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[FM20] Champagne Football II: Calcio Offensivo

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Enrico Santoro, born 33 years ago in Foggia, in the Southern Apulia region in Italy, has spent most of those 33 years utterly obsessed with football. Taken to Foggia matches since very early childhood by his dad, he witnessed the Zemanlandia madness years of ridiculously attacking football taking the town by storm, and was hooked forever.

Sadly, Foggia faded post Zeman, and whilst Enrico remained a fierce enthusiast of his local club, the magic went away. Italian football receded into common catenaccio-like stereotypes, which he could already tell he did not identify with, even as a young teenager. He took to coaching since extremely early in his early 20s, managing a multitude of youth football sides throughout Italy, whilst growing more and more identified with foreign influences. Guardiola, Klopp became new idols beyond Zeman - a poster of each the 3 decorates his bedroom -, and he developed a distinct individual footballing philosophy. All that was missing was a chance for him to attempt it on the pitch.

Until now.

 

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Having made it to the Cremonese youth system recently, the club took notice of the sleek football played by the youth teams led by Enrico. When a vacancy in the senior side became open, it was his golden opportunity as the board took the bold decision to promote him.

It's a crazy opportunity. Although quite a lot further North than Enrico's native Foggia, they are a classic club from much the same era, with several appearances in early 1990s Serie A, though never lasting long - their greatest achievement being winning the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1992-1993 after they beat Derby County in Wembley.

Cremonese have not been in Serie A since 1996, but are on the rise now. They've gotten promoted from Serie C to Serie B 2 years ago, and have recorded a 14th and a 9th place in the 2 years since. The board are ambitious and want a top 4, with some resources to justify it: a 1M€ transfer budget sounds fairly tasty.

But the most important thing about this job is the AMAZING kits and colors. I love it!

 

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The next post should focus a bit more on the champagne side of things.

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What the hell is Champagne Football, anyway?

It's a moving target, a concept that is constantly changing. Ultimately, it can vaguely be described like this:

  • It strives to take the initiative of the game rather than sitting back
     
  • Every player is expected to do something with the ball and pursue the best way to reach the opposition's goal
     
  • There is no designated single goalscorer role on the pitch, we want to hit the opposition through multiple different possible main goalscorers
     
  • We favour open play combinations between several players that overload the opposition's defence, over solo goals or set piece goals, though every goal we score is always welcome!
     

And it currently looks like this:

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Does this fit the current Cremonese squad and this level of player? Very debatable. I think I can just about work with this but it's not ideal.
 

The current squad looks like this:

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If you pay close attention you might notice there is one problem. The chosen 11 - that's the first 11 I am planning to play right now - does not include some of the club's biggest stars:
 

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Daniel Ciofani is a quality striker for this level. However, he is a pretty stereotypical target man type striker whereas my main plan uses a false nine. Remains to be seen whether he can play that role specially given the "does not move into channels" PI - I am instructing my F9 specifically to move into channels!

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This guy is another problem but luckily I already have a solution on the cards. The promising Nigerian midfielder is the club's brightest prospect, but he is IMO not enough a good playmaker to play either my DLP or AP roles, and his dribbling would go to waste there. He could play the AM/A role, specially given I'm modifying it as I tell it to dribble more, but he's not a great finisher neither and that's the main goal for my AM/A.

The solution? He's PERFECT for what I would want from my rightback at this level. Spectacularly quick, can tackle and defend, can dribble, can cross reasonably well, I love it. I just need to retrain everything from scratch.

Also there's a big surplus of midfielders including the likes of Arini and Valzania who are currently off the starting 11, but let's see. Onto the players that I'm expecting to slot in seamlessly into my starting 11 as sheer stars:

 

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I want both fullbacks to be attacking beasts and this French lad is exactly that.

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I need my DLP to fuse passing precision with defensive power. Love it. The club is nuts to transfer list him, that will be solved soon.

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The inverted wingers are the heart and soul of my system, the most important players. Piccolo looks a particularly great fit with all the key skills I need.

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We are absolutely stacked at midfield and Gustafson is the most talented of all. I actually want my AP to have a little defensive ability so this looks like a great fit.

 

Onto financial power...


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With 1M€ to play with, we should be able to bring a player or two if I'm wise with it. Main priority I think is a backup inverted winger ASAP as we're short on that role. We might shift off a player or two if offers fly in, as we have too many midfielders and strikers - but I'll try to wait for bids rather than offer players out, as that way they often go for too cheap, plus I don't know yet who will perform in my system and who won't.

