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[FM19] The Great San Marino Challenge

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San Marino Challenge - Season 10

San Marino National overview

I decided to split this update into two, as the National Team update required a bit more detail than usual. The last national update spoke about how we exceeded expectations and managed to win our Nations League Division C group (hurrah!). This automatically put us in the mixer for the playoffs for the Euro 2028 if we couldn't qualify for the tournament conventionally...



Despite some good results, we couldn't (damn you, Kosovo!).

So we were thrown into the pot to attempt to qualify through the Nations League playoffs. We drew Bosnia & Herzegovina in the semi finals. We were ranked 125th in the world with them 57th. I wasn't hugely confident...


Giacomo Raschi, you little hero! He'd gotten a decent amount of playing time in Serie A and CL, which has aided his development, but he still played out of his skin. Things are pretty nice up front with him and Tomassini (4-4-2) now.

So, onto the Final. A win here would cement this squad in history as the first to get San Marino into a first international tournament. So who would we get...

Wales. Ranked 39th in the world. Again, I didn't fancy our chances...


Wow. We absolutely battered them, which meant San Marino were going to Euro 2028!!! Could we put up a good enough fight to perhaps upset the odds once again to make the knockout rounds?!


No. Quite simply, no. We got trounced. Goldenboy Tomassini got sent off in the opener as we lost 4-0 to Turkey, before a 2-0 defeat to Romania dumped us out after only two games. The third game was against Germany where we lost 3-1. Tomassini did however manage to get a goal (taking his national tally to 51 goals in 79 appearances).

We did really well just to be there, so losing all games wasn't too much of a surprise. It was fun and hopefully we can get to a World Cup next time!

Edited by robredo87
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11 hours ago, kahuna399 said:

Can anyone explain how ye all do such nice layouts here ? i put my pics in and then just listed down in a line :( as you can guess, im pretty new at the forum world haha

Hi kahuna399. I just select everything and centre it. Good luck with the challenge!

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On 21/06/2019 at 20:58, kahuna399 said:

Anyone looking to start a save on this, I had to fix the system to start the other day.

Note that the u18s and 20s have been entered into the league systems in this database and for 1 more added thing i added the San Marino Academy as a feeder club

italy fix.fmf 38.74 kB · 5 downloads

Thanks for that going to give this a go now

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San Marino Calcio 2019/20 Season Update

As I mentioned when I kicked off this challenge, I was playing CM03/04 and only recently started FM - so the tactics particularly have been a learning curve.  Steam tells me I've played 371 hours (the wife says more!) - and after all that time I've finally got a promotion!  We were top for ages - but not playing that well.  We had a little nervous time when it was possible to earn a playoff spot - and dropped to 2nd.  With 4 games to go, we had a team meeting and then managed to win the last 4 - overtaking Modena to win the title.  No playoffs needed thankfully!  The club now turns pro and I need to set about finding a striker and a couple of wide players particularly.





Youth Intake


Not quite the immediate quality as last year, in that no one came straight into the team - but 3 or 4 with potential.

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San Giovanni 219/20 Season Update

After winning the playoffs last year to lift the title, we finished 3rd in Group 1, up from 6th last year, but in the playoffs we got knocked out in the semi-final.  We lost the first leg 1-0 away, and I was confident we could overturn that at home - but we went down to 10 men in the first half (a second yellow) and struggled after that.  Fortunately, we won the third place playoff game 2-0 with a solid performance.  There was good news after the season though - the board asked me if I thought turning semi-pro was a good idea, to which I said "YES!!" and we will be a semi-pro outfit at the end of June 2020.  That's far ahead of where I thought I would be after 2 years as I inherited a woeful squad.





Youth Intake



Another promising intake - highlighted by a central midfielder who can help next season.  Unfortunately, we are pretty strong in this area, so he might have to start from the bench and rotate in now and again.

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5 Year Review (2018-23)


2018-19: 1st (Serie D)

2019-20: 7th (Serie C/B)

2020-21: 8th (Serie C/B)

2021-22: 1st (Serie C/B)

2022-23: 8th (Serie B- Promoted via playoff)

Hey all. Just going to do a dump of a bunch of stuff from my first 5 years of the San Marino challenge. I’m new to SI forums but have been working on this challenge for several months. Going forward, I’ll give end of seasons reviews for Calcio and year end reviews for the SMNT.

Notable Events

The first five years of this challenge have been a resounding success, with titles in Serie D and Serie C/B and the most unlikely of promotions from Serie B. Ordinarily, this would give me concern that I got too much, too soon. However, the second biggest development of the save has alleviated this concern somewhat: the acquisition of San Marino Calcio by an American tycoon. This investment came too late to influence my rise up the divisions (it was completed after the winter window of my promotion campaign from Serie B), but the money was swiftly invested into facilities, youth recruitment, youth coaching, and scouting. These investments should yield benefits in the long-term for building up the San Marino NT, as well.

Serie D (2018-19)




Serie C (2019-20)




Serie C (2020-21)




Serie C (2021-22)




Serie B (2022-23)



Tycoon Takeover


Key Players
Franco Israel (GK)- 127 appearances. Has over 40 clean sheets. Bought on a free from Juve and sold for $500k with a loan back to Palermo. Will likely try to loan him again for next season.

Gabriel Zappa (RB)- 121 appearances. Has 5 goals and a whopping 33 assists in his San Marino career. Joined on a free from Inter in 2019, now valued at $180k.

Choe Song Hyok (AML, AMR)- 94 appearances. He has been with us for three seasons, scoring 36 and assisting 24. Got him on a free from Arezzo and is now valued at $300k.

Giuseppe Aurelio (ST)- 144 appearances. He has 57 career goals and has been with us on loan every season except 2019-20. He played a massive role in seeing us rise through the divisions and we may finally bring him in permanently, since his contract is expiring.

San Marino Watch (* indicates Serie B potential, ** indicates Serie A potential)

Federico Conti* (19 y/o ST, 22 caps, 2 goals)- Good player who played a role in Serie B, scoring 7 in 23 appearances. Just a bit short of the standard required for Serie A, but will try to get him regular playing time via loan or transfer.


Francesco Gualandi** (18 y/o ST, 8 caps, 2 goals)- The youngest all-time goal scorer for the San Marino NT, Gualandi looks like he will spearhead the attack for the foreseeable future. I am guessing that he will be the man to break Selva’s all-time record of 8 goals. He spent last season on loan in the Serie C. I had intended to make him a part of the first team set-up on his return, but the unexpected promotion may mean another loan.




Gabriele Albani** (17 y/o CM, 9 caps, 0 goals)- Another player who is probably a year away, I am most excited about this guy’s ceiling. He has good technical, mental and physical attributes for a CM, and he has dramatically improved on a monthly basis. I think he is really going to run the show for club and country in the next few years, and I am expecting him to be among the better CMs in Serie A.




Daniele Bacciocchi* (20 y/o CD, 26 caps, 0 goals)- Has not played at senior club level since a pair of starts in the Serie D days. Injury proneness has inhibited him a bit. If he can stay healthy, he could play a significant role with the national team for another decade plus. However, he will likely be moved on at some point, as it is unlikely he will ever feature for Calcio. The matches would also be important for jump-starting his development.




Alberto Righi** (19 y/o CD, 14 caps, 0 goals)- Definitely the most accomplished Sammarinese player at club level for me, Righi is a first choice CB. He has 48 appearances over three years, including a high of 22 matches played last year. The jump up to Serie A will necessitate the acquisition of one or two CBs, but the worst case is that he will get 20+matches through rotation.


Marco Vagnetti** (16 y/o CD, 0 caps, 0 goals)- Another high potential CB from the Calcio academy, Vagnetti has yet to even appear for the Sammarinese youth teams. However, he is considered to have very high potential, with particularly strong mental attributes for such a young player. Unfortunately, he does have the dreaded dual nationality, and with him receiving interest from Roma, Udinese, Lazio and Atalanta, I assume he will wait before committing to a national team. If he does choose San Marino, I am guessing that he would usurp Bacciocchi’s place in the XI in short order.


Everyone but Gualandi is a dual Italian national, and they all chose to represent San Marino (Vagnetti has not been confronted with the choice yet). I think I am a bit fortunate, as I suspect that Righi and Albani have potential that is JUST low enough that they will be really, really good for San Marino, but will not hold out for Italy. I am not sure I will be so lucky with Vagnetti, given the caliber of clubs interested in him.


I also think the relative quality of Righi, Albani, and Gualandi will probably lead to at least one of them reaching a century of caps. However, one of the stranger recurrences in the NT is the repeated call-up of Bacciocchi instead of Righi, despite the fact that Righi has always been the better player.

Club Finances


The Diawara transfer to Real Madrid, which brought in nearly $1M in a compensation payment, made the finances look healthier than they actually were. We lost money year over year, despite operating well within the financial parameters set forth by the board. Just before the takeover, the club’s financial situation was poor. We were $1.5M in the red, and I figured the summer of 2023 would require a thinning of the squad and a reset of the wage structure. This would probably have kept me in the Serie B for at least 2 more seasons. Additionally, I would have probably been forced into the sale of youngsters, especially Righi. Fortunately, I got the dual boosts of promotion and a tycoon takeover, which really eased the financial issues at the club.

Overall, I would say that the financial management under my stewardship has been fair. The club faced some debt issues, but this occurred despite me keeping wages significantly below budget. However, my recruitment approach was more costly than necessary, as I often wasted wages by bringing in too many players and also failed to bring in players that could later be sold for profit. Now that I am in the Serie A, I think I will actually be able to wheel and deal a bit and generate profits.

Five-Year Objectives/Future Plans


-Challenge for European spots.

-Take over national team and improve NT ranking to top 150.

-Win a trophy.

-Run a net transfer spending surplus by year 4.


The windfall from the takeover and my unlikely promotion to Serie A means I will be investing heavily in the coming years in facility upgrades and youth development. The board has also agreed to end restrictions on scouting range, so I will probably be looking overseas for players to bring in cheaply. 

Transfer Plans


I don’t have any firm rules around transfers, but I will conduct business with two goals in mind: not stymying the growth of Sammarinese players and being able to turn a profit. As such, I will definitely look overseas for potential signings, especially in Africa and South America.



San Marino National Team


The senior national team trended ever so slightly upward through 2023, with wins over Belarus, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Moldova, as well as a slew of draws, most notably against Scotland. I will be taking them over next year. On the positive side, the Conti-Gualandi strike force should be very effective, while CM Albani and CB pair of Righi and (hopefully) Vagnetti would build a strong spine in the NT for a decade.



At youth level, things were slightly better. The U21s averaged over 3 wins and 2 draws per year, although they didn’t advance in any tournaments. Meanwhile, the U19s advanced out of the first qualifying round of the U19 Euros on two occasions, but finished bottom of the second round group both times.








Edited by mcleera
Double posted some images
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  • 2 weeks later...

San Marino Calcio 2020/2021 Update

This was my first season in Serie C - and I went in just wanting to stay up.  It was a mid table kind of season - but with 1 going up automatically and 10 in the playoffs, it certainly keeps the season alive.  We went into the last game, against the champions Vicenza, needing a win and help - and we got it with a 2-1 win (scoring the winner in injury time) and Rimini drawing 2-2 against the bottom team Vis Pesaro.  After that big win - we played our parent club Cesena, but we lost 0-2 - never getting a foothold in the game, and that was that.  I need to fix GK, right winger and striker - I'm trying to sign permanently a striker we got on loan in January, but I suspect he's going to want too much money.  I did take the opportunity to raid Folgore for a 16 year old new gen - particularly as the youth intake wasn't great this year.  So, an inconsistent season - with some big wins, but also losses - but I managed to play a number of youth players which will hopefully help down the road.





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San Giovanni 2020/21 Season Update

My second team was a bit of an add-on when I started the save - but has been probably more enjoyable than Calcio.  Having said that, we lost 2 big players before the season - youth player Federico Gasperoni and right winger Daniele Zafferani (both San Marino internationals) left for La Fiorita.  We started the season really well, winning  group A - but then in group 1 we had way too many draws (a record number for the league, in fact, including playoffs) and finished 3rd.  The Champions Playoffs went really well though - we won the quarter-final after it finished 2-2 on the basis we were the higher seed.  We went 2-0 up in the first leg of the semi-final - but somehow lost 2-3.  However, after that we played really well.  We won the second leg 3-0 - and after falling behind 1-0 in the final, we stormed back and won with ease 4-1.  So, a second Champions Playoff win in 3 years of the save.  We made it through to the final of the cup - we were 0-1 down, but managed to equalise late in the game - but lost 1-2 in injury time, so we missed the double.  But, we're back in Europe - we lost the first game in the very early Champions League prelim qualifying round last time around - hopefully we can improve and go 1 or 2 stages deeper before we have a go at Europa League qualifying.  On a plus note, the youth intake saw us land a cracking striker Davide Madau, who played in the Cup and scored 3 goals in his 3 appearances, although he was quiet in the Cup final.







San Marino Group 1 2020.jpg

Edited by duesouth
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San Giovanni European Campaign 2021

The prelim qualifying for the CL in Gibraltar saw us matched up against HB of the Faroe Islands - a game I thought we might able to win.  After going 1 down, we thumped them 8-1!!  Not bad playing 4-1-4-1!



That saw us through to the final 3 days later against Linfield - a better team, but I thought we had a decent shot at the win.


This one went to extra time - not great so early in the season with little training before the game, let alone friendlies - but it was 15 year old Davide Madau who did the business, scoring twice in ET for a 3-1 win.


I figured that would be the end of the run - and after pulling PAOK (Greek Champs) out of the hat, I was pretty sure - and so it was... getting thumped in the first leg away - but scoring a goal in the second leg!



That led us to the Europa League qualifying - and another tough draw against Qarabag.  We conceded in the 1st minute of the first leg - but got an away goal right on half time - and somehow held on for the draw.  Unfortunately, the second leg we were poor and lost - and that was that.



That left the bank balance at over £2.5 million.  I've not invested in facilities at all - the priority being turning pro.  Having amateur contracts leads to players leaving for nothing far too often (we lost our centre half before the Qarabag games - he was slow, but good in the air and reliable).  So, I went to the board and was surprised when they agreed at the first time of asking.  So, we are turning pro at the end of the season.  The next lot of cash that comes through the door will be invested in facilities etc.


Edited by duesouth
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A little late, but decided to give this challenge a go!

Started the save with Sunday League reputation and no coaching badges for an extra challenge, although to be honest this challenge is tough enough to begin with.


The first season was rather disappointing, and we struggled to a 5th place finish in the league, and lost to Bari in the Quarter Finals of the cup. However, the second half of the season saw a dramatic upturn in form, so hopefully we can carry that forward. The biggest problem I had this season was finding someone to bang in the goals. We had the second best defensive record in the league, only letting in 19 while keeping 17 clean sheets. If we can improve on the 45 goals that we scored this year I think that we have a great chance of going up, so a new striker will be our top priority this summer. 





In terms of youth we had two newgens make their debut for the club this year, with our youth intake being declared a potential golden generation for the club. While it is possible that maybe we find a use for one or two of these youth players in Serie C, it does not look likely for any of them to truly make it to the top level. Our most promising youth player was generated at the club prior to the start of the season, as I mistakenly left on the option to generate players at the start of the save. While he may not be a superstar, Ghiotti looks like he will be able to play a part at the club in the next few seasons, and has already made 4 appearances for the San Marino u21 international side. 





Sorry for any bad formatting, my first go at this!

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  • 3 weeks later...

San Marino Calcio 2021/2022 Update

This season was a real bump in the road.  At the mid-season break, we were  7th and hoping to kick on in the second half of the season.  But a terrible run saw us falling and falling down the table.  We ended up in the relegation playoffs.  We won the first leg, but only 1-0.  We were trailing 0-1 in the away leg, but with 3 minutes to go conceded and therefore it was back to Serie D :(

The main downside was that 4 key players wanted to leave - 2 with relegation release clauses, and 2 because they were Serie C CA and Serie B PA players, one of whom was our central defender Riccardo Gatti, the star of our first youth intake.  Gatti was sold - as was Stefano Pellini, our DM/DLP.  The other 2 stayed as no one met their release clauses.  The poor season was compounded with an awful youth intake.

San Marino Calcio 2022/2023 Update

I decided before the season that I was going to be aggressive to get out of Serie D at the first time of asking.  I was able to sign a centre midfielder on a free (Alessendro Ollio), with the intention to use him as an attacking playmaker.  San Marino national team central defender Filippo Fabri was released by his club - and I was able to sign him to replace Gatti.  I shifted to a 4-4-2 and increased pressing intensity.  We were neck-and-neck with Reggio Audace, but were able to beat them both times we played them to give us the edge.  We had a little wobble, but won our last 5 games to pull away and won the league with just 1 defeat all season (to a team that got relegated!).

