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Bromley FC (...And the Rest of the World)

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Angelo Palombo – Player Profile

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Born in Ferentino, Italy on September 25th, 1981, Angelo Palombo played at a professional level for 20 years, making his debut in 1998 with Urbania. He went on to capture 52 caps for his country, scoring one goal from his position as anchorman of the midfield. Almost his entire career was spent at Sampdoria, where he has become a legend of the club and holds the most league appearances record with 517 games played for the them.

In 1998/1999, he began his career with his local club Urbania, before moving to Fano the following season. In 2000/2001, he signed with Fiorentina, and made his debut in the Serie A the following season, playing 10 games for the club. However, he was let go on free, and Sampdoria jumped at the chance to sign him and never regretted it.

From the moment he stepped foot in Sampdoria, Angelo Palombo became the first name on the team sheet when it came to the midfield, playing in the same position for 18 years before hanging up his boots. He was never a goal scorer, but his contributions were second to none. His career high of 17 league assists, set in 2013/2014, is not only a Sampdoria record, but also a Serie A record, as well. In 2016/2017, Palombo was approaching the end of his career but was still contributing significantly, and he was rewarded for an excellent career by lifting the Serie A title for the first and only time in his career. It was a fitting end to an illustrious career for a man who, on his day, was considered the finest passer in Italy. His selections to the Serie A Team of the Year in 2014 and 2015, when he was at the prime of his career, proved that point.

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Nemanja Vidic – Player Profile

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Born in Uzice, Serbia on October 21st, 1981, Nemanja Vidic went on to become of the most talented defenders in the world during a career spanning 18 years. He played 87 times for his home nation of Serbia, scoring 3 goals during those appearances. He was first signed by Sloboda Point, but was given off for some cash consideration to Red Star Belgrade in 1996.

In 2000, he was loaned off to Spartak ZV by Belgrade, and it was there he got his debut in professional football. The following year, he became a full time starter for Red Star, at the age of 20. In 2002/2003 and 2003/2004, he was voted as Runner-Up for the Serbian Superleague Young Player of the Year, and in 2004, he lifted the Serbian Superleague title.

Spartak Moscow came knocking at Red Star’s door in the summer of 2004, and signed the 23 year old Vidic for £4,100,000 – he would only spend two years in Russia, nearly winning the Russian League in his first year with the club. In 2006, it was Manchester United who signed him for £7,500,000, and it was there that Vidic became an international star.

Signed by the legendary Alex Ferguson, Vidic would go on to spend 13 years at the club before retiring. The 2006/2007 season was his first full one with the club, and it would also bring with it his first taste of team and individual glory. Manchester United lifted the title in 2007 with Vidic starting in the back, and he was named the Serbian Journalists’ Player of the Year for the first time in his career – he would go on to win five times (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012), a record that still holds till this day (2018). The following season, he would again lift the Premier League trophy for the second straight time, and would win his first of six Serbian FA Player of the Year awards (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), also a record that still stands till this day (2018). It was also the season that Vidic would capture his only Champions League title in his career, despite appearing the Finals of the competition five times.

Manchester United would capture the Premier League title for the third year in a row in 2008/2009, and Vidic would again participate in the Champions League Finals, only to lose out to Barcelona. Their Premier League title run would be halted by Chelsea in 2010, but in 2010/11, they would recapture the Premier League as Vidic won it for the fourth time in his career. They also returned to the Champions League Finals, but again lost to Barcelona. In 2011/12, Vidic was voted to the World Team of the Year, which he would be named to two years in a row (2012, 2013). He was also named to the Premier League Select, the first of two times he would receive that honor (2012, 2015).

Vidic and his club would recapture the Premier League title in 2013, but it would be another four years before he would lift the trophy again, in 2018 – in total, he won the Premier League title seven times (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017, 2018), the final one coming in the last season of his career. He captained his club for many years, and during his prime in the late 2000s to mid 2010s, he was simply one of the best defenders on the planet. His Tackles Per Game was always high, and his leadership was second to none. He became an Icon at Manchester United, and easily is the best Serbian defender of all-time – some might even argue he is the best Serbian player of all-time. What he is, without any doubt, is the most successful player to ever come out of Serbia, and one of the finest defenders to ever suit up for Manchester United.

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With the World Cup 2018 officially starting, I just wanted to point out the notable absentees:

Africa: Ivory Coast (3rd Place in 2014), Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco

Asia: China, Japan

Europe: France (Quarter-Finalists in 2014), Denmark, Holland

North America: Canada, Jamaica

South America: Chile (Quarter-Finalists in 2014), Venezuela (2nd Round in 2014), Paraguay

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WORLD CUP 2018 – RUSSIA

Group Stages

GROUP A: Nigeria, Uruguay, Russia, Macedonia

Russia: 0

Nigeria: 2 (Ideye, Okoronkwo)

Uruguay: 3 (Cavani (2), Coates)

Macedonia: 0

Nigeria: 1 (Adefemi)

Uruguay: 0

Macedonia: 0

Russia: 4 (Irkhin, Mamaev, Ponedelnik)

Nigeria: 3 (Ujah, Okoronkwo, Aceski O.G.)

Macedonia: 0

Uruguay: 6 (Hernandez, Pereyra, Saurez, Calzada, Cavani, Irkhin O.G.)

Russia: 1 (Parshivlyuk)

Overview: Matchday One started off favorably for Nigeria and Uruguay, who convincingly defeated the hosts, Russia, and Macedonia, respectively. Edison Cavani, who broke the Premier League scoring record by hitting in 40 goals this season, scored a brace for Uruguay.

Nigeria continued their strong showing, winning their second match on Matchday Two against Uruguay, who were considered to have one of the most potent offensive lines in the World Cup this year. However, the Africans impressively defeated them 2-0, denying the Uruguayan strikers all game long. The hosts made things right with their home fans after defeating Macedonia 4-0, with Anatoly Irkhin scoring a brace. This left Nigeria topping the group with six points heading into Matchday Three, and with Russia and Uruguay set to play each other in their final match to see who would advance, the Africans were assured of qualification to the Second Round.

If anyone was doubting the much hyped Uruguayan attack after the loss to Nigeria, there was no more of that after they annihilated the hosts Russia 6-1 on Matchday Three as they qualified to the Second Round in the most impressive of fashions. Each of the goals came from a different goal scorer, proving just how many dangerous players they had – the Russians could have asked for a worst exit to the competition, losing by such a result in front of their home fans. In the other game, Nigeria made it three wins from three games, defeating a timid Macedonian side 3-0 to top Group A.

GROUP B: Belgium, Mexico, Czech Republic, UAE

UAE: 0

Belgium: 1 (Vossen)

Mexico: 5 (Vela, Hernandez, Guardado, dos Santos, Kladrubsky O.G.)

Czech Republic: 0

Belgium: 3 (Chadli (2), Lukaku)

Mexico: 1 (Vela)

Czech Republic: 3 (Kadlec, Krejci, Mohammed O.G.)

UAE: 0

Belgium: 6 (Imbula (2), Lukaku, Vossen, Hazard, Fellaini)

Czech Republic: 0

UAE: 1 (Al-Kamali)

Mexico: 1 (Hernandez)

Overview: Mexico gave quite a show during Matchday One, defeating the Czech Republic 5-0 in a dominant display of attacking football – the fourth game played in the World Cup was one the world was hoping was a sign of things to come. Earlier, the Euro 2016 Finalists Belgium defeated the UAE 1-0 in a tightly contested match.

Matchday Two saw Belgium go top of Group B after defeating the Mexicans 3-1, with Sevilla’s Nacer Chadli scoring a brace – this was surprising after the Mexico looked so impressive in their 5-0 defeat of the Czech Republic in their first match. The Czechs, meanwhile, bounced back to defeat the UAE 3-0, bringing them even on points with Mexico, while Belgium went top of Group B with six points. Atletico Madrid’s Carlos Vela had been one of the most impressive players in the World Cup to this point, scoring 2 goals and handing out 2 assists.

The Mexicans needed to defeat the UAE on Matchday Three to guarantee their qualification, but they failed to that, instead drawing 1-1 in an underwhelming performance. However, it was Belgium who did them a huge favor, running the Czech Republic to the ground and beating them 6-0. It was a disaster for the Czechs, who conceded 11 goals in three games, 5 to Mexico and 6 to Belgium. The Belgians topped the group after a very impressive round, and they were joined by a Mexican team that had not shown good form since their 5-0 victory over the Czechs.

GROUP C: Brazil, Iran, Sweden, USA

Sweden: 3 (Jonsson, Pekalski, Armenteros)

Iran: 3 (Ansarifard (2), Moradi)

Brazil: 1 (Neymar)

USA: 0

Sweden: 3 (Nilsson, Granqvist, Larsson)

USA: 1 (Bruin)

Brazil: 0

Iran: 1 (Moradi)

USA: 1 (Bruin)

Iran: 1 (Rahmani)

Brazil: 3 (Neymar, Pato, Damiao)

Sweden: 1 (Neto O.G.)

Overview: Led by 23 year old Manchester City striker Ahmad Ansarifard’s brace, Iran battled out to an entertaining 3-3 draw with Sweden on Matchday One, while the defending champions Brazil could only muster up a 1-0 victory against heavy underdogs, the USA.

In one of the most shocking upsets in World Cup history, Iran defeated the defending champions, and heavy favorites to win the competition, Brazil 1-0 in an historic match that had the most dramatic of endings. After holding out to constant attacking pressure by the Brazilians, Iran scored in the dying seconds of the match off a rebound from a free kick, throwing the entire footballing world out of sync and leaving Brazil with only three points and one goal scored from its first two matches. Novara’s GK Yousif Al-Sahli won the MotM for denying the Brazilian attack for ninety minutes after they came at him with a continuous onslaught on his goal. In the other Matchday Two result, Sweden joined Iran at the top of Group C with four points after defeating a meek American team 3-1. Brazil had to win against Sweden in Matchday Three to ensure qualification, while Iran needed only a draw against the USA to do so.

Both results happened, as Brazil looked the team that won the World Cup in 2014 and defeated the Swedes convincingly 3-1, with the Swedish goal coming from an own goal by GK Neto. Iran drew against rivals the USA 1-1, and thus ensured their qualification to the Second Round, although they did so as the second place team. Sweden were thoroughly disappointed with their elimination, as they had looked like the second best team in the group throughout, but the draw against Iran ended up haunting them.

GROUP D: Germany,Honduras, D.R.Congo, Turkey

D.R.Congo: 1 (N’Silu)

Germany: 2 (Schieber (2) )

Turkey: 1 (Karacan)

Honduras: 1 (Soto)

D.R.Congo: 2 (Nduti, N’Silu)

Turkey: 0

Germany: 0

Honduras: 0

Turkey: 0

Germany: 3 (Schieber (3) )

D.R.Congo: 0

Honduras: 3 (Soto (2), Muba O.G.)

Overview: In a surprisingly even match, Germany could only squeak by the Democratic Republic of Congo 2-1, with Julian Schieber scoring a brace to help see them off. In the other match, Turkey were held by underdogs Honduras in a 1-1 draw, starting their World Cup campaign in a disappointing fashion.

The D.R.Congo continued their impressive performance on Matchday Two, defeating Turkey 2-0 in a match they were widely expected to lose. The Germans disappointingly could only draw 0-0 with Honduras, who surprisingly had not lost in their first two encounters in this World Cup.

Going into Matchday Three, Germany were not looking like world beaters, but they certainly went ways to amend that outlook with an impressive 3-0 victory over Turkey. Schieber again played the hero, this time scoring a hat-trick and bringing his goal tally to a tournament leading 5 goals. In the other match, the D.R.Congo left a prime opportunity, losing 3-0 to Honduras and getting knocked out in favor of the Central American nation. Their star striker, Elmir Soto, scored a fantastic brace, sending Honduras to their first ever Second Round in their history. Turkey were hugely disappointing – initially thought to have been favorites to qualify alongside the Germans in pre-tournament previews, they instead finished last in what should have been an easy group for them to navigate through.

GROUP E: Argentina, Ukraine, Algeria, Saudi Arabia

Algeria: 1 (Bella)

Ukraine: 2 (Garmash, Vitsenets)

Argentina: 1 (Otamendi)

Saudi Arabia: 1 (Al-Subaini)

Algeria: 1 (Boudebouz)

Argentina: 2 (Pastore, Messi)

Ukraine: 1 (Seleznyov)

Saudi Arabia: 0

Argentina: 2 (Higuan, Misacchio)

Ukraine: 1 (Yarmolenko)

Algeria: 1 (Courgnaud)

Saudi Arabia: 0

Overview: Argentina were desperate to avoid the disastrous start they had in the World Cup 2014, where they were knocked out in the Group Stages, but again they failed to impress, drawing 1-1 with Saudi Arabia, a team many considered one of the weakest in the tournament. To add insult to injury, one of their most important players, Sergio Aguero, was injured and ruled out of the remainder of the World Cup. In the other Matchday One game, Ukraine had just enough in them to defeat Algeria 2-1.

The Argentines got it right, albeit just barely, against Algeria, winning 2-1 and putting themselves second in the group behind the Ukraine, who defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0. That set up a Matchday Three showdown between the two top teams, with both Arabic teams hoping for a win and an Argentinean loss to ensure qualification to the Second Round.

