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2011/12 Review Part 1 - Club Football

Selected Summer Transfers (a.k.a. 'The Judas Transfer Window')

Aaron Lennon - Tottenham to Arsenal - £26.5m - Judas!
Nani - Sporting CP to Tottenham - £23.5m
Samir Nasri - Marseille to Roma - £19.25m
Raúl García - Barcelona to Bayern Munich - £19m
Valeri Bojinov - Juventus to Barcelona - £18.25m
Hernán Peirone - San Lorenzo to Juventus - £16.25m
Vedran Corluka - Roma to Inter Milan - £14m
Marcelo - Portsmouth to Barcelona - £11.75m - Judas!
Fernando Gago - Werder Bremen to Newcastle United - £11m
Leighton Baines - Tottenham to Liverpool - £10m - Judas!
Júlio Baptista - Arsenal to Barcelona - £5.75m - Judas!

Selected Winter Transfers

Daniele Dessena - Fiorentina to Liverpool - £12.5m
Catalin Coman (21, DC, Romanian) - Olympiakos to Inter Milan - £10.75m
Juanfran - Atalanta to Real Madrid - £10m
Ashley Young - Everton to Chelsea - £10m
David Silva - Atlético Madrid to Manchester United - £9.5m


Awards

It was The Year of the Zlatan as Inter Milan's star striker bagged 15 goals in 13 Champions League games last season to help become World Player of the Year. Manchester City's young French attacker Kevin Monnet-Paquet was 2nd, and Atlético Madrid's Fernando Torres was 3rd and got 10 goals in 7 games for Spain and 36 in 38 league games this season.

Real Madrid's Argentine Gonzalo Higuaín got the Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year, with Arsenal's and Mexico's Carlos Vela 2nd and Ibrahimovic 3rd.

European Cups

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Italy dominated while England underperformed, with 5 of the 8 teams in both cups' semi-finals being Italian, while there were no English teams in even the quarter-finals of the Champions League after holders Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Newcastle United were all knocked out in the first knockout round.

Inter Milan finally won their first Champions League, beating Lazio 1-0. Lazio were without a few players including strikers Michael Owen and Adriano, though seemed to dominate for large periods... Perhaps because it only took Zlatan 40 seconds to give Inter the lead, and thus they defended that lead as Italians do.

There were some big matches this year. Inter Milan stopped Frank Rijkaard's AC Milan at the semi-final stage, Real Madrid thrashed Barcelona 6-0 on aggregate in the quarters, and holders Arsenal met AC Milan in the first knockout round, overturned a 3-0 first leg defeat against AC Milan in 48 minutes, went behind a minute later, went in front with 2 Adebayor goals in 1 minute, but eventually lost on away goals.

Chelsea beat Juventus on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the UEFA Cup final to make it 2 Champions Leagues (2008, 2010) and 2 UEFA Cups (2009, 2012) in 5 seasons, as well as completing a clean sweep of cups with a Cup Treble.


England

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Premier League

Liverpool were the team who challenged Arsenal's reign of terror this season, and they topped the table within a few months and stayed there until April when they faced The Arse at Anfield. Liverpool were brushed aside 2-1, then lost to Bolton, which gave Arsenal the lead. So they had let it slip, and Arsenal won the league for the 5th straight time, by 3 points.

Mark Hughes' Blackburn Rovers missed out on the Champions League on goal difference. Fans were excited by the summer signing of Fabio Grosso from Inter Milan for £275,000. So it's a shame he didn't play at all for the whole season, being released in April.

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Roy Keane's Manchester United dropped for the second season in a row to 6th. After seeing leading doctors and surgeons, it's been said that Wayne Rooney will require special treatment for the rest of his career, however long that may be, after his horrific car accident during the summer of 2010, though deny news media claims it was exasperated by then-manager Steve McClaren playing him at the World Cup when he hadn't fully recovered. After extensive prodding and poking over time, specialists have come to the conclusion that he'll only ever play "at about 90% of his condition". That isn't enough for Roy Keane or England, and Rooney has only ever played in the reserves for 2 whole seasons now, costing about £10m in wages since his last match.

Gareth Southgate left Middlesbrough, after over a decade of service as a player then manager, to join Athletic Bilbao. He was replaced by Paul Jewell.

Ronald Koeman's second season at Manchester City was less spectacular than the first, dropping 8 places to 12th.

Rafa Benitez took Tottenham Hotspur from midtable to nearly relegated.

Erwin Koeman left Fenerbahce top of the table to join his brother in the Premier League, taking charge of relegation-threatened West Ham United. They were relegated on goal difference.

F.A. Cup

Holders Liverpool finished runners-up, losing to Chelsea.

League One Swansea City reached the quarter-finals, losing to Championship West Brom, who lost to the winners in the semis.

League Cup

Chelsea began their Cup Treble by beating Arsenal 4-2 after extra time, Scott Sinclair getting a hat-trick.

Championship Coventry's annual cup run was in the League Cup this time, going through Aston Villa, Manchester City and Newcastle United, and reaching their third cup semi in a row.

Football League and Non-League

After all those cup runs, it was little surprise to see knockout-specialists Coventry get promoted. Via the playoffs, of course!

Kidderminster Harriers were promoted from the Conference in 2008, won promotion to League One in just two seasons, and after two more seasons have won the playoffs to win promotion to the Championship.

Two decades in League Two are finally over for Darlington after they got a shock promotion to League One as runner-up.

Northampton Town were relegated to non-league for the first time ever.

Forest Green Rovers won the Conference to enter the football league for the first time in their history.


Spain

Spain.jpg

Atlético Madrid won the La Liga with ease, for the first time since 1996 after being runners-up for 3 of the last 4 seasons.

Real Zaragoza finished inbetween Real Madrid and 4th-placed Barcelona.

Atlético's Fernando Torres scored 36 goals, almost double the league's second-highest scorer. They were also helped by the loan of Ashkan Dejagah, the Iranian who chose his adopted country Germany over Iran. The bastard.

Barcelona only managed to beat Real Madrid when it was in the Copa Del Rey, but lost the final on penalties to Athletic Bilbao after 10 rounds of penalties, when Pepe Reina missed his spot kick.


Netherlands

Netherlands.jpg

Ajax were champions this season.

Heerenveen got 2nd place, thanks to the top two scorers in the league Peter Odemwingie (25 goals) and Volodymyr Lysenko (28), but PSV in 3rd won the Champions League spot.

Over 20 points separates the top 3 and the rest of the league.

Bankrupt Feyenoord finished all the way back in 8th.

Second-tier Emmen, who finished joint bottom of professional football on points, won the Dutch Cup.


Scotland

Scotland.jpg

David Moyes' Celtic won the title by 26 points, with all of his signings working, in particular the loan of Jonny Evans, Celtic's best player.

Hearts finished second again, but Rangers finished 4th, with Hibernian taking their 3rd place spot.

Celtic and Rangers fell at the first hurdle in the Scottish Cup, while Hearts only reached the quarter-finals before being knocked out at home to Division One Morton. St. Johnstone beat Falkirk to win their first ever cup.


Italy

Italy.jpg

Inter Milan of course won Serie A, for the 5th time in a row, by 12 points.

Marcello Lippi retired after returning for one more season at Juventus, pushing them up to 2nd though losing the UEFA Cup final to José Mourinho's Chelsea, Mourinho being the man many are expecting to be named as the next Juventus manager.

After dominating the Championship with West Brom (average rating: 7.46), Ligue 1 with Lyon (7.38) and the Eredivisie with PSV (7.41, 7.55), Michael Mancienne was sold to Lazio, where he was Serie A's best player (7.64). He's still only 24, and how England will wish he waited and not jumped at a call-up to the Seychelles as an 18-year-old.

Things at my former club, Varese, has gone a bit mad. I left Varese two years ago with a team that could at least get promoted via the playoffs if the strikers became more consistent. But this season, they were relegated automatically to Serie C2, finishing bottom. Finances are insecure just a year after making £1.5m on my last signing. The manager that took them down got a job in Serie B. The day after he left, they beat their local rivals 4-0 away, and eventually won the Serie C Cup.


Belgium

Belgium.jpg

Anderlecht and Club Brugge had shared all but 4 league titles since 1984, but this season would not be so simple.

Little-known Royal Excelsior Mouscron were relegated to the Belgian second division two seasons ago. They got promoted back up last season.

Little-known AS Verbroedering Geel were promoted the same season Mouscron were relegated.

With one game to go, both of them were top with 54 points. Anderlecht, in third, had 52.

Mouscron and Geel both drew their games, and a goal on 75 minutes gave Anderlecht a 1-0 win, meaning all three finished on 55 points.

Mouscron had the superior goal difference.

Geel had the superior head-to-head record.

But the tiebreaker for equal points is neither of these; it's on 'games won'. Geel won 14, Mouscron won 15, Anderlecht won 17.

Hooray for stale dominance!

To top it off, Club Brugge shot down the other end of the table and finished second-bottom. So they had to enter the 'relegation league', which they won comfortably. So they avoided disaster.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2011/12 Review Part 2 - International Football

Denmark 2012 European Championship Qualifiers

euro2012qualifyinglogosquare.png

Group A

Turkey - 25
Croatia - 20
Georgia - 16
Hungary - 15
San Marino - 5
Liechtenstein - 2

World Cup quarter-finalists Turkey easily qualified, with Croatia a playoff away from finally qualifying for a tournament.

Another eventful Georgia campaign ended with throwing away a 4-0 half-time lead against Hungary to end it 4-4! Some team talk!

Hungary regressed with too many draws, notably away to Liechtenstein and San Marino. It was time for the manager who took them to the quarter-finals last time to move on.

Group B

France - 28
Poland - 19
Macedonia - 17
Israel - 12
Luxembourg - 4*
Kazakhstan - 4*
*Head to head: Lux 3 - 2 Kaz

Poland got the point needed against Macedonia to make the playoffs.

Luxembourg were 10 minutes away from getting a point at home to France, but still finished above the Kazakhs.

Group C

England - 18
Finland - 14
Belgium - 12
Latvia - 10
Azerbaijan - 0

Peter Beardsley's England eased through qualifying, with starlets Theo Walcott, Nigel Reo-Coker and Giles Barnes doing superbly.

Finland are in the playoffs again, above Euro semi-finalists Belgium.

Group D

Germany - 20
Ukraine - 15
Northern Ireland - 11
Slovakia - 6
Moldova - 4

Though they appear to have qualified easily, Klopp's Germany reign started with only 1-0 wins against Moldova and Northern Ireland and the Germans have yet to turn it on.

After 4 points against Slovakia and a home draw to Germany, Lawrie Sanchez' Northern Ireland needed to beat Ukraine to make the playoffs, but Ukraine won 1-0 in what was to be Sanchez' last match before wanting to move on to new things. Martin O'Neill replaced him.

Slovakia failed to beat Moldova or Northern Ireland.

Group E

Spain - 19
Austria - 17
Greece - 14
Lithuania - 7
Andorra - 0

Spain got some big scores against Andorra, Lithuania and Greece with their simple qualification.

Greece needed to beat Austria by a couple of goals, but Samaras couldn't do it on his own and it ended 2-2.

Group F

Netherlands - 20
Belarus - 15
Switzerland - 14
Slovenia - 6
Malta - 1

Van Gaal was in danger after a disappointing World Cup was followed by a draw at home to Slovenia, but Netherlands qualified easily enough.

Group G

Republic of Ireland - 15
Serbia - 14
Portugal - 11
Montengero - 9
Estonia - 3

A 5-1 win away to Montenegro confirmed Republic of Ireland's next European finals.

Portugal failed to reach the European Championships for the second time in a row, and only got 2 wins. Even Estonia got a draw in Portugal.

Group H

Russia - 18
Norway - 16
Italy - 14
Iceland - 10
Faroe Islands - 0

Italy weren't even in contention on the final day. Despite a (stuttering) run to 4th place in the World Cup, they were unable to even make the playoffs here. However, given Norway are World Cup finalists, Italy only had one bad result, which wouldn't have made a difference anyway. The Italian F.A. is giving the manager more time...

Group I

Wales - 15
Romania - 12
Cyprus - 10
Sweden - 9
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 9
*Sweden 7 - 3 B&H

Cyprus and Bosnia were so close to a playoff place, but Romania beat Wales away to take their place.

Group J

Scotland - 22
Bulgaria - 15
Czech Republic - 13
Albania - 6
Armenia - 3

Scotland are on a roll: two tournaments in a row for them.

Playoffs (on aggregate)

Norway 4 - 6 Romania
Bulgaria 3 - 3 Finland (Bulgaria win on away goals)
Croatia 3 - 1 Poland
Austria 2 - 1 Serbia
Ukraine 2 - 1 Belarus


Egypt 2012 African Cup of Nations

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In a very tough competition, Nigeria went one better than two years ago and won it with a 2-0 win over Cameroon.

Ivory Coast, who were looking for a record third trophy in a row, were knocked out by Cameroon in the quarters.

Guinea-Bissau's debut included a win over Cameroon and topping their group before being knocked out in the quarters.

Hosts Egypt won all their group games against Algeria, Morocco and Benin, but they lost to Senegal in the quarters, missing a penalty.

Group A was a true group of death, with 2010's winner Ivory Coast, runner-up Nigeria, and World Cup 2010 teams Ghana and Sierra Leone. Just 2 points separated all the teams.

The cup was so tough that NO managers lost their job, for now. I guess it was impossible to underachieve really.


2012 OFC Nations Cup

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Solomon Islands became the first team after Australia and New Zealand to ever win the OFC Nations Cup, and can look forward to an experience in Spain for the Confederations Cup.

There had been no real surprises as New Zealand topped the group stage with 4 wins in 4, including a 3-0 home win over Solomon Islands. But in the two-legged final, Solomon Islands held on to their first-leg 2-0 win to lift the trophy.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Denmark 2012 European Championships

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The Groups

A - The Winner's Group
Netherlands - 2008 winners
Turkey - 2008 semi-finalists, 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists
Wales - Knocked out by Turkey in final group game in 2008
Bulgaria

B - The Battle of the British Isles
England - 2008 runner-up, knocked out Republic of Ireland in 2008
Republic of Ireland - 2008 quarter-finalists
Scotland - Bitter about England
Croatia - Slightly less bitter about England

C - The Underachiever Group
France - Lost to Russia in 2008 group then knocked out, beat out Russia on goal difference in 2010 World Cup before losing to eventual winners Brazil
Spain - 2008 quarter-finalists
Russia - 2008 quarter-finalists, won Italy's qualifying group
Austria

D - The hosts' group
Denmark - Hosts
Germany - Lost to hosts in 1992 final in Denmark
Romania - Qualified over World Cup runner-up Norway
Ukraine

World Cup runner-up Norway and semi-finalists Italy failed to qualify. Turkey were the only other European team to make the quarter-finals of that tournament, losing to eventual champions Brazil.

Hosts Denmark have a good shot of reaching the knockouts, but must do so without Inter Milan's Nicklas Bendtner for the opener and another striker, Soren Larsen, who just got injured for likely the whole tournament.

Michael Owen's 1-goal-every-2-games strike rate to take Lazio to the Champions League final isn't enough to convince Peter Beardsley, who also omits Frank Lampard even though he's played better than Gerrard, who is included.


Match Days 1 & 2

Group D

Denmark 3 - 2 Romania

Jurgen-Klopp-614574.jpg

Ukraine 1 - 0 Germany
Ukraine's Brazilian defender Rodolfo scored before half time and their keeper gave a MOTM performance to start Klopp's first finals with a surprise loss.

Denmark 1 - 2 Germany
In a rematch of the 1992 final, Bendtner gave Denmark the lead in 10 minutes, but by 9 minutes later German-Iranian Ashkan Dejagah had scored twice.

Romania 3 - 0 Ukraine

Group B

England 2 - 0 Republic of Ireland
Steven Reid was sent off after 6 minutes, so England weren't likely to fail in this Euro 2008 quarter-final rematch. Theo Walcott pouncing on a rebound was one-upped by a long range Ledley King curler. Manager Beardsley gave all 3 of his uncapped players starts: Preston's and Blackburn's young attackers, and Jack Hobbs the Newcastle defender.

Scotland 0 - 1 Croatia
Scotland continue their 14-year wait for a tournament goal, and 16 years without a win.

Scotland 1 - 1 England
Scotland took an inevitable lead through Celtic's Craig Beattie in the first half after numerous mistakes by England's defence. But Scotland sat back and eventually conceded late on.

Croatia 0 - 0 Republic of Ireland

Group A

Netherlands 0 - 0 Wales
There were mistakes, but Wales did enough to keep out the Dutch and so, so, nearly snatched a win in the last seconds. Arjen Robben came off injured in 6 minutes and is out for the tournament.

Turkey 3 - 0 Bulgaria

Bulgaria 1 - 0 Netherlands
Barcelona's Valeri Bojinov got the only goal in a shock result and a poor Netherlands performance.

Wales 0 - 0 Turkey
An eventless match, but this result means Wales have equally matched two of the tournament favourites.


Group C

France 2 - 1 Spain
Galatasaray's Hugo Lloris kept Spain to one goal, allowing Roma's Samir Nasri to score a late winner.

Russia 0 - 0 Austria
Austria didn't have a single shot, but Russia did little better.

Austria 0 - 1 France
Austria at least got a shot, though off-target. This and the Spain/Russia result means France are the only team to confirm progression (and topping their group) in just 2 matches.

Spain 2 - 2 Russia
Russia took a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes to go, but Javier Arizmendi immediately got one back. Then goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had to come off injured, with all 3 subs used, so winger Yury Zirkhov had to go in goal. He couldn't get a hand to Pablo's long range shot in the final minutes.


Match Day 3

Group B

England and Croatia both qualify if they rig a draw. Whoever wins between Scotland and Republic of Ireland will have a chance of overtaking the loser of the other game into second.

England easily beat Croatia 3-1, opening up a chance for the other two teams. So of course, Scotland and Republic of Ireland drew 0-0 and knocked each other out by wasting loads of chances.

Group A

Turkey need only a draw against an under-par Netherlands. Even a win won't be enough for Netherlands unless Bulgaria and Wales draw or the Dutch win by 3 goals. Despite two impressive results, Wales still need to win. A draw would be risky for Bulgaria.

Bulgaria took their chances when they came, and defended superbly, to beat Wales 2-0. Turkey dominated their match, yet it was the Netherlands who won 2-0. Not good enough for Oranje though: Bulgaria top the group(!) and Turkey beat Netherlands to second on goals scored, by one goal.

Group C

France will top the group regardless. If Russia beat them, they qualify too. A draw is only good enough for Russia if Spain and Austria draw too. Whoever wins between Spain and Austria will qualify, if Russia don't win.

Austria took the lead after 16 minutes. 5 minutes later, Spain equalised. 5 minutes later, Spain went ahead. 13 minutes later, the final goal was scored, 3-1 to Spain. But Russia went 3-0 up against France in 24 minutes, winning 3-1 also, so it's Russia who qualify and it's another group exit for Spain.

Group D

All four teams are on 3 points. Romania and Denmark only need a draw in their matches, Germany and Ukraine need to win.

Germany came from behind to beat Romania. Bendtner scored for Denmark in 13 seconds, but Ukraine soon equalised, and in the last 10 minutes got the winner to beat the hosts to qualification.


Final Group Standings

Group A
Bulgaria - 6
Turkey - 4 (+1 GD, 3 GS)
-------------------------
Netherlands - 4 (+1 GD, 2 GS)
Wales - 2

Group B

England - 7
Croatia - 4
----------------------------
Scotland - 2
Republic of Ireland - 2


Group C
France - 6
Russia - 5
--------------
Spain - 4
Austria - 1


Group D
Germany - 6 (+1 GD)
Ukraine - 6 (-1 GD)
-------------------------
Romania - 3 (+1 GD)
Denmark - 3 (-1 GD)


Quarter-Finals

Bulgaria 2 - 0 Croatia
Bulgaria reach the Euro semis for the first time ever with a routine win.

Russia 0 - 2 Germany
A Lukas Podolski double sees off Russia, and Germany reach their first Euro semi-final in 20 years.

--------------------

Turkey 1 - 0 England
Turkey took the lead through a Wayne Bridge own goal, and were able to keep England out relatively easily to reach their second Euro semi in a row.

Ukraine 2 - 2 France AET (2-2 FT) (3-1 on pens)
France were cruising to a 2-0 win, until two goals in the last 10 minutes took it to extra time. Ukraine scored all their penalties, while Olexandr Rybka saved all but one, meaning Ukraine reach their first semis.


Semi-Finals

Bulgaria 1 - 2 Germany
Tottenham's Dimitar Berbatov hit in a wonderfully curling pinpoint corner from Martin Petrov, but the Germans hit back. Then Kiessling (the one with the funny 'B') scored a late winner from an offside position.

Turkey 0 - 1 Ukraine
Turkey had a man sent off after Ukraine scored, and they failed to make any real chance to equalise.


Final

Germany v Ukraine

History

Germany have won the most European Championships, with 3 so far, but they last won in 1996. Since then, they've exited the group stage twice and didn't even qualify for the last one.

Ukraine first started playing international tournaments only 20 years ago. They first qualified for one in 2006, reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup. They qualified in 2010 but only managed 2 points. This is their European Championship debut.

Form

This will be the 4th meeting between Germany and Ukraine in this campaign.

In the qualifiers, Germany beat them twice. But in the group stage, the Ukrainians gave the Germans their only loss.

After that, Germany went through hosts Denmark, Romania, Russia and Bulgaria, scoring two goals each time.

Ukraine lost 3-0 to Romania, but did beat the hosts with a late goal. Their arguably tougher run-in saw them beat France on penalties after a late comeback, then Turkey 1-0.

Team News

Klopp plays Germany in a 4-4-2 diamond: Rensing (Bayern Munich); Lahm (Bayern Munich), Huth (Lazio), Mertesacker (c) (Fiorentina), Jansen (Bayern Munich); Borowski (Werder Bremen); Kruska (Borussia Dortmund), Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich); Kiessling (Werder Bremen); Klose (Inter Milan), Podolski (Bayern Munich).

Oleg Blokhin plays Ukraine in a sweeper 3-5-2: Rybka (Udinese); Rusol (Sporting CP); Chygrynskyi (c) (Sporting CP), Rodolfo (PSV); Husyev (Portsmouth), Nesmachnyi (Dinamo Kiev); Mykhalyk (Nantes), Rincon (Newcastle), Kucher (Shakhtar); Yakovenko (Olympiakos), Lysenko (Heerenveen).

First Half

A few yellow cards were handed out. Podolski put the Germans in front. The lead was nearly doubled right at the end of the half when Borowski's free kick hit the crossbar, giving Klose an open goal to score in, but he hit the post, causing Klopp to lose his glasses.

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Second Half

Loads more yellow cards but nothing at all happens, except for a free kick deflecting off a Ukranian for Germany's second goal. So Germany score their obligatory two goals in the end.

Final Score: Germany 2 - 0 Ukraine


==================================================

2012 European Champions

Germany

==================================================

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Awards

Player of the Tournament: Irtegun Bekir (Turkey)

Golden Boot: Constantin Serban (Romania) - 3 goals and 0 assists in 221 minutes (Lukas Podolski (Germany) and John Atkinson (England) also got 3 goals)

Team of the Tournament:

-------------------------------Michael Rensing (Germany)--------------------------
----Daniel Nikolov (Bulgaria) Zan Gokhan (Turkey) John Terry (England)----
Vedran Corluka (Croatia)-----------------------------------------Irtegun Bekir (Turkey)
------------------------Jack Hobbs (England)-----Nigel de Jong (Netherlands)
Ciprian Marica (Romania)----------------------------------------------John Atkinson (England)
--------------------------------Constantin Serban (Romania)--------------------------------------

Managerial changes

Oleg Blokhin stepped down after 9 years in charge of runner-up Ukraine.

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France sacked Paul Le Guen and replaced him with Didier Deschamps.

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Netherlands sacked Van Gaal after a second round exit at the World Cup and a group exit this year.

Alan Irvine left after taking Scotland to a World Cup and European Championship, and he was replaced with League Two Swindon Town's manager Colin Calderwood.

Steve Staunton left Republic of Ireland and was replaced by League One Crewe Alexandra's manager John Sheridan.

Spain sacked Ziganda after a win, a draw and a loss twice in the last two tournaments.

Romania sacked Mircea Rednic.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2014 World Cup Qualifiers - Asia - Final Round


The third round is the final stage of World Cup qualifying in Asia. Two groups of 4 teams aim to finish in the top 2 to take 4 of the 4.5 spots. The teams that finish 3rd have a two-legged playoff against each other, then the winner against an Oceania team (New Zealand or Solomon Islands).

This stage is traditionally the home of the 'Big 4' of Asia (Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea), though the inclusion of Australia was set to make things more competitive. But if you've been following, you'll know that loading every single player and league was A TERRIBLE ERROR with dire consequences for the established powers.

