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13th Man

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  1. Back to the classics November began with a game that Livorno really should win against an old rival in Salernitana, but after that they would deal with a tough slate of matches. Along with the remaining three Champions League group stage games, Genoa would be the only team that didn’t regularly finish in the top six until the last game before the winter break when they’d play a Brescia team that tended to give Livorno problems. Between the Verona and Genoa games, some of the squad would get some rest during the international break, but after that it would be six big games in a row. With Livorno underperforming Verdi knew he needed a rethink or else the team could have a brutal few months. The first order of business was to drop his pressing intensity unless he found a team having too much time and space on the ball. As his wife had reminded him, he wanted to force the opposition into mistakes but stay disciplined and the way to this was with a high, but measured press rather than the high and intense press that he’d been implementing. He would keep the defensive line very high for the most part, however, considering his defenders had pace that rivaled all but the fastest wingers and strikers. He also decided to have his outside backs be a bit more disciplined [stopper to defend duty]. He’d been tasking them with being more aggressive, but that had led to too many mistakes as they overcommitted. The final change was to his preferred eleven. Modric had the ability to change games, but his inconsistency was still a problem. Piccinocchi, on the other hand, just seemed to have something about him. He wasn’t as good technically as Modric, but he simply made Livorno tick. Unlike the young man as well, Piccinocchi didn’t seem to let any occasion get to him. So despite the young man’s new contract and his obvious talents, Piccinocchi would return to his starting role for the time being. Likewise, Blin seemed a better all around player than longtime squad member Ranocchia, yet he hadn’t matched Verdi’s expectations. Ranocchia had generally performed better, and he also had a good understanding with Piccinocchi. Highlights It was three points, but it was another narrow win over a team that Livorno should be beating comfortably. But...it came at a great cost. Only seconds after Verdi had replaced Esposito - who was finding his fitness after a spell out with an ankle injury - with young Francisco, Raspadori was on the receiving end of a tough challenge and lay gasping on the ground. In some ways, it was a better injury than a knee or ankle sprain, but it was a nasty one that would keep Raspadori out of a crucial run of games. He’d miss the crucial Champions League game against Sevilla, and a brutal week in which Livorno would face Lazio, AC Milan and Juventus. With Livorno already far less deadly in front of goal, Raspadori was a big loss. Luckily, Esposito was back to fitness and Francisco was playing well. The young Portuguese forward would be getting a big chance to lead the line for over a month. Up next was a big game in the Champions League against Sevilla. Livorno had been a bit lucky in their win in Spain, and Verdi felt unsure of their chances at home. After a grinding start to the season, Verdi decided to go back to basics. He would tone down the pressing and ask his wide center backs to be a bit less aggressive. Sevilla would be a good test. Livorno, for the first time in a long time, looked like Livorno. Their passing was quick and incisive, their defense was hard to break down, and they finished their chances well. Esposito rose in the 17th minute to power home a cross from Tsmikas. Even at 1-0 Livorno looked comfortable and only allowed five shots all game. Then, in the 92nd minute, Tsimikas was again a provider, this time with a cutback to Piccinocchi outside the box. The midfielder’s shot was a beauty, unstoppable yet also seeming to float gracefully in the air. Livorno controlled the game, almost from start to finish. Again they overwhelmed Sevilla’s midfield duo and targeted the area just outside Sevilla’s box for much of the game . With Porto falling to Galatasaray in Turkey, Livorno qualified for the knockout round with two games to spare. They were in control of the group, but not guaranteed first place - they’d need to win at least one game or draw both. Still, it was quite a different story from the previous year. While Livorno would certainly want to stay top of the group, they could afford to focus a bit more on the league knowing they were through to the knockout rounds. Vintage Livorno was again on display as they comfortably saw off rivals Verona. Esposito scored a brace before a Verona red card made the final fifteen minutes a cakewalk. Better yet, Livorno’s 3-4-1-2 completely contained Verona’s 5-2-2-1 in their own half and didn’t allow Verona even decent chances. This game against a re-promoted Genoa saw Livorno’s defensive frailty return, but Palumbo made up for it with two great goals and Piccinocchi added another to add more evidence that he deserved to start. This game was just ugly. With an absolutely brutal run of games on the horizon and qualification secured, Verdi sent out a heavily rotated team against a side that had outplayed them at home. Porto absolutely dominated Livorno from the first whistle and it was an embarrassing defeat - if not overly damaging in the long run. It did put a bit of pressure on Livorno to win the last game against Galatasaray, but Verdi felt it was worth it to keep his key players fresh as they wouldn’t get another game off for a while. Lazio came to Livorno on Saturday, Livorno traveled to face AC Milan on Tuesday. Then Juventus and the final game of the Champions League group state. Four big games in a row. Livorno could be happy with a point. Lazio were a team that caused Livorno a lot of problems and were flying high so it wasn’t a disappointing result. Verdi was disappointed, however, with the quality of play his team provided. They seemed to be returning to their anxious, stiff, and imprecise passing from earlier in the season. Maybe it was the quality of the opposition, though... Livorno were under pressure for much of the game, and couldn’t say that they deserved more than a point - and Lazio might even feel aggrieved not to have won. The first meeting since Livorno beat Milan to win the title in the spring ended exactly the same way - with two goals from Livorno’s unstoppable goalscorer. In this case, however, it was Miguel Francisco who scored both goals to sink AC Milan. The first came from a pinpoint pass from Piccinocchi and Francisco left his mark in the dust, controlled with his right, and finished with his left. The next was a carbon copy of the goal Rasapdori scored to seal the title - he picked a defender’s pocket as he tried to control a long kick from Livorno keeper Mazzini and ran through on goal to finish across the face of Milan’s keeper [no longer Donnarumma - sold to Chelsea for €95m]. The game plan had been the same - press Milan high, don’t let them get comfortable, but stay compact and disciplined. Milan dominated the shot count and possession, but only registered one real half chance while Livorno could have easily scored another. Livorno once again let in a silly goal against Juventus - this time with Gozzi missing a header to let de Ligt score off a free kick - but then, just as it seemed as if Livorno would fall to Juventus again by the slimmest of margins, Francisco picked up a clearance from Galves and scored a wonderful solo goal - skinning de Ligt and using his pace to escape his pursuers, he finished cooly with his left foot past Szczesny. Juventus were, usually, set up in a 4-4-2, and it led to an interesting battle in the middle and flanks as the two contrasting formations battled it out for space - and it came out even on this occasion. Livorno take care of business against a somewhat plucky Galatasaray side that had nothing left to play for. While in Livorno, the Turkish side was difficult to break down, on this