Now let's get ready for some champagne! Or... whatever the hell kind of drink ends out pouring from this bottle.

 

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Also, quick reminder about last year's Champagne Football experiment in FM19:

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There are a lot of similarities with an almost identical formation. The concept is considerably different though. I am no longer using the wingbacks to flood the base of midfield, and rather use them to create width. I am using playmakers to make the side look back to the base of midfield and circulate play - that's alien to last year's tactic. I had a Treq/AF pairing, the Treq looking to feed the forward, now it's the other way around with a F9 upfront and a AM/A as a runner. Last year I had dribble more turned on and the side was all about dribbling, now I have dribble less and it's more about ball circulating (tho select players like the IWs do dribble a lot). It's so similar yet so different!

Edited by noikeee

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Loans in

 

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Well this was quick. We solved our inverted wingers depth problem with 2 swift moves in the loan market.

 

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The more experienced Vittorio Parigni comes to play on the left, teenager Tófol Montiel to play on the right. They are excellent talents for this division I believe, the only problem is Parigni has "hugs line" as a preferred trait which goes against what I want to do, I hadn't noticed it when I had scouted him (both players were part of the initial scout reports that were available to me the day I arrived at the club).

With this I feel the squad might well be closed already, we have 26 players at the club which is too much, I'm looking to move on youth attacking midfielder/winger Reda Boultam on loan which will reduce the squad number to a manageable-if-yet-still-high-number of 25 players. Beyond him I'd love to sell off aging players Daniel Ciofani (ST) and Claiton (DC) as they're bad fits, but they're some of the most well paid players in the squad and dressing room team leaders, so perhaps I'll have to cope with them for the year before their contract expires in the next Summer. This means I'm stuck with 25 guys so it's ill advised to bring in more bodies unless I really can sell some (speaking like a true human trafficker here).

 

On the pitch it's been a good start with a 5-0 win over the U20s and a 4-0 over Austrian farmers, although obviously that means absolutely nothing. Plenty of friendlies still to go until we kick off for real.

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Amusingly after dissing set piece goals in the posts above explaining my tactic, we've been scoring loads of them, I think 4 headers from set pieces in just these 2 matches. However there's also been a few neat combination plays, even if it took the U20s to go down to 10 men to open up some space on the pitch, after a kid got sent off (way to impress the senior team manager!):

 

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The squad wasn't done after all
 

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Portuguese-Canadian CB Ricardo Ferreira, formerly of Braga and Paços de Ferreira, joins in. We now have a ridiculous 6 centerbacks, which is way way way over the top for a team that plans to play a back 4, but this was an opportunity I could not pass up. He becomes our best CB and fits the BPD role perfectly.

Meanwhile, we continue to do well on the pitch. And we've had to face Perfection.

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First official match of my career is coming soon, against Serie C side Virtus Francavilla. Batle of the sexy kits as they use an Argentina-like vertical white-and-light-blue stripes shirt.

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When you've got the bookies' favourite to win the top goalscorer award and you don't even intend to play him at all! :lol:

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An absurdly good deal

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Up to 27 first team players now which is, uh, not very sensible, but how could I pass on this deal. I mean let's just see the list of clubs that were interested in this kid:

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We've beat them all to sign Emanuel Vignato! Apparently Chievo wanted to get rid of him only because he was in the final year of contract, but surely that was way too cheap? I don't mind though. For now he's cover for the AM/A position and should rotate with Deli in there, but long term I want to adapt him to IW/A on the left.


Meanwhile, we've played the first match....

 

Coppa Italia 2nd Qual. Rnd
Cremonese 3-0 Virtus Francavilla: Deli headers put cherry on top of dominant performance
(Deli 11, 30, Ferreira 36)

A pleasing start to my managerial career as we were wonderfully free flowing, specially in the first half. Francesco Deli was the star in the attacking midfield role, scoring two headers from open play to put us 2 goals up, and then Ricardo Ferreira added a third on his debut on a corner. We slowed down in the 2nd half and allowed a few chances but were comfortable knowing we'd go through at this stage.

 

After that we've also beaten minnows San Giorgio (NA) 7-0 in the final friendly.

