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[FM20] Great Liechtenstein Challenge Update/Summary

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Well, it took me 23 seasons, but I finally won the champions league with FC Balzers. It was the hardest I've ever celebrated in FM, since regardless of the result it would be my last game in charge of the club. So I decided to summarize my journey with the club and the national team. I also have the game set up with the top divisions playable in the Top 5 leagues plus Argentina, Portugal, and the Netherlands to ensure I'd have a realistic challenge. 


For those who don't know, getting a Liechtensteiner club to win the Champions League is insanely difficult. No matter how much you change the coefficient, you only get one spot in the Europa Conference League, meaning you need to win the Europa Conference League in one season, then the Europa League in the next season, and then finally the Champions League. One slip up and it's back to square one. This is because Liechtenstein does not have a national league, just a cup. All Liechtensteiner teams compete in the Swiss league. 


FC Balzers are in the fourth tier of Switzerland. Shout out to @CTID86 for providing the inspiration for me to take this on. 


Attached is the summary of the final, in which we missed a penalty and scored on a set piece in the opening 10 minutes (the rest of the game being rather uneventful) and our run of results. 


As far as what's next, I plan on continuing to manage the national team for a bit. I'm definitely interested to see how FC Balzers gets on without my management. They could easily win the CL again - my board expectation was to get to the final. 


Subsequent posts will be reserved for summaries of the performances of the club and national team over the past 23 seasons. Thanks for reading :)

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Edited by dcu4life
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Season-by-season summary (FC Balzers) 

(milestones bolded)

2019/20: We finished first in fourth division group 3, promoted via playoffs. Switzerland has 3 fourth divisions, of which the top 3 go into some convoluted playoff system whereby only two get promoted. Interesting enough, both promotions went to Liechtensteiner clubs, with Eschen/Mauren also getting promoted. We lost in the Liechtenstein Cup Semis against Eschen/Mauren 

2020/21: First in Promotion League (3rd division), upset second-tier FC Vaduz 2-1 in the cup final, meaning we'd get our first taste of European competition the following year

2021/22: 3rd in Challenge League (2nd division), beat Vaduz 4-0 in the cup final, lost to Rangers 4-2 on aggregate in the Conference League Third Qualifying Round

2022/23: 4th in Challenge League, beat Vaduz 3-1 in cup final, lost to Lazio 4-1 on aggregate in the Conference League Fourth Qualifying Round

2023/24: 1st in Challenge League, beat Vaduz 2-1 in cup final, lost to Lausanne-Sport on away goals (3-3) in the Conference League Fourth Qualifying Round. That was a heartbreaker - we really outplayed them over the two legs

2024/25: 3rd in Super League, beat Eschen/Mauren 2-0 in cup final, lost to Wolves 3-1 in the Conference League Fourth Qualifying Round

2025/26: 2nd in Super League (by one point!), beat Eschen/Mauren 1-0 in cup final, lost to CSKA Moskva 3-1 in the Conference League Second Knockout Round. This was our first time getting to the group stage, and managed to navigate a group containing the likes of Feyenoord and Espanyol, finishing second, which was a fantastic achievement for us. 

2026/27: 1st in Super Leaguelost 2-1 to Eschen/Mauren in the cup final, lost to Feyenoord 3-2 in the Conference League Semifinals. Losing the cup final to a third division side was one of the worst results I've ever had in FM, meaning there'd be no European football the following season. In subsequent seasons, we won the league every time as well as the cup (except for situations where we intentionally lost when we had a mismatch in an upcoming European final in an attempt to get Vaduz some European football - luckily this never backfired on us). 