occasion Livorno were on top for most of the game, and though they didn’t create very many good chances, Esposito was clinical on the day and secured top place in the group. A dominating performance by Livorno actually leads to a comfortable win! As the results from elsewhere came in, Livorno found that their first seeding wouldn’t likely help them avoid a European heavyweight. Though both Manchester teams, Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern all topped their groups, Livorno would still face one of PSG, Atletico or Real Madrid, or, best case Ajax (Milan, Lazio, and Inter all came in 2nd in their groups and so would not be drawn against Livorno in the first round). Another match which saw Livorno unable to beat their fellow 5-2-1-2 playing team. Gasperini’s men just knew how to play against the Tuscans. The game was fairly even, and it was, of course, poor defending from Livorno that let Atalanta score as Mukiele lost his marker and let a through ball beat him too easily. Francisco (who else?) came to the rescue, however, getting on the end of a wonderfully weighted, lofted ball from Raspadori - making his first appearance back from injury. Livorno ended the year with a win against a struggling Brescia team, with Francisco [obviously] scoring and a howizter of a shot from Galves that secured the points. Of course, Brescia managed a consolation goal with their right forward scoring an absolute wonder goal off a corner. The bad news was that, again, just as Raspadori was returning to the side, Francisco went down with a nasty injury that would keep him sidelined for over a month. Happily he’d get the two week winter break to start his recovery, but it was a tough injury considering the young man’s incredible run of goals while Raspadori was out - scoring five in those ten games, several of them crucial. Summary Livorno’s form had improved towards the end of 2025, and - most importantly - they managed to top their Champions League group and put themselves in the best position to progress in that competition. Livorno remained well behind their past few seasons in terms of attacking efficiency. Between injuries and just general poor finishing, Livorno were scoring far less than in the past two seasons, both in terms of efficiency and actual numbers. Where Livorno had consistently led or been close to the top of the scoring charts, they ended 2025 as a only slightly better than average attacking team. They continued to let in sloppy goals, but not nearly at the rate they had and actually improved to Serie A’s second best defense. Verdi certainly was happy about that. One stat which Verdi wasn’t as thrilled about, considering the attacking efficiency, was their possession states. It seemed like Livorno had reverted a bit to the style of useless possession that had so tortured him in 2019/2020. On the bright side, Livorno were improving, and had moved comfortably into the Champions League spaces and even opened up a gap of seven points between themselves and AC MIlan in 5th. Also, despite not being close to their best, Livorno were still only four points back from league leaders Inter and Lazio - though the later would likely overtake the former when they played their game in hand against Parma. Finally - the Champions League draw arrived and Livorno could hardly believe their luck. Ajax were not a team to be scoffed at, but it was a very winnable tie compared to the other options (PSG or the two Madrid teams). If Livorno played to their potential - which they had more often in Europe than in Serie A - they had every chance of progressing past the Dutch side and into the quarter finals. UP NEXT - Is the magic gone?
  2. Verdi just kind of fell into it without realizing it. Worse, it wasn’t even all the way Gegenpress, just kind of. The urgent pressing had been effective against good passing sides (AC Milan in that title decider) but against lesser sides it allowed those balls over the top - low percentage passes that top teams don’t tend to do, but it only needs to work once and suddenly it’s points dropped - or breakdowns in defense where players are caught chasing. Verdi has been happy to leave the super possession oriented style of his first few years in Livorno and move to a more varied central overload and/or counter tactic (depending on the opposition set up) but he went a little to hard to the aggressive pressing with both TIs and roles/duties. Did toning things down help? Find out it the next installment of this thrilling final chapter! [Wait, just saying it’s thrilling doesn’t make it thrilling??? Would it have been more thrilling if I had more pictures of explosions or something?]
  3. They were better before they were popular, you know? The polite applause lasted a decent amount of time, and some in the audience even got to their feet. Yet there wasn’t quite the buzz about the place that there often used to be. The music was well played and the interpretations were sound, but something was missing. “It’s interesting that he’s gone with so much Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Strauss this season…” said one patron. “It makes sense,” said another, “the maestro brought in a bunch of great brass players, so it’d be a shame not to use them.” “Oh yes, of course…” mused the first, “…doesn’t it feel a bit…stiff though?” “No, I mean, well…a bit…” “Remember the Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand last season?” “That was incredible! How could I forget?” “I just feel like nothing this season has felt like that.” “Well, you can’t expect transcendent performances week in week out!” “True, but I just feel like something is missing this year…the life…the vibrant sound. It just doesn’t sound as together, as cohesive, and the mistakes…they’ve always been there but it’s been a bit more distracting this season!” “I can’t argue with you there. But don’t forget, we were having a similar discussion near the end of last season and then they suddenly came out with that finale!” “We’ll just have to see I guess!” Something wasn’t quite right in Livorno at the beginning of the 25/26 season. It seemed a continuation of their nervy, stilted title run in. Everything was hard and the margins slim. Like young Morgese’s ‘shin splints’ [6-8 weeks??? Why out 6-8 weeks? I played with shin splints for years!!!] the first quarter of Livorno’s season was quite painful, even if the problems weren’t all that big a deal. [You hear that Morgese? Get back on the pitch!] Maybe it was that Raspadori wasn’t firing, maybe it was that the new signings weren’t integrated into the squad, but the fluidity wasn’t there, the chances weren’t going in, and the defense was giving up sloppy goals game after game. Yet just like the end of the previous season, Livorno (usually) kept finding a way to win. Serie A Highlights While a hard faught 1-0 win against a struggling Sampdoria side would not normally count as a highlight, it was a fantastic finish from new arrival Francisco that earned Livorno all three points - and his first goal for the club on only his second appearance, with both coming from the bench. The finish was worth the points too - a perfect blend of power and placement across the face of goal and into the far corner in the only meter of space the keeper didn’t have covered. After that game came a few disappointing draws in the league. 