Edited by noikeee

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Coppa Italia 3rd Qual. Rnd
Hellas Verona 1-2 Cremonese: Corner goals see off Serie A opposition

(Adjapong 38; Deli 42, Ravanelli 85)

This was a pretty boring match with all 3 goals coming from corner kicks, but we'll take it, given this is a big away win over a team from the division above us. We went a goal down but turned it around, and were clearly the superior side on the pitch with twice the shots and 60% possession. Ravanelli's 85th minute header puts us in the next round. Where things gets harder as we'll play Sampdoria.
 

Serie B round 1
Pordenone 0-1 Cremonese: Gustafson's long range shot gives us first league win

(Gustafson 73)

A weird match. We were having huge numbers of possession (we finished the match on 66%!) and also putting all our shots on target, yet weren't really creating any real chance. Thankfully playmaker Samuel Gustafson decided to bang on in from 25 yards midway through the 2nd half and that sealed the match.
 

Serie B round 2
Cremonese 6-1 Pescara: Antonio Piccolo's inspired afternoon devastates Pescara

(Piccolo 9, 14, 41, 91, Palombi 39, Soddimo 87; Kastanos 71)

This one was all about Antonio Piccolo as the experienced wide forward put in an unbelievable performance. By the first quarter of an hour he'd already scored an Arjen Robben-esque cut-in-and-shoot goal and a header, would later add an assist taking a deep freekick, a 3rd goal with a precise shot just within the area, and the final 91st minute 6-1 was attributed to him despite his head just barely deflecting Luca Valzania's shot. 4 goals and an assist, epic - rewarded with a 10.0 match rating.
 

Serie B round 3
Salernitana 1-0 Cremonese: First defeat as we fail to turn dominance into chances

(Maistro 91)

A disappointing trip to Salerno. We were on top of the match all 90 minutes, with (again) loads more possession and shots, but this time largely failing to break down the opposition. They had the occasional danger counter but it still felt unlucky to have conceded the 91st minute winner - a long shot from the edge of the area that came from nowhere.

 

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A nice start to the season even if the defeat to Salernitana was surprising. We're playing well and getting the goals, the only major concern is it's almost transfer deadline day and we've not been able to move on any of the unwanted players.

Edited by noikeee

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Interesting concept! Will be intrigued to see how the tactic will work out against Sampdoria!

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24 minutes ago, john1 said:

Interesting concept! Will be intrigued to see how the tactic will work out against Sampdoria!

That match is a long time away, idk why the calendar is like this but there's like 10 league fixtures before that. 

Nevertheless it's gonna be an interesting one, given we've beat a Serie A side away there's no reason why we can't beat another one, but I suspect Sampdoria are stronger than Verona. 

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September 2019: Clean sheets put us in the promotion battle
 

Transfer deadline finished without any more deals, I tried to sell rightback Vasile Mogos but the board blocked the deal as they thought I was giving him away for too cheap. Guess it's better to pay his wages to sit on the bench as 3rd choice then?


Serie B round 4
Cremonese 2-0 Crotone: Late goals put paper over the cracks

(Palombi 88, Parigini 89)

A much better result than the performance, as for the first time this season I was quite concerned with the football we displayed. We never endangered Crotone and occasionally they looked good when they went upfront. It all changed when they switched to an attacking 4-2-4 in the final minutes to try to go win the match - that backfired spectacularly as it gave us space to counter, and we seized the win in minutes 88 and 89.


Serie B round 5
Ascoli 0-1 Cremonese: Another match saved by a glimpse of genius

(Vignato 70)

This one reminded me of the 1st league fixture in which Gustafson saved our arses with a long shot. This time it was Gustafson again but with a wonderful through ball/early cross diagonal kind of assist, after dribbling past a player, just minutes after I switched him from AP/S to RPM/S - an inspired call? We had been poor the previous 70 minutes, but that one move sealed the 3 points.


Serie B round 6
Cremonese 0-0 Venezia: Venetian bus sucessfully parked

Just 3 days after the Venetians got unbelievably smashed 8-0 at home by Perugia, we also dominated with 25 shots to 1... but failed to put away any of them. A very disappointing afternoon, for no matter how long we shot at Alberto Pomini's goal, nothing would go in.


Serie B round 7
Chievo 0-1 Cremonese: Entertaining match settled by Soddimo's header

(Soddimo 66)

An open match in Verona which weirdly ended with just a single goal. It was a very even 1st half with chances in both ends, then in the 2nd half we got the upper hand and put more and more pressure in them. An early cross by Michael Kingsley found Danilo Soddimo's head and the inverted winger who had just come off the bench scored the winner. We could've added more after Chievo had a man sent off, Gustafson hit the post in injury time, but 1-0 is enough for 3 points.