Unfortunately, the youth intake was awful for a second consecutive season - we only signed two of them.

San Marino Calcio 2023/2024 Update - Part 1

San Marino striker Nicola Nanni was without a club for a year - but didn't want to sign for us when we were in Serie D - but he came onboard on a free at the start of the season.  We started the season with 2 losses - but then went on a better run.  I decided to stick with the same tactics as last year - but after we got to 6th, we had a run of 7 games without a win (6 draws!) - so for the last game before the winter break, I eased off with the pressing and changed Ollio to a DLP.  That got us a 1-0 win.  I've been keeping tabs on Pellini and Gatti.  Pellini was on the transfer list at the start of the year, but they wanted 16k for him and there's no money in the bank (despite a takeover - if anything the financial side is looking worse!).  However, I noticed just before the January transfer window that Pisa were letting him go for nothing - so I pounced.  So, my relegation has now only cost me Gatti - and his determination is 6 anyway, plus we've got Fabbri.

National Team Update

On the whole, this has been really slow - even in the Nations League.  However, in the last year, results have started to pick up slightly.  I've just finished World Cup qualifying - and didn't finish bottom of the group - managing to beat Belarus and finish above them.  We almost got a draw against Poland, but conceded in the 87th minute - but at least I can see progess.  I am finding players from the Sammarinese league aren't developing - I haven't been afraid to start them young, but they don't develop - and indeed even regress.  A striker new gen popped up for Udinese - and he's currently on loan at a Serie B club. He tends to turn up tired though - but he's our best player by a mile and hopefully will keep getting better.  In a perfect world, we'd be able to sign him for Calcio - I tried to get him on loan this season, but failed - but at least we were in with a chance!  A few more gifts like this would be welcome!  Clearly San Marino Calcio is the way forward, but with the last 2 youth intake classes being awful, it will make progress a little slower.

San Giovanni 2021/2022 Update

This season was hard work.  We went out of the cup in the first round, which has become an issue as it's at the same time as an international window and most of our team are involved with one of the three San Marino national teams (we now only have 3 foreign players - we had 15 at the start of the save).  We qualified for the Champions Playoff, but went out at the first time of asking - losing 0-3 at home and only managing a 1-1 draw in the second leg - so no Europe.

San Giovanni 2022/2023 Update

Our first season as a professional club was a bit hit and miss.  I moved away from our 4-1-4-1, but it's been a struggle to find the right system and results were inconsistent.  We again struggled in the cup - but this time managed to get to the semi-final of the Champions Playoff, before losing.  However, we did win the 3rd/4th playoff game on penalties.  As we've had success in Europe, San Marino now has 4 European places - so we qualified for Europe thanks to our previous successes in Europe.

San Giovanni 2023/2024 Update - Part 1

Our Europa League qualifying campaign was over very quickly - getting a tough draw against a Hungarian team, and going out 3-1 on aggregate.  I was hoping to do better in the cup this season - but again international callups killed us and we lost to Juvenus Dogano over the 2 legs.  League form has still been hit and miss - but we should qualify for the Champions Playoffs - and as long as we find some form for that, we'll have a chance.  The Sammarinese season is a bit odd in that the real excitement is the playoffs - and then if you qualify for Europe.

In general, our youth intakes have been good - but I was finding they weren't developing that well.  Prospects were getting to 19 and were the same CA as at 15/16.  So, I thinned out the youth team, tweaked training and the coaching set up - and also invested some of my European cash into facilities.  Through the first half of this season, I've noticed 2 or 3 players who are developing nicely and I'm going to work them into the first team rotation - although that's hard as there aren't a huge number of games (particularly when you lose every year in the first round of the Cup :lol:).

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2023-24: Serie A

League: 5th Place (Euro Cup)

Italian Cup: 4th Qualifying Round (l. to Torino)



Season Summary

This season was, obviously, way beyond expectations, as we were picked to finish 20th in Serie A. We were able to ride an exciting, high-scoring brand of football to a 5th-placed finish, leading the league in goals scored (100) and goals conceded (77), which secures European football for next season. We even flirted with Champions League qualification in the latter stages of the season, but losing four of the final six matches of the season ended those hopes. In any case, it was a pretty low-stress season. We were on 30 points from 18 matches by New Year’s, having won 4 in a row around Christmas. All told, we went 8W-2D-1L (26 points) in the league from December through February. As such, the second half of the year was primarily about punching up to Europe rather than avoiding relegation.

The low points of the season were not really blatant, due to the massive overperformance in the league. Obviously, due to the high-risk style we play (utilizing the same 4-2-4 formation we played coming up the leagues), there were times we were pretty well turned over by our opposition. Roma beat us 3-7 away, which was our biggest loss in the league. We were pretty safe to finish top-6, so I didn’t care all that much about the defeat. On the other hand, we were throttled 1-5 by Torino in the Italian Cup. Getting smashed in the most winnable competition we were in by a team that was ultimately relegated was frustrating. I guess the silver lining is that we went on the aforementioned run in the immediate aftermath of this loss.

Transfer Summary
Notable In: Simone Rabbi ($4.5M), Elio Capradossi ($4.3M), Emir Murati ($2.3M), Ricardo Tonin ($2.2M), Titas Krapikas ($300K), Mehdi Derouiche ($165K), Antonio Candela (Free), Giuseppe Aurelio (Free),
Notable Out: None

Rabbi (AML) came in and was first choice, playing as an inside forward and banging in 26 goals his first season. Worth every penny. Capradossi (CB) was a lucky addition. He handed in a tranfer request at SPAL the day before deadline day and we were able to stretch the budget to bring him in just under the gun. He performed reasonably well, with a 7.0 average rating. Murati (CM) and Tonin (ST) were brought in from Milan and became first team regulars. Murati did a job in the middle of the park, but Tonin was a bit disappointing up top (8 goals, 4 assists in 28 matches). Krapikas is a Lithuanian keeper brought in from Sampdoria who started every league game. Despite conceding 77 goals, he was quite good, being called upon often to bail out an aggressive team with a leaky defense. Mehdi Derouiche is a Tunisian AMR. I thought he was going to be amazing, but has been pretty average when called upon. The only good thing is that I brought him in so cheaply that I should be able to turn a profit, considering he is valued at $1.5M. Antonio Candela (RB) stepped right into the first team, and he was dangerous in attack, chipping in 9 assists. Aurelio (ST) had been a perennial loan signing for us, and we finally got him in on a free. He has played in every division for us now, serving as rotation player for us in Serie A. In that role, he had similar production to Tonin, albeit with more substitute appearances.

The transfers out for the season were primarily bit-part players who came up with us through the leagues and were not likely to get a game.

Key Players
Nicolo Giuliani (ST)- Scored 26 league goals in the second year of a two-year loan spell from Roma. Won the European Golden Boot, European Golden Boy and World U21 Footballer of the Year. So, yeah… pretty good.




Marco Pompetti (CM)- In a season of surprises, Pompetti may have been the biggest. Going into the season, I thought his quality was just a bit short of Serie A standard. He proved me wrong by playing to a 7.3 rating in 28 appearances.

Alberto Righi (CB)- Love when a youngster comes good. Played 32 matches to a 7.15 rating. His performances have seen long-term interest from Juve, Man United, Arsenal, Napoli, and PSG.

San Marino Youth Watch

Note: I am only including Sammarinese players that have not yet graduated from my academy. Players that are in and around my first team will not be included here anymore.

Graduated: Alberto Righi, Gabriele Albani

Congratulations to Albani! He broke through halfway through the season, becoming a regular starter for the second half of the season. Played to a 7.1 rating and is on the way up.

Francesco Gualandi (ST)- He had a modestly successful loan to Serie C side Vicenza, scoring 11 league goals. I will likely give him a run in the side next season.

Federico Balducci (CM)- Balducci looks like he will be quite good, and he is improving in almost every attribute monthly. Best of all: Serie A potential and no dual nationality.

Club Finances

The club finances have been fantastic. We made between $1.1 and $1.5 million per month. By the end of the season, we were sitting on $34M in cash, up from $24M in August.


Completed goals to date: Promotion from Serie D, Promotion from Serie C, Promotion from Serie B, Survive a Season in Serie A, Qualify for a European Tournament,

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2024 San Marino National Teams

After taking the job in December, 2024 was my first year in charge of the SMNT. The competition for the coming year was Nations League Division D. Of the 4 friendlies in the first half of the year, beating a top-70 ranked Hungary was the highlight. The Nations League group consisted of Malta, Luxembourg and Cyprus. Unfortunately, the Cypriots had too much for the group, finishing with a perfect 18 points, owning 5-1 and 2-1 wins over us. However, we cruised to 2nd place with a sweep of Luxembourg and a win and draw with Malta. These results pushed our world ranking up to 168 in November 2024, up 11 spots from the beginning of the year.


The U21s finished their Euro qualifying campaign by winning 3 of their final 4 matches. Unfortunately a poor start in 2023 doomed them, and they finished with 14 points from 10 matches, good for fourth in the 6 team group. Not a bad showing, as they finished one point off Slovakia for 3rd and were 8 clear of Georgia. Meanwhile, the U19s made the second round of Euro qualifying after finishing second to Wales in a group that also included Bulgaria and Scotland.

Completed goals to date: None (Filippo Berardi has 11 goals for the SMNT, but I assume the challenge is to break Selva’s record with a Newgen)

World Ranking: 168 (+11 places)

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2024-25 San Marino Calcio

League: 9th place

Italian Cup: First Round (l. to Atalanta)

Euro League: Second Knockout Round (l. to SLB)

Season Summary

Going into the season, I had thought our 5th place from last year was not sustainable. Due to this, I set the board expectation for a mid-table finish, while my personal target was top half. I had the top of the formation set with Rabbi and Martino on the wings and Gualandi and Giuliani up front, so I was really excited about adding Mattia Viviani from Man City and the Colombian wonderkid Leonel Leon from Santa Fe. The season opened well enough and we were European contenders through October, when our fortunes turned…


On the European front we did decently in the group stage, losing twice to United but taking all 12 points off Bordeaux and Osijek to see us through to the knockout stage. This success was the polar opposite of our league form, however, as we won only one game between October 21 and Christmas. These results saw us tumble down the table as far as 16th, and for the first time in the save, a tactical change was necessary. I elected to drop a striker and put a defensive mid in. However, the club was short on quality DMs and I decided to make a move for another Colombian wonderkid, Victor Villamizar from Nacional. We continued to struggle through January as we crept toward the relegation zone, but things changed when February hit. We smashed several opponents in the league, most notably a 4-0 against Crotone, which really took us away from the relegation zone. Despite this success, the highlight of the month was definitely an 8-2 aggregate victory over FC Kobenhaven, which set up a date with Portuguese side SLB. Unfortunately we could not keep the run going, as SLB won 2-0 on aggregate. We were a bit unlucky, as we really had opportunities and just could not convert. After going out of Europe, we had a go at European qualification through Serie A, but just couldn’t quite recover from our midseason malaise, finishing 5 points back of Lazio for the final Euro Cup spot.


This one was a bit more of a slog than I would’ve liked, but we did okay overall.

Transfer Summary
Notable In: Mattia Viviani ($7.75M), Victor Villamizar ($1.5M), Leonel Leon ($1.5M), Arsen Lladrovci (Loan), Marius Erwig (Loan)
Notable Out: Titas Krapikas ($4M), Andrea Zani ($400K)


Viviani was a massive new signing, returning to Italy from Man City. He was our best central midfielder and got stronger as he settled into San Marino. Meanwhile, 18-year old Leonel Leon (CM) was okay over 35 league games and continues to improve. In the winter window, I brought in Lladrovci (LB) and Erwig (GK) to fill weaknesses in the squad, and both performed well. I will try bringing them in on loan again.  Lastly, we signed another Colombian wonderkid, Villamizar (DM), to suit our change in formation. He played almost every match for the remainder of the season, and played to an impressive 7.1 average rating in league and continental competition.

Losing Titas Krapikas (GK) was obviously a big blow for us, especially considering that the bid came in from a Saudi club in late September. He had gotten off to another strong start, but he had his head turned by Al-Hilal. I tried to hold on to him, but the squad came to me and urged me to sanction the move. I ultimately allowed him to leave to avoid upsetting the harmony within the squad. The silver-lining here is that I turned a $3.7M transfer profit on Krapikas in just 14 months. Less impressively, I sold Zani for $400K, with a 10% sell-on clause, two years after buying him for $26.5K. Still decent business.

Key Players

Nicolo Giuliani (ST)- Not quite as prolific as last season due to injury, but still bagged 23 goals between the league and Euro Cup, while also laying on 14 assists. Unfortunately, Roma is looking to give him a spot in their first-team, so he likely won’t be coming back.


Simone Rabbi (AML)- Another 20+ goal season. He is just lethal in his inside forward role.



Victor Villamizar (DM)- Was the strongest performer in midfield after his arrival. Played 15 and scored 3. In my opinion, he was the signing of the season, since he was brought in to specifically fill a tactical need that nobody at the club was well-equipped to take on.


Marius Erwig (GK)- Brought some additional stability to the back and was an important factor in the improved fortunes of the club after the New Year.

San Marino Youth Watch

Graduates: Francesco Gualandi

Congratulations to the most recent academy graduate, F. Gualandi! He made 10 starts and 10 substitute appearances, bagging 7 goals. It was a bit stop-start for him because of injuries, which caused him to miss about 3 months. Even so, he admirably made the step up from the Serie C football he played last season.


Allessandro Gualandi (ST)- The newest member of the Calcio academy, Gualandi is decent technically and has good mentals for a young player. The physical attributes are a bit concerning, but we will wait and see how he develops. However, the biggest problem is that he is a dual national and is refusing SMNT call-ups.



Marco Vagnetti (CB)- Vagnetti only got one substitute appearance in the league this year, but he is the fastest improving player at the club. He is going to be in the CB rotation next season as the 3rd/4th choice. Unfortunately, he is also a dual national refusing call-ups to the SMNT. Even worse, at the age of 18, he started all 7 matches for Italy at the U20 World Cup. Unfortunately, his progression is making it increasingly likely that he will play for Italy internationally.



Federico Balducci (CM)- Balducci is now a regular at international level with Albani in the midfield. Restricted only to appearances for the U20s, he made over 40 non-competitive appearances with a 7.0 average rating.



Nicola Pasolini (CB)- Not quite the potential of the other three, but still has a shot to be a Serie A player. Dual national, but I assume he will eventually declare for San Marino.



At this point, I think Vagnetti will be a regular next season, while Gualandi and Balducci may get some action in cup matches. I doubt Pasolini will reach the first-team here, due to the fact that I am fairly loaded up with a bunch of promising young CBs from Europe, but his decent determination gives him a chance of maximizing his potential.

Club Finances/Infrastructure

We have continued to pour resources into all aspects of player development, and it has gotten quite expensive. The board approved $20M to improve youth and senior training facilities over the summer, which should help us continue to press on. We also had a stadium expansion completed early in the season, with the stadium’s capacity now at 8500. Predictably, we were regularly selling-out so I requested the club build a new stadium. To my surprise, it was approved, and they are in the planning phase of the new stadium. I was told a proposal would be forthcoming in the summer of 2026.

Even after the huge training ground expenditures, we still have $40M in the bank. The Euro League money obviously made a huge difference for us, and fortunately the American owner is not shy about spending it. I’ve been handed a transfer budget of $21.5M and have $12.6M in spare wage budget.

Offseason Plans
The finances have put us in great position to improve on the field. The primary needs in player recruitment are a first-team AMR, a rotation DM, a first-team RB, a first-team LB, a striker, and a keeper. My team has been a bit overly-reliant on loan players since coming into Serie A, and I have finally been given the financial backing to change that. The key loan players I have are Lladrovci (LB), Erwig (GK), Martino (AMR), and Giuliani (ST). I am definitely going to try bringing Erwig and Giuliani back on loan, just because of the quality. However, I think I can get players in on permanent deals that are equal to or better than Lladrovci and Martino. At RB, I just want to find some competition/cover for Candela, who is my only RB above Serie C quality. We also need a DM to provide cover for Villamizar.