1-1 against Inter and Roma is nothing to be ashamed of, but both of the opposition goals came from mistakes off corners. Against Roma, Gozzi was careless and let the ball hit his hand - a soft penalty! - and against Inter no one was covering centerback Pau Torres at the back post. Esposito and Raspadori managed to rescue points from both outings but both games saw Livorno play well below their best. Fransico scored his second for the club against Torino to earn another three points after his perfectly timed run was met by a perfectly weighted ball from Esposito. Raspadori went on a rampage against his old club Sassoulo as he always does, and his heroics were needed as Sassoulo managed to put two past Mazzini. Things were looking good for Livorno, but there were constant signs of defensive weakness, of chances squandered and then... After 39 games unbeaten in the league [over a year!], Livorno finally fell to Napoli at home. All runs must come to an end, but this was a disappointing collapse. Esposito put the hosts ahead with a free kick, but Livorno’s defense was once again poor. Verdi had been wondering if it was his new look defense that was the problem, but this game put that thought to rest with the backline looking like the 24/25 season of Amione, Gozzi, and Bani at the back - and they were undone even more easily than the new arrivals. There was a simple throw in from the left, a poor clearance from Amione allowed the ball to be sent back in to the far post. Galves on the right wing totally lost Napoli wide forward Hirving Lozano and lost a header to the diminutive player [jumping reach 8 to Galves’ 12!]. Livorno had a few chances but couldn’t convert, and then, in the last quarter of the game, another simple error lets Napoli in. Another simple throw in from the left, another simple ball into the box, but Gozzi completely mistimes his header and lets Napoli forward Mariano flick the ball on into the net. It was an incredible run in the league, and it ended with a whimper as Livorno lost despite being the much better team. Poor defending was again at fault, only this time it cost them three points instead of two. Worse, Livorno lost Esposito to injury. Luckily, it would only be for a few weeks, but with the team already struggling for goals, it was worrisome to lose the big striker. Livorno continued their run of disappointing form with a draw in which the defense again cost the team points. Francisco scored a wonderful lobbed goal, Livorno were in control, but then new centerback Mert Cetin got too close to Fiorentina striker Pedro. The ball was sent in on a diagonal and Cetin was left for dead and neither Mukiele on the right or Gozzi on the left could get to Pedro in time. So, despite dominating possession, shots, and playing the vast majority of the game in the Fiorentina half, Livorno couldn’t find a second that would give them their deserved win. In the end, they couldn't create good chances, as their play turned sloppy and nervous after the Fiorentina goal - as it had been for much of the season to that point. With a quarter of the season gone, Verdi was frustrated with his defense. It was like his first season when the backline gave up silly goals game after game, and he couldn’t find the reason why. He now had better players, and even when he tried his previous players, they’d failed him as well. They looked okay statistically, but whereas before they’d let in only 8% of shots, now they were allowing nearly a 12% conversion rate. On the other side Raspadori wasn’t quite firing and the goals just weren’t quite coming like they had been, so Livorno couldn’t rely on their attack either. So far, Livorno was converting only 11% of their shots, 5% down from 24/25, and it was showing in their point tally. Their steep drop in attacking and defensive efficiency was hurting them, with their goal difference less than half of most of their rivals above them. Still, despite being well below their best, Livorno were still only outside the top four on goal difference and only five behind early leaders Inter. Juventus were the story of the early season, sitting in the bottom half on two wins from nine games. They’d been at the foot of the table after three winless games, but had managed to put together a few wins to drag themselves out of the relegation zone. Champions League With a group that was challenging but not nearly as tough as the previous year. Livorno were progressing well in the Champions League. In their first game they drew with Porto despite playing generally worse than the Portuguese visitors. In the theme of the year, Livorno managed to squeak by Galatasaray at home courtesy of a Mert Cetin corner goal in the 85th minute. They fully deserved three points, but were stiff in attack, snapping at chances and needed a set-piece to get them the win. The halfway point in the group stage featured a big game in Spain against Sevilla. Sevilla set up in a wide 5-2-3 that often gave Livorno problems. Away from home as well, Verdi feared for his defense. He needn’t have been worried - even if Livorno did need the help of the post as an extra defender as Sevilla struck the post three times. Still, Livorno held the Spanish team at bay, controlled the midfield and Francisco put Sevilla to the sword with two late goals that showed the young man’s growing stature. Both featured excellent timing for his runs, and both featured excellent finishes. It was a tight game overall, but Livorno were good for their win even as they rode their luck a bit. The heatmap shows how Livorno focused their play in the area between Sevilla’s center mids and backline. And controlled the midfield even if they gave up a bit more possession than they would have liked in their own third. Even with Porto managing a win over Galatasaray, Livorno grabbed control of the group in Sevilla. The return fixture a few weeks later in Livorno against Sevilla would likely prove pivitol for the group... “I'm just frustrated,” Verdi sighed to his wife. “They’re just making stupid mistakes, both with and without the ball. It seems like a mental thing, like they're cracking under the pressure. But it's no different than last year, so I don’t understand why it's all so tough now!” “Too much German music,” Verdi’s wife shrugged. “What?” Verdi rubbed his temple, “I don’t want to talk about music right now. My ears are still recovering from the concert the other night...” “Come on,” Verdi shook her head with a smile, “you need me to spell it out for you? Stop going gegenpress! That’s not how you play. Just because you have some fast defenders now doesn’t mean you should press-press-press! You say it yourself, right? You want to be hard to break down, but you’ve been pressing all the time now, letting them play around you. Save it for when you need it...or want it! Get back to your…” she chuckled, “...Opera Football. Oh, and play Piccinocchi more. Modric...he’s good, but he’s young. Piccinocchi is just solid, every-single-game. Ranocchia too. He’s been better than that new guy, Bin? Blin? But keep playing Francisco. That boy can score. He's also adorable. Now - chop up that garlic finer or are you going to make me do everything?” Verdi shook his head with a chuckle as he got back to being the sous-chef for his wife, but it hit him that she was right...about all of it.
  4. Thanks! That last season was completely crazy. Title decider on the last day? The season I'm playing right now? I'm writing up the update, but it's hasn't hit the heights of 24/25 just yet. But the season is still relatively young and Livorno start slow...
  5. Thanks! Just going to have to be a total snob and drop a knowledge bomb on you - (real life composer) Verdi and Wagner were kind of rivals and both hated each other's music. You can guess which side I'm on, though no one can deny that Ride of the Valkyries "slaps" (which is, I learned recently, what "the kids" say these days). I was relieved! I was not sure I had the will to go on with this last season if I couldn't keep hold of him. [New arrival/regen] Fransisco has the potential to be an absolute monster, but Raspadori's just a fantastic all around player. His only weakness is in the air, and yet he still scores a handful of headed goals every year.
  6. Both would be fun (as would the Ernst Happel Challenge too). I'd vote Bari because Verdi had a grudging respect for them. They played Livorno hard and made things real tough for them - though obviously Verdi got the best of them and left them in the dust. But...they have a big stadium (about 60k) so it'd be a nice challenge to end up filling it if/when you make it up through the leagues. Catania would also be a nice one even given their relatively recent fall down the leagues - though I was turned away cause their fans are poorly behaved in the not so fun ways. Also, Verdi is annoyed with them because he had a quite a few loanees that went there and made almost no progress.
