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[FM22] Yet another build a club and nation - FC Winterthur


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Hello fellow FM maniacs!

Just a bit of myself before diving in the interesting stuff. I've been playing since CM01/02 but FM07 is when I really got into it. Since then I played way more than I would like to admit..

Enough of that, onto the save: this years addition of dynamic youth ratings lead to a lot of this kind of save, where you try to build a nation using a club. Europe was always the top choice but the country was a little more challenging. Didn't want a really bad country as it would take too long and potentially becoming very boring domestically. At same time I was looking for some peripheric league as always find myself managing on the same top 6/7 leagues. So in the end was between Russia (too many complicated registration rules), Belgium (National too good), Austria and Switzerland, choosing the latter based on having 2 top dogs (Basel and Young Boys) rather than only one running away with it every single time.

Then it was time to look for a club and FC Winterthur looked like a good candidate being the oldest club in the 2nd tier (alongside our local rivals FC Schaffhausen) and never played in the top league. Yes, that's 125 years without achieving a single promotion!

(quick disclaimer: already played the 1st full season without thinking of writing about it, so screenshots and stuff is limited, which I apologize for)

I went with this setup and chose to start managing only the club, giving myself a few rules to enhance the realism:

  • No player search screen (scouting, data analysis and DoF suggestions will be the source of player recruitment)
  • No staff search screen either (adverts only)
  • Attribute masking on

The main goals of the save are:

  1. Dominate Swiss football
  2. Win a Champions League
  3. Get the Super League to top 6 in Europe
  4. Become Swiss NT manager
  5. Win a Euro / World Cup
  6.  Get Swiss to #1 in the World

Also, I want to stick to a model player based around Personality (professionalism), Work Ethic (Determination, Work Rate, Teamwork), Technique (First Touch, Passing,Technique) and Intelligence (Anticipation, Decisions, Composure, Vision). Youth development will play a major role in the save and I'll try to apply this DNA as much as I can, which will be challenging given the need to develop Swiss players to feed the NT.

For the 1st season, I'll post only 1 or 2 updates given the limitations stated above.

 

Hopefully my English was decent enough and you'll be interested in this adventure!

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @karanhsingh!

#1 - That's season 1 for you

So as I said didn't thought I'll be writing about this and breezed through the first season, as is the one I like the least. 

In terms of transfers in only two players: Bahlouli (21 years-old French CM/AMLC) at the start of season and Carlos Tevez (38 ... well you know who he is) both for free. As for exits, some not really promising young players left on loan at the start and a couple more for free in the winter market. I'm really trying to clean the U18's and U21's given there about 40 players with no future lying in there. Also 2 first teamers left in Spiegel - 28 yo GK for 70k - and Lekaj - 31 CB 13k, both for the same reason: promising players taken their positions. Particularly Spiegel is a really solid GK with some years left in him but I opted for Pukaj, really promising at 21, with long term planning in mind. 

Tactically, 4-3-3 has always been my preferred formation due to the inherent balance and space occupation it offers as well as a lot of options going forward. In particular I absolutely love deep runs from the CM's or even IWB's. As you probably can tell for the DNA chosen I lean towards a possession oriented style with smart pressing, so this is what we use this season:

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A solid triangle in the middle with a couple of not-too-aggressive wing-backs give the platform for the front 5 do the magic. Really basic TI's and no PI's whatsoever looking the take our time in possession, overload the flanks and unleash the opposite winger or the 8 running from deep. The only change done since the start was turning the PF from support to attack as I felt he was dropping too deep not stretching the field vertically enough. Out of possession we want to pick our moments to activate the press (PF will be responsible for that) and push our DL line a bit, not over-exposing our CBs.

The results were great, dare I say. We were predicted to finish 6th (of 10) but following dropping points in 2 out of 3 first games (a draw and a loss) we went on a 26 unbeaten run, consisting of 23 wins and only 3 draws. We're playing some nice football, outshooting our opponents (19 to 5, 9-2 on target on average), scoring 57 and conceding only 10 while keeping 60% of possession. Ended as Champions with only 2 losses (Aarau two times, 1-0) and 5 draws on 36 games, totalling a league-record 92 points.

