Jump to content

[FM22] Sassuolo - The Ceramic Army


GIMN
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 187
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Offseason, Part 1

We're now exactly 2 years into the game, and it's only taken 55 hours.

image.png.df24253940a5b191ef0971123cf328ba.png

It's award season, and it's a pretty familiar story.  Berardi and Consigli continued to earn well deserved praise for their impressive performances.  Surprisingly missed from the End-of-the-season awards, is Kyriakopolous winning Serie A Defender of the Year.  He was good, for sure, but not THAT good.  Magnanelli's 18 league appearances took him above the 500 mark for Sassuolo, and that was enough for him.  He announced his retirement at the end of the season, and duly took up a role as the Under 18's Assistant Manager.

image.thumb.png.f100ebae039a837c495b85c80fede65b.png

With that out of the way, time to focus on transfers.

Last season we let 34 players go, either via sales, free transfers or terminations of contract.  This time around, a further 28 have been shown the door.  It is probably fair to say that I'm not a fan of unnecessarily large squads.

Not all of the outgoing transfers, were players I wanted to lose.  I would've loved to have welcomed Manuel Locatelli back to the team, but as that transfer was pre-arranged there's nothing that could be done.  Brighton came in with a £10.5m offer for Kyriakopolous and, despite him winning Serie A Defender of the Year, it felt like too good an offer to refuse.  Olaza was signed in January with the intention of taking over the starting role, and showed more than enough for me to be confident going forward without our Greek left back.

The only other notable outgoings were Obiang and Harroui.  I extended Obiang last off-season with the knowledge that I planned to move him on this summer anyway.  By paying him an extra £1.5k per week, I was able to sell him for £1.8m rather than see him leave on a free.  I'm pretty happy with that bit of business!  Harroui joined SC Freiburg for £2m, which means a net loss of £600k.  He was a pre-arranged signing that I never wanted, so I'm not too worried about the deficit.  Yeferson Paz, who admirably deputised in our first season when Muldur was injured and Toljan needed a rest, returned to Colombia for a paltry £235k.

We also found Frattesi the loan move he craved.  Unfortunately there is no option to convince him that his increased role in the team made the promise redundant, and as I hope he can be part of the squad in the long-term, I'd rather not rock the boat.  He's joined Vigo for the season, and we'll make roughly £1m from the loan.

The real question, is who did we sign?

Probably no surprises here, but I instructed the DoF to make a bid for Kumbulla, and...

image.thumb.png.66ca05cd5c72753dff88a196295cad3d.png

...he duly delivered.  £12.25m feels like a bargain, even if his wages are a little on the high side. 

He was joined 3 days later by former Zebre left-back Gianluca Frabotta.  Frabotta was a player I had my eye on last summer, as a potential replacement for Rogerio.  As no bid was forthcoming, I watched on helplessly as Frabotta was snapped up by Eintracht Frankfurt.  He agreed to join as a squad player, so I'm delighted to have someone to offer relief to Olaza now that Kyriakopolous is gone.

The biggest question mark this summer was whether my DoF would sign a central midfielder once Locatelli left.  Good news: he did.  Lyon appeared to be experiencing somewhat of a crisis, forcing them to retrain one of their midfielders as a Centre Back.  Unfortunately for them, the player they chose is not really suited for the role, and a series of poor performances lead to his value plummeting.  This allowed us to swoop in and, for only £5.5m, I am delighted to introduce my new central midfielder:

image.thumb.png.338c4db0b91d0631c773139b75f95eb6.png

I was initially hesitant, as his average rating was appalling.  Thankfully, he'd been on our radar for a while, and so we were able to see his form, showing that he'd played exclusively at Centre-Back.  Armed with that knowledge, it was a no brainer.  Just look at how majestic he was the season prior, playing in midfield:

image.thumb.png.8370c25cfa29f807bcde4ee3c67f85aa.png

We rounded out our activity with some promising youngsters.  18-year old midfielders Giacomo Faticanti and Mauro Castillo joined from Roma and San Lorenzo respectively.  Castillo, a newgen, was only partially scouted, but looked like an absolute gem and I had to act quickly as he was considering a new contract offer from his club.  Now he's here he looks to be worth every penny of the £6m we spent on him.  He's possibly a genuine rotation piece for the team already.  Finally, 23-year-old Milan keeper, Alessandro Plizzari has joined as Consigli's back-up.  We'll keep last season's signing, Pinsoglio around as emergency backup should injuries hit.

image.png.5838f6624989e14e9f1614377b517712.png

All-in-all, a very satisfying transfer window.  And it's only 19th July.  Players are yet to return for pre-season training, and I'm delighted to get my business done nice and early.  Having been quite passive in the first 3 transfer windows, I've gone a little crazy in the last 2

As an underwhelming reward for reading this far, meet the new boys:

image.thumb.png.689fb31f7a06c8e01497e1aa46e6fc5a.png

image.thumb.png.9855b03c3df827fb460a0632d3d5750e.png

image.thumb.png.2cc0959a0c1b6ed0b5270ef3ef362fdd.png

image.thumb.png.740f6e5dc2a4af5fda76417c1281241a.png

image.thumb.png.23375d406b5d9f28b7f0f63e36fd4273.png

image.thumb.png.ed2b2c76c147ce6d6649ac73e984497b.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

19 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Bremer would be the signing of my choice, he is no doubt going to make a big move this summer IRL whilst Kumbulla has already made his step up from Verona to play for Merda. 

I'm afraid to say you're suggestion came too late.  Kumbulla is here and ready to establish himself as a Sassuolo legend.  The board want me to sign Italian players, and second nationality counts, so he not only improves my defence (hopefully) but also satisfies the club vision.

Link to post
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, GIMN said:

This allowed us to swoop in and, for only £5.5m, I am delighted to introduce my new central midfielder:

What an absolute steal! You've absolutely pulled their pants down. 🤣

Link to post
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

What an absolute steal! You've absolutely pulled their pants down. 🤣

Right!?  Like I know he's good in real life.  I was wondering if it was one of those situations where he was underrated by FM researchers prior to the season and as a result is pretty poor in the original DB.  The 6.55 rating for the season only added to the confusion.  I'm still not entirely sure why they retrained him to CB.  But Lyon's weirdness is my gain.

I'd initially targeted Tommaso Pobega at Milan, who was developing into a solid all-round midfielder (and again, is Italian).  My scouts reckoned he'd be available around the £15m mark, so I'd given Foggia the instruction to sign him.  2 days later a £33m bid had been submitted.  I don't think I've withdrawn a bid so fast.

Link to post
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, ForzaItalia said:

What a steal for Bruno! He's been great for Newcastle so far. Do you have any positions in mind for a large signing in the coming transfer window or two?

I'm glad you asked, because I have a handy graphic already available:

image.png.82578fdac55732365031f54df151e68f.png

This is what I expect my squad to look like going into next summer.  I'll address them in order of priority:

GK - Consigli will be 37 and his contract is due to expire.  It will be hard to move on from him considering how vital he has been to our efforts, but I expect to see him start to decline over the course of this season.  I've had my eyes on Alex Meret for a while as a potential replacement.  He's currently plying his trade at Al-Ahli and has all the standout attributes I look for - notably Agility, Positioning and Reflexes.  Strakosha and Gollini are also on my shortlist.

RCM - Maxime Lopez is great, but he's not elite.  I think we can find an improvement on his 24 goal contributions over the last 2 seasons.  This is more a case of IF the right player comes available, although I have noticed that Gavi might be available for under £15m.  Whilst he'd be more of a developmental/rotational piece right now, I think him and Traore would be able to carry the load next season.  I've been tracking Houssem Aouar and Christopher Nkunku but both are likely to be beyond my reach financially, and this may also depend on Traore's development, as he is starting to look like a really good player.

RB - this might be even more outlandish than wanting to replace Lopez.  Toljan has 22 assists in the last 2 seasons and very much in his prime still.  That said, his only elite attributes are Acceleration, Agility and Pace and I'd be keen to find someone who represents an improvement both technically and mentally.  Who that might be, I don't know yet.  It could even be in-house.  Cassandro is down as the back-up, but him, Adjapong and Diogo Spencer are all on equal footing in my eyes.

RW - unless Sottil lights things up this season, I expect we'll probably move him on, and look for a young Italian to play back-up.

DM - Less of a need, and more of a dependency.  If Castillo develops well this season, I will probably move on Ayhan and Matheus Henrique.  With Guimaraes able to play at the base of the midfield, I won't necessarily need a replacement, just something to keep an eye on.

LCB - Goldaniga is still here, but I expect he'll ask to leave.  Hopefully a youngster can make a claim to be the 4th choice.

I think a shorter answer would've been:  I need a first choice goalkeeper, and I'm really struggling with the idea of replacing good players who may be just a little short of the required quality to take us to the next level.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What a bit of business getting Bruno for 5.5m great that your research allowed you to spot him being played out of position it’s abit like Ben with his signing from River Plate

Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, SixPointer said:

What a bit of business getting Bruno for 5.5m great that your research allowed you to spot him being played out of position it’s abit like Ben with his signing from River Plate

I don't wish to get too hyperbolic, but I feel like Ben is the master of scouting/recruitment.  That's not to say that others aren't thorough, he just seems to have a great knack for identifying the key attributes/metrics for what he wants out of a player.

