, the tactics did prove efficient, as they scored with their only shot on target. More tweaks followed at half time, and Andrew wanted Patrik Andersson bombing forward from the sweeper position to central midfield because it “looks nice”, but this proved one tweak too many, and Barcelona got a third goal. Scholl offered the Germans some hope, but it was to be the last goal of the game, and Barca held on to win 3-2.
After they lost the Coca-Cola Cup, it probably wasn’t a good time for a trip to Old Trafford for my side, but hey ho. We did manage to almost make it to half time before United’s first goal, but just as I was praising Santi Canizares, he goes and lets one in. The second half proved that United were going easy on me in the first, as a brace from the ginger ninja, and a late strike from Yorke completed the rout to send me back to losing ways. Ross would have been pleased with notching up two wins this week after suffering back-to-back defeats last week.
The penultimate action of the evening came from the San Siro, as Dave’s Milan welcomed Nathan’s Dortmund. Both sides had recorded emphatic wins earlier in the evening, so both managers were looking to secure maximum points. Milan seemingly got off to a flyer, but their second-minute goal was disallowed. However, a Jurgen Kohler own goal on half an hour did hand the Rossoneri the lead at the break. The second half was all Milan, but Stefan Klos was single-handedly keeping his side in it, so much so that Dave said he wished Barry Combe was in goal. Despite Klos’ best efforts though, he couldn’t keep out two late efforts from Panucci and Laudrup, and it ended 3-0.
The last game was Rob vs Matt. Rob decided to stick with the same formation, but add a few crazy runs to some of his players. Red Star got off to the worst possible start, conceding from a corner in the second minute. But one thing that can be said for Rob’s men is that they’re a spirited bunch, and they proceeded to take the game to Juve, and after knocking and knocking on the Old Lady’s door, they finally beat Angelo Peruzzi early in the second half and went on to match their opponents in every area to earn a well-deserved point and send Rob to bed a happy man.
So after the final final whistle of the night, this is how the table looks. Philip still leads the way, but Zak, Ross and Dave are all tied behind him on 29 points. Dean and Matt aren’t far behind, but then there’s the gulf of 7 points between 6th and 7th, where Nathan is currently the best of the rest.
Thanks for reading, folks, and remember you can also watch this week’s action on YouTube by clicking here. Join us next week for a blockbuster edition as we cram in three rounds of league games to bring us to the halfway point before we have a mid-season break for the CM Cup. Cheers and gone!