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The Cup run involved 3 (!) amateur sides in Bassecourt, Cham and Biel-Bienne and a shocking win against top tier 4th placed Zurich in a match we dominated, nearly doubling their shots and xG. 

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The squad stats show clearly the use of a defined 10, plus a lot of rotation on the LB spot. Between the sticks, Pukaj don't let me down, saying present when needed. Gelmi and Baak where monsters at the back and also contributed on set pieces with Isik also showing good signs. Really happy with my decision of offload age for potential. On the right a similar situation with Michael relegated to a secondary role to the young Gantenbein, who was solid but not great. The left side was the more problematic as neither Diaby or Schattin delivered, even though the former improved as the season went on. At the anchor Arnold was just that: a solid rest defence presence with the ability to recycle possession effectively but young CB-turned-DM Hammer is improving at a outstanding rate and was gifted with some starts in the final league games. Cavar looked to have a lot of potential but starts with a long term injury that appears to somewhat affected that.

Corbaz and Roberto Alves were the dynamic duo of 8's leaving little chances for the others with their displays. Kriz is promising but is development has been a bit underwhelming and Pepsi is in the exact same situation as Cavar. The right wing was Ramizi property achieving a double-double of goals and assists leaving Ltaief with only a couple of league starts. New boy Bahlouli started as backup CM but ended stealing Manzambi place on the left with an great eye for the goal. Upfront Buess was great with 27 goals contributions from 35. Ballet and Tevez almost never left the bench.

A look at the DNA of our 1st team squad shows some improvement in the intelligence and professionalism of a few younger players but little if any changes elsewhere. Our decent but not great facilities and the absence of great PA for most of our players helps explain this and is what I expected.

We'll have a look at our first youth intake and it was a good one - 5 elite talents and 4 top - according to our staff. Bear in mind this is related to the level of our squad so if 1 or 2 of these effectively turn out decent will be good. Here are the elite boys: 

  • Daley (CB) - 1.88m and 14 jumping reach at 15 is tasty with pretty good balance also. Not bad mentally and fits our DNA, apart from his vision and 1st touch. Training: CB with rotating additional focus on 'quickness' and 'strength'.
  • Kebaya (RW) - good combination of quickness, agility and ball control with a touch of flair to spicy thing up. Again tall guy with good jumping reach could potentially make him a threat on back post, although can't really head/finish. Training: IFa with rotating additional focus on 'Final third' and 'Attacking movement'.
  • Wild (ST) - not the fastest nor a aerial threat has a fantastic holy trinity, technique and composure but can't pass to save his life and lacks intelligence and work rate. Will be though to hide his weakness but could be that super-sub that enters for 20 minutes to try and score with half-a-chance.  Training: AF with rotating additional focus on 'Passing' and 'Attacking movement'. (Already made 3 sub apps off the bench scoring a goal)
  • Schreiber (CM) - has the ability to see and make a pass (even the most unexpected), has the agility/first touch to work in thigh spaces and is as though as they come. Training: Mez(a) with rotating additional focus on 'Final third' and 'Ball control'.
  • Loose (LW) - a raw athlete with a strange combination of good technique/flair and otherwise awful technical attributes. Another potential super-sub, using his athleticism to stir up a game. Training: IF(a) with rotating additional focus on 'Final third' and 'Ball control'. 

 

To end this update a little talk about the future. First and foremost, we're about €1.3M on the red and our budgets will be a big fat 0 for transfers alongside €285k on wages (we're spending 200k right now) so not a lot of margin. Thankfully about 30 or so players will be out of contract soon and will give some relief to our wage budget. Free transfers all the way!

This also ties with our DNA approach as beggars can't be choosers especially in a season where we need some upgrades to establish in top flight, meaning we'll try to stick to that but most certainly make some exceptions. Obviously as the save progress there will be less and less deviations. 

 

Quite a long post that hopefully isn't too much for you guys! From now on I'll be updating at very lease 3 times per season (start, january, end).