Edited by GIMN
Link to post
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, GIMN said:

I don't wish to get too hyperbolic, but I feel like Ben is the master of scouting/recruitment.  That's not to say that others aren't thorough, he just seems to have a great knack for identifying the key attributes/metrics for what he wants out of a player.

Firstly, this is very high praise. Thank you very much - I really appreciate it. I will say though that I'm taking a lot from yours, and others' threads here and just trying to stick my spin on things.

It's been a little while since I've fired FM up and looked at this forum and there's so much to say. Let me summarise!

- Long updates are great! Love getting invested in your save. Don't change!

- Sesko is a great buy. You're playing FM different to 99% of the rest of the population so don't be swayed by the fact he's known. You've brought him on an assumption of where he is backed up by how he's performing.

- 100 points and no league win is insane. You've done magnificently. Out of interest, would that ever have not won the league before?

- I'd have gone for Kumbulla, too. I do enjoy meeting board promises and, personally, have never had a nationality based one. (less pleased with the song though...)

- Guimaraes is signing of the decade! How tall is he? I get that he'd maybe work as a libero type in a very extravagent three but that's a crazy idea to go CB!

- Castillo's valuation alone tells me you might have a star on your hands there...Are you doing much work on traits? I see he has none. I value your opinion on everything else you've posted so may as well find out about this one, too!

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

- Sesko is a great buy. You're playing FM different to 99% of the rest of the population so don't be swayed by the fact he's known. You've brought him on an assumption of where he is backed up by how he's performing.

Aye, he was in pretty good form for RB Salzburg, scoring 0.77 goals per game.  That was ultimately what made me buy him.  That, and he was the only scout recommendation for a Complete Forward.

5 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

- 100 points and no league win is insane. You've done magnificently. Out of interest, would that ever have not won the league before?

Twice. 2013/14 Juventus won the league with a record 102 points. And technically, in game 2021/22.  We would've been level on points with Inter, split the head-to-head, and would've finished 2nd on goal difference.

5 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

- I'd have gone for Kumbulla, too. I do enjoy meeting board promises and, personally, have never had a nationality based one. (less pleased with the song though...)

First time having a nationality based one, too.  Thankfully it's only preferred, so I do have the freedom to look further afield as and when necessary.  More importantly, there are no age restrictions, which is really liberating.  I'm used to teams having a desire to sign U23 players for the first team, which automatically rules out 60-70% of the player pool.

5 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

- Guimaraes is signing of the decade! How tall is he? I get that he'd maybe work as a libero type in a very extravagent three but that's a crazy idea to go CB!

6'0, and he was playing as a BPD in a back 4.  And it wasn't because of an injury crises.  It appears they decided to move Denayer to RB, and bench Atal.  They've got some good young players who can play CB or RB, too.  It's all very odd.  It would be like Alex Ferguson starting Michael Carrick at centre back ahead of Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, Smalling and Jones.

5 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

- Castillo's valuation alone tells me you might have a star on your hands there...Are you doing much work on traits? I see he has none. I value your opinion on everything else you've posted so may as well find out about this one, too!

I tend to not to be too active on the traits front, usually leaving it to mentoring, or only adding if it's something that feels like it's sorely missing.  With Castillo, I want to see him in game a little bit more before making a call.  His low Aggression and Decision Making means he might be a candidate to stay on his feet when tackling, but it's too early to tell.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Offseason, Part 2

Having enjoyed a wonderful trip to Singapore last time around, we decided to double down and take our training camp to Jakarta, Indonesia this year.  Same situation as before, this is about fitness and fitness alone, as the opposition are not going to provide much in ways of resistance.  I did try to supplement this trip with a board request for an affiliate to boost our international profile, but this was swiftly rejected.

I am going to have to hold off for a bit before summarising pre-season results, as there's been some further transfer activity and the summaries might spoil the surprise.

First up, I wanted to add one more player for the frontline.  The biggest issue is that I didn't need a starter.  I didn't really need a substitute either.  I just needed someone in case everything goes to s***.  So there were two options, find a loan and lie about playing time, or try and find a veteran player who would be happy sitting on the fringes.  Possibly best known for winning the 2007 Torneo di Viareggio, and playing for Malaysian giants Johor Darul Ta'zim, meet our new, free, 6th choice striker:

image.thumb.png.0dac3248a33968ea6398b70a429a9dd5.png

Signed on a 1-year deal and earning a whopping £5k per week, Forestieri is very much a locker room addition.  A perfectionist, with a bevy of traits (too many to fit in this template), and a willingness to be an Emergency Backup made him the perfect candidate, whilst my youngsters go out on loan and earn playing experience.  We also strengthened the youth set-up with a couple of newgen signings for under £400k.  This was more to bulk out the youth team, and hope we get a little lucky.  Low risk, low reward kind of moves.

Things started to get more exciting towards the end of the transfer window, though.  One of my long-term targets, Alex Meret was the subject of a bid from Wolves.  At £6.5m, it was within budget, but I wasn't ready to bring forward the end of Consigli's Sassuolo career just yet.  In hindsight, I wouldn't have been able to compete with the £140k per week wage he was offered anyway.

image.png

Another player I mentioned previously, Gavi, ended up being transfer listed.  This was arguably the worst thing that could happen.  I was pretty convinced I was going to make a move for him, but I was hoping to wait until the end of the transfer window in the hope that would make it difficult for other clubs to poach in ahead of me.  With Man City the most notable team interested, it was unlikely that we'd be able to get this over the line, but we submitted a bid anyway.  As expected, Man City submitted an offer too, and Bayer Leverkusen and Napoli followed suit.  The writing was on the wall.

And that writing said:

image.png.ce77ad9b4f1960c1ad5f817890fdcebd.png

Yet another bargain at £11.75m.  Signed as a squad player, I expect he'll get his fair share of first team football this season, but central midfield is starting to look crowded and he's still some way from being the finished article.  It's a nice problem to have.

image.thumb.png.9ace633bba5ee85786d700f5791c1fd2.png

This summer has felt like a real marker for us.  In 2 years we've gone from signing Fiorentina's fringe players, to stealing starters from Roma and Lyon, and hoovering up hot prospects from Barcelona.  We've come a long way.  I do want to find the fans who decried the sale of Vlad Chiriches and see how they feel about it now.

So, onto pre-season games:

image.png.6e21c78a5273a8adffb55c16e71a9063.png

Once again, I forgot to screenshot a result - a 7-0 win against Persija Jakarta.  As expected, this was more about getting back up to speed after the summer break, and we made easy work of some sub-par opposition.  The "tougher" games against Switzerland's Winterthur and RB Salzburg also provided relatively little friction.  This did give us a chance to try out some extra tweaks to our tactics.

I must stress they are only tweaks.  With Olaza in the squad I've opted for a Complete Wing-Back, and that has kind of informed the midfield.  We occasionally deployed a Carrilero or Ball-Winning Midfielder at LCM, but primarily we kept with Box-to-Box Midfielders in both central midfield slots.  As the Complete Wing-Back has freedom to roam, the Carrilero will now be the mainstay on the left side.  This worked nicely in pre-season, with Olaza, Frabotta, Guimaraes and Henrique combining for 3 goals and 10 assists.  With the left side playing more laterally, and with a regular Wing-Back on the right hand side, this gives us the opportunity to opt for a Mezzala on the right.  We'll sacrifice some defensive solidity compared to the double BBM approach, but the Mezzala is giving us some nice penetration that was otherwise missing, and this is giving Lopez, Traore (and hopefully soon Gavi) the opportunity to thrive.

image.png.6a63c9385b07e0b1d6262fce76824648.png

Serie A Transfer Madness

Of course, we don't exist in a vacuum.  Whilst it feels like a successful transfer window for us, Serie A's big boys have been busy themselves.  I waited until the transfer window closed, so for this bit, you'll get a very small insight into results from the first games of the season.