In Matchday Three, Argentina got the job done against the Ukraine, defeating them 2-1 and qualifying top of the group. The Ukraine, despite the loss, joined them as they finished in second place, while Algeria finished third. Despite losing Sergio Aguero to injury, Argentina remained one of the favorites simply because they possessed the genius called Lionel Messi in their ranks.

GROUP F: England, Spain, Australia, Mali

England: 2 (Jones, Spiranovic O.G.)

Australia: 0

Spain: 1 (Llorente)

Mali: 0

England: 3 (Rooney (2), Wickham)

Spain: 1 (J. Martinez)

Mali: 0

Australia: 0

England: 2 (Olayinka, Rooney)

Mali: 0

Spain: 3 (Bojan, Botia, Muniain)

Australia: 0

Overview: England started their campaign off well with a 2-0 victory over Australia, although it was not especially convincing, it was the start required after failing to qualify for the last World Cup. The 2014 Finalists and 2010 winners Spain just got by Mali 1-0, with Fernando Llorente, one of the most prolific strikers in the Spanish La Liga in recent times, scoring the only goal of the game.

In one of the most anticipated matches of the Group Stages, England faced off against Spain and won 3-1, with Wayne Rooney, the captain of the squad, grabbing a brace. This left England top of the group with six points, and since Australia and Mali drew 0-0, it ensured them of qualification to the Second Round. Spain were second in the group, but still needed at least a draw against Australia to ensure their own qualification.

England looked like one of the most impressive teams in the Group Stages, as they rounded out Matchday Three with a 2-0 victory over Mali, with Rooney taking his tally to 3 goals in the tournament. Spain also got the job done against Australia, defeating them 3-0 and joining England in the Second Round after initially looking unimpressive in their first two games. Mali, who had advanced to the Second Round in the World Cup 2014 after defeating Germany 5-4 in the group stages, looked nothing like the team that was one of the most exciting in the tournament four years ago.

GROUP G: Belarus,Italy, South Korea, Senegal

Belarus: 1 (Skavysh)

Senegal: 0

Italy: 1 (Bum-Young O.G.)

South Korea: 0

Senegal: 0

Italy: 0

South Korea: 0

Belarus: 1 (Niakhaichyk)

Senegal: 1 (Sow)

South Korea: 3 (Min-Suk, Min-Hyuk, Sane O.G.)

Italy: 0

Belarus: 0

Overview: Italy, Semi-Finalists in the World Cup 2014, barely defeated South Korea, and only did so thanks to an own goal. The other Matchday One result in the group saw Belarus record their first ever World Cup victory, defeating Senegal 1-0.

On Matchday Two, Italy continued their underwhelming forming, drawing 0-0 with an equally uninspired Senegalese team of which more was expected from, while Belarus went top of the group with a 1-0 victory over South Korea. Unbelievably, they had taken six points from their first two matches – prior to the tournament, they were widely expected to be one of the worst teams in the World Cup.

Belarus kept up their shocking World Cup debut form with a draw against Italy, finishing top of their group and relegating Italy to qualifying as the second place team. South Korea defeated a Senegalese team that was in terrible form throughout the Group Stages 3-1. For their part, Italy were disappointed at their form during the Group Stages, and were looking to up their intensity in the knockout stages.

GROUP H: Croatia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Slovakia

Costa Rica: 1 (Borges)

Slovakia: 1 (Jendrisek)

Croatia: 2 (Komorski, Ivancic)

Colombia: 0

Costa Rica: 0

Colombia: 2 (Moreno, Ibarbo)

Slovakia: 0

Croatia: 0

Colombia: 0

Slovakia: 0

Croatia: 4 (Ivancic, Komorski, Modric, Kalinic)

Costa Rica: 1 (Rodriguez)

Overview: In what was dubbed the weakest group in the World Cup, Croatia got off to a winning start by defeating Colombia 2-0, while Costa Rica surprised everyone as they held a much favored Slovakian team to a 1-1 draw.

Colombia made up for their loss in Matchday Two, defeating Costa Rica 2-0 in an easy game for them. In the other match, Croatia and Slovakia drew 0-0, which left the former topping the group and the latter needing a win against Colombia to ensure qualification to the Second Round - the Colombians, however, only needed a draw.

Croatia came away with a huge result against Costa Rica in Matchday Three, defeating them 4-1 to go top of the group. The Colombians could only muster up a draw against Slovakia, but that was all they needed to advance to the Second Round, knocking Slovakia out of the tournament. Both the Costa Ricans and the Slovakians were expected to be the teams to be knocked out, and they did not prove the masses wrong.

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WORLD CUP 2018 – RUSSIA

SECOND ROUND

Nigeria vs. Mexico

Krasnodar, Krasnodar – (Att: 39,349): Coming into this match, the Nigerians had scored 7 goals and conceded none, topping Group A in impressive fashion, and riding the form of their star striker, Obinna Okoronkwo, who had just completed an £8,500,000 move to Shakhtar Donetsk after a spectacular season with Fulham. He led the Nigerian team in scoring with 2 goals thus far. The Mexicans were not as impressive, qualifying second in Group B and scoring 7 goals but conceded 4 goals. Five of their goals came against the Czech Republic, and in their other two matches, they looked less than average. Carlos Vela was their star thus far in the tournament, having scored 2 goals and handed out 3 assists.

Although it was a match that promised free flowing and attacking football, that was not the case, as both teams played very cautious – Mexico preferred to retain possession of the ball in the middle of the park while Nigeria defended vigorously, relying instead on counter-attacks for their offense. The game plan worked, and Okoronkwo scored the only goal of the game in the 15th minute, winning the MotM in the process. Mexico, for their part, never really threatened the goal of Michael Nwosu, and the Nigerian GK recorded his 4th straight clean sheet – the African had yet to concede a single goal. They advanced to the Quarter-Finals against a lackluster Mexican side that continued to show mediocre football despite the obvious talent at their disposal.

Nigeria: 1 (Okoronkwo)

Mexico: 0

Belgium vs. Uruguay

Rostov-na-Donu, Rostov-na-Donu – (Att: 50,015): One of the most impressive teams in the Group Stages was Belgium, who scored 10 goals, highlighted by their 6-0 destruction of Mexico, and conceded only 1 goal. They looked fantastic in all three of their matches, and there was a real team effort to them. Their stars were Eden Hazard, who had scored a goal and handed an assist, and central defender Jan Vertonghen, who had recorded 2 assists and a MotM performance. The Uruguayan team they were facing were touted as one of the most impressive offensive forces in the tournament, and they lived up to that billing so far, scoring 9 goals and conceding 2 in the Group Stages, including a 6-0 demolition of Russia. Benfica’s midfielder Mauricio Pereyra had 3 assists thus far, while legendary striker Edison Cavani was among the tournament’s leading goalscorers with 3 goals.

It was the Belgians who continued their dominance over their opponents, winning the match in convincing fashion 3-1. It was another team effort, as goals came from three different players, but it was Marouane Fellaini who won the MotM, recording a goal and an assist in a dominant midfield performance. Uruguay just could not get it going – after Fellaini scored the first goal, Luis Suarez equalized, but just before halftime, star striker Cavani got injured. Belgium responded with two goals in the second half and put this match away, advancing to the Quarter-Finals.

Belgium: 3 (Fellaini, Vossen, Lukaku)

Uruguay: 1 (Suarez)

Germany vs. Iran

Gazprom Arena, St. Petersburg – (Att: 69,501): Along with Belarus and Honduras, Iran were the surprise package of this year’s edition of the World Cup. They defeated the defending champions Brazil, and failed to lose in all three of their Group Stages games. Their star player was Ahmad Ansarifard – the young Manchester City striker was the nation’s leading goalscorer in the tournament. Germany’s leading goalscorer, Julian Schieber, was also the team’s only goalscorer and the tournament’s leading goalscorer with 5 goals. The Germans had been given a relatively easy group, and qualified top of Group C without much trouble, conceding only 1 goal.

There was to be no repeat of Iran’s victory over Brazil, and Germany ran out comfortable 3-1 winners in a game where they were clearly the better team. It was the Iranians who struck first, though, as Ansarifard scored his 3rd goal of the tournament to give his nation the shock early lead. The response, however, was quick and ruthless – in a span of thirteen minutes after Iran’s fifth minute goal, Germany scored three of its own, first through 21 year old defender Daniele Sarnelli, and then twice through Peniele Mlapa, who won the MotM. The scoreline would remain the same for the next seventy-two minutes, and when it was all said and done, Germany were through to the Quarter-Finals against Nigeria

Germany: 3 (Mlapa (2), Sarnelli)

Iran: 1 (Ansarifard)

Brazil vs. Honduras

Spartak, Moscow – (Att: 46,990): Led by Elmir Soto, Honduras had shocked the footballing world and qualified ahead of Turkey and the D.R.Congo in Group D, failing to lose a single game in the Group Stages. The upstart nation was looking to do what Iran did to the defending champions Brazil and grab a shock victory. After their Matchday Two loss to the Iranians, Brazil looked the part against Sweden, but still had not played anywhere close to the level they were at when they dominated the competition in 2014. They had no stand-out performers, and many elite names were failing to live up to their reputations.

It was not an especially strong performance from Brazil, but it was enough to get the job done, as they defeated Honduras 2-0. The hero was Felipe Anderson, who was far and wide the defending champion’s best player and won the MotM. As Brazil headed to the Quarter-Finals against a highly impressive Belgian team, there were doubts that this team could successfully defend its title. For Honduras, the ride was over, but they should have been very proud of advancing to the Second Round of the World Cup.

Brazil: 2 (Felipe Anderson (2) )

Honduras: 0

Ukraine vs. England

Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad – (Att: 45,015): The Ukrainian team had made it out of Group E as the second placed team, but they were not looking especially impressive – their offense was not clicking and they had conceded 3 goals in their 3 matches. They had no stand out performers and were in desperate need of someone who could elevate the team. As for England, however, they were doing great – they had won all of their matches, including a 3-1 victory over Spain, and had scored 7 goals and conceded only 1 goal. Manchester United stars Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones were amongst the best players in the tournament so far; Rooney had scored 3 goals and 2 assists, while Jones had won 2 MotM to go with his 2 assists.

This match was dominated by the English, who had 60% of the possession and had 19 shots compared to the Ukraine’s 4 shots. The scoreline reflected this, and although it took them until the dying seconds of the first half to get one, England won the game 3-1. Rooney scored a brace, claiming England’s first two goals, and the captain won the MotM, as well. He equaled Julian Schieber’s tournament leading 5 goals, and was perhaps the World Cup’s most impressive performer up till this stage. Ukraine managed a late consolation goal, but the damage was already done – England were through to the Quarter-Finals.

England: 3 (Rooney (2), Wickham)

Ukraine: 1 (Chygrynskyi)

Argentina vs. Spain

Nizhniy Novgorod, Nizhniy Novgorod – (Att: 44,899): This was the most anticipated game of the Second Round – it was two giants of football going up against one another. Neither team had been impressive in the Group Stages, and much more was expected of them going into the Second Round – in fact, each was expected to beat the other. Argentina were being led by Lionel Messi and Javier Pastore – the two midfielders were the heart and soul of the team and its most important players have Sergio Aguero had succumbed to injury in the first game of the tournament. No one was under the impression that this Spanish team was as talented as the team that conquered all in the late-2000s to mid-2010s, but they still possessed enough talent to be considered one of the best in the world. Iker Muniain was their rising star, and looked to be their most dangerous threat going forward.

This match was as even as one could get, going all the way to a penalty shoot-out to decide its fate. In the end, Argentina kept its nerve and knocked out the World Cup 2014 Finalists and European champions Spain, but not before paying a mighty price. Lionel Messi was injured in the dying seconds of the second extra-time, and was ruled out alongside Aguero for the rest of the World Cup. The South American nation was now without its two most important players, and its advancement to the Quarter-Finals was bittersweet. For Spain, it was a disappointing tournament – a less than stellar Group Stages, followed by a Second Round knockout. Although they were still one of the top ranked teams in the world, it was clear that Spain’s Golden Era had ended.

Argentina: 0 – Won 3-2 on Penalties

Spain: 0

Italy vs. Croatia

VTB Arena Park, Mosow – (Att: 44,920): Semi-Finalists in the World Cup 2014, Italy were certainly not playing like it, taking only one win from their Group Stages matchups and scoring only 1 goal in those three games. The good news was that they had failed to concede a single goal, but their performance in their group left a lot to be desired. Not so for Croatia, who were led by legendary midfielder Luka Modric’s 3 assists and 2 MotM – simply put, he was playing some of the best football at the tournament. Croatia had scored 6 goals and conceded only 1 goal in their Group Stages matchups, topping the relatively weak Group H.

It was an intense and highly entertaining match that went all the way into extra-time before Italy finally claimed the 2-1 victory. The match actually ended 0-0 after 90 minutes, but the drama took off in extra-time as Italy scored twice before Croatia responded. The second Italian goal came from 22 year old striker Maurizio Fontolan, who was Italy’s best performer on the night. Despite showing zero creativity and ingenuity in the Group Stages, Italy deserved their place in the Quarter-Finals after shining against a strong Croatian team.

