CM9798 World Cup – Day 7: Germany face crucial Chile clash whilst Spain look to secure qualification

Missed day 6? No panic, it’s here

I live my life purely by what group is playing. Today is Group E & F day, except the scheduling of this insane tournament sees group H jump the queue and they are with us today. I’ll let you into a trade secret, there’s only meant to be one Group H game today but I’m not making things hard for myself and splitting groups across different days. So it’s Group E & Group H day and we’ll just have to like it or love it.

Group E

Only the one human competitor in Group E and it’s Tom Reed. Tom’s a Northampton Town fan but he’s a good football writer so cut him some slack. His Spain side beat Sweden in the first game which gave them every chance of reaching the last 16, a feat which could be sealed today if they can beat Japan and the other result goes in their favour. Alfonso is banned so his Betis buddy Oli is in, whilst Manjarin’s tournament is over after a training ground injury. De La Pena’s goal off the bench is rewarded with a start for him, with Mr Versatile moving to the right. In the words of Des’ree, oooh I get the shivers.

Spain team vs Japan

Japan have the dangerous Miura up front but are mostly made up of fictional players. In the preview we predicted they’d battle Sweden for 2nd but a win here would also seal their qualification, lest we forget.

japan team vs spain

After just two minutes, Oli has a fit of rage and throws a Japanese player to the ground. Why? It’s a straight red. That wasn’t in the script. Spain stick with the formation but with just one up front it’s a struggle to get the clear chances. Japan though don’t seem bothered. A point here would be lovely. It looks like they will reach half time without incident but Luis Enrique gets on the end of a free kick and it’s a vital goal on the stroke of half time. Spain have something to hold on to…that is is Japan actually try to take it.

Spain Japan HT stats

No surprise that Enrique is the star performer. He can be your hero, baby.

spain japan HT ratings

He will kiss away the pain. I’m not sure any amount of early 00s Spanish ballads can make Japan feel better, they can barely muster an attack against the 10 men of Spain. If anything Spain look more likely to score again, and despite two wayward Japanese shots, Raul climbs off the bench to wrap it up 6 minutes from time. You can run, you can hide but you can’t escape Raul. Japan have Akita sent off late on for a 2nd yellow to round off their miserable day.

spain japan FT stats

I’m done now. Obviously he gets man of the match but there’ll be no more Enrique puns today.

spain japan FT ratings

Score board for you

spain 2 - 0 japan

In the other game, a draw does neither team any favours and Spain are through! They have passed this very easy test but there’ll be greater challenges ahead – it’s likely to be England or Argentina next unless one of those two make a mess of the last fixture.

Sweden Cameroon

Let’s see the group table

table 2 games

Group H

If Group E is straight forward, Group H is full of spanners.

Not in an insulting way, like a spanners in the works kind of way. This for me is the group of death, mainly because it’s one of two 3 human groups and I really don’t know who will come through it. Germany lost to Mexico last time out so facing Chile here, who lost to Belgium, means a loss for either team would be fairly fatal. Belgium hold all the aces here. Let’s focus on Germany vs Chile, as Ross and Dan lock horns.

Ross has brought in Bierhoff for Klinsmann who, despite converting a penalty, looked his age in the Mexico loss. Bierhoff and Dundee will be a different type of threat. Younger, if you will.

germany team vs chile

Dan is still sticking to his all out attack mentality. They did score 3 times against Belgium but they also conceded 5, so swings and roundabouts.

Chile team vs Germany

Here’s the game. As ever you can scroll past it and see the screens and such if you prefer.

What a start to this game! Rozental put Chile into a 5th minute lead as he scored at the third attempt after Kahn kept out a series of efforts. However, the lead lasted barely a minute before Bierhoff’s shot from distance was spilled by Ramirez and Lars Ricken equalised. The game was played at a remarkable pace with chances aplenty for both sides, but it was Germany who took the lead when Sean Dundee was put through one on one and he lobbed the ball over the advancing Ramirez.

germany chile HT stats

What a half of football, one of the best of the tournament so far. Chile’s front 3 will always be a nuisance but it’s easy to give up chances when you’re only playing 3 at the back.

germany chile HT ratings

The second half wasn’t quite as good, though there was controversy when Babbel stopped a promising attack with his hand and wasn’t even booked. Germany lost Sammer to injury and it seems likely he will miss the remainder of the tournament, but it didn’t stop Lars Ricken scoring his 2nd and Germany’s 3rd 12 minutes from time after Dundee played him in. Germany win to keep their hopes alive, whilst Chile’s hang by a thread.

germany chile scoreboard

A healthy amount of shots in this one, Chile’s accuracy is incredible. Kahn was much better here than he was in the Mexico game.

germany chile FT stats

Great stuff. So much so Kahn gets man of the match. Lars Ricken looks on, forlorn.

germany chile FT ratings

So then, Belgium vs Mexico. Chile would be eliminated if it’s a draw. Probably also through other connotations I don’t want to think about. But if Belgium win I guess they survive, which is good for Dan and hopefully for public interest.

Adam keeps the same side that beat Chile so impressively. It’s got a good balance this team. Hat-trick hero De Bilde will fancy himself for the golden boot at this rate.

belgium team vs mexico

I recorded both matches in this group, so again you can view it below or skip on down to the screenshot version.

 

Mexico are becoming my least favourite side in the competition. I make no bones about it, I want as many of the lads to get through as possible, I don’t want to have fake Mexico winning this World Cup. They’re stubborn and seem to be able to counter at will, but it’s 0-0 at the break.

mexico belgium HT ratings

Belgium have edged it but it’s goals we need. Nothing to shout about in the ratings.

mexico belgium HT stats

Into the second half and still Belgium prove. Emmers and Wilmots are pulling the strings and Mbo Mpenza is thrown on to try and find the breakthrough that doesn’t look like coming. That is until Forrest spills a shot and super sub Mbo is on hand to send Belgium wild. That goal keeps Chile in the tournament, though they need a mathematical miracle to get through.

mexico belgium FT stats

On the plus side, and this is nothing against Mexico as a nation, it heightens the chances of them not going through. When there are 3 human players in a group of 4 it would be rough to lose two of them.

mexico belgium FT ratings

The important bit:

mexico 0 - 1 belgium

The group is great viewing for Belgium. They should go through but if Germany beat them by a couple of goals they become vulnerable to a Mexico win knocking them out. Chile need snookers but their goals scored is useful, if Germany lose to Belgium by a goal or two a Chile win by 3 or 4 goals would send them through. Unlikely, but here we are.

Group H 2 games

Whilst Dan packs his bags I’m licking my lips that just about all the groups so far have a story to play out in the final round of fixtures. Tomorrow it’s Groups F & G, where you’ll see Italy and Romania go head to head whilst my Scotland side face Russia in a pivotal game. See you there!

CM9798 World Cup – Day 6: England vs Tunisia and a must win game for Republic of Ireland

Missed day 5? Catch up here

We’re flying through this World Cup, it’s day 6 already. Whilst it feels like day 66 for my fingers, which are more or less reduced to being bloody stumps by now, we are at the point where some teams are facing elimination despite having only played one game. Ireland today face that particular problem, but they’ll fancy their chances. Later we’ll get to Group D with England vs Tunisia and Argentina vs Australia, but right now it’s Group C and Holland vs Colombia.

Group C

Ash Rose (don’t forget to download Alive & Kicking 90s Podcast will you) got off to a solid if unspectacular start with Holland. In fact, Dennis Bergkamp was very good and everyone else was ok as they ground out a 2-1 win over South Africa. With that victory secured, it’s more of the same here.