So in our group, rather than the usual opposition of one Big 5, one sleeping giant and one outsider, we have the following:

China - The team that beat us twice in the Asian Cup: first in the group stage 3-2, after a mad first half hour going 3-0 down, and then easily in the final 3-0. It's difficult to gauge if that was a one-off, or if they're going to become a new power. While they qualified for this stage with 6 wins and 4 clean sheets in 6 games, it was against bad teams.

Our first match is the hardest in the group, China away. So I'll take what I can, and if there's any problems I'll aim to fix them in the home game and get a win there. As a matter of pride, 4 or 6 points will allow us to claim to be the best team in Asia.

Lebanon - We faced them in the Asian Cup qualifiers. In my first competitive match in charge of Iran, we escaped with a 1-0 win away after an 88th minute set piece against 10 men. On neutral ground, wastefulness meant it was 0-0. They got 4 points each against the awful Japanese and a decent Oman to get this far.

Lebanon have never beaten Iran.

Syria - On occasion, can be a match for the bigger team, but usually aren't. However they got here topping a group including South Korea, who they did get a win from.

Syria have only beaten Iran once, in 1973.

China and Iran are fully expected to qualify, the real question is who will top the group and who is the better of the two?

For the China match, I left out the veteran #1 Mirzapour, who not only is looking like he's gone over the hill, but is unfit and not mentally there at the moment anyway. This may be the beginning of former Olympic goalie Mansouri's time, having made his competitive debut two matches ago, and the end of Mirzapour's.

Oladi, the #2 striker in good form, is out with flu.

(22nd) China 2 - 0 Iran (68th)
There was only one player on the pitch: the referee. The horrible thing with these types of matches is the record books will just say one team simply beat the other. But the match never took place, and the score was random.
4 yellow cards were given out in the first half, and 4 in the first 12 minutes in the second half. The first 3 were for OBSTRUCTION... the first one wasn't even that, but for BEING obstructed. Over half my team got quick yellows, China only got 2. A sending off for a second yellow was inevitable, and picked at random for dismissal was the attacking midfielder.  Clearly the match was rigged (this is China after all), but FIFA are as corrupt as anyone so nothing will be done.
Down to 10 men, thus most of the team having to go easy on tackles, plus a bribed ref, combined with the stop-start game, makes it impossible to come to any conclusions about what level either team is, but I will try:
Even though there was risk of the strikers rushing past our defence yet again, in the end we didn't concede 3 goals like the Asian Cup meetings, only really conceded one, if that. I don't even know if they would've taken that lead, as it came ultimately from a yellow carded obstruction. And with 10 men and none of us allowed to even fart near a Chinese player, we were still a big threat and looked superior and could've won.

At least our next game is at home, as 3 key players will be suspended thanks to that crooked ref. It risks us messing up what needs to be 3 points.
 

(72nd) Iran 2 - 0 Syria (60th)
We completely dominated shots (25 - 1) and possession (65 - 35), easy 3 points.

Despite losing 2-0 to this Syrian side, Lebanon get a draw at home to China, which was nearly a win but for the Chinese keeper's Man of the Match display and a deflected equaliser. Could it be we are the best side in the group, and all the rest are as bad as each other? Outdoing China in our return match will make a statement.
 

(88th) Lebanon 1 - 1 Iran (72nd)
A comfortable 1-0 lead is thrown away by poor play and a free kick.

China fail to win away again thanks to wasteful finishing, drawing in Syria.
 

Iran 0 - 0 China
China played for a 0-0 and got it.

2 keepers got injured, so it's just Mirzapour the veteran and two uncapped backups for the next game, which shouldn't be a problem.


Syria 0 - 3 Iran

China almost inevitably drew at home to Lebanon, and in fact needed a late goal to do that, so we now top the table with one game to go and at least a playoff place guaranteed.

It would take a loss plus a China win to stop us qualifying automatically.

Lebanon would qualify if they beat us though, meaning they might not sit back for a 0-0.


Iran 1 - 0 Lebanon
Another game where it could've gone 0-0 or having a 1-0 loss stolen, but we were saved yet again by star striker Borhani.

So Iran qualify for the World Cup and top the group above China. Not even a decade into my career and I will be experiencing a World Cup in Spain.


Final Group Standings

Iran - 11
China - 10

------------------
Lebanon - 6
------------------
Syria - 4

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2012/13 Review Part 1 - Club Football


Selected Summer Transfers

Vincent Kompany - Valencia to Manchester United - £26.5m
Jonathan de Guzman - Manchester United to Inter Milan - £25.5m
Salomon Kalou - Fiorentina to Inter Milan - £24.5m
Giorgio Chellini - Lazio to AC Milan - £24m
Petre Petrovici (21, Romanian, DM/MC) - Gladbach to Valencia - £23m
Yury Zhirkov - Villareal to Atlético Madrid - £16m
Lucas - Fiorentina to Newcastle United - £16m
Raúl Albiol - Lyon to Real Madrid - £10.5m
Nicklas Bendtner - Inter Milan back to Arsenal - £3.4m + Gael Clichy
Júlio César - Inter Milan to AC Milan - Free

Selected Winter Transfers

Frédéric Nimani - Sampdoria to Liverpool - £24m
Vitor - 20, Portuguese, DC/DR/DM/MC/MR, spent one season at AC Milan before being released in 2010 - Manchester City to AC Milan - £23m
Alex Melbourne - Manchester City to Arsenal - £19.75m
Mark González - Liverpool to Arsenal - £13.75m
Marcelo - Barcelona to Chelsea - £9.5m


2012 Awards

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Arsenal's Mexican attacker Carlos Vela bagged his first World Player of the Year award at 23 years of age, officially taking the throne from his retiring team-mate Thierry Henry. His international and Champions League record continues to average one goal a game. Teammate and strike partner in crime Nicklas Bendtner, only 2 years old, got 3rd place. Atlético Madrid's Fernando Torres was runner-up.

Fernando Torres won the Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year. Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt and Lyon's Fred were 2nd and 3rd.


European Cups

70627-champions-league-arsenal-v-celtic.

Newcastle United and Celtic surprised everyone making it all the way to the Champions League semi-finals to face each other, while Arsenal and Inter looked to continue their continental rivalry by stopping each other getting to the final in the other semi.

Celtic did the job in Glasgow, while Arsenal thrashed Inter Milan 6-1 on aggregate.

Arsenal beat the underdogs Celtic easily 2-0 for their 2nd Champions League trophy in 3 years.

Danish side Aab had a memorable run, topping their group after getting 4 points against Barcelona, but were halted on penalties by Lyon in the first knockout round.

Juventus lost their second UEFA Cup final in a row as Mark Hughes and Blackburn made history by lifting their first European trophy.


England

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Premier League

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Arsenal won their 6th Premier League in a row by 18 points with +60 goal difference, to go with their Champions League trophy.

And with it, a goodbye.

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After 9 Premier Leagues, 2 Champions Leagues, 4 F.A. Cups, 1 League Cup, a newly unveiled statue and renamed stand, Arsene Wenger retires a hero and arguably the greatest manager in history, taking a club that was looking to break through the ceiling and sending them to the moon instead.

Whoever takes over will either have the easiest job in the world or hardest.

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That man is Javier Aguirre, who was last seen earlier in the season being sacked by Roma.

A whole bunch of teams were battling it out on the final day, never mind final weeks, to get in the top 4 and debut in the Champions League. Eventually Blackburn Rovers overcame the disappointment of losing out on goal difference last year to clinch 4th, to go with their UEFA Cup trophy.

Liverpool went from two runner-up spots in a row to 10th, earning Pako Ayestarán the sack.

Despite having better goals scored and head-to-head record, Preston were relegated rather than Leicester on 'alphabetical order'. This caused a major furore, protests, threats of court action, and demand for a change in the rules, but then everyone forgot about it a week later.

Sheffield Wednesday went the entire season without a win, finishing bottom with 15 points, earning Chris Waddle the sack.

Wayne Rooney, relatively crippled by his horrific car accident years ago, made an appearance this season, in the UEFA Cup. Of course, he scored one goal and made another. He wasn't used again though.

As expected, José Mourinho left Chelsea for Juventus, being replaced by Carlos Queiroz.

F.A. Cup

Manchester United beat Championship Sunderland 1-0 in the final of an uneventful cup.

Coventry's fourth cup run in a row ended at the semi-finals with a loss to Sunderland.

League Cup

Chelsea won their third League Cup in a row, beating Arsenal again in the final. Isn't that nice?

Football League and Non-League

After earning two promotions in a row from the Conference to League One, Dagenham & Redbridge immediately followed that up with two relegations in a row back to non-league.

Aidy Boothroyd returned to midtable Championship Watford, via Everton and West Ham, to replace the sacked Sam Allardyce.


Belgium

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Unbelievably, unfathomably, AGAIN the top 3 finished on the same points!

Anderlecht again were up there, this time joined by FC Brussels and Royal Antwerp. Anderlecht and Antwerp threw away their points advantage with draws, allowing Brussels to reach the top on the final day and become the first team in 11 years to break the Anderlecht/Brugge dominance.


Germany

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Hamburg SV easily won their first title in 30 years, stopping Bayern's run.

However, in the cup, they were beaten in the final by the other Munich team: second-tier TSV 1860 Munich, in a repeat of the final and result of two years ago.

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Bayern Munich's manager Thomas Doll left for Man City after 6 seasons, but a poor final season. He is replaced by Celtic's David Moyes.


Spain

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Real Madrid won La Liga on the final day despite losing 4-1 in Albacete.

Albacete did reach the final of the Copa Del Rey, but lost to Barcelona.

Gareth Southgate's star continued to rise in Spain, leaving Athletic Bilbao at the end of the season to manage Valencia.


Netherlands

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A goal in stoppage time prevented Ajax from retaining their title, PSV leapfrogging them on the final day.


Italy

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Inter Milan easily won the title for the 6th time in a row.

But Atalanta got the shock victory over Inter Milan in the final of the cup, after a 2-1 first leg final victory was followed by another 1-0 victory, 2 sending offs and 3 injuries in a hostile second leg in Milan.


Scotland

Scotland.jpg

While people expected a Big 3 to be established after Hearts finally broke the Old Firm dominance a couple of seasons ago, it appears a Big 4 is on the cards as Hibs again finished above Rangers and now Hearts, in 2nd.

Celtic still won the title easily, by 20 points, in what would be David Moyes' last season at the club before becoming a shock appointment elsewhere... he's replaced by the, ahem, legendary Christian Gross after 14 years at Basel.

Scottish third-tier side Ross County made it all the way to the final of the Scottish Cup, after beating Celtic 2-1 in the semi-finals with two goals in the 5th and 6th minute. They eventually lost to Kilmarnock.

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2012/13 Review Part 2 - International Football


USA 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup

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Mexico brushed aside El Salvador to win the Gold Cup back and take the lead from USA as the most successful team in its history with their 6th trophy.


Spain 2013 Confederations Cup

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World champions Brazil won their third Confederations Cup in a row, beating Argentina 3-1 in the final.

Tahi... I mean Solomon Islands' debut match had them scoring a goal against hosts Spain to make it 2-1, before losing 9-1. Their other matches ended 8-0 and 10-0.

Despite taking Nigeria to 3rd, after beating Spain and Argentina and drawing with Brazil and Germany, as well as winning the African Nations last year and a good World Cup run last time, a falling out led to the manager being dismissed.

Despite taking them to a historic Asian Cup win and a strong chance of World Cup qualification, China hit the panic button and sacked their manager after draws against Nigeria and Germany and a loss to Argentina.

U.S.A. had a strong showing with draws against champions Brazil and hosts Spain.

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Spain 2014 World Cup Qualifiers


UEFA

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Group 1

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Wales - 29
Netherlands - 26*
Norway - 26*
Slovenia - 14
Kazakhstan - 10
Lithuania - 6**
San Marino - 6**

*Netherlands beat Norway 2-1 head-to-head
**Lithuania beat San Marino 2-1 head-to-head

In a group featuring the Netherlands and 2010 World Cup runner-up Norway, it was Wales who topped the group and qualified for their second ever World Cup, their only other appearance being in 1958.

Netherlands and Norway finished level on points but, despite being the only team to lose to San Marino, Netherlands got runner-up due to the better head-to-head record and qualified automatically as best runner-up.

Group 2

Turkey - 28
Finland - 22
Portugal - 21
Georgia - 19*
Montenegro 19*
Luxembourg - 14
Moldova - 0

*Georgia 7 - 4 Montengro

Turkey easily won a weak group.

Portugal again failed to qualify for a tournament, losing out on a playoff place to Finland, who they had also lost 5-0 to.

Georgia continued their steady improvement and were one big win from reaching the playoffs.

Luxembourg weren't left far behind and finished with 14 points, including 3 against Portugal, and were second-from-bottom above Moldova.

Group 3

Germany - 27
Denmark - 25
Austria - 20
Belgium - 18
Northern Ireland - 17
Estonia - 11
Andorra - 0

Group 4

Scotland - 30
France - 25
Romania - 19
Croatia - 15
Iceland - 12
Armenia - 8
Azerbaijan - 4

Scotland stormed to the top of their group unbeaten. Will their 18-year wait for a win in a tournament finally end?

Group 5

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England - 20
Albania - 18*
Switzerland - 18*
Serbia - 13
Slovakia - 9
Faroe Islands - 4

*Albania 3 - 0 Switzerland

Substitute Luke Moore scored his first England goal, after 16 caps, to save Peter Beardsley from the sack with a last-second goal that took England from elimination in third to top of the group.

Switzerland, the team England beat, were thus knocked down from top to third, and Albania suddenly in the playoffs.

Group 6

Republic of Ireland - 21
Italy - 20
Russia - 19
Hungary - 14
Bosnia - 11
Malta - 1

Republic of Ireland jumped to 1st after Italy's final day draw at home to Bosnia forced the Italians to go through the playoffs.

Group 7

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Greece - 25
Israel - 23

FYR Macedonia - 15
Poland - 11
Czech Republic - 8
Liechtenstein - 1

Israel were one of the two best runner-ups, so qualify automatically from The Group of Dearth for their and Greece's second ever World Cup.

Group 8

Ukraine - 22
Belarus - 20
Bulgaria - 15
Cyprus - 10
Sweden - 9
Latvia - 7

European Championship runner-ups Ukraine qualified on the final day.

Playoffs (aggregate)

Albania 3 - 7 France
Belarus 0 - 2 Finland
Denmark 0 - 2 Italy

Finland will make their World Cup debut!


CONMEBOL

Conmebol-logo.gif

Brazil - 41
Chile - 35
Colombia - 34
Peru - 32

Argentina - 31
Uruguay - 18
Ecuador - 17
Paraguay - 13
Bolivia - 12 (-16 GD)
Venezuela - 12 (-20 GD)

There was a clear top 5 competing for the 4.5 spots. On the final day, Argentina and Peru were chasing the final automatic spot, and it was Peru who took it, forcing Argentina into the CONMEBOL - CONCACAF playoff.


CONCACAF

CONCACAF-LOGO.png

Second Phase

article-2676912-1F51113E00000578-289_964

On the same day that San Marino and Luxembourg were beating the Netherlands and Portugal, the unthinkable happened in North America.

A loss away to Nicaragua, followed later by a loss in Canada, meant USA went into the final group game needing a home win to qualify. Who stood in their way? The already qualified Canadians, who were ready to put the icing on the cake.

America failed to break through for most of a tense game, until, in the final minutes, the USA were awarded a penalty. Young Freddy Adu, with so much pressure, had his penalty saved. Canadian fans celebrated like they'd just won the group all over again, America were out, and Nicaragua joined Canada in the Hexagonal instead.

Hexagonal

cover.JPG

Mexico and Canada were by far the top two with only one loss between them, meaning Costa Rica, Guatemala, Jamaica and surprise package Nicaragua were all battling it out for the final automatic place and one playoff place.

After a few minutes, Nicaragua were beating Jamaica, and the others were losing. But poor Nicaraguan defending meant Jamaica inevitably equalised and qualified automatically, while Costa Rica's draw with Mexico meant Guatemala got the playoff place despite losing heavily to Canada.

CONMEBOL - CONCACAF Playoff (aggregate)

Guatemala 1 - 5 Argentina


CAF

Logo_CAF.jpg

Second Round

All the big teams were bunched up in two of the five groups, so joining the more familiar names of Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal at the World Cup will be Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, Mali, Togo, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana and best-4th-placed Egypt got the consolation of joining those teams and hosts South Africa in the 2014 African Cup of Nations.


AFC

Logo-Asian-Football-Confederation_181006

Second Round

It was all change in Asia. 3 of the Big 5 of Australia, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea failed to make the final round, the first time the big 5 weren't all in the last qualifying stage for 24 years. In fact, on top of that, none of non-Big-5 teams that made the final round of 2010 qualifying made it this time either.

With the winner of each group going to the next round, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and fellow 2010 World Cup qualifiers Qatar finished 3rd in their weak groups, not even second-best, usurped by Malaysia(!), Syria(!!) and Bahrain(?) respectively. So, at last, Japan have company in utter unprecedented failure, though they also failed to qualify by finishing 2nd, far behind Lebanon.

China were the only team to win all their games (though they only had to contend with Jordan, Macau and Thailand).

Third Round

Australia and Iran unsurprisingly topped their groups.

China and Iraq join them as group runner-ups and will be going to only their second ever World Cup finals.

Lebanon and Malaysia enter a playoff to decide who faces an Oceania team.

Playoff (aggregate)

Lebanon 5 - 2 Malaysia


OFC

ofc_logo.jpg

New Zealand easily beat Solomon Islands 8-1 on aggregate to reach the AFC-OFC playoff. No upset this time.

AFC-OFC Playoff (aggregate)

Lebanon 4 - 5 New Zealand

Lebanon looked in control at the start of the second leg, but New Zealand ended up qualifying for their second ever World Cup quite comfortably.

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5 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Some qualification surprises there.

That I do agree with. 

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omnivore   

Love seeing the old game. Still good to see someone able to craft such a vibrant story with it, too. 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the comments. :D

2013/14 Review Part 1 - Club Football

Selected Summer Transfers

Nani1.jpg

John Atkinson (21, English, ST/AMR/AML) - Blackburn Rovers to Inter Milan - £39m
Petre Petrovici (22, Romanian, DM/MC) - Valencia to AC Milan - £35m
Georginio Wijnaldum - Werder Bremen to Juventus - £28m
Nani - Tottenham Hotspur to Valencia - £27m
Eid Youssef (24, Egyptian, ST) - Borussia Dortmund to Blackburn Rovers - £24m
Sergio Ramos - Chelsea to AC Milan - £23m
Wayne Jones (20, English, AMR/ST) - Chelsea to Tottenham - £21m
Romeo La Cava (21, Italian, SW/DR/DC) - PSV to Real Madrid - £21m
Rafinha - Liverpool to Newcastle United - £19m
Bruno Mezenga - Sporting CP to Barcelona - £19m

Selected Winter Transfers

Leszek Szuta (23, Polish, MC) - Fiorentina to Chelsea - £35m
Nuri Sahin - Chelsea to Inter Milan - £28.5m
Daren Collins (21, English, ST) - Preston to Tottenham - £14.5m


2013 Awards

Moore,_Luke.jpg

Aston Villa's Luke Moore made history, becoming the first ever English player to be named FIFA World Player of the Year (Michael Owen did once win the other award). No one quite knows why he won, though he did finish top scorer in the Premier League this season, and his legendary last-second goal took England from elimination to qualifying for the World Cup automatically. Lyon's Fred and Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres were 2nd and 3rd.

Carlos Vela won the Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year despite having a poor second half of the year, ultimately not even scoring double figures in the league this season. Torres and Blackburn Rovers/Inter Milan's sensational English striker John Atkinson were 2nd and 3rd.


European Cups

Inter Milan won their second Champions League in 3 years, beating surprise underdogs Feyenoord 2-0.

But the big news was Blackburn Rovers' run to the semi-finals in their debut campaign. Despite losing their star striker in the transfer window and only qualifying on away goals, they topped their group, overcame a 4-1 loss to beat German champions Hamburg on away goals, and beat European champions Arsenal in 9 rounds of penalties after conceding a stoppage time equaliser. They eventually lost 2-1 on aggregate to Feyenoord.

Valencia failed to even reach the group stage, losing to FC Brussels.

Benfica overcame Bayern Munich 2-1 to win the UEFA Cup.


England

England.jpg

Premier League

With Wenger retiring as a god, all but Arsenal fans were excited at the likelihood that Arsenal's 6-title winning streak would finally come to an end.

Not only did it come to an end, but brand new Premier League champions were crowned to sit alongside Arsenal, Manchester United, Blackburn and Chelsea.

At first it was a battle between Manchester United and Liverpool, but Man Utd somewhat fell away, eventually finishing 4 points behind in 3rd.

Newcastle United rallied after an early blip and, with nerves jangling, important victories gained, and points thrown away, they and Liverpool were both on equal points on the final day. Steve McClaren's Newcastle failed and lost at Wigan 1-0, meaning Liverpool and manager Peter Nielsen, secured with a 3-1 win at New Anfield over Chelsea, were able to lift the trophy and finally end the 24-year wait. Incidentally they won it in 1980...

article-2114106-02A7A2AC0000044D-941_634

Aston Villa finished in the coveted 4th spot and a Champions League place.

Arsenal's new era started 1 point behind Villa in 5th. Failure for the defending champions to even qualify for the Champions League meant the sack after one season for David Moy... Javier Aguirre. Non-Arsenal fans are finding this hilarious, maybe a bit too much. He was replaced by Michael Laudrup, who was sacked a few months ago after 5 years at Werder Bremen, doing a decent job but not improving them any further.

Wayne Rooney finally gave up after years of trying to get fit and retired at the age of 28 after suffering his career ending game bug I mean injury.

F.A. Cup

Chelsea added yet another trophy, beating Arsenal 1-0 in the F.A. Cup final.

Championship Bolton Wanderers were the underdogs this year, reaching the semis.

League Cup

West Ham United lifted their first cup since 1980 after beating Aston Villa on penalties.

Football League and Non-League

Charlton Athletic finished bottom of the Championship, relegated to the third tier for the first time since... yes, 1980.

MK Dons were relegated from the Football League for the first time in their short history, on goal difference.


Belgium

Belgium.jpg

All eyes were on the most exciting league in Europe, after the last two seasons ended with the top 3 on the same points.

Despite only 9 wins in their last 25 league games, Charleroi were the next team to break the top 3 dominance by winning the league.

In fact Genk, the #3 in the top 3, finished bottom and were relegated automatically. This cements Glenn Hoddle's legacy as being one of the worst managers in history, as 3 of his last 4 jobs have resulted in his clubs being relegated in his first half-season. Only because the other one (Monaco) already got relegated the season before, but he was still 2 points from relegating them again!

Westerlo won their third Belgian Cup in a row.


Germany

Germany.jpg

David Moyes took Bayern Munich back to the top of the league with relative ease.

Their neighbours, TSV 1860 Munich, won their third German Cup in four years, but were also relegated for the second season in a row, back to the third tier for the first time in over two decades.


Italy

Italy.jpg

Inter Milan cemented their status as the team of the last decade, with their 7th straight title to go with their Champions League win, all while selling two players to Arsenal as well, almost as a mocking insult.

Despite taking AC Milan to 2nd, 3rd and 3rd and a Champions League semi-final, Frank Rijkaard was sacked after a 7th-place finish and elimination at the group stage of the Champions League.

Jose Mourinho was also sacked after just 2 years at Juventus and a drop to 6th.

My old club Varese suddenly achieved two promotions in a row and will be in Serie B next season.


France

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Paris Saint-Germain were relegated for the first time since the 1970s, leaving Ligue 1 without a Parisian team.


Spain

Spain.jpg

Real Madrid edged out Real Betis by two points to win La Liga.

Frank Rijkaard's replacement, Hristo Stoichkov, still has a job 4 years on despite Barcelona dropping every season. This season they finished 6th and 26 points behind Real.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

2013/14 Review Part 2 - International Football


South Africa 2014 African Cup of Nations

CHAN-2014.jpg.jpg

media-32495.jpg

Ivory Coast won their third trophy out of the last four African Cups, beating underdogs Mali after extra time.

The hosts South Africa lost after extra time themselves, against Mali in the semis.

Two legends for their national teams lost their jobs after 6 years, as Abedi Pelé and Hany Ramzy failed to get Ghana and Egypt out the group stage to go with their failure to qualify for this year's World Cup.


American Samoa 2014 OFC Nations Cup

OFCcup.png

New Zealand didn't slip up this year against surprise finalists New Caledonia.

Hosts American Samoa had the drive to qualify for their own tournament (their qualifiers being hosted by Vanuatu), for their first ever OFC Nations finals, even reaching 3rd place overall and beating the usual #2 team Solomon Islands 4-1.