  7. The Actual Preview to the 25/26 Season “Encore!” Cries the crowd! “Encore!” The maestro waits, standing in the wings, out of view of the crowd. “Encore! Encore!” The orchestra begins to stomp their feet and the crowd truly begins to roar. The orchestra has some new faces, some key upgrades in key places, and they wait for the maestro to return to the stage. “Encore! Encore!” The maestro steps out onto the stage and the applause is deafening. But there is a pause, will the diva come out with him? Will she return to the stage to make beautiful music one more time with maestro Verdi? The cloud that hung over Livorno in the summer of 2025 was the interest that Raspadori was once again attracting. This time, Manchester United came in with a shock bid in June, offering nearly €60m. Livorno rejected the offer - especially when it contained so much deferred payment and many dependent clauses. Raspadori and Verdi met shortly after, and while Raspadori was adamant in his desire to leave, the two agreed that he was worth more than €45m+clauses. With a bit of back and forth, Verdi made a promise to let him go if Manchester United came in with a bid of €80m or better. The question was would they - or some other top team - come in and match that price? Meanwhile, Verdi was busy himself in the transfer market. He had, by far, his biggest transfer budget of €60m and a wage budget of €900k/w - though he’d push much of the transfer budget over to the wage side with the quality of player he brought in combined with the members of the squad in line for contract extensions. First priority was the center of defense. Right center back Bani was thirty one and responsible for several crucial mistakes late in the previous season that had begun to test Verdi’s trust in him. Worse he often played nervous during the title run in, and Verdi feared he had trouble coping with pressure. Amione and Gozzi had both been solid but Verdi felt he could do better. He specifically wanted quick players who were good with the ball at their feet. Enter Mert Cetin from relegated Bologna. The smart, technical, and committed defender was available for the insanely low price of €1.8m as Bologna looked to slash their wage bill. He wasn’t as strong in the air as some, but his other qualities more than made up for that. Next was the long awaited permanent transfer of Palumbo to Livorno. Verdi hated to overspend, but it was different when it was a player that had been with Verdi since Serie C. Finally, after five years in Livorno on loan, Palumbo joined permanently in a €28m deal, with €8m of that coming in installments. It was a massive investment, but the player was key to how Livorno played and Livorno were finally able to afford both the transfer fee and his wages. Two other players earned new deals, with sizzling Tsmikas and daring Darijo Modric both rewarded for their strong form. There were fears in Tuscany that manager Verdi would leave the club, but a job offer never materialized and Real Madrid found another new manager instead. Though it seemed as if Manchester United’s interest in Raspadori had waned by mid July, rumors about a move to AC Milan or Juventus began to swirl as the summer progressed. But until something materialized, Verdi was at work remodeling his backline. This time it was versatile French wingback/center back Mukiele arriving from Newcastle for €13m. He was another quick player that could not only defend but also contribute going forward. Mukiele’s arrival, however, meant the departure of Bogdan - the last remaining player that had been at the club before Verdi’s arrival. He made the trip through the leagues and contributed well when called upon, but with three players ahead of him, it was time for him to move on. Verdi had a heartfelt talk with him on his way out (to Parma for €7.5m) and both men teared up a little, though neither would admit it. Another departure wasn’t quite so pleasant. Lees-Melou was strangely threatened by Palumbo’s “arrival” and when Verdi told him he’d have his chances to play just like before, the midfielder was incensed. Verdi was taken aback. Sure, Lees-Melou had been a reliable member of the squad and brought experience and the kind of mentality Verdi liked in his players, but there was no time for this kind of drama. He was transfer listed and quickly sold to newly promoted (again) Salernitana for €1.1m with some possibility for another €500k. It was less than Verdi would have liked, but at 32 Lees-Melou was starting to decline and Verdi wanted him off the team after his outburst. That did leave Livorno a bit short in midfield, but Verdi quickly found a better replacement. With Verdi’s shift to more attack minded center backs, he’d scoured a lot of defensively solid central midfielders who were strong and decent in the air. Alexis Blin was one of those scouted, and while the arrival of Mukiele meant Livorno were deep at center back, Verdi made a bid for Blin as soon as Les-Melou began his exit. Available for a reasonable €5.5m, the Frenchman soon signed for Livorno. Verdi was especially pleased considering Ranocchia seemed to have reached his ceiling. He was a solid, dependable player, but a limited one. It seemed as if, in losing Les-Melou, Verdi had inadvertently upgraded in the holding midfield role. Finally, the scouts unearthed a talented young keeper out of Columbia (with a bonus of German as a second nationality). He wasn’t a fully polished player yet, but he had exceptional talent and the potential to be an excellent keeper. It turned out to be a good piece of business as well when Lyon came in for prior backup Dahlburg. Opera Football TIs Counter is on against similar to better teams. I sometimes drop the tempo to balanced against teams parking the bus to give players time to pick their passes. Gone is positive/cautious/attacking except in specific moments for short bursts. Thanks to @SixPointer - our discussion a little while back reminded me to stop messing with it so much! Often push the LOE a notch higher against direct teams so their backline has to clear rather than be able to pick out their striker. Will push DL against teams that sit deep - wide 3atb gives plenty of cover PIs Front three - max press, roaming, move into channels. AM (also) - shoot more often, take more risks. CAR - will often be changed to DLP if more possession needed and against teams defending deep to allow him to deliver deadly balls from deep with time and space Wide CBs- stay wider Over the course of the past season, Verdi had begun to find that when Livorno sat back, especially against the best teams, they fared worse than when they kept the pressure up and took the game to the opposition. With Livorno’s strength lying in their attack, when they sat back or tried to just keep possession, they let the opposition back into the game. It went against the way the team was built and exposed their weaknesses. With his new lightning fast, technical backline Verdi finally had the team that he felt could truly implement his philosophy. The team was built to his design, he had a first 11 of quality players with a few stars, and a good amount of quality depth. There were good passers, hard workers, and determined and intelligent players throughout the team. Verdi had fully transformed the team, and it was time to unleash the true potential of Opera Football upon Serie A and the Champions League. The 3-4-1-2 and the 5-2-2-1 would also feature on occasion, and they would carry the same basic concepts as the above style. The only question that remained was around the future of talisman Giacomo Raspadori. [My client isn’t interested in speaking to Juventus!!! Take that! Take your derisory bid, put it somewhere unsavory, and run back to Turin you no-CL having four-letter-words.] The spotlight shines on Maestro Verdi, standing alone. A momentary hush comes over the crowd. Verdi looks back into the wings and holds out a hand… And that’s when the diva steps out too and joins hands with the maestro. The applause thunders down from the balconies as the two make their way to center stage. Verdi turns to the orchestra, and lifts his baton. The audience goes silent. The orchestra put their instruments in place, bows at the ready. Verdi checks with the diva, who inclines her head, and the maestro lifts the baton gracefully in the air. The winds take a breath, the strings prepare their first stroke of the bow. The baton comes down and music fills the auditorium once more. I've yet to decide/find out how I'll do this season's updates. Might be a bit rushed as I try to finish out this save, but maybe not. We'll see.