Many of the outgoings depend on who I can bring in. Up top, I am considering moving Tonin ($10.25M value) and Aurelio ($2.1M). The emergence of Gualandi and quality of the up and coming youth has probably signaled the end of Aurelio’s time in San Marino. However, if the price was right, I would probably accept a deal for Tonin instead and hold on to Aurelio as cover. Among the wingers, I will probably try to sell Derouiche ($1.7M). He is on huge wages, has not developed, never performs, and is taking up one of my non-EU slots. In midfield, Murati ($5.25M) and Pompetti ($5.5M) are both receiving interest from Torino. I’m not actively shopping either of them, but if a decent bid comes in, I may take it. At the back, I am considering selling Walter Ricci ($1.2M). He has a killer delivery in dead-ball situations, but he makes too many mistakes defending. I will also be moving along one of my CBs to free up a squad space for Vagnetti to ease into the first team. Manuel Martins ($1.7M) seems the most likely candidate here, but Elio Capradossi ($4.6M) could move. He is thinking he might want a move to a bigger club, and at 29, this might be a good opportunity to move him if someone is willing to stump up some cash. He also has a match highest earner clause (had to do it to get him in), which is going to become increasingly problematic as our ability to spend on players increases and his skills decline.

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 XaW - San Marino Calcio - 2018/19


Table | Squad | Transfers | Finances

So, I just had a look around and noticed I've never given this challenge a real go before. I've known about it for aeons, but never got around to it. So here I am, having a go. I've decided to give myself some guidelines for how I'm going to treat this challenge. First of all, this will not be a youth only, however, it won't be far off. I'm going to rely mainly on my youth intakes, but I'll allow myself to both bring back previous players (both current and future) as well as any Sammarinese players I deem good enough for the team. All the transfers the club did this season were before I took over. The club had some good players and even some decent Sammarinese players I could use, though the bulk were Italians as expected. I went for my basic trusted 4-4-2 and fitted it to the players I had and it went very well. We were part of the top of the table throughout, but we couldn't keep up with Reggio Audace, who finished on top. So we went into the playoffs. In the end we won it, but I think it might be an issue with the mod I downloaded, because I don't seem to be promoted by winning it. Oh, well, I'll take another year in Serie D and hope to win it next season.

In the Serie D Cup we beat Milano City, Tamai, Monterosi, Pergolettese, Castrovillari and Sarnese to reach the final. There we beat Este to clinch the cup title.

Our youth intake were pretty good and even a very good Sammarinese player, but he is part Italian and do have the option of joining them. I'm only going to name Sammarinese players here.



Player statistics

Most apps:
Alessio Pozzi - 44 apps
Alessandro D'Addario - 41(1) apps
Manuel Spadafora - 41(1) apps

Most goals:
Matteo Gasperi - 22 goals
Samuel Rrasa - 16 goals
Manuel Spadafora - 15 goals

Most assists:
Piero Tamagnini - 14 assists
Matteo Gasperi - 10 assists
Alessandro D'Addario / Luca Battistini - 8 assists

Highest average rating:
Matteo Gasperi - 7.61
Enrico Marconi - 7.38
Piero Tamagnini / Alessandro D'Addario - 7.37

Season    Division             Position        Europe              Notes and Achievements     
2018/19   Serie D Girone D     2nd             N/A                 Won playoff, but no promotion, won Serie D Cup
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 XaW - San Marino Calcio - 2019/20


Table | Squad | Transfers | Finances

After we had a close race last year, and should have been promoted, winning the playoff and all, I expected us to be part of the top this time as well. And we were! From early on we were part of the top and actually only lost a single game the entire season. And that game were the final league match of the season. So close to becoming real invincibles, but no cigar. Of course, this meant we won the league by a fair distance to the other teams, and we are too good for this league even without bringing in anyone other than last years youth intake. Now let's see how we look compared to the higher tier. After the promotion was secured we went professional.

After the regular season were done, we went into the Serie D Poule Scudetto, a small tournament for the winners of all Serie D leagues to crown a champion. In the group stage we beat Mantova and Savona to go through to the semi final. Here we narrowly lost to AC Prato on pens.

In the Serie D Cup we beat Lavagnese, Castidas, Trastevere, Campodarsego, Fermana and Lecco to reach our second consecutive final. There we beat Belluno 4-2 to claim our second title in a row.

We had a decent youth intake and a very good Sammarinese striker came through.


Player statistics

Most apps:
Alessio Pozzi - 45 apps
Matteo Salcuni - 43 apps
Enrico Marconi - 42(2) apps

Most goals:
Samuel Rrasa - 32 goals
Manuel Spadafora - 29 goals
Matteo Gasperi - 22 goals

Most assists:
Piero Tamagnini - 22 assists
Luca Battistini - 15 assists
Alessandro D'Addario / Samuel Rrasa - 14 assists

Highest average rating:
Luca Battistini - 7.89
Manuel Valentini YP19b - 7.87
Enrico Marconi - 7.81

Season    Division             Position        Europe              Notes and Achievements     
2018/19   Serie D Girone D     2nd             N/A                 Won playoff, but no promotion, won Serie D Cup
2019/20   Serie D Girone D     1st             N/A                 Promoted as champions, won Serie D Cup
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San Marino Calcio 2023/2024 Update - Part 2

The second half of the season we were pretty inconsistent.  We lost a couple of games as the pressure of needing one more win to officially stay up got to us - and went into the last game outside of the Serie C promotion playoff spots (11th = playoffs!!).  Fortunately, we had the bottom team at home - and we smashed them 5-0, got some help elsewhere and finished 9th.  However, the playoffs were over very quickly.  We drew Arezzo - who played 4-3-3 against us.  We actually were doing OK, but went 1-0 down.  We got back to 1-1 - but with 20 minutes left I had to go for it as a draw would mean they progressed due to being the higher seed.  Unfortunately, we got hit on the break and lost 2-1 - but I think promotion to Serie B would have been too soon.

I made some tough off-season decisions, as I really want to kick on next season.  A number of players out of contract were released, including Enrico Marconi, Matteo Salcuni and Alessandro D'Addario who have been with us for 5 seasons.  As I have 3 youth intake keepers coming through, I elected not to re-sign our keeper Tommaso Anderloni who was on loan for 3 seasons and then signed permanently for the last 2.  It was the same story with the decision to release D'Addario - I have 3 young right backs coming through, one of whom has Serie B potential - hopefully D'Addario finds another club so he's sharp for international duty - certainly there are precious few other right backs even close to good enough for the national team.  But, it was a case of doing what's best for the long term save - if Calcio don't get to Serie A, we're never solve the financial issues and develop facilities enough to bring really good players through.

I made 4 new signings - an inverted winger who we had on loan became permanent, a left sided central defender, a 31 year old left back (I don't usually sign older players - but I felt we needed some experience/leadership) and a striker (hard to find a DLF, but finally did so just before pre-season training started).  I also signed a right winger on loan - and he's fast, plus has 2 feet, so I'm hoping he becomes a real terror!  I am now 3 deep at each position - I have my starting XI - another on the bench (12 subs in Serie C and D) and another XI in the U20's.  I also upgraded the coaching staff, getting in a new Asst and Coach who are much better.

Going into the new season, I'm really happy - this is most certainly the best Calcio team I've had (although for some reason, the wife didn't share my excitement when I told her all about it last night!!) - and I'm going to be a little more aggressive with my tactics to see if we can mount a promotion challenge.  I've played the first game of the 2024/25 season - a Serie C cup match.  We won 2-1 - but really could have won 10-1 such was our dominance.  Our pace and movement as an attacking force was superb - and we were very dangerous on the break.  The loanee right winger, Riccio, set up both goals - both times getting behind the full back and just flying by the covering centre half like he wasn't there!  He was coming inside a bunch in the first half, but then outside more in the second - his debut couldn't have been more exciting to watch!  That level of play before even any pre-season friendlies has me really excited.

San Giovanni 2023/24 Update Part 2

The second half of the season was a real struggle.  Having moved away from our 4-1-4-1 formation, we've struggled to find a real identity.  We made it into the Champions Playoffs courtesy of a last game of the season win (I thought those days were over) - and for a moment, I thought we had found form at the right time as we won the first leg of the quarter-final 3-0.  We drew 1-1 in the second leg and won the semi-final first leg 1-0 - but then got stuffed 4-1 in the second leg.  We were playing pretty well, but conceded a fluke goal and then lost the plot.  Fortunately, for the second season in a row we managed to win the 3rd/4th playoff game to qualify for the Euorpa League.  It was 1-1, but in extra time we scored a direct free kick - Federico Bugli the super sub with the goal.

I've already played the European "campaign".  We got a tough draw against MSK Zilina, but actually went 1-0 up after just over a minute with our now 33 year old left inverted winger Riccardo Dragoni, as he often is, in the right place at the right time to pounce after their keeper saved our initial shot (I'll try to remember to post a screen shot of him tonight at home - he's nothing, but has been superb for us throughout the save).  Unfortunately, 2 minutes later they got an away goal - and then added 2 more in the second half.  In the second leg, we actually played better.  We were 2-0 up playing a counter attacking game - they had 15 shots at the half, we had 3 - but led.  Just as I was about to switch things tactially just after the hour, they scored - which didn't actually change the equation that much.  So, I went for it - but got done on the counter for a 2-2 on the day.  That was over £200,000 in the bank - and the board agreed to improve junior coaching and youth recruitment.  Our youth facilities upgrade is still 4 months from completion.

In the last year, I've noticed a number of U19 players are developing - which is the first time it's happened in the save - so a mix of going pro (more training sessions), improved coaching staff and a re-work of coaching assignments seem to have combined to help.  The board are happy with the number of U19's who have got first team chances, so I guess that's helped too - although with very few games it does get tough to give them games.  On the negative side, at 15, striker Davide Madau was a 4* CA and when he played at that age he was scoring for fun.  However, if anything he's regressed and only scored 4 on the season - Michele Tini was top scorer with 9 - he's a 1* CA striker from our first youth intake who isn't big, strong or fast - but he can finish.  So, this will be a key season for Madau and with interest from Libertas, I might have a decision to make - particularly with 2 young strikers coming through and already developing to 3* CA (one of whom was on loan for the second half of last season).  I've noticed with the National Team, young/talented players almost regress if they stay in the San Marino League - so I might have to think about letting players leave for the Calcio youth system or something (no Italian clubs ever take interest in even super-talented young players).  For sure, finding an identity is the number one priority - I want to play 2 up top, but will have to experiment in pre-season.

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1 hour ago, bigmattb28 said:

Gonna give this a go. What editor data file is everyone using?

I used the one from last page, but that is semi-flawed. Playoffs from Serie D won't promote you. Other than that it works fine.

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 XaW - San Marino Calcio - 2020/21


Table | Squad | Transfers | Finances

So, Serie C, huh? When looking at the comparison between us and the other teams we are on the bottom half, but not that far of the other teams, so the main goal were to survive. I also brought in my first player this season, a backup goalkeeper (Sammarinese of course) who got a couple of games because of injuries.  As the season started it turned out, we are pretty good at football! We headed straight for a fight for the top spot with Livorno. And since the promotion playoffs go as far down as 11th(!), I were quite certain we would fight for a promotion spot from then on. As the season continued we kept on winning a lot, but Livorno usually kept up the pace and even overtook us a couple of times. In the end Livorno had a bad run in and lost 3 of their last 5 games to let us go top and keep it. So another promotion then. A bit before schedule, but I'll take it. Now, just to stay up next time around!

After the season were finished we went into the "Serie C Super Cup" along Bari and Juventus U23s. We lost to them both and finished 3rd.

We also competed in the Coppa Italia Lega Pro. Here we beat Vis Pesaro, Fano, Arezzo, AC Prato and Viterbese to reach a two-legged final against Monopoli. We beat them 1-0 away and drew 2-2 at home to claim the title.

The youth intake this season were divided between 3 great talents and a bunch of meh.. Unfortunately, none of the 3 were Sammarinese.


The Sammarinese National Team

The Sammarinese national team are doing great, however, so I don't think the job will be available anytime soon. They finished 2nd in the UEFA Nations League D Group 4. Ahead of Malta and the Faroe Islands, only behind North Macedonia.


In the World Cup qualifiers they are in a group with Armenia, Israel, Portugal, Slovakia, Estonia and the Czech Republic. They have already lost to Armenia and Israel, and I don't think they will make much waves, but they are doing quite well anyway.

Player statistics

Most apps:
Samuel Rrasa - 48(1) apps
Federico Gremizzi - 47 apps
Michelangelo Ricci / Luca Battistini - 39(2) apps

Most goals:
Samuel Rrasa - 23 goals
Riccardo Capicchioni YP20a - 20 goals
Matteo Gasperi - 18 goals

Most assists:
Enrico Marconi / Matteo Gasperi - 10 assists
Luca Battistini - 9 assists
Mario Poli YP19a - 8 assists

Highest average rating:
Enrico Marconi - 7.58
Matteo Gasperi - 7.52
Alessandro D'Addario - 7.44

Season    Division             Position        Europe              Notes and Achievements     
2018/19   Serie D Girone D     2nd             N/A                 Won playoff, but no promotion, won Serie D Cup
2019/20   Serie D Girone D     1st             N/A                 Promoted as champions, won Serie D Cup
2020/21   Lega Pro Girone B    1st             N/A                 Promoted as champions, won Coppa Italia Lega Pro
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23 hours ago, XaW said:

I used the one from last page, but that is semi-flawed. Playoffs from Serie D won't promote you. Other than that it works fine.

I am thinking that due to the play offs in Serie D not working, I might start this as a San Marese team and when the first season is over reload until San Marino Calcio get promoted, and from experience promoted teams that are unplayable from the start usually don't have a manager, so hopefully I can get that job. Would that be allowed for the challenge, or is it set in stone to start from Serie D?

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 XaW - San Marino Calcio - 2021/22


Table | Squad | Transfers | Finances

After we went straight through Serie C last year, I feared we would have a very tough time in Serie B this season. And we did, but only in some streaks. In fact, we did much better in general than I had expected. The major issue this season, however, were that other big clubs were after our best players. And during the season I sold two of them, both for quite a lot of money.


Of course, that left us quite light on good players, but I brought in a couple of Sammarinese players who are decent enough to do a job. Because of my self-imposed restrictions in signing, I don't have that many suitable players to go for. Of course, should either of these two players become available, I'll allow myself to bring in my own former players as well as any and all Sammarinese ones. As it turned out, we became the team that could beat any team in the league, but could also lose to any team, so I never knew what would happen in any game this season. Going into the final part of the season we had a decent shot at the final playoff spots (6th-7th) and due to some lucky results from the teams around us we finished in 7th and went into the playoff. Here we beat SPAL 2013 in the preliminary round, but went out to Cagliari in the semi final due to them having a higher seed than us. So, close to a shock promotion, but still a bit off.

We competed in the TIM Cup for the first time and beat Cesena before losing to Empoli in the 3rd qualifying round.

We had a very good youth intake this season and two very talented Sammarinese players came through.


The Sammarinese National Team

The national team are doing quite well, though in the World Cup qualifiers they got beaten quite hard.


After new years they have only played two friendlies, but actually won both!


They are now heading into another UEFA Nations League in a group along Ireland, Liechtenstein and the Faroe Islands. The job is still not available...

Player statistics

Most apps:
Samuel Rrasa - 40 apps
Matteo Salcuni - 38 apps
Michelangelo Ricci / Marco Fabbri - 37 apps

Most goals:
Samuel Rrasa - 17 goals
Mario Poli YP19a - 11 goals
Nicola Nanni / Matteo Gasperi - 9 goals

Most assists:
Michelangelo Ricci - 14 assists
Piermaro Lai YP21a - 9 assists
Matteo Gasperi - 6 assists

Highest average rating:
Federico Iaia YP21b - 7.42
Mario Poli YP19a - 7.38
Piermaro Lai YP21a - 7.33

Season    Division             Position     TIM Cup          Europe              Notes and Achievements     
2018/19   Serie D Girone D     2nd          N/A              N/A                 Won playoff, but no promotion, won Serie D Cup
2019/20   Serie D Girone D     1st          N/A              N/A                 Promoted as champions, won Serie D Cup
2020/21   Lega Pro Girone B    1st          N/A              N/A                 Promoted as champions, won Coppa Italia Lega Pro
2021/22   Serie B Eurobet      7th          3rd qual         N/A                 Lost in the playoff semis
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Imagine travelling from Wales to Italy to watch an exciting youngster.


Only for that youngster to get sent off after 4 minutes...


Hopefully, he will leave my players alone from now on.

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 XaW - San Marino Calcio - 2022/23


Table | Squad | Transfers | Finances

So I finally brought in some good players. Who? Well, the two we sold last season, of course. Albeit on loan, I'm hoping I can keep tabs on them and maybe snatch them up when money, contracts etc allows. We also sold another player this season when the board went above my head again... It was quite some money, so I can understand it.