Spain 2014 World Cup News

Logo and Mascot Unveiled

Of course, can't have a World Cup without an obnoxious logo and dodgy mascot, and Spain have chosen a bull to be the theme, as long as we ignore Spain's horrific relationship with bulls.

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Berto The Bull will no doubt inspire Spain to brutally slaughter their opponents slowly and painfully. Or run away from them.

bull-soccer-character-suit-spain-nationa


Match of the Day's intro unveiled

The BBC have released a video of their Match of the Day intro to be used for the World Cup in Spain.

"We wanted to reflect the party atmosphere and coming together of all nations during a World Cup, as well as showcasing the incredible stadia that would be the setting for this unique showcase" said the BBC's Gushing Inoffensive Quote Giver 3000 robot.


Group Draw

The groups have been drawn:

Group A

Brazil
New Zealand
Iraq
Israel

Group B

Argentina
Netherlands
Canada
Algeria

Group C

France
Scotland
Iran
Peru

Group D

Ukraine
Mexico
Wales
Democratic Republic of Congo

Group E

Turkey
Australia
Senegal
Greece

Group F

Germany
Republic of Ireland
China
Guinea

Group G

England
Italy
Chile
Jamaica

Group H
Colombia
Spain
Finland
Nigeria


The Israel Situation

Butts clenched in FIFA and the Middle East when Israel finally qualified, and their fears have been realised as Iraq and Israel were drawn together.

For those that don't know: Israel is not a recognised country to most of the Middle East, particularly Arab countries and Iran, to the extent where athletes have pulled out of getting gold in the Olympics, either of their own volition or being forced to. So far in football it has only really led to certain players falling 'ill' when their club has gone to Israel or had to face an Israeli opponent.

The reality is that this is a government stance, and the citizens mostly don't care, and of course Israel has its fair share of Arab, Iranian etc. immigrants. So while pulling out the World Cup seemed a possibility, football is very popular in these parts and doing so could not only possibly cause rioting, but sow the seeds for revolution.

After much posturing and arguing, it has been decided that Iraq will play Israel. Pandora's Box has been opened, and analysts expect this will lead to other countries accepting the need to play Israel in official competition and a relaxing of their unwritten rules so that at least players and staff can play other teams with an Israeli in them. One less thing for me to worry about in future.

Also of note in that group is that at least one of Iraq, Israel and New Zealand will reach the knockout stage, and a (slight) chance that Iran and Israel will meet in the quarter-finals. Or, Allah forbid, the World Cup final.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

Iran at the Spain 2014 World Cup

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(Funny how the Brazil songs were way more appropriate for Spain. Corrupt FIFA were trolling the poor Brazilians HARD.)


Preparation

The draw for the group stage was made. Our opponents will be:

Peru (ranked 26th) - Qualified on the final day just above Argentina, so could be beatable.
France (6th) - Any points will be great.
Scotland (8th) - Qualified from the same group as France, topping it unbeaten. But perhaps they'll choke. 0 or 1 points.

Friendlies were played using a second-string team to help decide who makes the squad, but poorly displays saw a 2-0 loss in Romania, a 2-1 loss at home to World Cup runner-ups Norway, a 1-0 home loss to Angola, and a 1-1 draw away to Trinidad & Tobago (though we won on penalties).

Also, Iran will be playing in a special kit adorned with an image of the Asiatic Cheetah, highlighting the plight of the iconic and highly-endangered species.

Iran-Kit.jpg

Final 23-Man Squad

Goalkeepers
1: Mohammad Mansouri - GK - 23, Paykan (Iran), 9 caps - The new #1
21: Ebrahim Mirzapour - GK - 35, Le Havre, 106 caps - The veteran keeper, now the #2
23: Eman Zare - GK - 20, Malavan (Iran), 2 caps

Defenders
2: Mehdi Fatemi - DR/DC - 19, Paas (Iran), 2 caps
4: Rasoul Mirtoroghi - DC - 30, Caykur Rizespor (Turkish second-tier), 39 caps - The star defender
5: Majid Mirmarsli - DC - 24, Saipa, 5 caps
19: Jalal Kameli Mofrad - DC/SW - 33, Iraklis (Greek second-tier), 61 caps - Call him 'The Cleaner'

Wing-Backs, Full-Backs and Wingers
3: Yahia Al Balawi - DL - 25, Real Betis, 20 caps - The Iranian Ashley Cole
11: Alireza Vahedi Nikbakht - AML - 33, unattached, 71 caps
12: Mohammad Rostami - DL/DR - 26, RKC Waalwijk, 2 caps
13: Hosain Kaebi - WBR/DR/AMR - 28, Hamburg, 81 caps - The Iranian Gary Neville
16: Abbas Khorasani - ML/AML - 24, Persepolis (Iran), 8 caps
17: Reza Maghouli - MR/AMR - 25, RKC Waalwijk, 10 caps

Midfielders
6: Javad Nekounam (c) - DM/MC - 33, Borussia Dortmund, 124 caps - The legendary captain
8: Alireza Moradi - AMC/MC - 22, Zob Ahan (Iran), 13 caps
14: Jalal Akbari - AMC - 30, Sepahan (Iran), 14 caps
15: Mohammad Alavi - MC/DM - 32, VfL Bochum (German second-tier), 39 - Nekounam's injured partner
22: Arash Gholizadeh - MC - 25, Paas (Iran), 4 caps

Strikers
7: Mehrdad Oladi - ST - 29, FC Koln, 8 goals in 35 caps - The star striker's partner in crime
9: Arash Borhani - ST - 30, Middlesbrough, 41 goals in 68 caps - The star striker who it all rests on
10: Vahid Amraei - ST - 25, Eintracht Frankfurt, 5 goals in 15 caps - The #3 striker
18: Shahab Yanpi - ST - 25, Saba Battery (Iran), 1 goal in 8 caps
20: Mohammad Reza Amin Sanaei - ST - 26, Fajr Sepasi (Iran), 2 goals in 5 caps

Unfortunately, Ali Karimi, the veteran who had made his way back into the squad, known as the 'Iranian Maradona', retired before the World Cup so I couldn't pick him.

On the first day, Yanpi got injured and is now out for the tournament.


Tactics

I knew I needed to change my tactics for the World Cup. I had been using a sweeper, 2 centre-backs, 2 wing-backs or wingers, 2 central midfielders, one 'in the hole' and two strikers, but the wings and the guy behind the strikers had become ineffectual. In fact the whole team had become ineffectual.

I reassessed my team and noted our star players, which are 1 central defender (Mirtoroghi), the full backs (Al-Balawi and Kaebi), two central midfielders though one is injured (Nekounam, Alavi when fit) and two strikers (Borhani the star striker and Oladi when he performs).

So I've decided to use Borhani as a target man. Most of his goals come from him chasing a loose ball, as he has excellent running Off The Ball (20). Oladi is a dribbler but that will be sacrificed. The two wings will be more defensive and just support the central midfielders, which are now 3. Two of them will push forward when attacking. Now instead of wide and passing, we'll play narrow and counter-attack with long balls in front of the target man.

Had our #3 striker, Amraei, not been injured for the start of the tournament, I probably would've played 3 strikers, which would resemble our tactics against Australia in that memorable 2011 Asian Cup win.


v Peru - 7/6/14 @ Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium (Espanyol)

Peru are our weakest opponents, scraping through qualification winning only half their games and with +1 goal difference. If we're to beat anyone, it will probably have to be them.

First Team

----7---9----
--22-6--8---
3----------13
----5---4----
------2------
------1------

1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
5: Mirmarsli
13: Kaebi
3: Al-Balawi
8: Moradi
6: Nekounam (c)
22: Gholizadeh
9: Borhani
7: Oladi

Peru 2 - 0 Iran
A deflected shot from a free kick was followed by a knocked-on shot from a free kick. We had 7 shots and 0 on target.


v France - 13/6/14 @ Estadio Benito Villamarín (Real Betis)

No changes were made to the first team, but slight tactical tweaks.

Iran 0 - 0 France
Despite losing our captain to injury after only 6 minutes, for the rest of the tournament, we had a few close chances, arguably closer than their ones (think Iran v Argentina real life 2014 except Messi doesn't score at the end). The sweeper Kameli-Mofrad came on as a makeshift central midfielder and made nearly 100% of his passes and tackles.


v Scotland - 18/6/14 @ Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium (Sevilla)

First Team

With a win needed, and against a team playing 3-4-3, I feel like my 3 central defenders can deal with the 3 strikers zonally and I can move my wing-backs forward a bit and use more attack-minded players.

--------7---9-------
11--22--19--8--17
--------5---4-------
----------2---------
----------1---------

* = change from France game

1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
5: Mirmarsli
17: Maghouli* (c)
8: Moradi
19: Kameli-Mofrad*
22: Gholizadeh
11: Nikbakht*
9: Borhani
7: Oladi

With the central midfield captain injured in the France game, I need a defensive central midfielder. After his display coming on for the injured captain, I try putting the sweeper there again and hope it wasn't a one-off performance.

With 6 players injured or unfit (including Al-Balawi and all 3 backup strikers now), the team mostly picks itself anyway.

Iran 3 - 1 Scotland
It turns out I wasn't attacking enough! The first half had little impetus, but an injury to Mirmarsli changed that.
I brought on an attacking midfielder and moved Kameli-Mofrad back to his sweeper role, which meant we were using no real defensive midfielders.
In the second half I moved the wingers further up, meaning a 3-2-3-2 formation, and Scotland were being carved open. In the space of 6 minutes we took the lead through Moradi, their wonderkid winger scored from a header from a cross from a throw-in, then Borhani took back the lead.
Scotland started getting more chances, but a corner was cleared away and picked up by Moradi on the halfway line, who ran all the way into the area and scored into the far side of the goal from an angle. It was like Maradona (but without all the defenders). Moradona!

Unfortunately, a match with only two shots on target saw Peru and France get the 0-0 draw they both wanted, meaning Peru confirmed 1st and France got 2nd place despite only scoring one goal so far.

Still, a draw against France, our second ever World Cup win, 3 goals against the 8th-ranked team, and Iran's biggest ever World Cup points and goals haul, counts as success. Also, Moradi got runner-up for goal of the tournament with his Maradona-without-defenders run and angled shot.

The captain Nekounam retired with 126 caps.

On the plus side, that's a quarter of a million in the bank for me.

Personal bank balance: A little over £1,000,000


My future

There was an option for a 1 year extension to my contract, which goes to the 2015 Asian Cup, but my employers were ready to offer a 4-year contract up to the next World Cup.

I said I'll just take up the extension for now, with a pay rise, and then we'll talk again after.

I feel 2015 will be my last year as Iran manager. There are several things to consider:

Money - Another 4 years would make me nearly £1.5m, taking my bank balance to well over £2m and nearly setting me up for life. However it's fair to assume I'll make plenty of money elsewhere if I keep making a success of it. Worst case scenario: I could become a pundit.

Squads and cycles - The Asian Cup is only a year away, then the World Cup is 3 years later, so next year marks the natural end of a cycle. The captain and our #2 striker have retired, while all bar a couple of the good players will be over 30 if not retired in 2018. The replacements don't look like they'll be anything more than decent.

My reputation - Taking Iran to the Asian Cup final for the first time in decades, and then to their best ever World Cup performance, and so close to the knockout rounds, does wonders for my standing. We'll be contenders for next year's Asian Cup, and this is realistic. However, people will see Iran at the 2018 World Cup and tip them as dark horses for the knockout stage, rather than me making the most of a team that's inferior to 4 years ago. And what if we fail to qualify? That would look terrible.

So whether I stay depends on if a couple of strikers turn up in the next year that are reliable. Although it was a successful World Cup campaign this year, we only scored in one match, and in that match we won by two goals. Two of our goals were scored by a midfielder.

Money is money, but my reputation and image is what needs preserving to be a success. Plus it's probably time for something new.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2013/14 Recap Part 3 - Spain 2014 World Cup

y7bW1je.png

In case you didn't know, I made a Match of the Day intro just for Spain.

Also here are the two official World Cup themes for Spain 2014. (Funny how the Brazil songs were way more appropriate for Spain, corrupt FIFA were trolling the poor Brazilians HARD.)

Defending champions Brazil are major favourites, with European champions Germany also strong contenders. All the other big teams have underperformed in the past few years, while Brazil and Germany have only lost one game each in qualifying, which for Brazil is 3 years in the most competitive qualification region in the world.

2010 saw giantkillings and fairytales, will that continue this year?

Match Days 1 & 2

Group A

Brazil 3 - 0 Iraq
Brazil's defence started by steamrolling Iraq at Camp Nou.

Israel 2 - 0 New Zealand
One of New Zealand's star players got sent off 18 minutes into his first World Cup, allowing Israel to walk all over them.

Iraq 0 - 0 Israel
An historic and much anticipated match ends up being a boring non-event.

New Zealand 1 - 1 Brazil
The Kiwis scored early through Kosta Barbarouses, and nearly landed a monumental victory over the defending champions but for a stoppage time equaliser from Rafael Sobis.
 

Group B

Netherlands 1 - 0 Canada
Dirk Kuyt scored with minutes to go to finally beat Asmir Begovic.

Algeria 1 - 1 Argentina
A penalty helped the Africans snatch a point.

Canada 1 - 1 Algeria

Argentina 1 - 0 Netherlands


Group C

Peru 2 - 0 Iran
A deflected shot from a free kick was followed by a knocked-on shot from a free kick, while Iran were ineffective.

France 1 - 0 Scotland
An early goal from Frédéric Nimani gave France the win in an even game.

Iran 0 - 0 France
Iran were more than a match for France in a surprise result.

Scotland 0 - 1 Peru
Jefferson Farfán's goal means Peru are the first team to qualify. And Scotland, typically, are the first to be eliminated.

article-0-1B4CBC01000005DC-833_634x423.j


Group D

Mexico 3 - 0 Wales

Ukraine 4 - 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo 2 - 2 Wales

Ukraine 0 - 2 Mexico
Despite 20 shots, Ukraine fell to Mexico thanks to wasteful finishing and a Man of the Match performance from Manchester United's Mexican keeper Ochoa.


Group E

Greece 1 - 0 Turkey
A surprise victory over a very strong contender.

Australia 1 - 1 Senegal

Turkey 1 - 1 Australia

Senegal 1 - 0 Greece


Group F

Germany 1 - 1 China
A stoppage time equaliser stops a big defeat for the European champions to the Asian champions.

Guinea 0 - 2 Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland 1 - 0 Germany
Republic of Ireland qualify while Germany are in real danger of going out.

China 1 - 0 Guinea


Group G

Chile 2 - 0 Jamaica

England 0 - 1 Italy

Italy 1 - 0 Chile

Jamaica 0 - 2 England
A red card for each side late on were the only major events during a routine England win.


Group H

Spain 0 - 0 Finland
A drab start for the hosts.

Nigeria 1 - 0 Colombia
A big result against the World Cup semi-finalists.

Finland 0 - 0 Nigeria

Spain 0 - 2 Colombia
The hosts were awful (4s and 5s all round), going 2-0 behind in the first half, before having a man sent off.


Match Day 3

Group A

New Zealand and Iraq play each other needing a win. Israel and Brazil know a draw sees them both through, but a loss means whoever wins in the other match can qualify in their place if they make up the goal difference.

Brazil had no trouble beating Israel 2-0. Iraq took a 2-0 lead over New Zealand after only 15 minutes, but they got 2 back, one of them an own goal, meaning the match ended 2-2 and it's Israel who reach the knockout stages.


Group B

Canada need a shock win over Argentina to qualify, while Argentina just need to draw. Whoever wins between Netherlands and Algeria will go through, though a draw is enough for Netherlands if Canada don't win.

Argentina easily walked over Canada 3-0. Netherlands also easily won 2-0.


Group C

France need just a draw against Peru, who have already qualified. Iran need to beat the already eliminated Scotland and hope France lose, with one of results having at least a two-goal margin. If France lose 2-0 and Iran win 1-0, a drawing of lots will be required for the first time since 1990.

Iran shocked Scotland 3-1 in an entertaining second half. However, Peru and France got the 0-0 draw they both wanted, meaning Peru stay top, Iran are out and France take 2nd despite scoring just one goal so far.


Group D

Wales need to beat Euro 2012 finalists Ukraine to qualify, as long as DR Congo don't win by a bigger margin. Ukraine realistically just need a draw. Democratic Republic of the Congo have to beat the already-qualified Mexico by at least two goals and hope Ukraine don't win, and need a bigger margin if Ukraine draw.

Two sendings off, one after only 8 minutes, destroyed DR Congo's chances and allowed Mexico a 3-0 win without trying. A mistake by the goalkeeper allowed Dave Cotterill to score in an open goal, then Ukraine missed several clear cut chances, which gave Dean Saunders' Wales the 1-0 win sending them through and Ukraine out.

3051.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&f


Group E

They were expected to top an easy group, but Turkey are out if they don't beat top-of-the-group Senegal, who only need a draw. The winner between Australia and Greece will qualify, but a draw might be enough for the Greeks.

It was the most exciting finish to a group so far. Turkey were 2-0 down at half time, but brought it back to 2-2 before a deflected free-kick in stoppage time gave Senegal the win and knocked Turkey out. Meanwhile, 3 goals in 9 minutes gave Greece a 2-1 lead at half-time, extended to 3-1 on 90 minutes, although Australia immediately pulled one back they needed 2 more goals in no time. The table looks upside-down with Senegal and Greece qualifying and Turkey bottom.


Group F

Germany need to beat the already-eliminated Guinea and hope China lose to the already-qualified Republic of Ireland for a chance of avoiding catastrophe.

Germany thrashed Guinea 6-0, thanks in part to an early sending off. The Africans are being quite indisciplined this year. However China scored a late equaliser to qualify instead. Klopp's European champions are out.

Liverpool-manager-Juergen-Klopp-looks-de


Group G

The only thing at stake between Jamaica and Italy is Italy needing a draw to definitely top the group. It's the match between England and Chile that everyone will be watching - winner takes all. A draw will mean a drawing of lots to decide who goes home, for the first time in 60 years.

In perhaps the match of the tournament, England took the lead through John Terry's header after only 3 minutes. 20 minutes later, Chile were 2-1 ahead. World Player of the Year Luke Moore brought it level before Giles Barnes' deflected shot gave England the lead again. But an intercepted Terry pass gave Eduardo Rubio a free run at goal and the equaliser. Then it was England hanging on. The match ended 3-3 and lots were drawn... and now England have a new way of exiting to complain about. Chile are through! But would England have fared any better if penalties decided it?
In contrast, Italy won 1-0 in the other match after a goal in the 3rd minute, in a meaningless match where nothing happened.

AR-150529484.jpg


Group H

Hosts Spain's awful World Cup will be over unless they beat Nigeria by two goals, Nigeria just need a draw. Finland go through if they beat Colombia, otherwise it's the Colombians who qualify.

Finland drew 0-0 with Colombia, though were arguably the better team. Spain beat Nigeria thanks to a Fernando Torres goal, but they needed two goals, so the hosts are out and Colombia and Nigeria are through.


Final Group Standings

Group A

Brazil - 7
Israel - 4
-----------------------
New Zealand - 2 (-2 GD)
Iraq - 2 (-3 GD)
 

Group B

Argentina - 7
Netherlands - 6
-----------------------
Algeria - 2
Canada - 1


Group C

Peru - 7
France - 5
-----------------------
Iran - 4
Scotland - 0


Group D

Mexico - 9
Wales - 4
-----------------------
Ukraine - 3
Democratic Republic of the Congo - 1


Group E

Senegal - 7
Greece - 6
-----------------------
Australia - 2
Turkey - 1


Group F

Republic of Ireland - 7
China - 5
-----------------------
Germany - 4
Guinea - 0


Group G

Italy - 9
Chile - 4 (+1 GD, 5 GF)*
-----------------------
England - 4 (+1 GD, 5 GF)*
Jamaica - 0
*Head to head = Chile 3 - 3 England. Chile advance after drawing of lots.


Group H

Colombia - 4 (+1 GD)
Nigeria - 4 (0 GD)
-----------------------
Spain - 4 (-1 GD)
Finland - 3


Second Round

Brazil 0 - 1 Netherlands
A brilliant long ball across the length of the pitch from Urby Emanuelson was finished off by, who else, Drik Kuyt. The favourites are out!

France 0 - 1 Mexico

Republic of Ireland 1 - 0 Greece

Nigeria 0 - 0 Italy AET (4-5 on penalties)
Ishola Shuaibu missed the only penalty.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Argentina 2 - 1 Israel
Israel kept themselves in it at 2-1, until a sending off in the second half made coming back that much harder.

Peru 3 - 0 Wales
Junior Ross scored in 16 seconds, before scoring Peru's third in the 28th minute.

China 1 - 1 Senegal AET (1-1 FT) (6-5 on penalties)
It took 8 rounds of penalties to decide the winner.

Chile 1 - 1 Colombia AET (1-1 FT) (5-4 on penalties)
A late equaliser by Gary Medel kept Chile in it.


Quarter-Finals

Netherlands 2 - 0 Mexico
Mexico were never in it, but it took a Kuyt penalty (his 50th goal for his country) and a 90th minute goal to end it.

Republic of Ireland 2 - 0 Italy AET
Italy only managed one shot on target, but it took until the last 3 minutes of extra time for Ireland's impressive performance to get goals.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Argentina 1 - 0 Peru
Argentina had an easy time against Peru, keeper José Carvallo stopping 10 shots from making the scoreline bigger.

China 0 - 1 Chile
Despite 58% possession and over double the shots, China fell to Chile and Alexis Sanchez' goal.


Semi-Finals

Netherlands 1 - 1 Republic of Ireland AET (1-1 FT) (3-4 on penalties)
Kuyt scored again, but the Irish equalised and made it count on penalties. A great Netherlands team is denied.

Argentina 1 - 0 Chile
Chile resorted to tough defensive tactics, with top performances from Claudio Bravo and Waldo Ponce, but half the team got yellows, and a red card for an elbow made life harder. They eventually conceded a free kick goal and were out.


Third Place Playoff

Chile 1 - 1 Netherlands AET (1-1 FT) (3-2 on penalties)
Another Man of the Match performance from Claudio Bravo took it to penalties, where 9 out of 14 penalties were missed.


Spain 2014 World Cup Final

Ireland.jpg   V   Argentina.jpg

Republic of Ireland v Argentina


History

The Republic of Ireland are not World Cup regulars, only qualifying 3 times before and never getting past the second round. Similarly, they've only made 3 European Championship appearances, reaching the quarter-finals in 2008. This is a bit new.

Argentina are the exact opposite and will be looking to win their third World Cup in their fifth final. It is the culmination of years of winning youth tournaments and enjoying a golden era of attacking talent.


Form

Ireland topped their group with wins over Germany and Guinea and a draw with China. They beat Greece in the next round, but needed extra time to beat Italy then penalties to get past new favourites Netherlands. They've kept 4 clean sheets in 6 matches and scored in every game (including extra time against Italy).

Argentina topped their group with wins over Netherlands and Canada, and a draw with Algeria. They then beat Israel, Peru and Chile by one goal each. They too have kept 4 clean sheets and scored in every game.


Team News

Chelsea's Argentine striker Italo Bini will pick up the Golden Boot unless Kevin Doyle scores two more than he does today.

Paul McShane is still injured for Ireland.

Lucas Trecarichi is also out for Argentina.

Republic of Ireland play 4-4-2: Supple (Preston North End); O'Shea (Manchester United), Hone (Coventry), Spillane (Norwich), Timlin (Sheffield United); Doyle (Manchester United), Gibson (c) (Aston Villa), Reid (Blackburn), Keogh (Middlesbrough); Long (Preston North End), Rowe (Blackburn) - 9 Premier League, 2 Championship

Argentina play the same 4-4-2: Ustari (Inter Milan); San Román (Newcastle United), Coloccini (Liverpool), Milito (Chelsea), Insúa (Juventus); Zabaleta (Real Betis), Gago (Newcastle United), Cambiasso (c) (AC Milan), Messi (Barcelona); Higuaín (Real Madrid), Bini (Chelsea) - 5 Premier League, 3 Serie A, 3 La Liga


First Half

A knock wasn't enough to stop Gonzalo Higuaín from just about sliding a shot past Supple to give Argentina the lead.

Germany+v+Argentina+2014+FIFA+World+Cup+

Second half

A change in formation immediately paid dividends as Ireland's two groups of three easily played through Argentina and Rowe equalised 24 seconds into the second half. Both teams eased off and played patient football, then in the 80th minute Higuaín's shot came off the crossbar, allowing Bini to hit the rebound in for the winner and the Golden Boot.

Argentina win their third World Cup.

