Champions of Europe.
Doesn’t that sound rather nice?
About bloody time some might say but no-0ne cares about the haters so instead I’ll just take delight in the fact that I have FINALLY secured football’s biggest trophy with our tiny side from the banks of Lake Garda.
With the decision made that I’m going to stay at Feralpi to secure what I hope will be an easy Club World Cup, I’ll give defending our Champions League title one shot and then move on to a new club… which may also entail a new save depending on what game I end up going with.
So this should be a relatively quick update with a little on the domestic competitions, some more focus on the Champions League glory and a little information on a couple of new tactics. But mostly it’ll be about being Champions. Of Europe. 🙂
Domestically, things turned out rather easy in the league:
In the end, our 4th consecutive title was rather simple. Early indications were that it would be a hell of a lot tighter as Cittadella started the league in fine form, winning 9 of the opening 10 games and looking like real challengers.
That didn’t last long as a 4-1 defeat in Salò prompted a poor run which saw them eventually slump to 7th. Cesena were the real surprise package, finishing 2nd despite a VERY modestly assembled squad. Milan, meanwhile, continue to stew in footballing mediocrity and have flirted with relegation for a couple of seasons now… that could be a very interesting fallen giant save if they ever do drop out of Serie A.
Unfortunately, we weren’t going to repeat our domestic clean sweep of last season despite breezing past Empoli in the first round of the TIM Cup. We met Napoli in the quarters and, as has been my policy for a couple of years now, I played the youth and fringe players. They were utterly, utterly outplayed by the Partenopei, registering just a single shot on goal whilst slumping to a 2-0 defeat.
The Coppa Italia, though, is clearly the third priority out of the main competitions. The top priority this season was always the Champions League…
And it doesn’t get much better than that!
It’s clear that our success was very much based on our defence. We conceded just three times in the entire campaign and just one of those, conceded at the Camp Nou, threatened to have any impact – Shakhtar and AZ just managed to nick consolation goals. 13 games, 10 clean sheets. That’s a winning formula.
This was a deliberate policy on my part once we got to the knockouts and was a lesson learned from past seasons, particularly in terms of away goals. I went with the standard 4-1-2-3-0 that I’ve been using for 12 years now but it’s an incredibly flexible system and allowed me to use the same personnel in a counter-attacking manner in the away legs and then step it up for the games in Salò.
Scoring with your only 2 shots on goal whilst withstanding an obvious barrage is obviously not going to be something that happens every year but, much like Chelsea’s run in 2012, we managed to do just enough to see it out. The return leg was much more to my liking although we only got the two goals after Barca had a man sent off. Nevertheless, job done and we progressed to our first final against old nemesis Man City.
Apologies to anyone who follows me on twitter and had the misfortune of being online that night. I did go a bit spam-esque with the updates but I’ve been waiting for that final for a while now. In the end, this beautiful goal from the quite superb Lukas Holub brought little Feralpi Salò the biggest prize in club football:
I won’t go into too much detail on the tactic as I’m sure you’ve heard more than enough during the last 12 seasons of its use. I did, however, opt for the even more unorthodox 3-4-3-0 that you can find in my last tactical post for a few games at the start of the year.
Whilst it was a lot of fun and still brought good results, I wasn’t happy with the defensive aspect of the tactic and so reverted to the tried-and-tested 4-1-2-3-0 when it came to the “business end of the season”. In hindsight, I think it was a good choice.
So what now?
Well I’ve decided to stay on for one more season (really, just one more!). I want to win the Club World Cup to make it a clean sweep with Feralpi and, depending on how things are going, I might continue to the end of the season to see if we can defend our Champions League crown.
To keep in interesting, though, there’s a new tactic… with strikers. Here it is:
Two of them!!
I plan to return to the 4-1-2-3-0 shape throughout the next game that I play so, to keep an element of interest, I went with something completely different for this season. With the number of players that I have capable of playing up top, I thought it would be a fun way to go out with a bang.
And it’s worked fairly well so far:
I’m all about the attacking this season and to help me keep track of how successful I’ve been in that, I’m keeping a fairly simple spreadsheet which records the useful statistics that FM doesn’t. Hence I know that, so far this season, we’ve kept an average of 60% possession, created 2 CCC’s per game, 4.1 half chances per game and hit the woodwork 1.4 times per game. Exhilarating stuff.
Just a bit of fun before I move on… plus some lovely goals as you can see:
… so where will I move on to?
Well all suggestions are welcome. My current plans are to choose between one of the following options:
- Pentagon Challenge Plus – I try to win the major continental trophy in each of the five main continents in the same career, only I can’t use any club from the top 3 competitions in that continent (by reputation). So I couldn’t use a Brazilian, Argentinian or Chilean / Uruguayan club in South America, for example. I have downloaded a mass of editor files which activate leagues from across the globe so it would be a massively diverse game.
- I return to my Rapid Wien / Austria club and country save which I retired from to take over at Feralpi.
- I merge Germany and Austria into one league and take over Rapid in a new save based on the club side only.
- I continue this save but leave Feralpi and take over Toulouse or Den Haag.
- I start a new game with Toulouse, Den Haag, Viking Stavanger or Polonia Warszawa
So yeah, lots of options at the moment. Please feel free to make your own suggestion in the comments box below. I’m not saying that I will follow your suggestions but someone might come up with something interesting.
For now, though, thanks once again for reading and, if you’ve followed Feralpi’s story from the beginning of this blog, I hope that you’ve enjoyed our rise from minnow to CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE!!!