  8. I hear you! Enjoyed this little snippet of starting up a club DNA type project. Now to take the experience and lessons learned and bring it to a future save!
  9. Ha! Love it. Its strangely satisfying when you learn about upcoming stars in fm. Who knows how he’ll do long term, but he’s got this great mix of flair, speed, intelligence, and determination that is unusual and could take him far. I’ll definitely be following his career with interest.
  10. Preview to...THE PREVIEW OF.... [Why is there an explosion you ask? Answer - YES!!!!] The Final Chapter of the LIVONRO SAGA!!!! Here we are. Giuseppe Verdi and Livorno are coming off winning the Serie A title in the most dramatic way imaginable - with a home win against their title rivals AC Milan. They’ve gone from Serie C to the top of Serie A in five years, with many amazing memories along the way. What is there left to achieve in the 25/26 season? A season which is almost surely the last of the LIVORNO SAGA!!! A saga which has spanned five seasons (and seven actual months)? I had hoped to open the new stadium, but with it being two full seasons away and with FM 22 and wide CBs just around the corner, I don’t see myself making it that far. So what is there to play for? I’ve accomplished my goals and more. I even considered leaving it and going out on a massive high, but I got into the transfer window and realized I still feel invested. So I’m going to do two things with this (probably) final season. 1 - Verdi is going to make a big push in Europe. He doesn't need to win anything, but the 24/25 season was a bit disappointing on that front. Just about whatever the opposition, Verdi’s going to pick his best 11 in Europe. If he goes out, he’ll go out knowing he gave his best shot. 2 - Unleash Opera Football upon Serie A. No longer will Verdi play pragmatic football. He’s going to press, he’s going to play fast, he’s going to attack - no matter the opposition. That doesn’t mean he’ll play the 3-4-1-2 all the time, but he’s going to go into every game looking to play on the front foot and to win by controlling the game and controlling space. I plan on finishing this season before FM22 drops, or at least finishing it out before I switch over. The exception might be if the season goes spectacularly wrong... UP NEXT - The Actual Preview to the 25/26 Season
  11. Thanks! Laaaaa! Lalala!!!! Opera football! Encore! That's basically what this last season is going to be (though sometimes encores are kind of...not so good)! He's been a monster. Crazy thing is - I got absolute goal machine Raspadori for only €6.5m (or 7?) so this partnership that scored 53 goals in Serie A alone cost under €20m!
  12. End of Season Review Livorno’s two year long wait for silverware finally ended on The 25th of May, 2025 when they won their first major trophy on the final day of the season. Signing of the Season This one was no contest. Esposito proved an absolute bargain at €11.75m. He was a perfect foil for Raspadori, seeming to score whenever his partner was silenced, netting 31 goals on the season as well as teeing up eleven more for others. Tsmikas on the left also lit up many games and adding a bit more grit and determination than Tripadelli, who also spent much of the year injured. Amione took over the starting role from club captain Carboni and was a generally reliable presence, especially on the left of the back three. A season to remeber It may not have been pretty down the stretch, with Livorno winning a lot of tight, nervy games. That is not only the mark of champions, but a sign of the team’s remarkable mental strength. Top games The absolute demolition of Bologna was the last game in which Livorno played with freedom and joy before the grind of the title run in started to stifle their play. It could be said that the biggest match of the season was the final match against AC Milan, but the 2-0 win against Inter was the game in which people finally started to sit up and take notice of this side. First 11 [Again, weirdly flipped left to right!] Obviously the forward duo were the stars, but Tsmikas was excellent on the left and Palumbo was a key part to how Livorno play. He was asked to do a lot - close down from the front, defend the edge of the box, lead counters, score from distance, provide a general goal threat and create chances - and he did it all, often running himself into the ground in the process. The Accolades The player accolades were, no surprise, dominated by the front three. Raspadori won fans’ player of the season, and was the top goal scorer, while Esposito was voted best young player and had the most assists. The fan vote matched the general vote for Serie A as Raspadori claimed the best player award for the second year in a row. Esposito’s move from Inter was a boon for both Livorno and Esposito as the striker was finally given the chance to fulfil his early promise. His 20 league goals and nine assists made him one of Serie A’s most lethal forwards, despite being on the same team as Raspadori. Together, Raspadori and Esposito made up two of the top ten scorers in Serie A - scoring a combined 53 goals in Serie A alone to make them by far the most deadly partnership in the league. In the tradition of Livorno strikers vying for personal awards, Francisco was the Portuguese Premier league’s second most prolific goalscorer. The Serie A Team of the Year was dominated by Livorno, representing 7 of the best eleven, and with midfield being the only position in which they weren’t the majority. Finally, Verdi won the accolade that had eluded him the year before. While the title looked comfortable at the end of the final day, but the run in was anything but. Milan were incredible on the year, especially without Europe to distract them, but Livorno somehow managed to beat them twice and that was the difference. Fourteen and fifteen points separated Livorno from Inter in 3rd and the previous years’ champions Lazio in 4th. One of the stories of the year was Juventus’ fall from the top, finishing twenty points behind Livorno and outside the champions league. On the other end of the table SPAL headed straight back down to Serie B. Ternana managed a respectable 12th place finish while Brescia were also safe in 16th. Instead, Bologna's multiple year flirtation with relegation was finally consummated, and were joined by a Cagliari team who had been solidly midtable for years but suddenly came on hard times. EUROPE Livorno’s first foray into the Champions League culminated in a loss in Dortmund which dropped them into the Europa League. There was no shame in coming third in a group like this, but it was a shame that they let PSG squeak into the knockout rounds. Mostly because… PSG would go on to win the whole thing! So Livorno beat the Champions League winners by a combined score of 3-1 over two legs. Not so bad. Just sad that they won in the end. Livorno’s EURO Cup campaign was also a disappointment as they fell to an Athletico Bilbao team that they really could, and should, have beaten. Two bad mistakes on corners in the 3-3 draw in Livorno proved costly though, and did allow Livorno to focus on the League. Armando Picchi Park Just after their historic Serie A win, Livorno’s board announced the groundbreaking for the club's new stadium. Originally named Armando Picchi Park, the stadium will double the current stadium’s capacity to 28,266 and open in the summer of 2027. [Ouch, I’d really hoped to open the new stadium but I’m not sure I have three years left in this save…not when I hear about proper wide CBs in FM22…As a preview, I am going to have a go at having more attacking CBs in the next season, but we’ll see...] Stats and Graphs! I’m not going as deep here as I had before because it’s really similar to last year and with a very similar tactic. Still a bit interesting to see the progression though... Still outperforming xG for and against. Livorno actually dropped a bit in efficiency compared to last year. They converted 17% percent in the 23/24 season and drop to 16% here, but took two extra shots per game. They still rank among the best in the league, and were also facing more parked busses. A major improvement on the defensive side. Livorno faced three less shots a game than in 23/24 and still let in only 8% of those shots. UP NEXT - Preview to...THE FINAL CHAPTER of the LIVORNO SAGA!!!