Holland tactics vs Colombia

Colombia beat Ireland 2-0 but the Irish weren’t “at it.” I swear this happens every tournament where Ireland put themselves on the brink of disaster then pull it out the fire. More on them later. Colombia have changed to a 4-5-1, keen to stifle the Dutch and free Tino. Will it work?

colombia tactics vs holland

If the Dutch were poor against South Africa, they were in wonderful form here. Kluivert set them on their way on 16 minutes, converting a penalty after the flying Dutchman Marc Overmars was tripped in the area, and Overmars himself added a second three minutes later. With the damage done in that 3 minute double salvo, the intensity eased and although Colombia managed the odd foray, they were always at arms length.

holland colombia HT stats

The right side for the Dutch had been particularly impressive, which is odd considering both goals came from the left. Who am I to argue?

holland colombia HT ratings

The second half was more of the same, Kluivert adding a third on 57 minutes and effectively killing the game. Nearly 80,000 were there to see this win, a result that almost certainly puts Holland through though that’ll only be rubberstamped today if Ireland don’t manage to beat South Africa.

holland 3 - 0 colombia scoreboard

Easy for the Dutch then, but what can the men in green do?

That defeat to Colombia has prompted a re-think from Rob Tait. A 4-2-3-1 is probably more solid and with Roy Keane back from a ban, they should be all together more confident.

ireland tactics vs south africa

First off, a disclaimer. There are no half time screenshots. That’s my fault. The good news is that it was 0-0 anyway and nothing too exciting. South Africa had the better of this pretty much throughout but Ireland, like a boxer on the ropes, held on and then struck a knockout blow of their own on 68 minutes. The recently arrived Sean Devine got on the end of a Kinsella free kick and forced Arendse into a save, but the loose ball fell to Keith O’Neill who slammed the rebound home. It was scarcely deserved but this is what Ireland do. A precious 3 points.

South Africa FT ratings

Phil Babb man of the match? It’s obvious really. He did marshall the back line to perfection.

South Africa FT stats

Not convincing but South Africa’s chances were not clear cut and stats are meaningless. 1-0 is the only figure that matters.

south africa 0 - 1 ireland FT scoreboard

All Eire need to do now is beat Holland next week…and hope Colombia don’t defeat South Africa. It’s still a tall order but they’ve given themselves a chance.

Group D

In a group with England and Argentina, you’d be forgiven for dismissing Australia and Tunisia as alsorans. But this is football, where anything is possible. Even England being considered a threat to the final stages.

We start with Argentina against Australia. Chris Drawen has stuck with his bold lineup that saw them draw so heroically with England, even if 0-0 is what precisely nobody wanted. All eggs remain in the Maradona basket.

Argentina vs Australia Tactics

Australia have come to park the bus, mate/cobber. They have a young Harry Kewell but when he’s playing as one of the 3 defensive midfielders, how good can he really be?

Australia vs Argentina Tactics

Good news! I’ve recorded both games in Group D. Argentina vs Australia is just below or below that is the good old fashioned screenshot method if you prefer.

 

Much like the real life Argentina, they have all the players but finding a cohesive system for them is not easy. Mind you, playing 36 year old Maradona in the hole can’t help that, but we’ll see. In a dour first half, Argentina manage 2 shots, though one of them is the decisive touch from old Diego to give his team the lead on 26 minutes. Nothing else happens except Simeone and Chamot getting booked.

argentina australia HT stats

Rancid.

argentina australia HT ratings

Still, the second half will be better. Won’t it? Argentina managed 2 further shots. They didn’t result in a goal. Australia kept everyone behind the ball until the last 10 minutes when they came to life and nearly snatched a goal on two occasions, in the 89th and 90th minute. One missed and Roa saved the other. Argentina have been less than good but with 4 points they are sitting pretty.

argentina 1 - 0 australia FT stats

Somehow, Carlos McAllister gets a 10. I suppose you can’t get penalised if you never have to do anything. He’s easily the best player on the pitch.

argentina 1 - 0 australia FT ratings

Let’s draw a line under this abomination.

argentina australia FT scoreboard

So it’s left to England to provide us with the entertainment. How has it come to this?

Teddy and Gazza both dropped, Owen and McManaman in. Dan Barker wields the axe as he sticks with 4-3-1-2

England tactics vs Tunisia

Tunisia have gone for the old 5-3-2. Ali Boumnijel plays for West Ham and routinely annoys me in my Premier League saves, so this will be like a home from home for him.

Tunisia tactics vs England

As mentioned, this is recorded too. You can watch the video or scroll down for my sarcastic barbs on an important game.

You always feel England need to score first to be at their best and that seems more prevalent here than ever. After a couple of half chances, Ince slipped McManaman through one on one and the Liverpool man showed great composure to round Boumy to make it 1-0. A second goal arrived just before half time as Michael Owen, making his International debut no less, was fed by Scholes and scored. That lad has a future.

england tunisia HT stats

A brilliant half for England which they totally dominated. A heavy win would more or less guarantee a place in the last 16 given Australia’s narrow victory earlier

England Tunisia HT Ratings

Tunisia came out with a flea in their ear but after missing two early chances, it was soon 3-0. Owen’s shot hit the post and Shearer was the grateful recipient of the rebound. Tunisia seemed to lose belief after that and it was soon 4 as Owen again hit the woodwork and McManaman grabbed his second. Quite the pick from young Daniel. Shearer headed in the 5th from a corner. There was still half an hour to play but, with the job done, England could relax. That never happens.

England Tunisia Scoreboard

Stevie Mc gets man of the match and everyone is great except Beckham and obviously Dave Seaman who has nothing to do.

England Tunisia FT ratings

I mean literally, not a save to make.

England Tunisia FT stats

That basically puts England through, the goal difference should ward off any surprise loss to Australia being fatal.

summary game week 2

The group table is taking shape:

table 2 games

A draw for both of our lads in the final game will be enough to send them through whereas Tunisia would need a handsome win over Argentina to qualify. Rule nothing out with Darwen in charge.

On that needless jab, I’m off for a lie down. I’ll be back tomorrow though as Group E and, just to push my buttons, Group H will be with us. Quite why the game insists on moving Group H around I don’t know but it’s a good group so we’ll let it go. See you tomorrow.

AK90s banner

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 5: Can Norway handle Brazil? France in action against Morocco

Welcome! We had a couple of days break for little reason to be honest other than to give me a chance to catch up. But now we’re uninterrupted for the next week, which means posts every day and a very tired Dave. Never fear though, we’ve got Group A and B to bring you in this update and in even better news I’ve remembered to press record on at least one match. Let’s go to Group A.

Group A

Group A 1 game

It’s looking good for Brazil and Norway but the one chink of light for Denmark (and Saudi Arabia, I guess) is that Brazil and Norway are about to play each other. It’s in their best interests that Brazil take 3 out of 3 now, unless you think Brazil could lose their remaining 2 fixtures. With this team, is that likely?

Brazil team vs Norway

It’ll take some stopping but if anybody is capable, it might be Norway. I don’t base that on a great deal but KingoftheRooks is King for a reason. Here’s how he has lined Norway up:

Norway team vs Brazil

Now, you can watch the game by clicking play or as ever, the game is described by me below that.

Maybe I was right? Norway come flying out of the traps and have the audacity to take the lead thanks to Neset. Surely that’ll get Brazil going? No? Ok then.

Brazil Norway HT stats

Norway have been brilliant and not given Brazil a sniff. They’ve stifled Brazil without doing anything overly flashy themselves but they have taken the lead, which is the main thing.

Brazil Norway HT Ratings

Have Brazil got it in their locker to get out of this jam? Denmark and Saudi Arabia hold their breath, willing Brazil to score. Knutsen goes down in the box and it looks like a penalty. The text says so anyway. What’s the referee’s decision? He’s waving play on. As is always the way, Ronaldo nips down the other end and equalises. Then he scores again. You can’t count him out. Brazil win and even though it’s not a shock, they’ve had to dig this one out.

brazil 2 - 1 norway stats

Brazil have been much better in the second half but Dan Eggen gets man of the match to go with his goal in game 1. He is the Eggen he is the walrus.

brazil 2 - 1 norway ratings

Confirmation then from Parc Lescure that Ronaldo is really quite good.

brazil 2 - 1 norway scoreboard

This is a big game for Denmark and Ross Jacobs. His Denmark side took a pasting from Brazil, which at the time I said was no disgrace and it never will be, but the reality is that Norway have just shown far more than they did. Saudi Arabia can’t be ruled out either, but they’ve got Brazil last and they won’t win that. It’s going to go to the last game regardless. Here’s what Ross has set up:

Denmark team vs Saudi Arabia

 

Denmark 0 - 0 saudi arabia HT ratings

That is one of the worst halves of football I have ever seen in scrolling text format. ONE SHOT EACH MAN. DO SOMETHING! Saudi Arabia managed a shot on target at least. Denmark just having a shitter really.

denmark 0 - 0 saudi arabia ht stats

Still, 45 minutes to turn it round. The attack is just incoherent, like they’ve never met. It’s odd considering two of them are brothers. Soren Anderson arrives and makes a difference but he can’t score. Or even hit the target. Saudi Arabia come on strong at the end and manage another shot on target. It ends 0-0. Schmeichel gets man of the match for his 2 saves.