Edited by extudassex2
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On 08/01/2022 at 03:41, extudassex2 said:

and never played in the top league. Yes, that's 125 years without achieving a single promotion!

To be fair, to my knowledge they did won the older Serie A (that what is was called) 2 or 3 times at the begining of the 20th Century. Might never played to the SuperLeague but I doubt they dont have any season in the top flight.

Anyway, sorry from the detour from a history geek, good luck with this project!

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8 horas atrás, Muttley84 disse:

To be fair, to my knowledge they did won the older Serie A (that what is was called) 2 or 3 times at the begining of the 20th Century. Might never played to the SuperLeague but I doubt they dont have any season in the top flight.

Anyway, sorry from the detour from a history geek, good luck with this project!

That's the price you pay for not looking past the club history graph on FM. They did last played in so called Serie A in 84/85 according to transfermarkt. Thanks for pointing that out!

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#2 - Let's meet the players

So after that all-in-one update, it's time to meet the squad as we approach our first season in the top flight.

GK

As I said, last season we gave our young Albanian Pukaj the nod and we were planning to do it again until Hammel made our scout reports as he was ending his contract with 2nd-tier Stade Lausanne-Ouchy. It's just a upgrade across the board plus being 1 year younger, Swiss and having 5* potential.

Defence

Gantenbein keeps his spot as 1st RB, he's solid and smart-ish hopefully keeps growing. Isik will cover both RB and CB, would probably be ahead of Gantenbein if a little quicker. Gelmi and Baak were our central partnership last season and will remain so. They work very well together and I hope for more of the same, after turning down a couple of 500k offers for Baak. Jorge Silva arrives after his Lazio's contract ended to provide cover, decent all-around option. Remember when I said LB was a problem last season? Well.. turns out we found no-one better and are stuck with Diaby and Schattin. Neither look terrible on paper, neither perform on the field. I'll probably dig a little deeper stats-wise if things stay the same.

Midfield

At the base, Massouema is another free signing and will start ahead of last season's 1st choice Arnold and golden boy Hammer. The frenchmen passing ability allows us to turn him into a DLP and use Hammer as a more defensively solid option. Arnold will most likely be used as rotation for yet another free signing H'Maidat as the less aggressive 8. The Morocco international fits almost perfectly our DNA. Last season top assist maker Roberto Alves is the only midfielder to keep his status as Corbaz drops to the bench. 

Attack

Ramizi was a great from the right wing, last year, but new-boy Graiciar will give him a run for his money. No changes on left as Bahlouli stays ahead of Ltaief and hopes for another solid season. Upfront Challenge League top goalscorer Buess will have a difficult time taking Carranza of the team. Carlitos Tevez still around kicking some balls and mentoring the kids.

 

All in all, a decent squad with some solid upgrades given the lack of money, although the media disagrees. A quick glance at our DNA page, shows we're decent technically but lots of work still to be done.

As for the rules, we'll play 36 games (4 times each team), 10th is automatic relegated and 9th plays a playoff against 2nd-tier 2nd placed, while top 5 gets European Football (2 qualifying rounds to CL, 1 to EL and 2 to Conference). A boring midtable finish would be great and I think we could achieve it.

Tactically we'll stick to the same 4-3-3, changing only the Anchor to DLP when Massouema plays. Probably a lot of game-to-game tweaking will be required and I'll try to document that through the season.

 

Curious about what you guys think about the players!

 

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#3 - Dream start

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Home vs Lausanne (4-2-3-1) – Nothing major tactically, just wanted to see if the base is solid enough before tweaking too much. Absolutely dominated xG and possession through the passing of Massouema. Carranza took 7 minutes to score his first club goal, after a beautiful passing move. A couple of screamers from Massouema and Bahlouli on final 20 minutes ensure a good start at Super League.

Away to Lugano (4-4-2) - Focus play through the middle given our man advantage there. Worked out great, fine display and a beautiful goal just like we planned it.