Final score: Republic of Ireland 1 - 2 Argentina

Netherlands-vs-Argentina.jpg

==================================================

2014 World Champions
Argentina

==================================================


Awards

Golden Ball: Andrea Barzagli (Italy)
Golden Boot: Italo Bini (Argentina) - 6 goals
Golden Glove: Claudio Bravo (Chile)


Selected Managerial News

pako-ayestaran-valencia-la-liga_3451114.

Hosts Spain had to sack their manager after only one goal and no performances to be proud of. Part-man, part-goblin Pako Ayestarán replaces him, a man who was perhaps harshly sacked last year by Liverpool, but built a team that would go on to finally win the title the next season. First-hand sightings of The Vulture in Spain suddenly rise drastically.

Dean-Saunders-watches-Don-008.jpg

Dean Saunders moved on after taking Wales to two tournaments in a row and a good performance in both.

johnston-mo070115cp_400x400.jpg

Pat Ercoli stepped down after a rocky 8 years and ultimate show in faith led to Canada's first World Cup in nearly 3 decades. He's replaced by former Scotland international Mo Johnston, after 8 years at Toronto FC.

Ricki+Herbert+New+Zealand+v+Mexico+7TcTl

Ricki Herbert stepped down after 9 years and finally taking New Zealand to the World Cup. He's replaced by former international Danny Halligan, who spent a decade at Canterbury United and won them a Champions League trophy in 2008.

Abdoulaye Sarr retired after managing Senegal to the second round, with 2 wins and 2 draws.


Other News

Sneijder-wesley-sneijder-13740637-800-51

Wesley Sneijder's career may be over due to injury. Wayne Rooney contacted him to offer advice, being in a similar situation.

(This World Cup injury bug sucks major balls, I don't recall this being in my last FM 07 game.)

 

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Iran - Qualifying for the 2015 Asian Cup

Logo-Asian-Football-Confederation_181006

Preview

Groups of 4 teams play each other twice, the top 2 qualify (and one best-third-placed).

But what's interesting is how the fixtures are played out: in two sets of three, so 3 matches in 4 days followed by an 8-day break, then the final 3 matches in another 4 days. One set of fixtures each is hosted by a country chosen at random. We get luck of the draw and will be hosting the second set of fixtures.

Our opponents are:

Northern Mariana Islands, who don't even have a FIFA ranking. But they were relatively impressive last time, scoring in every game except away to Saudi Arabia, and even managing a draw with North Korea and a win over Vietnam on neutral ground.

Lebanon, who host the first set of fixtures and missed out on World Cup qualification in the Asia-Oceania playoffs. We got 4 points against them in World Cup qualifying.

Qatar, who didn't even reach the final group stage of World Cup qualifying.


Friendlies

My approach to friendlies changed a bit, from playing a B-team to playing a mixture of backups with some experience and first-teamers in there. I needed to learn a bit more about my first-teamers as well as who could fill out the rest of the Asian Cup squad.

We were impressive in all of them: beating Sweden away in a match that saw Zlatan put on the goalkeeper gloves, dominating South Korea (but somehow losing), and a second-string making the 3rd best team in the world, Chile, play for a draw.


Qualifying

Ideally, we'd be facing the weak team inbetween the two other fixtures, as a game every two days in roasting Asian heat means rotation is mandatory, not even considering we play a quick game tactically. However we meet the whipping boys first, so instead I'll play it by ear.

I name a second-string.

(40th) Iran 6 - 0 Northern Mariana Islands (N/A) (N)

Qatar got a draw in Lebanon, which means we already have a lead.


Again the team picks itself, because we now have the hardest game of the group - away to Lebanon. So I pick my best team, all rested.

(45th) Lebanon 1 - 1 Iran (40th) (A)
A sending off allowed us to take the lead, not through our two 'best' strikers Borhani or Amraei, but third-best Yanpi with his third in 4 games. However the 3 points were destroyed with 5 minutes to go with a backpass own goal by our experienced defender.

Qatar beat Northern Mariana 2-1.
 

(118th) Qatar 2 - 0 Iran (40th) (N)
A sabotaged display. At one point the stiker played a backpass from just outside the OPPONENT'S penalty area. Our keeper was passing it to allow the opponents to get it. There was no way of knowing what was going wrong. Borhani had the most shots, 5, only 2 on target.
It took all my power to avoid reloading a clearly rigged match.

Lebanon thrashed Northern Mariana 5-0.


Iran 6 - 0 Northern Mariana Islands (H)
The only thing of note was Borhani coming on as sub on the hour and scoring a hat-trick and becoming Man of the Match, albeit after they went down to 10 men.

Lebanon easily beat Qatar 1-0.


Iran 1 - 0 Lebanon (H)
A familiar story as wasteful finishing and complacency meant a late winner was required, Rezapour scoring his second goal in his second appearance.

Qatar beat Northern Mariana Islands, so we only need to draw to qualify. If we want to top the group, a 2-0 win is needed.


Iran 3 - 0 Qatar (H)
Before qualifying, I thought Borhani and Amraei would be my front two. But in the last match, it was Rezapour and Yanpi who started instead of the misfiring two, Yanpi getting 2 while Rezapour scored in his third match in a row. Qatar had 0 chances and never tried.

It's almost like this is a video game, and the previous Qatar encounter was rigged against the human player.

Lebanon beat Northern Mariana 3-0 as expected, which took them second, though Qatar still qualified as easily the best third-placed team in qualifying thanks to their rigged win over us.


Final Group Standings

Iran - 13
Lebanon - 11
Qatar - 10

---------------------------
Northern Mariana Islands - 0


Macau 2015 Asian Cup Qualifying News

North Korea were shockingly knocked out at the preliminary group stage, after Hong Kong beat Laos by a larger margin and got a draw with the Koreans to qualify for the main qualifiers.

Vietnam qualified for their first Asian Cup as non-hosts, topping a group with South Korea, Iraq and India. 2014 World Cup participants Iraq failed to make it.
 

On 30/05/2017 at 23:00, Nobby_McDonald said:

Great performance by the Irish.

Martin O'Neill = Finals

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Iran at the Macau 2015 Asian Cup

Logo-Asian-Football-Confederation_181006

22 Man Squad

Goalkeepers
1 Mohammad Mansouri - GK - 24, AA Gent, 16 caps - The #1
13 Ebrahim Mirzapour - GK - 36, Le Havre, 106 caps - The veteran former #1
20 Alireza Haghighi - GK - 27, DSV Leoben, 9 caps - The ladies' favourite

Defenders
2 Mehdi Fatemi - DR/DC - 20, Vitesse, 10 caps
4 Rasoul Mirtoroghi - DC - 31, Stuttgart, 46 caps - The star defender
5 Majid Mirmarsli - DC - 25, Saipa (Iran), 11 caps
21 Abdul Wahab Al-Sultan - DC - 22, Esteghlal (Iran), 7 caps

Wingers, wing-backs and full-backs
3 Yahia Al Balawi - DL - 26, Real Betis, 26 caps - The Iranian Ashley Cole
7 Hosain Kaebi - WBR/DR/AMR - 29, Hamburg, 88 caps - The Iranian Gary Neville and new captain
11 Abbas Khorasani - ML/AML - 25, Roda JC Kerkrade, 13 caps
12 Keyvan Karimi - DL - 27, Roda JC Kerkrade, 1 cap
16 Behrang Safari - ML/AML/AMR - 30, FC Sion, 2 caps - Notable for being a callup from the Iranian diaspora, and taking 3 years to debut due to injury and recovery
17 Ali Ghafouri - MR/AMR - 21, Saba Battery (Iran), 0 caps (call-up from Under-21s)

Midfielders
6 Behnam Mahmoudi - MC/DM - 25, Esteghlal, 2 caps
8 Alireza Moradi - AMC/MC - 23, Zob Ahan (Iran), 19 caps - The World Cup legend
14 Jalal Akbari - AMC - 32, Sepahan (Iran), 20 caps
15 Mohammad Alavi - MC/DM - 33, RW Essen (German second-tier), 40 - 8 injuries in a calendar year doesn't stop him being the star midfielder
22 Arash Gholizadeh - MC - 26, Istanbul BB SK (Turkish 2nd tier), 12 caps

Strikers
9 Meysam Rezapour - ST - 27, Fajr Sepasi, 3 goals in 3 caps
10 Shahab Yanpi - ST - 26, Saba Battery (Iran), 6 goals in 16 caps
18 Arash Borhani - ST - 31, Middlesbrough (English 2nd tier), 45 goals in 78 caps - The ageing star striker's last hurrah?
19 Vahid Amraei - ST - 26, Eintracht Frankfurt, 6 goals in 22 caps

Anyone with a keen eye and memory will notice my mind games. The misfiring and rusty Borhani, and his supposed replacement Amraei, have had their number 9 and 10 taken off them. Will they react positively? Will they even start hitting the bloody target?


Group Preview

4 groups of 4 with the top 2 making the next round, and we're up against:

Kuwait - Should be 3 points but they're not total pushovers as they've qualified for the last 6 Asian Cups and, although they haven't got out of the group stage since 2000, have picked up 3 or 4 points at least. However they qualified this year despite only one win over Nepal and Malaysia, and losing 3-0 twice to Saudi Arabia.

Qatar - Met them in qualifying, they beat us in a weird match on neutral ground, and they rolled over at home. Qualified as the best 3rd-placed team.

The bloody Chinese again - Won the last Asian Cup after beating us 3-0 in the final, as well as beating us 3-2 in the group stage after taking an early 3-0 lead. We met again in World Cup qualifying: they won what is generally agreed to be a rigged game in China, before playing for a 0-0 in Iran. They qualified for the World Cup with us, drawing with (seconds away from beating) European champions Germany, as well as eventual World Cup runner-up Republic of Ireland, and getting to the quarter-finals after penalties before losing 1-0 to the 3rd placed Chile.


v Kuwait - 19/7/15 - Group C

First Team

* = change from qualifier v Qatar

------10--9------
---------8---------
16--15--22--17
------21--4------
---------2---------
---------1---------

1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
21: Al-Sultan*
17: Ghafouri*
22: Gholizadeh (c)
15: Alavi*
16: Safari*
8: Moradi
9: Rezapour
10: Yanpi

A few surprises.

I use wingers instead of wing-backs on the assumption that Kuwait will be happy with a 0-0 draw, which means the regular first-team wing-backs are out and a debutant and a guy with 2 caps, due to an injury to our more regular winger, are in.

Also the two bigger name strikers are on the bench and I stick with the two that have scored in nearly every game rather than the 'better' ones that scored in none bar one hat-trick against whipping boys.

(82nd) Kuwait 1 - 2 Iran (44th)
We took the lead in 4 minutes, but what was an otherwise easy game was more tense than it should've been thanks to them getting an equaliser via a header (as always, we conceded by a set piece rather than open play), and the wet weather making it hard to control the ball and get more than 2 of the shots in the net. The strikers Yanpi and Rezapour combined well and seem to have struck up a good partnership.

China beat Qatar 4-0.


v Qatar - 23/7/15 - Group C

First Team

* = change from Kuwait match

----10--9-----
------14------
3--15--8--16
-----5--4-----
-------2-------
-------1-------

1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
5: Mirmarsli* (c)
16: Safari
8: Moradi
15: Alavi
3: Al-Balawi*
14: Akbari*
9: Rezapour
10: Yanpi

I wasn't happy with Al-Sultan being beaten in the air by a weaker player, so I bring in the fresher and slightly stronger Mirmarsli.

Ghafouri is injured, so Safari moves to the right and Al-Balawi returns on the left.

Gholizadeh is also out, so Moradi moves back and Akbari comes in.

I wanted to change one of the strikers for freshness and form's sake, against a team we should roll over, but changed my mind at the last moment. Only a loss will put qualification to the knockout stage in real jeopardy, but it's better to do the job now than risk a 0-1. No one wins playing the game of trying to get the easy knockout draw. So instead, if we take a lead, I'll take the strikers off early.

(44th) Iran 4 - 2 Qatar (92nd)
We took the lead in 1 minute, Rezapour continuing his incredible scoring streak. Again we conceded via a header then retook the lead. In 36 minutes, all 6 goals were scored. I could take off the strikers and ease off by half time, and go down to 10 men later via injury, without worry.

China laboured to a 1-0 win over Kuwait, meaning we're in the quarter-finals with a game to spare.


v China - 27/7/15 - Group C

Only a win against China will see us top the group, but we might not want to do that.

The winner of the group will have to face Australia, who have underperformed but only due to misfiring attackers. The runner-up will only have to face Macau, who may be the hosts, but are also Macau. Their results have been good, but against a contender that doesn't waste chances they'll be well beaten. Because of a Group of Death, the semi-final will be against a tough team regardless.

So I'll play a weakened side, as well as have them ease off tactically so as not to get silly yellows and expend too much energy. If we win, then so be it.

First Team

* = change from Qatar match

---18--9--19-
----15--6---
12-----------7
---21--5----
------2-------
-----20-----

20: Haghighi*
2: Fatemi
5: Mirmarsli
21: Al-Sultan*
7: Kaebi* (c)
12: Karimi*
6: Mahmoudi*
15: Alavi
19: Amraei*
9: Rezapour
18: Borhani

Safari, who has done well and scored a nice goal after a run against Qatar, is out for the tournament.

With 6 of the 19 outfield players injured or unfit, a completely weakened side isn't possible, hence Rezapour and Alavi staying in, and 3 strikers being played.

So watch Rezapour get injured now.

(9th) China 0 - 2 Iran (44th)
Rezapour was injured on cue in only 15 minutes. Rather than risk Yanpi, I replace him with the centre-back Mirtoroghi, who then scores his first ever Iran goal a few minutes later. We beat China easily despite just knocking the ball around and standing off them. I also changed keepers on the hour, and at 36 years old Mirzapour breaks the record for oldest player to play in the Asian Cup by nearly 2 years.

Rezapour will be unavailable for at least the Australia game. Told you.


v Australia - 31/7/15 - Quarter-Finals

It's a repeat of the memorable quarter-final of last time in 2011, when we knocked out the hosts. But this time, we're the favourites, as long as the Aussies keep missing the target.

They could only draw with the hosts Macau 2-2, yet with one shot on target out of 11; they lost to Oman, with 3 shots on target out of 18; then qualified with minutes to go by beating Vietnam 2-1, with both shots being the only on target out of 9 attempts.

First Team

* = change from Qatar match

---19--10--
-----14-----
---15--8---
3----------7
----5--4---
------2-----
------1-----

1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
5: Mirmarsli
7: Kaebi*
3: Al-Balawi
8: Moradi
15: Alavi
14: Akbari
10: Yanpi
19: Amraei*

(44th) Iran 0 - 2 Australia (25th)
We dominated the first half, but all the shots were going across goal or just wide, and the post was hit. In the end, half of their shots were on target. Amraei and Borhani leave the tournament with 0 goals.

bosnia-iran.jpg

This final match confirms I'll be leaving. If the strikers can't score against Australia, the World Cup would be no better.

I took them to the Asian Cup final and the Under-23s to the Olympics for the first time since 1976, then had our best ever World Cup performance. And at least in the end I beat the Chinese.

My contract expires and, while there's a huff about me leaving from the higher-ups, one day I may be back. Thankfully it's turned out well and I know I would certainly be welcomed back by the fans like the prodigal son.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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I am going to say the elephant in the room and MACAU hosting the Asian Cup. Are you sure that is right.

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Posted (edited)

2014/15 Recap Part 1 - Club Football

Selected Summer Transfers
Gareth Bale - Arsenal to Liverpool - £23m
Cristian Benavente - Bayern Munich to Arsenal - £22m
Hamed Al-Bagawi - AC Milan to Arsenal - £20.5m
Aaron Lennon - Arsenal to Lazio - £18.75m
Toni Kroos - Bayern Munich to Basel - Loan (£1.5m loan fee)
Fred - Lyon to Aston Villa - Free
Goran Pandev - Lyon to Roma  - Free

Selected Winter Transfers
Daniele Dessena - Liverpool to Juventus - £27.5m
Abdellatif Zaza (25, Moroccan, MC/ML/AMC/AML) - Barcelona to Liverpool - £17.75m  + Javier Garrido
Emmanuel Guichard (21, French, ST) - AC Milan to Liverpool - £13.75m + Francisco Merida
Martin Gale (21, English, DM/MC) - Werder Bremen to Barcelona - £15.75m
Josef Angerschmid (25, Austrian, ML/AML) - Juventus to Arsenal - £15.5m


2014 Awards

Newcastle United's Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins was named World Player of the Year. Manchester United's attacker Kevin Doyle, after helping Republic of Ireland to the World Cup final, was 2nd place. Fred, now at Aston Villa, was 3rd.

Argentina's star striker, Chelsea's Italo Bini, was Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year. Fred and his Villa striker partner, and previous World Player of the Year, Luke Moore were 2nd and 3rd.


European Cups

Mexican striker Claudio Gamboa scored twice as Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich 2-0, despite only 1 shot on target, to become the first team to successfully defend a Champions League, and win their third in 4 years.

Steve McClaren's well assembled Newcastle United team, consisting of the likes of Martins, Walcott, Juan Mata, Gago, Lucas and Given nearly made the final, but lost a lead to Inter in the second leg of their semi-final.

Aston Villa's debut saw them top their group before being knocked out by eventual winners Inter.

Arsenal needed penalties to beat Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup final.


England

England.jpg

Premier League

roykeane1.jpg

Roy Keane replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in 2008 and it's been a long up-and-down journey, but the characteristic long-term faith has paid off as Manchester United lifted the 2015 Premier League trophy after 8 years of waiting.

Newcastle United challenged again this season but had to make do with finishing just behind in 2nd once more.

Mike Newell took yo-yo club West Brom from the Championship to 6th in the Premier League, and thus Europe, in just over 2 years.

Neutrals rejoiced as Arsenal, despite topping the table for the first half of the season under new boss Michael Laudrup, fell away and finished in the same position they did last year: 5th.

Mark Hughes was sensationally sacked by Blackburn Rovers after a decade as they flirted with relegation, and despite in the past few years being taken to the heights of finishing 6th then 5th then 4th, a Champions League semi-final and winning a UEFA Cup. His eventual replacement, Dave Jones, who helped relegate Everton, avoided relegation by one place and 3 points.

Middlesbrough sacked Paul Jewell after relegation from the Premier League, and incredibly were able to replace him with Benfica manager Juande Ramos, who had won the UEFA Cup and league double just a year ago.

After 60 years in the Premier League, Everton were relegated bottom of the Premier League. Paul Ince was unable to save them.


F.A. Cup

Man Utd won the double by beating Newcastle 2-0.


Football League and Non-League

Ex-long time New Zealand manager Ricki Herbert took charge of QPR. Had he arrived a match or two earlier, they probably would've avoided relegation from the Championship.

3B9A652E00000578-4063082-Sam_Allardyce_h

Kit Symons' 13 years at Crystal Palace in various roles ended when he was sacked and replaced with Sam Allardyce.

Jim Magilton left Accrington Stanley to become the latest English manager to manage in the MLS, taking charge of New England, who were champions in 2013.

Les Ferdinand was sacked by Charlton Athletic after a poor start in League One, 5 years of no improvement and getting them relegated from the Championship.


Italy

Italy.jpg

AC+Milan+Super+Coppa+2.jpg

The reign of terror is over!

Inter Milan's streak of 7 titles in a row was finally ended, naturally by AC Milan who, under new manager José Manuel de la Torre, and thanks to Kaka's 100th goal for the club, finished top on equal points but had a superior head-to-head record.


Netherlands

Netherlands.jpg

_96050204_kuyt.jpg

Feyenoord finally won their first title since 1999, eventually by 11 points.

PSV manager Henning Berg left at the end of the season to take over Palermo, and he was replaced by former Feyenoord manager Erwin Koeman, the brother of PSV's former Champions League-winning manager Ronald.


Other News

oHKtPq9Iygm4Jskgl%2BomWIHZ0ac0Qsa4nniytr

Despite winning 2 leagues titles, 2 Copa Libertadores and 1 Copa Sudamericana in 6 years, including a league title last season and a Copa Libertadores the season before, Diego Simeone was sacked by Racing Club.

On 05/06/2017 at 12:00, HawkAussie said:

I am going to say the elephant in the room and MACAU hosting the Asian Cup. Are you sure that is right.


You'll have to ask SI why they hardcoded Macau as one of the hosts for the Asian Cup. They only have one stadium. :lol:

Edited by git2thachoppa

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50 minutes ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

How many stadia do you need to play a football match? :D

To be fair Macau have 3 or so stadiums, it's the odd other host that only has one. But imagine the logistics of having two different international matches in one stadium, with one kicking off immediately after the last one finished.

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Posted (edited)

2014/15 Recap Part 2 - International Football
 

2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Champions League winner Claudio Gamboa added to his Champions League final exploits by scoring in another final, as Mexico successfully defended their Gold Cup with a 1-0 win over U.S.A. The Americans had no shots whatsoever.


Paraguay 2015 Copa América

53caf999-4681-431a-a45c-fad424c3a537-460

U.S.A. became the first team outside South America to win the Copa América, after being a few minutes from going out at the group stage. Draws with World champions Argentina (thanks in part to a red card), 3rd best team in the world Chile, and great rivals Mexico were ultimately enough to get through to the knockouts. And in the final they destroyed fellow surprise-finalists Uruguay 3-0, despite playing the whole match with 10 men, thanks in no small part to goalkeeper Brad Guzan (who replaced Ray Burse Jr. after the group stage due to his conceding of 6 goals in 3 matches).

Brazil's tournament is probably their lowest moment in history. A 3-1 loss to Colombia was followed by a 2-0 loss to Ecuador, who also missed a penalty. They needed to beat Bolivia by 2 goals, but they went behind, equalised, Alexandre Pato missed a penalty, and they only won 2-1 after Bolivia had a man sent off and Pato made amends. They were knocked out bottom of their group, below those three powerhouses. Baltemar Brito was of course sacked, and replaced with Renato Gaúcho.

The worst team in South America, Venezuela, achieved their best ever finish of 4th place, after opening with a win against the hosts.

It took extra time and a Lionel Messi winner for the best team in the world, Argentina, to beat them in the 3rd place playoff. Their manager moved on and Gerardo Martino returned despite an unspectacular 2010 World Cup campaign when he was last in charge.

Bolivia also reached a new best by reaching the quarter-finals, thanks to a win over Ecuador.

The hosts Paraguay went out at the group stage, losing to Venezuela and Peru, yet beating finalists Uruguay 2-0.


Macau 2015 Asian Cup

South Korea edged ahead as the most time winners of the competition, one ahead of Iran, Japan and Saudi Arabia. They gained their fourth trophy thanks to a routine 2-0 win over defending champions China, taking a two-goal lead after only 7 minutes and handing China their first 90-minute loss in an Asian Cup for a decade.

It was a tournament that saw the fallen powerhouses mostly return to their pedestals: South Korea won it, Japan made the semis, and they along with Saudi Arabia all finished on 6 points in their group of death, so one had to go early.

Australia got some revenge for 4 years earlier with a 2-0 reverse against previous runner-up Iran. The Iranian manager did not renew his contract.

Hosts and minnows Macau shocked everyone, reaching the quarter-finals and keeping a clean sheet in 3 out of 4 games. They drew with Australia after twice taking the lead, then with Vietnam, then destroyed Oman 4-0 to top their group. China needed a penalty shoot-out to beat them, and only after 3 Macau players went off injured and missed 4 of their 5 penalties.

United Arab Emirates were unlucky to go out. After 3 wins in the group stage that saw them score 11 goals, they were knocked out by the eventual winners after a last minute equaliser was followed by an extra time own goal to go from 1-0 up to 2-1 down.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

August 2015 - A Step Up

Whatever my next job would be, another Asian country was out of the question. I don't think I would be forgiven for that.

But even before my contract was completely up, I was contacted/tapped up by a couple of football assocations. The Copa América was going on about the same time as the Asian Cup, and firings meant opportunity. One country in particular were keen.

"We were impressed with your team when we came to Iran for the friendly. You obviously did a very good job there, Meester. We feel you and Chile are a good match, yes?"


CHILE WIN RACE FOR PROMISING YOUNG ENGLISH MANAGER

Chile have officially unveiled GIT2THACHOPPA as their new manager, becoming their first foreign manager since 1994.
Mr Thachoppa had previously been manager of Iran, taking them to an Asian Cup final and their best ever World Cup performance by drawing with France and beating Scotland in the group stage.
England fans will never forget Chile as the team that knocked them out at the 2014 World Cup group stage by the drawing of lots.
The new manager is tasked with taking the World Cup semi-finalists to Uruguay in 2018, in an already competitive qualifying group where this time only 3 nations can automatically qualify, while 4th place must enter a playoff.


Chile

Logo_Federaci%C3%B3n_de_F%C3%BAtbol_de_C

2t16zRC.png


Reasons For Choosing

I had wanted a return to a club job, but when a major country with great talent wants to throw money at you, you listen.