Denmark 0 - 0 saudi arabia FT ratings

It was poor. La Beaujoire boo. I boo. Denmark will have to beat Norway to advance, Saudi Arabia will have to be Brazil and need some mathematical miracles.

denmark 0 - 0 saudi arabia FT stats

Brazil are through, so…that’s a plus? I think.

Group 2 games

So it’ll be an all Scandanavian shootout next week to decide who goes through. Interesting. To Group B!

Group B

France aren’t exactly in the toughest of groups, with Morocco their latest challenger after the win over the USA in game 1. @90sfootball has opted to bring Diomede into the lineup for Emmanuel Petit, an attacking change that will probably be for the best. Blanc is in for Thuram too, so he can kiss Barthez on the head.

france team vs morocco

Morocco have gone for the wingbacks. Nourredine Naybet will go on to play for Spurs but for now he’s got to try and stop future Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. Can he?

morocco team vs france

No. In short. Henry opens the scoring after 16 minutes and it looks like being a day to remember for the majority of the 34,000 in attendance. Surely France would play their matches in a bigger stadium? Anyway, it’s their World Cup they can play where they want. After the goal, it all goes a little flat. Morocco grow in confidence and test Barthez a few times. It’s only 1-0 at the break, and there’s some anxious faces around.

france morocco HT stats

To make matters worse, Zidane’s picked up a knock. It’s probably nothing serious but Paddy airs on the side of caution and subs him. The experienced Papin is on, and Blanc is commanding the back line. Another goal and the points will be safe, you’d think.

france morocco HT ratings

Morocco aren’t good guests though, and 12 minutes into the second half Azzouzi equalises. The stadium is almost silent. France need to dust themselves down and find a way to win. Maurice is on for Karembeu just minutes later and France show signs of life. Morocco start to fade and Ali Benarbia is introduced as a final throw of the dice. Sure enough, Papin strides through and lifts it over the excellent Abdellah to secure the points. A big goal. A nation united.

France 2 - 1 Morocco FT ratings

France were stronger after the break but they will have expected to win more comfortably than they did.

France 2 - 1 Morocco FT stats

Let’s see that in final form

france 2-1 morocco scoreboard

The USA and China might be two superpowers but here they cancel each other out with a goal scored in the same minute. I don’t even know who scored first. China are well and truly in the box seat to qualify now, whilst France definitely have.

USA 1 - 1 China

It’ll take a reasonably sized win for USA coupled with France beating China to change this group. Even if China lose let’s say 2-0, USA would need a 3 goal win to qualify. It’s a big ask.

Group 2 games

France though can get the cigars out and more than likely rotate the squad a little for the final game. They will play the runners up of Group G presuming they win the group. That’s my group. Scotland are not ready for France.

That’s it then, another day done. Day 6 will see England back in the spotlight as well as Holland and Ireland. A busy day. See you tomorrow!

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 4: Italy and Yugoslavia clash in Group F whilst Scotland face Jamaica

It’s the day you’ve been waiting for – the day Scotland light this World Cup up. Not really, my Scotland team are just a small undercurrent in this tidal wave of World Cup nostalgia. Two more groups in action today, no videos. There were some mistakes around me not pressing record on the Italy match. You wouldn’t get this at the BBC.

Anyway, on we go. Group F is our first stop with European teams vying for 2 spots. Something’s got to give!

Group F

Group F pic

Chief FPL is a great guy who not only knows a lot about fantasy football but he knows his way around CM too. Or CM2. But can he get the Italians playing fantasy football?

Italy team vs Yugoslavia

It’s a bold lineup, something not often associated with the Italians down the years but the Chief era basically sees a front 4. Ravanelli and Roberto Baggio are the perfect mix of creativity and stupid celebrations, both things I’m on board with. Can you remember Roberto Baggio free kicks? So many hours wasted in IT lessons playing that. I’m getting sidetracked. Even the bench is strong. Having said that, Yugoslavia aren’t bad.

Yugoslavia team vs Italy

As we reavled in the preview, Predrag Mijatovic is injured but Fulham manager Jokanovic is at left wing back and who can be upset by the inclusion of Sasa Curcic? Not me. It’s Savo Milosevic I feel for.

To the game itself and it’s totally one way traffic. It’s a battering. Shots from all angles from Italy and Ravanelli in particular but very few actually hit the target. Yugoslavia meanwhile do sweet nothing. Like Homer Simpson’s boxing career, they take punch after punch but they’re still standing. Have Italy punched themselves out?

Italy Yugo HT stats

Pretty average really, not sure what Ciro Ferrara has done to earn an 8 but here we are

Italy Yugo HT ratings

Surely that Italian breakthrough would come? Yet more wayward finishing, this time from the fresh legs of Vieri, but still no goal. Yugoslavia have one shot from distance but that also misses. The moral is, never try. It finishes 0-0 and my boobery with the recording button goes unpunished.

italy Yugo FT stats

So frustrating as a manager. You’ve clearly set the team up to create chances but they’ve blazed them all. You can’t even blame a super keeper, Sasa Ilic of Charlton had the metaphorical cigar out. To round it off, Roberto Baggio gets man of the match. You can’t even blame the strikers.

italy vs yugo FT ratings

It doesn’t exactly blow the group wide open but it does give Romania and Paraguay the chance to put down a marker and basically secure a place in the last 16 with a win. Maybe that is pushing it a bit. A win would be good, let’s leave it at that.

I like this Romania team and we know how good MK (aka CorinthianHead) is in the dugout so call them dark horses if you want, but at least get the blonde hairdye ready. Hagi in the hole and Raducioiu up front. Have it.

Romania tactics vs Paraguay

Paraguay are knackered like. So fictional that not even Chilavert is here. The wooden spoon awaits.

paraguay tactics vs romania

Even after losing Galca after just 2 minutes, the arrival of Dumitrescu did not unsettle the Romanians. Raducioiu, the man who stole all the vowels, opened the scoring on 18 minutes and they never looked back from there. Sabin Ilie made it 2 and Hagi added a 3rd – all before half time.

A goal and an assist for Hagi only gets him a 7?! What a cruel world. No amount of 18th minute subs can save Paraguay.

romania paraguay HT ratings

Irrelevant stats. This one is over.

romania paraguay HT stats

Anyway back for Paraguay? Don’t be stupid. Vowels man scored his second on 57 minutes before Hagi also doubled his tally. The magician ended with 2 goals and 2 assists. With him in the hole, you wouldn’t bet against Romania. A thumping win.

Romania 5 - 0 Paraguay SCoreboard

Justice for Hagi who gets his 10. Everyone else was good but slightly worse. Paraguay have nothing to shout about.

romania 5 - 0 paraguay FT ratings

Just the 21 attempts. I said Paraguay couldn’t get any worse in the second half but they…did. No further attemps, 3 more conceded. Well done MK.

romania paraguay FT stats

Romania are the only team to have scored after one game. They meet Italy next and it’s taken on an extra little bit of importance now.

Group F 1 game

To the final group!

Group G

If you’re wondering where Group H has gone, they played yesterday. I don’t know why the scheduling randomly pulls Group H forward in the schedule but here we are. With that, it’s Group G pulling up the rear. Quite fittingly, that means Scotland. And Jamaica. It’s not a high quality group, it’s kind of the banter group of this operation.