  13. I personally would go opposite of what you're doing with the CM-wing combos. Like you said, the Mez(a) and the AP will get in each other's way and the DLP is too deep and far away from the winger to create much. The WB(s) will also be too far away from your winger. If you wanted that player isolated to score, you might want to make him a IF(a) so that he attacks the box. I had a tactic set up like that and he and the forward were usually on a similar amount of goals. Another idea is to simply flip the combos. Mez(a) + W(a) is a great combo, and DLP + IF(s) has worked really well for me (instead of the AP, though they work much the same). I've had a lot of success with this kind of look. The Mez and W combine really well in a direct sort of way while attacking different spaces, and the DLP, WB, and IF are able to combine nicely and create a bit of an overload, especially if the forward joins in too. As @Tsuru says, you also do need people attacking the box. The W(a) will when the ball is on the opposite flank, but there really isn't anyone else doing it - even the DLF will often sit back until the ball is already past him. I would consider making the forward an AF, PF, or a CF on attack so that he's actually in the box. With your 'standard' passing game, it doesn't look like you're going for possession as a tactic, and having a forward pressing the defense back will create space for the rest of your players to use and exploit.
  14. !!! That makes one of us. I was sure Milan would beat Livorno. But yes, I was all ready to wait until an update or two into FM22, and really give this save a few more good seasons. I even had a specific idea for a save all ready as my first in FM22. Then SI had to go and do a thing that I really want and am excited about! Those %#@)&!!! Many thanks for the high praise! It’s been quite a journey. With FM22 around the corner I think I’m going to make one last push for a good European run and then this save may have run its course.
  15. @Jogo Bonito- Making for an interesting challenge in Montpellier it seems. No easy wins, lots of setbacks, but overall doing well. I will say though @warlock, that doing a career thread has made my current save massively more fun than any I've done before. It's definitely added to my FM addiction, and that's not necessarily a good thing, but I've enjoyed breaking things down in a way that I never had before...
  16. I'll just be here...waiting in the wings for the right moment...
  17. Livorno crowned Serie A champions in front of a raucous Armando Picchi 25/5/2025 [I actually played the game shortly after making my response to @SixPointerand @Hootieleece, but didn’t get around to writing it up for a bit. I know that my millions of fans have been waiting in anticipation for this moment, barely able to concentrate on their work, families, or even their FM saves. But it's finally here...the climax of the most improbable season ever...] Verdi’s ambitious game plan proved a masterstroke as Livorno not only held the offensive firepower of AC Milan at bay, but put two past their title rivals too. Livorno could not quite finish several good first half chances, and there was some fear that Raspadori had forgotten his shooting boots. The second half proved otherwise however, as Serie A’s leading scorer all but cemented his place as the player of the season by scoring a stunning brace in the biggest game of his life. Rather than sit back and try to absorb pressure, Livorno choose to play to their strengths and play on the front foot. They counter pressed and they took away easy distribution options for Donnarumma, marking high up the pitch, but then would retreat a bit once the ball was in play. This is how Livorno normally plays, but what was different was the intensity of their press. They were disciplined, but far more urgent in their pressing of AC Milan than they had been in Milan, especially their midfield engine room. AC Milan had also dominated the flanks in Milan, and, surprisingly, Livorno allowed them to do the same here. Though the wingbacks went out to press when the ball entered the final third, Livorno didn’t chase the ball when it was on the wings and that meant they were far tighter in the center when the crosses came in. Though AC Milan’s Belotti is decent in the air, Bani, Gozzi, and Amione put him under constant pressure and he often cut an isolated figure as Milan attacked down the flanks again and again to little gain. [FM terms - The usual high DL and standard LOE + prevent short gk dist, but I had on urgent instead of standard pressing, and standard width instead of force opposition inside. Also had on stay on feet to keep shape and avoid unnecessary fouls. Possession TIs as usual - higher tempo, standard passing, narrow.] In attack, Livorno were direct and aggressive on the counter, and should have taken advantage of several early opportunities. In only the fourth minute, Livorno snuffed out an AC Milan attack on their right flank, and quickly played it up to Raspadori - who was causing AC Milan problems. He dribbled it up the flank and though the counter came to nothing, Livorno kept possession and recycled it back through Ranocchia. The holding midfielder found Tsmikas running towards the box, and the wingback’s through ball to Raspadori created as good a chance as you can hope for as a striker, but Raspadori blasted it right at Donnarumma. Palumbo also had an excellent chance in the twenty first minute, after Raspadori slithered along the byline and again blasted his shot at Donnarumma. Palumbo was on hand for the rebound, but managed to hit his shot against AC Milan defender Maulid [regen]. Raspadori was again through on goal in the 33rd minute but again could not convert with only Donnarumma to beat. From Donnarumma’s clearance, Bani won the ball in the air, Esposito won the second ball and knocked it down to Modric. The rising star took one touch and sent a perfectly weighted ball deep into Milan’s half for Raspadori to run onto. This time the forward slipped the ball inside the near post, but Raspadori had anticipated a first time ball and so by the time Modric launched it forward, he was already offsides. It would later become apparent that AC Milan should have heeded the warning in this disallowed goal. The closest Milan came to scoring in this game before it was beyond them came right after the restart, when Theo Hernandez - who was Milan’s best player - again drove to the byline and sent a cross in and Dembele struck the ball sweetly on the volley, but agonizingly hit the post. Amione’s rushed clearance rebounded off Bani, and could have easily gone in the goal, but instead dribbled out for a corner. The goal called back for offsides in the first half turned out to be merely a rehearsal to the opening goal. Livorno took a throw-in deep in their half, with Modric laying it back to Galves, who gave it back to Modric. The midfielder played it up to Esposito, who returned the ball to Modric. [Esposito is about to play it back to Modric (#15) and nothing seems