Italy: 2 (Parolo, Fontolan)

Croatia: 1 (Rakitic)

Belarus vs. Colombia

Volgograd, Volgograd - (Att: 38,473): Along with Iran and Honduras, Belarus were the most surprising team in the World Cup, as they topped Group G over Italy and failed to lose a single game in their Group Stages matches. At the Euro 2016, Belarus were by far the worst team to participate, but they had made amazing progress the past couple of years, and were showcasing it in the world’s largest stage this year. The Colombians were relatively mediocre in what was the World Cup’s weakest group, only scoring 2 goals and conceding 2 goals as well. They did not look like a team capable of beating anyone, but the tie had been favorable to them and they at least stood a chance against Belarus.

Nothing changed against Belarus for Colombia, and although the Eastern European nation was not playing good football, they still managed to beat a completely unimpressive Colombian team who acted like they did not even want to be playing in the World Cup. Belarus, participating in their first ever World Cup, advanced to the Quarter-Finals, as their cinderella story continued.

Belarus: 1 (Skavysh)

Colombia: 0

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WORLD CUP 2018 – RUSSIA

QUARTER-FINALS

Brazil vs. Belgium

Saransk, Saransk – (Att: 45,015): This was matchup between the defending champions and World Cup 2014 Quarter-Finalists and Euro 2016 Finalists, Belgium. For their part, the Belgians were possibly the most impressive team thus far in the tournament, and were playing football that was hard to beat. They had conceded 2 goals and scored a tournament leading 13 goals in their 4 games, with the likes of Eden Hazard and Marouane Fellaini averaging 8.30 AR and 8.13 AR, respectively. Brazil got an outstanding performance from Felipe Anderson against Honduras in the Second Round, and the midfielder was the nation’s best player and joint leading scorer, along with Neymar, with 2 goals. Brazil had only scored 7 goals in their first 4 games, and conceded 2 goals, which included 1 goal in a loss to Iran.

Things started off badly for the defending champions as Romelu Lukaku scored in the 9th minute, bringing his goal tally to a team leading 4 goals. The 25 year old striker had been Belgium’s main threat throughout the tournament, and his goal gave them a 1-0 lead inside ten minutes. Brazil did not wait long to respond, however, as striker Leandro Damiao, starting his first game at the World Cup, scored the first of his two goals in this match in the 19th minute. The striker continued to be a nuisance for the Belgian defense throughout the first half, and scored his second goal at the beginning of the second half in the 50th minute to give Brazil the lead for good. The match would end 2-1, and the defending champions were in the Semi-Finals despite not having played a single spectacular game, as opposed to their run to the Finals in 2014, when they decimated opponent after opponent on their way to the title. Damiao captured the MotM, and was Brazil’s leading goalscorer with 3 goals in the tournament.

Brazil: 2 (Damiao (2) )

Belgium: 1 (Lukaku)

Nigeria vs. Germany

Gazprom Arena, St. Petersburg – (Att: 69,501): Nigeria were the only team in the tournament to have not conceded a goal going into the Quarter-Finals, and they had impressively won all 4 of their games, scoring 7 goals in the process. Their star was undoubtedly Obinna Okoronkwo – the stiker had 3 goals and 3 MotM so far in the tournament, and was one of the most impressive players so far. Germany were led by Julian Schieber’s 5 goals, which were tied for the first in the tournament with England’s Wayne Rooney. The team had scored 8 goals and conceded 2 against inferior competition thus far, and Nigeria represented their sternest challenge yet.

It all started like a dream for Nigeria as Joel Chukwuma Obi scored in the very first minute of the match to give the Africans the lead. From there on in, however, Germany turned up the intensity, and in the 14th minute, Toni Kroos converted a penalty to equalize the match at 1-1. The pressure from the Germans did not let up, however, and just before halftime, former World Footballer of the Year Mario Gotze scored Germany’s second goal, giving them a 2-1 lead going into halftime. There was no difference in the way the Germans played in the second half, with attack after attack on Michael Nwosu’s goal, and although they failed to score again, Nigeria had no chances of their own, either. Germany had 60% of the possession and outshot Nigeria 20 to 8, denying the West Africans the chance to become just the second team from their continent to qualify to the Semi-Finals of the competition. The Germans were on their way, however, to their fourth Semi-Finals in the last five World Cups, putting the disappointment of their Second Round elimination to Chile in the World Cup 2014 far behind them, with Gotze finally living up to his fantastic ability and winning the MotM.

Germany: 2 (Kroos, Gotze)

Nigeria: 1 (Obi)

Argentina vs. Italy

Krasnodar, Krasnodar – (Att: 50,015): Argentina were rewarded with Italy for beating Spain in the Second Round, and this was, yet again, another case of slumbering football giants of old facing each other. Neither team had been impressive thus far in the tournament, and Argentina were facing an injury crisis, with both Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi out with injuries for the remainder of the World Cup. Their remaining star was Javier Pastore – the rest of the team was simply not performing as it should. Italy’s form was even worse, as they barely squeaked by the Group Stages and defeated Croatia in extra-time to seal their qualification. They simply did not have any standout performers, with the best of the bunch being perhaps aging defender Giorgio Chiellini.

From the very beginning, Argentina were second best in this game. Italy controlled the match, outplaying and outhustling their opponents in every respect, but football came be a cruel game. Argentina only had 3 shots on target the entire match, but 2 of them became goals, first from Leonel Galeano in the 5th minute and again by Pastore in the 29th minute. In between, Frederico Macheda missed a penalty, and despite their utter domination, Italy went into halftime dumbfounded at being down 2-0. Despite Giuseppe Rossi scoring his first and only goal of the tournament in the 48th minute, Italy’s control did not amount to a victory. Up until the final whistle, Argentina looked like an amateur side, but somehow, they advanced to the Semi-Finals. Never had a team not deserved to reach that stage of the tournament more than this Argentinean team after their display in this match, but that was where they were. Rossi had little consolation with his MotM award, as the Italians were sent home after their own feeble offensive displays throughout the tournament.

Argentina: 2 (Galeano, Pastore)

Italy: 1 (Pastore)

England vs. Belarus

Olympic Stadium, Sochi – (Att: 47,436): Going into this match, England were quietly one of the most impressive teams in the World Cup, having won all 4 of their matches, scoring 10 goals and conceding only 2 goals. Wayne Rooney was the joint top scorer in the World Cup with 5 goals, and their second leading scorer was striker Connor Wickham with 2 goals – he did have, however, 5 assists. Belarus were the obvious surprise package of the tournament, but had yet to meet a team playing as well as England. The odds were stacked completely against them, even given the fact that they had yet to concede a single goal in their 4 matches.

While they did not get the walloping everyone predicted they would, England made short work of their opponents, defeating them 2-0 without really giving much of an effort. In truth, Belarus more than met its match – England dominated possession with 65%, and barely let Belarus breathe when they did have the ball. Wickham captured the MotM, but the goals came from the midfield in the form of Jack Rodwell and Jordan Henderson. The 2-0 victory meant that England woud advance to their first Semi-Finals at the World Cup since 1990, where they lost to Germany in heart-breaking fashion – as it would so have it, twenty-eight years later, they would get their chance at revenge at the same stage, as they would face the Germans next.

England: 2 (Rodwell, Henderson)

Belarus: 0

SEMI-FINALS

Brazil vs. Argentina

Gazprom Arena, St. Petersburg – (Att: 69,501): Just quite how Argentina were in this match against the defending champions remained somewhat of a mystery considering how they played in the previous knockout round matches. Credit to them, they had the toughest matchups getting to the Semi-Finals than any of their counterparts, having beaten Spain and Italy, but their performances since Messi and Aguero were ruled out of the tournament with injuries were mediocre at best, and against the latter, downright terrible. Yet here they were, and if there was a justifiable explanation, it was the brilliance of 29 year old Javier Pastore, who was simply carrying this team. The only other player who was playing more than decent was defender Nicolas Otamendi, whose presence in the defense had allowed Argentina to continue to hold teams to no more than a single goal. The problem was Argentina had not won by a margin larger than a single goal, either. As for their northern neighbors and champions Brazil, they had scored 8 goals in their 5 matches, but by no means did they look worthy of their title as champions of the world. Against what was supposed to be vastly inferior opponents, Brazil did not look up to the task of defending their title. Their only competition should have been Belgium in the previous matches, and although they won, it was because of the brilliance of Leandro Damiao on the day and not for their team effort. It took a brace from Felipe Anderson in the Second Round against Honduras to put through – the midfielder has arguably been Brazil’s most important player this World Cup. One of these South American giants were going to represent the continent in the Finals, but based on previous performances, neither deserved it.

It took seven minutes for Brazil to open the scoring, as a shot ricocheted off of Javier Mascherano and went into the net. Argentina were down 1-0 inside of eight minutes, having barely crossed their half of the field. However, if anyone thought that they were going to just lay down and die were forced to reconsider after Mauro Formica hit the bar from a free kick in the 10th minute. Thirty minutes in, however, it was quite obvious who the better team was, as Brazil’s pressure of Sergio Romero’s goal was unrelenting. Argentina held it together till the end of the first half, however, thanks in no small part to Romero, who was their best player in the first half.

Just one minute into the second half, a Brazilian counter-attack put Neymar on a break away with Romero, but it was the GK who got the better of him, saving the ball much to the Brazilian’s frustration. Ten minutes later, Javier Pastore, in a rare act of Argentine brilliance this match, picked the ball up from his own half and dribbled past four Brazilians before putting his shot just wide of Neto’s goal – it served as a good reminder to the Brazilian team that their opponents still possessed one of the most gifted players on the planet. A few minutes later, Pastore played a beautiful lob pass to Gonzalo Higuan over the Brazilian back line, but Higuan failed to beat Neto. The Argentinean squad was starting to look more alive than it did throughout the last few games. Alas, Pastore simply could not do it alone, and after those plays, Brazil buckled down on him and contained his possession. They ended up winning the match 1-0, with left back Marcelo[/b] winning the MotM – Brazil were off to face Germany in their second consecutive Finals appearance, and had a chance to add to their record of title wins, making it seven.

Brazil: 1 (Mascherano O.G.)

Argentina: 0

England vs. Germany

Krasnodar, Krasnodar – (Att: 50,015): The quality found on the German team was second to none, and although they had a few hiccups in the early part of the tournament, they had found their footing and were looking capable of winning the entire tournament. b]Julian Schieber[/b] had not scored since the Group Stages, but was still joint top scorer with, incidentally, Wayne Rooney, having scored 5 goals. He remained their top player in the tournament, but others, such as 21 year old central defender Daniele Sarnelli, Peniele Mlapa, whose brace pushed them past Iran in the Second Round, Mario Gotze, their star from the Quarter-Finals, and Toni Kroos were all delivering in terms of performances in the knockout stages. England did not have the sheer star power that the Germans carried, but they did have Rooney’s 5 goals and Connor Wickham’s 2 goals and 5 assists. At left back, 24 year old Jack Robinson was probably the finest at his position in the tournament, while Phil Jones was doing a fantastic job, as well, having delivered 2 assists and 2 MotM performances. England had won all 5 of their matches, scoring 12 goals and conceding only 2 goals.

The first half hour of the match were completely owned by Germany – wave after wave of attacks were stopped short by good defending and the safe hands of Joe Hart, however. Wayne Rooney had his shot blocked by Manuel Neuer at point blank range in the 31st minute after England managed to break through a stingy German defense, and in the counter attack, Mlapa missed a sitter, blowing it wide when it should have been an easy goal. Just two minutes later, Hart again made another huge save as Mlapa missed another sitter – his frustration was beginning to show as he quickly committed a foul right after the shot. As the first half came to a close, the best player on the pitch was England’s GK – Hart had committed save after save, keeping the clean sheet and England in the game despite being very much second best during the half.

At halftime, England manager Remi Garde decided to bring on Jordan Henderson for Jack Rodwell, hoping to bring some life to what had been a stagnant midfield. In the 52nd minute, Wickham committed a foul just outside of England’s box, and was penalized with a yellow card. The card meant that he would miss the Finals if England were lucky enough to get through their German rivals. At the 60th minute mark, Thomas Tuchel made his first substitution, taking out Kroos and bringing on Sven Bender. Up to this point, the half had again been completely dominated by Germany, but Joe Hart was still making crucial save after crucial save. Bender almost immediately made his presence known, and a scorcher from just outside the area was magnificently saved by Hart at the last second to keep the score even. Garde used up his final substitution in the 72nd minute (he had previously brought on Wickham for Walcott), bringing on Tom Huddlestone for Jack Wilshere, who had largely been anonymous this match. Somehow, despite being absolutely outclassed by Germany, England held on to the end of regulation time, and the first 90 minutes finished with a 0-0 draw. It was off to extra-time.

The players’ condition at the end of the first extra-time said it all – there simply was nothing left in either team’s tank to cause any major threat on the goals. Joe Hart came up with a couple of more saves just before the end of the second extra-time, but that was the only thing of note to occur. Just as it was in 1990, Germany and England were headed to a penalty shootout after the former completely outplayed its opponent from the first minute all the way to the final whistle. The first two shots went off without a hitch for both teams, but as is tradition, England captain Rooney blew the third kick too far to the left, causing the first miss of the shootout. The Germans converted their third kick in typically calm fashion, and it fell on Jack Robinson to hit the fourth kick – hit it he did, right into the upper bar. It was 3-2 for Germany, with 21 year old Daniele Sarnelli stepping up to the plate. He made no mistakes, and the Germans defeated the English 4-2, converting all of their penalties. Joe Hart was named MotM, but it was little consolation after such a weak performance from the English. Germany deserved to win, there was no doubting that, and it had returned to its first World Cup Finals since its 2002 loss to Brazil. It was penalty shootout heartbreak for England all over again, as history insisted on repeating itself yet again.