So my choice was a probably relatively obscure club with inferior players or, for a lot more money (and a lot more risk of failure), I could go to yet another beautiful country, the prosperous Chile, and take charge of great talent and well known names (indeed, a golden generation), while clashing with the likes of Brazil and world champions Argentina, and actually having a shot at beating them.

I would've made £30,000 a week with Iran, but with Chile it'll be closer to £20,000, so it can't be said that I left them for the money.


Real Life History (up to 2006) and Game History (from 2006)

Chile is one of the four founding members of CONMEBOL (with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) and competed in the inaugural World Cup of 1930. Since then, they've competed in 9 of the 20 World Cups. They reached third in 1962, when they hosted the tournament, but since then had failed to even win a game until 2014.

In 2014, a late goal against England saw Chile get out the group stage at the expense of England after a drawing of lots, and they went on to finish third, though without beating a major team. They have never won the Copa América, though were runner-up in 2011.

I am their second ever English manager, after Frank Powell in the 1928 Olympics. I'm their first foreign manager since Mirko Jozic in 1994.


Stadium

typupy1447344079.jpg

The Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos, with a capacity for 67,765.

As well as being the national stadium, it was infamously used as a torture chamber by the Pinochet regime after the American-backed coup d'etat of 1973. There is a lot of emotion attached to the stadium.


Rivals

Raul_Toro_y_Lolo_Fernandez.jpg

Peru - The Clásico del Pacífico (Pacific Derby) is a fierce rivalry borne from history, politics, the War of the Pacific and even the claim of who invented the bicycle kick. Chile have the better record (and won the war).

Argentina - A not-so-intense rivalry simply borne from the amount of times they've played each other. They are Chile's most regular opponent, but Chile have only won 7 of their 89 matches.


Records

The recently retired Pablo Contreras has the most appearances with 80, though Mark Gonzalez is currently on 71 and Luis Jimenez on 66. Long term, Matías Fernández (58), Alexis Sánchez (57) and Arturo Vidal (51) are most likely to break that record.

Marcelo Salas is the record goalscorer with 35 goals in 64 appearances. No one is close to breaking it, only one player even has a third of that number.


Squad

Goalkeepers

article-2669129-1EE7498D00000578-272_634

Espanyol's Claudio Bravo is still #1 at 32 years old, but River Plate's Carlos Puelle is a clear successor, debuting at 18 in the 2011 Copa America against Argentina. Chile are blessed with good depth in decent keepers, but these two are by far the best.

Defenders

13d2c23c0da4920e7fbccbce008ed3fc.jpg

Familiar names include captain Arturo Vidal (who plays in Mexico), Crystal Palace's Waldo Ponce, and Espanyol's Gary Medel. There are a few others playing in the major European leagues.

Attackers

Alexis+Sanchez+Matias+Fernandez+Honduras

An array of talent include Lazio's Alexis Sánchez, Chelsea's Matías Fernández, Freiberg's Nicolás Millán, Arsenal's Mark 'Speedy' González, Espanyol's Luis Jiménez, Lille's Sebastián Zúniga and Pachuca's Jorge Valdivia. But all are suffering varying form, and the key to achieving a run like the one in 2014 will be getting them all in their most effective positions. Additionally, several players are or will be 30 or over by the time of the World Cup.


Staff

henk-cate-wil-geen-bondscoach-nederlands

I bring my assistant manager with Iran, Henk ten Cate, with me to Chile. He'll also be in charge of the Under-23 Olympic team, I'm sure he's itching to manage.

The rest of the team are Chilean, including 36-year-old former international Sebastián 'Chamagol' González.


Fixtures

The next 3 years will be about the 2018 World Cup, which is in Uruguay.

Therefore 9 teams are playing for 3.5 spots. Last time, Uruguay weren't a contender, but perhaps their run to the final of the Copa América this year says it's good that they're out of the equation this time. Argentina will be expected to take top spot. Brazil may be at their lowest ever point, but they and Chile will be favourites to take the other two spots, leaving Colombia and Peru close behind trying to get a playoff spot, if not automatic qualification.

The first fixture is one of the easiest: at home to Bolivia. Then a few days later: at home to the world champions Argentina.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

Chile - 2015/16 (2018 World Cup Qualifiers)

South America's qualifying is competitive enough, usually but now there is only 3.5 spots for 9 teams due to Uruguay being hosts.

I get to see the squad first-hand and, as well as the clear increase in quality, it is a very different dynamic to previous teams I have managed. In these parts, players play in several positions, and it'd be more accurate to just call them 'defenders' and 'attackers'.
 

First Squad

Goalkeepers
Claudio Bravo - GK - 32, Espanyol, 60 caps
Carloe Puelle - GK - 22, River Plate, 13 caps
Carlos Lemus - GK - 26, RBC Roosendaal, 2 caps

Defenders
Arturo Vidal - SW/DC/DMC/MC/ML - 28, Atlas (Mexico), 51 caps
Gary Medel - DC/DR/DM/MC - 28, Espanyol, 24 caps
Julio Munoz - DL - 25, Feyenoord, 11 caps
Oscar Miranda - DC - 24, Manchester United, 22 caps
Waldo Ponce - SW/DC - 32, Crystal Palace (English Championship), 62 caps
Cristián Abarca - ML/DL/WBL/SW/DC - 26, Reggina, 28 caps
Leandro Delgado - DC/SW/DR - 33, Genclerbirligi, 14 caps
Bastián Arce - DC - 26, Heracles, 1 caps
René Lara - DM/MC - 20, Universidad Católica, uncapped
Luis Mena - DC/SW/DM/MC - 36, Colo Colo (Chile), uncapped

Attackers
Alexis Sánchez - ST/AMR/AML - 26, Lazio, 11 goals in 57 caps
Mark González - ML/AML - 31, Arsenal, 9 goals in 71 caps
Jorge Valdivia - AMC/MC - 31, Pachuca (Mexico), 2 goals in 40 caps
Eduardo Rubio - ST/AMR/AML - 31, Chievo, 12 goals in 42 caps
Luis Jiménez - AMC/MC/MR/AMR/ST - 31, Espanyol, 8 goals in 66 caps
Matías Fernández - AMC - 29, Chelsea, 7 goals in 58 caps
Cristóbal Chávez - ST - 26, Borussia Dortmund, 3 goals in 8 caps
Carlos Mansilla - ST - 24, Bayer Leverkusen, 2 goals in 12 caps
Héctor Núnez - ST - 24, Ajax, 3 goals in 17 caps
Sebastián Zúniga - ST/AMC - 25, Lille, 6 caps
Juan Pablo Viveros - WBL/ML/AML - 20, Heerenveen, 4 caps
Walter Quinteros - MC - 25, Pumas (Mexico), 1 cap
Sebastián Varas - AMC/ST - 22, Sao Paulo, uncapped

Nicolás Millán was unavailable due to injury.

The biggest news is the call-up of an uncapped 36-year-old, but the one-club man has been performing consistently since the start of his career.

The team may have got to 3rd place in the World Cup, but they only beat one team in 90 minutes and were usually the lesser side. The form of the attackers in club level is sketchy, and as you can see by the international record their goal rate is awful. It feels like this is a team that could play to scary potential if everyone is utilised properly and on form. Unfortunately the next tournament, the World Cup, is in 3 years and a lot of these players will be over 30.


World Cup Qualifiers - September 2015

Bolivia are one of the worst teams in qualifying and haven't scored as an away team in exactly 6 years. They're also without one of their star players. They will be playing for a 0-0 draw.

First Team

-------ST--ST-------
AML--AMC--AMR
---------MC--------
DL--DC--DC--DR
---------GK---------

GK: Puelle
DR: Medel
DC: Vidal (c)
DC: Miranda
DL: Abarca
MC: Quinteros
AMR: Rubio
AMC: Jiménez
AML: Viveros
ST: Mansilla
ST: Varas

With fitness in mind, and a game against Argentina in a few days, I play close to a full strength line-up but am able to drop the likes of speedy Gonzaléz and Fernández to the bench, while Alexis Sánchez and Valdivia get a day off.

My most noteworthy call is playing Abarca at left-back instead of Munoz. He is in inferior form, but is one of the greatest free-kick takers in the world and we can expect a lot of set-pieces in this match.

The goalkeeper Puelle gets more match experience, as years of being eased in to eventually replace Claudio Bravo continues under my management.

(30th) Chile 3 - 1 Bolivia (75th)
It only took them 10 minutes to score, their debuting starlet easily going past Manchester United's Miranda for a free shot. However 2 headers from free kicks and a penalty changed it around.

With a player injured after only 4 minutes, I'm able to call up Nicolás Millán.

=============================================================

Argentina are the defending World champions.

I'm faced with a conundrum. Returning manager Gerardo Martino played a tricky formation in his first match: a 4-3-1-2, with the strikers moving wide to allow Messi to go forward. I decide it's too risky to ignore. So, rather than play my best 11 players, I'll play a formation to combat it, as well as to make sure we have defensive numbers against a strong attacking force.

First Team
* = change from last game

------ST--ST----
-------AMC-----
-----CM--CM--
WB-----------WB
--CB--CB--CB--
--------GK-------

GK: Bravo*
DC: Vidal (c)
DC: Miranda
DC: Arce*
WBR: Medel
WBL: Munoz*
MC: Lara*
MC: Quinteros
AMC: Fernández*
ST: Mansilla
ST: Rubio

If the formation is played, my flat 3 centre-backs will deal zonally with the two strikers and Messi, wing-backs will attack the space wide as well as provide defensive cover, the two central midfielders will support, while there will be an attacking midfielder either making use of space in front of the defenders, or forcing one or more of their 3 central midfielders into his own half to mark him.

This means big names like Mark González, Luis Jiménez and Alexis Sánchez don't even make the bench, while young Lara will make his debut and uncapped 36-year-old Mena is on the bench as his cover.

(30th) Chile 0 - 0 Argentina (1st)
Martino played exactly the formation anticipated. Both sides had a couple of scares, but our defence did their job. With an injury to striker Rubio after 23 minutes, I brought on Zúniga as an attacking midfielder and he cut through their defence with his incredible dribbling ability. Had he been more of a finisher, we would've been 1-0 or 2-0 ahead quickly. A good point.


Friendlies - October and November 2015

I use the same approach with friendlies as before: picking second-string sides to try out new players.

(18th) Chile 2 - 0 Jamaica (98th)
An experimental mostly second-string side strolled to victory after a goal in 12 seconds. The beast (20 Strength, 20 Jumping, 20 Balance, 20 Heading) Nicolás Canales, making his debut at 30, came on and headed in a corner.

(181st) Cuba 1 - 3 Chile (21st)


World Cup Qualifiers - November 2015

I'm still trying to find the formation, or if there will even be a set one as the players are so fluid.

(14th) Colombia 3 - 1 Chile (23rd)

(12th) Peru 4 - 0 Chile (23rd)
We had 14 shots, 3 on target.

Not a good end to the year against fierce rivals.

Clearly 3 centre-backs is required, because players like Falcao and Andrade just seem to run around them as they watch.


=============================================================

Henk ten Cate didn't pick up a point with the Under-23 Olympic team in Olympic qualifying, but Chile's youth are poor and the team lost to all better sides.

=============================================================


World Cup Qualifiers - April and June 2016

Now that I'm settled in, some big names are dropped for the next squad.

After the Colombia and Peru games, I make sure not to fall for the England approach of calling up out-of-form big names.

Claudio Bravo is suddenly in relegation form this season. I kept faith in him for Colombia, but he was dropped for Peru. Now he doesn't even make the squad; his time may be over.

Matías Fernández and Luis Jimenez are also dropped, due to not playing in their clubs' first team nor setting the world alight.

After trying 4-2-3-1 (Colombia) and 4-4-2 diamond (Peru), I'm trying a 3-4-3 with the front two going wide to allow the attacking midfielder in the hole to go forward. Most of the strikers play wide as well, so perhaps this is a suitable tactic for the team.

(28th) Chile 0 - 0 Brazil (11th)
Getting a point against Brazil is no bad thing, but they were there for the taking so I would've liked a win, or at least a shot on target...

(24th) Chile 2 - 0 Venezuela (93rd)
An easy win, but the team still aren't clicking.


Current standings

Argentina - 14
Peru - 13
Brazil - 12
---------------------
Bolivia - 11*
---------------------
Colombia - 9*
Chile - 8
Paraguay - 4
Ecuador - 3
Venezuela - 3

*Have played one game extra

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

2015/16 Review Part 1 - Club Football

Selected Summer Transfers
Sasa Andjic (23, Montenegrin, DC) - Bayern Munich to Manchester United - £19m
Paul Smith (24, American, ST) - Hertha Berlin to Koln - £17m
Denny Amin (25, Indonesian, MR/AMR) - Blackburn Rovers to Liverpool - £16.75m
Rafinha - Newcastle United to AC Milan - £13m
Giovanni dos Santos - Fiorentina to AC Milan - Free

Selected Winter Transfers
Josef Angerschmid (26, Austrian, AML/ML) - Arsenal to Inter Milan - £33.5m
Kevin Brown (22, Scottish, AMR/MR) - Arsenal to Inter Milan - £32.5m
Cristian Benavente - Arsenal to Lazio - £25.5m
Eid Youssef (27, Egyptian, ST) - Blackburn Rovers to Aston Villa - £23m
Emmanuel Guichard (22, French, ST) - Liverpool to Bayern Munich - £21.5m


2015 Awards

Barcelona's French striker Mathieu Henry won FIFA World Player of the Year. Last year's winner, Newcastle United's Obafemi Martins, and fellow striker Inter Milan's Claudio Gamboa were 2nd and 3rd.

Chelsea's Argentine striker Italo Bini won the Ballon d'Or European Football of the Year for the second year in a row. Fellow Argentine Gonzalo Higuaín, of Real Madrid, and Manchester United's Kevin Doyle were 2nd and 3rd.


European Cups

moygie.jpg?itok=PnNw5Edm

Last year's Champions League runner-up Bayern Munich didn't have to play away from home in this year's final, and beat surprise finalists Benfica 1-0 with a winner in the first minute to allow David Moyes to lift the biggest club trophy in football.

Regular winners Inter Milan only reached the quarter-finals this time, being knocked out 6-4 by Bayern Munich.

Liverpool failed to even make the group stage, being knocked out by Brondby after a 3-0 loss away.

Roma beat FC Koln 3-1 in the UEFA Cup final.

West Bromwich Albion's return to European football ended in the quarter-finals, losing 3-2 to the eventual winners.


England

England.jpg

Premier League

2983C15200000578-3118358-Steve_McClaren_

Obafemi Martins topped the scoring and assist charts as Newcastle United not only ended their 89-year wait for a top division title, but won it with 5 games to spare, never leaving top spot after the 14th game. Steve McClaren's work and the club's gradual rise made it almost inevitable.

Michael Laudrup's Arsenal improved and finished best of the rest in 2nd, 10 points behind Newcastle.

In his first full season, former Manchester City managing legend Stuart Pearce took relegation-threatened Coventry City to 6th and into the UEFA Cup.

jm_2585903b.jpg

Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea for the new season, after taking a year out after being sacked by Juventus. He took the team that finished 3rd down to 7th with 13 points less than last season.

Defending champions Manchester United and Roy Keane finished way back in 8th, 22 points behind Newcastle.

F.A. Cup

pearce_trophy1.jpg

Pearce also won silverware in just his first year, as the cup specialists finally landed the big one as Coventry beat West Brom 1-0 in a dire final.

Football League and Non-League

Crystal Palace sank to the bottom of the Championship under Sam Allardyce. He didn't even last a year in the job and was replaced by Chris Waddle, who had recently taken Sheffield Wednesday into the Premier League. He had no chance of saving Palace from relegation this season though. Their first time in the third tier for 4 decades.

Yeovil Town and Aldershot Town reached the Championship for the first time, winning the League One title under Phil Parkinson and playoffs under Tony Mowbray respectively.

les-ferdinand-qpr-64064-2247272_613x460.

Ricki Herbert was sacked at QPR. Joining them midway through last season, he couldn't stop them being relegated from the Championship, but this season he had taken them to the relegation area of League One. He was replaced with Les Ferdinand, who led them to safety.


France

France.jpg

Toulouse won their first Ligue 1 title.

Usual winners Lyon didn't even finish in the Champions League places under new manager Claude Puel.

The Coupe de France put the F.A. Cup to shame: only one Ligue 1 side reached the semi-finals with two second-tier side and one third-tier side. Ligue 2 side Séte, who beat new champions Toulouse on the way to the final, won it after beating Reims 2-1.


Italy

Italy.jpg

AC Milan proved it wasn't a fluke by retaining their Serie A title.

Inter Milan only lost 2 games, but they drew 18 and won 18, so finished 5 points behind in 2nd.


Scotland

skysports-craig-levein-ann-budge-robbie-

Craig Levein's Hearts broke Celtic's 5-title winning streak, just like they broke the Old Firm's dominance 6 years ago, with relative ease.

collins-597078.jpg

This  despite the arrival of former Celtic player John Collins as the Bhoys' new manager.

The Big 4 remained, with Hibs and Rangers taking 3rd and 4th.

George Burley's Hibs won their first Scottish Cup in 114 years, beating Kilmarnock 1-0.


Other News

Louis Saha has started his managerial career, taking charge of... Galway United in Republic of Ireland.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

2015/16 Review Part 2 - International Football

Senegal 2016 African Cup of Nations

A 1-0 win over Cameroon meant Ivory Coast won their 4th Cup in the last 5, and now tie with Egypt as most times winners (with 5 overall). Ulrich Stielike has won all 4, and been in charge for a decade now, an incredible record.

After reaching the World Cup 2 years ago, Guinea went all the way to the semi-finals.

Having a pedigree of reaching the good end of the knockouts, and with a second round appearance in the 2014 World Cup, hosts Senegal expected more than a group stage exit on goal difference.


Papua New Guinea 2016 OFC Nations Cup

New Zealand also won their 4th trophy in the last 5, beating Tahiti in the final 5-0 on aggregate.


Norway 2016 European Championship Qualifiers

0VgcBqr.png

Group A
Switzerland - 21
Ukraine - 19
Israel - 18
Northern Ireland - 16
Kazakhstan - 9
Andorra - 0

Group B
Netherlands - 23
Bulgaria - 20
Slovakia - 15
Latvia - 14
Estonia - 11
San Marino - 1

Group C
Finland - 17
Russia - 16
Albania - 15
Spain - 7
Moldova - 1

A last-minute winner in the final match against Albania saw Finland make their Euro debut 2 years after their World Cup debut.

torres3_BOFI.jpg?width=840

Pako Ayesterán took Spain to even lower depths and they were out of contention, and him out of a job, with 2 games to spare.

Group D
France - 18
Republic of Ireland - 17
Scotland - 11
Iceland - 9
Liechtenstein - 0

Group E
England - 20
Georgia - 14
Slovenia - 11
Turkey - 8
Azerbaijan - 2

Like Spain, Turkey also suffered a hangover from a poor World Cup. After two Euro semis in a row, they failed to qualify.

After 6 years, Azerbaijan finally kept a clean sheet. Then they kept another one in the next match!

Group F
Romania - 18
Poland - 13*
Italy - 13*
Macedonia - 6
Faroe Islands - 2
*Head to head: Poland 1 - 0 Italy

Once more, Italy failed to qualify for a European Championship after a good World Cup performance.

Group G
Denmark - 17
Germany - 16
Belgium - 14
Lithuania - 7
Cyprus - 2

Group H
Greece - 16
Portugal - 14
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 11
Austria - 9
Malta - 4

Group I
Belarus - 15
Serbia - 13* (+7 GD)
Sweden - 13* (+3 GD)
Hungary - 11
Armenia - 1
(Head-to-Head: Serbia 3 - 3 Sweden, H2H away goals: Serbia 3 - 3 Sweden)

Group J
Wales - 18
Montenegro - 13*
Czech Republic - 13*
Croatia - 9
Luxembourg - 2
(Head-to-head: Montenegro 3 - 3 Czech Republic, H2H away goals: Montenegro 3 - 0 Czech Republic)

Playoffs (aggregate)

Bulgaria 1 - 1 Georgia (Bulgaria win 3-0 on penalties)
Germany 3 - 2 Russia
Montenegro 2 - 1 Republic of Ireland
Poland 2 - 1 Ukraine
Portugal 2 - 2 Serbia (Serbia win on away goals)

World Cup runner-up Republic of Ireland and Euro 2012 runner-up Ukraine won't be in Norway next year.

Portugal's dark period continues: they haven't qualified for a Euro since 2004.

But Serbia and Montenegro will play in their first ever tournament as individual nations.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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I still think you should qualify for the next World Cup, Bolivia can't keep up that form! Maybe pick a goalkeeper who's name doesn't start with the letter C? :D Some surprising leagues as well with Toulose and Hearts winning their leagues. And well...Louis Saha might just be looking for a Galway girl? KUTGW :)

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Wow the South America qualifying standings look weird. Peru and Bolivia in the top 4.

Good progress by the way

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Keano16   

I see Ireland made it to the world cup final. If only that had happened IRL.:(

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Euro 2016 in Norway

0VgcBqr.png

Preview

Keep an eye on:

- The hosts, Norway, who reached the World Cup final in 2010, though failed to qualify for any tournament since.

- Group A, which contains 3 big contenders, including the defending champions Germany. Also, England v Germany as the last game.

- The knockouts, which could see Serbia face Montenegro for the first time in a tournament. They have previously faced each other in qualifying, with a win each and an aggregate score of 2-2.

Group A
Denmark
England - Euro 2008 runner-up
Germany - Euro 2012 winners
Netherlands - Euro 2008 winners, 2014 WC semi-finalists

Group B
Belarus - Euro debut
Greece
France
Montenegro - Tournament debut

Group C
Finland - Euro debut
Poland
Norway - Hosts, 2010 WC runner-up
Wales

Group D
Bulgaria - Euro 2012 semi-finalists
Romania
Serbia - Tournament debut
Switzerland


Match Days 1 & 2

Group A

Netherlands 1 - 0 England
An incredible display by the Dutch centre-backs and goalkeeper earned the Dutch 3 points.

Denmark 1 - 1 Germany
A sensational Danish free kick from the flank curled in (was it a shot or cross?), but an own goal in the last minute denied the Danes a huge win.

Germany 1 - 1 Netherlands

England 2 -2 Denmark


Group B

France 0 - 0 Montenegro
2 injuries and a sending off didn't stop Montenegro getting a point against perennial underachievers France.

Greece 0 - 0 Belarus

Belarus 0 - 0 France

Montenegro 2 - 1 Greece
Montenegro get their first ever tournament win.


Group C

Norway 2 - 0 Wales

Finland 0 - 0 Poland

Norway 1 - 0 Finland
The hosts are the first team to reach the knockout stage.

Poland 2 - 1 Wales
Poland scored a sickening winner late on, just minutes after Wales' David Jones was sent off for a second yellow, which knocks Wales out.


Group D

Romania 2 - 0 Switzerland
2 goals in the first 6 minutes gave Switzerland the worst start.

Serbia 0 - 0 Bulgaria

Switzerland 1 - 1 Bulgaria

Romania 1 - 3 Serbia
Serbia's first ever tournament win, in style.


Match Day 3

Key: Team - GF - GD - Pts

Group A

Netherlands - 2 - +1 - 4
Denmark - 3 - 0 - 2
Germany - 2 - 0 - 2
England - 2 - -1 - 1

Denmark v Netherlands
Germany v England

England need to beat Germany, Denmark need to better Germany's result, or match it but score more goals.

100501776-Schweinsteiger-SPORT-xlarge_tr

The two Schweinsteigers (no relation) combined to score in the space of 4 minutes for Germany, and it could've been one or two before that. But with Inter Milan's most expensive striker in your team, the £39m John Atkinson, you'll always get chances, and England's Atkinson finally got in an equaliser before half-time. Needing a win, England went behind again soon after half-time thanks to a Podolski curler. Aaron Lennon scored an 89th minute equaliser, but that was it.
Denmark dominated Netherlands, as much as one shot on target dominates two shots with 0 on target, but the match ended a goalless draw.
Therefore Netherlands, and Germany on goals scored, go through.


Group B

Montenegro - 2 - +1 - 4
Belarus - 0 - 0 - 2
France - 0 - 0 - 2
Greece - 1 - -1 - 1

France v Greece
Montenegro v Belarus

Montenegro just need to avoid defeat, but Belarus are out if they lose. The winner of France v Greece will go through if Belarus don't win.

Montenegro came from behind to beat Belarus 2-1 and top their group. After a fast start, Greece had a man sent off at 1-1, allowing France to take the win 2-1 and qualify for the knockouts.