After finishing 3rd, Roma decided it was time to make big changes.  Julian Alvarez, a personal favourite, came in for £9.5m to be paired with marquee signing Ousmane Dembele.  Konate, Ginter and Grimaldi represent defensive reinforcements, whilst 34 year old Moussa Sissoko came out of left-field.  Zaniolo, Kluivert, Kumbulla and Vina were the main players leaving.

image.png.033bc3220e5647c0c22fd5c46efd694c.png  image.png.e91a5d1fc87c873ba6839149339100fe.png  image.png.b8de88f1a3c63d58f50ae7bc4be892f4.png

image.png.a6b6e9b02ca1567b322b5c48a3db2702.png  image.png.9009549d454272d8e4c6587768e863f6.png  image.png.f6f0022d28eb120c6fd333bea2f48c37.png

Not to be outdone, Milan also made 6 notable signings.  De Ketelaere, Sanches and Al Musrati bring a variety of skills to their midfield, whilst Fernandes and Pepe provide competition in the wide areas.  Stefan Savic's arrival suggests Milan are ready to move on from Pierre Kalulu.  Rafael Leao and Kasper Dolberg departed for Dortmund, whilst Pobega moved across the city.

image.png.c07dd3d9c18a7665bef7936418be8ce7.png  image.png.11baa2469d730ec544ee4ae4b826ddbf.png  image.png.87b91c5009157c972456b0081af0a09c.png

image.png.927626e2ebda203bad6e31c528afa49b.png  image.png.22cab8b668ffed3fdf7bb91d90b2f4a0.png  image.png.349c5a2e24e3e6a84fe3a80173ffa337.png

Juventus Zebre were a little more restrained.  The Locatelli and Kean transfers were pre-arranged at game start.  Mukiele and Alderete both represent flexible defensive improvements.  Alex Sandro and Dejan Kulusevski were the notable departures.

image.png.3215a15292a34a0db2e3ca6b44376a1b.png  image.png.b9fed0182675de67bdc8bd9da69bf586.png  image.png.c21e8fa1e0c784b21c95a0190928d5f5.png  image.png.46af70dff14a33e8bb8616b2313bc87b.png

At risk of doing them a disservice, Lazio's transfer window was a little underwhelming.  Yilmaz looks like a good option at left-back, but Man, Adli and Biraghi feel like rotation options at best, and a distinct drop in quality compared to Luis Alberto who made his way to Ajax..  To be fair, when you have Ciro Immobile upfront, you can probably fill the remainder of the team with guys from the local pub.

image.png.afd6c86199aaa4275331662d57cf859a.png  image.png.0bed0fd645c37b442b293d97180f5527.png  image.png.5b98c1d6913b6296d3526ede9c287af0.png  image.png.06914a48f11506744dc942fc20be5814.png

Experience was the order of the day for Napoli.  At 27, Aribo was the only addition under 30-years old.  Fabian made a big-money move to PSG, giving Teji Savanier very big boots to fill.

image.png.ef22000e05d353e2cafac52a153520f7.png  image.png.eab6c763d57b5caad74fa532579899a5.png  image.png.4271be861fb673b818d42f0ef3971a09.png  image.png.e7e5ee8e30158f6b6c7f30e43b33e559.png

Inter were relatively quiet, bringing in one of our targets, Tommaso Pobega, alongside Gonzalo Villar to bolster their midfield options.  Encouragingly for us, Bastoni (Man City) and Skriniar (Man Utd) left for a combined £180m, and no defensive reinforcements were brought in.

image.png.47e03fc616030e25455c8c4ce2b172df.png  image.png.61863808eb1b535ff456aadde7acb307.png

Elsewhere, Atalanta signed Yusuf Yazici for £15.25m.  The former Lille midfielder was another player on my radar, who was only removed from the shortlist after we signed Gavi.  Watford striker, Juan Hernandez, secured a £21m move to Torino.  Whilst it seems a little over the odds, it is nowhere near as surprising as than Cagliari's new £6.25m signing, Bobby Decordova-Reid.  They must've been impressed with his 1 goal in 32 appearances last season!

Edited by GIMN
picture in the wrong place
Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Third Time Lucky?

As the new season approaches, it's time to look at what the media are saying about our chances.  Understandably our first season was considered to be a flash-in-the-pan, and going into last season we were expected to regress to the mean.  After a 2nd strong-showing and a final record that would've been good enough to win the league on all but 3 occasions, I'm hoping that we'll start to be taken seriously.

image.png.ab436b2a67db6b9471ef1f92c261ce69.png

Honestly, I'm offended.  Our odds have halved compared to last season, but still feel that we're being done a disservice.  I wasn't expecting too much either.  Zebre, Roma, Milan and Napoli have each finished in Champions League spots at some point during this career and given their reputation, I'd expect them to still be highly fancied.  Napoli and Atalanta have been the very definition of also-rans, and to suggest they have a better chance of the title feels like a smack in the face.  You can believe this has been enlarged, printed out, and put up on the walls of the training ground.  Just in case we need that extra bit of motivation.

From feeling slighted to feeling petrified, the Champions League Groups have been decided:

image.png.5dd0aaf4341c17df67dd9feb95778b81.png

Initially I thought RB Leipzig was the final team, and I was fully prepared to finish bottom and possibly use the competition as an opportunity to give game time to those rotation players.  It's still a pretty savage group with Salzburg in there, but at least the outlook is now slightly less bleak.  I think we should be able to get 4 points off Salzburg at least and, with a bit of fortune, we might be able to get a home draw against Barcelona and/or PSG.  I'll be happy with 7 points.

Finally, a minor tactical update.  I am abandoning the 3-at-the-back formation (for now, at least) in favour for a series of altered midfield set-ups.  In a piece of insight that is neither interesting or ground-breaking, we are more fluid with 3 in midfield compared to 2.  Our midfield has improved technically in the last 2 years and if we want to assert ourselves in Serie A, we need to focus on maximising what we do well ahead of reacting to our opposition.  That doesn't mean we won't adapt, but just that we'll do so on our terms.  With that in mind, I've now got 4 variations: Equilibrio (Balance), Proteggere (Protect), Far Valere (Assert) & Barricata (Barricade).

Tactics.thumb.png.f625f5f274713cd9db20ebc7bfd583a6.png

 

Edited by GIMN
Link to post
Share on other sites

Vengeance, You Know It Tastes So Good

blurb

image.thumb.png.08afe5113570def995b593331f65cc57.png

Newly promoted and favourites for relegation, Spezia were the first visitors to the Mapei stadium.  They probably wished they'd stayed at home.  Within 5 minutes we had the lead as Scamacca drifted out wide left and drilled the ball into the path of Hamed Junior Traore.  Traore, only starting because Lopez was suspended after picking up his 5th yellow card in the final game of last season, swept the ball home with ease.  Berardi doubled the lead with a penalty after Ferrari was pushed in the area, and Scamacca rounded off the win with a trademark close-range header from an Olaza cross.  Unfortunately Raspadori twisted his ankle and is expected to be out for the next 3 weeks.

At the 5th attempt, we finally beat Roma.  The winner being a 93rd minute own goal somehow makes it sweeter.  Guimaraes sent Berardi through in the left channel and, despite there being no targets nearby, he decided to fizz a low ball across the box which took a cruel and ultimately unnecessary deflection of Bailly, nestling just inside the near post.  Scamacca had given us the lead before half time, and up until Mkhitaryan's equaliser, we looked good value for the win.  From that point on Roma looked to be in the ascendancy, and I would've been happy with the draw, until Bailly kindly obliged at the death.  An international break followed, and Sesko has pulled his knee ligaments.  Another 3 week absence, and it's starting to look like Forestieri might get some game time.

Sampdoria up next and, for the third consecutive game, it was the Scamacca show.  A Toljan cross and a Sottil through ball set up his goals, before he turned provider, playing the ball over the top for Traore to run onto, round the keeper and put the game out of sight.  With a perfect hat-trick still possible, Scamacca was put through on goal only to be denied by an Alex Ferrari block.  Unfortunately for Sampdoria, the ball fell at Berardi's feet for our 4th goal.  The stats suggest the scoreline should've been closer, and Males should've scored when he somehow sent an unmarked header wide from 4 yards out, but otherwise it was pretty comfortable.

The return of the Champions League saw Barcelona become the latest team to fall at the Mapei Stadium.  Berardi and Scamacca combined for both goals - the first a cross dinked to the far past, the second a cut back to the edge of the 6 yard box - and then we just sought to kill the game.  Shortest passing, lowest tempo, drawing fouls and lot's of wasting time.  Some say it might not be in the spirit of the game.  I say: who cares!?  Flippancy aside, I'd be interested to know how people set up their games - I have Belgium, England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal and Spain loaded (and playable), but I don't change the detail levels.  I sometimes wonder if this has impact on team performances in Continental competitions.

Anyway back to the games, and Inter represent revenge game #2 of the season.  From a throw in, Toljan crossed, Scamacca rose to head home.  From a throw in, Toljan passed, Frabotta spanked the ball into the top bins.  Inter could probably feel agrieved to be 2-0 down, but despite having a lot of chances, they didn't register a single shot above 0.2xg.  Adeyemi had their best chance, with a pot shot from just inside the area that Consigli punched behind.  Quick aside, I would refer to that particular type of save as "toblerone gloves" - where a keeper punches the ball and it bounces off in an unexpected direction.  I'm not sure if this is a real term, or something that has just become parlance amongst friends.  Some quick passing between Berardi and the returning Raspadori, set Berardi away to cut back for Scamacca to sweep in a late third.

A midweek trip to Turin to face off against Zidane's Zebre saw us drop our first points of the season.  "Chiesa went down looking for a decision" was the damning commentary as VAR upheld the penalty decision after Olaza collided with the pacy Italian.  Werner duly stepped up and converted the penalty.  Within 3 minutes, Olaza had atoned, sending in a beautiful cross for the imperious Scamacca to score his 8th goal of the season.  It was a pretty even game otherwise.  Werner should've done better early in the second half, Consigli making himself big to deny the German after he was put through by Odriozola.  Scamacca had a chance right at the death to grab the 3 points, but fired straight at Szczezny after a Berardi cut back.

