Hey guys, great thread here.
After watching Ajax defeat Madrid 1-4 at the Bernabeu, I was inspired. What a performance, it had everything you could ask for from a football team - work ethic, desire, technical quality and deadliness in front of goal. So I fired up a save on FM19 (I'm using the Winter Database).
I'm absolutely loving it. Easily my favourite so far on FM19 and the first season isn't even over yet.
Well, in the league it kind of is.
We're champions after 30 games. Suffered only 1 defeat all season, away at Feyenoord. We did beat PSV 4-0 both home and away though which was the highlight of the league campaign.
We also hammered AZ 3-0 both home and away.
The Champions League has also been successful thus far.
We finished second in our group behind Porto but managed to qualify ahead of Inter. We actually smashed Inter 4-0 at home in a great performance and held them to a 1-1 away.
Porto were actually a much tougher opponent and beat us 2-0 both home and away which was hard to take. The matches were actually a lot tighter than the scorelines suggest though.
We then drew Barcelona in the first knockout round.
And at home we absolutely dispatched them. 3-0. Away from home, we put on a defensive masterclass. This is not at all my usual style of play, but I thought I'd try it out and we held them to a 0-0 at the Nou Camp. Some of my instructions included short passing (because we weren't too concerned about scoring, keeping the ball when we had it was a good idea), regroup in transition, narrow defensive width, lower line of engagement and higher defensive line (this may seem odd but we didn't want to sit too deep and allow Barcelona right into our box). In the second half I even dropped my wide forwards to wide midfielders and turned into a proper 4141.
Then, we managed to draw another big Spanish team, Atletico. These guys were easily the toughest opponent we faced all season. They work so hard and exploit space so well when they have the ball. The first leg we had at home and were hoping to score a couple of goals. But Atletico were just too resilient and held us to a 0-0 draw.
I knew that it was quite unlikely we would be able to progress after that, but if we could nick an away goal that could be it all it takes. I have mainly used a 433 (4141 DM as they call it in game) and 4231. However, for this match I started with something different - 352. And I even dropped my two playmakers, Tadic and Ziyech to the bench. Neres went up top with Dolberg. We were playing quite decently but in the 43rd minute Correa put Atletico a goal up. At halftime, I brought on Tadic and went to our usual 433. We weren't going down without a fight - attacking mentality. This gamble was clearly a big risk as while we were now looking a bit more threatening, Atletico were really carving us up on transitions and Correa then doubled their lead in the 58th minute. I thought it was all over. The CL dream was gone for the season. But we kept attacking (and still looking vulnerable), in the 68th minute, Dolberg put a cross in and Neres came in to the box for a header, Godin attempted to clear but it deflected in for a goal! 2-1. We were very much in this. With just 2 minutes left in injury time, our goalkeeper, Onana decided to just put a long kick over the opposition defence (I had just removed play out of defence because there wasn't really time for that) and everyone was caught by surprise, Oblak came out of his area to clear it, but ended up heading straight to Dolberg, Dolberg came in to the box for a 1v1 chance and.....SAVED by Oblak...but out for a corner. I thought that was our chance gone. Tadic then put the ball into the box from the corner which was cleared but only as far as Van De beek who took a touch into the box and BURIED IT with just 1 minute left of injury time! 2-2 and we are through on away goals!
We were clearly second best over 2 legs but wow...the determination to come back from 2 goals down away was incredible.
On to the Semi-finals then and we have been drawn the toughest opponent of the remaining teams - Man City. Going to be very difficult but they are a lot more similar to Barcelona than Atletico which is good for our style.
And this has all been done with the squad I started with and just one loan addition. Reguillon from Real Madrid as the backup left back to Tagliafico. No players sold so far, just a couple of young players out on loan.
To be continued...