Germany: 0 – Won 5-2 on Penalties

England: 0

FINALS

Brazil vs. Germany

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Gazprom Arena, St. Petersburg – (Att: 69,501): The climax to what had been a successful and entertaining tournament in Russia promised to be an epic. Since they lost to Brazil in the 2002 World Cup Finals, Germany had had its share of heartbreak and rough patches. The team that had been assembled now, however, was arguably the most talented in the world. Mario Gotze was undeniably one of the most talented players on the planet, and Daniele Sarnelli had proven himself to be perhaps the best defender in the world at the ripe old age of 21. Up front, Julian Schieber had proven himself more than capable, scoring a tournament leading 5 goals, albeit all the in the Group Stages. In the knockout rounds, it had been his partner, Peniel Mlapa and the midfield, which included Toni Kroos, who had carried the load. Combining that amazing wealth of talent together was manager Thomas Tuchel, who had exceeded his country’s expectation by leading them to the World Cup. On the other side of the pitch lay the defending champions Brazil. In 2014, they conquered all that was put before them, and many proclaimed that 2014 side to be one of the best in the history of the competition. This time, however, there was not a single match in which Brazil dominated its opponent the way it did nearly every game in the previous World Cup. Nor did they have players rising to immense heights the way Hulk and Vagner Love did – in fact, Brazil had yet to play a game of football in this World Cup that demonstrated superior team play or out of this world individual talent. They made it to the Finals through sheer grit, almost, relying on a single player stepping up – against Honduras, it was Felipe Anderson, and against Belgium, it was Leandro Damiao. They had good contributions from Neymar, but his performances were too inconsistent. In the back, GK Neto had played the hero more than a few times. Germany were a team in form; Brazil were a team trying to find its form. Would the world crown a new king, or would the heart of the champion shine when it was needed the most?

Just two minutes into the match, Germany produced their first attack on Neto’s goal, and after some bad clearances by the Brazilian defense, Mlapa put it away to score the first goal of the match, and his third goal of the tournament. This was a great start for the Germans as they took a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the match. After the goal, both teams took turns at one another’s goal for the next ten minutes at a frantic pace. However, in the 16th minute, Brazil’s defense was behind some bad decisions, leading to Stefan Bell scoring Germany’s second goal. Inside seventeen minutes, the Germans had taken a 2-0 lead, and the defending champions were looking lost in front of the poise of the Europeans. Things went from bad to worse for Brazil, and it was the same scenario in the 24th minute – bad defending equaled Toni Kroos putting away an easy putback to give Germany a sensational 3-0 lead in the first twenty-five minutes of the match. Three minutes later, Julian Schieber broke away on a German counter-attack and scored their fourth goal of the match. Brazil were absolutely sinking without a trace, down 4-0 inside of thirty minutes. Brazil managed to maintain some pride and put together some attacks, but there was nothing that really threatened Manuel Neuer’s goal. Germany’s performance in the first half must have been the most dominating forty-five minutes in the history of the World Cup Finals.

The second half started with more German attacks – despite being up 4-0, Germany would not let up, continuously pushing the ball up into the Brazilian third and raining shots on Neto’s goal. In the 58th minute, Mlapa played a wonderful through ball to Schieber, but Neto got to it first and saved the Brazilians from conceding their fifth goal. He could not stop Lars Bender screamer from just outside the box, however, and Germany had their fifth goal in the 85th minute. As the match drew to a close, it had become clear that the Germans were on a completely different level than anyone else in terms of football. This was not the Brazil team of 2014, but even if that team had faced this German team, on this day, no one looked capable of beating them. Julian Schieber won the MotM, scoring a goal and giving out 2 assists – it was his third MotM of the tournament.

Germany won their fourth ever World Cup title in the most amazing way, defeating the all-time record holder and pre-tournament heavy favorites Brazil 5-0 in what was dubbed the most surprising Finals result of all time. They had won retribution for their 2002 loss in a big way, and Germany were the new champions of the world.

Germany: 5 (Schieber, Kroos, Bell, Mlapa, Bender)

Brazil: 0

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WORLD CUP 2018 – RUSSIA

AWARDS

Best Player

Julian Schieber (7 Appearances, 6 Goals, 2 Assists, 3 MotM, 7.71): The 29 year old Sampdoria shone early, scoring 5 of his goals in the Group Stages, but he left for us, as he ran circles around Brazil in the most important game of his life. In the World Cup Finals, he scored a goal and delivered 2 assists before he was substituted to a standing ovation – he was without a doubt the best player in the tournament. Without him, it is tough to imagine the German team winning the World Cup the way it did.

Best Goalkeeper

Joe Hart (7 Appearances, 2 Conceded, 5 Clean Sheets, 7.20): Manchester City’s 31 year old GK was a huge part of England’s run into the Semi-Finals – his performance against eventual champions Germany in that stage was downright legendary, winning the MotM and keeping the team hit five past Brazil without a single goal in the match. He was fantastic throughout the tournament, too – other than Wayne Rooney, he was England’s most important player.

Best Young Player

Daniele Sarnelli (7 Appearances, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3.82 TpG, 7.59): Only 21 years old, Sarnelli started the tournament as a rising star in football and ended as being touted the best central defender on the planet. Other than Schieber, there was no player more crucial to Germany’s title run than the young defender – his performances in the knockout rounds were especially impressive.

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Congrats on the FA Cup win (even if you did beat my team in the final ;)) and a good job in getting survival.

England losing on pens to Germany, some things never change!

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Congrats on the FA Cup win (even if you did beat my team in the final ;)) and a good job in getting survival.

England losing on pens to Germany, some things never change!

The FA Cup win has to be one of my most surprising titles since I first started playing FM 14 years ago - totally unexpected. It was like the perfect storm in terms of opponents, in that I kept getting teams I could, and did, beat!

As for the World Cup, it was most enjoyable. I tend to watch alot of the knockout round matches, and Germany deserved their 4th title. England can take solace that they probably gave them the hardest time, but that 5-0 victory over Brazil was something magical. Belgium were also very impressive - theyve got a fantastic midfield!

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England losing on pens to Germany, some things never change!

Realistic game this.

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW 2017/2018

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Overview: Player StatsTeam Salary per Annum

Footballer of the Year: Edison Cavani, Tottenham (37 Aps, 40 Goals, 10 Assists, 10 MotM, 7.76)

Player’s Player of the Year: Eden Hazard, Manchester United (32 Aps, 6 Goals, 18 Assists, 4 MotM, 7.53)

Young Player of the Year: Kevin Hofman, Everton (31 Aps, 14 Goals, 11 Assists, 4 MotM, 7.43)

Best Goalkeeper of the Year: Thibaut Courtois (33 Aps, 18 Conceded, 20 Clean Sheets, 6.92)

Manager of the Year: Me! Bromley (14th Place)

Manchester United (2018: Champions – 2017: Champions)

Pellegrini retired after leading Manchester United back to the Premier League title in 2017, and his successor, Ricardo Moniz, certainly had a lot to live up to. The 54 year old Dutchman, however, did not let the club down, leading them to their second straight title in his first season in charge. The club actually performed better this season than last, conceding a league leading 28 goals (tied with Manchester City and Chelsea), scoring 94 goals, second only to Tottenham, and recording 89 points, four more than last season.

It all started with Javier Hernandez, whose 38 goals this season would have been the new Premier League record if it wasn’t for Tottenham’s Cavani. He won his second Premier League Select call-up, and was Manchester’s Player of the Year for the second time in his career. The 30 year old Mexican striker was flawless, contributing 10 assists as well as his phenomenal return on goals. The previous Premier League record for goals scored was jointly held by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole, who had scored 34 goals – that old record was shattered twice this season, and Hernandez rightfully took his place as one of the elite strikers in the world. Of course, he was not alone up front – legendary striker Wayne Rooney contributed 16 goals of his own. He also added 16 assists, the second highest in his career and second only to Eden Hazard on the team and tied for second best in the league. As for Hazard, he was crowned English Players’ Player of the Year for the second year in a row, and led the league with a career high 18 assists. The 27 year old Belgian midfielder was also named to his third Premier League Select – other than Hernandez, no one contributed more to the team’s cause than he did.

During the January transfer window, Moniz bought Jack Wilshere from Arsenal for £18,750,000 – Wilshere and Roderick Miranda, who came for £20,500,000 and only played in 4 games for the club, were the final signings in a season the new manager spent £99,000,000 on new players. Wilshere was phenomenal in his half season with his new club, better than he ever was with Arsenal – between the two clubs, he scored 14 goals and recorded 11 assists this season. Moniz also acquired Fabio Coentrao (£22,500,000) and Moussa Sissoko (£24,000,000) – both had decent seasons, but nothing that lived up to their hefty price tags. Wilshere and Sissoko started alongside Hazard in the midfield, while Coentrao started at left back.

Alongside Coentrao in the back four were English internationals Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, both of which had good seasons, and Brazilian star Rafael, who recorded a career high 6.20 Tackles per Game, also good enough for third best in the league – English star prospect Steve Hughes was sold to Tottenham after the club failed to agree with the player over his new contract. The back four’s fantastic form allowed the club to feature the stingiest defense in the league, a good sign after they delivered average seasons in 2016/17. Along with GK David De Gea, who for all of his experience, only turned 27 years old this season, they were perhaps the most complete defense in the league. None of the players mentioned above are above 28 years old, so Manchester United can rest assured knowing their back is solid for years to come. The only point of concern in terms of aging is Rooney, but giving his performances this year, he looks set to be a star for a few years yet. All in all, it was a great first season for Moniz, who also won the League Cup in addition to the league title.

Tottenham (2018: 2nd Place – 2017: 4th Place)

Since Martin Jol took over as manager in 2015, the club had not finished lower than 4th Place, but their Runner-Up spot this season was their highest finish since winning the Premier League title in 2012 under Harry Redknapp. The team led the league in scoring with 97 goals, although the defense was a bit of worry, conceding 43 goals. The 62 year old Dutchman was rewarded with a 5 year contract that pays him £39,500 a week. This was Thomas Jones’ second year as owner of the club, and his only big player investment this year was Steve Hughes, who came from Manchester United for £12,750,000. The 22 year old English defender has been considered the country’s top prospect for the past two years, and his acquisition was something of a coup for Tottenham, after the player could not agree with his old club over his wages with his contract ending.

Out of Tottenham’s 97 goals scored this season, 40 goals came from Edinson Cavani, who shattered the Premier League record of 34 goals jointly held by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole, winning the English Footballer of the Year (2015, 2018) for the second time in his career. His 40 goals also gave him the European Golden Boot for 2018, and was named to the Premier League Select for the fifth time (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018) – he also was Tottenham’s Player of the Year for the third straight year, and the club’s top goalscorer for the sixth straight season. But his contribution did just end with goals – he gave out 10 assists, as well. Simply put, Cavani might have put together one of the greatest individual seasons ever played in Premier League history.

Cavani did propel Tottenham to within points from the Premier League title on his own, however, even though he was the biggest part. His partner up front Salomon Rondon, who scored 20 goals and a career high 14 assists, playing the perfect complimentary role to Cavani’s sheer goalscoring power. The 28 year Venezuelan has become one of the best strikers in the league, reminiscent of Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez. Behind Rondon and Cavani were club legends Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, who both had fantastic seasons. Bale set a career high in assists, recording 16, good enough to tie Wayne Rooney for second most in the league. The 32 year old Modric suffered a broken foot that ruled him out for four months, and for the first time since 2012/13, he played less than 30 league games for the club. He still managed to record 15 assists in his 23 appearances, however, showing the world that he had no missed a step. Allowing the two attacking midfielders their space and freedom was Sandro, who had another typical season – it was not as good as last year, but he was still one of the best anchor midfielders in the league, if not the world.

As was the case last season, defense remained the only weakness in the team, albeit not a big one. Only Dedryk Boyota had a decent season from their back four – the 27 year old Belgian also added 6 goals to his solid defensive play. With addition of Hughes, however, Jol might have finally got his solution to what is the club’s weak link.

Manchester City (2018: 3rd Place – 2017: 6th Place)

In his first full season as manager of the club, Andre Villas-Boas led the club back into a Champions League spot, finishing just one point behind Tottenham for 2nd Place. Although no one can deny the ability of Alan Shearer, especially not after leading the club to the 2016 Premier League title, the club needed a fresh direction after they faltered in 2016/2017, and Villas-Boas must be given credit for righting the ship. Just one season after conceding 58 goals, Man City conceded a league best 28 goals, while their 81 goals were good enough for fourth best in the Premier League. The manager did have the help of the owner’s infinite resources, acquiring players for a total of £87,000,000 – the surprising part, however, was that only Martin Olsson, who came from Tottenham for £11,000,000, was a defender. Even then, the 30 year old Swedish left back only appeared in 10 league games, meaning Villas-Boas turned the defense of the team with the players he already had. His two biggest signings were both midfielders – Taras Stepanenko came from Shakhtar for £20,500,000, and he played in 33 league games, but the other signing was the real star. Kevin Hofman came for £18,250,000 from Chelsea, and immediately became a starter. He won the English Young Player of the Year award after scoring 14 goals and handing out 11 assists from the right wing.