I’m in charge of Scotland, I’ve struggled to line these boys up how I need them but let me explain. John Collins plays for Monaco. He is too good to leave out. I don’t play a left midfielder so I’m trusting he can manage to play in central midfield. McAllister is the man, I want him to ping passes over the top to the busy Kevin Gallacher and 1977 World Snooker champion John Spencer. Glass and Hopkin are also there. I’m not sure why I’ve appointed Hopkin captain here, I have a feeling that’s a mistake. Who knows? It’s an International debut for Darren Young.

scotland tactics vs Jamaica

Luckily my opponents are Jamaica who have been at the rum early and lined Deon Burton up at centre half. Korma Dudu sounds like a bad reaction to a mild curry. I’m not concerned about this match. Maybe I should be?

Jamaica tactics vs scotland

We’re awful. Well, not awful. Uninspired. That’s probably a better word. Scottish. Jamaica repel our pathetic attacks. Why didn’t I put Big Dunc on the bench? He’d mess Deon Burton up.

scotland jamaica HT ratings

Good stats lads.

scotland jamaica HT stats

Colin Hendry is an old man. He hasn’t been the same since Gazza made him look like an arsehole at Euro 96 but I’ve told the surviving members of that squad to use that as motivation to be better. I’ve also left Ally McCoist at home to help with that. Anyway, Hendry has his Stuart Pearce moment by heading in a Stephen Glass cross before wheeling away to a jubilant Scottish section. So much tartan. Matt Elliott then scores after a scramble following another set piece. I think I’ve found our creativity. Gallacher smashes one in from distance and it looks like we’ve played well. We haven’t, but a 3-0 win is unheard of in Scotland.

scotland 3 - 0 jamaica

Hendry takes home man of the match and you can’t help but feel that centre half pairing will be the difference between success (actually getting out of the group) and failure (the norm).

Scotland 3 - 0 Jamaica ratings

Shooting practice required. You fancy everyone else will work Korma Dudu more than we will. 3-0 might look impressive but it might be poor compared to others.

scotland jamaica FT stats

Enough about me. Let’s move on to Nigeria and Russia, a real crunch clash in this group.

There’s no doubt Matt_C_Wills knows what he’s doing. He’s recognised that Nigeria have nothing but forwards and although I lost respect for him when he left Efan Ekoku out of the 16 the reality is he has far better options.

Nigeria Tactics vs Russia

This counter attack formation seems quite popular amongst the European nations. It means Kanchelskis is only a sub but you know what you’re going to get here, it’s just whether you can beat them.

Russia vs Nigeria Tactics

VICTOR IKPEBA! A goal for all of Africa, says Peter Drury…in 12 years time anyway. His 2nd minute goal has Nigeria off to the perfect start but the lead lasts only 4 minutes until Shalimov equalises.

Russia Nigeria HT ratings

Nigeria have had the better of it and even a draw here is ok, but Matt knows this is there to be won.

Russia Nigeria HT stats

A captain steps up when their team needs them most. Not Finidi, sadly. Valeri Karpin scores for Russia on 65 minutes and it’s no more than they deserve. The half time vodka did a great job. Nigeria have very few chances and Russia hold on for the points amidst little threats. A well executed counter attack plan but a huge shame for Nigeria.

russia 2 - 1 nigeria FT stats

Taribo West’s man of the match award is of little consolation to Matt, who now has it all to do.

russia 2 - 1 nigeria FT ratings

The confirmation from Gerland.

russia 2 - 1 nigeria FT scoreboard

A sad note to finish on but hey, it’s only game 1! This table means nothing.

Group G 1 game

You’ve seen everybody once now, so who has impressed you? Any observations? Tweet me @CM9798 or comment.

We’re back on Sunday with Group A & B again. That means Brazil, France, Denmark and Norway. Not in that order. See you there!

CM9798 World Cup – Day 3: Group of Death gets Underway whilst Spain play Sweden

Catch up with Day Two here

Welcome to day three, where the games weird scheduling means we’ll have a bit of a deviation today. We’ll start with Group E, where we find Spain ploughing a lone furrow but we’ll then have the curveball of Group H, who inexplicably play out of sync with the rest of the tournament and caused me more of a headache than I already have. Anyway, down to business.

Group E

Group E Pic

Spain, managed by friend of the blog Tom Reed, will get us started against Sweden. As we said in the preview, Spain should really win this group at a canter but Sweden are one of those teams more than capable of causing a shock.

With that in mind, Tom’s gone balls to the wall. 4-2-4, get lots of chances for the deadly duo Alfonso and Kiko. I can’t argue with it, to be quite fair.

Spain team vs Sweden

Sweden are missing Henrik Larsson and Jesper Blomqvist due to injury but floppy haired protagonist Andreas Andersson will keep Karanka and Alkorta busy.

sweden team vs spain

Spain spend most of the half banging on the door but they can’t get past Bengt Andersson. Sweden on the other hand offer basically no threat. Henrik’s broken ribs are a problem.

spain swe HT stats

Obvious Luis Enrique is great, only Bengty boy can offer more. Surely Spain will find a way?

spain sweden HT ratings

Well, actually, no. Sweden score with their first attack through Peter Wibran, and the shock alarms are starting to sound all over the Stade de France. De La Pena is introduced to add a bit of guile to proceedings and he rewards Tom’s boldness with an equaliser on 72 minutes, before everybody’s favourite £16m striker Alfonso seals the comeback.

spain sweden FT stats

An utterly dominant display for Spain but it just shows at this level the opposition are often clinical. Still, a wins a win and arguably the toughest game has been negotiated.

spain sweden FT ratings

Alfonso takes home man of the match, probably not his last given the opposition still to come though that yellow card rules him out of the Japan game, as yellow cards carry over from qualifying for some inexplicable reason.

Spain Sweden scoreboard

The other game in Group E sees a comfortable win for Japan over Cameroon. It does look likely that Sweden vs Japan in the last group game will decide who goes through but there’s a long way to go yet. It’s Spain vs Japan next.

Japan Cameroon

One of those K Miura’s is real and still playing today. The other is a fictional full back. That’s life.

Group H

This group is going to be tough and we’re guaranteed to lose one of the human players as there are 3 of them. Mexico are the fourth side and even as a fictional set of players, they’ll still be tough. Germany face them first in our TV game, but first we have Chile and Belgium.

Chile, managed by 20 Year Anniversary Cup champ Dan Williamson have the notable problem that their first choice goalkeeper is out for a year. Dan’s decided to go 3-4-3, all out attack and no regrets. With a very good front 3, you just never know.

Chile vs Belgium tactics

Adam meanwhile is a bit of a wildcard entry, rewarded for finding out how to make all these teams playable but I have no form for him to speak of. But he’s obviously played a  bit and he’s got Belgium prepared in a fancy 4-3-2-1, with Gilles De Bilde the point.

Belgium team vs Chile

An initially cagey start sees a goalless first 15 but the game explodes into life with a Zamorano strike from distance beating Bodart. That seems to stir Belgium and Gilles de Bilde equalises 3 minutes later before putting his side ahead ten minutes before half time with a cool 1 on 1 finish.

chile belgium HT stats

Other than the goal, Chile have not been overly impressive but they are only a goal down.

chile belgium HT ratings

Esteban Valencia not having the best of days but there’s still time for him to turn that 5 around.

It actually got a lot worse for Chile before it got any better. Goosens added a 3rd following a scramble at a corner before de Bilde proved he can fix it by completing his hat-trick just a minute later. Salas did briefly reduce the arrears before Emmers made it 5-2, only for Rozental to pull another back. That’s 5-3 and although Chile kept pushing, Belgium were able to keep them at arms length. My one wish is that I had recorded this match.

Chile belgium FT ratings

De Bilde takes the match ball home but there were several good performers on both sides, in an attacking sense at least.

chile belgium FT stats

Just the 18 shots racked up by Belgium. Chile’s formation does leave them vulnerable but the “score more than you” brigade will love it.

chile 3 - 5 belgium

Germany & Mexico have got some work to do to follow that.