Home vs Servette (deep 4-2-3-1) - a couple of OI’s to try take their playmaker off the game (subbed off at 6.3), push DL much higher (given his striker is a target man with 10 pace) and going extremely wide, trying to overload the flanks and pull their double pivot out of position. Solid performance, despite not controlling the ball as usual.

Home vs Zurich (3-4-1-2) - Drop DL to standard (very pacey striker partnership). Also essential was to get our midfielders receive the ball behind theirs which we achieved, again, after overloading flanks – 1st goal and 3rd build up.

Home vs Basel (4-2-3-1) – Higher DL (they played a target man in Zirkzee), narrow defensive width and OIs to force them wide (2 wrong-footed wide players) and hard tacking and pressing OIs on both CMs (both very average passers/dribblers). Zirkzee barely touched the ball in our defensive third, managing just 1 shot from outside the box, IFs also out of game and another comfortable 3-0 win. We’re playing some inspired football – as showed when 9 out of 10 field players played a part in our 3rd goal (got to love that PF dropping deep and assisting the on rushing Mezzala).

Away to Grasshoper (4-2-3-1) – Slightly deeper DL (very pacey ST) and narrow defensive coupled with OIs to force wide (again wrong-footed wingers). They also got Jensen (former Brentford) pulling strings from deep, so we put our usual trigger press + hard tackle combination on him. That resulted in a very boring first half where we found ourselves 1-0 down thanks to a banger of a free kick despite neither team creating anything of note. So, we took the risk going Higher DL, up’d the press and man-mark Jensen, with our striker Carranza. As per usual Diaby was performing terribly from LB so changed to IWB on attack to get him more involved and knock-on effect change our supporting Mezzala to Carrilero trying to get some positional rotation down the left. Insta impact as Diaby moved ahead of H’Maidat into the half space to put Carranza through on goal for the equalizer. A couple of minutes later Diaby running on the inside again, leaving Bahlouli 1vs1 on acres of space to deliver the cross that Alves finished to put us ahead.

Away to Sion (4-3-3) – only our anti-playmaker OI’s and tried that IWBa – Car combination on the left from the kick off. We managed to limit their PM Gujic #7 to 19 passes forcing the other midfielders to make the plays but it was a though game as #14 Grgic stepped up. Eventually we applied same receipt to him and controlled the game a bit better. In the end a 92-minute winner to keep our unbelievable winning streak alive and it was our men Diaby with the assist. He actually led the team in open play key passes (4) and CCC (2).

Home vs Young Boys (4-4-2) – Really tough game with injuries to Massouema and Bahlouli. Focus play through the middle, OI the hell out of their double pivot and also asked our keeper to distribute to our full backs to attract opp wingers really isolating that midfield duo. They had their chances although we were fairly competent at limiting the quality of those. In possession we struggled, particularly our CB were forced to too many long passes and our wide players barely touched the ball. In one of those rare occasions Ltaief broke free, received a great pass form Alves and was brought down inside the box as he was going to a 1vs1 against the keeper… penalty, goal and 8th win on the bounce.

Away to Luzern (4-1-2-2AM-1) – 2 days of rest so heavy legs through the team. Quite an unusual formation, almost the iconic x-mas tree, which meant going narrow in defence but extremely wide in possession. Also changed our DLP to HB to give him a little more space and push our WB higher. At this point we’re scrapping wins, it’s all about nullifying our opponent strengths and take our chances, which is exactly is what we’ve doing.

 

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That’s the first quarter of the season done and I can’t believe that table! 22 goals for only 2 against resulting in 9/9 wins is outrageous as we start to dream about European football next season. But we need to keep our feet on the ground as the last couple of performances were less sparkling and eventually the ball will stop rolling our way.

Edited by extudassex2
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#4 - Who can stop us?

2022 is the year of *that* World Cup so I took time of the long winter break to update with our latest games.

 

Away at Lausanne (3-4-1-2) – Just OI’ing Labyad as their #10. It was a strange game as I was convinced that we had dominated (only a couple highlights for them) and was shocked when saw they had more shots than we did, although far less xG and only 3 on target. We did enough to win it particularly in the 2nd half when we really took over.