Manchester City’s Player of the Year, for the second straight year, was Brazilian striker Hulk – the 32 year old had perhaps his finest season in his career, scoring 19 goals and handing out 14 assists. He was named to the World Team of the Year for the first time in his career – the fact the World Cup 2014 Best Player had to wait till the age of 32 to get that selection is a wonder. Still, he led the front line alongside Edin Dzeko, who also had a career season. It was the third time in his Man City career he had scored at least 20 goals in a season, and set a new career high by giving out 13 assists.

Kevin Hofman was easily their best midfielder, but he also had James Milner to help him – the 32 year old English international handed out 11 assists. Behind them, the defense was led, as always, by Vincent Kompany – the 32 year old has been the squad’s finest defender for the past few years, while Joe Hart remains one of the finest GKs in the world. The age of the squad is obviously a major worry, and it is something that Villas-Boas will have to address if the club wants to avoid slipping down in the league once again.

Liverpool (2018: 4th Place – 2017: 2nd Place)

In his first season in charge of the club, Malky Mackay won the FA Cup and came in 2nd Place to Manchester United in the Premier League. This season, however, the club took a step back, finishing in 4th Place – it was not so much that the team got worse (their stats this season were almost identical to 2016/17), but more so that they did not get better while other teams did. They had two signings that mattered, the biggest of which was £35,500,000 for Vladimir Weiss from Wolfsburg. In a season of several big money transfers, Weiss was one of the biggest – he was arguably the best player in Germany the past couple of seasons, and although he did well after coming in the January transfer, he did not perform to the same level he did at his previous club. Peniel Mlapa, however, was worth a lot more than the £7,000,000 Liverpool paid Hoffenheim for him – the 27 year old World Cup hero did exceptionally for the club in half a season, as he also came in the January transfer.

Liverpool’s Player of the Year was Luis Suarez, who scored 23 goals, the highest tally he has hit since joining the club eight years ago. The 31 year old has already showed signs of losing a little bit of his pace, but he was more dangerous than ever, as he was the 3rd best goalscorer in the Premier League after Cavani and Hernandez. Their former Player of the Year, left back Jack Robinson, had a good season by anyone else’s standard but only a decent one by his. The 24 year old English international is considered to be the best left back in the Premier League. With the addition of both Mlapa and Weiss, Liverpool were able to keep their Champions League spot, but Mackay as to be given credit for their achievement. Still, out of the Big Six, they are considered, on paper, to be the least talented currently, and will have an uphill struggle to maintain their top four finishes.

Chelsea (2018: 5th Place – 2017: 5th Place)

Another season, another 5th Place finish, and another year of disappointment. It has been since 2014, when they won the Premier League title, that Chelsea last qualified for the Champions League, and their failure to finish in the top four led to Sinisa Mihajlovic) resigning from his post as manager just after the end of the season – his replacement was Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov. Mihajlovic spent £85,000,000 this season trying to improve the squad, with £41,500,000 being spent on 29 year old Argentine midfielder Pablo Piatti from Valencia. He had a decent season, but since the club did not finish in the top four, he has yet to prove he was worth the money.

There is no doubting Sergio Aguero’s talent, but it was not the 30 year Argentine who was Chelsea’s Player of the Year this season – that was Simo Vrsaljko. The 26 year old Croatian was named in the Premier League Select for the second straight year, and although no one can argue that Aguero remains the heart and soul of the team, Vrsaljko simply had a better season, with his 7.52 Tackles per Game leading the Premier League. Aguero scored 16 goals, but his form was inconsistent throughout – his 7.26 AR was the lowest of his Chelsea career. Their Belgian GK, Thibaut Courtois, won the Premier League Golden Glove and was selected to the Premier League Select, as well – considering he is only 26 years old, those were some very good achievements. Other than the players mentioned above, only Ramires had a season worth noting – the 31 year old Brazilian scored a career high 12 goals as a central midfielder.

Arsenal (2018: 6th Place – 2017: 3rd Place)

After hiring Alan Shearer in March of 2017, things spiraled out of control - although the £42,000,000 spent on Stevan Jovetic was justified as the Montenegrin forward won the club’s Player of the Year, leading them in scoring with 21 goals, little else went right. His £15,250,000 signing from Shakhtar, the 29 year midfielder Yaroslav Rakitskyi, was a bust for the fee paid, and Shearer was dramatically sacked in November of 2017, replaced by Ronald De Boer. Things did not fare much better for the Dutchman, and he was behind one of the most unpopular decisions in club history, selling Arsenal product and English international Jack Wilshere for £18,250,000 to Manchester United.

The club’s failure this season remains mind-boggling – with a midfield containing Aaron Ramsey (who was out for a total of six months with two injuries, a damaged achilles tendon and a torn hamstring), Marek Hamsik, and Marouane Fellaini, this team should not have faltered the way it did. The blame, however, was not on the midfield – it was on the defense. After conceding 37 goals last season, they let in 53 goals, which had them as the 9th best defense in the league, the lowest of any of the Big Six. Unfortunately for them, they fell to 6th Place, and will miss out on Champions League football next season.

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Overall Team of the Year

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SPANISH LA LIGA REVIEW 2015/2016

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Overview

Player StatsTeam Salary per AnnumPast Winners

Footballer of the Year: Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona (32 Aps, 15 Goals, 9 Assists, 4 MotM, 7.77)

Goalkeeper of the Year: Victor Valdes, Barcelona (31 Aps, 30 Conceded, 11 Clean Sheets, 7.12)

Manager of the Year: Roberto Mancini, Barcelona (Champions)

Barcelona (2017: Champions – 2018: 2nd Place)

A year after the predictions came that the ‘Barcelona Era’ was over, Roberto Mancini led them to the La Liga title once again, the fourth time he had done so since taking over the club in 2013. They replaced Real Madrid as champions, and Mancini even managed to guide the Catalans back to the Champions League Finals, where they lost for the first time in their history. Lyonnais convincingly beat them 2-0, denying them the opportunity to win the manager his second Champions League title – still, after the doom and gloom predictions from last season, it was a successful season. In an attempt to shore up the defense, the manager spent £17,250,000 to acquire Nicolas Otamendi from Porto, and it worked – after conceding 45 goals in 2016/17, the club let in only 29 goals this season, making Barcelona the best defensive team in the La Liga. They also scored the most goals, putting 86 goals in the opposing teams’ nets.

For the first time since joining the club, Alexis Sanchez won the Barcelona Player of the Year – not only that, but he won nearly every other major award, as well, as he was crowned the Best Player in Europe, the Best Player and Top Goalscorer in the Champions League, and the Spanish League’s Player of the Year. He carried the team at times, and was without a doubt the club’s most important player this season. Their former Player of the Year, Alan Dzagoev, also had a spectacular season, scoring 13 goals and handing out 10 assists. His third year in Spain and with the club also saw him named, for the third straight time, to the Spanish La Liga Team of the Year. Of course, when he was not injured, the team’s best player was Lionel Messi – in just 24 appearances, he had 9 goals and 8 assists. His proneness to injury, however, has robbed him of a lot of his pace, and although his place amongst the legends of the game is secured, talk about him being the greatest to have ever played the game has died down considerably the past few years. Still, the 31 year old remained the center of this Barcelona team when he was available, and that is likely to continue for a few more years yet.

Completing the offensive line of Barcelona were Cesc Fabregas and Gylfi Sigurdsson. The 31 year old Fabregas delivered more of the same – solid midfield play combined with spectacular passing ability that opened up the game for the rest of the offensive core. For the fifth year in a row, he was voted the Spanish Player of the Year, breaking Raul’s record for most times won in a row and equally his record for most times won. As for the latter, it is safe to say that no one expected him to be a star, yet alone a central figure in what is undoubtedly the greatest club team ever assembled. Sigurdsson came to Barcelona in 2014, and has since been vital to the club’s success. This season, he had 11 goals and 6 assists, contributing across the board. Behind them, playing alongside Otamendi, was legendary central defender Gerard Pique – although his claim to being the best defender on the planet was challenged this year by Bayern Munich’s Daniele Sarnelli, he still remains the defender of the decade, and possibly the best central defender of all time. No one has been more successful at his position, and without him, there is no doubt the club would not have achieved all it did. The same can be said about GK Victor Valdes – his importance to the team is second to none, and is easily one of the best GKs of all time. He conceded 23 goals and won the La Liga GK of the Year award for the 10th time in his career, which highlighted his dominance over his rivals, including Spain’s No.1 and captain, Iker Casillas. Barcelona remains the greatest team ever assembled, and although Messi has lost a step and is the wrong side of 30, he is still unstoppable on his day. For that reason, one cannot count the ‘Barcelona Era’ over just yet.

Real Madrid (2018: 2nd Place – 2016: Champions)

Jose Mourinho again was unable to retain the La Liga title – for the second time since his tenure with Real Madrid begain 2010, he won the the championship but was unsuccessful in defending it. If his Real Madrid team existed in any other league, they would have been sure to run away with the title year after year, such is there talent, but they have had the misfortune of playing their football during the ‘Barcelona Era’ – since 2010, Madrid has won two titles compared to Barcelona’s seven titles. The fact that he was able to take two titles away from Mancini’s team, however, speaks of the 55 year old Portuguese’s talent as a manager. He remains at the helm, ever insistence to bring about the end of the Catalans’ dominance of football.

There were no surprises as to who Real Madrid’s Player of the Year was – fact is, Cristiano Ronaldo has cemented his place as one of the club’s legends and greatest ever players. There is no arguing his talent, and at the age of 33, he won the World Golden Ball and World Player of the Year for the fourth time (2008, 2014, 2016, 2017) – no one else has ever won both awards four times except for, of course, Lionel Messi. It was another fantastic season from the Portuguese, who many consider to be the fifth best player of all-time, behind Pele, Maradona, Zidane, and Messi. Ofcourse, he did not do it alone, with Gonzalo Higuan re-finding his form and scoring 18 goals of his own after scoring only 6 goals last season. The Argentine striker just turned 30 years old, and outside of Ronaldo, he remains the club’s foremost threat up front.

The midfield was led by Kwadwo Asamoah and Mesut Ozil, who continued to be amongst the best in their position in the league. Asamoah has become one of the best defensive midfielders on the planet, while Ozil was second Runner-Up in the La Liga Player of the Year this season. Both remain in the prime of their careers, and at the age of 29, will continue to be for the next few years. Behind them, the defense was led by Chilean right back Mauricio Isla and Brazilian left back Marcelo – the South Americans are also amongst the best in the world at their positions. Marcelo’s assists numbers dipped to 4 after managing 13 two seasons ago, but his contributions remained substantial. For Isla, he averaged over 4.00 Tackles per Game, as well as 6 assists. Both players were the best defenders in terms of form Real Madrid had this season. Iker Casillas remained Real Madrid’s No.1 despite his 37 years of age, and continued to be considered the second best goalkeeper in the Premier League.

Sevilla (2018: 3rd Place – 2017: 5th Place)

After finishing in 5th Place in Marcelo Bielsa’s first season in charge, winning the Europa League in the process, the club found its way back to the top four and the Champions League this season, improving across the board in Bielsa’ final season. He retired at the end of 2017/18 season, with his biggest achievements was having led Fiorentina to the Champions League title in 2015 and Sevilla to the Europa League title in 2017. His position was given to former Chelsea manager Sinisa Mihajlovic. The club was the fourth best defensive team in the La Liga this season, conceding 49 goals, and the fourth best offensive team, as well, scoring 75 goals.

Signed for £13,250,000 from Kaiserslautern in 2016, Kostas Fortounis was named Sevilla’s Player of the Year after recording 16 assists, good enough for second best in the league. The 25 year old Greek right winger was instrumental for Alvaro Negredo and Emilio Nsue, who had 14 and 19 goals, respectively. It was the first time in seven years that the former did not lead the team in scoring, instead handing the torch over to Nsue. His partner in the midfield, Armin Bacinovic, handed out 8 assists, although his form overall dipped from last season. Sevilla will have to look at improving its defense and GK situation next season if it wants to stay in the top four, as conceding 49 goals, despite being fourth best in the league, was not a good sign for them.

Malaga (2018: 4th Place – 2017: 3rd Place)

For the third straight year, Roberto Donadoni led Malaga to a Champions League spot, although they fell one place to 4th this season. After spending close to £34,000,000 on players in 2016/17, Donadoni scaled back considerably this season, spending under £8,000,000 on new players, although he did sell Roderick Miranda to Manchester United for £20,500,000. The club was the third best team in the league both defensively and offensively, scoring 79 goals and conceding 48 goals. The Donadoni revolution in Malaga continued, and the Italian manager is set to lead Malaga on another Champions League campaign.