on] AC Milan’s defenders were lulled into a false sense of security, but when Modric received the ball back, he remembered the goal that was chalked off due to offsides. [Raspadori (#13) lurking threateningly on the shoulder of Tomori (#5)] Instead of taking a touch, this time the young Croatian instantly sends a ball over the top for Raspadori to run onto and the forward timed his run to perfection. This time Raspadori's control was perfect and he slipped the ball past Donnarumma and into the back of the net. With Milan rarely threatening, it seemed that Livorno already had one hand on the trophy. AC Milan seemed shocked by the goal, and the following thirty minutes saw Livorno largely control the game. In the eighty-first minute, the game was put to bed as Mazzini sent a hopeful long ball up to midfield with AC Milan pressing high and hard and cutting off Livorno’s preferred short distribution. Tomori in Milan’s defense was too casual in attacking the ball, and Raspadori’s sneaky and sudden acceleration caught him off guard. The forward nicked the ball off Tomori’s foot as he tried to control it, and surged towards the Milan goal. Maulid came over to cover quickly, and it seemed the chance was gone as he forced Raspadori to the left, but at the edge of the penalty area he struck the ball sweetly with his left foot and sent it just past the outstretched left hand of Donnarumma, off the post, and into the goal to secure Livorno’s first ever Serie A title. AC Milan poured forward in the final ten minutes, but there was no chance that Livorno would give up three goals, and while Mazzini was forced into one magnificent save, the celebrations could truly begin long before the final whistle. [Sharp eyed folks will notice the C/A on the banner and the rather sparsely populated stands, that’s because FM somehow did not give me my title cut scene! I was furious! I mean, not really, but come on! So here’s a repeat from Livorno winning Serie C/A but we can pretend it’s Serie A] There can be no claims that Livorno did not earn this win, or that the scoreline was unfair. Livorno created the better chances, and while the goals they scored were both incredible pieces of skill, it must be said that they actually failed to convert their best chances. It was a fairly even game by the numbers, but Livorno created the better chances and held AC Milan’s attack at arm’s length, hardly allowing them any chances. They pressed hard but with disciplined intensity. They conceded the flanks while packing the middle, so that AC Milan could not make anything out of their domination out wide. Then they controlled the ball like a snake coiled and ready to pounce, with both goals and several chances coming from direct play from Livorno after spells of quiet possession. Their win in Milan may have been a bit of a smash and grab, but in the game that mattered the most, Livorno fully eared the right to be named Serie A champions. A new name now sits in the Serie A history books for the first time since the 1986/1987 season, when Diego Maradona led Napoli to their first Serie A title. Relegated from Serie B in the 2019/2020 season, Livorno have had a remarkable turnaround in the past five years and find themselves crowned champions after a dramatic end of the season which culminated in a winner-takes-all match against AC Milan. While Milan fans will be heartbroken, neutrals in Italy and abroad must have enjoyed seeing such a underrated team come out on top. UP NEXT - Season in Review + Tactics
  18. Showdown at Armando Picchi with the title on the line 25/5/2025 Make no mistake, this is the biggest game in Livorno’s history. Making it to the cup final was a big day, but winning the league would be a legendary achievement for this small seaside club. Only five years ago Livorno were relegated from Serie B, and now they are one game away from lifting the Serie A trophy for the first time in their history. Their title rivals, AC Milan, are their opponents, as if by design. In fact, if this kind of game was in a movie, critics would say it was so improbable that it ruined the experience. Over the last few weeks and months, Verdi has been coy about his side’s chances of being crowned champions, even as they have made first place theirs for much of the second half of the season. The pressure has definitely shown, however, with Livorno often looking anxious and unsure. Likewise, Verdi’s words and demeanor were calm during his press conference yesterday, but it did not take a body language expert to see the tension in his face and shoulders. Livorno have the advantage of not only being at home, but of only needing a draw. With AC Milan’s vastly superior goal difference, however, if they win they will be champions. The question will be whether Livorno try to sit back and absorb pressure or play on the front foot and try to strike a knockout blow. Either way, it will be a fascinating contest, and with the Champions League and relegation spots already settled, all eyes in Italy will be on Livorno, where the tiny Armando Picchi will host its most important game.
  19. That’s right. Livorno beat AC Milan 1-0 in Milan so whenever they’ve been tied on points Livorno has been ahead. Still means that if Milan wins they get the title as their goal difference is hugely better. Livorno needs a win or a draw. Yeah, I actually started the game, did the game time adjustments, gave the team talk, hit kick off, and realized I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Maybe savescuming technically, but I was too nervous for it to be fun. Want to take some time to consider my game plan and be in the right mindset. I’ve never had a game like this - last day, title on the line, at home, against the title rival. Especially not as a team that is still was below in terms of quality across the pitch. The game plan needs to be spot on. AC Milan will need to attack knowing they need a win, so Verdi had initially figured he should play conservative (waste time, lower LOE). But then giving AC Milan time and space hadn’t been the right move before. Livorno were under siege in Milan in their deeper 5-2-2-1 before the switch back to the 5-2-1-2. Truth is, while Livorno’s front three are quality players (Raspadori, Esposito [both on 31 goals for the season] and Palumbo) but the rest are mostly just decent players that fit the system. Maybe they should play to their strengths, play their usual game and hope it’s enough? The backline has been shaky (a big slice of the €60m transfer budget is definitely going there) so it’s probably best to keep the lines high and try to play on the front foot while being difficult to break down. Not press too much, but not sit back either. In the game in Milan they completely dominated the flanks (4-3-3), especially the left, but there’s not a whole lot that I seemed to be able to do about it as that’s already the side where I have my holding midfielder. So yeah, think that’s what I’ll do when I’m in the right frame of mind. Funny that writing the post helped solidify my plan!