With games coming thick and fast, we started slowly against Napoli.  Politano smartly volleyed from near the penalty spot to give Napoli a deserved lead after dominating the opening stages.  That seemed to be the wakeup call we needed.  In a pleasing reversal of roles, Scamacca drifted wide and stood the ball up to the far post for Berardi to head home the equaliser.  Sottil scored his first goal in 15 appearances, tapping in a rebound after Martinez Quarta's header was saved.  In injury time, Raspadori sent a raking ball over the top and, like busses, Sottil was there to score his 2nd.  That's 3 goal contributions in 4 appearances, and he has generally looked much more lively compared to last season.  The injuries to Raspadori and Sesko have given him an opportunity, and he's making the most of it.

image.png.56ffcebdccd5e7121f812c0741f326b7.png

It's another great start, despite facing 4 teams expected to finish above us this season (yes, I'm bringing that up again - I'm not bitter).  Like my ponderings re: detail levels & Champions League, I do wonder if there is an advantage for us players when it comes to pre-season and player conditioning, and how much of this plays into our good starts.  Abraham and Scamacca will be happy with 7 goals in 6 games, but yet again Immobile takes an early lead in the goal scoring charts.  Our victory over Inter was their first league defeat since 5th March 2022, but 5 wins in their other games keep them hot on our heels.

Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ToxicBeer said:

So, we can fight against Salzburg for the  3rd position 

I think that's realistic.  We've got off to a good start, but I don't think we'll have enough to trouble Barcelona or PSG and reach the knockout stages.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm predicting that you finish that UCL group with at least 10 points. 

The early season odds are an absolute joke but I expect if you check out the teams reputation the rankings will reflect that rather than the form shown of the save itself.

I am liking the tactical tweaks, especially the slight variations to reflect different styles of play. Making it a simple switch in game to react to scenarios, the best bit is that all four are fairly similar so familiarity won't take a big drop. 

A great start to the season, Scamacca already picking up five POTM awards! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

On 18/03/2022 at 07:34, GIMN said:

Fabian made a big-money move to PSG, giving Teji Savanier very big boots to fill

I am vouching Savanier to do well. Very sound and technical player. Probably the gem of the Montpellier (yes, may not be at the same level as Napoli, but definitely worthy of a shot in a better team) midfield in my other save. 

Otherwise, wonderful start to the season. Let's see how long can the Ceramic Army keep this up for!

Edited by haier_fm
Link to post
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, MattyLewis11 said:

I'm predicting that you finish that UCL group with at least 10 points. 

The early season odds are an absolute joke but I expect if you check out the teams reputation the rankings will reflect that rather than the form shown of the save itself.

I am liking the tactical tweaks, especially the slight variations to reflect different styles of play. Making it a simple switch in game to react to scenarios, the best bit is that all four are fairly similar so familiarity won't take a big drop. 

A great start to the season, Scamacca already picking up five POTM awards! 

I'd be delighted with 10 points.  Despite the Barca result, I think I'll be fortunate to get anything from either PSG game or back at the Nou Camp, but I can only hope.

Scamacca's been ridiculous.  8 goals and 4 assists in 7 games.  He's actually got as many league assists & PotM awards as the whole of last season already.

And you've hit the nail on the head with the tactical approach - I've tried not to veer too far away from our tactical identity, so we're able maintain familiarity and still focus on what we do best, but also give us flexibility both in game, and in terms of preparation in the run up to games.

2 hours ago, haier_fm said:

I am vouching Savanier to do well. Very sound and technical player. Probably the gem of the Montpellier (yes, may not be at the same level as Napoli, but definitely worthy of a shot in a better team) midfield in my other save. 

Otherwise, wonderful start to the season. Let's see how long can the Ceramic Army keep this up for!

Savanier looks a tidy player, and my scouts have been raving about him for the last 2 years.  Unfortunately it looks like his Napoli career has got off to a bad start, as injuries have restricted him to 1 appearance so far.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some great business, and the results back up what you’re doing at the club. I’m going to have to try out the two false nines (or something similar) as the shape I had with IFs was underperforming and this might be something worth  trying - though I got the spacing and movement I’m looking for with a different shape.

Side note, on the (we don’t talk about) Bruno transfer - I experienced something like that as a player. I played as an emergency CB (I’m was a winger/forward but I’m tall and strong) for half a season, and…was “released”when they found a better CB.  This is all Sunday league stuff that I’m not at all bitter about. But I did crush them in the game I played against them the next season. Never heard of that happening in FM though, so great business.

Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, 13th Man said:

I’m going to have to try out the two false nines (or something similar) as the shape

I played a similar system with Pescara in my earlier Zemanlandia thread and it was working an absolute beauty. 

Attack, attack, attack, attack, attack! 

I think @GIMN has implemented a little more balanced version. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, 13th Man said:

Some great business, and the results back up what you’re doing at the club. I’m going to have to try out the two false nines (or something similar) as the shape I had with IFs was underperforming and this might be something worth  trying - though I got the spacing and movement I’m looking for with a different shape.

Side note, on the (we don’t talk about) Bruno transfer - I experienced something like that as a player. I played as an emergency CB (I’m was a winger/forward but I’m tall and strong) for half a season, and…was “released”when they found a better CB.  This is all Sunday league stuff that I’m not at all bitter about. But I did crush them in the game I played against them the next season. Never heard of that happening in FM though, so great business.

Ah,the joys of Sunday league football.  I was the club captain, as I had the temperament and control to keep the team focused, but was basically the worst player on team.  The manager would pick the strongest 10, and I'd fill the remaining position.  As a one-footed undersized striker, I made a pretty poor keeper and an even worse left back.  But it was okay because I was really good at shouting "chin up, lads" every 5 minutes or so.

Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, GIMN said:

But it was okay because I was really good at shouting "chin up, lads" every 5 minutes or so.

A very important role no doubt. This needs to be in the scouting reports for future FMs - PRO, excellent at yelling “chin up, lads”

@MattyLewis11 the three forward thing is definitely attack minded (not ready for it with my current Portsmouth squad!) but will definitely try it when I get the chance. This version looks better balanced even than my 2IF + DLF look though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, 13th Man said:

A very important role no doubt. This needs to be in the scouting reports for future FMs - PRO, excellent at yelling “chin up, lads”

@MattyLewis11 the three forward thing is definitely attack minded (not ready for it with my current Portsmouth squad!) but will definitely try it when I get the chance. This version looks better balanced even than my 2IF + DLF look though.

My trio was a TF flanked by two PF 

Screenshot_20220319-203506.thumb.png.6f867dcd74a34ccd9403314ea3c285fd.png

Appologies for the mini hijack @GIMN

Link to post
Share on other sites

No apology necessary @MattyLewis11.  Interestingly I considered playing Scamacca as a Target Forward, too, but was worried we'd bypass midfield and fail on the boards aim of possession football.

Link to post
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, GIMN said:

bypass midfield and fail on the boards aim of possession football.

Well your worries would have been rightly so, I tested the tactic to establish baseline stats for key players with five teams across four leagues.

All sides finished with sub 50% possession. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Goal of the Season?

We're coming towards the end of a run of 7 games in 22 days before the next international break, and I can't wait for it to be over.  October is bookended by trips to PSG and Fiorentina, but otherwise should be winnable games.  For the first time, there's not really been any news.  I fear this means it's the calm before the storm.

image.png.5446777d1a73e83ba100ae69f3903355.png

A cracking game against PSG ended in defeat.  We started bright, peppering shots at Donnarumma goals in the opening 20 minutes, before PSG started to wrestle control back.  Then just before the break, Ayhan played a sweet raking pass from the half way line for Berardi to run onto a power home from the edge of the area.  Game on.  Or not.  Messi cut inside and fired pass Consigli mere moments into the second half.  More guttingly, a lax pass from Consigli fell at Haaland's feet.  As we learnt last season, that boy doesn't need help to score, and the collapse was complete.  PSG continued applying pressure, but we did manage to rally late.  Substitute Adjapong sent Scamacca through with 8 minutes left, but Donnarumma stood tall.

A return to Serie A, and an early Masuaku red card made for an easy victory over Bologna.  Sesko scored on his return from injury, Berardi put away a penalty and a free-kick, whilst Raspadori pounced after a low cross somehow wriggled through to him at the back post.  Orsolini scored a header, literally two minutes after Kumbulla had to be subbed off for a pulled groin.  The talking point of the game, however, was Olaza's goal.  A Traore ball down the channel for Berardi to chase looked to be under Bologna defender Matt Miazga's control.  Keeper Skorupski had other ideas, and rushed to the edge of his area to clear.  Unfortunately the clearance went straight to Olaza who volleyed first time from 40 yards into an unguarded net.

Empoli were similarly swept away.  A stout defensive performance kept us at bay, but the Toljan-Scamacca connection broke the deadlock just before the break.  Another Berardi penalty made the game comfortable.  A late Raspadori volley and Maxime Lopez daisy cutter made the final result more flattering.