In the league we did quite well and I can see the team is getting more accustomed to the level we play at, though we tend to struggle when players from the first 11 are injured. The backups are either too young and inexperienced, or some of the older backups we have had with us from the depths of the Italian football pyramid. So, we can beat anyone, but also lose to anyone, just like last season. As the season went on we were once again part of the top half fighting around the lower playoff spots. A big surge at the end pushed us up quite a bit and we finished in a very decent 3rd, only 3 points behind promotion. So we went into the playoff again. In the semi final we faced Verona. We drew 0-0 away before we beat them 4-1 at home to go through. In the final we faced Sassulo. In the away leg, they were amazingly clinical and beat us 4-1 in what was a very close game. The 0-0 draw at home were more than enough for them to get promoted.

In the TIM Cup we lost to Pescara Calcio in the 2nd qualifying round.

We had a quite good youth intake with two promising Sammarinese players.


The Sammarinese National Team

The national team did very well in the UEFA Nations League, but couldn't cope with Ireland. However, beating Faroe Islands and Liechtenstein both games were very good.


After new years they have started to compete in the EURO Qualifiers and actually beat Northern Ireland!


The job is still not available...

Player statistics

Most apps:
Alessio Pozzi - 40 apps
Riccardo Capicchioni YP20a - 35(1) apps
Matteo Salcuni - 34 apps

Most goals:
Riccardo Capicchioni YP20a - 22 goals
Nicola Nanni - 11 goals
Patrik Decorte YP22b / Manuel Valentini YP19b / Matteo Gasperi - 8 goals

Most assists:
Manuel Valentini YP19b - 14 assists
Piermaro Lai YP21a - 11 assists
Federico Iaia YP21b - 9 assists

Highest average rating:
Federico Iaia YP21b - 7.55
Matteo Gasperi - 7.39
Riccardo Capicchioni YP20a - 7.36

Season    Division             Position     TIM Cup          Europe              Notes and Achievements     
2018/19   Serie D Girone D     2nd          N/A              N/A                 Won playoff, but no promotion, won Serie D Cup
2019/20   Serie D Girone D     1st          N/A              N/A                 Promoted as champions, won Serie D Cup
2020/21   Lega Pro Girone B    1st          N/A              N/A                 Promoted as champions, won Coppa Italia Lega Pro
2021/22   Serie B Eurobet      7th          3rd qual         N/A                 Lost in the playoff semis
2022/23   Serie B Eurobet      3rd          2nd qual         N/A                 Lost in the playoff final
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San Marino Calcio 2024/2025 Update

I mentioned in my last update that this was the best Calcio team I've had.  However, the season didn't start well - and at the end of October we had just 2 wins.  The FA left back I signed tore his achilles tendon - and then decided to retire (saving some cash) and he was key overlapping an inverted winger.  I ended up trying a more attacking 4-4-2 as playing with a deeper line and inviting pressure on wasn't working.  That, and a higher pressing intensity, led to better results and we slowly climbed the table.  We finished in 6th - but were struggling to beat the top 4, who were quite a few points ahead of the pack.  So, having seen the mighty Rashidi use a counter attacking system with an attacking mentality with Hannover, went about creating a new tactic for the playoffs.  I went with a 4-1-4-1 on attacking - and it worked like a charm!  The playoff road was long (we played 9 games in all) - but we got to the final.  I was worried going into the game as we had 3 suspensions and an injury to players who would normally have started.  That was added to as Matteo Gasperi went off injured early.  We started well, but didn't score - and Catanzaro started to come into the game more.  However, on the counter we scored in first half injury time with our backup left winger scoring from a cross from our loanee right winger Riccio (who I'd already signed permanently as a FA a couple of months back).  As I was getting worried about a late equaliser - the last 10 minutes were made much easier with another goal from the same combination - this one with our winger being unmarked in the area.  So, it's off to Serie B for us for the first time - I expect that will be tough in year one, but hopefully we can stay up.


San Giovanni 2024/2025 Update

I said in my last update San Gio were struggling for a tactical identity.  I played a 4-4-2 in game 1 - sitting deep and hitting on the break - and we won 6-0.  I thought I had found the answer - but the next game we lost 2-1.  After having a look at the team, I decided if we were good enough to win 6-0, we weren't a bad team - and perhaps it was time to go on the front foot.  So, I moved to a more attacking 4-4-2 with a higher defensive line and more intense pressing - and bingo!  We won Group A - and then did the same in Group 1.  The Champions Playoffs were pretty comfortable - with some easy wins, including a 3-0 triumph in the final for our 3rd title.  In the Cup, we got to the final for the second time - but after 1-1 in extra time, it went to penalties against Cosmos - and we lost - so I'm still awaiting for my first cup win.  It was a big year for striker Davide Madau - and he responded perfectly, finishing as the leading scorer in the league, which pushed him into the San Marino senior National Team - hopefully he can have another big year!  We didn't catch a break in Champions League qualifying unfortunately - drawing Slavia Prague in CL Qualifying Rnd 1 - it will be back to our old 4-1-4-1 in that one - but I suspect it will be Europa League qualifying.

After the season, the board announced a new stadium was going to be built - I can't say I'm particularly impressed with the decision.  We play our big European home games at San Marino Stadium (5,500), and I'm not sure it's worth building a new stadium just for Europe - as I doubt we'll get great attendances in the league.  It will also leave the bank empty I would imagine (£2.5 million in there right now) - so there's a bit of pressure on the European campaign, which makes it a double shame we've drawn Slavia Prague...

San Marino National Team 2024/2025 Update

There have been signs of progress in the last 1-2 years - and that was evident in the Nations League.  Going into the last game away to Israel, we had 10 points and a chance to win the group.  Israel were top and Belarus were on 9 points before the game - and with 5 minutes to go were losing 1-2 and they were 1-1 with Azerbaijan.  I was hoping for one of those FM moments where we scored late to win the group..., but it didn't happen.  We couldn't score and Belarus got a winner.  So, we finished 3rd - winning 4-1 at home to Israel and 2 wins against Azerbaijan.  Unfortunately, we haven't carried that progress on to the World Cup qualifiers.  I was disappointed to lose at home to Kosova - falling behind 0-3 in the first half.  We did manage to pull 2 goals back in the 2nd half, but couldn't pick up a point.  We also lost to Sweden, Macedonia and Croatia, so have nil points, with Ukraine the other team in our group.  There are a couple of new regens, but the weak Calcio youth classes of the last 4 seasons have meant there's been not much help from what should be our primary source of talent.  Hopefully, Serie B will become Serie A in time - and then perhaps Calcio's financial picture will look better and we can start developing the facilities.

Edited by duesouth
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 XaW - San Marino Calcio - 2023/24


Table | Squad | Transfers | Finances

Brought in a few of the old players once again to keep bolstering the squad. Not much good Sammarinese players anywhere else. I managed to keep the wolves at bay, so no other players were sold this season. The players keep getting older and more experienced, and that can only help. While I don't scuff at playing young players, regularly featuring 15-16 year olds is a bit much, even for me. The season itself went quite well. and with losing the playoff last season, I felt we could have another decent chance. The media still ranks us as sure for relegation though. Even with that we did quite well, though we keep conceding stupid goals. I suspect this is due to the number of youngsters I have to play, and it usually improves when they get a bit older. We showed we were a contender to the top this season as well, but we just couldn't keep up with Empoli. They ran away soon and the only team that could sort of keep up with them were Crotone. We lead the pack behind though, and in the end finished 3rd with a bit of a gap down to the rest. In the playoffs we beat Benevento Calcio in the semi final without much hassle. The finals ended first a decent 0-0 away to Livorno, but they snagged a goal at our ground to win it 0-1. So another playoff final loss, but a very good season. Maybe 3rd time's the charm?

In the TIM Cup we beat Lupa Roma and Fiorentina before losing to Empoli in the 4th qualifying round.

We had a very good intake with a world class talent that COULD play for San Marino. The national manager better take note and cap him as soon as possible!



The Sammarinese National Team

The national team did good in the EURO Qualifiers. They got a point of Finland, but lost the rest except a friendly win over Moldova.


After new years they have only played a friendly. A win over Kazakhstan away.


The job is still not available...

Player statistics

Most apps:
Alessio Pozzi - 42 apps
Nicola Nanni - 41(1) apps
Mario Poli YP19a - 39(1) apps

Most goals:
Nicola Nanni - 29 goals
Riccardo Capicchioni YP20a - 16 goals
Mario Poli YP19a - 9 goals

Most assists:
Mario Poli YP19a - 9 assists
Piermaro Lai YP21a - 8 assists
Alan Cesarini YP22a / Michelangelo Ricci / Nicola Nanni - 7 assists

Highest average rating:
Piermaro Lai YP21a - 7.37
Nicola Nanni - 7.33
Riccardo Capicchioni YP20a - 7.32

Season    Division             Position     TIM Cup          Europe              Notes and Achievements     
2018/19   Serie D Girone D     2nd          N/A              N/A                 Won playoff, but no promotion, won Serie D Cup
2019/20   Serie D Girone D     1st          N/A              N/A                 Promoted as champions, won Serie D Cup
2020/21   Lega Pro Girone B    1st          N/A              N/A                 Promoted as champions, won Coppa Italia Lega Pro
2021/22   Serie B Eurobet      7th          3rd qual         N/A                 Lost in the playoff semis
2022/23   Serie B Eurobet      3rd          2nd qual         N/A                 Lost in the playoff final
2023/24   Serie B Eurobet      3rd          4th qual         N/A                 Lost in the playoff final
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I was preparing for the new season with Calcio - and got this bonus - a solidarity contribution from Arsenal who signed former Calcio midfielder Amadou Diawara for £55 mil.  We netted a cool £818,000!!  Happy days!  I took the chance to invest in youth recruitment, coaching and facilities - all of which were approved by the board.


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In real life, Calcio were in the relegation playoffs last year, but managed to win to stay up.  However, it appears that San Marino Calcio as a club is no more.

"In 2019 the sports title is transferred to Cattolica and the name is changed to Cattolica San Marino. The new association continues the sporting tradition of the Rimini team and therefore the old San Marino is dissolved."

The new team, Cattolica, is registered in San Marino - but as Calcio had no stadium it appears, they are playing their home games in Cattolica, Italy - to the east of San Marino.  The team has new colours, red and yellow, and are playing in Serie D Girone F... and they've lost their first two games!!

It's quite hard to find a good English translation to find all the details - but it looks like this might impact future San Marino challenges.  I'm thinking with the club playing in Italy, perhaps the game might give us heavier Italian youth intake players.

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2025 San Marino National Teams

World Cup Qualifying: 5th of 5 in group (5 points)

World Cup qualifiers were on the agenda for 2025, and my goal was to finish at least 4th in the 5-team group. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as I had hoped early on, and we only had 1 point (a draw at home to Georgia) through the first 5 matches. However, we had an uptick in our fortunes late in the year, picking up the biggest result in San Marino national team history by getting a draw against Portugal! We followed this up with a 5-1 win over Georgia and 1-0 over Uganda in a friendly, wrapping the year up with a narrow 1-2 loss to Iceland. After (predictably) failing to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, we turn our attentions to the next cycle, with Nations League being the primary competition. I am pretty optimistic that a favorable draw could see us win our group and, with some luck, get us backdoor qualification to Euro 2028.


It was also a banner year for some Sammarinese players. Firstly, Elia Benedettini (GK) became the SMNT’s most capped player and is likely to be the first to reach a century of caps. Fillipo Berardi became the first San Marino player to record a hat-trick, doing so in the win over Georgia. Berardi also extend his international goal total to 18, while newgen Federico Conti finished the year with 9 career international goals to go past Selva, while Gualandi has tied Selva’s total of 8. 

Completed goals to date:  Have a player break Andy Selva’s 8 goal record (Filippo Berardi has 18 goals for the SMNT and newgen Federico Conti has 9. Either way, I’m calling this part completed.)

World Ranking: 164 (+4 places)

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2025-26 San Marino Calcio

Serie A: 10th Place

Italian Cup: Fourth Qualifying Round (l. to Salernitana)

Season Summary

We just barely made top half after spending most of the season around 14th. I felt like we were regressing a little bit, but we actually finished with 4 more points and we were 17 goals better in our differential than last year. Looking back at previous seasons, finishing with 56 points and +16 GD would typically have us around 8th. So it wasn’t really as bad as I felt it was throughout the season and a couple more wins next year should land us in Europe again. In any case, we were nowhere near relegation, so that was good at least. The only notable result is the loss to Salernitana, where we were undone in the 117th minute, losing 1-0. I did play some rotation players, but there is still no excuse for the squad I put out to have put in such a listless performance. I guess I will just be using first teamers so this doesn’t happen again in the cup.

This season was such a non-event that I’m not even bothering with screenshots.

Transfer Summary

Notable In: Vitor Villas Boas  ($6M), Ricardo Alvial ($4.5M), Paul Engel ($4.5M), Nenem ($2.3M), Ilija Petkovic ($725K), Dejan Stanojevic ($925K)

Notable Out: Marco Pompetti ($2M), Manuel Martins ($1.9M), Giuseppe Aurelio ($1.3M), Mehdi Derouiche ($100K), Elio Capradossi (Loan-$200K).

Villas Boas (AML) and Alvial (ST) were part of a revamped attack up top. Villas Boas was good on the wing, but Alvial was only so-so. I also brought in two new wing-backs, but unfortunately Paul Engel (RB) and Nenem (LB) were nothing more than okay, although Nenem did improve as the season wore on. In the winter window, I bolstered my goalkeeping and striking options, bringing in Petkovic (GK) and Stanojevic (ST) from Partizan (a microcosm of my transfer raiding of the Balkans). Petkovic will likely be a first-teamer next season, while Stanojevic bagged 6 goals in the second half of the season. 

For outgoings, I got rid of Derouiche, who is undoubtedly the biggest flop of the save, which freed up an international slot. We also sold Aurelio early in July because we had so many options up top, and he really didn’t do much in Serie B with Brescia. Same with Manuel Martins. The biggest deal of them all, however, was moving Capradossi on loan with an option to buy. They paid his wages, a $200K fee per month, and an optional $5M fee. I really hope they take that option for the 30 year-old CB.

Key Players

Mattia Viviani (CM)- Great season. Had 10 goals and an assist for a 7.19 rating. A real bright spot, he is drawing interest from champions Napoli.

Simone Rabbi (AML)- Pedestrian by the standard he set when ripping up the league with Nicolo Giuliani the last couple seasons. Still managed a team-leading 12 league goals in the end.

Marius Erwig (GK)- Goalkeeper played almost every league match, finishing with a 7.05 rating.

Jan Smejkal (CB)- Missed a good chunk of the season injured, but he still managed a 7.05 rating.

Leonel Leon (CM)- Had 7 goals and 7 assists. Developing nicely.

Youth Watch

Graduates: Vagnetti

Vagnetti made 28 league appearances. Safe to say he is an established first-teamer. He is also still refusing the call, and given where he is with Italian youth national team setup, I would be shocked if he didn’t become a full international for Italy.

Allessandro Gualandi (ST)- An injury crisis actually led to a couple of substitute appearances in Serie A for the young striker. However, his development stalled a little bit because of injury and a glut of strikers in my youth ranks. I may thin the ranks to get him more matches with the youth teams. In any case, he still scored a bunch at youth level, so I still have high hopes for him. He continues to refuse SMNT call-ups. 

Federico Balducci (CM)- Balducci already has 13 caps and a goal at international level, and appears to be just outside the midfield reckoning at Calcio right now. He got a half season of youth football and a half season with Serie B club Pro Patria, where he was a regular in the starting XI.

Nicola Pasolini (CB)- Not quite the potential of the other three, but still has a shot to be a Serie A player. He played a bunch of youth team matches and played quite well. Inexplicably, he is still refusing SNMT call-ups because he wants to play for Italy. That isn’t going to happen for him.

Nicola Arzilli (ST)- Another high potential striker in the Calcio system, Arzilli scored 10 goals in 10 appearances for the U18 side since his intake. Another dual national, it might be awhile (if ever) before he commits to the SMNT.

Club Finances/Infrastructure

The club is still doing okay financially, with about $30M in the bank. We are making a profit of roughly $600K-$800K a month outside of the transfer windows. Unfortunately, transfer spending has wiped out these gains, and we are actually $10M worse off than we were a year prior. The new stadium plans should be forthcoming in July (it’s May now), and I hope that we will be moving forward with it. For the coming season, my transfer budget is $18M, with an additional $11.3M available in wage budget. Should have the opportunity to make some positive moves.