2027/28: No European football

2028/29: Lost 2-0 to Arsenal in Conference League Quarterfinals 

2029/30: Beat Atalanta 2-0 to win the Europa Conference League

2030/31: Lost 2-0 to Arsenal in Europa League Semis (after having beaten Hertha and Marseille) 

2031/32: Beat Everton 4-0 to win the Europa Conference League. We were completely dominant here, outscoring our opponents (Valencia, Hajduk, AZ, Everton) by a score of 21-0 in the knockout stages. We beat Valencia 10-0 on aggregate, which led to their newly hired coach to get the sack only 9 days!! after getting hired. I'd never seen something like this before in FM (screenshot below)


2032/33: Lost 3-1 to Hoffenheim in the Europa League Quarters. This was hugely disappointing as we took a 0-0 draw in Germany back to Liechtenstein, but got deservedly beaten by a superior Hoffenheim side

2033/34: Lost in penalties to Real Betis in the Conference League Final (1-1 draw AET)

2034/35: Beat Rennes 2-1 to win the Europa Conference League

2035/36: Beat Benfica 1-0 to win the Europa League

2036/37: Lost to Real Madrid 1-0 (AET) in UEFA Super Cup, Lost to Real Madrid 3-1 in the Champions League Quarterfinals, Lost to Man City 5-3 (AET) in the Club World Cup. I'm not quite sure how we qualified given that it appears the qualifiers go to the past 8 champions league finalists. Maybe it's based off of coefficient in the event that there aren't 8 finalists in the past 4 years? 

2037/38: Beat Valencia 4-0 to win the Europa Conference League

2038/39: Lost to Barcelona 1-0 in the Europa League Final. This one was tough - we had the better of the play during the match, but they scored against the run of play in injury time off of a corner. 

2039/40: Beat Hoffenheim 1-0 to win the Europa Conference League

2040/41: Beat Bayern 4-0 to win the Europa League. The scoreline flattered us, but this was another case of "win or go home" for myself and this save, so was delighted to have one more shot at champions league glory.

2041/42: Beat Arsenal 1-0 to win the Champions League

Edited by dcu4life
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Notable Players (FC Balzers)

In this reply, I'll go over some of the notable players we've had (real players marked with *). I won't go over all the icons as that would be too much :)


Martin Satriano* - We signed this Uruguayan striker on loan from Inter while we were still in the second tier. He got off to a slow start but showed enough promise to warrant signing him permanently for $235K. In his first full season we finished top of the Challenge League, gaining promotion to the Super League, and he was our star striker and club captain for a decade. He even managed to pick up a handful of caps for Uruguay.


Gabriel Bares* - We signed this Swiss midfielder on a free before our final season in the Challenge League. A silky smooth deep lying playmaker, Bares was at the hub of our midfield for a decade. 


Mateo Kovacic* - I'm sure most folks have heard of this guy :). We managed to sign him for free towards the end of his career after his PSG contract expired. He was so good for two seasons he instantly became a club legend.

Nicolo Bartolini - We signed Bartolini from Serie-B side Livorno for $3.7M, and what a deal it would turn out to be. The center-back ended up winning 76 caps for Italy, including starting in the 2034 World Cup Final. He became our club captain after Martin Satriano left in 2033. As he's now the fourth choice CB, he agreed to sign a deal with Torino after this season as his contract is expiring. 



Esteban Aguirre - This versatile Argentinean winger, who also started (albeit on the winning side) in that 2034 World Cup Final, is one of the most well-rounded players I've ever seen on FM. 


Xabier Saenz - I thought this kid would be a stud ever since we scouted him young. Thank goodness for Spain and their release clauses. We were able to pay the $29M release clause to bring him in while 17. At the time it was the second-highest fee we've ever spent on a player, but boy did it pay off. He's one of the best players I've ever managed on FM, and is now considered as Spain's key player. 51 goals in 52 caps in mental, and he had a couple of ridiculous seasons for us, following up a year of scoring 38 in 26 with a year scoring 43 in 31.


Justin Pereira - This one I'm kind of proud of because I PSG-ed PSG, breaking the back to sign him for a transfer-record-breaking  $75M as an 18 year old. An all around central midfielder, he's considered France's key player currently.


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Tactics and Current Starting XI (FC Balzers)

I used a couple of different tactics in the lower divisions, but the vast majority of my time in the top-flight I've been fielding a vertical tiki-taka-ish 4-1-4-1 DM wide, which I modeled off of Sarri's Napoli (I'm a Napoli fan) and a direct 3-4-2-1, which has no inspiration. 