Home vs Lugano (4-4-2) – Started with focus through the middle as per usual vs 4-4-2 but at about 30 minutes remove that and went extremely wide because they were very narrow and deep and that made a huge difference. Their xG is a bit of a lie given they had a penalty saved and scored the rebound on an open goal but games are getting harder and harder to win. (Diaby is really enjoying life as an IWB scoring his first career goal).

Away at Servette (deep 4-2-3-1) – applied the same strategy of our last meeting (writing all the stuff helps me a lot remembering what worked/didn’t). History repeated itself as we failed to control possession but still managed to create more and better chances to keep our winning streak going. Another example of how good we are at creating overloads – 1st goal.

 

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 We look unstoppable scoring for fun (34 goals, close to 3 per game) and conceding only 6 (0.5/game) doubling the point tally of the third place, which is quite unbelievable! Champions League football is closer and closer but still a lot to be played.

Can this dream season continue? 

 

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We trying at least @karanhsingh!

 

#5 - Reality check?

 

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After that long break due to World Cup 22 (won by Germany btw), we looked rusty, despite playing 6 friendlies, and Grasshopper took advantage scoring early from a corner. Fortunately, we took over quickly, equalize 20 minutes in and the comeback looked on until Massouema lost his mind and saw the red after a horrible tackle. We tried to use possession as a defensive weapon as did that effectively holding on till the end. Against Zurich, we played a really good game and limit them to nothing until a late penalty. Another away game, at Basel, and by far our worst game ever, terrible in possession (2-0 was an ‘assist’ from Baak to their striker), always late in the press, nothing went right. A couple of tactical changes at HT saw us improve ever so slightly but these performances are unacceptable.

Back home vs 4th place Sion, to continue this difficult run of games, and our defence returned after that day off last time but again very poor in possession so 0-0 was the best we could get. After playing 3rd and 4th nothing better that a trip to 2nd and 4-time Champions, Young Boys. Conceding from a corner 5 minutes in was not part of the plan but Bahlouli score a banger, after a couple of disappoint performances. Talking about bangers they score an even better one minutes later but Carranza manage to put us level again against the run of play. They did score two late goals to get a thoroughly deserved win. 

At home vs Luzern, we needed a response after 3 games without a win and we did although conceding a few too many half chances.

That's a though run of games, we're actually out-xG'ed in 4/6 games and given at least 1.1 xGA every time. Looking at some stats, we're not tackling enough nor winning the ball back and individual stats aren't great either: only one of our usual midfielders attempts more than 1 tackle/game, our 8's just don't win the ball backThis just sums it up: a staggering 67% of our defensive actions in our defensive third means a lot of pressure put on our back line. Based on that a couple of TI's added to the tactic: get stuck in and higher LoE. I really don't want to push further up  the DL as our CB's aren't that pacey so staying on 'Higher' for now.

I need to bear in mind that we just got promoted and are dead last in salary/year by quite some margin and still overachieving significantly. We do have a little room in wage budget so maybe a couple of signings if someone pops up.

Edited by extudassex2
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Hopefully the use of data hub works out on the field @karanhsingh

#6 - Two horse race

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The game against Lausanne was our best performance in the last 6 or 7 games but we somehow managed to lose it as we don’t look capable of keeping a clean sheet. A trip to last placed Lugano came just at the right time, we really dominated the game, more aggressive in the middle and showing that free flowing football again. We continued our good performances against Zurich, 1-0 and cruising until Gantenbein got sent off leaving us with 10 men for an hour. We still controlled the game with the ball, eventually got a 2nd and it was a matter of keep being solid which we did despite a late goal from a throw-in. A very boring game vs Servette as we couldn’t break them down. The game against Grashopper saw us continue our good form with another dominant performance as Bahlouli and Alves scored on each side of HT before Graciar added a 3rd. We welcome Basel in a good moment so we believe in our chances of getting a result with some luck… which we didn’t have as H’Maidat hit the woodwork twice! In between Basel scored but we tied right back, looked good for a comeback and Diaby missed the chance to give us the lead late. We take a draw against such a good team but there’s that feeling.. we could’ve won it. Another big game followed as we hosted Young Boys. We were in control, Carranza failed to score a couple of 1vs1 skying one and hitting the woodwork on the other, but Young Boys actually struck with their first chance. We fought back and Alves chipped the keeper only to hit the bar (that’s 4 in one and a half matches) before being rewarded as Gelmi followed his own miss to score after a corner. In the end another draw and the same bittersweet feeling although one thing is certain: we look much better if we compare to the last meetings against these top teams (more on that later). To continue this difficult run of games we face 4th Sion and after falling behind to a penalty never really get it going. A couple of chances here and there but far from the level we want. To end our little run of games against the entire top5, we traveled to Luzern and took us a while to get our engine running but when we did, we did in style scoring 3 of the first 5 shots. An easy win meant we’re staying top of the league heading to the last 9 games.