All good things happen in 3s.  Like penalties.  Berardi scored from the spot for the third game running to give us a narrow win over RB Salzburg.  This was one of those games that looked destined for a frustrating draw, or even a smash 'n' grab win.  The squad was rotated, and Sottil was the main culprit, missing two almost identical chances, hitting the post and screwing wide after being fed down the channel by Adjapong.  Sesko also had a frustrating day against his former club, failing to score in 8 attempts.

Fiorentina put up surprisingly little resistance as we rounded out the month with a 2-0 win.  Raspadori's first time flick put Berardi through for a goal in open play.  That's 6 goals in October for Berardi, having found his name on the scoresheet in every game.  Olaza volleyed a cross for Scamacca to power a header home from about 10 yards out.  Fiorentina seemed insistent on sending long balls forward to Zaha and Nicolas Gonzalez - neither player particularly noted for their aerial prowess.  As a result Kumbulla won 25 aerial duels, by far the most in a game from a Sassuolo player this season.

Berardi now ties Scamacca as top scorer in all competitions with 10 goals, whilst Olaza's 1 goal and 4 assists already betters Kyriakopolous' attacking output from the whole of last season.

image.png.e47b504d17be5f6082301a2bdf927620.png

We have a new name at the top of the goalscoring charts.  It comes as no surprise, as Abraham finished with 25 league goals last season, and that form has carried into this season.  Mourinho departed at the end of the first season to take over at moneybags Newcastle, and Abraham has flourished under his successor, Jorge Sampaoli.  Inter continue to keep pace with us, and it's looking like we might be in for another repeat of the last two seasons as a gap is already forming to 3rd.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your +23 goal difference from ten games is credit to your management. Great to see Berardi contribute with a surge of goals, now equaling Scamacca.

Unfortunate against PSG but like you said, world class strikers need no invitation to score.

It's certainly looking like a two horse race, just out of interest who is managing Lazio? Does Sarri still have the job? Has Lotito actually allowed them to invest some hard cash or are they still only bringing in mediocre players? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Your +23 goal difference from ten games is credit to your management. Great to see Berardi contribute with a surge of goals, now equaling Scamacca.

Unfortunate against PSG but like you said, world class strikers need no invitation to score.

It's certainly looking like a two horse race, just out of interest who is managing Lazio? Does Sarri still have the job? Has Lotito actually allowed them to invest some hard cash or are they still only bringing in mediocre players? 

Sarri took over the Italy job after an abject World Cup.  He has continued Mancini's legacy of refusing to select Scamacca, which is great for me as he has a wage rise after 5 international appearances.  Roberto De Zerbi took the reigns in mid January 2023, and has a net spend of about £40m.  Mohammed Kudus is his biggest signing, a January deadline day signing from Ajax for £20.5m, whilst Ridvan Yilmaz was brought in over the summer for just shy of £17m.  No real superstars, and it was little surprise that they seem to be going backwards, albeit slowly.  That said, with Immobile upfront, anything is possible.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

A Bang and a Splutter

image.png.aa1a3e22d3ea4100ba7a30e5d3eb21e9.png

Berardi's rich vein of form continued as he bagged a brace against Venezia on our way to a routine win.  Venezia stirred into life after conceding the 3rd, but failed to truly trouble Consigli; their best chances being headers steered over the bar by Thomas Henry.  Raspadori had earlier shown The Winged Lions how to score from headers, as all 5'8" rose highest to power home an Olaza cross.  He then turned provider for Berardi's second, as his cross took a series of deflections before falling at our captain's feet.  Berardi had opened the scoring with a freekick delicately curled away from the keeper early in the first half.  Shortly after the game, Olaza went down with knee tendonitis, and will be out for 5 or so weeks.

In the run up to the RB Salzburg game, Bruno was laid low with food poisoning, but it did little to deter our preparation.  Having fallen behind Berardi in the top goalscorer race within the club, this was the Scamacca show.  An instinctive rebound after Ferrari's header was saved put us on our way.  A slice of good fortune accompanied the second goal, as Berardi closed down a clearance and the ball spun into Scamacca's path inside the area, and he squared it for a Raspadori tap in.  We killed the game in the second half, restricting Salzburg to pot shots from distance, before a breakaway saw Frabotta in acres of space down the left flank.  Making the most of the opportunity provided by Olaza's injury, Frabotta whipped the ball in for Scamacca to head home his second.

An even contest at the Stadio Olimpico ended in a draw as Lazio came from behind to secure a point.  After shading a goalless first half, we broke the deadlock early in the 2nd.  Frabotta found Scamacca yet again, this time with a low cross to the near post, which was duly slotted home.  Lazio almost equalised immediately, as Immobile was denied by Consigli from a tight angle.  Toljan lost Felipe Anderson in the box, and he was able to play in Kudus for the equaliser.  Berardi had a chance to win the game in the 83rd minute, but his volley was valiantly blocked by Francesco Acerbi.

The international break robbed Torino of momentum, as they were fresh off a surprise victory against Zebre which led to the dismissal of Zinedine Zidane.  Torino were dogged, doing a great job of keeping us in front of their backline.  Fortunately for us, their defence couldn't hold and with 5 minutes remaining a looped Frabotta cross found Sesko 3 yards out at the back post.  One-time Sassuolo target, Bremer was the man responsible for marking our Slovenian wonderkid, and sadly one lapse of concentration was all it took for us to take 3 points.

It was a tale of two corners at home against PSG.  Kimpembe and Haaland saw their efforts blocked before the ball wriggled to Neymar for him to poke home the opener.  It was the first real chance of any note for either team, and for a moment PSG looked like they were going to run away with it.  Raspadori came off early in the 2nd half with a tight thigh, and Sesko's introduction was the catalyst for our comeback.  Kimpembe blocked from Scamacca before Donnarumma denied Sesko as we started to take control; the breakthrough came when Bruno ran full pelt to rise and head home Berardi's corner with 20 minutes remaining.  Lopez and Fabian brought out good saves in the dying moments as both teams pushed for the win.  A draw was a fair result.

image.png.32cbcfd0b48417a78f7598bc4edf3ff1.png

The Lazio draw saw us fall behind Inter, as they continued to win out.  Our spell at the top was brief, and we now settle back in to a familiar situation.  Despite firing blank against us, Immobile had a 5-goal outing against Empoli and that's enough for him to return to the top of the goalscoring charts.  Olaza ties Toljan for assists, as our wingbacks dominate in terms of creativity.  Things are finally poised in the Champions League.  Barcelona sacked Xavi, and that has been the catalyst for a revival.  PSG will surely beat Salzburg, which means our game at the Nou Camp will be pivotal in deciding the final standings.  A win and we're in.  A draw and it comes down to goal difference.  Lose and @MattyLewis11's prediction of 10 points will be spot in.  Unfortunately it will also mean we're relegated to the UEFA Cup.  I say unfortunately, that was our target, so we can't be too disappointed if that's the case.

image.png.2849a429fa656d77873bb38277c30572.png

Edited by GIMN
Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, GIMN said:

Raspadori had earlier shown The Winged Lions how to score from headers, as all 5'8" rose highest to power home an Olaza cross.

Raspadori scored way more headed goals for my Livorno side than he had any right to score.  I mean, yeah, he'd rather score off the dribble or with a volley or something, but if it must be with the head, that's just how it is.  He finds a way.  He just scores.  Like I said, one of my favorite all time FM signings.

Frustrating that Inter just refuse to let up.  In my FM21 save there was no regular top team in Serie A after Juventus Zebre fell off in 22/23 or whatever it was.  11 wins an one loss?  No draws?  Come on!!!  Give it a break.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Times They Are A-Changing

Cracks are starting to show as Goldaniga, Plizzari and Sottil's unhappiness with their playing time came to a head. They've all asked to go out on loan, and I have duly obliged.  I will also oblige if a decent transfer bid comes in for Goldaniga or Sottil, as I was expecting this to be both player's last season anyway.  Goldaniga will be no loss, but I'm a little gutted about Sottil.  He's been rather decent, but I appreciate that 8 appearances in 20 games isn't enough for a player who will soon be in his prime.

image.png.bcd1d256d419e350240ab54c23813400.png  

Martinez Quarta also wanted to have a word, but was happy to accept his role as a Squad Player.  It's a big leap down from the Important Player role he agreed to when he signed and I'm grateful he acknowledges his standing in the team.  Whilst I was busy putting out fires, the board were busy preparing a new contract.  It fell a little short of my expectations, and negotiations were tense.  The board balked at my request for bonuses for winning Serie A, but eventually conceded an additional £8k per week on top of their initial offer.  Gianni Mustermann is now under contract until 2027.

image.png.daa3df07566154d9983020d7338f8f7e.png

Genoa were up first, and I couldn't have asked for a more complete performance.  Scamacca cushioned a header into the path of the onrushing Traore who volleyed first-time into the top corner.  An absolute peach of a strike.  Berardi cut in off the right and fired across goal, before Frabotta carried on his great form and curled the ball straight onto Sesko's noggin.  Genoa mustered just 2 shots all game, and whilst they possibly could've scored a late consolation, we already had our eyes on our midweek trip to Camp Nou.