Offseason Plans

This offseason seems like it is going to be particularly important, with my goal to challenge for a European spot next time around and possibly a new stadium around the corner. In terms of recruitment, I am generally pretty happy with the construction of the squad and I am really just waiting for a bunch of young players to develop. In terms of positional needs, an AML and AMR are critical, while a ST is a secondary addition. Adding an AML is top of the list. Despite his 55 Serie A goals for me, I fear the 24 year-old Rabbi may have peaked, as evidenced by his drop-off in productivity this season. Ideally, I would like to hold on to Rabbi, as well, but if anybody approaches his valuation with a bid ($11.75M), he will be off. At AMR, I just need a quality second-choice to cover for Villas Boas, who is injury prone. I would also like to add a ST but may need to get more creative to facilitate a deal. Nicolo Giuliani, who is still only 21, would be my ideal (only?) target for this role.  Giuliani only got appearances for Roma last year and has always done a great job for me, but they will likely want more than what I can pay in cash. As such, I might consider offering the wonderkid Alvial as a makeweight in the deal to get a more reasonable price. 

In the outgoing category, I want to sell a CM, a LB, and a ST. Murati is the likeliest casualty of the CM pare down, since Albani is younger and can improve. Among the LBs, I think Ricci is on his way, largely due to his weaknesses in defense. Lastly, I want to move a striker on because I have about 6 high quality youth strikers and want some room to put a few in the first team. As such, Tonin or F. Gualandi may go.

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San Marino Calcio 2025/26 Update

Unfortunately, our stay in Serie B was brief.  I made a couple of loan signings in the summer, but struggled to attract better players to the club.  That left us with a team of mostly Serie C players and we didn't deal with the standard of the division at all.  Serie C has three divisions on the same level, so the divisions tend to be top heavy - therefore the jump to Serie B is large.  Certainly, we were playing in some massive stadiums and were always going to be punching above our weight as we couldn't compete financially with these sides.

We only had 8 points at the mid-point of the season.  We didn't lose heavily (only 1 or 2 4+ goal losses) - but always 2 or 3 nil - and we couldn't score - even when we created easy chances, we didn't take them.  I signed a few more loans in the transfer window, and we improved, but finished 2nd to bottom and 14 points from safety.  I was able to manage the morale pretty well, but need to do better tactically.  So, back to Serie C :(.

The finances are in a complete mess - Serie B wasn't good for them - and as such, the in progress improvements to the youth facilities have been canned.  The youth intake was awful for the 5th or 6th season in a row - however, there's one striker who does look really promising and I'll use him in rotation next season.

On the plus side, our star central defender from the first youth intake, Riccardo Gatti, joined us on loan in the winter window - out of contract in the summer, he agreed to re-join us - and during his time bouncing around elsewhere, his determination has risen from 4 or 5 to 15!  We've re-signed 2 of the loan players - a box to box midfielder who is the best player we've had in the save (and I'm shocked his club agreed to send him back to us because of the relegation - he's miles too good for Serie C) and a striker who didn't play huge minutes as we tended to be 4-1-4-1 - but 4-4-2 is the plan next season and his pace (15) should cause Serie C teams problems.

San Giovanni 2025/26 Update

We cruised through the two league stages - finishing top both times - and only losing 2 games all year.  We also made it through to the Cup final very easily.   The Champions Playoffs were easy in the Quarter Final - and we were cruising at 2-0 on aggregate in the second half of the second leg of the semi - but out of nowhere we had a man sent off (didn't look like a bad tackle) - and all of sudden we shipped 3 goals.  So, it was all out attack and we managed to get a goal 2 minutes from time - which saw us progress as the higher seed.  Unfortunately, injuries and suspensions meant a few changes for both finals - and we lost both 0-1 (both teams played 4-5-1 against us and we struggled to break them down).  So, it's Europa League qualifying for us and only the San Marino Super Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Our "star" left inverted winger, Riccardo Dragoni, has decided to retire.  He's been a huge source of goals for us (9 last year, 10 this - and early in the save was always our leading scorer) - and although he's currently listed as a 0.5* CA and never been more than a 1* CA, he's been massive for us.  I'll miss him!  His backup, Federico Bugli, was complaining about lack of game time, so he'll finally get his chance to start, although he does have a 17 year-old youth product pushing him.

The new stadium is going ahead, we've secured £900,000 in funds in the form of a grant and £190,000 in sponsorship, but it will still cost us around £1 million.

I've cleared out a bunch of players in their early 20's to allow promising younger players to come through.

Our youth intakes are consistently full of 4 or 5* potential players - they start out as 1 or 2* current ability - but the move to full time/professional status has seen them develop in the U19's and then I give them as much game time as I can.  With not many fixtures, and very few midweek games, it's hard to give the young players massive minutes without upsetting the first team squad, so the development can then stall rather.

I've had 6 players now wanting loan moves - no takers for any of them - and then they get unhappy (one called me a liar when I said there was no interest from other teams!!) - so that was another reason for the clear out of the squad.  However, I would love to have an affiliate club (I was thinking San Marino Academy would be perfect), but no matter how hard I try, I can't get the board to agree (anyone who has any pointers on how to really force this, I'd love to get your input!).

Tactically, we played a positive 4-4-2, but it looks like the AI is adjusting to it.  So, I might experiment with a 4-2-2-2 in the first phase of the league - at least the structure of the league allows me to do that, knowing I should be able to qualify for the top group of the second stage pretty easily.  In Europe, I'll play 4-4-2 if we get a nice draw - but revert to our old 4-1-4-1 against better teams.

San Marino National Team Update

We were awful in World Cup qualifying - not picking up a point.  I'm hopeful for better in the Nations League.  The plan is to go 4-4-2 in this and really attack it.  We are better than we were, but progress has been slow.  The poor Calcio youth intakes haven't helped...

The Challenge

I've already decided to buy FM20 - and with little time left before its release, it's safe to say I'm not going to complete this mammoth challenge.  Although San Giovanni didn't finish with any silverware, I think we're one of the best clubs in the country, so job done on that front.  The league stages the last 2 seasons have been easy.  But, clearly 2025/26 wasn't kind to Calcio and there was no silverware for San Giovanni - and I don't want to bow out on a down note - so I'll play one more season.  It would be amazing to crack the group stages of the Europa League - but we'll need a little luck with the draws!!

With Calcio, it will be my last season with the club, as it won't exist in FM20.  I'm not sure if the youth intake for Cattolica San Marino will be primarily Italian (although the club is called Cattolica San Marino, it plays its home games in Italy), thus making this challenge far more difficult - I'll have to ask the mighty @claassen if/when he produces his FM20 megapack (and thanks to him for his FM19 one - I had zero problems with his database -  superb quality, and I appreciate his time in putting it together).

So, it's dust myself off - and attack 2026/27! :cool:

Edited by duesouth
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  • 3 weeks later...

San Marino Calcio 2026/27 Update

There was no relegation hangover at the start of the year, as we were doing pretty well.  At the mid-season break, we were 4th and although there was a gap, we had a shot at top spot.  However, we fell away and March/April we were poor as I gave chances to young players.

We finished 7th and in a playoff place.  One good thing for playing the youngsters was the performances of Luca Di Matteo, who really stood out.  Our young striker Andrea Bugli from the last youth intake was sold in January - the board annoyingly accepted a low offer (70k up front - could rise to 240k) from Parma in Serie A - and this only a couple of weeks he had scored his debut goal, a far post header in the last minute to rescue a point for us!  We did replace him with the loan signing of Alex D'Inca - and he was actually better than young Bugli.

The Serie C playoffs are a long and winding road - seeding matters early, but when it goes to two leg affairs, that goes out the window.  The road was actually pretty easy - I think because I'm not great tactically in the game, but playing as the underdog is something I can do pretty well - but not when I'm the favourite and have to create space.  We were the underdog in all games, so our counter attacking football worked a treat.

The semi-final against Pisa was close, as they were a very good team - we were 2-1 up in the home leg, but conceded 10 minutes from time.  I wasn't expecting much in the 2nd leg - particularly as they went 4-3-3.  We conceded in the first 10 minutes, and I thought that was that - but we scored just before half time - and then won a penalty from a corner to take the lead.  In injury time, they went for it and we hit them on the break to win 3-1 on the day.

The final was pretty easy - until the end.  We went 1-0 up and had good control of the game - and then our right back Giovanni Vincenti (a Calcio youth product) decided to score his first goal of the season - hey, if you're going to score once a season, might as well make it in a big game!  We were in control until they scored with 10 minutes to go, but we managed to hold on and win promotion back to Serie B.

I got through this season pretty quickly (for me anyway!), and it looks like FM20 is still a couple of weeks away, so I might keep going in Serie B until the beta is released.  We have a large number of players out of contract and only 2 or 3 of them will be offered a new deal.  There's going to be large turnover, as the team is full of Serie C or even D players - and they won't cope with the step up in talent anymore than they did last time.  2 of my loans - right winger Andrea Pepe and striker D'Inca are coming back next season - but right now my 2 other loanees clubs want them to play with better players - hopefully they'll change their minds once the league year ticks over and we are officially Serie B.

Finances are still awful despite the board putting in money - we're miles below the wage budget, but still losing money - our attendances are awful…

San Giovanni 2026/27 Update

Well, the word is mixed.  We won the first stage league group without losing - but then hit a wall and stopped scoring.  Needing one win in the last two games, we didn't manage it - and finished 7th - missing out on the playoffs.  Teams shut up shop against us, so it needs something different tactically - as mentioned above, this is for sure something I need to improve on moving forward.  I did trial a 4-2-2-2 but we shipped far too many goals, which wasn't good for my health!

On the plus side - finally - we won the Cup!  We were made to work for it though - the final going to penalties!  I convinced myself we were doomed (again), but we scored our first 4 and our keeper saved 2 of theirs, so thankfully for our new stadium due to be finished in late June, we qualified for Europe.  I'm hoping to better the 3rd qualifying round we managed this season - going out to Aberdeen.  I've made 2 new signings - a backup striker, but also a left sided inverted winger.  We really missed Riccardo Dragoni's 10 or so goals - and threat - so I've signed someone who is actually (hopefully anyway) better than he was - his replacement Federico Bugli only scored twice on the year and was generally poor.


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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/09/2019 at 08:37, duesouth said:

In real life, Calcio were in the relegation playoffs last year, but managed to win to stay up.  However, it appears that San Marino Calcio as a club is no more.

"In 2019 the sports title is transferred to Cattolica and the name is changed to Cattolica San Marino. The new association continues the sporting tradition of the Rimini team and therefore the old San Marino is dissolved."

The new team, Cattolica, is registered in San Marino - but as Calcio had no stadium it appears, they are playing their home games in Cattolica, Italy - to the east of San Marino.  The team has new colours, red and yellow, and are playing in Serie D Girone F... and they've lost their first two games!!

It's quite hard to find a good English translation to find all the details - but it looks like this might impact future San Marino challenges.  I'm thinking with the club playing in Italy, perhaps the game might give us heavier Italian youth intake players.

I saw this just now, I was thinking about doing the challenge in FM20 but doesn't seem like it will be as interesting now.

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18 hours ago, CBush1231 said:

I saw this just now, I was thinking about doing the challenge in FM20 but doesn't seem like it will be as interesting now.

Maybe FC Vaduz in Liechtenstein?  Or FC Andorra?  Can't think of many other similar situations. 

Its a shame really as there's a lot of history in this challenge, i've only tried it once myself but i've enjoyed reading about other peoples exploits over the years

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I think it will depend how the new club Cattolica San Marino is registered irl and therefore set up in the FM20 database.

I found it hard to find too much info in English about it; Google translate gave me the idea, but some of the words clearly didn't translate that well.  I checked in FM19, and there's an existing Cattolica, which is an Eccellenza club (level below Serie D), so I assumed San Marino Calcio and Cattolica merged - and took a spot in Serie D, but a different girone than Calcio's in 2018/19.

They play their home games in Italy - it seemed like Calcio had financial and stadium problems.  Calcio only just stayed in Serie D last season - having to win in the relegation playoffs, so things not going so well in real life as in many of these saves!

I would guess the club would still mine the best young players from San Marino, but it's whether FM20 would do that, or just give you mainly Italian youngsters.

I'll create an FM20 San Marino Challenge thread anyway and see how we go when custom databases are released, as I'm happy to commit to keeping achievements etc. up to date for the year if we can do this - fingers crossed!

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First thing in the Beta - look at Cattolica San Marino - and good news - Nation = San Marino, so youth products should be mostly from San Marino as with San Marino Calcio.  Just have to wait on the custom databases now!


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San Marino Calcio 2027/28 Update

Back in Serie B for the second time, I was determined to do better than last time, when we went straight back down.  So, I hit the loan market early and often in the year and put together a pretty strong squad - with a lot of Serie C type players released at the end of their contracts.  We started off pretty well, but kicked into gear in October.  After that, we kept the form going until we climbed into second, an automatic promotion spot.  With 6 games to go, we had a 6 point lead on the third place team - with 2 tough games - and then 4 easier ones.  We drew both of the tough games 1-1 - to give us a 3 point lead with 4 games to go. We then won 3 on the spin, securing an unlikely promotion!


For sure, Serie A has sorted out the club's financial problems - I've played 3 games (won one, drew two) as I was playing the San Giovanni European campaign - but do want to play FM20 now, so I'll leave San Marino Calcio here.  10 seasons - up from Serie D to C - down again after 2 seasons - back up to C - up to B - back down - up to B again and finally up to Serie A.

San Giovanni 2027/28 (and early 2028) Update

For the first time, we were able to win the Champions Playoff AND the Cup - and with the Super Cup, that gave us a treble.  I mentioned we missed Riccardo Dragoni last season - I signed a guy released by La Fiorita - Danilo Luppi - and he got into double digits as a real goalscoring threat cutting in off the left wing.  He was the difference and what my tactic needed.  He did enough to crack the San Marino National Team - scoring on his debut.


With FM20 out, I really want to have a play around in there - but I wanted to give the European campaign one last shot.  After a 2nd qual rnd exit in the Champions League - we went straight into the 3rd qual rnd of the Europa League, where we defeated a Faroe Islands team with ease.  We actually went 1-0 and then 2-1 down - but they scored a horrible own goal and then folded as we beat them 6-2 away in the 1st leg.  I said we needed luck with the draw - and finally we got it!  We drew Welsh team TNS - a club of about the same stature as us.  I decided to stick with 2 up top for the 1st leg and we won 2-0 - holding on in the last 5 minutes, but not giving up the away goal.  It was low block time for the second leg - which was a comfortable 0-0 draw.  So, for the first time, we qualified for the group stages of the Europa League.  I don't know whether I'll play the group or not with FM20 here - but I would imagine we'll get stuffed in every game!  But at least we did it!



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  • 2 weeks later...

2026 San Marino National Team

European Nations League D: Group Winner (14 points, 4-2-0)

We were drawn in a group with Lithuania (9 points), Latvia (7 points), and Luxembourg (4 points). We comfortably beat Luxembourg 3-0 thanks to a first half Conti hat trick. The second game turned out to be the critical game of the group. We were 2-0 down to Lithuania in 16 minutes but fought back to get a 90th minute winner for 3-2. Had the result flipped, they would have won the group. We ended up drawing the next two against Latvia and Luxembourg. Latvia got a stoppage time equalizer and we played Luxembourg off the park, but just couldn’t finish. Frustrated to only get 2 of 6 points, but we won the group after a 3-2 win on matchday 5. We celebrated with a 5-0 win over Latvia. Mission accomplished. We will see how the next step of Euro qualification go.

Completed goals to date:  Have a player break Andy Selva’s 8 goal record.

World Ranking: 150 (+14 places)

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2026-27 San Marino Calcio

Serie A: Champions!!!

Italian Cup: 1st Round (l. to Juventus)


Summer Transfers

Notable In: Cristian Milan (Free), Petr Capek ($83K), Nicolo Giuliani ($30.5M), Hussein Samir ($400K), Josh Dyche ($23M), Ander Tronsden (Loan), Craig Morgan ($22M)
Notable Out: Leonel Leon ($45M), Elio Capradossi ($5M), Mattia Viviani ($16.5M), Emir Murati ($625K).


The sale of Leonel Leon was the first domino that precipitated the whole transfer season, with Arsenal coming in with a bid in late June. I sanctioned the sale as I wanted to maintain squad harmony and Leon was already discontented by our failure to qualify for Europe. I probably should have held out for more, since his media description was “world class,” but I didn’t want to get caught in a situation where he was sold near or after the deadline. Doing it now gave me time to sort out which targets I wanted to pursue.