Malaga’s Player of the Year was also the Spanish La Liga’s top goalscorer – since coming in from Shalke in the middle of the 2015/16 season, Facundo Ferreyra has scored 58 league goals in 72 appearances for the club. The 27 year old Argentinean’s 24 goals this season were a career high, and his second straight season he has scored 20+ goals. His partner up front was also arguably Malaga’s second best player, as 33 year old South Korean striker Park Chu-Young scored 16 goals of his own. He has been a fantastic return since coming in 2014 to the club for just £2,700,000 from Arsenal.

Their midfield also featured some very important players for the club, including club Icon Zdravko Kuzmanovic. The 30 year old Serbian defensive midfielder gave the club a typical season from him – a few goals, some assists, and some strong play as an anchor. Alongside him was the more attacking minded Spanish midfielder Pedro Leon, who again registered double digit assists, recording 12 assists (he had 13 assists in 2016/17) in 28 appearances. Their best midfielder this season, however, was French left winger Anthony Mounier – the 30 year old scored 7 goals and led the La Liga with 18 assists, a new record for Malaga. Much like the team that finished ahead of them in the table, Sevilla, the club will need to invest in its defense in order to continue to get better – betting against Donadoni, however, has not proven to be a wise gamble.

Other Notables

Fernando Llorente of Atletic Bilbao (10th) continued to be one of the most dangerous strikers in the La Liga. He has been perhaps the most prolific forward in Spain the past eight years, having failed to record at least 20 goals in a season just once. The 33 year old scored 24 goals this season…In his first season in the La Liga, 22 year old Italian striker Maurizio Fontolan scored 18 goals for Real Sociedad (7th). His playing style was reminiscent of Llorente, technically gifted and very powerful in the air.

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Overall Team of the Year

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Great job on avoiding regulation! How big is your stadium now?

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Great job on avoiding regulation! How big is your stadium now?

Thanks! The new Bromley Stadium is a 16,142 all-seater - a complete monster compared to the 5,000 Hayes Lane :)

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Great to see the new stadium will be treated to some European football next year. Brilliant run to lift the FA cup :thup:

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Great to see the new stadium will be treated to some European football next year. Brilliant run to lift the FA cup :thup:

It could not have come at a better time! The FA Cup runs ranks as one of my most unlikely achievements in CM/FM ever - incredible.

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SERIE A REVIEW 2017/2018

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Overview

Player StatsTeam Salary per AnnumPast Winners

Footballer of the Year: Xaropinho, AC Milan

Foreign Player of the Year: Xaropinho, AC Mian

Italian Player of the Year: Andreas Bertolacci, Roma

Fans’ Player of the Year: Xaropinho, AC Milan

Goalkeeper of the Year: Pierrick Cros, Napoli

Defender of the Year: Stefan Bell, Inter Milan

Young Player of the Year: Xaropinho, AC Milan

Manager of the Year: Gianluca Atzori, Sampdoria

Inter Milan (2018: Champions – 2017: 4th)

Inter Milan won their fourth title of the decade, and third under manager Nicolas Frustalupi, this season by playing the best defense any team has played in the Italian Serie A in the past eight years. Conceding only 25 goals after letting in 41 goals in 2016/17 was the key to re-capturing the title, and only added to Frustalupi’s legacy and claim of being the best manager in Italy. They were second best in the league on the other end, too, scoring 69 goals, but there was no denying what won them the title. Amazingly, the manager did not add any defenders – it was the same defensive group that failed the team one season ago. They went into 2017/18 widely expected to challenge for the title even though they finished 4th, and on paper, there was no team in Italy as talented as they were. They proved those thoughts right, and ended up winning the Serie A title, taking it away from Sampdoria.

Since the title was won by their defensive efforts, it’s only right to start with their defensive stars – namely, Stefan Bell. The 26 year old German (who was one of the nation’s best players in their World Cup winning side), in his first full season with the club, was a key player and the main defensive presence of the club, manning the center of the back four with elegance and power. He was not the team’s Player of the Year, however – that honor went to 29 year old Welshman Jack Collison. He delivered a career high 11 assists and played possibly the finest season of his career. He was the perfect partner to Inter Milan’s, and indeed Italy’s, best player of the past few years, Argentinean right winger Mauro Formica. The 30 year old right winger again had a hugely impressive season, scoring 9 goals and handing out 8 assists. Alongside them was 25 year old Brazilian midfielder (and World Cup star) Felipe Anderson – playing in his second season with the club, he scored 8 goals and recorded the highest Average Rating (7.34 AR) of his career.

Up front, as has always been the case with Frustalupi’s teams, there was no stand out performer but a rotation of strikers, with each contributing a decent amount of goals. However, that could change next season after the acquisition of £18,250,000 man Daniel Correa from Real Sociedad. The 22 year old Uruguayan hit 10 goals in 18 appearances during the half season he was with Inter Milan, and has shown the ability to be a 20+ goal man. Supporting him would be 28 year old Italian striker Milan Djuric, who scored 12 goals, and 30 year old Ivory Coast striker Seydou Doumbia, who managed to score 9 goals this season. With the midfield and defense second to none in the league, Correa’s presence up front could give Inter Milan a scoring presence they have not had since Ibrahimovic left the club. If that is the case, then it is very hard imagining anyone being able to stop Inter Milan from recapturing their title.

Sampdoria (2018: 2nd Place – 2017: Champions)

The 2017 champions, led by Manager of the Year Gianluca Atzori, were unable to retain their title this season, but only by a very slim margin. Against a more high profile Inter Milan team, they were only two points off of them for top place, and given the way they played, it was another successful season for the squad. Their 38 goals conceded was tied for second best in the league, but the 71 goals that they scored made them the best offensive team in the league. Atzori did not commit to any big name signings, instead relying on the same squad that won him the title to try and accomplish the same. They fell just a little bit short, but Sampdoria has proven itself to be one of the best teams in Italy the past few years.

Their Player of the Year was Magaye Gueye, who came the previous season for £10,250,000. The 28 year old French left winger scored 9 goals in the league, and was one of the best at his position in the Serie A. He was impressive enough for Barcelona to fork over £20,000,000 to Sampdoria for his services, and he left after the end of the season. The club’s Player of the Year the previous season, Giacomo Bonaventura, also had a fine season – although he did not score any league goals, he recorded 10 assists, a career high. The right winger was instrumental down the wing for Sampdoria just as Gueye made it happen down the left wing, and he continues to be perhaps the club’s most important player after the retirement of defensive midfielder and club legend Angelo Palombo this season.

Behind them, their two most important players were Argentinean GK Sergio Romero and French central defender Florian Lejeune, both of whom were named to the Italian Serie A Team of the Year. The GK was fantastic for them, and was in great form, especially in the second half of the season. As for the 27 year Frenchman, Lejeune proved he was worth the £7,500,000 paid for him last season, which some had questioned. Germany’s World Cup hero (and the tournament’s Best Player) Julan Schieber was also the club’s leading goalscorer with 13 goals, good enough for 4th best in the league. The 29 year old was the club’s primary threat up front, and lead them to being the best offensive team in the Serie A. After his sensational exploits in the World Cup, he is no longer a hidden secret, and much will be expected of him in this upcoming season as Sampdoria attempt to recapture the Serie A title.

Fiorentina (2018: 3rd Place – 2017: 8th Place)

In his first year in charge of the club, Delio Rossi led them the club an 8th Place finish after coming in as Runners-Up in 2015/16. Amidst speculation that he would get the sack, the Italian manager turned things around, and brought the Florence based club back to a Champions League spot, finishing in 3rd Place. He resigned from his post at the end of the season, however, as he took the job replacing Francesco Guidolin as manager of the Italian national team. After a few days later, Stefano Colantuono was chosen as his replacement, and the 2015 Champions League winners will head into the new season under a new direction.

At the beginning of the season, the club sold its legendary midfielder Stevan Jovetic to Arsenal for £42,000,000 – after finishing in 8th Place, it was understandable for the star to want to make his move elsewhere. Coming in, the highest profile signing was £6,500,000 central defender Majed Salim – the 24 year old Saudi Arabian came from Porto and had a decent first season with the club. It was his partner in the defense, 27 year old French right back Sebastian Corchia, who won the team’s Player of the Year award, contributing 5 assists and 4.13 TpG this season. On the other side, 29 year old left back Marco Calderoni also did a good job, distributing 6 assists and getting 4.95 TpG, a fantastic return for the £4,900,000 the club spent to get him in 2016.

Their Emirati midfield maestro was at it again this season, as Amer Abdulrahman delivered another strong season, getting 9 assists, a new high in a Fiorentina uniform for the player. Their leading goalscorer was 20 year old French striker Joffrey Berthet – the youngster had been around the international youth circuits the past few years and had been highly impressive, and that finally was begin to translate into goals at the highest level. It will be interesting to see how well Berthet and Fiorentina will do next season – can they maintain their top four position, or will they find themselves in another slip?

AC Milan (2018: 4th Place – 2017: 2nd Place)

It has been an eventful past three years for the Milan club – manager Carlo Ancelotti was hired in 2015, and one year later, Franco Baresi took over as Chairman of the club from outgoing Silvio Berlusconi. The squad finished in 2nd Place in 2017, and invested in its youth facilities, upgrading them in August of 2017. This season, however, the team took a step back, finishing in 4th Place despite the emergence of Brazilian striker Xaropinho. The 20 year old led the Serie A in scoring with 20 goals, and captured nearly every individual award available. He is viewed as one of the brightest emerging talents in the world, and will be the center of this AC Milan team going into next season.

Xaropinho might have swept the Serie A awards, but he was not named the Player of the Year for his own team – that honor went to Antonio Nocerino. The defensive midfielder captured the award for the second time in his career, but the aging 33 year old Italian’s ability have noticeably decreased. Unfortunately for the club and Ancelotti, no one else had a decent season, including Pato – the 28 year old Brazilian has bags of ability, but somehow has never been able to fully utilize them. If the club is to do better as it hopes, Pato needs to find it in himself to live up to his potential.

Other Notables

Despite Cagliari (14th) playing disappointing football this season, Portuguese midfielder Nuno Guerreiro has the second best AR in the Serie A this season, and scored 6 goals, delivered 8 assists, and won 5 MotM as well…For Juventus (5th), Blaise Matiudi was their best player. The 31 year old French midfielder was a complete bargain for the club, as he came on Free Transfer at the beginning of the season…Just behind Costin Lazar (who retired at the end of the season) in the Serie A assists charts was Bilal Hamdi. The 27 year Algerian led Parma with 12 assists, and was their most important player this season.

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Overall Team of the Year

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This an absolutely brilliant thread.I'm loving all the detail you have put into this.Keep up the good work :thup:

Oh and congrats on winning the FA Cup ;) Good luck in the Europa League!

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This an absolutely brilliant thread.I'm loving all the detail you have put into this.Keep up the good work :thup:

Oh and congrats on winning the FA Cup ;) Good luck in the Europa League!

Wow, thanks! It always warms the heart when you get a comment like that :) The FA Cup win still seems like a dream - cant believe Im Europe this season! I drew Vit. Guiremas from Portugal, so it definitely seems like a winnable first round for me!

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FRENCH LIGUE 1 2017/2018 REVIEW

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Player StatsTeam Salary per AnnumPast Winners

Player of the Year: Willian, Lyonnais (35 Aps, 12 Goals, 14 Assists, 9 MotM, 7.79)

GK of the Year: Steve Mandanda, Marseille (36 Aps, 36 Conceded, 15 Clean Sheets, 7.28)

Foreign Player of the Year: Willian, Lyonnais (35 Aps, 12 Goals, 14 Assists, 9 MotM, 7.79)

Most Promising Player: Tarik Agnaou, Marseille (32 Aps, 4 Goals, 7 Assists, 2 MotM, 7.50)

Manager of the Year: Jean Marc-Furlan, Dijon FCO (6th Place)

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Ligue 1 Best Team of All-Time

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GERMAN BUNDESLIGA 2017/2018 REVIEW

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Player StatsTeam Salary per AnnumPast Winners

Player of the Year: Alex Sandro, Wolfsburg (33 Aps, 2 Goals, 11 Assists, 8 MotM, 7.86)

GK of the Year: Oliver Baumann, Frankfurt (30 Aps, 35 Conceded, 6 Clean Sheets, 6.79)

Defender of the Year: Benedikt Howedes, Shalke (34 Aps, 0 Goals, 1 Assists, 1 MotM, 7.21)

Midfielder of the Year: Kevin Strootman, Bayern Munich (28 Aps, 2 Goals, 8 Assists, 9 MotM, 7.56)

Striker of the Year: Kruno Ivancic, Bayern Munich (25 Aps, 10 Goals, 3 Assists, 1 MotM, 7.11)

Manager of the Year: Markus Babbel, Dortmund (Champions)

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Bundesliga Team of All-Time

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I don't think I've ever seen a thread with so much detail :eek:. A nice touch though :thup: which gives a very clear view of your FM world. Well done on a successful season with Bromley. Bromley in the UEFA Cup...who'd of thought it! :thup:

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I don't think I've ever seen a thread with so much detail :eek:. A nice touch though :thup: which gives a very clear view of your FM world. Well done on a successful season with Bromley. Bromley in the UEFA Cup...who'd of thought it! :thup:

I hope you enjoy the detail! That was exactly the point - to really immerse myself and the reader in the full world of this save. I hope I am accomplishing that! It was indeed a very successful season with Bromley - the Europa League beckons!

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A 20 goal season from Xaropinho :thup: Looks like he's living up to his early hype!