Ross has opted to go with a narrow 4-4-2. His favourite player is Thomas Hassler but he’s injured for the next 2 games so Lars Ricken has the job of filling his boots. Ross founded Man on the Post podcast, so give that a listen. The link is in our Affiliates page, which is like a phone book of people who have helped me out.

germany team match 1

The video for this match is below, or if you scroll on down you’ll get it in screenshot form.

The first half is turgid. Mexico have come to spoil and spoil they will. Germany do manage a couple of shots but Mexico barely get over half way.

germany mexico HT stats

Nothing to see here…

germany mexico HT ratings

Surely the second half will be better? Pascual Forrest is being a bit of a nuisance in the Mexico goal, dealing with most things Germany throw at him. Eventually, Germany win a pen, and obviously they score. Klinsmann clinical. However, that seemed to rile Mexico. Or rise them from a slumber, whichever you prefer. Either way, Oliver Kahn forgot how to catch and Mexico rammed in two late goals, one a simple one on one finish and the winner when Kahn dropped a cross. That might prove costly.

germany 1 - 2 mexico ratings

Carlos Kerr is a great name though, but so is Carlos Hastings. The famous Mexican Hastings brothers on show here today.

germany mexico FT stats

Smash and grab. Mexico scored with both their shots on target. Not really much Ross could do about that.

With another day in the bank, I am going to bow out. I’ll be back tomorrow with groups F and G as the final teams get their tournaments started. That includes my very own Scotland team plus the rather more attractive sight of the Azzuri. Italy are in town. See you then!

 

CM9798 World Cup – Day 2: England vs Argentina plus Holland kick off Group C

Catch up with Day One here

Bonjour! Welcome to the 2nd day of the CM9798 World Cup, where you are quite right to question how long I can keep this make believe French-ness up for. Another 4 games for you today as two more groups get underway, and we start with Group C.

Group C

Group C Pic

You’ll never beat the Irish! Except that can’t be right as Ireland have never won the World Cup. Not all chants are 100% accurate. That said, Rob Tait is now in the hot seat and if this Ireland side can achieve even half the success his Roma side has, they’ll be just fine.

It’s Colombia first up for Rob, here’s his adaptation of the formation we all love to play.

Ireland team vs Colombia

Colombia only have Tino Asprilla has a “real” player but don’t be put off by the fake names, their skills will match up with the reputation of the nation. One in the hole you say…

colombia team vs ireland

Call it nerves or maybe even lack of ability, but Eire (I miss calling them Eire) were like rabbits in the headlights. Phil Babb managed to avoid sliding nuts first into the post but he did slice a cross past a helpless Shay Given, who seems to have taken the blame for some reason. The unimaginatively named Alexander Alexandre got Colombia off to a a great start and it was downhill for Rob from there.

Ireland Colombia HT ratings

Despite going 2-0 down inside 23 minutes, the Irish did rally a bit but the damage was already done.

Ireland Colombia HT stats

The second half was largely a “hold what we have” affair as Colombia were unadventurous and Ireland were unable to make headway.

Col Eire full time ratings

A dissapointing start then, leaving Rob needing a big turnaround from the next 2 games if they are to make the last 16. They’ll fight for it though…

Colombia Ireland scoreboard

Attention turned to group favourites the Netherlands, managed by Ash Rose. You’ll all know and love Ash from Alive & Kicking, the 90s Football Podcast. It’s really rather good so make sure you check it out. Even if he has lined the Dutch up in a 4-4-2.

Holland team vs South Africa

It’s still some team though, with Arthur Numan benefiting from Frank De Boer’s unfortunate pelvic injury. It’ll probably be too much for the expected wooden spoon recipients South Africa, who do at least boast Mark Fish and Doctor Khumalo.

South Africa team vs Holland

This is the World Cup though, where every team is here on merit. Eric Tinkler has had a Premier League season with Barnsley and fancies himself as the new face of African football, so puts his team into an 18th minute lead. It lasts 10 minutes before Dennis Bergkamp equalises.

holland south africa HT

South Africa’s goal came from one of their rare foray forwards so Holland just have to compose themselves and trust that they can complete the turnaround.

holland south africa stats HT

Sure enough, ten minutes into the second half Bergkamp nets again and puts Dutch hearts at ease. Jimmy Floyd is introduced for the final 17 minutes but he only has a yellow card to show for his efforts, but with few other alarms, Ash is off to a winning start.

holland south africa FT ratings

Tinkler at least takes home the champagne. Which is odd considering South Africa didn’t muster a shot in the second half.

holland 2 - 1 south africa FT stats

Not exactly a walk in the park for the Dutch but as far as first games go, it isn’t a bad acid test.

Holland 2 - 1 South Africa scoreboard

That’s Group C well and truly underway, let’s head across to Group D where we’ll see a great World Cup rivalry renewed.

Group D

Group D Pic

What a group. England and Argentina will of course take all the headlines but there’s the wonderful undercurrent of England vs Australia and the fact England played Tunisia in 1998 as well as in 2018. It’s all happening. Sort of.

Friend of the blog and 90s enthusiast Dan Barker has gone for a 4-3-1-2. It’s a good team but this is the era where England had no left footed wingers. It probably won’t matter.

England formation vs Argentina

Chris Darwen, who so famously took Real Madrid to a first round defeat in the CM9798 Cup, has come back with vengeance on his mind. He’s got 36 year old Maradona back in the International fold despite having not played for a whole season, but at least he’ll be fresh. He’s the creator in chief for Crespo, Batistuta and Balbo, with Ortega in reserve.

argentina formation vs england

You can watch the match at this recorded video, or if you scroll down you can enjoy it described by screenshots and hope.

Argentina enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges but poor finishing meant Seaman was rarely tested. England had their traditional sluggish start, failing to even get a shot on target in the first half

England Argentina HT Stats

Very few performances of note in that turgid first half. The second half could only get better…

England Argentina HT ratings

It didn’t, really. England improved and dominated the half in terms of chances created but again, Roa was barely tested. Then, DRAMA. In the final moments, Teddy Sheringham was slipped in behind the defence ane he finished with the coolness he so often demonsrated, before turning to the linesman and telling him to fuck off. The flag was up. It finishes 0-0.

england 0 - 0 argentina FT Stats

Simeone spends the whole match sticking his finger in Beckham’s ear with no reward, whilst Maradona keeps his hands to himself. You do expect both of these teams to advance but here, they rather cancelled each other out.

england 0 - 0 argentina player ratings

The other game in Group D is also a draw, as a late Robbie Slater goal snatches a point for Australia. It’s a result that definitely favours our two human players and Group D is no further forward after the first game.

Tunisia 1 - 1 Australia

I’m not putting the groups up after one game, mainly because I didn’t screenshot them but also because it’s one game. They all have one point. We’ll see how it plays out.

That’s it for day two, but we’ll be back tomorrow with two more groups where we’ll see Spain & Germany, among others, join the party.

Give our pal Ash a listen in the meantime…

AK90s banner

CM9798 World Cup – Day One: Holders Brazil get the tournament underway, Hosts France also in action

Explanation of the next month can be found here

Welcome to Paris! Squint a bit. Here’s Des to welcome you to the opening ceremony. Shouldn’t you be at work?

Des

Just about every day until June 14th we’ll have an update for you from the CM9798 World Cup. I expect I will be very tired. Naturally, we will start with Group A. It’s a tough group as not only are holders and favourites Brazil in it, it’s one of the two groups where we find three human controlled teams. Yes, one of these boys will be going home.

Group A Pic

Group A was of course previewed a few weeks ago, so now it is time for Brazil to get this party started. Mark’s Brazil goes up against Ross’ Denmark and…just look at this team.

Brazil vs Denmark

Adopting the formation we’ve all come to know and love, it would take a brave man to bet against Brazil.

Denmark, under the guidance of Ross (Parma save) have their own pedigree having won Euro 92. The Laudrup’s are a threat and Morten Bisgaard is a CM9798 legend.