Still a complete round to be played but it's looking a 2-horse race for the title and we're pretty close of guarantying Champions League football next season.

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Thanks for the comments @karanhsingh @deltablue @kingjericho, really appreciate the support!

 

Quick market update as some free agents joined to give us a little more depth and a few exits as well, all of them were unhappy with playing time Carlitos Tevez joins Neuchatel Xamas for free, Tobias Schattin goes to our rivals Schaffhausen for 9.5k, St Gallen payed 200k (plus 30% next transfer) for Alan Rodriguez and Sint-Truiden invested 70k on Jorge Silva. That's 3rd choice striker and back up left back, midfielder and centre back so we took a look at the information that our scouts are accumulating and found Calderara to challenge Diaby for the LB spot, David Vinhas as 4th choice CB - on loan from Olympiakos, Franco Ibarra to be our midfielder off the bench and Larrea as another option across the entire right flank. Ibarra in particular looks very good and at 21 still has some margin to improve.

So all in all, that's 300k profit, almost the same wages and a bit more quality overall. Also the youth intake came through with a couple of potentially decent options in Kabangu and Stojanovic. Kabangu will be working on defensive positioning, his major flaw, but looks decent for BPD and is fairly professional also, while Stojanovic is retraining as CM because of his decent defensive abilities (bar positioning, which is why CDM is not an option) but lack of pace to play wide.

But now it's time to focus on the field and hopefully win some matches.

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#7 - Close

 

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We faced Lausanne (5th) knowing that Young Boys drawed the day before so we had an opportunity to put some points between us but Hammel misplaced a pass as we build from the back gifting a goal to Lausanne. Fortunately we were quick to react and Carranza rounded their keeper to equalize 2 minutes later. We kept putting the pressure on and eventually H’Maidat curled in a beautiful shot from the edge of the area to give us a much deserved lead. A couple of draws in games that we create just enough to win despite not really putting as much pressure as we could. These are the games we have to win, against mid and lower table sides, to have some kind of chance to stay ahead of Young Boys. Against Zurich we looked better in attack but left it late scoring only in the final 15 minutes, before conceding a late consolation goal. With 5 games left, we have a 3 point lead but a harder schedule including trips to Basel and Young Boys, while an 11 point margin to 3rd appears to be enough to secure a Champions League qualification spot. Grasshoppher was a must win game given the situation, Alves gave us an early lead and we were in full control all the way until the 60th minute when Isik made a brilliant last ditch tackle to avoid the draw in a shot valued at 0.56xG. Scary moment for sure and Graiciar took matters in his hands immediately scoring, easing the tension before H’Maidat coolly rounded the keeper to make it 3-0 from an absolute gem of an assist from 16yo Schreiber in his first start ever. We then hosted Sion knowing that Champions League was secured due to Young Boys beating Basel and came out the gates strong with H’Maidat scoring for the 2nd game in a row. The Moroccan put on a show, hitting the post only to see Carranza score the rebound for our second and assisting Ramizi for the third. A very even first half against Basel saw us score right before HT by Carranza and that changed the landscape of the game. Isik headed home a corner 5 minutes into the second half and Ltaief added a third shortly after as Basel collapsed. However Basel, as the great team they are, fought back scoring at 69’ and 88’ minutes and we couldn't cope with the immense pressure they were putting us under. Until at the 94th minute, a penalty was awarded to them and Taider stepped up … but Hammel made an incredible double save to deny the equalizer! Unbelievable scenes as we hang on to win, leaving us potentially 3 points away from the title (8 goal advantage on GD). Hammel started this "episode" with a big mistake and end it as the hero, possibly giving us the title!