Also interesting to see Cavani as lethal with Spurs on your save as he is with Spurs on mine.

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A 20 goal season from Xaropinho :thup: Looks like he's living up to his early hype!

Also interesting to see Cavani as lethal with Spurs on your save as he is with Spurs on mine.

Yep, we've been watching Xaropinho since he was 17, and he's starting to make it big, although his attributes did not increase much since then. Cavani is an absolute terror up front, and has been for quite a few years now!

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European Championship U19 – Belgium

In this year’s edition of the competition, Spain won the title for the 11th time, defeating Italy in the Finals after beating Belgium in the Semi-Finals. They had previously lost to them in the Group Stages, but they got the job done when it mattered most. Spain added to their record as the nation that has won the competition the most times, gaining the title from last year’s champions, Holland.

Spain was led by Ruben and Jorge – the latter was also joint top goalscorer with Italy’s star, and perhaps the best player at this year’s tournament, Giovanni Godino. They both scored 4 goals, but Godino also averaged an outstanding 8.40 AR, proving just how spectacular he was during the tournament. Other notable performers were German striker Jurgen Schafer and French left winger Mohamed Bah, both of whom their teams were knocked out in the Group Stages.

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Bromley 2018/2019 Preview

Overview

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General InformationFacilitiesDomestic League History

Board Expectation: Mid-Tabe Finish - Transfer Budget: £29,800,000 - Wage Budget: £214,991 (Current: £188,818) - Bank Balance: £895,935

When it was all said and done, not only did we survive our first year in the Premier League without getting involved in a relegation battle, but we managed to amazingly capture the FA Cup in a sensational run that sent us to the Europa League. We weren’t great offensively, and we certainly weren’t good defensively, but we were just enough of both to earn 14th Place in the Premier League. The FA Cup run was more luck than it was skill, as the only Premier League opponent we faced during the entirety of our run was the beatable Bristol City, whom we defeated in Wembley to lift the trophy. Young German/Ghanaian striker Emmanuel Musah was crowned our new Player of the Year, replacing Porvaldur Magnusson, who struggled at times during his Premier League debut season.

We moved into the newly constructed Bromley Stadium during the summer, and having 16,182 people cheering on the squad is going to be a lot better than the 5,000 we had at Hayes Lane. We still have the smallest stadium in the Premier League, but at least we will be seeing triple the gate income. We were already turning profits every month, and although our salary spending did increase, it was not by a significant margin, so we are likely to really soak in some cash this season. The board also agreed to invest in our training facilities, and considering we have so many players under the age of 22 who rely on our training to get better, it was a smart and wise move.

I am excited for the upcoming season – our returning players will have only gotten better, and we made some good signings over the summer that should help the club. I am especially excited about the continued development of Bromley youth product Kieran Holland – the 17 year old right back has been improving at a great rate. I don’t expect to win the FA Cup again, nor do I expect to be in Europe next season, but I do hope that we can build on last season and finish higher than the 14th Place we ended up with last season.

Transfer

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IN

We broke our transfer record again this season, bringing in ‘Wonderkid’ GK Tricio for £14,000,000. Some may question the logic of spending that much on a goalkeeper, especially considering there are so many other aspects of the team that could use improving, but I have always believed you start building or improving the team from the back forward. His potential is unquestionable, and he is only 20 years old. He already had first team experience, having been Cruzeiro’s starting GK for the past three seasons. I stayed in the Americas for my next two big signings, as well, bringing in Mexican central defender Mario Ortega and Brazilian central defender Tete for £6,250,000 and £6,500,000, respectively. Both players were better than my current defenders, and looked to be in the rotation immediately.

The rest of my transfers were all squad players or future prospects: Jan Hendrik Ihm and Jeremie Ott added depth to our strike force, while Igor Ciric, Marc Beard, Igor Mijatovic, Djuro Ivelj, Nenad Marcinkovic, and Richie Ralph were all brought in with the future in mind.

OUT

There were three surprising sales done for a combination of money and the fact that I simply had better players at my disposal this season – Jesper Alberts, Igor Chuvalskiy, and Papa Coulibaly. Alberts is a fine player, but his wage demands were unreasonable when I tried to renew his contract. I have better defenders, and he was only mediocre in his first season in the Premier League, so a £6,000,000 offer from Inter Milan seemed fair. After Tricio came in, I thought it was illogical to pay Coulibaly high wages to sit on the bench, and I believe I got fair market value for him. He’s a good keeper, certainly Premier League quality, but he was not going to see any time behind Tricio. Chuvalskiy was a bit harder to justify, but I did not see him starting this season with Magnusson and Gaucho ahead of him in the pecking order, and I had some good young talent to fill in as backups - £7,500,000 for a player I bought for only £3,700,000 a year ago seemed like a good deal, so I pulled the trigger. I hope I don’t live to regret. I cannot, for the life me, understand why Chelsea and Manchester United got into a bidding war for Jon Fisher – he was the highest rated player in a poor youth intake, and yet they felt he was worth the £1,500,000 + clauses price I put on him.

Players

GOALKEEPERS

Tricio: I broke our transfer record to get him, paying Cruzeiro £14,000,000 to get the 20 year old. He is classified as a ‘Wonderkid’, and hopefully he will play like one. He is going to be our man between the posts for a while yet, if I have anything to say about it.

DEFENDERS

DL : Matthew Morgan: Year after year, I keep thinking to myself I need to upgrad the left back position, and yet come the beginning of the season, there is Morgan in the first team sheet. Signed on Free Transfer, this will be his fourth year with the club – the 21 year old will never be a world-beater, that much is true, but he continues to provide solid play. A good pass ratio (80%) and decent tackles (3.32 TpG) were the keys to his acceptable form last season. Development: 2015201620172018.

DC : Alexandre: Now that Jesper Alberts has been sold, Alexandre has become the first name I will call upon in the center of the defense. He certainly has the ability, although the 20 year old Brazilian will have to a lot better than the 6.67 AR he gave us last year. He is an extremely good tackler, and his passing ability will give us plenty of options going forward out of our backline. Development: 20172018.

DC : Tete: Signed for £6,500,000 in the summer from Internacional, the 19 year Brazilian is perhaps our purest central defender. He is a great tackler, and has very good marking ability. He partners his fellow Brazilian Alexandre in the center of our back four, and will be expected to replicate the form he showed at his former club, where he had a 86% Pass Ratio, 4.26 TpG, and 7.49 AR before coming over to England.

DR : Kieran Holland: It did not take long for the 17 year old Englishman to replace Kevin Long in the starting lineup. A product of the Bromley youth academy, he earned the starting spot last year after Long got injured and never looked back. His improvement throughout the year was remarkable, and he will be expected to do better than last season, where he delivered only 2.40 TpG and 6.64 AR. Development: 20172018.

MIDFIELDERS

ML : Lukas Kubik: The 20 year old Czech had a great first season with the club, leading us with 12 league goals and 5 assists, although his 1.78 DpG could’ve been better since he was playing down the left wing. His adaptability was remarkable – he was the season as ‘Awkward’ in the left midfield, and now has become ‘Accomplished’. One of our most important players, he will be expected to contribute as he did last season down the left wing. He will replace Kevin Long as the vice-captain of the squad this season. Development: 20172018.

MC : Porvaldur Magnusson: One of the greatest Bromley players of all-time, the Icelandic/English midfielder had a decent, but not good debut season in the Premier League. The most noticeable thing was his drop in assists, which went from 18 in 2016/17 to a measly 2 in 2017/18. Still, he gave us a team-leading 4.99 TpG from the midfield position, and a very reasonable 80% Pass Ratio I will be looking for him to improve his 6.87 AR and get more involved in the offense this season, but the 22 year old has obvious talent, so much so that new England manager Nigel Adkins (I know, right?) called him up to the main squad. Development: 2015201620172018.

MC : Gaucho: Our former record transfer signing (£9,500,000) did enough last season to be given one more year, but certainly not enough to justify his price tag. The 19 year Brazilian played in the defense last year, but this year he will be asked to partner Magnusson in the center of the midfield, where the team will be able to benefit from his high technical ability more. He will have to improve on his 74% Pass Ratio, and it is a given that he cannot have another 6.76 AR season.

MR : Gilmar: I consider this Brazilian (one of the five starters from that country in the team) to be our most gifted player, although he did not quite show it last season. The 19 year old right winger has tones of technical ability and good speed, making him a great threat down the wing. He will have to do better than his 1.73 DpG, however, and his 6.72 AR will have to improve. Development: 20172018.

FORWARDS

F : Elliot Law: The captain, all-time appearance and goalscoring record holder had a decent season in the Premier League, proving to all the doubters that he was, at the very least, capable of delivering the goods at this level. Now 24 years old, he remains the starter despite the reinforcements brought in this summer – hopefully, now that he is more accustomed to Premier League play, he will be able to give us more than the 9 goals he did last season. Development: 2015201620172018.

F : Emmanuel Musa: In my opinion, this 20 year old German/Ghanaian will be the most vital player in our success or failure this season. The goals will have to come from him, and he will have to do better than the 9 goals he scored, although 10 assists was a welcomed statistic. He is our main threat up front, and our main chance at winning games. The team is heavily reliant on him in that department. Development: 201620172018.

SUBSTITUTES

GK : Andy Dixon: One of the four Bromley youth academy products in the team, he has watched No.1 GKs come and go but remains the constant No.2. He must be happy with life in Bromley, though – he agreed to a new contract that will keep him at the club for the next four years. Development: 2015201620172018.

DC : Mario Ortega: The 18 year old Mexican came from Atlas for £6,250,000 and will be the third choice center back in the squad this year. Already he possesses great defensive ability, especially in tackling.

ML : Ebby Harwood: The 19 year old Bromley youth academy product continued to feature heavily for the team last year despite the addition of Kubik, and will again be relied upon to be relief for the Czech down the left wing. He will continue to get his chances, but will have to improve on his 6.77 AR. Development: 2015201620172018.

MC : Stelian Simu: Still only 17 years old, the Romanian is looking like he is going to be star for us in the coming years. He has got decent pace, and he’s got very good technical ability for his age – if he can improve his passing, there will be no stopping him. Development: 20172018.

FC : Jan Hendrik Ihm: Bought for £1,000,000 from Aachen, the 21 year old German striker has fantastic pace. He has already proven he can score goals having netted 12 goals for his former club in the German Second Division last season. He will rotate with the starters, especially Law, during the season.

FC : Jeremie Ott: Bought on Free Transfer after he was let go by Arsenal, he scored 22 goals for QPR while on loan there in the Championship last year. The 21 year old Frenchman is fantastic in the air, and will rotate along with Ihm and the starters up front.

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Bromley August Update 2018/2019

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Overview

After expected losing to Manchester United 4-2 in the Community Shield, we started the season at home against Tottenham and their record breaking striker Edinson Cavani. Their one major signing during the summer was Marco Reus – Martin Jol inexplicably paid Gladbach £17,000,000 for the very average winger. It was our first game in our new stadium, and it was against the same opponents whom we started our Premier League career against last season, losing 4-1. This time around, we lost again, but it was a much close 3-2 – Emmanuel Musah had an outstanding game, scoring a brace, and our new GK Tricio also had a good game (7.6 AR). Unfortunately, however, no one else played well, and that was especially evident in our defense, where only left back Matthew Morgan averaged over 6.00 AR. It was not the start I was hoping for, especially considering Tottenham were not looking so sharp, either, but they are one of the top teams in the country, so there was no shame in losing such a close game to them. On the bright side, our official attendance count was 15,632, and out gate receipts were £500,000, breaking the old record of £180,000 from gate receipts!

Bromley Stadium would play host to its second ever match and first ever European match next, as we hosted Portuguese outfit Vit. Guimaraes in the Europa League 4th Qualifying Round. They had come in 9th Place in the Portuguese Premier Division last year, but had won the domestic cup competition, the Supertaca – in short, their story was similar to ours. I identified Bocundji Ca as their best player, as the Guinea-Bissauan was their Player of the Year last season. I also had to watch out for their top goalscorer, Vitinho – the Brazilian looked like he could cause some problems for our defense. When the match got started, we could not have asked for a better first half. New signing Jan Hendrik Ihm netted a fantastic brace for us, and our Portuguese opponents barely had a chance at Tricio’s goal. Ihm was at it again in the second half, scoring his third goal in the 65th minute, and I started to rest easy by this point. Vit. Guimaraes countered, however, and got their own goal through their Danish winger Casper Sloth, but substitute Ebby Harwood put the game away with an 85th minute goal that gave us a fantastic 4-1 victory. I was extremely proud the boys – in their first European match ever, they showed the continent that they meant business. Ihm was MotM, playing a nearly perfect game (9.5 AR), with good performances from Lukas Kubik (1 Assist, 7.9 AR), Matthew Morgan (1 Assist, 7.7 AR), and Kieran Holland (1 Assist, 7.4 AR).