Group C

Norway - 3 - +3 - 6
Poland - 2 - +1 - 4
Finland - 0 - -1 - 1
Wales - 1 - -3 - 0

Finland v Wales
Norway v Poland

Norway and Poland both go through with a draw. Finland need to beat Wales and hope Poland lose.

Playing against the hosts is hard enough, but to do it with a man sent off in the first half was asking for trouble. Poland went behind late in the second half but immediately equalised, ending the match 1-1. Wales beat Finland 1-0 anyway.


Group D

Serbia - 3 - +2 - 4
Romania - 3 - 0 - 3
Bulgaria - 1 - 0 - 2
Switzerland - 1 - -2 - 1

Bulgaria v Romania
Serbia v Switzerland

Switzerland and Bulgaria need to win, Serbia just a draw, Romania could still go out with a draw.

Bulgaria and Romania drew in a dull goalless match. Switzerland went two down in just over half an hour, but scored twice in three minutes before the hour. Real Madrid's Milan Stepanov scored just two minutes later to give Serbia the win and 1st place.


Final Group Standings

Group A

Netherlands - 5
Germany - 3 (0 GD, 4 GF)

------------------------------------
Denmark - 3 (0 GD, 3 GF)
England - 2

Group B

Montenegro - 7
France - 5

-----------------------
Belarus - 2
Greece - 1

Group C

Norway - 7
Poland - 5

----------------------
Wales - 3
Finland - 1

Group D

Serbia - 7
Romania - 4

----------------------
Bulgaria - 3
Switzerland - 1


Quarter-Finals

Brazil-v-Netherlands-3rd-Place-Playoff-2

Netherlands 1 - 0 France
Wijnaldum scored another winner for Netherlands.

Poland 1 - 1 Serbia AET (1-1 FT) (1-3 on penalties)

Germany 2 - 0 Montenegro
No upsets as Germany efficiently dealt with the debutants.

Norway 0 - 2 Romania
The hosts go out with a whimper.


Semi-Finals

w3-soccer-dutch-a-20140707.jpg

Netherlands 0 - 0 Serbia AET (5-4 on penalties)

Germany 2 - 1 Romania AET (1-1 FT)
A late equaliser wasn't enough as Germany asserted their authority and set up the final everyone wanted between the 2008 champions and 2012 champions, and great rivals in their own right.


Euro 2016 Final

Netherlands.jpg    V  Germany.jpg

Netherlands v Germany

History

It is a match between the 2012 and 2008 champions.

Netherlands were the 2008 champions.

Germany are the defending champions and aim to be the first country to ever retain the European Championships.

If you include West Germany, the Germans can win their 5th Euro. If you don't, whoever wins this will be the record winners with 3 trophies.

Form

Both teams played each other in the group stage and it was an even 1-1.

Netherlands have only conceded one goal so far, beating England and France but needing penalties against Serbia.

Germany drew all their group matches, and only their match against Montenegro didn't see both teams score.

Managers

skysports-jurgen-klopp-liverpool-premier

Germany have been managed by Jurgen Klopp for the past 6 years, winning Euro 2012.

9401_kila.jpg

Netherlands are managed by John Kila, who was in charge of the Under-19s from 2009 until 2012, when he replaced Louis Van Gaal, taking them to a Euro U19 semi-final before being knocked out by Germany U19s 4-0. He took Netherlands to the 2014 World Cup semi-finals.

Team News

Netherlands are without the injured Ryan Babel.

Germany are more weakened with 5 injuries, including to Volk who made 3 assists in their last 2 games.

Netherlands play 4-4-1-1: Huitema (Málaga); de Jong (c) (Fiorentina), Hendriks (Werder Bremen), de Geus (Recreativo),  Jansen (Inter Milan); de Guzman (Inter Milan), Wijnaldum (Juventus), Leferink (Juventus), Emanuelson (Manchester United); Aissati (Lazio); van der Ende (Inter Milan) - 7 Serie A, 2 La Liga, 1 Premier League, 1 Bundesliga

Germany play a narrow 4-4-2 diamond with wide strikers: Sievers (Inter Milan); Castro (Valencia), Gebhardt (Roma), Mertesacker (c) (Fiorentina), Krauss (Inter Milan); Tasci (Celta); Neitzel (Hertha Berlin), Rehm (Manchester United); B. Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich); Krause (Inter Milan), Kohler (Borussia Dortmund) - 5 Serie A, 3 Bundesliga, 2 La Liga, 1 Premier League


First Half

de Jong is injured early and replaced by new captain Barcelona's Heitinga.

Not for the first time in this tournament, Netherlands broke from a defensive clearance going straight in front of the striker van der Ende to finish. 1-0.

Half Time

Germany bring on Lahm for Tasci.

Second Half

In minutes, Hendriks' long range shot is deflected to double the lead.

Germany start pinging balls into the box and have several close chances, including a disallowed goal, but Netherlands and goalkeeper Huitema keep another clean sheet.

Final score: Netherlands 2 - 0 Germany

===============================================================

2016 European Champions

NETHERLANDS

===============================================================

netherlands-1403584132.jpg

Awards

Player of the Tournament: Milan Stepanov (Serbia)
Golden Boot: Zeljko Zaric (Montenegro) - 3 goals (and 0 assists in 334 minutes)
Young Player of the Tournament: Cornel Ionescu (Romania)

Team of the Tournament:

--------------------------------------------- Huitema (Netherlands) ---------------------------------------------
------- Hendriks (Netherlands) --- de Geus (Netherlands) --- Stepanov (Serbia) ---------------
Ionescu (Romania) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Sachinidis (Greece)
------------------------------ Mavuba (France) --------------- Nasri (France) --------------------------------
------------------------------------------- Wijnaldum (Netherlands) -------------------------------------------
----------------------------- Serban (Romania) ---------- T. Schweinsteiger (Germany) ---------------


Selected Managerial News

Jurgen Klopp stepped down as Germany manager after the final. Former international, one-club Werder Bremen player and Germany youth manager Dieter Eilts replaced him.

John Jensen stepped down after 8 years as Denmark manager, getting credible draws against the two finalists and England.

newcastle_united_xi_manager_peter_beards

Peter Beardsley was sacked as England manager after an eventful 6 years that at least will provide constant replays and talking head comments on BBC 3's 'Most Mental Top Something Something England/Football Moments' programs.

On 03/07/2017 at 23:51, Makoto Nakamura said:

I still think you should qualify for the next World Cup, Bolivia can't keep up that form! Maybe pick a goalkeeper who's name doesn't start with the letter C? :D Some surprising leagues as well with Toulose and Hearts winning their leagues. And well...Louis Saha might just be looking for a Galway girl? KUTGW :)

 

On 03/07/2017 at 23:57, kidthekid said:

Wow the South America qualifying standings look weird. Peru and Bolivia in the top 4.

Good progress by the way

 

On 04/07/2017 at 00:04, Keano16 said:

I see Ireland made it to the world cup final. If only that had happened IRL.:(

Thanks for the comments. Claudio Bravo's time looks up, Peru have upped their game, and never count out the Irish!

Be sure to check out the next post which will be a 5/10-year recap which will keep you up to date.

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andychar   

On one hand its great to see Scotland qualifying for major championships.

On the other its bloody realistic that we can't win a game in major championships.

Even in a virtual world Archie Gemmill's goal against Holland in 1978 is still played on repeat in most Scottish bars.

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andychar   

16 June 1990 Sweden 1–2 Scotland

Ha suck it Sweden!

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Posted (edited)

5-Year Recap: 2011-2016

See 2006-2011 5-year recap here: Link
- My Career
- The Bucket List
- Club Football
- International Football
- Notable Players
- Notable Managers

- Incredible Events You May Have Missed


My Career

Iran.jpg

After reaching the Asian Cup final for the first time since the golden era of the 1970s (in just my first year), the milestones kept coming with Iran: I managed the Under-23s to the London 2012 Olympics, again for the first time since the 70s. Then, after a routine World Cup qualification campaign, I led Iran to their best ever points haul, goals scored and goals conceded record at a World Cup, with 4 points, 3 scored and 3 conceded thanks to a draw with France and a 3-1 win over Scotland.

My reign ended with Australia getting revenge in the 2015 Asian Cup and knocking us out at the quarter-finals with their own 2-0 win.

Overall, life-changing experiences for me, which resulted in many happy memories and many happy Iranians.

Chile.jpg

After allowing my contract to expire (because Iran would likely have no decent strikers for the next World Cup), I planned on returning to the daily action of club football.

However, Chile approached me, a team that had last year finished 3rd at the World Cup. Despite the incredibly tough qualifying campaign ahead and having to follow on from an overachievement, I couldn't reject the huge step up in quality.

So far, a couple of bad away losses have coupled with good home results and performances, so qualification could go either way.


The Bucket list

Win something - Won Serie C2/A title with Varese in 2008.

Manage a club in one of the major nations - Achieved with Varese in Italy.

Manage in a large stadium - Achieved with Tunisia in my first match, a deciding World Cup qualifer. The 100,000-capacity Azadi in Tehran probably won't be beaten.

Manage Iran (my second nationality) - Arrived as a promising manager, left a bit of a legend.

Manage one of the Home Nations - I'm English, but being stalked and abused by the press isn't everyone's idea of a fun time. I'm 1/8th Irish (like the rest of the world), so I'm including Republic of Ireland.

Manage Manchester United - My club.

Manage Brighton & Hove Albion - My hometown club.

Manage Worthing - My actual hometown club that I don't support because they're so low down that it's impossible to, and they may never be at a level where I could consider managing them.

Manage Barcelona or Real Madrid - Like the England job, but the press are comedically nutty rather than sadistic, and the players are incredible.

Manage an Old Firm club - I prefer Celtic, because green is my favourite colour. Also: 1/8th Irish.

Manage in the MLS - A lower quality of football, thanks partly to David Beckham's L.A. Galaxy deal falling through, but there are worse things than to get paid to do football and live in New York or L.A.

Manage a host nation

Manage Japan - I like Japan.

Manage in South Korea - There's this new Japanese immigration law that says only the international manager can be foreign. Yeah, that's it. So for club football, South Korea would be close enough!

Manage A Big Sexy International Team - Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, maybe France, Spain or Netherlands.

Manage a stinking rich club

Get sacked - Everyone has to get sacked. I got in early, losing my first job at Salyut-Energia Belgorod in just over 3 months after failing to steer them away from relegation.

Experience an international tournament - Achieved with Iran at the 2011 Asian Cup in Australia.

Experience a World Cup - Achieved with Iran at Spain 2014.

Experience an Olympics - Achieved with Iran U23s at London 2012.

Win every continent's international competition

Gain a famous friend - Met Frank Rijkaard after his Barcelona team asked to play a friendly at Varese

Become a millionaire - I have over a million now already, and if Chile qualify for the World Cup I'll have plenty more by the end of the contract.


Club Football

After the dominance of one club (or an elite few) in all the major leagues, the previous few years have seen the power shifting away in many countries. Arsenal have dropped since Wenger left, allowing Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle United to be crowned Premier League champions. Meanwhile, AC Milan have stopped Inter's run with 2 titles in a row now, PSV haven't won in a few years, Real Madrid have become Spain's new dominant force and, while Celtic continue to dominate the SPL, the Big 2 in Scotland has turned into a Big 4 including Hearts and Hibernian.

Champions-League.jpg

After Arsenal won arguably the greatest Champions League final in history to take their throne as the undisputed best over Inter Milan, the two clubs won all 5 of the trophies from 2011 to 2015. Wenger retiring in 2013 had seemingly left the way open for Inter to dominate the world, and they became the first team to successfully defend a Champions League, with the 2 biggest transfers in the following 2015/16 season involving Arsenal stars going to Inter. But AC Milan breaking their domestic streak and Bayern Munich winning the latest Champions League suggests it may not be that easy.

England's presence has waned a little, but they've still had at least one team in every semi-final in 4 of the past 5 years.

Champions League Winners
2012: Inter Milan
2013: Arsenal
2014: Inter Milan
2015: Inter Milan
2016: Bayern Munich


International Football

The quality of teams continued to even out,.

Following from Norway's giant-toppling run to the 2010 World Cup final (and all the other upsets that year), Ukraine made an appearance in the Euro 2012 final and Republic of Ireland in the 2014 World Cup final. However the big teams still win the major trophies, with Germany and Netherlands winning Euro 2012 and 2016 respectively, and Argentina winning the 2014 World Cup (as predicted all those years ago by their youth success across the board and attacking quality and depth).


Notable Players

Italo Bini - After being bought by AC Milan in 2010, he eventually burst on the scene in 2012/13 scoring 8 goals in 4+(1) Champions League matches, and 15 in 19 Serie A games. Chelsea got him on a free at the end of that season, and 2014 was a peak year as he scored 31 in 38 Premier League games after helping Argentina to the World Cup with a Golden Boot. He's still only 24.

andreabarzagli-cropped_1xnsrawnhcvz12skq

Andrea Barzagli - In 9 years at AC Milan, it can be said he's only had one season that wasn't very good, and that was only his second season, and he only played half the games. Won the Golden Ball in the 2014 World Cup, at 33 years old.

Carlos-Vela-Mexico.jpg?fit=640,382

Carlos Vela - The Mexican heir to Thierry Henry's throne, the Arsenal star had a goal record better than 1 in 1 internationally and nearly 1 in 1 in Europe, as well as banging them in domestically... until Wenger left. He's since been moved into midfield but, while his goal rate is down, his performances continue to be some of the best in the world.

Gonzalo+Higuain+Real+Madrid+v+Barcelona+

Gonzalo Higuaín - Though yet to repeat the 1-in-1 record of 37 in 38 La Liga games of 2011, he continues to provide and score goals at a 1-in-1 rate for Real Madrid and Argentina.

tumblr_nw7lreYucB1qfhvabo7_500.jpg

Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero - Atlético Madrid's Spaniard and Argentine enjoy strong goal and assist rates for club and country, so it's a shame Atlético Madrid's one-club man Torres only has one league title to show for it (in the season he scored 36 in 38 La Liga games and 10 in 7 Spain internationals). Aguero has a World Cup, Copa América and Olympic gold medal though.

Obafemi-Martins_1217675c.jpg

Obafemi Martins - The regular African Player of the Year winner, and former World Player of the Year, has scored at least 20 league goals in all but one of the last 4 seasons, and has an incredible strike and assist rate in European and international football as well. 22 goals and 11 assists saw him finally lift the Premier League trophy for Newcastle United.

Claudio Gamboa - Inter Milan's striker has 31 goals in 29 internationals, and scored the winning goals for both Inter and Mexico in 2015's Champions League and CONCACAF Gold Cup finals. Last season, he scored 13 in 10 Champions League games.

Dave Hone - Consistently sensational performances for Coventry in the Premier League, and Republic of Ireland on the way to the World Cup final, make him one of the best defenders in the world. Yet he's only valued at £3.8m for a 25-year-old. If I was managing a big club, I'd be excited to sign such a bargain.

Milan Stepanov - Euro 2016's Player of the Tournament, Real Madrid's Serbian defender has improved even further in the last two years despite being 33.

Michael-Mancienne-006.jpg

Michael Mancienne - The English-born Seychelles international has consistently been the best player wherever he's gone, dominating in England's Championship (7.46 average rating), Ligue 1 (7.38), Eredivisie (7.41, 7.55) and Serie A (7.64 debut season, three 7.3 seasons).

Dirk+Kuyt+Brazil+v+Netherlands+3rd+Place

Dirk Kuyt - Despite very unspectacular goal and assist returns for Liverpool, an average of better than 1 goal every 2 games for Netherlands hints at his notable knack to always score when the big games come around. When it's tournament time, he loves to score in as many games as possible, and has long earned his reputation of being a giant pain in the butt (though he didn't appear at Euro 2016).

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Nicklas Bendtner - After leaving Arsenal for rivals Inter, he returned in 2012, scoring a healthy amount for club and country while reminding everyone he's played for both Inter and Arsenal.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic - The Inter Milan legend broke records, whether for goals or assists, and won trophies for fun. He once even played in goal for Sweden. There was nothing Zlatan couldn't do.


Notable Managers

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Arsene Wenger - Retired an Arsenal legend after 9 Premier Leagues (6 in a row until his retirement) and 2 Champions Leagues.

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Roberto Mancini - Arsene's Italian counterpart, Inter Milan's manager has won 8 Serie A titles (7 in a row) and 3 Champions Leagues (2 in a row) in 12 years. So far.

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Steve McClaren - After taking England to the Euro 2008 final, he left in 2010 to join Newcastle United. They immediately went up to 3rd, and gradually made their way up until they won their first Premier League in 2016. He's also taken them to two Champions League semi-finals. Universally adored, especially by geordies.

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Jurgen Klopp - In 9 years he took Mainz from near relegation to the third tier to 6th in the Bundesliga and Europe, before being audaciously sacked. After a year at Wolfsburg bringing them back to the top tier, he took over Germany, who had failed to qualify for Euro 2008 and only won one match at the 2010 World Cup. He immediately won Euro 2012 and nearly again in 2016, losing out in the final, close to becoming the only ever team to successfully defend a European Championship.

John Kila - He rose to prominence first in charge of the Netherlands Under-19s and taking them to a Euro U19 semi-final. He was promoted to head coach of the full team in 2012 and took Netherlands to the World Cup semi-final and won Euro 2016.

Ulrich Stielike - Although failed to qualify for a World Cup yet, his 10 years as Ivory Coast coach has seen them win 4 of the 5 African Cup of Nations campaigns he has overseen so far.

José Manuel de la Torre - After a couple of leagues with Ajax, he joined AC Milan in 2014. In his first season, he broke rivals Inter Milan's 7-title winning streak, then retained the title the next year.

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David Moyes - After his spell with Everton and taking Preston North End to the Premier League, he spent two seasons at Celtic winning both SPL titles and reaching the Champions League final. He then moved to Bayern Munich, again winning the title in every season so far (3) and most impressively, in 2016, ending Inter Milan's dominance of Europe by beating them in the quarters and winning the Champions League.

Marcelino García Toral - Took over at Real Madrid after the disaster of Capello's run saw them no longer a top 2 side. All but one of his 6 seasons so far has seen Real win the title.

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Mark Hughes - 10 years at Blackburn Rovers saw them climb up from 15th to 4th, as well as a UEFA Cup trophy and then a Champions League semi-final in their debut season.

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Diego Simeone - Since joining Racing Club in 2008, in over 6 years, he won 4 league titles, a few other trophies, and most impressively two Copa Libertadores in a row, which was nearly 3 but for a lost final the next year. His ultimate reward for all this was the sack a few months later.

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Glenn Hoddle - Not notable for success, but absolute disaster. Mr Relegation has relegated 3 of his last 4 clubs in his first half-seasons. His one near-miss came with Monaco, who had already been relegated last season, and he was 2 points from double-relegating them.


Incredible Events You May Have Missed

- The top 3 in Belgium finished on equal points, TWO SEASONS IN A ROW. The big guns Anderlecht overcame the two newly promoted surprise challengers on 'games won' first time, but failed to do it twice and FC Brussels won the league a year late on 'games won' and broke the Big 2 dominance.

- At the 2014 World Cup, England and Chile played each other in the final round of group games in a winner-takes-all match. But they drew. Level on points, goal difference and goals scored, lots had to be drawn to decide who reached the knockouts. Of course, England were eliminated as Chile's name was drawn.

- There was that time I made a Match of the Day intro for the Spain 2014 World Cup, did I mention that before?

 

Edited by git2thachoppa

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On 11/07/2017 at 08:23, andychar said:

16 June 1990 Sweden 1–2 Scotland

Ha suck it Sweden!

27 years ago. Not even England are that bad. :D

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Posted (edited)

Chile - 2016/17 (2018 World Cup Qualifiers: Part 2)

September 2016

We next face Paraguay away. They hosted last year's Copa América but only got 3 points in the group stage. But it will be close.

(85th) Paraguay 2 - 2 Chile (33rd)
Another not-bad-result-that-should've-been-better. 1-0 up at half time from a set-piece own goal, I told them not to be complacent. We then conceded from a set piece, scored from a set piece, then eccentric young keeper Puelle ran away from his goal to catch a long, long cross which allowed the Paraguayan to tap it into an open goal.


October 2016

The tough fixtures keep coming, with a match in Ecuador followed by away to the best team in the world, Argentina, who are undefeated and only conceded 1 goal in 7 qualifiers. Any points will be good, though we need away wins.

Chile haven't lost in Ecuador in 12 years.

(72nd) Ecuador 1 - 0 Chile (35th)
So of course they win. A dominant destruction by Ecuador.

Argentina 5 - 1 Chile
We took the lead in the first half, but they scored 4 by half-time, Messi completing a hat-trick before the hour. The young #1, Puelle, was substituted after that, and no more goals were let in. Despite what he has been earmarked as, he is surely not our #1 right now.


November 2016

Friendly

(57th) Morocco 2 - 0 Chile (35th)
An experimental side keep up the losing habit without a real threat of scoring. Man Utd's Miranda, supposedly Chile's most valuable centre-back, gets dribbled past for the goal for the umpteenth match, so must be dropped to the bench (or worse) from now on.

WCQ

Next is a home game against Colombia. We were thrashed away last time.

Miranda doesn't even make the squad. The captain Vidal is injured.

Chile 0 - 0 Colombia
Our attack is toothless. Colombia had the only chances until injury forced them to change formation and allowed us more of the game, but they were under no real threat. Only 2 key passes from Chile in the entire game.

There are just no good attackers. There is a zillion names and a zillion positions they can play in, but their form is all so average. It doesn't matter what combination and what formation they're in and what tactics are used. They don't pass or shoot with any threat.

I'm aware of the irony of me leaving Iran because a lack of strikers for a a team that, on current form, has even worse strikers.


April 2017

We are away to overachieving second-placed Bolivia and at home to fierce rivals Peru. Every game in this region is a six-pointer, so a loss in either will put the odds against us.

Our campaign opener was at home to Bolivia, a 3-1 win thanks to set pieces after going behind. Since then, Bolivia have won all their home games except against Brazil, who they then beat away anyway. They are obviously a real surprise package that have shot up 60 places in the FIFA rankings in under a year. Chile's last journey to Bolivia was also a 3-1 win for Bolivia.

Zúniga, who is the only regular scorer in the European leagues this season, with 14 in 23 Ligue 1 games, is injured and unavailable.

But finally I'm able to drop keeper Puelle for the in-form and out-of-injury Toselli.

I'm making major changes and abandoning the idea of picking a balanced team built around the best few players. Now I'm picking the most in-form 11 and shoehorning them into some sort of formation. This is the result:

----ST----ST----
--AMC--AMC--
---MC---MC---
-DC--DC--DC-
-------SW------
-------GK-------

GK: Toselli - I had wanted to drop the supposed new #1 Puelle, but Toselli has always been injured. He finally earns his second cap.
SW: Escalona - Has established himself and seems to fit perfectly in the sweeper role.
DC: P. Munoz - The Leverkusen centre-back is going to Barcelona in the summer, so is as dependable as you'd expect.
DC: Vidal - The captain who can play anywhere in his own half.
DC: Arce - Better than his name suggests.
MC: Jiménez - Can play anywhere in midfield or attack really.
MC: P. Varas - Impressive in just 4 appearances.
AMC: Viveros - The young left winger is getting more goals than assists in the Netherlands.
AMC: González - The other left winger who still has the quality at 32.
ST: Carrasco - Earned his first 2 caps last year due to domestic form. Did nothing in those games, but has scored 10 goals in 9 in the Chilean league.
ST: Vidangossy - His attributes are poor, but he's scored 7 in 15(5) in Portugal. Can also play in midfield.

Bolivia 3 - 1 Chile
We took the lead through Viveros in 4 minutes, but that wasn't likely to last against the brilliant Bolivians. We were 2-1 down at half time. I made 3 changes on the hour, then one sub instantly got injured, leaving us with 10 men. It was 3-1 after that. Ultimately, only 1 shot on target, a total 5 shots to their 14.

Now we are at home to rivals Peru, who thrashed us in the first match. A loss will mean qualification is very unlikely. But they've conceded 8 goals and got 0 points in their last 3 away games.

A couple of changes are made, removing the poorer performers.

Chile 2 - 0 Peru
A first win in 7 matches, though it wasn't going that way. It was 0-0 and as pointless as ever at half time. A couple of subs came on in the hour, including the giant Canales (20s in strength, jumping, balance and heading) as a target man. A curler from Carrasco was followed by a penalty. The keeper Toselli was also man of the match.

We are 3 points behind the 3 teams above us, only 1 can fill the playoff spot, and 2 teams have a game in hand.


June 2017

The next match is away to Brazil. Their 1-0 loss to Bolivia was the first time they conceded at home.

Brazil 1 - 0 Chile
We equalised through Carrasco, but what would've been his second in two games was incorrectly ruled offside.

It was a decent performance, with much help from the goalkeeper, but 0 points.