 

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It's a bit weird that for all the attacking football we're grinding points based on clean sheets, 1-0 and 2-0 wins, but we'll take it for now, I am happy the team can keep on racking up wins when we're uninspired and have left our scoring boots at home. We're right off the promotion slots and in the top 4 just as the board had asked. It's all looking good for this season.

Edited by noikeee

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Holy crap what an epic beard!

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October 2019: Undefeated month as we move up to 2nd


Serie B round 8
Cremonese 1-0 Perugia: Piccolo's runs decide big match

(Piccolo 7)

3rd against 1st for a very important clash for promotion here, and it went our way. Antonio Piccolo was the key man here, the wide forward constantly grabbing the big chances, often released into space. It was an early header from him that put it in the back of the net, and so it stayed until the end, although he scored another that was called off for offside, a shame as it had been one from a nice throughball. Huge win.


Serie B round 9
Cremonese 2-1 Empoli: Better finishing rewards us with turnaround

(Parigini 22, Ravanelli 49; Mancuso 9)

A pretty tricky afternoon, Empoli seriously unsettled us and even went a goal up. Thankfully we turned it around with a wonderful counter-attacking goal and then centerback Ravanelli added our 2nd in a corner. Empoli looked really good in the dying minutes after they switched to a 4-4-2 from their initial 3-1-4-2, but we held on.


Serie B round 10
Livorno 1-1 Cremonese: A set piece aside results in draw

(Brignola 48; Ferreira 56)

An absolutely awful match! We were utterly uninspired and our opponents weren't any better. They scored from a header right after a throw-in, and we scored a header in a corner. Not a great example of our footballing philosophy.


Serie B round 11
Cremonese 3-1 Virtus Entella: Flowing win as we return to form

(Ferreira 6, Piccolo 33, Palombi 82; Crimi 57)

This was a bit more satisfying. Ricardo Ferreira opened the scoresheet in a corner, but then our inverted wingers shone in tippy-tappy goals, Piccolo scoring the first after released by a through ball, and on the other flank Pagani feeding the false 9 Palombi in a cutback low cross. Meanwhile Virtus Entella had scored one too, but this was never in doubt.

 

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We're now up to an actual promotion position as a 3-way fight between us, Perugia and Empoli seems to be developing for the 2 places that automatically go up. It's still very early to take any conclusions, though.

Edited by noikeee

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Form player: Antonio Piccolo
 

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There is little doubt the wide forward has been key in this start of the season. The 4 goals + 1 assist for a perfect 10.0 rating in the huge win against Pescara stood out, but it's not been just that one match. Let's look at the attacking contributions throughout the squad in which he's just way clear:
 

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With 6 goals + 6 assists he is unquestionably our main attacking outlet and creator. Interestingly he does not shoot any more than the man on the other wing Vittorio Parigini, but has been more accurate. He also takes corners which adds to the assists number, this allowed him to add an assist to the goal in the match versus Virtus Entella, giving him a 9.0 rating for that match.

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November 2019: Undefeated in 12 as we hang on to 2nd place


Serie B round 12
Cosenza 1-1 Cremonese: Montiel's first goal for the club earns a point

(Schiavi 14; Montiel 84)

We probably deserved a win here, but after being 70 minutes behind I guess I'm okay with salvaging a point. They went 1 up in a header in a set piece, and then we had most of the rest of the match without ever really breaking them down. An early cross by Soddimo found Tòfol Montiel in the back post and the teenager scored his first for the club.


Serie B round 13
Cremonese 1-0 Trapani: Parigini gives us win with moment of brilliance

(Parigini 16)

We totally dominated Trapani, but only scored once. That was thanks to quite possibly Vittorio Parigini's highlight of the season so far - mugging a defender, then running to dribble another defender twice, first feigning to seemingly gain the byline to then feigning again cutting inside, and banging one past the keeper. That goal gave us 3 points.


Serie B round 14
Spezia 1-1 Cremonese: Lack of goalscoring threat punished by break

(Ricci 62; Piccolo 10)

We've looked a bit toothless lately, and although we went a goal up through an outstanding long range freekick by that guy Antonio Piccolo, we failed to add more goals. Suddenly out of nowhere, in the middle of the 2nd half as Spezia hadn't even had a shot on goal, they scored on a counter-attack. And that freed them, they could've added more in the dying minutes. We got a point but we need to improve.