Denmark vs Brazil

We’ll have at least one featured game a day which I will record, but I forgot to press record here. Hopefully not a sign of things to come.

With a feverish crowd demanding goals, captain Rai gave Brazil the perfect start with a 2nd minute goal, heading home a Juninho cross. Ronaldo and Anderson then combined for Brazil’s 2nd in the 21st minute, the Barcelona man chipping the onrushing Schmeichel. Anderson’s shot was then spilled by Schmeichel and Ronaldo made it 3-0 with just 37 minutes played.

brazil vs denmark half time ratings

Not a bad start to their campaign! Denmark were barely able to muster an attack.

Brazil Denmark HT stats

In the second half, Ross made some adjustments to try and keep the score down, knowing that goal difference may be key if Brazil carry this form into their other games. Anderson added a 4th with a long range effort before opting to rest star men Rivaldo and Ronaldo. An incredible start for the holders, a marker laid down.

Brazil Denmark FT ratings

Total domination, though Denmark did improve slightly after the break as Brazil eased their foot off the gas.

Brazil Denmark match stats

Confirmation then of the final score – the World Cup is underway in ernest!

Brazil Denmark FT score

The other game in Group A sees Norway tackle Saudi Arabia. Most people are predicting a 2nd place shoot out between Norway and Denmark in the final group game, but Saudi Arabia may have something to say about that.

The Norway squad is packed with talent. Manager KingoftheRooks was even able to leave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at home.

norway vs saudis

Saudi Arabia have no actual players in this save, with so many playable nations a lot of the other nations have fake players all round. Yet they still pick a 5-3-2. Shitrit indeed.

Saudi Arabia vs Norway

This wasn’t easy. The two formations seemed to cancel each other out and Norway had to dig deep. They took an 11th minute lead when Dan Eggen knocked home after a scramble from a corner, but the floodgates didn’t open. Naturally, Tommy Svindal Larsen ran the game.

norway vs saudi arabia HT ratings

Saudi Arabia still carried a threat but were second best in a first half that really never caught alight.

norway vs saudis HT stats

Svindal Larsen effectively settled the game as a contest early in the second half. Saudi Arabia didn’t manage any further shots on target and Norway will be pleased with the win even if they struggled to create many clear chances.

Norway vs Saudi Arabia FT stats

Obviously Svindal Larsen took home man of the match. One to watch!

Norway vs Saudi Arabia FT ratings

Noway Saudis FT

That leaves Group A looking like this after the first game

Group A 1 game

All still to play for but Denmark could do with a big win against Saudi Arabia next time out.

In Group B, there’s only one human controlled team but it’s our friend @90sfootball and he’s the host nation, France.

Group B Pic

It’s a weak group and one you’d expect France to get through with little trouble. Their first game is arguably their toughest as they face the USA.

Paddy has opted to create his own formation, but with the players at his disposal he could pretty much play any formation he likes. Thankfully, he is true to his word and lives his life in the 90s. Here’s his team on paper.

France USA scribbles

Or…

France vs USA Tactics

The USA were loaded as a playable nation as one of my backup plans in case the European teams took each other in the playoffs. They didn’t, so USA missed the cut. Wynalda and Kirovski are a canny front two and everybody loves Alexi Lalas. Obviously Brad Friedel is pretty useful with the gloves too. How does Claudio Reyna not get in that midfield?

USA vs france tactics

The good news is, I remembered to record this one! You can watch it below, or if you’d rather read about it, that’s below too.

France absolutely dominated this in front of their home crowd, though why the game has this coming from “Stadium” I don’t really know. Zinedine Zidane beat Brad Friedel but otherwise found the Liverpool goalkeeper in great form.

france vs usa HT stats

The USA centre half pairing had stood up well to a barrage of attacks but very little joy for their forwards.

France vs USA HT ratings

The arrival of Jean-Pierre Papin from the bench seemed to spark France into a second wind and they plundered two goals in four minutes to make the points safe. The options available to France are mind blowing, I wouldn’t have bet against a rematch of the real life final however they are in the same side of the draw.

france vs USA scoreboard

It took Papin just four minutes to make his mark after coming on, whilst Zidane takes home man of the match for a goal and an assist. Solid from the hosts, who you can expect to see in the last 16.

France vs USA FT ratings

20 shots is impressive, whilst USA barely mustered an attack of note.

france vs usa FT stats

In the other game in Group B, China were surprise winners over Morocco. The African side lead at half time but China came back with the fictional Ming Cao scoring twice.

morocco 1 - 3 china

That leaves France top of group B, something I apparently didn’t deem worthy of screenshot.

We’ll be back tomorrow with Groups C and D. That means Holland, England, Argentina and Ireland. Not against each other I hasten to add. See you then!

 

 

 

 

 

CM9798 World Cup Preview: Group E-H with Quickly Kevin’s Michael Marden

The CM9798 World Cup starts tomorrow! Hopefully you joined us last week for the first half of the preview, where we looked at Group A-D with Tom Rostance. That can be seen here if you want to get yourself caught up.

Now though on the day I turn 30, it’s time for a look at Groups E-H, where we find Spain, Germany, Italy and…Scotland. Among others. I’m joined this week by Michael Marden, who you may know from the Quickly Kevin podcast or the chat we had last year.

Let’s crack still on with Group E, where we find Spain lurking with intent.

Group E

Group E Pic

Any group with just the one human player in will probably have a bit of a lopsided feel to it, and that is certainly the case here. Tom Reed has a wonderful squad to choose from and although Sweden and Japan aren’t exactly terrible, I expect they will battle it out for second. Alfonso is the msot valuable player on CM9798, so that’s got to count for something. Right?

spain squad

Quite some talent there, including a certain J Guardiola. He’ll make a decent manager one day.

Elsewhere, at least Sweden have a full squad to choose from but Henrik Larsson’s broken ribs are causing some concern. Floppy haired Andreas Andersson might help and I’m delighted to see they’ve taken Thomas Brolin.

sweden squad

Japan have fallen foul of the database and have very little to shout about, though Miura is still playing now so that might count for something.

japan squad

Cameroon have even less to shout about, though the brilliantly named Misse Misse will be hoping to be a hit.

Cameroon squad

Michael’s Verdict:

As the only human player in this group, you’d expect Tom Reed to take Spain comfortably through to the knockout stages. Especially with the lack of quality within the Cameroon and Japan squads. If fit, Henrik Larson could prove trouble for the likes of Hierro and Nadal at the back against Sweden in the opening game, but realistically only a disaster would see him not finish in the top two, especially with his impressive club record as a manager in 20th Anniversary tournament, where playing as Manchester United he lost to Dortmund in the semi-final.

His decision to not select ageing GK Zubizarreta, international captain and Spain’s most capped player in the build up to the tournament, caused some controversy in the Spanish press. The relative inexperience of Prats, Molina and Toni could prove costly in the high-pressure environment of the knockout stages.

Key to success: This could lay in another selection based gamble, taking a chance on the young but unquestionably talented Raul and Morientes up front. As well effectively utilising versatile playmaker Luis Enrique.

The fact we won’t see an 80 year old Roger Milla come of retirement to score a winning goal before arthritically stumbling into a corner flag dance is one of the tournaments great losses. (The fact that Dave hasn’t used the data editor to make this a possibility is an even bigger crime)

Group F

Group F pic

This is a tough group. Italy are the favourites but Romania have a good pedigree and some world class players, like Hagi, whilst Yugoslavia boast an impressive squad. It might be closer than you think.

Our friend Chief aka FPLHints has a great set of players to pick from and selecting just 25 was always going to be difficult. Buffon joins Miura as one of two players in the tournament still playing in real life, stats fans.

italy squad

It’s heavy on strikers but the Chief has come to attack and I for one applaud that mentality. If you can’t leave a defence that good to look after itself then when can you?

Meanwhile, Romania qualified at a canter and will fancy their chances of reaching the knockout stages. Blonde hair dye at the ready. You may remember CorinthianHead as the man who brought you his Brighton save in September last year, but can those Division 3 winnings ways translate to the International stage?