We brought in Cristian Milan on a free from (oddly enough) Milan. He looks very good and will slot in as first choice AML. Capek was brought in at the same time from Viktoria Plzen. He is a young player that will be second choice RB. He has high potential and may well be a first teamer next season, since Engels is making noises about wanting to move on. These moves were followed up by bringing back Giuliani on a permanent deal, as well as a deal for AML Samir from Al-Ahly. Giuliani will obviously lead the line, while wonderkid Samir looks like he will be class, supplanting Rabbi as first choice AML. The second flurry of activity was triggered by players being upset at the sale of Leon, as well as the triggering of Viviani’s release clause. This led me to bring in the midfield trio of Dyche, Tronsden, and Morgan. They look decent, especially 20 year-old BBM Dyche, but are not the same quality as what I lost.


Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with this transfer window. Firstly, I got too little for Leon and I probably paid too much for the midfield pair of Dyche and Morgan. I overpaid for Giuliani as well, according to value and projected development, but he is a proven goalscorer for my club and if he bangs in another 20+ and gets me back in Europe, it will feel like good business. Lastly, I stupidly had a lapse of concentration on keeping track of Viviani’s release clause, and I was pretty gutted to have to spend more than I got for him on each of the English midfield pair.


First Half Summary

Well the first piece of big news is that we will be moving into a 20,211 capacity stadium at the beginning of the 2028-29 season, a massive upgrade over our current 8,250 capacity. Somehow, we have gotten to the new year without a loss. I didn’t realize it, but the undefeated stretch actually goes back to a February 21 defeat to SPAL, so we have gone almost a calendar year without defeat. A great run, but “Invincibles” we are not. I know the loss is coming. We finished the first half of the season 3 points clear of Napoli at the top of the table. Perhaps more importantly, we are 14 points clear of 5th-placed Lazio, which all but ensures we will get Champions League football (and money!) next season. Hopefully, it is time to settle in for a cup run and/or title race.


The biggest factor in our success this season has been our effectiveness in the latter stages of games. In previous season, we always seemed to concede late on, whereas this year has been the opposite. We have won 12 points (either turning losses into draws or draws into wins) with goals in the final 15 minutes. Conversely, we haven’t dropped any points from goals in the final 15 minutes of matches. Hussein Samir has been fantastic since arriving, sitting on 8 goals from 19 matches. Meanwhile, Giuliani keeps banging them in, with 11 league goals in 19 matches.

Winter Transfer
Notable In: None
Notable Out: None

Naturally, the year I decide to change the format, nothing happens in the winter transfer market. Just a bunch of youth loans.

Second Half Summary

The second half of the season got off to a pretty mediocre start with the loss to Juve in the Italian Cup. It was not entirely unexpected, but the way we lost it was incredibly frustrating, with us squandering a 3-2 lead in the final ten minutes of normal time to lose 4-3.


The malaise continued in the league, with us dropping 11 points in the first 8 games of the second half. We end February level on points with Napoli (we are ahead on head-to-head result), 2 clear of 3rd place Milan, 7 clear of 4th placed Juventus, and 13 clear of 5th placed Roma, so a CL spot still seems locked in. Hopefully we can get it together for the final push and beat Napoli and Milan to the title.


The first big match and of the run in was a March match at Milan, which ended in a 1-1 draw. This was sandwiched between straightforward wins. We finished March top. Unfortunately, April was less kind. With four matches against teams outside of European places, we only managed 7 points. The worst match was the 3-3 with 19th place SPAL, where we were 3-1 up with 25 minutes left to go. April ended with us second to Napoli and a resurgent Juve in the thick of the title race. The first match of four in May saw us come up against Napoli, and we scraped a 2-1 victory away, a result which saw us move into the driver’s seat. The next match pitted us against Inter, and a 90th minute winner was the last of the drama for the season. We eased past Chievo 2-1, leaving us 2 clear of Juve with 1 to play. Given that we had the head to head over Juve, we only needed 1 point.


We wrapped up the season against Udinese. We went 1-0 down on 12 minutes, but equalized through Samir 10 minutes later. In the final 10 minutes of the first half, we blitzed them for 3 more goals. At the half: San Marino 4-1 Udinese, Juventus 0-0 Sassuolo. We are 5 goals from losing the title now. Job done, right? Well, we get to the 80th minute and both scores remain the same. We then concede in the 82nd. Then an OG in the 85th. Then an equalizer in the 91st. Got a little nervous but saw the draw out in the end. Juve never found a winner either, so I was safe. Winner by 2 points. Mission Accomplished!


Another little aside is that we won both the U20s an U18s leagues, so that’s a fun treble. We seem to be loaded with talent in our youth ranks.

Key Players
Nicolo Giuliani and Hussein Samir were killers spearheading the attack, accounting for more than 40 goals and 25 assists. They were the primary reason we won the title. In the back, the teenage defenders Nenem (LB) and Smejkal (CB) were quite solid. Villamizar controlled the middle of the park, and Petkovic had a good season between the sticks.

Youth Watch

Giacomo Bonifazi (5* CM), Roberto Stefanelli (5* CM), Michele Rattini (4.5* CD) are the top players of the intake. Fortunately, the midfield pair are only San Marino nationals, so they will be in the NT fold from the off. Rattini, on the other hand, is yet another dual national, so we will see about him.

Allessandro Gualandi (ST)- Loaned to Serie B Perugia, where he scored 7 in 25. Probably another season on loan next season to keep getting that experience. Still refusing SMNT call-ups and he is heavily involved in the Italian youth setup.

Federico Balducci (CM)- Only got three first team appearances, but lit it up at youth level, reaching 10 goals. Not quite sure what next year will bring for him in terms of loaning him out or making him a rotation piece.

Nicola Pasolini (CB)- He has now indicated future openness to SMNT call-ups, so hopefully soon. Did okay in the youth system, but probably not going to make it here. My guess is that he will be ultimately be a player on the Serie A/Serie B borderline. However, this would still make him a first team player for the NT.

Nicola Arzilli (ST)- A disappointing spell at Serie B Cittadella saw only one scored in 15 appearances. Another loan next year, preferably to another Serie B club. Hopefully he can prove it at that level. Refusing NT call ups because he would prefer to play for Italy, but has yet to be involved in their youth setup.

Club Finances
We had $48.52M in the bank on July 1. We are moving into a new stadium and have CL football coming next season. We also have a bunch of players with valuations far beyond what we paid: Giuliani is worth $50M on a $30M transfer, Hussein is $20M on $400K, Milan is $20M on a free, Djokic is $17M on $2.2M. On top of this, we have a bunch of wonderkids from the Balkans who should be valuable assets as well. We are well on our way to having over $100M in the bank.


Completed goals to date: Promotion from Serie D, Promotion from Serie C, Promotion from Serie B, Survive a Season in Serie A, Qualify for a European Tournament, Win Serie A.

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2034 World Cup

I've not posted on here before but thought I'd share my best effort so far at this challenge. I've won everything on the club side so decided to quit that and focus on the national team and managed to not only qualify for my first World Cup but made it through to the quarter finals only to lose on pens to Portugal. The semi final would have been against Tunisia which feels like it would have been winable so I could have had a chance to make it to the final if I'd managed to win that shootout.

I'll see if I can stick it out for another 4 years until the next World Cup, in the meantime I'll try and get into the Euros again (qualified for the 2030 Euros and didn't make it out of the groups).

If anyone wants any other screenshots of the team, just let me know.


I only just scraped through the group stage with a 0-0 draw against Iran.

Here's my top scorer and been the best player over the last 10/15 years




Edited by marinoman
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So I know you guys are on FM19 but considering the FM15 threads and players are probably now non-existent thought I'd just throw some info in here from my FM15 (which I am still playing!) mostly because I've so far refused to give up and buy the latest FM, not that I don't want it, just that I wanted to complete this!

After getting FM15 on release I completed my own challenge of taking Luton Town (newly promoted back to the FL) up to the Prem/Champs League etc I wanted a new challenge and thought I'd give this a go.

Now since starting I have realised that I made a few mistakes that have made this much more difficult for me, I was new to the editor etc and so whilst I did add Sammarinese players database and leagues I didn't make then playable leagues and I think this has hindered the amount of regens breaking into other clubs etc.

That said I've managed both the club and international teams from the start. I've not my laptop on me right now as came across this thread whilst elsewhere but here are some of the key points I know off the top of my head:

I'm currently into my 21st season (maybe 22nd)


Have won 5 consecutive Serie A titles

Have won 3 champions leagues (2 consecutive, currently top of group in search of 3rd consecutive)

New Stadium with 23,500 capacity (1 of my most frustrating sticking points)

I've won a hell of a lot of cups but cannot remember the breakdown 

I consistently promote youth players in search of San Marino international regens

At 1 point 3/4 of the Italian national team were from my youth development


International Side:

Qualified for 1 European championship (via play-offs after successful Nations League Div 4 win)

Currently ranked just outside the top 100

Rankings high point of 40 something ( I know I should know this but it was short lived)

Currently on course to win a Nations League Div 3 hopefully securing another play-off berth)


My biggest sticking point is the flat-out refusal of players wanting to play for San Marino over Italy. I had a youth player gone on to be a world class defender and best in the world however even at 16 he'd decided he would prefer Italy and went on to win the world cup with them.....Oh how it could've been

With so many refusing to play for San Marino but not good enough for Italy I had a balancing act of trying to cap willing players at 16-18 whilst also wanting to win with my experienced players

My other big frustration is players only going out on loan to Serie C sides when they could easily play in Serie B and then when I release them not finding clubs or even worse retiring from football at the age of 20!

What I have begun to do now as I'm getting frustrated with the lack of good players coming through is to stop signing players that are not Italian Home-grown and also promote enough youth that I can go down the Athletic Bilbao route of only HG players in the hope that a few SM nationals will break that team!

Please let me know if you want any screen-shots/updates or a more in depth list of achievements!!!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just wondering if anyone is still playing this on FM19? I tend to upgrade every other version, mainly because I get attached to saves and don't get as much time to play these days.

Anyway, I'm in my 4th season of doing this challenge - never attempted it before but optimistic I can get the club to the top at the very least.

1st Season - Finished 2nd but lost play-off semi-final playing 4312

2nd Season - Poor start, struggled to score with many draws. Switched to my preferred 4231 and went on an epic run 2nd half of the season run to finish 2nd but then lost in the play-off semi-final again!

3rd Season - We just picked up where we left off and won the league at a canter. Won our play-off final to gain promotion (it's pretty brutal that you don't get automatic promotion although that might just be the database I use!). We won the Serie D Cup to add to that but fell short in the Serie D Scudetto.

4th Season - We are doing quite well in Serie C and sit 11th in January (or thereabouts), so in that strange niche between playoffs and playouts! We're still looking over our shoulder for relegation, especially with the media and opponent managers suggesting we don't stand a chance but we generally play quite well, even if we lack the quality sometimes. I have a Serie D level squad punching above their weight and have lost and drawn games we could easily have won with a bit more luck. We have edged some 1-0 victories lately to keep us in a relatively comfortable position even if current form is a bit suspect but some good form may even propel us into the playoffs. Feels like it is going to be hard to develop the squad to a Serie C level of player quickly but I have picked up a few good free agents and loan deals and will continue to trial players.

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Hey guys. Circling back to this challenge after taking a bit of a break. Looking forward to getting back into this with you all, as well as giving the club side of this a more Sammarinese flavor.

2027-28 San Marino Calcio

League: Champions

Italian Cup: Quarterfinal (l. to Juventus)

Champions League: Quarterfinal (l. to SLB)


Summer Transfers

In: Petar Jevtovic (Free), Ognjen Mihajlovic (Free), Colin Amick ($4.3M), Rodrigo Antonio ($9.25M), Jean Ruiz ($900K)


Petar Jevtovic, CB (Free from Partizan)- The 20 year-old Serbian CB made 10 league appearances for a 7.0 rating. Does a job as a rotation piece.


Ognjen Mihajlovic, GK (Free from Partizan)- The 19 year-old Serbian shot stopper was brought in as the eventual replacement for Petkovic, who I view more as a second-choice in the long-term. Mihajlovic only started two matches in the first half of the season, but was recalled for the final three matches. He will go into the next season as first choice after the way he finished the season.


Colin Amick, CM ($4.3M from Schalke)- A 19 year-old German midfielder, Amick made 8 appearances in the league, primarily as a sub, scoring twice. He seems like he will be effective as a box to box midfielder for years to come.


Rodrigo Antonio ($9.25M from INT)- The 22 year-old from Brazil was awesome, with a 7.16 rating over 33 league appearances, chipping in with 7 goals and 3 assists. He also fits in well with the current strategy of signing dual-EU internationals from non-EU leagues, with Antonio also having Italian nationality, which saves a non-EU slot for another player.


Jean Ruiz, AML ($900K from Deportivo Cali)-  I bought the 19 year-old Colombian and loaned him back to Deportivo Cali. I think he will be quite good and provides a ready-made replacement in case someone comes in with a monster offer for Samir.


Out: Davide Ghislandi ($7.25M), Antonio Candela ($4.2M), Riccardo Tonin ($4.8M), Pierluigi Speziari ($5M), Simone Rabbi (Loan-$60K p/m), Dejan Stanojevic ($2.9M)


Ghislandi turned out to be a good bit of business. I had bought him a couple years prior for $2.5M, where he made 8 appearances in his first season. Then, I made almost the entire transfer fee for him back with a loan to SPAL, with a buy option at the end for $7.25M. Candela was another loan-to-buy move that worked out, with us making nearly $5M on a player we signed on a free before our first Serie A season. I turned a profit on all the other permanent deals.

First Half Summary

The Champions League group included Sevilla, Dortmund and Dynamo Kyiv. A tough group that I thought I would be lucky to get out of. The first two matches were against Dortmund and Sevilla. Against Dortmund, we took a 1-0 lead early in the second half before conceding 2. With time running down, Giuliani snatched an 83rd minute equalizer to get us a point. We were not so lucky against Sevilla, who had us 3-0 down in less than a quarter hour. We managed to claw two back, but Villamazar’s sending off late in the first half ended our comeback attempt. In the second half we were given a baptism of the harsh realities of top-level European football, as Sevilla snatched 3 more goals for a comprehensive 6-2 victory. We followed this up with a 4-3 and a 4-0 over Dynam Kyiv. This really eased pressure on us, as I knew we were going to at least get into the Euro League knockout rounds.


                We then had Dortmund on matchday 5, which unfortunately saw us lose late on to a 90th minute winner. In the scheme of things, it didn’t matter. Going into the final matchday, the task was clear: Sevilla on 9 points, Calcio on 7. A win was necessary to go through. We flew out of the blocks in this match, with Antonio and Giuliani putting us two goals to the good in 11 minutes. They got one back by the half, so we just needed to see the 2-1 out. Fortunately, Vagnetti eased the pressure with a goal from a corner on 62 minutes. From there we just absorbed pressure and saw it out. The 3-1 victory put us through to the knockout rounds in our first Champions Cup foray.


                The first half of the league season saw our title defense get off to a reasonable start. A clear top 4 emerged, with us, Juventus, Milan and surprise package Palermo clustered between 45 and 39 points after 19 matches. Somewhat surprisingly, Napoli, who had won two consecutive titles before our triumph last year, only had 29 points from the first 19 matches. A recent Italian powerhouse was going to need a big effort to close the ten point gap for Champions League. Unfortunately, we also went out of the Italian Cup after a 1-0 defeat to Juve. I still want that trophy.


Winter Transfers

Daniel Slobozeanu, ST ($4.7M from FCSB)- The 19 year-old pacy Romanian was brought in as a high potential option because the deal was fairly cheap. However, an injury crisis toward the end of the season saw him get more match time than expected. In 9 matches (3 starts), he scored 3 and set-up 2.


Ademir, RB ($2M from FLU) – Just another high potential RB, the 18 year-old Brazilian-born Polish youth international is one to look for in the future.


Second Half Summary

                The second half kicked off with a 2-1 extra-time victory over reeling Napoli in the Italian Super Cup, as we equalized on 77 minutes, then had Napoli reduced to 10 men on 88 minutes. We found our winner as Milos Djokic hit an absolute thunderbolt from outside the box. Unfortunately, we were not able to keep up our league form, with a dip through January.


                We drew Atletico Madrid in the first knockout round of CL. A tough draw, to say the least. Somehow, we scraped a 1-1 at home, with Lemar putting Atleti up in the 3rd minute and Giuliani finding a 27th minute equalizer. Samir got sent off in the 72nd minute, but no further damage was done. Given the fact that we had to play the last bit a man down and that I planned to attack in the away leg, I was not worried that we shipped the away goal. Fast forward to the reverse leg, and we find ourselves 2-0 down on the night in 20 minutes. Djokic pulls one back, so we go into the locker room 3-2 down on aggregate.I give the fiery pep talk to inspire the boys to victory… and we promptly concede again. 4-2 down in the latter stages of the match, and we come to life. Nizar Skhiri gets us back in the match with a looping header across goal in the 83rd minute. This is followed by Milan smashing home a shot from inside the box following a missed header. Out of nowhere, we level 4-4 on aggregate and go through on away goals. It must be said that this was a bit of a smash and grab, but I will take it, especially considering home many times I have been on the other side in the Italian Cup.