We travelled to newly promoted Cardiff next – they finished 6th in the Championship last year and won their place through the play-offs. They did not have any players that really looked like they could cause much threat, but they were also a team we never beat, having played them twice in our final season in the Championship. The first half was about even as a game could get – we had more possession (53%) and shots (6 to their 5), but the play was almost all centered in the middle of the field. The second half started the same way and lasted like that until the 59th minute, when Geoffrey Castillion score Cardiff’s first goal. Ihm quickly responded just a few minutes later, but again in the 74th minute, Castillion scored his second goal. It took five minutes this time for us to respond through defender Alexandre, and that’s how the match ended. The 2-2 draw was not the worst result in the world for us, but this was a team I expected to beat. They played well, though, and by the looks of it, they are definitely going to stay up this season if they keep up this sort of form. The goalscorers were our best players, but captain Elliot Law also delivered a solid game (7.2 AR) after coming on as a substitute.

The away match to Vit. Guimaraes was next, and since we were going in with a 4-1 lead, I was pretty confident we could put this one away and move on to the next stage of the Europa League. Taking into account or huge advantage, I decided to let some of my younger squad members play start the game. It started well for us, and for the first ten minutes, we were our opponent’s equal. In the 13th minute, their midfielder Franco Andrijasevic got himself sent off with a straight red card, and now our youngsters had an even easier time, going up against ten men for the rest of the game. It took Ebby Harwood just three minutes after that to find his second goal this season, both coming against Vit. Guimaraes, and seven minutes after that, in the 23rd minute, Elliot Law found the net for the first time this season. We were up 2-0 inside of 25 minutes, with an aggregate score of 6-1. This tie was as good as done. Our Portuguese kept their composure, however, and even managed to put together some well-organized attacks, but the first half ended with the same scoreline. They managed to get one back late in the second half, but the damage was done – we won the tie 6-2, and it was a fantastic MotM performance from Harwood (1 Goal, 7.8 AR). I was pleasantly surprised by two of our defenders, as well, Tete (7.6 AR) and reserve 16 year old left back Nenad Marcinkovic (7.3 AR). It was great victory, one that saw us advance to the next stage of the Europa League.

On the last day of the month, we had the Europa League draw for the Group Stages, and we did not have it easy. Drawn into Group H with Atletico Madrid and Montpelier, it looked like a tall order for us to make it out of the group. Group H

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Not a good start to the BPL but Im sure you can turn it around :D

No, not the best of starts, but then another year of survival as my team comes of age will do me just fine! A Mid-Table finish would be great :)

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Good luck in your quest for survival,although you've started off very well in the Europa League.

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Some decent signings there and good to see Holland has become first choice at RB. You have a very young squad too so should be together for a while.

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Good luck in your quest for survival,although you've started off very well in the Europa League.
Some decent signings there and good to see Holland has become first choice at RB. You have a very young squad too so should be together for a while.

Im pretty happy with my offseason, especially my GK. He cost alot, but he looks to be amazing. Holland has really developed well, Im happy with how hes coming out. My gaemeplan has been to assemble a very young (i.e cheap) squad and grow with them. The Europa League as been kind to me, so far!

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Bromley September Update 2018/2019

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Overview

We started the month against Southampton at home, and we managed to pull our first win in the Premier League this season, thanks to an own goal. We weren’t impressive, and at times we looked like we were trying to force things, but I cannot complain too much about picking up three points. I was, however, disappointed with our performance against newly promoted Sunderland – this was our second game against a newcomer that we had failed to win. Emmanuel Musah scored his third goal of the season in the league to earn us the point.

Our first game in the Europa League Group H had us traveling away to Atletico Madrid – of course, we had the odds against us, but we came away with an unbelievable 1-0 victory thanks to a Gaucho screamer early in the first half. The match went back and forth for the rest of the first and the second half, with both teams having their chances. But in the end we managed to pull off one of the greatest victories in our history, and got three points from what was supposed to be our toughest game in the group on paper. We took on Sheffield United away in the League Cup Third Round next, and we came away with a solid if unspectacular 1-0 win. Honestly, the score line should have been a lot more, considering we had 27 shots on goal compared to their 2, and had 64% of the possession. Ebby Harwood gave us the lead and the win in the 86th minute – I was losing my mind before then, but I cannot complain after the win since we really did play a lot better than them.

It was a short and decent month where we failed to lose in all our four matches. We pulled a great result against Atletico Madrid, and advanced in the League Cup. We could have used the three points against Southampton, but we’re still in 15th Place, safely out of the relegation zone. We have a very busy month coming up, so hopefully we can carry that form through.

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Well done making the group stages of the Europa League, and what a great result against At. Madrid too! :thup:

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That's a bit more like it.
Well done making the group stages of the Europa League, and what a great result against At. Madrid too! :thup:

The Atletico Madrid result was fantastic! Easily one of our most famous victories in our history :)

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Brilliant result away in Spain :thup: and good to see an unbeaten month.

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Brilliant result away in Spain :thup: and good to see an unbeaten month.

Yes, defeating Atletico Madrid was brought tears of joy to my heart :) The month might have been unbeaten, but it was not as successful as it could have been in the Premier League :(

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Bromley October Update 2018/2019

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Overview

We started the month off away to Aston Villa, who were managed by Alan Shearer, the 2015 Premier League Manager of the Year and the man that led Manchester City to the title that same year. They were one spot below us in 16th Place, and they had a horrible season last year, dropping from 7th Place in 2016/17 to 17th Place. Shearer kept his job, but he needed to do better this year. After chances for both sides, Lukas Kubik opened the scoring up in the 42nd minute, but we would go into the first half tied 1-1 after their striker Mauro Zarete in the dying seconds of the half. Very early in the second half, Elliot Law hit our second goal in the match and his second goal of the season, giving us the lead. It looked like we had our first three points from an away game this season, but their Japanese midfielder Ryo Miyaichi equalized for Aston Villa in the 88th minute, and we ended the game with a 2-2 draw. It was a respectable result, but I could not help but feel a little disappointed to have missed out on the three points that we nearly had.

We hosted French side Montpelier next at Bromley Stadium – they were currently 11th Place in the French Ligue 1, and their three time Player of the Year Bressan was still their most dangerous player. The Belarusian was the one I would have to contain if we wanted to repeat our exploits against Atletico Madrid, according to my scouting. It was an even match in the first twenty-five minutes, but then Tete scored an own goal in the 26th minute, and Montpelier had a 1-0 lead. Just for minutes later, the man I identified as our main threat, Bressan, scored, and after thirty minutes, our visitors were up 2-0 and threatening to hand us our first loss in the Europa League. I made three substitutions in the early minutes of the second half in frustration, but one of substitutes, young Romanian midfielder Stilian Simu, scored an absolute screamer from outside the area to cut Montpelier’s lead in half. In the 75th minute, yet another substitute, Jeremie Ott, scored, and we were all tied up 2-2 with fifteen minutes left to go. In the 86th minute, after being on the defensive the entire second half, somehow our opponents broke free and scored their third goal through Danish striker Viktor Fischer, breaking our hearts after such an impressive comeback. It was such a disappointing result after a great second half, but we had only ourselves to blame after our horrendous first half performance.

Up next were Liverpool, one of the Big Six of the Premier League and a team that has some fantastic talent in their side.Lucas hit a shot that ricocheted off of Tricio, opening the scoring for them at the 15th minute mark after about ten minutes of consistently attacking our goal. Despite Liverpool being the better team throughout the, we pulled one back through our leading goalscorer, Musah, in the 80th minute, earning us a point we did not really deserve. Our GK was rightfully the MotM, though, given the amount of big saves he made. We remained in 14th Place after the match.

Chelsea were our next opponents, and we were also hosting them at the Bromley Stadium. We had failed to beat them last year, losing twice, but they were in 8th Place this season and not looking particularly impressive under their new manager, Hristo Stoichkov. A day before the game, Aston Villa announced the sacking of their manager Alan Shearer – it had been an incredible fall from grace for the man once considered the best English manager just three years ago. I also decided to give Mexican defender Mario Ortega a leave of absence after he came to me with concerns that he was not adapting to life in England as he wished he would. Anyway, the Chelsea match came upon us, and I really wanted to see get three points from that match. We were missing Alexandre through injury, and our third choice center back, Ortega, was away on a leave of absence, so I switched Gaucho back into defense and started Simu in the midfield. It took Chelsea all of three minutes to score, as Belgian striker Rumelo Lukaku scored from a corner kick. Just three minutes later, he added to his tally and just like that, Chelsea were up 2-0. At the 15th minute mark, he struck again, and he had a hat-trick – this was painful to watch. Ettiene Capoue picked up his second yellow card in the 28th minute, and ten minutes later, Gilmar scored his first goal of the season with a belter from just inside the area. Right at the stroke of half-time, captain Elliot Law managed to make it 3-2 – this had been a highly dramatic first half, and I was keen to forget the first twenty minutes of the match and take the form of the last ten minutes into the second half. As if scoring a hat-trick was not enough, Lukaku made it four goals in the game, scoring in the 57th minute. Law responded once again, but the match ended with 4-3 loss, with Lukaku putting in the best performance I have ever seen against us. He was simply flawless.

We were away to Neuchatel Xamax, who were currently 3rd in the Swiss Premier League and had finished in that same position last season. All four teams in Group H were equal on three points, and our opponents had defeated Montpelier away before falling to Atletico Madrid at home. It took Law just thirty seconds to find the goal, giving us a 1-0 lead inside of one minute! However, in the 8th minute, their captain Anton Putsila equalized for them. We went into halftime down 2-1 after Idrissa Coulibaly scored their second, and we had more bad news, too – in the 15th minute, Lukas Kubik got injured with a pulled hamstring, ruling him out for the next four weeks. After losing my mind during halftime belittling and berating the team (yes, yes I did), they responded – Law got his second, substitute Harwood scored on a putback, and Musah hit a freekick to give us a fantastic 4-3 victory! After Matchday Three, it was us and Montpelier on top of the Group H with six points each.

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This is interesting - this is the first player I ever sold for money, earning £20k for him back when I first took control of the club in 2011. He turned out pretty decent! I was going through my Transfer History and I saw him:

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Bromley November Update 2018/2019

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Overview

November started with an away match at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal, who were currently 5th Place, tied for the best defense in the league having only conceded 6 goals. They also had the third best offense, thanks in part to Stevan Jovetic and his 7 league goals. We were destroyed over the course of two halves by their offense, losing 5-1 in an embarrassing game that put us even close to the relegation zone. We had gotten off to bad start, and things just seemed to be getting worse and worse in the Premier League.

We could console ourselves in the Europa League, where we were second in our group going into the match against Neuchatel Xamax. The match was played at our Bromley Stadium, and once again, we defeated our Swiss opponents by a one goal margin in a highly entertaining match. The 3-2 score line gave us the three points, and with Montpelier defeating Atletico Madrid, it was the French club and us at the top of Group H with nine points each, while the other two had just three points with two games to go. We were basically through to the next round, and just one point from the next two games would make it official. Striker Jeremie Ott had gotten the start today, and rewarded us a goal and a MotM performance.

Up next were Bristol City away, and we desperately needed a result in the Premier League. This was a team I felt we could beat, but we played uninspired in the first half, and we entered the second down 1-0. It did not start any better for us, as Mike Steveson hit a brace and put our opponents up 2-0. It was not until late that we managed to find a goal through Musah, but it was too late, and once again we came up short. We were not in 16th Place, just one point out of the relegation zone and in dire form in the Premier League. I was starting to get worried.

Swansea, who were in 13th Place, were our next opponents, and again we were away. It was another underwhelming display, as we lost 2-1 in what was, once again, a winnable game. At this point, it seemed we had regressed as a team – we certainly showed on in the table, as we were now in 17th Place tied on points with Norwich, who were one spot below us. Of course, given the way things were going, this next bit of news should not have come as a surprise: having picked up an injury during the match, Tete was ruled out for the next NINE MONTHS with damaged cruciate ligaments. We would not see him in action until next season.

The final match of the season was at home against West Ham, a team that were in the top ten and were in a decent patch of form. Mario Ortega was slotted in to replace Tete at the center back position, and after his leave of absence, I was very interested to see how he would do. Ortega did just fine, scoring a goal and generally being our best player during the game, but unfortunately for us, no one else played well. We lost 3-1, and honestly, at this point, I was ready to give up on this team. There was no explainable reason why we were losing these games – morale was not low, the talent was there, and our opponents were not better than us, at least not on paper. Yet we continued to lose game after game to superior opposition and inferior ones. I was at a loss for the first time in my career – I had to come up with a solution before this whole season withered away and we found ourselves stuck in the bottom three. Things were not going to get easier for us in December, with ten games scheduled, seven of which were in the Premier League.

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Bad news losing Tete for so long. Is Magnusson injured? Don't remember reading it but not seen him mentioned and he's not in the squad list.

Some winnable home games coming up with Norwich, Reading and West Brom. Should get enough points there to get back on track and pull away from the drop zone.

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Bad news losing Tete for so long. Is Magnusson injured? Don't remember reading it but not seen him mentioned and he's not in the squad list.

Some winnable home games coming up with Norwich, Reading and West Brom. Should get enough points there to get back on track and pull away from the drop zone.

Tete is a fantastic defender, and I really hope he doesnt look that potential after he comes back from injury. Magnusson is having a dreadful season - the Player Stats screen shots just lists the best 20 players on the team, and hes not in it! Hes still starting, but he has to pull it together.

I did well against two of the teams mentioned above! The December update should come soon :)

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Almost halfway through the season and still holding on. Might not have been the best start, but you're still a young team in the league. Staying up will be a good victory.

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