Romania squad

They are joined in Group F by a very decent looking Yugoslavia side, though Mijatovic will miss the opener with Italy. I’m sure Savo Milosevic will step up.

Yugoslavia squad

That just leaves Paraguay, who will most likely be the groups whipping boys. Even Chilavert didn’t make the grade in a database this competitve.

Paraguay squad

Michael’s Verdict:

With quality in every position and an experienced manager in @FPLhints, anything but a top of the table finish for Italy would be considered a disappointment. Romania have quality, and under manager @Corinthianhead they have plenty of goals within the squad, but they can be inconsistent and unpredictable.

Whipping boys Paraguay should be a comfortable three points for both, but neither manager should underestimate Yugoslavia, especially the goal scoring threat of Predrag Mijatovic. Ultimately who tops the group should come down to the Italy vs Romania clash and the Italians should have enough to see them off. A Paolo Maldini marshalled defence will be tough to break down, even for the mercurial talent of the talismanic Hagi. Although if the Romanian Maradonna is deployed in that key role just behind the front two then anything is possible.

The only potential banana skin for Italy and manager @FPLhints is the decision to take seven strikers to the tournament, leaving him very little depth in the centre of midfield. Could we be looking at a tactical surprise or two from the usually conservative exponents of calcio? Perhaps a gung-ho inverting of the pyramid? Or has he simply been seduced by the wealth of attacking talent available, something he might regret if an injury or suspension were to befall Di Matteo or Albertini.

Group G

Group G pic

Well if it isn’t Scotland. I’ve been given the gift of Scotland and the only thing I am thankful about is that it is a very tight group. Except Jamaica, I expect they will struggle.

I suppose the one thing in my favour is that I have just completed 6 seasons as Aberdeen manager so I feel like I know how these players will turn out, so if I just divide that by 6 to get how they have been after 1 year we’ll be fine. Right? Honestly, this team lacks creativity and a goalscorer but we have the PRESENCE of big Dunc and the know how of John Collins and Gary McAllister. Scotland have never got out of the group stage.

scotland squad

Attempting to keep that record alive is Matt_C_Wills, author of the excellent Return of the King series. He’s got Nigeria, who have rather a lot of forwards and Taribo West.

nigeria squad

I should point out the first choice keeper got injured and there are literally only three loaded, so Peter Rufai is looking nervous. They have little choice but to attack and it may well be who dares wins.

Russia seem the likely threat to an all human progression to the last 16, even if they too can only name two goalkeepers. 1994 Golden boto winner Oleg Salenko is crap and not a worry for me, but what will be will be.

russia squad

Oh, and Jamaica are here. Well some of them are. Robbie Earle has been flogging tickets and Deon Burton has been trialled at centre half.

Jamaica squad

Michael’s Verdict:

Tournament creator and blog host Dave Black has arguably drawn the short straw with Scotland, but his experience as manager, along with the likes of Paul Lambert and Gary McCallister pulling strings in midfield should be enough to see them through in one of the two top spots. The aerial presence and undiluted menace of Big Dunc Ferguson, if on form, can cause trouble for any defence, and with Colin ‘Braveheart’ Hendry at the back you’d expect them to squeeze through but struggle in the knock out stages against stronger opposition.

Nigeria are full of attacking intent, but lack discipline at the back, and have a real dearth in quality at the GK position. Any injury to first choice stopper Bankole would see a club-less, 37-year-old Peter Rufai step into the breach and nobody, least of all fan favourite Taribo West and his already porous defence, want to see that. A lot will rest on how manager Matt_C_Wills sets his team up tactically. A Keegan-esque all guns blazing attacking style could terrify some managers and see them become a surprise package at the tournament.

Comfortable wins for both managers against Jamaica should be expected, but if things don’t go their way in a tricky tie against Russia, then that could put real pressure on the human manager head-to-head in the final game of the group stage, and an early exit for one of them isn’t out of the question. QPR and Jamaica’s Danny Maddix is just delighted to be here.

Group H

Group H pic

I hate to see three human managers in a group. One of these good men will be going home in the group stage, and that saddens me.

Germany are managed by Ross Bell, Man on the Post podcast founder and self confessed Hassler fan. Sadly he is out of the first two games and in a real race to feature at all in the group stage. The German side in real life found this to be a tournament too far, will Ross be able to get the best out of them?

germany squad

Adam Turner told me how to set up this whole thing and in Belgium he has a very reasonable team. A particularly impressive forward line will be tough to handle, and the virtues of Marc Emmers have been visible to everybody in recent saves.

belgium squad

Dan Williamson is effectively our reigning champion having won the 20 Year Anniversary Cup in October last year. He will have to go some way to win it with Chile, who are one of the weakest sides on paper. They do have Salas and Zamorano…and er…Clarence Acuna, so that’s good. Young Rangers striker Rozental is also useful. Dan has promised to go out and attack due to his poor defence so he’s not going to die wondering. It’ll be entertaining!

Chile Squad

That leaves Mexico, who have no real players but will still be decent. Whilst I expect Germany to win this group, it’ll only take one shock result to blow it wide open.

Mexico Squad

Michael’s Verdict:

The second of two groups of death with three human managers all competing for those two qualification places. Mexico bring nothing but an enthusiastically embarrassing trademark crowd participation Mexican wave to the World Cup party, and will get smashed apart like a sad piñata by all three human teams, which means the margin for error in the remaining games is tighter than Glen Hoddle and Eileen Drewery’s relationship.

Ross Bell’s Germany have the best squad overall in Group H, with quality in every position. Although the inclusion of uncapped, South African born Sean Dundee over more qualified options like Ulf Kirsten and Karl Heinz Riedle raised a few eyebrows. His exclusion of legend Lothar Matthaus who despite his advancing years, was considered integral to the squad off the pitch, showed a ruthless streak that will be important if he’s to advance to the later stages of the competition.

Working against him is the fact he’s up against more experienced managers in 20th Anniversary tournament winner Dan Williamson (Chile) and international legend Adam Turner (Belgium).

Chile lack any world class players in defence and midfield, but up-front have a devastating combo in Salas and Zamorano who can, and will, score goals against even the hardiest of defences.

So much of Belgium’s hopes reside with brilliant playmaker Enzo Scifo, playing in his forth World Cup. He’ll need to supply a regular stream of defence splitting passes for the likes of Giles De Bilde and Goosens who are in absolutely no danger of being labelled clinical or prolific finishers at this level.

This group is simply too tight to call, but a heavy loss for either team in the opening fixture of Chile vs Belgium could be pivotal. It may even come down to goal difference as to which two make it through to the knockout stages.

That’s it then. We’ve covered all 8 groups and assessed 32 teams. Can you pick a winner? My sincere thanks to Michael for taking the time to help me out with this article, it is much appreciated.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the first games from Group A & B. There’ll be posts most days from there with the odd rest day thrown in but either way, there’s a lot of Champ to be played. Let’s get on with it.

See you tomorrow!

Michael is part of the excellent trio that bring you the Quickly Kevin podcast, be sure to follow them on Twitter and check out the podcast at QuicklyKevin.com

 

CM9798 World Cup Preview: Group A-D with BBC Sport’s Tom Rostance

The time is nearly upon us. On Monday May 21st the CM9798 World Cup will get underway right here on CM9798.co.uk, but first for the next two weeks I’m going to preview the 16 human controlled teams with a special guest. Here’s a reminder of who is who

Teams final

The first four groups are going under the microscope with Tom Rostance of BBC Sport. You can of course click his name to be taken to the chat me & Tom had last year about his history with the game but many of you will know Tom as a live texter over on the BBC Sport website. With that in mind, let’s head over to Group A where we find three of our competitors.

Group A

Group A Pic

It’s hard to look past the holders Brazil here, who will kick the tournament off against Denmark on May 21st. Managed by Mark Carruthers, there’s an embarassment of riches to pick from and narrowing it down to 25 was difficult enough.

brazil squad

The strengths are numerous. In Dida there’s a safe pair of hands in goal, plus two of the best full backs of my lifetime. Rivaldo, Juninho, Leonardo and Denilson are able to supply the bullets for the lethal Ronaldo and Anderson, though Elber, Edmundo and the experienced Romario are not bad options to be able to call upon from the bench. Is there a lack of pace at centre half? Will anybody be able to get the ball to exploit it?