The Genoa game was played on Friday evening, giving us extra time before we faced off against Barcelona.  A first half stalemate was fully reflective of a tense affair, characterised by a number of nearly moments, as crosses fizzed across goal just out of the reach and through balls just ran a foot too long.  The missing quality was found early in the second half, as Lopez fizzed a ball to the back post for Berardi to strike into the top of the net.  The lead lasted a whole 3 minutes, as Toljan got handsy and gifted Barca a penalty.  Trincao was calm and the game was level.  Galvanised by their equaliser, Barca searched for a winner but were thankfully unable to create any real quality chances.  A draw made for interesting times as an expected PSG would put all three teams on 11 points.

image.png.dac03d2e96469164213051ca3fd06492.png

PSG made easy week of Salzburg who must just be relieved that the group stage is over.  6 goals meant PSG finished with the best goal difference and most goals scored in the group, but the three-way tie was to be settled by results between teams.  Each team had drawn with each other once.  A carousel of wins, with us beating Barca, who beat PSG, who beat us, means things were finely poised...

image.png.bcce09f64eed579c7bfb9411564fed32.png

GET.  IN.  THERE.  In the head-to-head we had a +1 GD and that was enough to see us through.  Barca had beaten PSG 2-0, which neutralised their 2-0 loss to us, and gave them the goal difference advantage over the French outfit.  I hadn't calculated things before the game, and those nervy moments as the game processed the results gave way to absolute euphoria.  We've been given a revenge match-up against Borussia Dortmund in the first knock-out round and now that Haaland no longer plies his trade at the Signal Iduna Park, we've got to feel good about our chances.

Back to the league, and the beleaguered Milan were the visitors.  Bruno delightful played through Lopez, whose crisp strike left Maignan stranded, and we felt unbeatable.  2 minutes later Frabotta picked up his second yellow card.  It was my fault.  He'd been warned early on.  Received a yellow card a few moments later, and I didn't instruct him to calm down or ease of tackles.  Toljan shifted to left back, Adjapong replaced Scamacca, and we prepared for the onslaught.  It didn't arrive.  Sesko picked the ball up 30 yards from goal, beat his man and drove into the box to slot home the second, and by the time the half ended Milan hadn't mustered a single shot.  Giroud was introduced at the break, and Milan briefly rallied, with Renato Sanches striking an absolute beauty from 20 yards out.  Ayhan was duly brought on for Berardi to help shut-up shot, and in the end we saw the game out comfortably.  The result pushed Milan down to 10th and, despite already being under pressure, Milan suprisingly resisted urges to fire former Mexico manager Gerardo Martino.

Scamacca scored the only goal, as we beat Cagliari in the last game before the Winter break.  It was Gavi's first start for the Neroverdi and he was instrumental in the goal, sending Sottil through with a delightful through ball.  Sottil's effort was parried by Guglielmo Vicario but fell at Scamacca's feet for an easy tap-in.  A Simeone volley brought out a fine save from Consigli midway through the second half, but it was an otherwise routine (and boring) win.

image.png.efd9c723ee958bd795c8baed0d0e2189.png

We've improved compared to this point last season, gaining an additional 2 points, and improving our goal difference by +7.  This would've seen us marginally ahead of Inter.  Unfortunately, they've improved compared to last season, too.  At 2.5 goals per game so far, we're proving to be far more dangerous going forward.  This hasn't been a problem, per se, but that's a 25% increase compared to last season so definitely worth noting.  Especially as none of our players have broken into the top 3 goal scorers.  Malinovsky went Super Saiyan, picking up 4 assists in the last game against Sampdoria.  Alongside an assist against Parma to start the month, and he has catapulted himself above everyone else in the assist charts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

11 points in the UCL, although it looks as if you were lucky to secure the draw against Barca when looking at the xG.

Huge shock to see PSG drop into the UEL! 

Momentum is on your side in Serie A and you are again unfortunate to have to face Inter in what looks likely to be an extremely dominant position in the league.

No shocks in seeing Ciro once again leading those goal scoring stats, also a shame about Sottil as he is a player which I quite enjoy watching.

Link to post
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

11 points in the UCL, although it looks as if you were lucky to secure the draw against Barca when looking at the xG.

Huge shock to see PSG drop into the UEL! 

Momentum is on your side in Serie A and you are again unfortunate to have to face Inter in what looks likely to be an extremely dominant position in the league.

No shocks in seeing Ciro once again leading those goal scoring stats, also a shame about Sottil as he is a player which I quite enjoy watching.

Yeah, we got lucky against Barca.  I can't really remember any chances of great quality, outside of the goals, but they were very much camped in our half after their equaliser.  I thought Ferrari was majestic, snuffing out a lot of threats and effectively shepherding play away from our goal.  I forgot that when it came to tie-breakers that it only considers the games between the 3 teams.  When I saw PSG had scored 6 I was certain I'd dropped to third.

I'll be sad to see Sottil go, but the arrival of Sesko last January essentially restricted his path to the first team, and it was inevitable.  Of course, it is dependant on teams being interested, and we had a similar situation with Fratessi last year and he remained in the squad until the end of the season.

Link to post
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, GIMN said:

GET.  IN.  THERE.  In the head-to-head we had a +1 GD and that was enough to see us through.  Barca had beaten PSG 2-0, which neutralised their 2-0 loss to us, and gave them the goal difference advantage over the French outfit.  I hadn't calculated things before the game, and those nervy moments as the game processed the results gave way to absolute euphoria.  We've been given a revenge match-up against Borussia Dortmund in the first knock-out round and now that Haaland no longer plies his trade at the Signal Iduna Park, we've got to feel good about our chances.

That was all very confusing and made my brain hurt, well done making sense of it, but all that matters is you topped the group.

Great form otherwise as well - looking like you're knocking on the door to the elite level of the European game.  First step - REVENGE!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Catching up…… UCL performance is great getting out of a group with PSG and Barcelona shows how much progress you’ve made already.

I’m really considering a flat front 3 for my third system. How does the movement work with the double F9? Do you find it very symmetrical or is it varied enough? Last time I played a flat front three I used and attack duty on one side of the three and off set it with a deeper role on the opposite side. And overloaded that side and used the exploit in behind on the other. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, 13th Man said:

That was all very confusing and made my brain hurt, well done making sense of it, but all that matters is you topped the group.

I needed a nap after working out how we scraped through!

5 hours ago, SixPointer said:

I’m really considering a flat front 3 for my third system. How does the movement work with the double F9? Do you find it very symmetrical or is it varied enough? Last time I played a flat front three I used and attack duty on one side of the three and off set it with a deeper role on the opposite side. And overloaded that side and used the exploit in behind on the other. 

I've definitely been able to see player's traits shine through - Berardi pops up in the half space more often than Raspadori, who is more likely to get in behind, and then Sottil tends to drift much wider, so there is definitely variety.  I prefer having players on their stronger foot side, though as I did find it quite congested centrally when the other way round, especially with a Complete Forward also occasionally dropping back.

It is worth adding that it was a bit too static at first, and I found the movement to be a lot more fluid after adding Roam From Position.  There are usually 3 other players with Roam From Position at the same time, so it's hard to know how helps to stop players getting too much on top of each other.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sit Down, You're Rocking The Boat

As we head into the Winter break, the first matter to deal with is the Youth Intake Preview:

image.png.5ebdab4b51f06584b63fe4b8d82bf06b.png

Dieter Eilts has exercised caution this time around, and decided against proclaiming a 3rd successive Golden Generation.  Given the disappointment of the first two intakes, I think that was probably wise.  I'll remain hopeful that some of these prospects will eventually translate into players who can contribute for the first team.  As things currently stand, our best two youth prospects are the players signed in the last transfer window:

image.png.a6a6f005d4c9dbcc9a84aaac99815dc3.png

Onto the senior squad, and I'm going to give a run down on the January transfer window separate to the match results.

With Sottil and Goldaniga expected departures, my focus was on offering these players out on loan.  Before any suitors could be found, Arsenal caught me off guard by submitting a bid for Hamed Junior Traore.  At £12.5m, it was under the guide valuation, but the agent feedback was clear that Traore wanted the move.  I signed Gavi with the intention of eventually selling Lopez and having Traore and the Barcelona graduate rotate for the Mezzala role.  The big question was how set am I on selling Lopez?

I proposed a deal worth £30m + 20% of future profit, partly in the hope that it would ward Arsenal off without being too far above the guide price to upset Traore too much.  The Gunners weren't deterred.  In fact, they happily obliged immediately.  I fear I may have lowballed the negotiations.

And just like that, the young Ivorian departed for the Emirates.

image.thumb.png.963dfca8949135bcbb4a1a2a94b7762a.png

The impact of the sale was seismic, and a players union swiftly formed and came knocking on my door.

image.thumb.png.9de7f90af204379b2486282fd5351f8b.png

Berardi specifically cited our lack of depth at Attacking Midfield.  Sadly there was no option to ask him for clarification, as we don't play with attacking midfielders and, even if we did, we still had Raspadori, Lopez, Gavi and himself more than accomplished in doing so.  Wary of making promises I might not be able to keep, I appealed to their team spirit - pointing out the great atmosphere at the club, and urging them to have faith.  That seemed to be enough.  For now, at least.