Next up is Young Boys away and I think that game deserves his own post.

Edited by extudassex2
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Young Boys lined in a 4-4-2 as we stick to our usual 4-3-3, with the strongest eleven we have.

15 minutes in and Young Boys won a couple of corners that we dealt with comfortably, no shots on target so far.

17’ - First corner for us and Baak heads it just over the bar

21’ - Ramizi finds H'Maidat in the left channel - in what has become a trademark move - but the Moroccan effort is saved by Von Ballmoos

23' - Spielmann cuts from the left but his long range shot is saved easily by Hammel

37' - Again Spielmann breaks free but skies the chance

42' - Great play by Young Boys, with Kadewere low cross finds Elia to an easy tap in! 1-0

44' - Alves with a free kick from range.. curls it into the post!

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Half-time with Young Boys ahead, after creating a couple of good chances, despite we controlling the possession. Run at defence added to try force a sent off and Graiciar in for Bahlouli, forcing Ramizi to the left.

50' - Ulisses Garcia with a brilliant cross from deep and Kadewere heads home the second! 2-0

60' - Alves in good position but his header is not good enough

65' - Alves out for Buess, changing to a 4-2-4 as we try to salvage anything from the game

69' - Von Ballmoos with a big save to deny Gelmi

80' - Another save from Von Ballmoos as Carranza tries to find the near post. Corner and Baak, again, over the bar

84' - Buess finds the bottom corner after H'Maidat puts him through

90+5' - Final whistle and Young Boys wins to put themselves level on points, all to be decided on the final day!

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We woke up too late but the difference in quality showed.

In the final day, we'll host Luzern (5th) while Young Boys also plays at home vs Lausanne (6th) and it's our title to lose. 

 

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#8 - Final day

 

I just realized that never mentioned the cup.. well that went all wrong, we were eliminated on the 2nd round on penalties by an amateur side. And deservingly so, as our backups never go it going despite leading 1-0 at some point.

 

We host Luzern without Hammel (our heroic GK) injured, Alves (2nd in goals AND assists) suspended and H’Maidat (joint 2nd in goals) is not fully fit so starts from the bench - fitness report clears him for 45 minutes. That’s both of our Mezzalla’s out.. if you remember I was hyped about Ibarra, the promising Argentinian, we signed as competition for that position but here’s what you don’t know: Ibarra was signed after the winter window closed, in a restricted transfer window, because I read the rules and “players signed on a free can be registered at any time”. Perfect…if not for the 25 players squad limit that we have filled and while you can register new players, you CAN’T unregister them! Personally I think it makes total sense to not abuse the system but this means Ibarra is still playing friendlies in the U21 rather than helping us when needed.. far from ideal. So Bahlouli starts at CM, leaving the left wing to Ltaief, and is joined by our home-grown Schreiber. Yes, a 16yo will start in the midfield in the title deciding game - talk about pressure. Final stat before the game: 3 games this season between us, 3 wins, 8 scored, 0 against (0-2, 3-0 and 0-3).

A wide free-kick from Luzern led to a disallowed goal for offside, after Bukaj's awful attempt to win the ball. After 30 minutes we looked very flat, but Bahlouli's great inside-out run left him free to pick out a inch-perfect cross that Carranza headed home. As if all the pressure in the world disappear, less than 1 minute later, Bahlouli working that half space again delivering a perfectly weighted through ball and Carranza made no mistake: 2-0! I tried to hide my enthusiasm in the HT team talk but no reason to fear given Carranza was a man on a mission and completed his hat-trick with a banger from an "assist" by the kid himself. Bahlouli even added a 4th with a header at the 90 minute and the nearly-full Schutzenwiese erupts in celebration!