Serie B round 15
Cremonese 3-0 Pisa: Quality goals in one of the best displays of the season

(Vignato 42, Piccolo 68, 88)

A genuinely great showing, I've been missing these. The first goal was a bit scrappy but it was nice that it came by Emanuel Vignato playing on the AMC position, as I've been struggling to get my AMC to perform recently. The 2nd was a delicious throughball by Gustafson to Piccolo, and the 3rd a wonderful freekick by Piccolo again - 2 freekick goals in consecutive matches! It's nice to see the lads put in one of those performances I've been raring for.



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We've not always been super convincing recently, and dropped points both times we played away this month, but the fact remains we have not lost a match in the last 12 league fixtures, and just about remain in 2nd place. Meanwhile, the next fixture is the long awaited cup tie vs Sampdoria.

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Real life: hired by Barcelona

FM: interested in Spezia

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December 2019: Inconsistent form but still hanging on


Coppa Italia 4th Qual. Rnd
Sampdoria 2-1 Cremonese: Wonder solo goals kick us out of the cup

(Bereszynski 1, Linetty 45; Ceravolo pen 43)

We gave it a good go but the Sampdoria players were too good for us. You could tell through the 2 goals they scored (amusingly in the first and last minute of the 1st half) - incredible solo runs through the entire lenght of the pitch, although helped by our defenders choosing to mark the wrong man until it was too late. We scored one from the spot kick, and really amped up the pressure in the dying minutes, but our cup run is over.


Serie B round 16
Juve Stabia 1-3 Cremonese: Piccolo continues dream season with hat-trick

(Cissé 78; Piccolo 41, pen 74, pen 84)

This match was always going to have goals, as Juve Stabia play a risky, attacking narrow 4-3-3 with 3 strikers, and we play, well, champagne football. We were lucky that we scored our chances and they didn't (and they had plenty of 3 v 2 opportunities on the break with their 3 men against our 2 CBs), and also lucky that we have Piccolo. He scored the first with a wonderful shot from range, then scored from the penalty spot twice.


Serie B round 17
Cremonese 1-1 Cittadella: Total domination but no win

(Piccolo 45; Celar 48)

For most of the season I've been wondering how we've been so offensive but hardly ever punished on the break, well this time we were! We'd gone a goal up through the inevitable Piccolo right before half-time, but just when we returned, a long ball found a Cittadella forward clear and they scored with their first shot on goal. We had plenty of chances, we'd make 25 shots in this match to Cittadella's 2, but still dropped points.


Serie B round 18
Frosinone 1-1 Cremonese: Point salvaged in difficult, open match

(Trotta 38; Palombi 10)

Away to one of the best sides in the division, and in a weird shaped square-ish field, we struggled. We did score the opener through a magnificent combination play, Migliore releasing Parigini down the left for the cutback onto the late run by Palombi. But Frosinone were extraordinarily dangerous on the break and soon scored. We stabilized our tactical setup a bit in the 2nd half but goals could've happened at either end. They didn't.


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Despite losing points in the last 2 matches, we still maintain the status quo - Perugia have increased their lead, Empoli have caught us, but we're still just about holding on to 2nd place.

Meanwhile the January transfer window will now open up. It's unlikely we'll hire new players as I've exhausted all of our budget and we're losing money, but I'd like to get rid of a couple of players - I failed to do that in the Summer but they're now more willing to move.

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Mid-season tactical review

Time to give a look at how we're setting up on the pitch lately.

 

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Compared to the beginning of the season, the biggest difference is we've dropped "underlap right" and kept that only for the left-flank to give us a bit more variety. Another change is the AP/S has become a RPM/S.

We have two major issues I dislike at the moment. The first is the ever-increasing reliance on Antonio Piccolo which goes completely against what I want to accomplish:

 

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He should absolutely not be scoring 3 times as many goals as the next highest scorer - although the fact he's scoring from freekicks and penalty kicks inflates this number. I need more goalscoring outlets in this team.

 

The other issue is how useless the AMC has been, whether I play Vignato or others like Deli or Montiel. I want him to be one of the main goalscorers, showing up on the area with late runs as a target for crosses and other loose balls. Yet he barely contributes anything at all.