                The CL quarterfinal saw us get SLB. This tie ended up being the exact opposite of the previous round. On balance, we were probably slightly better, but over the two legs, the team was incredibly wasteful with their opportunities. We lost the away leg 1-0, but could have easily had 3 or 4 goals ourselves. The reverse saw us concede 2 more in the first half, which pretty much put it out of reach for us. Hruska got 1 back, but it was simply too late. We go out 3-1 to SLB, but it was still a successful run overall.

                The ebbs and flows of the league season saw Calcio, Milan and Juve all remain in contention in the final weeks of the season. The second half performance of all three squads were noticeably inferior to the first half performance, which meant that inexplicable dropped points to bottom of the table sides was not ultimately fatal for our chances.

                The final match of the season saw us take on Juventus in San Marino in a 1 vs. 2 matchup in Serie A. We were level with Juve on points, but behind on head to head result. Meanwhile, Milan was 2 points back. My understanding of the Serie A rules is that if three or more teams are level, goal difference is the tiebreaker. Due to this, a draw coupled with a Milan win would see all three teams finish level, and we would win the title, while a draw coupled with Milan failing to win would give Juve the title. Despite our lack of success against Juventus, I decided that if we were to go down, we were going to do it on our terms, going on the attack from the opening whistle.

                And attack we did, hitting the woodwork and forcing the keeper into a diving save in the first 75 seconds of the match. We bossed the opening 20 minutes, finally getting out reward when Slobeanzu chased down a long ball and hit a cross, which Milan put hist boot through on a sweetly struck volley that bulged the net. 1-0. Milan then got his brace early in the second half with a glancing header off a corner. 2-0 up, and largely controlling proceedings. We looked good. However, Juve’s firepower is always something to be wary of, and so it proved when they pulled one back on a lovely though ball after a passing move through the center of the park. And then Paulo Dybala did Paulo Dybala thigs, scoring a free kick from the edge of the area. Just like that, Juve had pegged me back, undoing an hour of our hard work with two moments of class play. However, the team regrouped nicely, and six minutes later, a beautiful counter attack saw Milan whip a cross in behind the backline, which Samir made no mistake with on the back end. Unlike last season, when we saw a 4-1 lead evaporate in the final minutes of our last match, we held our nerve through the final 16 minutes, as well as the 9(!) minutes of stoppage time. The same cannot be said of Juve, who had a player sent off in the 93rd minute. Feels good to defend the title.


                In other news, Milan ended up scoring 3 goals in the final 20 minutes to win 3-0. I believe this would have given me the title after all, even if Juventus had found an equalizer. Still, better to just win it outright. Meanwhile, Palermo, who had been expected to finish 9th, pipped Napoli to the last CL spot by a point. In addition, Roma got a 5th CL spot for Italy by winning the Euro Cup.


Key Players
Not much new here. Giuliani and Samir were lethal up top, Nenem and Vagnetti were strong at the back. Mihajlovic looked good toward the end of the season.

Youth Watch

The youth intake sees us get the heir apparent to SMNT keeper Elia Benedetti, with Thomas Berti joining. I have every reason to expect him to be top Serie A keeper. Matteo Valentini (AML) looks to be maybe a Serie B player, but given the lack of wingers in the national pool, he will likely be involved in short order as well.


Allessandro Gualandi (ST)- Another decent loan spell to Serie B, this time with Lecce, scoring 11 in 34 matches. Only 19, he is heavily involved in the Italy set-up and already has three U21 caps. It will probably be years before he comes in to the SMNT, if ever. He is going to get a real look in the preseason, with a chance to become an option for us up top.

Federico Balducci (CM)- Now 20, Balducci has been a bit squeezed out of the first-team picture by the rapid improvement of the squad through transfer. He spent this year on loan at Sampdoria, where he was a key squad member on the runaway Serie B champions. He set the Sampdoria record for assists in a season with 11, and was named in the Serie B Team of the Season. He will be in the Calcio squad next season. Also, he is the first Sammarinese player to achieve wonderkid status!


Nicola Pasolini (CB)- Pasolini has FINALLY started accepting SMNT call-ups, and has quickly slotted in as a first team CB for country. Within the club setup, however, he only played youth football. Since he only has Serie C ability with Serie B potential, I will sell the 19 year-old down the divisions to get some game time and improve his value to the NT.


Nicola Arzilli (ST)- Scored 11 in 34 for Monza in Serie B, which was a big improvement over last season. He is also in line for some preseason matches to compete for a spot in the Calcio first team. The 18 year-old, like Gualandi, is heavily involved in the Italian youth setup, having already featured at U20 level. As such, he is not accepting SMNT calls. I am concerned that I may miss out on both of the forwards with dual nationality.


Giacomo Bonifazi (CM)- The 17 year-old has 11 national team caps at this point. Featuring heavily in the youth teams, he played to a 7.4 rating across U18s and U20s for Calcio. I am on the fence as to whether he should continue his development in the U20 squad, or if I should send him out on loan. At this point I am leaning toward keeping him for the first half, then trying to secure a loan to a Serie B squad for the second half of the season.


Roberto Stefanelli (CM)- Another 17 year-old midfielder, Stefanelli has 14 caps and two goals. Slightly ahead of Bonifazi, Stefanelli played to a rating of 7.2 in youth competition for Calcio. The coaches say he is ready for Serie B football, so I may try securing him a loan move to continue developing.


Michele Rattini (CB)- The 17 year-old central defender was capped by Italy U20s at 16, so he is another dual national that will not be looking at the SMNT for a while, if ever. He racked up 62(!) youth team appearances with a 7.26 rating. Scored a massive 11 goals, with 5 coming from the spot. He will be a massive asset if he can chip in with that type of offensive production for the senior squad. He is either a loan candidate or possibly our 4th CB for the coming season.


Club Finances/Infrastructure

The big news for the coming season is us moving into our brand new 20,000 seat stadium. Hopefully this will yield some financial benefits, particularly for big league and continental matches. Additionally, the new stadium has the potential for expansion to upwards of 40,000 spectators. If the club can continue growing, we will have a legitimate ground by the end of development, with capacity approximately equal to Stamford Bridge. At this point, we have superb training facilities, state of the art youth facilities, good junior coaching, and extensive youth recruitment. We just need to bump up that youth coaching a bit and we should continue churning out good youngsters.


On the financial side of things, we have $102.9M in the bank. With the stadium already paid for and a presumption of increased attendance, I expect this number to continue to go up. In addition, we have a bunch of players that have increased in value since signing, so I hope to make a decent transfer profit as I get more out of my academy.


Offseason Plans
Now that we have won two Serie A titles on the spin and have a CL quarterfinal appearance, our reputation is up to four stars (continental). More importantly, we have a boatload of cash that we can inject into our youth academy. I am also considering either taking direct control of a San Marino League team in addition to Calcio, or investing some of our money into the league to help build up the national team more quickly. I may do one of these things over this season (most likely the latter).


In terms of the playing squad, I am going to start making room for the Sammarinese youngsters coming though the academy. In particular, I am overloaded at CM and ST. I am especially interested in making room for the midfield trio of Bonifazi, Stefanelli and Balducci, since they are all committed San Marino nationals. As such, this will be prioritized, with room being made for Balducci this year, then Stefanelli and Bonifazi in 1-2 seasons after that. This is definitely complicated a bit by the fact that I have several effective CM in the squad already, so there will be some hard choices made over the next couple years. The next priority is finding room for Rattini in the CB rotation over the next 12 month. This should be fairly easy because I do not have overwhelmingly talented CBs, so getting him matches should be doable. I want to keep his development going because he has slightly lower potential than the striking pair, which could help me to eventually land him in an SMNT shirt at some point, if he falls just short of Italy. Lastly, I want to get games for Gualandi and Arzili. However, this is slightly lower priority because, frankly, I am pessimistic about either of them not being a part of the Italy national team. As such, I am a bit more willing to farm out their development through loans. Lastly, the new youth keeper, Thomas Berti, looks like he will be really good. Since he just turned 16, he is still a work in progress, but I will try to limit recruitment to give him a place to step into the first team in 2-3 seasons. The transition to a more Sammarinese-focused squad will almost certainly lead to a bit of regression, but I think the long-term benefits of developing the San Marino youngsters early will outweigh the costs of not winning the league. However, it is still critical that we qualify for Champions League. I am only targeting top-4 for at least the next two seasons.


Completed Goals to date: Promotion from Serie D, Promotion from Serie C, Promotion from Serie B, Survive a Season in Serie A, Qualify for a European Tournament, Win Serie A.

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2028 San Marino National Team: First Half

Euro Qualification Playoffs: Winner

European Championships: 4th of 4 (1 point)


The semifinal match against Belarus was a tight one for the first half, with us fashioning a few more chances, yet we went in at 0-0. However, things quickly turned after the half. Francesco Gualandi scored in the first minute of the second half, and we were 3-0 up by the 61st minute. We saw the result out from there, easing to a three goal win in Serravalle. Our reward: A date with Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, who ran out comfortable 3-1 winners over Kosovo. The winner gets a ticket to Euro 2028.


The final was a difficult one. We were largely penned in for the first half, with Northern Ireland letting a few half-chances go by the boards. The critical moment of the first half, and perhaps the match, came in the 41st minute. Berardi hit an in-swinging to the back post, where Bacciocchi was wrestled to the ground by McAnellan. Penalty! Berardi steps up to the spot. He runs up, hits it to the keeper’s right, and the keeper guesses correctly! It doesn’t matter, as the high and hard effort bulges the net. 1-0 to San Marino, which is how the half ends.


The second half started as well as could have hoped. All-time leading SMNT scorer Bereardi doubled his tally on the day, hammering a left footed volley past the keeper in the 48th minute. At 2-0 up, the team seemed to settle, and we were much more comfortable over the next 20+ minutes. At this point, Andy Haire is sent off for the Northern Irish in the 71st minute for a second yellow. This was followed 3 and a half minutes later by an OG from McAnellan. At 3-0 and a man up after 75 minutes, I was feeling good. And so it proved. The boys can be forgiven for shutting off late on and allowing Liam Boyce to score a consolation goal in the 89th minute. We ultimately got a 3-1 victory and punched our ticket to the Euros for the first time in San Marino’s footballing history. I will admit, this one was a bit of a smash and grab, but Northern Ireland was unable to really fashion much themselves. It really just came down to a bit of fortune, and we were on the right side of the three most consequential actions of the match (the pen, the sending off and the OG).


Euro 2028:

For the European Championships, we were drawn into a group with Norway, Spain and Wales. Obviously, I have no expectation of advancing in the tournament, and just hope to be competitive. Getting even 1 point would be a massive achievement.


Our first match was against Norway. As Unfortunately, our first trip to the Euros did not get off to the greatest start. In the tenth minute, Erling Haaland flicked on a header for Vegard Johannesen, who tucked away a left-footed effort past a diving Benedettini. Things got worse 25 minutes later when Johannesen won a penalty from a poor challenge in the box by Alex Ugolini, which Haaland easily dispatched. We finished the half 2-0 down, but did manage to create a bit going forward. It definitely was not one-way traffic, and I was optimistic we could get on the scoresheet. In the first minute of the second half we got our reward. Francesco Gualandi won a flick on from a long ball which was mishandled by the keeper. Federico Conti seized on the error to write his name in the history books as the first Sammarinese player to score at a major international tournament. 2-1 and we were back in the game. Ten minutes later, Conti had a free header off Berardi free kick which rattled off the woodwork. Unlucky not to level it right there. We then set a European Championship record as 17 year old Giacomo Bonifazi was subbed on and became the youngest player to ever appear in the European Championships. We hung in for the remainder of the game until the 93rd minute, when Kristoffer Ajer forced a goal in through a goal mouth scramble off a corner. The match finishes 3-1, but we played decently. I am not unhappy at all with the performance. Now we move on to the match with the vaunted Spanish national team…


The match against Spain went exactly as I thought it might. Asensio opened the scoring in the 15th minute, and we were 4-0 down by halftime. They added a fifth right out of the half. Balducci then opened his Euros account with a close-range finish from a counterattack. Adonai then finished the scoring with a goal to finish the scoring at 6-1. Unfortunately, Balducci was sent of for a second yellow in the 90th minute, meaning I would be without him for the final group stage match against Wales. A humbling defeat to say the least, but not really surprising. I hoped to make it a bit more competitive, but that is just the way it goes with our current talent level.


Effectively Eliminated because of out -7 goal differential, the Wales match was our last chance to make an impression. Wales, on the other hand, needed a big result to try to advance. Without our best midfielder, the challenge was set for us. However, we conceded early again, with Bonifazi committing a foul in the box and Harry Wilson dispatching the ensuing penalty. We were now 3 for 3 in conceding goals in the first quarter of an hour. The problems were compounded 5 minutes later with a free header inside the box to give Wales a 2-0 lead. I was getting concerned about another big defeat at this point, and Wales had incentive to put a big scoreline on us to advance. However, we had other plans to at least make it a respectable showing. Francesco Gualandi ran on to a long ball over the top, took two touches and fired past the keeper to get one back. Unfortunately, a missed header in defense allowed Harry Wilson to score his second right before halftime to put us in another 3-1 deficit. The second half saw an improved effort from the side, and we got our reward for it. Off a throw in, Stefanelli headed the ball to Bonifazi at the top of the box, where the young midfielder fired home to bring us back to 3-2. This was also a significant goal because Bonifazi became the youngest goalscorer in European Championship history. From here, we really pushed forward for an equalizer, and Benedettini played a crucial role in keeping it close over the final 20 minutes, most notably making a save from a clear-cut chance by Woodburn from 5 yards out. Then in the 89th minute, Filippo Berardi latched on to a chipped ball, ran into the box to the byline, cuts back to a wide open Gualandi on the 6 yard box, who… fires straight at the keeper. Missed opportunity. It was end to end in the latter stages. In the 93rd minute, Zanotti gets on the ball, cuts inside, hits a ball forward into the box that barely evades the head of Welsh center back Mepham. Gualandi takes the ball down, and this time he makes no mistakes. Past a diving keeper and in off the post to send the San Marino fans who made the trip to Aberdeen in raptures! The official calls time a minute later and we can officially celebrate the fight back from 2 goals down, as well as the first point ever earned by San Marino in a major tournament. The cheers from the host nation were perhaps even louder at full time, as the last minute goal allowed Scotland to advance to the knockout stages with only three point, which they parlayed into a runner-up finish. In my view, leaving with that point alone makes this a very successful Euros for us. Our successes against Belarus and Northern Ireland to qualify, along with the draw against Wales brought our ranking up to 129. Fantastic stuff, and I hope we can build on this as we start our campaign in the European International League Division C.


San Marino landmarks at Euro 2028:

-First major tournament qualification

-First goal in a major tournament (Federico Conti vs Norway)

-First point at a major tournament (3-3 vs. Wales)

-Youngest goalscorer in Euro history (Giacomo Bonifazi: 17 years and 87 days vs. Wales)

-Youngest player in Euro history (Giacomo Bonifazi: 17 years and 79 days vs. Norway)


Completed goals to date:  Have a player break Andy Selva’s 8 goal record, qualify for a major tournament

World Ranking: 129 (+16 places)





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  • 4 weeks later...

2028 San Marino National Team: Second Half

European Int’l League Division C: 2nd of 4 (8 points)


After our elimination from the European Championships, we only had a couple months off from competitive internationals before breaking into the European International League. After our promotion from Division D, the federation only expected us to battle against relegation from Division C. The draw saw us get Turkey, Iceland, and Georgia. Given the draw, I revised my expectations upward. I last played Georgia in a pair of World Cup qualifiers in 2025, drawing one match 0-0 and beating them 5-1. In the three years since, the SMNT had improved dramatically, so I thought those two matches ought to be six points for us, despite Georgia’s ranking of 76 before the tournament.


The first two matches were going to be difficult because we had to play the two best teams in the group and we were missing our best defender and second best midfielder through injury (Alberto Righi and Roberto Stefanelli). The tournament started against Turkey, who I had made group favorites, and in the first half they played like it. We were 3-0 down in 25 minutes, ultimately losing 5-2 to a team that clearly just has superior talent at this point. The second match against Iceland was an odd one. We were ripped apart for the first 20 minutes, going 3-1 down. However, we were able to tighten it up defensively for the remainder of the match and leveled through Giacomo Bonifazi and young striker Alex Ugolini to salvage a 3-3 draw. Picking up one point through the first two matches felt acceptable, since the matches against Georgia really seem to be the results that will determine relegation or survival.