Current Starting XI 

Luckily we had no injuries/suspensions for the Champions League Final, so we were able to field a first choice XI. We played the 4-1-4-1 Sarrismo tactic.

GK (Mathieu Buillot) - signed for $20.5M from Rennes in 2032/33 (SK/Defend)


RB (Lukas Musil) - signed for $1.4M from FC Twente in 2035/36 (WB/Support)


DCR (Andrew Preisner) - signed on an expiring contract from Atletico Paranaense in 2031/32 (BPD/Cover)


DCL (Lucas Piette) - signed for $105M (by far our record transfer) from PSG in January. We probably overspent on him but we have bags of cash and needed another CB with Bartolini in decline. (CD/Defend)


LB (Francisco Mejia) - signed for $4M from America de Cali in 2031/32 (FB/Support)


CDM (Christos Savva) - signed from Heerenveen for $1.7M in 2036/37 (DLP/Defend)


MCR (Justin Pereira) - signed from PSG for $75M in 2035/36 (CM/Attack)


MCL (Song Tae Wook) - signed for $22.5M from Besiktas in 2033/34 (BWM/Support)


AMR (Youssouf Sanali) - signed for $5M from SM Caen in 2037/38 (AP/Attack)


AML (Hernan Yabur) - signed for $1M from America de Cali in 2031/32 (W/Support)


STC (Xabier Saenz) - signed for $27M from Athletic Club in 2033/34 (AF/Attack)


Edited by dcu4life
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Yearly Summary (Liechtenstein National Team)

Euro 2020 Qualifying: We began our journey in June 2019, and lost every game we played to finish bottom of our group (Italy, Finland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Armenia)

2020 Uefa Nations League, League D: Won every game against Faeroe Islands and Gibraltar, promoted to League C

World Cup 2022 Qualifying: We didn't finish last! Picked up home wins against Montenegro and Luxembourg, drew away to Luxembourg, lost every other game to England, Poland, and Bosnia

2022 Uefa Nations League, League C: Finished first in a group with Czech Republic, Armenia, and Estonia (included 2 100% lucky wins against the Czechs), promoted to League B

Euro 2024 Qualifying: Beat Armenia home and away, but lost every other game. However we qualified via the playoffs, clinging on for dear life against Hungary (winning in penalties), followed by a deserved 1-0 win against Georgia

Euro 2024: Lost every game by the same scoreline (1-0) against the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark

2024 Uefa Nations League, League B: Unfortunately we were relegated to League C, with our only points coming in a 2-1 home victory against Ireland

World Cup 2026 Qualifying: Finished fourth in a group behind Germany, Sweden, Iceland, and ahead of Montenegro and Moldova

2026 Uefa Nations League, League C: A very poor performance from us, finishing 3rd behind Albania and Cyprus, yet ahead of Moldova. 

Euro 2028 Qualifying: Finished 3rd behind Portugal and Austria (we weren't close to second), but ahead of Bosnia and Armenia

2028 Uefa Nations League, League C: Finished first ahead of Kosovo, Slovakia, and Estonia. Promoted to League B

World Cup 2030 Qualifying: Finished fourth behind Serbia, Scotland, and Romania

2030 Uefa Nations League, League B: Despite picking up 5 points against Wales, Sweden, and Bulgaria, we were relegated to League C

2032 Euro Qualifying: Finished 3rd behind Belgium and Ireland, qualified via playoffs after comfortable wins against Azerbaijan (3-0) and Israel (4-1)

Euro 2032: Finished 3rd in a group with Denmark, Germany, and Belgium, including a dramatic 3-2 victory against the Danes. Lost in a heartbreaker 2-1 to Turkey in the second round, conceding a 119th minute winner.


2032 Uefa Nations League, League C: Finished 2nd behind Hungary, despite finishing with 15 points. Hungary also finished with 15, but they had the head-to-head as they beat us 2-0 while we only beat them 1-0.

