So my first blog update of my Rapid Wien / Austria save finds us in February 2021, battling it out with Inter Milan for the Alpine Premier title. If you are unfamiliar with my game then much of that will seem odd to you so I’ll try to explain…
It all started with the concept of a Club and Country game and my FM-induced affiliation with Rapid Wien and Austrian football. As I find the default Austrian Bundesliga, with it’s 10 team league and incredibly dull league format of playing each team 4 times, leads to me getting bored after two or three seasons I decided to create an Alpine superleague within the editor. As such, I merged all the Swiss and Austrian teams into one league structure along with all German teams south of Stuttgart and all Italian teams north of Genoa. This has lead to me playing in a hugely competitive league with the likes of Milan, Inter, Juventus, Bayern Munchen and Stuttgart for company. Over the last 8 seasons we have won promotion to the top tier and slowly developed into a leading challenger for the title, culminating in our first championship last season. In line with the C&C premise, this has all been achieved whilst developing Austrian players for the national side, blooding the youth and improving our facilities to produce the best possible domestic players that I can.
As the main focus of this game is on the national side, I’ll let you know that progress was slow to begin with but we had a superb Euro 2020 where we reached the final before losing out to a massively over-rated English side. This post, however, will concentrate on the club side for now.
So as I said, we won the title last year and are scrapping it out with Inter to follow it up with another this time round. Prior to last season, Bayern had taken 6 titles in a row but the Bavarians seem to have lost their mojo somewhat whilst Milan have been poor for a couple of seasons now. The league is still highly competitive though and the most pleasing aspect of it for me is the tactical variation throughout each team. There are the obligatory 4-4-2’s but just as many 4-2-3-1’s, 4-3-1-2’s, a couple of 3-4-3’s and Conte always turns up with his 4-2-4 to ruin my day.
This means that there’s always something new to keep my interest and an added challenge to fit my players into various systems that can combat the variances in the opposition. Which brings me to the other thing I love about C&C games… Due to the fact that you are limiting yourself in the transfer market to develop players for the national side, you have to learn how to get the best out of what is given to you without the option of bringing in a player to suit your own system.
This leads me on to my own tactics. Over the last 8 seasons, I’ve been lucky enough to get some excellent newgens – most specifically striker David Zeh and Frank Rogalski who can either play alongside or behind him. However, the spread of newgens hasn’t been balanced in my favour and we have seen a real shortage in goalkeepers and centre halves, whilst overloaded with defensive midfielders. Initially I had considered retraining some of my them and maintaining a 4-2-3-1 shape but instead I’ve had “a cunning plan”, hence the Baldrick tactic you can see to the right.
It’s been a painful process getting it right and it’s far from being the finished article but it’s better than it was and certainly beginning to show some promise.
Most promising has been the goalscoring where our front four have been majestic, racking up 62 goals already. In comparison, we scored 74 in the entire title winning season – with 9 games left this term we should easily overtake that. The tactic borrows heavily from various threads I’ve read across the scene and is aimed at retaining possession deep in midfield before breaking the midfield line and allowing our front four to work their magic against what is hopefully an isolated defence. It’s been working well against the weaker sides in the league and those I would say are on a par with us but is “problematic” against the better sides whilst a top-class striker like Pato or Fierro cause havoc.
Whilst we’ve progressed to the point of perennial challengers domestically, in Europe things have been slower going. We were getting one round further each season in the Europa League every year, culminating in a semi-final defeat to Milan in 2018, before we progressed on to the big-boy tournament but have so far failed to make much of an impact, only reaching the first knockouts last year. This season, though, we were imperious in the groups. Scoring 22 goals, we won every game in a group of Arsenal, Leverkusen and AIK. Having been paired, once again, with Lyon in the knockouts, I am quietly confident of being able to improve on last year’s performance which, at the end of the day, is all that can be asked.
The sole disappointment of the season (so far) has been getting knocked out of the Rolex Cup, the Alpine League’s equivalent of the FA Cup, in the third round to Nurnberg.
For anyone who is reading this (optimism), unless you followed the game when I was updating at The Dugout there will be some significant gaps in the history of the save. I’ll try and fill as many of those gaps in future updates but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.