Not only do we get 0 points due to that decision, but Brazil move further ahead and into the playoff spot. What should be a 3-point gap to the final qualification spot is now 6 points.

The results a few days later from the other teams were favourable, but are likely delaying the inevitable. We can feasibly win every game (2 home games and away to Venezuela), and the other teams not getting enough points is possible, if not likely. So I'm not fired yet.

A lack of a goalscorer has made the difference. The incorrect offside decision also, as Brazil now need only win at home to Venezuela to knock us out of contention, rather than needing 4 points against Argentina and in Paraguay on top of that had we drawn 1-1.


September 2017

Chile 1 - 0 Ecuador
Despite an injury to our Brock Lesnar of a target man, and then an injury to his substitute, we dominated. Though our goal, of course, only came from a deflection.

Brazil beat Venezuela, so qualification is impossible.


Current CONMEBOL Standings (2 games left to play)

Argentina - 30
Colombia - 25
Bolivia - 24*
---------------------
Brazil - 23
---------------------
Peru - 18
Ecuador - 18*
Chile - 16
Paraguay - 14
Venezuela - 7
*1 game left to play

My departure is amicable. I resign.

Failure to qualify was always a possibility, as it's an out-of-form and ageing squad that stumbled through previous tournaments (and of course got out of the World Cup groups by a drawing of lots). Had I been a top manager who could pick where to manage next, I would've turned it down.

We were unbeaten at home, but only picked up 1 point out of 21 away.

In the final two games under a new manager, they snatched a win at home to Paraguay with a last minute penalty, and laboured to a 1-0 win in Venezuela

At least I got money.

Bank Balance: £2.5m

Chile Competitive Record: P14 W4 D4 L6 F13 A20

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2016/17 Review Part 1 - Club Football


Selected Summer Transfers
Denis Martínez (26, Nicaraguan, ST) - Feyenoord to Arsenal - £28.5m
Kevin Bucic (25, Canadian, MC) - Gladbach to Chelsea £25.5m
Leven Kaladze (27, Georgian, DR/WBR) - Lazio to Inter Milan - £22.5m
Andrei Mihai (21, Romanian, MC) - Juventus to Werder Bremen - £19m
Steve Abbott - Manchester City to Newcastle United - £18.75m
Juan Alberto Gutiérrez (25, Peruvian, MC) - Ajax to Gladbach - £17.25m

Selected Winter Transfers
Nikos Kapetanos (23, Greek, ST) - Arsenal to Liverpool - £18.25m
Kostas Sachinidis (21, Greek, DL/DC/DR) - Manchester City to Inter Milan - £17m
Abdel Halim Ramadan (25, Egyptian, DL/ML/DC) - Portsmouth to Roma - £16m


2016 Awards

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Arsenal's great Dane, striker Nicklas Bendtner, won the FIFA World Player of the Year award. Last year's winner, Barcelona's French striker Mathieu Henry, came second. There was an interesting one at third place: a River Plate player and Argentina international called Walter Abdala.

Legendary Newcastle United and Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins won his zillionth award, but his first Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year award at 32 years old. Fiorentina's young Mexican striker Alberto Campos and Barcelona's Bulgarian attacker Valeri Bojinov came 2nd and 3rd.


European Cups

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It looks like we've left the Arsenal-Inter era, though the Gunners have recovered under Michael Laudrup and in his second season reached the final of the Champions League. But Arsenal were easily swept aside in Manchester 2-0 by AC Milan. They were undone by a dream double in the first 13 minutes from the young Serb called Jolovic, who has barely broken into the first team yet.

After replacing Mallorca-bound Alan Curbishley as manager of Sporting CP near the start of the season, Sammy Lee lead them to the UEFA Cup after a 1-0 win over Lille. (Yeah, you read that all right.)


England

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Premier League

The Premier League staked a claim as the most exciting top league in the world. 1 point and 3 goals of goal difference separated reigning champions Newcastle United, former champions Manchester United and the former giants Arsenal on the final day.

Man Utd and Newcastle won their games easily, but Arsenal went behind. Carlos Vela equalised a few minutes after half time, and in the 87th minute he scored the dramatic winner that earned Arsenal their first title in 4 years.

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Will it be the start of another 6 titles in a row? Let's pray not.

Despite being a sensational hiring last season, Juande Ramos lasted only until October in his second season at the newly promoted Middlesbrough. They replaced him with title-winning Porto manager Carlos Bracamontes, and they moved up the table through the rest of the season. They won the League Cup, and thus a UEFA Cup place, but not before keeping Arsenal to 0-0 over two legs in the semis, then winning the penalty shootout after 12 rounds of penalties.

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Frank Lampard left his coaching job at Chelsea to step into management, taking charge of Preston North End. The relegation candidates stayed high up the table, though an end of season blip saw them finish in the lower half.

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Ashley Cole retired after his second season at Portsmouth and took the manager's job at Championship side Cardiff City for next season.

F.A. Cup

Manchester United beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1.

Football League and Non-League

After two seasons in the Championship, Sammy McIlroy's Swansea City returned to the top division after 34 years by coming 2nd. Sammy retired at the end of the season, and will be replaced by Llanelli Town manager Gary Speed. He only has 2 years' experience, with the Welsh Premier League side, where he won 2 titles to extend their title streak to 11 in a row.

Sacked England manager Peter Beardsley joined Championship Wigan Athletic at the start of the season, but last year's Championship Playoff finalists missed out on the playoffs by 1 point this time.

Nigel Adkins' time at Scunthorpe United came to an end halfway through the season, just days after his 10-year anniversary in charge. This despite taking them to the Championship and being a playoff final win away from the Premier League a couple of years ago. Aidy Boothroyd didn't improve them and they were relegated to League One.

Charlton Athletic were relegated to the fourth tier for the first time ever. They were in the Premier League just 10 years ago, the Championship 3 years ago.

Alexander Hleb took his first step into management, taking charge of... League Two Colchester United.

Paul Merson was sacked as Rushden & Diamonds manager at the end of last season because he was unable to save them from relegation to the Conference in only 3 MONTHS. This season, the new manager lasted only 6 months. The club were not rewarded for their quick sackings.


Scotland

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An incredible finish to the season saw Dundee United, Celtic and Hibernian battle it out for the title. Dundee United faced Rangers knowing a win would see them lift the title, while Celtic hosted Hibs with both teams knowing a win would crown them champions... if Dundee United dropped points.

Dundee United did drop points with a 1-1 draw, but the other two contenders battled to the same scoreline, meaning Paul Sturrock's team smashed the Big 4, going from relegation from the SPL to top of the SPL in 3 years, and winning only their second ever title after 1983's success.

Dundee_United_1637964c.jpg


Spain

Spain.jpg

Real Madrid went top after 2 games and never left, winning their 5th title in a row, by 15 points.

Rivals Atlético have now finished 2nd for the 4th time in those 5 years, 7th time in 10 years, with just one title to their name in that time.

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Barcelona suffered their lowest finish since 1942: 9th. Hristo Stoichkov has taken a 6-in-a-row title-winning club continuously down in his 7 years so far. It's incredible how Barcelona and Real have swapped around, from the title-streak with Rijkaard and disasterous Capello years to Marcelino's title streak with Real and the disasterous Stoichkov years. Just like Capello, there's no sign of Stoichkov getting sacked, and he's probably not retiring any time soon.

A special mention to third-tier Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, who beat Sevilla, Osasuna and Real Madrid all over two legs to reach the Copa del Rey semis.


Italy

Italy.jpg

After beating Inter Milan to win the Coppa Italia, the final day of Serie A saw Lazio try to win their first title in a decade, while Inter tried to regain their place at the top after their 7-title streak was broken two years ago.

Inter won their final match easily enough, so a draw in Naples would see Lazio win the title on goals scored. In the 80th minute, Lazio equalised after going a goal behind, but Napoli scored the winner barely 2 minutes later to hand Inter Milan the title back.


Portugal

Portugal.jpg

Luis Figo finally lost his first management job in football when Belenenses sacked him after nearly 8 years in charge. Masochistically, they hired Glenn Hoddle, the specialist at relegating teams halfway through the season. He was looking for relegation #4 (which could've happened with Genk, the team he left) but, miraculously, they survived by 1 point after their two rivals did just as bad or worse than them on the final day. There's always next season...

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2016/17 Review Part 2 - International Football


Uruguay 2017 Confederations Cup

The world champions Argentina beat European champions Netherlands thanks to a penalty.

The Confederations Cup usually provides some shock coaching exits, and this year was the same.

John Kila stepped down as Netherlands manager, despite a World Cup semi, winning Euro 2016, and topping their qualifying group with maximum points and no goals conceded. They did replace him, however, with the one and only Frank Rijkaard.

Ulrich Stielike finally left Ivory Coast after they finished 3rd with wins over Netherlands, Mexico and France, and after 4 out of 5 African Cup of Nations trophies won in his 11 years. With World Cup qualification looking difficult this year, he steps down without ever having qualified with his trophy-laden team.

South Korea pulled the trigger on their 2015 Asian Cup-winning manager, despite a win over Ivory Coast, a last-minute loss to Mexico and an understandable loss to Netherlands. With one game left in World Cup qualifying, they're bottom in a weak group of Macau, Lebanon and Jordan, but a win in Jordan would still see them get at least a playoff place.

Hosts Uruguay didn't make it out of the groups. They easily beat New Zealand, but were dominated by Argentina and France.New Zealand were utterly destroyed in all 3 group games, though playing two games with 10 men didn't help.


2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup

It was an exact repeat of last year, as Mexico beat USA 1-0 thanks once again to a Claudio Gamboa goal, to win their third straight Gold Cup.

Cuba scored their first Gold Cup goal in 6 years, and picked up their first point in 14 years, by beating Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 with a penalty.

 

Youth Football

Italy will be looking to become a power in a few years, as their youth sides won the Under-19 and Under-21 Euros.

Egypt U23s beat Germany U23s on penalties in the 2016 Olympics in Canada. Germany missed all 4 of their pens.

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Posted (edited)

January 2018 - Attracted By Young Boys

I had failed to qualify for the Uruguayan World Cup with Chile, and the next few months were spent getting more intriguing offers.

I got many international offers from the average countries, but I wanted a club job really. I'm not yet at the level for offers from most top-tier divisions, so I looked for second-tier clubs that could get promoted or clubs that could get into continental football in smaller leagues with good squads and some money.

After a few good second-tier offers with squads in need of major work, a rich Russian club with a gruelling lifestyle off the pitch, and a major Swedish club that would've required 5 months of pre-season waiting, I got a surprise offer.

BSC Young Boys

568px-BSC_Young_Boys_logo.svg.png
 

kRKTlUY.png

Reasons For Choosing

- Major top-division club
- Regularly qualify for Europe (or at least the qualifying stages, anyway)
- Not in debt
- Decent squad
- Nice location and comfortable living

Contract and Expectations

- £2,000 per week
- 1.5 seasons (expires July 2019)
- Keep the club financially stable
- Qualify for Europe

This means a top 4 or 5 finish in the league or winning the Swiss Cup.

Which is convenient, as Young Boys are in the semis (read that carefully) away to a team that have lost both games to us recently, and the final will be against a lower division side.

League and Cup

- Swiss Super League and Swiss Cup
- Super League is the top tier of Swiss football
- 10 teams play each other 4 times
- Top 2 enter the Champions League, 3rd is the UEFA Cup, 4th is the Intertoto Cup. The winner of the Swiss Cup enters the UEFA Cup
- Bottom team is relegated, 9th place has a relegation playoff
- Goal difference then goals scored are the tiebreakers
- Incredibly competitive below top spot; it's not abnormal to see a relatively big team get relegated for a year.

With exactly half the season gone, Young Boys are 7th, 14 points behind the leaders, 6 points behind 4th, 3 ahead of bottom.

2015-05-29_fcb-fcstg_zi_0030.jpg?width=6

Unsurprisingly, considering they've won the title in 17 of the last 20 seasons, it's Basel top of the table currently with a streak of 6 titles in a row (so far). The last time Basel won by less than 10 points was 5 years ago.

Swiss Hierarchy

Basel and Grasshopper have the financial stranglehold over the rest of the league and are the historical Big 2.

Basel are rich and seemingly spend whatever they want, Grasshopper are well off though choose to keep transfer spend balanced with profit, but we for example have a transfer budget of only just over a million and can't sign players on a quarter of the wages they pay.

Recently, Luzern have established themselves as the current #2, with Grasshopper #3.

Young Boys used to be the #2 club, finishing runner-up in 7 of the seasons from 2002 to 2013. Though they can claim to be the most successful Swiss club in Europe, reaching the European Cup semis in 1959.

Club History

5c4f8f31412fe57c123ced77e7d89d2a.jpg

Young Boys won all but one of their 11 titles before the 1960s, including 3 in a row in 1908 - 1910 and 4 in a row at the end of the 1950s. Their last title was in 1985.

They finished runner-up 7 times from 2002 to 2013 before shock relegation by one goal of goal difference in 2015. They were immediately promoted back up with ease and finished 4th last season, with 3rd to 5th decided by goal difference. It's a tight league!

They also last won the Swiss Cup in 1987, losing 2 finals in a row in 2006 and 2007.

Their most recent European run, in 2013/14, saw them lose in the last Champions League qualifying round 2-1 to Lille, but at last reach the main stages of the UEFA Cup, finishing 4th out of 5 in the UEFA Cup group stage thanks to a home win over Atalanta.

Stadium

topelement.JPG

Stadion Neufeld

Capacity: 11,850 (2,950 seated)

It's a small stadium with a racing track around it.

Some would find it quaint, I think it's a bit of a dump.

The club were supposed to only be using the stadium temporarily while the modern Stade de Suiss Wankdorf was built, however building was abandoned due to the government, terrorists, communism, blues music, video games and action movies because they took our jobs.

An expansion or new stadium is definitely needed, but a luxury that probably cannot be afforded.

Squad

In goal is a familiar face: Christopher Toselli, the Chile keeper who I had made my #1. He's been at Young Boys for 5 1/2 years (a claim he vehemently denies) and is a club favourite.

The first team squad is nearly all a few years around 30, so if this is a long-term job it'll be similar to Varese in that I'll have to lower the average age down with bargain finds.

Staff

My usual assistant Henk ten Cate has joined Frank Rijkaard with Netherlands as his last job before retiring, so I'll need to find a new assistant. I'll be overhauling the whole backroom team.

Aims

This is very much like Pep Guardiola going into Manchester City (in the Earth-0 dimension, I mean). The squad is older and an overhaul in several areas of the club, as well as the team, are needed. No rich sheikh though.

The Swiss transfer window closes at the end of February and the winter break. So I can sign players, but I'm loathe to sell any. Not only do I not know the players yet, but the Swiss season is hectic with a game every 3 or 4 days, so bodies are probably better to have than a bit of money.

Short-term I will take a scattergun approach of bringing in players, seeing who's looking for a club and who I can loan in the next few weeks, while trying out the current squad in friendlies. A semi-final and final victory in the Swiss Cup is all I need to achieve Europe, otherwise I'll need to get 4th.

If finances aren't quietly plummeting and things are going well, I could be here long-term, which will see me selling the subpar and old players, eventually the entire team due to their age, and building a new team to try and break the Basel hold on the league and make progress past the qualification stages of Europe.

Likely, Basel's stranglehold is too strong, so ideally I will just do what I can here before moving on to either Grasshopper or Basel themselves, or a step-up elsewhere if the offer is right.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

Young Boys: 2017/18 Winter Break

End of January 2018

With no fixtures until March, I arrange a tour of China to get to know my players.

=====================

Friendly - 30/1/18

Dalian 0 - 2 Young Boys
YB Goals: Szepessy (2), Borek (90+3)

=====================

Staff News

I finish structuring my staff. A few stayed, most were moved on.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------


February 2018

=====================

Friendly - 3/2/18

Shandong 0 - 0 Young Boys (5 - 4 penalties)

=====================

NEW SIGNING

Name: Alexander Nadirov
Position: DC/DR/DL
Age: 23
International status: 4 Under-21 appearances for Iran
Signed from: Bargh (Iran) for £525,000 (compensation)
Watched by: a bunch of top-division clubs in Europe, including Porto and Aston Villa, but no one else approached him.
Number: 13

It's a very satisfying signing. I only had one left-back and two right-backs so he slots in nicely, as well as being young, cheap and talented.

My assistant, who knows a player, says he's already the best player in the squad.

My Iranian knowledge pays off.

=====================

Friendly - 7/2/18

Beijing 1 - 3 Young Boys
YB Goals: Mijic (14), Trialist (Karimi) (35), Furtado (78)
B Goal: (84)

Trialist Mostafa Karimi, who I had called up to the Iran squad once upon a time, made and scored one before coming off. Unfortunately his wage demands are outside our wage structure and he can't be signed.

(He would eventually join Stuttgart and be valued at a million more than our most valuable player.)

=====================

NEW SIGNING

Name: Meysam Rezapour
Position: ST
Age: 30
International status: 5 goals in 6 appearances for Iran
Signed from: Foulad (Iran) for £250,000
Watched by: No one
Number: 14

If you have been following this story with great love and obsession, you will remember Rezapour as the striker that burst into my Iran side in the lead up to the 2015 Asian Cup, going on a streak of scoring in every game until he was injured in the Asian Cup itself, which played a part in us being eliminated in the next match.

On the face of it he's nothing special, and his Iranian run could've been a fluke, never mind that it was 3 years ago. However, all but one of my strikers are well over 30 anyway, so it's worth the £250k gamble even if he ends up just being a helpful extra body.

=====================

Transfer Request

One of the wingers, Szepessy, requests a transfer to go to a bigger club. One of the clubs watching him, a Ligue 1 club, qualifies as that.

He had one great performance in a friendly but otherwise has been unspectacular so far, and his request is granted. Even though the extra body would be helpful, he wants to move now and I can't stop his chance at a big league.

=====================

Transfer window closed.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------


March 2018

=====================

Friendly - 4/3/18

Sion 2 - 3 Young Boys
S Goal: (20)
YB Goals: Stanojevic (28), Cvijanovic (54), Mijic (63)
S Goal: (65)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------


Winter Break Review

Friendly results, against top Chinese opposition and then away to a recently relegated Swiss side, were positive. Though, while the performances were mostly professional, the opposition was given a few too many opportunities in most games. So I expect this to be a decent team that may lack complete focus at times. We will see.

Nadirov is a top signing, Rezapour could be hit or miss. Naturally, both got injured and will miss the first few games anyway... including against the two biggest teams in Switzerland.

I have made several free transfer signings that will come through in the summer, but for now I am content with my team and think they have a good chance of 4th place, or winning the Cup semi-final and final, to qualify for Europe.

==========================

The domestic season resumes now.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

Young Boys: March to April 2018 - Plan A

MARCH 2018

The domestic season resumes now and I begin my first half-season in charge competitively.

All eyes are on the cup semi-final next month. Going through to the final will see us against lower league opposition and thus a strong chance of achieving the goal of qualifying for Europe by winning the cup.

Until then, I try to pick up points for plan B: league qualification.

==========================

v Grasshopper (H) - Rival match - Super League - 10/3/18

Before the winter break, Grasshoppers hadn't won in 5 games. Young Boys have lost both games to them so far this season though.

My assistant is of the opinion that my two keepers are equally good, but I feel my former Chile #1 Toselli is the main guy.

An injury to new signing Nadirov and a suspension means we have no left-backs, so the right-back moves there.

Playing a 4-4-2 diamond, with 5 midfielders in the squad but 1 out injured, means the midfield picks itself.

Up front, with new signing Rezapour injured, I give Stanojevic a shot. He's barely played any games in his 1-and-a-half seasons here and desperately wants an opportunity.

(7th) Young Boys 1 - 1 Grasshopper (3rd)
YB Disallowed Goal: Szepessy (31)
YB Goal: Szepessy (45+1)
G Goal: (56)

We dominated and transfer-requested midfielder Szepessy scored after having a goal disallowed.

Then Barbu was injured at the end of an incredible run which might've been finished with a goal. As he got treatment, Grasshopper scored thanks to their extra man advantage. A 1-0 performance only gets 1 point, also 1 for them.

==========================

New Youth Signings

With the windows closed, I had the scouts scour the unattached players, and I signed 3 youngsters on a free for the future - profit if nothing else.

==========================

v Basel (A) - Rival match - Super League - 14/3/18

The suspended left-back returns.

(1st) Basel 2 - 0 Young Boys (8th)
B Goals: (4), (41)

Having 0 shots on target out of 5 attempts didn't help matters.

==========================

Transfer Request

Lazevski, a substitute centre-back, requests a transfer. He only joined in the summer, but has only played 6 games. He did fine in the friendlies, but at 31 years of age I decide to accept.

==========================

v Schaffhausen (H) - Super League - 17/3/18

Rezapour is recovering from injury and makes the bench. So far, none of the strikers have really made a claim, so Rezapour may be heavily relied on this season.

(9th) Young Boys 3 - 0 Schaffhausen (10th)
YB Goals: Stanojevic (2, 60), Angels (73)

A somewhat tighter game than it looked.

==========================

Transfer Request

Barbu, midfielder, requests a transfer to bigger things. I tell him I'll sell him at the end of season, but we need him now, even though he's not playing great. (I don't tell him that last bit.)

==========================

v St. Gallen (A) - Super League - 21/3/18

Mijic, a centre-back, got injured in the last match and is unavailable.

Barbu is left out and I try Trajkovic, a wing back, in midfield in his place. I'm trying to train him as a right winger anyway.

Rezapour makes his first start.

(9th) St. Gallen 1 - 0 Young Boys (7th)
SG Penalty Miss: (25)
SG Goal: (28)
YB Second Yellow: Gramatikov (30)
SG Red Card: (36)

A weird ref made for a stupid match.

==========================

v Delémont (H) - Super League - 24/3/18

With the captain sent off, both first-team centre-backs are out and the two backups start together.

(9th) Young Boys 2 - 1 Delémont (5th)
YB Goal: Rezapour (4)
D goal: (49)
D Second Yellow: (59)
YB Goal: Cvijanovic (60)

A direct free kick from a sending off foul gave us a deserved 3 points.

==========================

Transfer Removal Request

Lazevski changes his mind about wanting a transfer, after starting in the last match, and I take him off the transfer list. But I might move him on anyway.

==========================

v Luzern (A) - Super League - 31/3/18

This is a big match because this is the fixture that will be played in the Swiss cup semi-final next month.

Luzern haven't beaten Young Boys yet this season, and this away fixture was played just a few months ago with YB winning 3-2.

There are no injuries or suspensions now so, fitness aside, I have everyone available to at least be a sub. This includes my first buy, the defender Nadirov (who makes his debut), and winger Gavrilov (sub), who had been injured since the friendlies.

(4th) Luzern 0 - 0 Young Boys (8th)

It could've gone either way but for wasteful finishing from both sides. We had to play counter attack to avoid getting destroyed. The cup tie could go either way.

==========================

Awards

Szepessy comes 3rd in Player of the Month, with 2 assists and 1 goal in 6 matches.

---------------------------------------------


APRIL 2018

==========================

v Aarau (H) - Super League - 4/4/18

(7th) Young Boys 2 - 0 Aarau (9th)
YB Goals: Stanojevic (2), Rezapour (pen 58)

Gramatikov (CB) gets a yellow card which means he's suspended for the next match, which is incredibly convenient as he would've been rested for the big cup game afterwards anyway.

==========================

v Thun (A) - Rivals - Super League - 7/4/18

2 defenders are out, one suspended and one a yellow away from suspension in the cup game.

(2nd) Thun 1 - 1 Young Boys (7th)
T Goal: (33)
YB Goal: Rezapour (75)

To my surprise, despite being away to a team that looks like will be finishing 2nd, we dominated and they were very lucky to escape with a draw.

==========================

Unsettled Player

Rezapour says he's having trouble settling in Switzerland at the moment, but 3 goals in 5 starts suggests it's not really affecting his performances that badly.

==========================

KEY GAME

v Luzern (A) - Swiss Cup semi-final - 14/4/18

The winner will go on to face one of the bottom-half teams from the division below in the final, and will be huge favourites for the trophy and a place in the UEFA Cup.

I can pick a full-strength line-up:

---------- Rezapour -- Stanojevic ----------
------------------ Cvijanovic ------------------
Gavrilov --------- Borek --------- Szepessy
Nadirov -- Mijic -- Gramatikov (c) -- Plantic
--------------------- Toselli ---------------------

Subs: Monterosso, Lyubenov, Trajkovic, Novak, Barbu, Custic, Angels

First half

Unlike a couple of weeks ago, Luzern are providing zero threat, so the game is there for the taking. However the game has yet to start as the teams go in at half-time.

Second half

Luzern are still no threat and are resorting to long range shots. I refrain from making substitutions due to the good performance and with extra time in mind.