2034 World Cup Qualifying: Finished 2nd behind Turkey, but ahead of Ukraine, Greece, Luxembourg, and Faeroe Islands. We qualified for the 2034 World Cup, squeaking in as one of the 6 best second-placed teams. We needed some help after we finished our qualifying campaign with a home draw against Turkey (IIRC we needed Hungary to get a result at home against Poland), but we luckily got the help we needed. 


World Cup 2034: Lost in the Quarterfinals against eventual winners Argentina. An amazing run that far exceeded my expectations, albeit slightly aided by a kind draw. In the group stage we beat hosts South Korea in an even affair, then drew with Ghana despite having the better run of the play. Finishing top of our group allowed us to rest players in the second round against Honduras, which was followed up by a fantastic performance to upset Uruguay 2-0. In the QF, we were totally overrun by Argentina and lost 4-1.657975406_ScreenShot2021-01-16at6_33_30PM.thumb.png.e76cac1fb6021fc810abe3a21c22804d.png

2034 Uefa Nations League, League C: Finished first ahead of Kosovo, Albania, and Armenia. Promoted to League B

2036 Euro Qualifying: Finished first in our group, including an amazing 3-2 win away to Turkey, which was probably the best performance we've put on as a national team as we completely deserved the victory and created so many chances. 



Euro 2036: Finished fourth in a group with Italy, Poland, and Iceland. This was incredibly disappointing. Probably the strongest NT squad we've ever had, we deservedly beat Poland in the first game and then lost convincingly against Italy. In the final match against Iceland we definitely got FMed. Our best player got sent off in the first 10 minutes, but we dominated the game anyways, creating 5 clear cut chances. I was so mad I almost started another save. 

2036 Uefa Nations League, League B: I had thought we'd done enough to get promoted. We went into the final matchday needing to win by 3 goals against Wales and have Norway lose to Iceland. We did our part, but Norway scored a late equalizer after the final whistle in our game had finished. So we ended up finishing second.


2038 World Cup Qualifying: Finished 3rd behind Belgium and Sweden.

2038 Uefa Nations League, League B: We picked up 15 points against Albania, Turkey, and Poland, but still managed to finish 2nd as Turkey also picked up 15 points but had the better head to head. (They beat us 5-3, we beat them 3-2).

2040 Euro Qualifying: Finished 2nd behind Germany but ahead of Iceland, Luxembourg, and Malta. This was a really easy group for us. Getting seeded 2nd was key after the strong performance in Nations League.

Euro 2040: Finished 4th behind Spain, Poland, and Turkey. Poland was the most winnable game for us, and we outplayed them, missed a penalty, and then conceded a late winner against the run of play. Very disappointing. 

2040 Uefa Nations League, League B: Finished 3rd behind Croatia and Sweden but ahead of Bulgaria.

2042 World Cup Qualifying: Finished first in our qualifying group, qualifying for the 2042 World Cup. The last match was at home against Turkey, which we needed to win to secure qualification, and we got a 95th minute winner from our Wunderkind striker to secure qualification. (As it turns out we would have finished as one of the best placed second teams even with a draw, but we weren't assured of this at the time). 


2042 World Cup: We haven't played yet! But we're drawn in a group with Ecuador and South Korea. It won't be easy but at least we avoided Argentina and Brazil. 

Edited by dcu4life
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Notable Players (Liechtenstein National Team)

Bas Drechsel - The best national team player of all time, Drechsel was a complete center forward (in fact that's also the role I used him in). He scored an incredible 82 goals in 171 caps. Sadly he retired at 34 even though he was still a key player for the National Team and could have really helped us at Euro 2040. He was also a thorn in my side at the club level for a while when Young Boys were are closest title challengers. 


Maximilian Göppel - This is the only non-regen on this list, but he was our starting left back and one of our best players for 15 years. He was our record cap holder until Drechsel broke his record, with 7 goals in 156 caps. He scored the goal against Georgia to secure qualification for Euro 2024. 