  20. I'm just going to leave this here....
  21. Livorno’s nerves on full display 28/4/2025 Verdi has been playing down his sides chances at winning the title nearly every week, but on the evidence of this game, his team are not buying it. This was a nervy, disjointed performance from Livorno even after Raspadori’s early goal gave them the lead. Gone is Livorno’s slick passing in midfield, their smothering defensive work. Instead, this is a club that has looked much like the midtable club that most expected them to be, even after last year's accomplishments. This was an even game, and Pedro’s equalizer looked like it was set to earn Fiorentina a point. Then Tsmikas charged down the left flank as he has so often this year, and then Esposito rose to power home the winner. On a night when Livorno could have easily dropped points, they once again managed to somehow find a way to win. Say it softly, but it is these games as much as the big ones that can decide the title. Livorno also punched their ticket to next year’s Champions League, a forgone conclusion but still a reason for Livorno to celebrate. [Coda] Milan fell three points behind Livorno in the title race as they fell 1-0 to Udinese. Let’s never talk about this ever again I don’t have any desire to write this game up in a real way, but I needed to share this insanity. It has to be the most ridiculous game I’ve played on FM. Four red cards for SPAL. Four. One was a straight red but the other three were for two yellows. And yet it took Livorno sixty-three minutes (and two red cards) to get the lead. No goals from open play, no decent chances created. It was an abysmal game, and I only was relieved when that first goal (header off a free kick) went in because there was no way SPAL could even get the ball out of their box with nine men…or eight…or seven. But did the boys relax and start enjoying themselves? No they did not. Lots of nervous and apprehensive. Then there was a PK (accompanied by one of the second yellows) and another off a free kick to round off the most embarrassing 3-0 win I’ve ever had. Completely terrible game all around, but hey - three points! Livorno finds a way again as Roma battle bravely 17/5/2025 Livorno seemed to be in a great place when Raspadori his second after Tsmikas sent him through with a ball over the top on thirty minutes. Only two minutes later, though, Noah Okafor got one back for Roma after Bani let his man run free behind him to blast a through ball past Mazzini in Livorno’s goal. Still, it seemed like Livorno were doing enough. They were edging possession, not allowing Roma to create any decent chances, but then Harry Wilson took a free kick and received a give and go. He was well outside the box and being marshalled wide, but somehow managed to get away a powerful shot from several meters outside the box that flew into the top left corner. Roma had come back from 2-0 down to tie the game. When a Livorno goal by Esposito was chalked off for an erroneous offsides - Rapsadori was not involved in the play in any way - it seemed like the game would go to a draw. Then, in the ninety-thrid minute, Moreo sent a perfectly weighted ball into the box for Raspadori to run onto. The forward got there well ahead of his marker and finished at the near post to earn Livorno all three points. The game itself largely did not matter as Milan beat Brescia 5-0, but it was another example of Livorno somehow finding a way to win a game. Against Milan they only need a draw, but with the kind of form that AC Milan are in, even a draw is a tough ask. UP NEXT - Showdown at Armando Picchi with the title on the line
  22. This time it all goes according to script as Juventus beat Livorno to win the Cuppa Italia 24/4/2025 Livorno may be flying high in Serie A while Juventus sit in crisis - on the outside looking into the Champions League places - on this evening, everything went according to script. It was a hard fought game, and decent chances were few and far between, with both sides able to keep the other’s lethal attacks quiet. In the final ten minutes though, Juventus found the breakthrough with a simple error from Livorno centerback Bani. After Amione blocked a cross on the left, it fell back to Joao Cancelo who controlled the ball and took a look up. In that moment, Livorno’s backline had begun to move forward, but the tired players were not together or paying enough attention to their marks. Marc Navarro drifted away from Mattia Bani, and Canelo’s perfect cross found him at the back post to put Juventus in front - and to give them a game that had looked set for overtime. Neither side deserved to score, but on the day Juventus found a way through. Though they fell at the last hurdle, Livorno can be proud of making it to the first final in their history - with the 3-1 aggregate win over Inter Milan being a particular highlight. On this day, though, they just could not find a way to repeat their incredible 4-2 win in Livorno earlier in the year.
  23. Serie A Roundup - Livorno Go Top as Milan Draws with Juventus - Matchday 30 [I did a bit of a binge Friday and got way ahead of my posts so far. There's a whole run of games in which nothing is all that interesting tactics wise - though I'll get into that a bit in the next post - but I know Verdi's fans around the world need to know how things are going. In the end, I just put the basic details before I do a ‘title run in’ post with a bit more of how I did my set ups.] 23/3/2025 Livorno were able to get past a hard fighting Cagliari with a fantastic goal from wingback Kostas Tsimikas after Cagliari had leveled the game following Raspadori’s early goal. The result takes them back top of the table after AC Milan could only draw against Juventus. Lazio kept up their chase of the two league leaders. Last seasons’ Serie A champions are in with a chance, sitting only four points behind their rivals. Livorno extend their streak in style - Matchday 31 6/4/2025 Livorno turned on the style against a hapless Bologna team, scoring a season high six goals in a dominating performance as they make it 25 unbeaten in Serie A. The Tuscan side has not lost since September when they fell 1-0 to Juventus in Turin. Nolan Galves put Livorno ahead with a powerful goal from a Rapsadori cutback, but there were fears that Livorno’s defensive frailty might hurt them as they let in an equalizer from a free kick only seven minutes later. Livorno fans need not have worried, as Raspadori and Palumbo both scored braces and Esposito added another and Livorno put on a finishing clinic at Armando Picchi. Lazio, however, lost ground on their title rivals as they drew with Roma and are now six points back from Livorno and AC Milan at the top of the table, as the latter dismantled Ternana 4-0. Matchday 32 13/4/2025 A goal from Raspadori with an assist from Esposito was enough for Livorno to edge Brescia in a tight contest. Livorno were far from their best and should be pleased that they managed to escape from this match with three points. Those extra two points could prove vital, as Lazio and Milan cancelled each other out and, in a result that will suit neither side, drew 0-0. Matchday 33 19/4/2025 Considering their massive domination of the ball, Livorno will be disappointed that they drew this game. It was a point gained, however, considering that they trailed for most of the second half, and had to rely on a fortuitous bounce for Palumbo to pounce on a ball in the area to level the score in the 90th minute. AC Milan rejoined Livorno at the top of the table, level on points as they defeat city rivals Inter in the Milan derby with a critical goal from Diawara. Lazio, however, are all but out of the title race after losing in Naples. They now sit eight points back with only five games to go.
  24. Heartbreak in Basque Country for Livorno 13/3/2025 Giuseppe, just how disappointed are you after falling in only the second round despite hoping to go deep into the competition? I’m a bit heartbroken to be honest. We were very close to going through, only for us to switch off for a moment and let Bilbao score. It was just a throw in and a simple lofted ball. Some players ball watching, leaving Ibanez too open. But look, I have to take the blame for our exit. I didn’t set up the players in a way that put them in places to succeed. I didn’t learn from our mistakes in the first leg. Not enough. We didn’t give up two goals from four corners today, true, but we didn’t do much going forwards either. Thing is, if Unai Lopez had converted his penalty in Livorno we would have been in deep trouble. When Giacomo [Raspadori] earned the penalty and Sebastiano [Esposito] converted it, it seemed like it might be a tale of two penalties - one missed and one made. But then came their equalizer. And look, was it a soft goal to give up? Absolutely, but we didn’t deserve to go through, not on the basis of these two performances. They had the better of us. They dominated the flanks and kept the ball really well. Their 4-3-3 just seemed to always find the holes in our shape. They honestly kept us pinned back for most of both legs of the tie. When we pressed they passed around us, when we sat back they came at us with pace and on the dribble. We simply didn't match up well and I couldn't find the way to break through. When Sebastiano scored that penalty, I thought that maybe we'd just get lucky, but instead Bilbao managed to get the goal that took them through. So am I disappointed? Yes, very. We had it in our hands and we let it slip through our fingers. But we didn’t deserve to go through and so we didn’t. Now it’s time to focus on the league, and we also have the Cuppa Italia final to look forward to.
  25. I don't love him, but he generally has been solid to excellent. Seems like one of those CBs that's just prone to switching off from time to time, but he's a physical beast (at least in my save) and has been consistently good.
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