Their opponents on the opening day really have their hands full. Here’s who Ross has picked for Denmark:

denmark squad

You will of course know Ross from the Parma save that comes to your screens every Monday. It’s not a bad squad to be honest, it’s a shame for them that they have Brazil to face but in the Laudrup brothers along with CM9798 legends Tomasson and Bisgaard there’s plenty of goals about. The defence is probably the weak area but with Schmeichel in goal, it might not matter.

This is one of two groups with three human controlled teams, which sadly means at least one of these boys won’t go through. King of the Rooks has Norway – you might know KOTR from the 20 year anniversary cup and he is bringing a blog to you later this year, but for now you know him as the Norway manager who left Tore Andre Flo and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at home.

norway squad

I’ll be honest, I had to play some of the qualifiers to make sure certain teams qualified. It’s a long story but this was well before anybody was assigned any teams and I needed the 16 teams I’d made playable all to qualify. Anyway, Norway were so much fun to manage I think I won two of the qualifiers by 6 goals or more. Again though, their fun-ness is limited as they could be lambs to the Brazilian slaughter at some point. The Scandanavian teams all have a full set of players available in the database (CM2 was released over there, same database just different playable leagues) so they are a strong unit. If they can get out of the group, nobody will want them in round 2. Oh and Saudi Arabia have no real players on the database in this save, so good luck to them.

Tom’s verdict:

Can you pick too many forwards? Not if you’re in charge of that Brazil team. My word.

Cm 97/98 legend Sonny Anderson may well get the nod alongside Ronaldo, and when you chuck in Rivaldo, Cafu. Roberto Carlos and Denilson the possibilities are endless.

The other two sides have smatterings of quality too. I recall Bisgaard being top class in this game, while Norway have plenty of PL players to throw at it – NEVLAND! Where’s Solskjaer though?

Group B

Group B Pic

You have to say this is a favourable draw for the hosts – corruption claims were less in 1998 – and 90s enthusiast @90sfootball will be confident of getting France out of the group.

France 98 squad final

A slight issue is that Vieira has picked up an injury and will miss the first two games, whilst Petit will be fine. There’s no shortage of quality in the squad though, with the veteran Papin still very capable. Will this be Zidane’s time? I’m just looking forward to seeing Bernard Diomede on the big stage. It’s also a shrewd move to get Ali Benarbia signed up before Algeria come calling.

Of the other teams in the group, USA have a full squad as I loaded them as my backup team in case one of the European teams fell by the wayside. Even if Paddy isn’t a CM9798 expert I still think he’ll get through at a canter.

USA squad

Tom’s verdict:

Florian Maurice gets the chance to have the World Cup he should have had in real life. The Champ legend is the shining light in a France squad rammed full of class. Ali Bernabia? Yes please. Tell me more about this injury to Vieira though…

Group C

Group C Pic

Holland start Group C as favourites, a strong squad with many players in their prime they went on to reach the World Cup semi finals in 1998. How will they do under the guidance of Ash Rose, host of Alive & Kicking 90s Podcast?

dutch squad final

Sadly, Frank De Boer has broken his pelvis and will miss the tournament. There’s still enough quality to see the Dutch through to the latter stages though this group won’t be a walk over. Colombia only have one real player, Faustino Asprilla no less, but that means they’ll have a lot of decent fake players. Then of course there’s the loveable underdogs, Republic of Ireland. Or Eire as they were called in 1998

Ireland squad

Roy Keane is the obvious star, but he is suspended for the opener against Colombia. That could prove costly, especially as Jim Gannon will step in. Rob Tait, of Roma save fame, is in the hot seat though and it will surely only help. He even wrote a tactics guide with the stricken Andy Townsend.

Tom’s verdict:

Was Robbie Keane not worth an outside shout for the Eire squad? I recall him cropping up in 97/98, though I could be wrong.

Hard to look past the Dutch here. Another frighteningly good attacking line up.

Group D

When you think you’ve seen it all, look what the games throws up for us…

Group D Pic

England have two rivals in one group, plus Tunisia who they played in 1998 but also will again in 2018. My my.

England squad

Under the guidance of Dan Barker, Nicky Butt’s injury on the eve of the tournament has seen Matt Le Tissier flown out to join the squad. The old left sided problem still remains but Dan seems set to set up narrow and let the likes of Shearer, Gascoigne and Scholes do the damage.

Argentina meanwhile are lead by Chris Darwen, fresh from the humiliation of a first round exit in the 20 Year Annviersary Cup despite being Real Madrid. Yes, he’s called up Maradona!

argentina squad

Without a club for the whole season, Maradona’s inclusion seems a bit of a gamble but as long as Batistuta is around there’s a chance. It’s a very strong team, particularly in the striking department, just watch out for Simeone’s antics.

As if there’s not enough going on, Australia are managed by former England gaffer Terry Venables. Whatever next?

australia squad

It’s going to be a tough group which England and Argentina should really escape from, but will it go to form?

Tom’s verdict:
Just what would have happened had Glenn Hoddle gone with Gazza and not Rob Lee? Now is maybe the time to find out. A hell of a squad – what Gareth Southgate wouldn’t give to have those sort of options now.

The Argentina side is full of quality too. Give it Batistuta.

More importantly – have Ibrahima Bakayoko’s Ivory Coast qualified?!

Well Tom you’ll have to wait until next week to find out the answer to that particular question. I’ll be back next Sunday with another special guest to take us through Groups E-H before the tournament itself starts the following day.

My sincerest thanks to Tom for taking the time out to help me with this preview, you can follow Tom on Twitter @TJRostance or of course find him on the BBC Sport website.

 

 

What is the CM9798 World Cup?

Hello! Hopefully you’ve been enjoying the fever pitch excitement (ok, tepid excitement) the CM9798 World Cup is generating. I realise I haven’t actually explained the concept to anybody outside of a select few, so let’s put that right.

How’s it going to work?

You may recall a few months ago I wrote about managing any International team in CM9798. Every now and again something sparks in my brain and I get all giddy at what happens. I have been told this is called “having an idea.”

The maximum number of human players on CM9798 at any one time is 16. The World Cup is this summer. Let’s ride that wave and have a CM9798 World Cup. Easy, right?

But CM9798 doesn’t have network facilities?

You’re right. There wasn’t an awful lot of network games going on in 1998, people had to actual spend time with each other for multiplayer fun. Whilst we aren’t going to stoop to such levels, the CM9798 Cup that I ran in October last year proved that using screen share and Twitter DM’s, CM9798 matches can take place without having to smell each other.

But they were friendlies, how will this work?

It’s the actual World Cup as scheduled by the game. Whilst that brings it’s own challenges, it’s more authentic and means we’ll have suspensions, injuries and such to contend with.

Here are the groups:

Groups

Who is taking part and who got who?

Me plus 15. The 15 are made up of some of our affiliates, friends of the blog, fans of the game. I don’t mean to sound cheesy but I could have had a full 32 if the game would allow it, such is the kindness of the community. If you missed out, I am sorry. We’ll hopefully do it again someday.

There was a draw involving kinder egg pods…

Or you can see this terrific graphic I made here – the two TBD’s have now been confirmed and are in the graphic below. Incidentally, if anybody loves making graphics and wants to make me some for nothing, I’d love it. I imagine that is unlikely but shy bairns etc

Teams final

When are the games actually happening?

The plan is to run the tournament in the lovely gap between the end of the season and the start of the actual World Cup. That’s quite a way away, but the managers have teams and squads to sort out. Also, the game is ridiculously slow due to the huge amount of players I have loaded, it’ll take a while to even reach June.

Will there be a prize?

There will be a trophy, yes. Again, if anyone out there wants to sponsor the event in exchange for some sort of prize, I’m all ears.

Thanks for reading and keep a look out for the previews in the coming weeks.