Gilbert Feustel - This regen GK showed up at Lausanne Sport, and was our starting GK for a long long time. Bounced around Europe for a while as a career backup, including Lazio, Rennes, and AC Milan. He also seemed to be a penalty-saving specialist for the national team.



Lucas Figueredo - This is the only significant naturalized player (at least from FC Balzers, we've gotten a bunch from Vaduz and a couple from Eschen/Mauren), Figueredo is a classy CM who starred for Tottenham for a while after we sold him. Still a key player for the National Team at 33, he's playing at Shakhtar currently.


Christian Bolten - This was the first Liechtensteiner player to be dubbed as "one of world soccer's global superstars", Bolten is by far the best player that came out of the FC Balzers academy and is currently the nations key attacking player. 



Daniel Gauer - This all action midfielder came through the Basel academy. Despite getting some caps for Italy U21 we were able to convince him to play for us before the age of 20. 



Jakob Altwicker - Altwicker is the great hope for the future. At just 18 he is already Liechtenstein's best player, and currently a squad player for FC Balzers. Despite having been born in Balzers, Altwicker came through Red Star FC in France's second tier. Also eligible for France, Altwicker would have likely been good enough to feature for them. We managed to convince him to play for us prior to Euro 2040, and he became the youngest player to feature at the Euros at the age of 16. 



Edited by dcu4life
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Tactics and Current Starting XI (Liechtenstein National Team)

I think the national team success is primarily due to tactics. I tried this tactic at club level for a bit but success was mixed; I've always found that the tactics that work in the international game don't quite align with what works well in the club game. This tactic is based off of Ancelotti's 4-4-2 while he was at Napoli, but with some tweaks. I don't use any other tactics, I'll just tweak this one in game (such as changing the defensive line, moving the CMs to DM, etc.)


Current Starting XI

GK - Basil Hartmann (Vancouver Whitecaps / MLS)



RB - Moritz Müller (FC Wil / Swiss Challenge League)


DRC - Oliver Altwasser (FC Wil / Swiss Challenge League)


DCL - Saer Hepperle (Hapoel Be'er-Sheva / Israeli Premier League)


LB - Uwe Finsterer (FC Vaduz / Swiss Super League) - Note: Finsterer won the World Cup Best Young Player in 2034


MR - Christian Bolten (Real Sociedad / La Liga)


MCR - Daniel Gauer (Lokomotiv Moscow / Russian Premier League)


MCL - Lucas Figueredo (Shakhtar Donetsk / Ukrainian Premier League)


ML - Jakob Altwicker (FC Balzers / Swiss Super League)


STCR - Jose Miguel Gallego (FC Vaduz / Swiss Super League)


STCL - Moritz Hartmann (Adelaide United / A-League)


Edited by dcu4life
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Wow, what an incredible achievement! Did you get any decent players from Liechtenstein come through? How is the Swiss league doing in terms of reputation and European success?

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7 hours ago, Toin said:

Wow, what an incredible achievement! Did you get any decent players from Liechtenstein come through? How is the Swiss league doing in terms of reputation and European success?

I'll add some more info on that after work today. Despite upgrading all our facilities and having a great HOYD, we were awful at producing quality players. There was only one player we produced that ended up being good enough to play in the first team (we ended up selling him to Schalke while he was still young, now he's a starter for Real Sociedad). Our best regens from FC Balzers are squad players on bottom-half SuperLeague teams. 

We got some good regens from other Swiss teams, and (unexpectedly) one AMAZING regen from a second division team in France (Red Star). 

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On 12/01/2021 at 01:20, Toin said:

Wow, what an incredible achievement! Did you get any decent players from Liechtenstein come through? How is the Swiss league doing in terms of reputation and European success?

Reputation-wise the Swiss Super League is 8th in Europe. Coefficient-wise it's seventh (not including Liechtenstein itself), ahead of Portugal. St Gallen made it out of the Champions League group stages a couple of times in the last decade but nothing more than that. 

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