That first goal was really the key to unlock our full potential!

 

Defying odds of 601.00 with the lowest budget in the league (1/6 of Basel and Young Boys) is quite incredible indeed and that 13-1-0 start played a huge part as it allowed us to navigate that rough patch in the middle of the season. After some tactical adjustments, we improved our performances against the top sides although we had a difficult time breaking down sides that became more and more defensive. 

We'll be competing in the 2nd qualifying round of the Champions Path of the Champions League, which means an early start to the season and lots of planning, scouting and dealing needs to be done if we want to compete on both fronts and retain the title, but that's subject to another day.

Edited by extudassex2
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Thanks @karanhsingh ! As am I .. I suppose it's shows how the league needs to improve though

 

#9 - European football ahead.. are we prepared?

 

Not the easiest season to prepare, after such a overachieving season, with early rounds of CL coming fast and lots of scouting to be done in the mean time. 

 

Looking at last season stats as well as contract situations, we took some conclusions of positions needed to be touched upon:

- 1 GK (back up) - if we can raise some money for Pukaj

- 2 CB (1 to compete, 1 youngster to be 4th choice) given Vinhas was on loan and Isik is leaving us for Basel after refusing to renew his contract

- 1 CM (to compete) or move Bahlouli here and signed another wide player - Arnold and Corbaz are on a level below what it's now needed.

- 2 Wingers (1 starter, 1 back up) - Ltaief out, potentially Ramizi also

- 1 ST (to compete) - Buess is not even a back up option

 

We'll be looking for free agents/loans so all 1M€ of transfer budget was moved to wages. Let's go position by position, taking a look after all the boys:

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Hammel was our undisputed #1 last year - that double save on 95' vs Basel is still fresh in my memory and eventually gave us the title - and Dyer arrives for free to grow alongside the Swiss, as one of many Americans that our scouts discovered on the U20 North American Championship.  

 

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Nothing changes from last season, we'll continue to favour Gantenbein to enhance his development but Larrea provides good cover as RB but also on the wing.

 

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On the left, the same options but Calderara will probably start as first choice as Diaby improved somewhat slowly, maybe reaching his full potential.

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Baak and Gelmi still out top partnership but Burgy (free transfer of Young Boys) is a very solid rotation option. From Nordsjaelland, another end of contract signing, arrives Woledzi, a young physical CB with decent potential.

 

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Another untouched position, as Massouema still edges Hammer for the single pivot position but the Swiss will play a lot, particularly tough games as a more defensively sound option.

 

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H'Maidat fresh of a strong season retains his place as one the Mezzalla while Ibarra (finally registered to play) and Bahlouli (really impressed the few occasions he had to play here last season) will fight from the other spot. Our golden boy Schreiber is the 4th option after a couple of good performances but still available to play for the U21.

 

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Lots of changes on the wings: Alves was our starter CM last year but his lack of consistency and hate for big matches means he'll be moved to a secondary role both on wings and CM. Ex-Basel Tushi provides a good IF option while ex-Boca Gerzel is a more traditional winger. On loan from Leverkusen, Imeri, adds a bit of flair and set piece taking to the mix so we have a decent combination of quality and different styles. Ramizi is still around given nobody wanted him but will not participate unless a disaster happens.

 

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Carranza is our star man and new boy Chavez will be his understudy as a pacey, good finished option. (Tushi also can play here if needed)

Vestering, Trimarchi and Capriotti are other kids that joined but will remain with the U21 for now.

As you probably guessed from this 'presentation', we'll stick with the 4-3-3. Our scouts and DoF did a great job providing us with a lot of options, shame a few like Coric, Gilmour or Lea Siliki wanted a bit too much money, but in the end was a decent window turning a profit and improving the depth of the squad - also Imeri's loan is 250k for two seasons.

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Our Champions League adventure will start against polish side Legia Warszawa and worst case scenario (or best...) we'll drop to Europa League qualifiers so a minimum of 9 matches awaits us during August.

 

Edited by extudassex2
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