Jumping on the bandwagon, Martinez Quarta decided he was no longer happy as a squad player.  It was only a month prior that he'd agreed to a change in his playing time, and in that time we'd played 3 games of which he started 1 and came on in another.  I agreed to find a loan, and the need for a backup defender became even more pressing.

Whilst this was going on, there were no takers for Goldaniga or Sottil.  I kept to a schedule of offering them out at the beginning of each week, but with no offers forthcoming, it looked increasingly like they would be part of the squad for the remainder of the season.  Martinez Quarta did attract the interest of Roma, but there were insistent of a future buying price well underneath his market value, and that wasn't part of my agreement with the Argentine defender.  To cover my basis, I found two 18 year olds to bring in on loan with possible future fees from the scouted players pool.

image.thumb.png.52f821e0298495943bdc393f3bf3454a.png

The expatriated Chiarodia is a centre-back/defensive midfielder hybrid whose technical abilities are intriguing.  The plan is he won't play, but if we end up needing him to step in, he might be serviceable enough.  It will cost us £5.5m to make the move permanent, and that doesn't seem to dear for a player with bags of potential.

image.thumb.png.199b41ac00d1f2fabf883185069eca2a.png

Joao Costa came in as an emergency striking option from Benfica.  He appears to be a pretty solid all-round option, and with a Resolute personality, exactly the kind of young prospect I like to find.  An optional future fee of £975k was also an attractive proposition.

The drama unfortunately, didn't end there.

image.thumb.png.32798e1fade119f96d1295bf6424b406.png

Having only signed a new contract the summer just gone, I thought we'd be able to get away with keeping hold of my favourite player, but as has been the case for many a Man City target over the years, it seems his head's been turned.  Raspadori wants to win the Champions League, and doesn't feel that's possible with us.  I wanted to point out that we'd matched City's UCL performance last season, but alas, the option was not there.  An appeal to his loyalty had no affect, and neither did an offer of another contract extension.  Eventually we agreed he could leave if a £103m bid is made.

The vultures were circling.  Besiktas tabled a £4m offer for Ayhan, and whilst he was disappointed it was rejected, he has decided against complaining.  Still, for those players that were available - Goldaniga, Sottil and Martinez Quarta - no bids came forward.  Until Transfer Deadline Day.

With 4 hours before the window slammed shut, Roma and Zebre submitted offers for Sottil.  The bid from Roma was rejected, as they were unwilling to budge on their insistence that they'd buy him for £8m if they won the league.  1)  They weren't winning the league.  2) £8m was an insult.  Zebre were more willing to negotiate, and eventually a deal was agreed.  £15m IF Sottil plays 10 league games.  And with that, Sottil was a Zebre player.

image.thumb.png.886bf9a657279ebc60e018e605103b60.png

Thankfully, I was prepared, and had 2 players shortlisted who were considered fringe players at their current clubs, that I felt could step in and offer something for the remainder of the season.  That list had been larger, as Ajax's David Neres had been transfer listed earlier in the window, but by the time Zebre had submitted their bid, Neres was already a Bournemouth player.  Rayan Cherki of Lyon was perhaps the most intriguing option, but a combination of his less-than-desirable pace, abject workrate, and Lyon loan fees demand, means he was quickly chalked off the list.  With that we turned our attention to Bayer Leverkusen's Amine Adli.

image.thumb.png.cba25d48886452d1478a801ea2f3780c.png

Loan fees & wages means he'll cost about £700k over the 6 months, and an optional future fee of £3.5m makes him a viable transfer if he performs well.  He's a step down on Sottil, but beggars can't be choosers.  There aren't many players available of a sufficient quality who are willing to be our 5th choice striker.  He can also play in central midfield, so should we face a crisis there, he'll have some utility.

In the rest of the league, it was all eyes on Inter.  Despite a stellar defensive record so far, they were expected to bolster their defensive options after Bastoni and Skriniar departed in the summer with no apparent replacements signed.  They did not disappoint.  Lautari Valenti (Parma), Niklas Sule (Tottenham) and Illya Zabarnyi (Dynamo Kyiv) arrived for a combined £115m.  Lazio brought in keeper Juan Musso from Atalanta, who also saw Koopmeiners leave for Man City in a £58m deal.  Maxi Gomez joined Roma from Chelsea, whilst Nathan Ake's 18 month spell at Real Madrid came to an end as he joined Napoli.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Putting On a Brave Face

With the transfer window underway, and signs of turmoil behind the scenes, we were hoping that our form on the field could help hold things together.  For the 2nd time in this save, I forgot that North American teams play qualifiers in January, and we lost Toljan for our first game back.  Mauro Castillo was also away for Argentina's Olympics qualifiers.  Olaza, who had made his return from knee tendonitis just before the Winter Break, came down with flu just as we were due to return to action.

I am also going to try and be a bit more concise with my match updates.  Stress on the word try.

image.thumb.png.d3e218b3c4a3d6493fb7d09c9b27c4f8.png

Despite the absences, we got off to a good start against cellar dwellers, Salernitana, as a goal and assist from Sesko wrapped up the points.  It wasn't a pretty game, as both teams seemed a little sluggish after the Winter break.

Raspadori scored twice and set up another as we ran riot over Verona.  Raspadori's second, a cheeky tap-in on the line to rob Sesko, had shades of David Nugent for England against Andorra.  Gavi scored his first goal for the club.

Atalanta put up a good fight, but Raspadori was again the hero, slotting home after a lovely through ball from Adjapong.  Man City's interest seems to have lit a fire under Raspadori.  Toljan sprained his knee ligaments in the 92nd minute, and will miss the next 6-7 weeks.

Coppa Italia brought an opportunity for rotation, for the first of a double-header against Parma.  Olaza returned, and set up Scamacca after Sottil had header us in front.

Parma again, and a full-strength squad went 1 further, as we ran out 3-0 winners.  Adjapong picked up his 4th assist in 3 games, finding Scamacca in the 6 yard box twice.  A 30 yard free-kick from Berardi was sandwiched in between.

Another Berardi free kick, added to an earlier Berardi penalty was enough to see of Spezia.

6 games.  6 wins.  6 clean sheets.  Can't ask for much more than that.  That's not true, actually - I could ask for Inter to drop some points, but sadly they're not willing to cooperate.

image.png.fc9bdcac82c4fa368006d65c88b3525e.png

Scamacca and Berardi remain tied, both having 13 league goals and 4 cup goals each.  Rotation and injuries sees our wingbacks share 20 assists between them - 11 from the left backs, 9 from the right backs.  February is going to be the month that makes or breaks us, with 2 games a week throughout, and some pretty stern opposition.

image.png.7f1bfffc0b6249bbbb420b2399dc5109.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

My Heart Can't Take This

image.thumb.png.c279c2b8f4479b4eac43f2e4a26f8960.png

Adjapong is staking his claim for a place even after Toljan returns, as another 2 assists against Sampdoria helped us start the month with a win.  Gavi conceded a penalty to give the hosts a route back into the game, but made amends with an assist for Scamacca's 2nd.

We turned in a dominant performance against Venezia that was only undermined by our finishing.  The breakthrough came when Raspadori poked home a goal-line scrap.  Scamacca sent Gavi through for our 2nd.  Gavi went 52/52 in passing, with 9 key passes!  I still don't understand how he wasn't PotM. 1 day later and I got to learn that the Turkish transfer window was still open, as Kaan Ayhan departed for £6m.  We struggled to get a bid that high when we were actively shopping him around, and he was likely to be out in the summer.  We'll get by with Bruno and Mauro Castillo filling the Anchor role.

image.png.ec1e00960674f229cd2298e80ba8b0be.png

Late drama against Roma as Scamacca & Berardi set each other up to complete a stunning comeback.  Barrow had headed home from a corner to score completely against the run of play.  We got our just desserts, as Berardi was able to meet a pass across the box to sweep home with 8 minutes left.  Otamendi's 2nd booking was a fitting end to a game where Roma will feel like they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  In the following days, Kumbulla came down with flu, and was slated to miss the next 2 weeks.

An unexpected win against Zebre in the Coppa Italia, as we once again partly rotated the team.  Headers from Sesko and Ferrari put us in control early, the latter being a rare goal from a corner this season.  We tired, and let Zebre back into the game late, but thankfully they didn't register a goal until the 93rd minute.  Loanee Sottil hitting the post from close range before Chiesa hammered in the rebound.

Coming into the Inter game we had a 3 point lead.  Draws against Lazio and Zebre has Inter in second, and all we needed was a draw to be on top in the title race.  It was, perhaps unsurprisingly given the stakes, a cagey affair.  Adeyemi tapping home the winner after Ferrari misjudged a cross from the left.  The lead was fun whilst it lasted.