The second pair of matches were home against Georgia and away to Iceland. Fortunately, we were basically back to full strength for these matches, with all my top players available. The critical match for my purposes was the first one against Georgia. We were able to get on top early, cruising to a 4-0 win in Serravalle. This was followed by the reverse fixture with Iceland in Reykjavik, which was even more strange than the first encounter. We scored 2 goals in the first six minutes, which was then followed by Iceland scoring 4 on the spin to go up 4-2 in the 37th minute. Alex Ugolini scored another to get us back to 4-3, only for us to concede a penalty in the 43rd minute. The first half closed with us down 5-3 in a “defense optional” encounter. Despite this, we again tightened up for the second half against Iceland, and we managed to score two fairly quick goals to level at 5-5. The final half hour saw (surprisingly) no additional scoring. We got a second draw with Iceland and the return of 5 points from 4 matches put us in strong position, 1 point clear of Iceland and 4 clear of Georgia.


The final two matches were home against Turkey and away to Georgia. Turkey again ran out easy winners, this time 2-0. Not surprising, as Turkey were on a different level to the rest of the group. Unfortunately, Daniele Bacciocchi got sent off late on, which complicates the last group match to a degree. On the positive side, Iceland beat Georgia through a 90th minute penalty, which ensured Georgia could not avoid relegation, regardless of result in the final match. Now the drama was whether we could get a win and an Iceland loss to finish a surprising second. On the final match day, we were left frustrated for much of the evening as we peppered the Georgian goal but could not break through for the first hour. The 0-0 deadlock was finally broken through a penalty from Filippo Berardi and SMNT veteran Conti doubled our advantage 6 minutes later. Georgia scored a goal in the 82nd minute, but it proved to only be a consolation. A 2-1 victory for us, coupled with a 2-0 win for Turkey, allowed us to finish second on 8 points, one clear of Iceland. Fantastic stuff.


Hopefully this year gives us a good launch point for the upcoming World Cup qualification campaign. At this point, finishing in the middle of the qualification group is my goal, as I feel we are still at least once WC cycle from legitimately contending for a berth in the WC.


Bits and Bobs

-Elia Benedettini has 120 caps by the end of 2028. I think he might approach 150 caps, since the only player in the national pool that is likely to surpass him is 16 year-old Thomas Berti, and he is not likely to be better than Benedettini for at least a couple years. Filippo Berardi is the next player in line for 100 caps, currently sitting on 98. Daniele Bacciocchi is the next most-capped player at 77.

-All-time goalscorers for the SMNT: Filippo Berardi (28 goals), Federico Conti (24 goals), Francesco Gualandi (21 goals).

-I may have missed a promising SMNT player in one of my youth intakes. Alex Ugolini, an 18 year-old striker, committed to the national team after fall. He isn’t the most brilliant player, but he has scored 3 goals in 4 appearances (2 starts, 2 subs) for us. He is clearly the third-choice striker in the NT pool right now and will probably exceed Conti in the next year or so. It is also possible that he usurps Gualandi as first-choice at some point. He looks like probably a Serie B/low Serie A player when he finishes developing. His role going forward is obviously highly dependent on whether Gualandi and Arzilli commit to the SMNT, but it looks like he is going to have a significant part to play for the foreseeable future.

World Ranking: 121 (+8 places)

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2028-29 San Marino Calcio

League: 2nd Place

Italian Cup: First Round (l. to Empoli)

Champions League: Quarterfinal (l. to Liverpool)


Summer Transfers

In: Stiven Lasso ($1.1M), Malick Ndao ($15.5M)


Stiven Lasso, CB ($1.1M from Atletico Nacional)- The 19 year-old Colombian AMR got off to a flyer, scoring a hat trick in his first Serie A match. In total, he made 33 league appearances and scored a 11 goals. Largely replaced Cristian Milan as the right winger.


Malick Ndao (Sevilla)- The 19 year-old Spanish U21 international cost a bit, but he is a quality young player. I needed to bring him in because of developing interest in my current RB Engel from Barcelona. A pacy defender who is good at snuffing out danger, he needs to improve going forward. Still a decent first season.


Out: Ognjen Mihajlovic ($7.5M), Paul Engel ($17.5M).


Ognjen Mihajlovic (GK to PSG)- Mihajlovic was sold to PSG with some additional clauses that I expect to cash in on in the future. He was immediately loaned to SPAL and had a so-so campaign. I could have held on to him if I wanted, but he was looking for the move and I didn’t want the headache. I needed to make room for Berti anyway.


Paul Engel (RB to Barcelona)- Another player who I just did not think was worth the potential headache. A decent enough player with outsized squad influence and a bigger club interested. I rarely try to hold on to players in this situation. Also a few clauses in this one that will almost certainly push this fee into the $20-25M range, not counting a 20% sell-on.


First Half Summary

The Champions League group was pretty straightforward. We had Monaco, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Spartak Moscow, coming through with 14 points. Unlucky not to get a perfect record, considering the I had a lead in both draws against Gladbach. In any case, I think this is good progress for the club if getting out of the Champions League group stages is basically a non-event.


                The first half of the league season saw us a point behind Juve for the league lead on New Year’s Day. Napoli, Milan and Inter all sat within 6 points, although goal differentials led me to believe that Juve, San Marino and Napoli were serious title contenders. A big win against Napoli on Boxing Day brought a good feeling to the squad leading into the Winter break.


Winter Transfers

Out: Vitor Villas Boas ($4.3M), Craig Morgan ($7M), Nizar Skhiri ($10M), Ricardo Alvial ($7.25M)


Vitor Villas Boas (to Sporting)- A decent enough player who consistently played to a 7.0-7.1 rating during his three and a half year spell with us. He had found himself as third choice AMR, had no appearances in the first half, and wanted out. A good deal for both sides, although I would have preferred to get back a bit more of my $6M investment when I brought him in.


Craig Morgan (to Fiorentina)- The first casualty of the CM clear-out. His two and a half year spell was totally forgettable. Paid $22M, made 35 appearances, and had a mediocre 6.6 rating over that time. Worst signing I have made thus far.


Nizar Skhiri (to ES Tunis)- Now on to happier news. I had already made over $1M in loan fees on the $650K investment. ES Tunis, who I had purchased him from, came in with a $10M bid, and I decided to end his 5 year spell. He, like Villas Boas, was a third-choice winger, so it made sense to move him on.


Ricardo Alvial (to Sporting)- Sporting came in for another one of my players who had fallen down the pecking order. He is a quality player, but Giuliani’s goalscoring ability and my desire to bring the young (potential) Sammarinese strikers through motivated the sale. A nice $2M profit here.


Second Half Summary

                The first action of the second half of the season was us crashing out of the Italian Cup yet again, this time in the first round to Empoli. This competition is becoming very frustrating. Despite all my league and European successes, I have not gotten close to winning this one, with only a single quarterfinal appearance during my time at San Marino. Amazingly, I have somehow managed more CL quarterfinals than Italian Cup quarterfinals.


In CL, we drew Sevilla for the first knockout round. The first match was away, where we ran out 3-0 winners, with all three goals coming in the second half. We followed this up with a 4-4 draw in the return leg, where we came from a goal down four times. Giuliani scored four in the tie, including a hat trick in the second leg. We were never in much danger after opening up a big lead in Sevilla and coasted to a 7-4 aggregate victory. Next up, we get Liverpool.


The tie against Liverpool got off to a good start, with Giuliani putting us 1-0 up through a diving header and we went into the break with a one goal advantage. From there, it went all downhill, with two goals early in the second half, and two more late on. Giuliani then pulled us one back from the spot in the 90th minute to give us half a chance as we head to England. That half chance, however, was quickly extinguished in the return leg by three first half goals that effectively ended the tie at 7-2. We traded second half goals, and ultimately lost 8-3 on aggregate. On balance, the deficit was a bit harsh on us, but Liverpool were deserving winners over the two legs. In any case, back to back CL quarters is a decent result for us and helps the club continue to push up the coefficient table for better seeding in the future.


Serie A again came down to the final weekend, with Napoli two points clear and the race out of our hands. Napoli played their match first, with a Saturday fixture away to surprise package SPAL. The match was 0-0 in the first half when Napoli had a player sent off. Required to play with ten men for the remainder of the match, Napoli was unable to find a way through, ultimately finishing with a scoreless draw. Due to having done the double over Napoli in Serie A this season, this left the door open for us to potentially take the title with a win, which would draw us level on points.


Our final match was away at Roma. Unfortunately, they went 1-0 up late in the first half through a header after a missed defensive header from Nenem. However, Lasso was able to equalize with a volley early in the second half. This parity was short lived though, with another missed defensive header, this time from Vagnetti, allowing Roma to retake the lead. The match was sealed for the home side when a final missed header from Righi allowed them to take a 3-1 lead in the 80th minute. Three defensive mistakes leading to three goals is a tough way to lose the title, especially considering how strong those three defenders had been all year. Just a bad day to have a bad day. At the end of the day, taking only 18 points from our last 12 league matches is what cost us. However, I am looking on the bright side that we were in the title chase until the last day, despite the squad being in a bit of a transition, and we still comfortably finished in the CL spots.


Key Players
Giuliani really carried the team this season, scoring 35 across all competitions, including finishing as the top scorer in Serie A (24 goals) and the CL (10 goals). He had over 100 Serie A goals before turning 24, finishing this season with 115 career Serie A goals. Simply put, he has been awesome, and laying out the $30.5M for him at a time when that was big money for the club has proven to be the best investment during my tenure.


Lasso was the second best attacker, finishing as the only other player with double digit goals, landing on 14 goals and 9 assists. A very good first season for the Colombian.


Vagnetti was very good at the back. However, Alberto Righi was a bit of a surprise, playing to a 7.3 rating in 20 appearances. He clearly is the third choice back, and may even be back in the starting XI if I decide to move Smejkal along.

Youth Watch

The best Sammarinese players in this intake are Francesco Michelotti, a RM, and Andrea Gasperoni, a CM. Unfortunately, both are dual nationals and both want to wait for an Italy call. Gasperoni may eventually switch since his potential is slightly lower. However, Michelotti has higher potential, so his switch seems more unlikely. Unfortunately, I have a serious lack of wingers in the pool right now and a glut of CMs, so this is not really helpful to me at this point. So it goes.


Allessandro Gualandi (ST)- A mediocre loan spell to relegated Fiorentina saw him score 7 in 35 appearances, although he did improve later in the season after only scoring 1 before the New Year. His development has somewhat stalled out, which may be good news for the national team. I plan to keep him around Calcio for at least the first half of next year.


Federico Balducci (CM)- Now 21, Balducci had 11 starts and 13 substitute appearances this season. Unfortunately, he didn’t do much with the opportunity, playing to a pedestrian 6.9 rating. I am not optimistic he will reach his potential, but he could still be a top Serie A player. I will continue to make space for him and the other youngsters, and Balducci will start next season in the starting XI.


Nicola Arzilli (ST)- What a season for Arzilli. He finished with 19 Serie A goals to finish as the second highest scorer in the division to help keep newly promoted Parma up. It seems like Arzilli may have passed Gualandi in the Italian setup as well, despite being a year younger. He will also be around the first team next season with Gualandi. It’s exciting to see Arzilli develop so spectacularly asanacademy product, but his meteoric rise obviously limits the likelihood that he will ever accept a San Marino call.


Giacomo Bonifazi (CM)- The 18 year-old has become something of a “super-sub” for the SMNT of late, popping up with some important goals over the last 12 months, including a 93rd minute winner against Hungary. However, his development has been hampered by a casual attitude, which I am trying to address through mentoring. He did not make a first team appearance last year, but in 29 appearances for my youth teams, he scored 15 and assisted on 14 for a rating of 7.8. I think he just needs to be loaned out next year because he is clearly beyond youth football at this point.


Roberto Stefanelli (CM)- Stefanelli has all the professionalism that Bonifazi lacks, which has helped his development immensely over the year, even making 4 Serie A appearances late in the season. Much like Bonifazi, he also dominated the competition at youth level. At this point, a clear first teamer with Balducci in the SMNT setup and is probably in line for a loan to Serie B.


Michele Rattini (CB)- The 18 year-old central defender was capped by Italy U20s at 16 and got his first U21 cap at 17, so he is still probably thinking he will represent Italy for the foreseeable future. He spent this season on loan at Salernitana in Serie B. Frankly, it was a bit of a disaster. He only made 28 appearances, had a 6.67 rating and missed a month and a half with a lower back stress fracture. I think he may just stick around Calcio next year to continue developing and get the occasional first team appearance.


Thomas Berti (GK)- The 17 year-old has developed nicely over the last year. He made 41 youth team appearances, with a 7.1 rating and allowing only .72 goals per 90 minutes. He has a fickle personality that we will try to address through mentoring, but he has all indications of being a top keeper. I still don’t expect him to take the gloves for a couple years at senior level, however. Despite this, his development has been quicker than expected, and he is basically even with Benedettini for first choice of the SMNT. At this point, Benedettini has 122 caps, and there is no way he will get to the 150 caps I estimated in last year’s update for Berti.


Club Finances/Infrastructure

We moved into the new stadium this year and started selling out immediately, so we instantly got an expansion request approved increasing the capacity by about 10,000 seats for $24M. So for the 2029-30 season, we will be playing in Cesena’s Orogel Stadium. Pretty excited to get the last of my facilities up to the level of the other top clubs in Italy.


On the financial side of things, we have $139M in the bank on July 1, with a profit of $37M over the year, including nearly $27M in transfer profit. With the stadium already paid for and a presumption of increased attendance, I expect this number to continue to go up. In addition, we have a bunch of players that have increased in value since signing, so I hope to make a decent transfer profit as I get more out of my academy.


Offseason Plans
A runner-up finish means we accomplished the goal of getting to CL. However, moving forward, the real target is going to be top-3 because of the structure of Serie A prize money. The difference between 1st and 3rd is about $400K, while the drop from 3rd to 4th is $4.1M. Right now, the first stages of transition seem to be going alright.


It seems like this is going to be a good time to move some players along. It’s a perfect storm of needing to make room for young players and players generating interest. Up front, Giuliani is getting interest from Man U and Liverpool. I am not hyper motivated to move him on, but might sell if a huge bid is made (something on the order of $120M). I’m going to actively try clearing out Slobozeanu and Hruska to get Arzilli and Gualandi in the fold. I also may move along Milan, who is getting interest from Man U, and Samir. In both cases, I think I can get cheaper options for rotation players, with Lasso and Ruiz usurping their places in the XI. However, I won’t give them away, and I will need both players to improve off disappointing seasons, where they both played to a 6.9 rating.


In the midfield, I am going to try moving Djokic and Dyche to make room for some younger players at some point, but again, I don’t need to give them away. The goal for the coming season is to have SMNT midfielder Balduccii, 19 year old wonderkid Ilir Sulaj, and Rodrigo Antonio as my top midfield options. I also think Steffanelli may crack the rotation at some point because of his developmental trajectory. My defensive midfielder Villamizar wants to move along too, and figures in the $50M+ range have been thrown about. I knocked back a bid from Arsenal during the season, then agreed to sell him at the end of the campaign. I will hold out for $60M, but I think I can get someone in to fill that role with the money, especially because I feel his performances never really lived up to his talent.


At the back I have also decided to make some changes. Alberto Righi had a strong season, and I think he will be my first choice with Vagnetti next season. While he is inferior to Smejkal overall, his speed makes him more suited to the high line I like to play. As such, Smejkal may be moved because of interest from Man United and a $30M move discussed in the press. This will give me space to bring in Rattini as a rotation piece, as well, with Jevtovic a 4th option.


For incomings, I have already secured a new keeper, meeting an $18.5M release clause for 20 year-old Brazilian wonderkid Arraial. Petkovic is really a second-choice talent for a team that has high ambitions, so I am thrilled to bring in a significantly better option, especially at this price. Berti’s development has been steady, but it will take a few years to get to a high level. This signing improves the squad in the present and will likely generate a huge profit in the future, when Berti’s time comes. I also plan to bring in a couple DMs to replace Villamizar, and possibly some other replacement players, depending on who moves. I also think a new winger or two will be coming in. Other than this, I will just replace players as necessary and try to find bargain U21 players that I can develop and flip for a profit. I also plan to start funneling millions of dollars into the San Marino League to (hopefully) start getting better players for the SMNT.


Completed Goals to date: Promotion from Serie D, Promotion from Serie C, Promotion from Serie B, Survive a Season in Serie A, Qualify for a European Tournament, Win Serie A.

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