Luzern make 3 substitutions late on, and one sub pounces on the rebound of the other sub's shot to take an unlikely lead with about 10 minutes to go. Was there an offside? Take your pick from the pass to the first sub and the sub scoring from the rebound, with both looking slightly offside.

4 kicks from kick-off, Borek takes matters into his own hands and hits a long-range curler from 30 yards to equalise.

Barbu comes on for the ineffective Stanojevic, thus moving a striker back into an attacking midfielder. I'm just trying to change something to carve better opportunities.

Extra Time? Penalties?

We lack the ability to kill this game off in 90 or 120 minutes, so it goes to penalties. I bring on my last two subs (Trajkovic and Angels) as penalty takers.

Trajkovic scores his, but Angels misses. The shootout sums up the game, as both sides miss half their pens but we fail to take advantage.

==========================

Final Score

Luzern 1 - 1 Young Boys (AET) (1-1 FT) (3-2 pens)
L Goal: (83)
YB Goal: Borek (84)

==========================

So thanks to once again being screwed by bad refereeing or dodgy rules, now we must take the long way to Europe, with no trophy at the end, and no chance of stress-free experimenting for the next month.

I'm left wondering how easy this season would be if the club had just allowed a couple thousand more in wages for new Stuttgart striker Karimi.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

  April 2018 to May 2018 - Squeaky Bum Time For Young Boys

Having failed to grasp the golden opportunity for relatively easy European qualification, losing the big semi-final on penalties, we must qualify via the league. An unbeaten run will get us there, a winless run will take us closer to the relegation area. The league is so tight, that one win will shoot you up several places.

APRIL 2018

v Grasshopper (A) - RIVALS - Super League - 18/4/18

Since stealing a point thanks to us temporarily going down to 10 men, Grasshoppers won their next game but then went 7 games without a win. In fact, their last win was in October, 15 games ago. But they'll fancy their chances at home against a side that played 120 minutes a few days ago.

The fact that, despite such an awful run, they're still 5th shows how tight the rest of the league is. If we win only half our games, we'll surely finish 3rd.

I have to rotate players, not just because of the extra time, but every game will now have only 3 or 4 days apart.

(5th) Grasshopper 1 - 0 Young Boys (7th)
G Goal: (43)

Same old story: had much of the game, nervy opponents resorting to long shots, dodgy ref (3 yellow cards in the first 20 minutes, all to us, the away team) and still lose out.

It's clear a top keeper and a goalscorer will make us one of the big teams.

=========================

v Basel (H) - RIVALS - Super League - 21/4/18

Basel have only lost 2 games all season. Oh how I'd love to be manager of Basel...

(7th) Young Boys 0 - 1 Basel (1st)
B Red Card: (34)
B Goal: (85)

Unbelievable. UNBELIEVABLE. Dominated with 11 v 10. Yet, a few minutes after one of our usual close chances that go wide, one of their players dribbles through and scores. Because Basel. Because Young Boys.

========================

v Schaffhausen (A) - Super League - 25/4/18

Major squad rotation in effect now. I drop Toselli (GK), now it's Monterosso's (GK) chance to shine.

A win here will at least turn the chances of Young Boys not getting relegated from 'not likely' to 'very unlikely', pushing our opponents further into the relegation/playoff zone in the process.

Their last two matches saw them lose 7-0 away to second-placed Thun, then get a big 1-0 win at home to Grasshopper.

(9th) Schaffhausen 2 - 0 Young Boys (8th)
S Goals: (26), (57)

Manchester-United-Officially-Introduce-J

Headline: MANAGER 'DISGUSTED' WITH TEAM

Dominated from first to last. Disgusting. Pathetic. Now the players know that I know the French and German for 'you are all a bunch of ****ing nonces'.

I use the press conference to lay into most of the players, and I tell the captain to get the team together and sort it out.

Laughably, my assistant informs me Monterosso, the keeper I started today, is looking for more game time. More bench time after that performance, you twit. Toselli is immediately back in.

========================

v St. Gallen (H) - Super League - 28/4/18

If we do badly in this match, I'll look at making major tactical changes.

(8th) Young Boys 1 - 1 St. Gallen (6th)
SG Goal: (73)
YB G: Gramatikov (85)

Same old story. Dominating the whole match, their player just had a harmless shot on goal that simply went in. We were rescued by a centre-back's header from a set-piece.

I can see it's not the tactics, it's just the players. No one is scoring with their shots, and the keepers aren't good enough to react to shots and stop them going in most of the time. Again: keeper and striker needed.

========================

CHAMPIONS

2015-05-29_fcb-fcstg_zi_0030.jpg?width=6

Basel win their 7th title in a row with 5 games still to go, by a 16-point margin.

------------------------------------------


MAY 2018

v Zurich (A) - Super League - 2/5/18

I'm able to work up some players for this one.

(5th) Zurich 2 - 2 Young Boys (8th)
YB Goal: Cvijanovic (10)
Z Goals: (34), (43)
YB Red Card - Szepessy (76)
YB Goal - Borek (90+3
)

Same old story. Taking an early lead gave us a slight chance of taking a point from the game. That's what happened, in the end. To neutrals, it was exciting. I was emotionless when the last-second equaliser was scored, however.

========================

v Delémont (A) - Super League - 5/5/18

(7th) Delémont 0 - 2 Young Boys (8th)
YB Goals - Stanojevic (53, 71)

At last, a win after 8 matches. The turning point was using the counter attack. Up to that point, they were getting scary chances and beating the defence. It hadn't struck me to try counter attacking football regularly before, as we should be dominating most teams (and generally have). Something to consider.

With just that one win, we immediately move up the table to our highest position yet under my reign: 6th. Once again showing how tight the league is. But 4th place and 'Europe' looks very unlikely. Relegation is a bit more likely.

========================

v Luzern (H) - RIVALS - Super League - 9/5/18

They stole a near-guaranteed trophy and place in Europe, by beating us on penalties after they were otherwise destroyed, in the Swiss Cup semi-final. They've yet to beat us this season.

(6th) Young Boys 1 - 1 Luzern (3rd)
YB Goal: Stanojevic (2)
L Goal: (43)

Same old story. Take lead, dominate, defensive error and/or poor keeping leads to points dropped, opponents walk off at full time laughing.

========================

v Aarau (A) - Super League - 12/5/18

(10th) Aarau 1 - 1 Young Boys (7th)
YB Goal: Furtado (22)
A Goal: (57)

Same old story.

========================

v Zurich (H) - Super League - 16/5/18

A win effectively guarantees safety. In our last match with Zurich (see above), even during our awful run, we managed to snatch a draw away from home with 10 men against them, so a win should be expected at home with 11.

Szepessy returns from suspension against the same team he was sent off against. We will be a bit improved in attack now.

(8th) Young Boys 2 - 0 Zurich (5th)
YB Goal: Angels (16)
Z Sending off: (21)
YB Goal: Furtado (43)

The tables are turned: Zurich suffer the early sending off this time.

And who was Man of the Match? Szepessy.

========================

v Thun (H) - RIVALS - Super League - 20/5/18

The final game of the season.

Once again, a win shot us up the table. The team above us are away to Basel and only one point ahead, so a win will likely see us finish 5th.

It's a choice between trying to beat our rivals, finishing higher and getting a bit of extra prize money... or trying some other players.

I decide to try a new formation, from 4-4-2 diamondish to 5-2-1-2, with a mostly full-strength side but a lesser-used strike force.

(6th) Young Boys 1 - 0 Thun (3rd)
YB Goal: Gramatikov (78)

Young Boys nearly threw it away in the 5th and 6th of 4 minutes of stoppage time, thanks to leaving their striker completely free in the area one-on-one, but he hit wide the perfect goalscoring opportunity. Our centre-back's header from a free-kick gets the 3 points.

=============================

Award News

I come third in the Manager of the Month award thanks to 6 games unbeaten.

=============================

CUP WINNERS

Luzern and second-tier Chiasso produce a dire match that ends 0-0 after extra time. Luzern score all their penalties, Chiasso miss two. But lower-league Chiasso can still celebrate: they qualify for Europe as cup runner-up, due to Luzern finishing in the Euro spots in the league anyway.

----------------------------------------------------


Final League Table - Swiss Super League

1 - Basel - 82
2 - Luzern - 59
-------------------------------
3 - Thun - 56
-------------------------------
4 - Grasshopper - 51
-------------------------------
5 - Young Boys - 45
6 - Zurich - 44
7 - Delémont - 43
8 - St. Gallen - 41
-------------------------------
9 - Schaffhausen - 37
-------------------------------
10 - Aarau - 31


League record for first half of season (before I arrived): P18 W5 D5 L8 PTS20 F23 A27 GD-4 CS2

League record for second half of season (since my arrival): P18 W6 D7 L6 PTS25 F19 A15 GD+4 CS6


Season Review

A good start was derailed after somehow losing in the cup semi-final, and thus a near-guaranteed spot in Europe. We went on a run of 3 games without a goal and 7 without a clean sheet nor a win, but that turned into a closing run of 7 games unbeaten and scoring in every game.

It was hugely frustrating, as the amount of close-cut chances not going in was heinous (woodwork, going across the face of goal, goal line clearances, the lot) and two keepers not quite up to standard meant easy goals conceded. Combined with some awful ref performances, results suffered.

The silver lining is that this means, with a goalkeeper and a real goalscorer, Young Boys can get back in the Champions League (qualifying stages anyway), never mind the UEFA Cup.

And I just so happen to have some really good free transfers coming in when the window opens, including said keeper and a forward or two.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2017/18 End of Season Squad Review - Who Stays and Who Goes?

You only learn so much watching video tapes, I needed this half season with the players to see who will play a part in my own squad, and who isn't good enough and should go. Although, given they're nearly all around 30, I suppose they'll need replacing sooner or later.


Position - Number - Name - Age at start of next season - Value - Stats since my arrival - Stay or go?

P = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, C = Conceded, CS = Clean Sheets, MM = Man of the Match, AR = Average Rating
 

Goalkeepers

1 Christopher Toselli - GK - 30, Chilean (5 caps) - £1.3m - P 18, C 14, CS 6, MM 1, AR 6.89 - Stay if contract can be discussed

I said this was very similar to Pep coming in at Man City (in the Earth-0 dimension), and therefore Toselli is Joe Hart: a long-term #1 of the club, a fan favourite, and usually good performer who's had iffy form recently.

I gave him his first cap for Chile and he became my #1, but his contract expires next year, he's not interested in renewing, and he didn't have a great season. With a new keeper coming in, it looks like I'll have to make the unpopular choice of cashing in.

23 Marco Monterosso - GK - 30, Swiss/Italian - £90k - P 1, C 2, CS 0, AR 6.00 - Go

Supposedly as good as Toselli, but has done little to give me faith, and thinks he should be the #1, so will likely leave.

Both can go because, as mentioned, a better keeper is coming in when the summer transfer window opens.


Defenders

13 Alexander Nadirov - DC/R/L - 23, Iranian (4 U21 caps) - £725k - P 14, MM 1, AR 7.29 - Stay

3 Daniel Gramatikov - DC/SW - 29, Bulgarian - £800k - P 17, MM 1, AR 6.94 - Stay (if contract signed)

5 Alen Mijic - DC - 31, Slovenian (7 caps) - 85k - P 14(1), AR 6.93 - Stay

New signing Nadirov was a success, filling in anywhere he was needed and still being the best defender we have.

Gramatikov and Mijic were my central pairing. Both their contracts expire next season and both are being watched. Mijic is worth more at the club than the £100k we'd get, and he should sign a new contract. Gramatikov is not open to discussion yet and I may be forced to cash in.

4 Aleksandar Lazevski - DC/SW - 31, Serbian - £220k - P 1(1), AR 7.00 - ?

19 Mihail Lyubenov - DC - 29, Bulgarian - £250k - P 4(3), AR 6.71 - ?

Both haven't been bad, but could better be found with the cash they'd bring in?

20 Mirko Plantic - DR/C - 33, Croatian (1 cap) - £95k - P 13, AR 6.69 - Go

Sometimes a solid defender, sometimes not. With a wage of £2.5k, and a year left on his contract (with no wish to extend), he's better off gone.

2 Vojislav Trajkovic - D/WBR - 30, Serbian - £75k - P 6(4), A 1, AR 6.70 - Stay

Earned a 2-year contract as a squad player.

6 Petr Novak - D/WBL - 25, Czech (4 U21 caps) - £775k - P 12(2), A 1, AR 6.93 - Stay

With 2 years left and at a good age, it's worth keeping him on for at least another season. He's being watched by a couple of good clubs though, and a big offer could change things.

He somehow made the Swiss Super League Team of the Season.


Midfielders

12 Tomas Borek - MC - 32, Czech (1 cap) - £700k - P 19, G 2, A 2, MM 2, AR 7.16 - Stay

Played well in every game of my reign, getting in tackles and key passes every match. Likes to try a long range goal too. My choice as player of the season, he made the 'subs bench' for the Super League Team of the Season

18 Goran Cvijanovic - AMC - 31, Slovenian (1 goal in 4 caps) - £1.6m - P 17 (2), G 2, A 4, MM 3, AR 7.16 - Stay

Like Borek, played every game and always did well. The Swiss seem confused by the concept of an attacking central midfielder, as he was allowed to frolic freely and make tonnes of key passes. In one match, he made 12. This led to him being voted the Fans' Player of the Season.

24 Catalin Barbu - MC/R/AMR/C - 29, Moldovan (25 caps) - £1.2m - P 10(3), A 2, AR 6.69 - Go (on a promise)

I was forced to use him as an attacking midfielder due to injury and lack of depth, but looks to be decent in central midfield. But he wanted to move a few months ago to a bigger club,  and I promised he could go at the end of the season. At least this means big money and some wages freed up.

21 Sándor Szepessy - ML/AMR/MR/AML - 25, Hungarian (3 U21 caps) - £600k - P 14(1), G 1, A 3, MM 3, AR 7.20 - Stay (but transfer requested)

Rarely a bad game, I hope I can change his mind about leaving or at least hold it off for a year.

7 Georgi Gavrilov - M/AML - 28, Bulgarian - £1m - P 12, A 1, AR 6.92 - Stay (for now)

Should be a backup player, but he's one of only two wingers in the current squad.


Strikers

11 Miodrag Stanojevic - ST - 28, Montenegrin (1 U21 cap)/Croatian - £300k - P16(3), G 6, MM 1, AR 6.79 - Stay

The player who was most happy for me to arrive. Before I came, he was frustrated at only making a few sub appearance, just as in his first season the year before. He played every game under me, though he was subbed off in 12 of them, signifying how hot and cold he could be. When on form, he was a match winner.

14 Meysam Rezapour - ST - 30, Iranian (5 goals in 6 caps) - £240k - P9(3), G 3, A 1, MM 1, AR 6.58 - Stay

My other winter signing I signed after he went on a run of scoring in every game before injury when I was with Iran. He got off to a great start again for my Young Boys team, 3 goals in his first 5 starts after injury, but he has had trouble settling in Switzerland and his form dropped.

16 Furtado - ST - 35, Portuguese (1 U21 cap)/Cape Verdean - £14k - P4(5), G 2, A 1, AR 6.78 - Stay

The club favourite forced his way into the team in the final month.

9 Genadijs Angels - ST - 31, Latvian (1 goal in 16 caps) - £1.2m - P 3(9), G 2, AR 6.50 - Go

10 Hrvoje Custic - ST - 34, Croatian - £3k - P 4(8), A 1, AR 6.50 - Stay

Both old, unspectacular and with a year left, but one has low wages and value, the other very high. Conveniently, the less costly one is a club favourite.

25 Díego Rios - ST - 33, Colombian - £16k - P 2(4), AR 6.17 - Go (released)

Didn't score after I arrived, despite a good record. He's one of the highest earners and his contract won't be renewed.


Potential 2018/19 make-up

GK: Incoming Signing (First XI)
GK: Signing Required (Backup)

DR: Nadirov (XI)
DR: Trajkovic (Backup)

DL: Nadirov (XI)
DL: Novak (Backup)

DC: Nadirov (XI)
DC: Gramatikov (XI)
DC: Mijic (XI)
DC: Lyubenov/Lazevski (Backup)

MR: Szepessy or Replacement Signing (XI)
MR: Incoming Signing (XI)
MR: Incoming Signing/Youth (Backup)

ML: Szepessy or Replacement Signing (XI)
ML: Gavrilov or Replacement Signing (XI)

MC: Borek (XI)
MC: Incoming Signing (XI)
MC: Youth, New Signings (Backup)

AMC: Cvijanovic (XI)
AMC: Incoming Signing (XI)
AMC: Incoming Signing (Backup)

ST: Rezapour (XI)
ST: Incoming Signing (XI)
ST: Stanojevic (XI)
ST: Furtado (Backup)
ST: Incoming Signing (Backup)
ST: Custic (Extra body)

So new wingers, or central midfielders if I play a wingless formation, would be nice. Might be worth looking out for another keeper.

However players must be sold before any more can be signed. I did my business incredibly early, so the wage bill needs a little lowering before being able to offer any other players anything.

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2017/18 Season Review - Club Football

Selected Summer transfers - The 'Make Up Your ****ing Mind' Window Part I
Leszek Szuta (27, Polish, MC) - Chelsea to Inter Milan - £32m
Darren Cousins (26, English, MC) - Aston Villa to Chelsea - £26m
Mxolisi Thorne (24, South African, ST) - PSV to Chelsea - £24m
Milos Simic (27, Serbian, DC) - Roma to AC Milan - £22.5m
Martin Gale (24, English, DM/MC) - Sevilla back to Chelsea - £21m
Donato Tarquini (25, Italian, AMR/MR) - Inter Milan to Real Madrid - £22.5m
Francisco Merida - AC Milan back to Liverpool - £20.5m

Selected Winter Transfers - The 'Make Up Your ****ing Mind' Window Part II
Kevin Brown (24, Scottish, AMR/MR) - Inter Milan back to Arsenal - £27.5m
Basile Cueff (careful when reading that out loud) (22, French, MC) - Hertha Berlin to Arsenal - £24m
Ante Jelavic (25, Croatian, DMC/MC) - Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea - £18.25m
Francisco Merida - Liverpool (again, after only half a season) to Sevilla - £17m
Jeffrey Imudia - Liverpool to Real Madrid - £16m


2017 Awards

Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner became the first player to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award two years in a row since... Arsenal's Thierry Henry in 2007. Henry won it an unprecedented third time in a row the next year, will Bendtner do the same? His partner in crime, Carlos Vela, came 3rd, with Bayern Munich's German striker Thomas Schweinsteiger runner-up.

Inter Milan's striker Claudio Gamboa won his first Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year award in the year he scored his 50th goal for Mexico in only 54 appearances. New faces came 2nd and 3rd: Real Madrid's French striker Sekou Fofana and AC Milan's Saudi Arabian striker Mohammed Majrashi.


European Cups

It only took Roberto Mancini's Inter Milan 3 years to win the Champions League again, their and his 4th in 7 seasons, with a 1-0 win over Ajax. It was England striker John Atkinson that scored the only goal this time, a role usually reserved for the unusually quiet Gamboa, against Frank Yallop's surprise finalists.

New Scottish champions Dundee United's Champions League debut ended at the group stage below Ajax and Real Madrid, but Paul Sturrock's team still had the UEFA Cup to go for, and they got all the way to the final before losing to José Mourinho's Chelsea 2-0.


England

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Premier League

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Neutrals sadly sighed as Michael Laudrup's Arsenal retained the title with relative ease.

Steve McClaren's 2016 champions, Newcastle United, finished runner-up for the 4th non-title-winning-season in a row.

A late double from Klass-Jan Huntelaar saw Roy Keane's Man Utd lose 2-1 at home to Southampton and thus not even qualify for the UEFA Cup.

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So the last two UEFA Cup places were taken by Preston North End, suddenly making their European debut after Frank Lampard's first full season as a manager, and by Stuart Pearce's Coventry City.

Mike Newell was sensationally sack at West Bromwich Albion. After achieving promotion back to the Premier League in his first few months, he took them to the top half of the Premier League for 3 straight seasons, as well as a UEFA Cup quarter-final and the semi-final the season after. But finishing 16th this season was deemed a sackable offence, despite comfortably avoiding relegation points-wise. He was replaced with Michael Skibbe, who guided Antwerp to their first Belgian title in 61 years.

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After 7 years finishing in the bottom half, Tottenham Hotspur were relegated in 19th, being bottom most of the season. As thrifty as ever, Spurs still managed to get a bit of cash rather than immediately sack Glen De Boeck, as he moved from the now-Championship club to Osasuna. The embarrassing news didn't end for fans, as they learned his replacement will be Steve Tilson, who has spend the last decade at Bournemouth keeping them a yo-yo club... between League One and League Two... when he arrived they were 20th in League One, he left after relegating them from League One for the 4th time.

Domestic Cups

Arsenal won the Domestic Treble by beating cup specialists Coventry City in both finals.

Football League and Non-League

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Somehow I missed and failed to mention one event last season: Everton brought in the legendary Lothar Matthaus in December 2016, his first management job after nearly a decade serving as their assistant manager. Alas they sacked him after barely over a year, expecting promotion back to the Premier League immediately and nothing less.

Ashley Cole's debut as a manager was less successful than Lampard's. He took Cardiff City from 5th in the Championship to bottom and relegated with only 7 wins and 39 points. He was sacked at the end of the season.

Evidently hiring former Arsenal players isn't a good idea, as Alexander Hleb's first season at Colchester United saw them return to non-league football for the first time since 1992.


Scotland

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Another record was broken regarding the Old Firm's waning dominance, as this was the first season since 1964/65 that neither Celtic nor Rangers finished in the top 2.

Craig Levein's Hearts won their second title in 3 years, with defending champions Dundee United as runner-up 5 points behind 1st and ahead of 3rd.

John Collins' Celtic finished 3rd, by one goal of goal difference, while Richard Gough's Rangers finished in 6th.


Italy

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Inter Milan went back to the tradition of winning the league dominantly, retaining the title by 18 points in the end. Their 10th title in 13 years.

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Francesco Totti was sacked from his first job after 5 years at Serie C2 side Foggia, having not improved them at all.


Spain

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Marcelino's Real Madrid destroyed La Liga, winning their 6th title in a row by 21 points.

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2017/18 Season Review - International Football

WORLD PEACE ACHIEVED, COUNTRIES SIGN 'STATUS QUO' AGREEMENT

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It has been officially declared that the world is now a relatively wonderful place, with every country now having some form of democracy. Human rights offences are finally a thing of the past.

An event a few years ago is believed to be the catalyst of this, when Israel qualified for the 2014 World and were drawn in a group with Iraq, forcing them to play each other. The Iraqi government relaxing their rule of not recognising Israel began a chain of events that led to the world realising it's far less hassle to NOT hate and maim each other.

A few years later, there was a trend as elections worldwide saw anti-establishment figures (regardless of political ideology coming into power or becoming a powerful figure, from Rouhani to Donald Trump the guy off The Apprentice.

Or perhaps it was all started earlier, with Iraq being 'democracised' with their players no longer playing in fear of torture, the Arab Spring with dictatorships overthrown, North Korean citizens being further exposed to East Asian and Western media and realising they've got it a bit **** in comparison and rising up, the overthrowing of the Ayatollah in Iran leading to the return of raunchy magazines and women in football stadiums (which at last led to Iran being the next country awarded the hosting rights for the Asian Cup).

Tourism has spiked in many glamorous locations and workers are now free to move around anywhere without fear of despotism.

With the end of war and the increase in general happiness, it has been agreed that no new countries will ever be made, we have enough now. Also money will no longer rise or fall in value, a dollar should be a dollar forever! So don't expect anything silly like a football player moving for 200 million Euros.

*As we're now in 2018 and thus THE FUTURE, this is the best explanation as to why the state of the world stays exactly the same for the next few decades/centuries (other than a Matrix rip-off). We have no idea what the world will be like years from now, or even next year. Syria could become a tourist hotspot, Turkey a megapower, or aliens could invade and test their beauty products on us (it's ok, we're not as advanced as they are, so we don't feel pain). So perhaps one day in 2031, you'll see me in charge of Somalia. Because perhaps in real life, Somalia will be a great place to live in 2031.

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And in a world where Steve McClaren is an England and Newcastle legend, is Donald Trump really that unbelievable?


Cameroon 2018 African Cup of Nations

Despite a new manager, Ivory Coast yet again won the African Cup of Nations. They beat Mali 2-0 in a repeat of the 2014 final, winning their 5th tournament in the last 6.

Hosts Cameroon lost to the winners in the semis, making do with a 3rd place playoff win over surprise package Gabon.

Gabon lost out in the semis to Mali after extra time, which saw Mali have a sending off, a missed penalty and 2 goals all in the last 12 minutes of extra time.


2018 OFC Nations Cup

New Caledonia made the two-legged final competitive, but New Zealand won again with a 3-2 win.

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