Tah left Frabotta for dead on his way to setting up Reus' opener for Dortmund.  Berardi responded, tapping home a Gavi cross in a goal that was a carbon copy of his winner against Roma.  A highly entertaining, end-to-end affair saw chances for both teams to grab a winner, but the final touch was lacking.

Another even game, another draw, as Napoli held us to our 3rd consecutive game without a win.  Sesko was guilty of missing the best chance, as he somehow headed wide at the near post from 5 yards out.  Consigli stood tall to deny Osimhen in the 2nd half and ensure we came away with a deserved point.

Back to the Mapei Stadium and back to winning ways against Zebre.  Scamacca tapped home from close range after some fine work by Raspadori down the wing.  A great last ditch block by Ferrari denied Morata an qualiser, before Lopez wrapped up the points sliding the ball under the onrushing Szczezny after a sublime through ball by Berardi.

image.png.065d8e3679aa79d103d27f7ab92ace01.png

After defeat to Inter pulled them back level with us on points, I thought we'd completely thrown it away by drawing against Lazio.  Fortune smiled on us, however, as Inter were held to an unexpected 0-0 draw against lowly Bologna.  We hold the tie-breaker over Inter courtesy of our 3-0 win earlier the season.  It's a slender advantage, but an advantage nonetheless.

In considerably less surprising news, look at Immobile.  That's 116 league goals since the save started.  Absolutely astonishing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, SixPointer said:

looks like another two horse race for the Scudetto!

I've always reckoned Serie A was just a glorified Scottish Premiership.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

March of the Toy Soldiers

A few days holiday IRL, and no actual plans, gives me the opportunity to power through the season.  Into March now and we'll have to make do without Fernando Forestieri.  A torn hamstring means he'll miss the remainder of the season and with that his Sassuolo career will come to end - the highlight undoubtedly being his 4 minute cameo against Salernitana in January.  Thanks for your service, Fernando!

image.thumb.png.0a1cfc58d11df2b7a3a474cf8b23d9a2.png

A flattering 4-1 win over Bologna got us off to a good start.  Theate misjudged a Frabotta cross, allowing Sesko to bring the ball down and sidefoot home from 10 yards, for the best goal of the game.  We deserved the win, but the 3 goal margin wasn't a fair reflection of the game.

First leg in the Coppa Italia semi, and it was another rout.  A comedy own goal, as Juan Musso's save from a Ferrari header ricocheted off Acerbi's backside and into the net.  Berardi gathered the ball inside the box, juked Lazzari and fired in at the near post to put us 3-1 up after Immobile's header looked to galvanise a Lazio team who had started poorly.  8 goals from 3.36 xG in the last 2 games.

Berardi missed an early penalty against a dogged Empoli side.  Gavi is making the most of the opportunity afforded by Traore's departure, and provided the two moments of quality to unlock an Empoli defence that did well to keep us at bay.

Another cracking game against Dortmund, and another flattering scoreline.  Once again it was an end-to-end affair, and Marco Reus' opener set the stage for an explosive second half.  The first 5 goals all came from crosses.  Sesko's 2nd, a powerful header after Kumbulla had headed the ball back across goal, was the moment that broke Dortmund, and from then on in we were in the ascendancy.  Sesko raced through and dinked the ball over the Gregor Kobel to put the game to bed, before Matheus Henrique made things look more comfortable than they really were.

With 5 English teams still in the competition, it came as no surprise when we drew one of them for the Quarter Finals.  A reunion with Traore looms.  Chelsea or Liverpool lie in wait at the Semi Finals should we make it that far.

image.png.25b4edf1fafd5552db1ebb89d16186f6.png

2 more Gavi assists help us overcome Fiorentina, as they young Spaniard split the defence open with a beautiful slide-rule pass for Scamacca's opener.  Gonzalez rose above Toljan at the far post for a deserved equaliser, before Kumbulla's 2nd half header sealed the points.  It was plain sailing from then on in.

A great month finished as it (almost) started - with a 4 goal bonanza against Lazio.  Gavi met a Raspadori cutback, Berardi raced onto Consigli's long ball forward, and Scamacca side-footed home a low Berardi cross to put the game to bed in the first half.  A surprise Lopez header put the icing on the cake as Lazio failed to register a single shot on target.  Comprehensive.

image.png.dd0d123cebdbb114deffcbc57142aa45.png

21 goals in 6 games is a pretty pleasing return.  I haven't verified this, but I expect that's our best goal-per-game month to date.  It's enough to keep us ahead of Inter, as they have steadied the ship after their stumble in February.  24 points remain, meaning Inter can't beat last season's points total, but it looks like 100+ points will be needed to secure the title again this season.

Off the field, there were two big developments - our youth intake for 2024, and an exciting scout report.  First up, the scout report.  Meet Albon Lafont, the possible long-term replacement for Andrea Consigli:

image.thumb.png.22ba83928375e0678e0d7a0693392708.png

image.png.2d4c8973e3d6fe3314842d7b676ccd48.png

At 25, Lafont is yet to enter his prime, and has been performing admirably in Ligue 1.  His save % is 3rd in the league, and has the 2nd highest Expected Goals Prevented.  Moreover, he spent 3 years at Fiorentina between 2018 and 2021, and therefore already has a basic understanding of the language.  Finally, he's available for a good price.  It will be a wrench to see Consigli leave, as he's still performing at a high level, but he's starting to decline and it is (anecdotally) noticeable on the pitch.  It feels like more routine saves are being spilled, more shots being punched away instead of held, etc... We've been idle as other possible keeper options have moved on to other clubs, and we've got to strike now.  Foggia was given the go ahead, and he's sealed our first transfer for next season:

image.thumb.png.cc4c1c54e3fba191e2b5ed6e3763004b.png

Youth candidates have arrived, and Dieter Eilts can breathe a sigh of relief.  It's not an astonishing intake, but it does, at least, fit the billing.  He promised average.  He delivered average.  Porcelli is the dark horse here, with high Determination, Teamwork and Work Rate and a professional approach giving a strong base for development.  Pressing forward Calandra, and central midfielder Colombo look reasonable.  They're all a long way away from first-team football, but this feels like a slight improvement on recent years.  There's still a lot of players who probably won't earn a contract.

image.thumb.png.e5cbf46904e7145543803b5d36ca396c.png

 

Edited by GIMN
Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, GIMN said:

Another cracking game against Dortmund, and another flattering scoreline. 

REVENGE!!! 
Sounded like a stress filled transfer window (why Raspadori? Why must you always look to pastures new?) but you have come out of it in fantastic form.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Exceptional form, Lafont is an brilliant signing, especially when looking at his positioning in the visualisation. 

Hopefully his return to Serie A will be a success for you! 

21 goals in six games is pleasing...you are so casual...that is an immense return! Can you secure the Scudetto? I will keep my fingers crossed! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, 13th Man said:

REVENGE!!! 
Sounded like a stress filled transfer window (why Raspadori? Why must you always look to pastures new?) but you have come out of it in fantastic form.

I wouldn't have minded if they came for Scamacca.  Like have him.  Just leave Giacomo alone!

Thankfully, £103m is a lot of money, and as I head into April they are no longer appearing as an interested team.  Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Zebre are however, and Raspadori's taken exception on the few occasions I've tried to downplay his availability in the press.  I'm hoping, that like Ayhan, Rogerio and Muldur before him, that the value keep him out of other's grubby hands long enough for him to reassess his position.

Link to post
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, GIMN said:

Thankfully, £103m is a lot of money,

I had a similar back and forth with him in my Livorno save. Managed to keep him but it was touch and go at times.  Juventus and Inter just kept lowballing me though. That seemed, if anything, to only light more of a fire under him. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Exceptional form, Lafont is an brilliant signing, especially when looking at his positioning in the visualisation. 

Hopefully his return to Serie A will be a success for you! 

21 goals in six games is pleasing...you are so casual...that is an immense return! Can you secure the Scudetto? I will keep my fingers crossed! 

I'm pretty excited by Lafont.  I think I mentioned it before somewhere, but Agility, Reflexes and Positioning are the main attributes I look for and he's elite in all three areas.  Higher Anticipation and Concentration, and he'd be perfect.  But you're not getting that for £9m!  If I was to place one knock on him, it would be his sub-optimal First Touch, but we're really nit-picking there.

You're right, 21 goals is incredible, especially as 13 of them came against Lazio and Dortmund.  But, with us in the driving seat (just!?) for the title, I'm hoping to save up my hyperbole for when we cross that finishing line!

Link to post
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, 13th Man said:

I had a similar back and forth with him in my Livorno save. Managed to keep him but it was touch and go at times.  Juventus and Inter just kept lowballing me though. That seemed, if anything, to only light more of a fire under him. 

The AI's propensity for non-negotiable offers definitely works in our favour.  There's probably some work for SI there to have more of a back and forth between bidding teams, the player's agent and the player's willingness to stick to promises.  I'd imagine in real-life, the agent would inform Man City, Man City would say they're not willing to offer more than, let's say £80m, the player coming back and saying I no longer think £103m is realistic, and so on...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

This site uses cookies - We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.