Champions League Manager 97/98 – Match Week 17 | @NTR9798

Hello! and welcome to the finale of this quest to find out which of these champions league-winning sides truly is the best. Philip and his Barcelona ‘92 side have led the way for most of the season, but Ross and Dave are breathing down his neck, and all three play each other this week! Zak’s Marseille ‘93 face Lazio in the UEFA Cup final, and Philip and Ross contest the FA Cup final. So buckle up, sit back and let the drama unfold…

Here’s how things stood before the evening’s action, you couldn’t have asked for it to be more perfectly set up for the final week…

We were straight into the big games, with Philip hosting Dave. Realistically, Dave had to win to be in with a shot, and although Lentini rescued a point at the death, Papin’s penalty miss could prove pivotal in this title race…

A win against Andrew would take Ross and Man Utd top on goal difference, and the red devils didn’t disappoint, although an early Sforza equaliser gave them something to think about. There was a now a new leader in town.

Dean needed just a point against Matt to secure fourth. Bogarde showed he can do it at both ends of the pitch, the 61st minute was the liveliest you’ll see today with three goals, and Vialli struck late to steal the points for Matt.

Matt’s win put the pressure on Zak and his Marseille side, but I’OM were more than up to the task against Nathan and Dortmund, with Boksic and a Ferreri penalty adding to Rudi Voller’s 25th goal of the season.

I had high hopes for my Real Madrid side at the start of this save, but should have known that no Panucci or Seedorf meant no chance. That said, Rob’s relegated Red Star left the Bernabeu with a deserved three points.

A quick table update as we head into the second lot of games. Ross is now top on goal difference, and Dave is all but out of it, but could still have a say in where the title goes…

Patrick Kluivert hasn’t done badly in the end, considering he was written off by his manger at the start of the competition, and his goal got Deano the point he needed to secure fourth against me, with Suker also on the score sheet.

Matt looked to have got his second win of the evening against Nathan, but it’s not very often Matthias Sammer is clean through on goal, and the ginger German certainly made the most of his chance to earn Dortmund a point.

So this was the game that would likely decide the title. It was end-to-end stuff, with both keepers on top form. Solskjaer’s strike just after half time looked like it was going to be enough to put Ross three points clear, but if anyone was going to score an important goal, it simply had to be Stoichkov…

Dave wasn’t mathematically out of the title race, and a late Florin Raducioiu goal ensured that his side kept pace with the top two. Dave was quick to notice the rather satisfying attendance of exactly 80,000 at the San Siro.

Finishing off the second lot of league games we’re Rob and Andrew. There was no doubting who the star of the show was, and he even missed a penalty as his side cruised to a 6-0 hammering of Red Star. Every dog has its day…

Just before we go the final day of the league season, Zak had the chance to get his hands on his second trophy of the season, as his side faced Lazio in the UEFA Cup final. He’d even donned a suit for the occasion, which is to be commended, and there was no doubt he was taking it seriously. But in true champ man fashion, his side battered their opponents for most of the match, and were hit with a late sucker punch – Boo!

So to the most tense of final days… and this is how the table looked before the kick-offs. Definitely squeaky bum time…

There were boos from the away section of the San Siro, as Milan took the lead, and news of Barcelona’s 2-0 lead filtered through.

Solskjaer’s equaliser got the United fans going, but Salinas scored over at the Nou Camp in the same minute.

Then came another twist, as Sebastiano “Poppadom hands” Rossi scored an own goal to give United the lead, but the joy was all too brief, as Barca got a fourth, and Milan levelled.

Stoichkov made it 5-0, meaning that United needed four goals in 25 minutes, but sadly for them, Scholes’ goal was their last, and Philip had pipped Ross to the title on goal difference.

The other games seemed somewhat insignificant, but Andrew and Deano played out an underwhelming stalemate…

Matt and Zak’s match was a tad more entertaining, with hat tricks, red cards, injuries and missed penalties all packed into the ninety minutes…

And finishing off the league action were myself and Nathan. After playing this, and writing basque boys at the same time, I’ve quite frankly become sick of Real Madrid. Well done though, Nath!

Before we look at the final table and stats, Andrew’s frauds faced a two-legged promotion/relegation playoff with St. Mirren, not that it matters of course, because we’re only playing one season, but Effenberg and Elber gave Bayern a healthy lead.

The top two locked horns once again in the FA Cup final, but this time Ross got his revenge, as his side went some way towards erasing the heartache of losing the league cup final, and just missing out on the league title…

The second leg with St. Mirren was almost as comfortable as the first for Andrew, but the highlight of the match, and quite possibly the series, was Dick scoring on 69 for the hosts…

So there we go! Philip and his Barcelona 1992 are champions! His side went under the radar a bit at the beginning, and no one tipped them to win it, but they were fantastic from start to finish, congratulations Philip!

Ross was unlucky to miss out on goal difference, but he still ended up with the FA Cup, Dave will be pleased with finishing third after an impressive run towards the end of the season, while Deano’s decision not to play a goalie may well have cost him a place or two…

Matt and Zak had their own mid-table league going on, but in the end, the old lady showed that there’s no substitute for experience. And in the battle of the basement, I emerged victorious, with Nathan and Andrew just behind, and then a bit of a gap to Rob.

In case you’re wondering why mine and Rob’s teams aren’t in yellow, it’s because we were both sacked right after the last lot of games…

We’ll have a quick look at the player tables, starting with average ratings, which was won by a man who ended up as a makeshift goalkeeper, and collecting 10/10’s for fun… Mr. Winston Bogarde, ladies and gentlemen.

The top goal scorer chart is somewhat misleading, as a lot of Salinas’ goals came in the champions league, so the actual league golden boot went to Papin, but overall was Salinas…

It was a similar story in the “Mr. Selfless” table, with many of Laudrup’s assists coming in Europe, so he’s the overall champ, with Boksic topping the league-only chart…

The man of the match charts is pretty much a goalkeeper show, and Stefan Klos led the way for most of the season, but once Winston had donned the gloves, he soon caught up…

And probably the least-surprising of all the table-toppers, it’s Roy Keane heading up the worst discipline…

The manager of the month awards were mainly the Philip and Zak show, but despite Philip’s five awards, and Zak’s three, Deano and Ross managed one each…

And lastly it’s the end of season awards. Philip unsurprisingly scooped the manager of the year gong, Boksic was the writers’ pick, and Klos the PFA’s choice. I was somewhat surprised that the young player award didn’t go to a top flight player…

So that’s it, the experiment is complete! I have enjoyed every minute of this, and it’s been so much fun meeting up with the rest of the blog squad on Tuesday nights via zoom, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed reading it too!

We’ve enjoyed it so much that we’re going to do it all again in the new year, but with Cup Winners Cup champions instead, so you won’t have to wait too long for that!

Right… I’ve got to get to the airport to catch a flight back to Spain for the return of Basque Boys, which resumes next week, so I hope to see you all then! Cheers and gone.

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