In a previous version of this tactic in another test career, I had the AMC scoring a lot, but it was on "positive mentality" without underlap instructions - under "attacking" it feels like he's making the runs too early. I think attacking helps us with other things, though, so I am undecided what to do. I've tried giving him a support role (with gets further forward for him to keep running forward) but it didn't really work. I'm now wondering whether it's the underlap instruction on his flank that's taking him off the game - it's giving Parigini, the IW, a lot of the ball instead. I might experiment with underlap for the OTHER flank? 

Currently the AM's instructions are Dribble More + Close Down More + Stay Wider, but stay wider is just an experiment that isn't really working and I'll probably take off. I don't want to give him "moves into channels" or "roams from position", as I've already given those 2 instructions to the F9 and need the AM to be more of a static target to compensate. I don't want to pull him back and make him a CM/A or a mezzala, as I need the higher positioning from a defensive point of view, we retract too much if he's played in a MC position. Perhaps what I should do is double up on his advanced positioning and make him a shadow striker for once? Idk, I am completely lost on this one piece of the team. We've got something great going on here overall, but the finishing last few touches are lacking.

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Player out

 

We finally manage to move on someone:

 

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He's a good rightback, but not very good going forward, and I find attacking skills in FBs quite critical to how I want to play - although quite strangely both my LB and RB have been getting a lot fewer assists than I was expecting. At least we can save a little in wages here, though we've got guys earning 5 times more cash sitting on the bench - thankfully those cases won't be continuing for longer as they're running out of contract at the end of the season.

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January 2020: We break a record but Empoli overtakes us


In January there's a bit of a break without fixtures so before these 2 league matches I set up a morale-building friendly against minnows Albese. We won 7-0 with goals from Parigini (2), Piccolo (2), Ricardo Ferreira, Terranova and Ceravolo. This match was good for minor tactical experimentation, as a consequence from the things I wrote in the post above, I made the AMCL a shadow striker, and switched the "underlaps" to the right flank instead of the left.

 

Serie B round 19
Cremonese 1-1 Benevento: Excessive accuracy kicks us out from promotion places

(Piccolo 54; Insigne 31)

Sometimes football is cruel. This was one of our better showings all season, constantly breaking down Benevento and hitting the woodwork 3 times in the first half. However they randomly went 1 up through a deep free kick headed in. The inevitable Piccolo got us a goal, but then the keeper saved everything throughout the rest of the 2nd half. We drop to 3rd, overtaken by Empoli.

Bizarrely, the day we drop to 3rd is the day we break this record:

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Serie B round 20
Cremonese 2-0 Pordenone: Goofy owngoal opens path to fairly comfortable win

(Bassoli og 4, Parigini 77)

Again like in the previous match we hit the woodwork 3 times, the difference is the first time we did so, their centerback reacted first and decided to clear the ball at full power into... the back of his own net. This put us in front for the whole match, and although Pordenone harrassed us sometimes, we finally confirmed the win late when Parigini put in a Kingsley cross.


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Empoli are now ahead of us but we're surely not gonna continue hitting the woodwork 3 times per match, and I think the small tactical changes were benefitial. I'm optimistic we can fight our way back to 2nd through the rest of the season.
 

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February 2020: 4 clean sheets but no closer to promotion slots


Nothing happened further on the January transfer window. I desperately tried to loan out veteran centerback Cleiton, because he's a team leader and I had promised him a loan, but nobody would take him not even for free wages. Then he got mad at me for not finding him a loan. Fun.


Serie B round 21
Pescara 0-0 Cremonese: Nullified by a defensive Pescara

A very disappointing match. Pescara barely attacked all match long and we barely created anything despite playing most of the 90 minutes in their area. Unfortunately this was a really costly match as we lost leftback Francesco Migliore to injury, he won't play any more the rest of the season!


Serie B round 22
Cremonese 1-0 Salernitana: Piccolo header gets us back on track

(Piccolo 82)

Against the only team that has beaten us in the league this season, with lots of players away due to injury, and with the whole team looking out of form, this was never going to be an easy match. It played out exceptionally even between both sides, but a cross from Parigini found Piccolo with 8 minutes to go and gave us the win.


Serie B round 23
Crotone 0-2 Cremonese: Proper passing goals give us the win

(Kingsley 29, Palombi 86)

We were far from creating a sustained attacking windfall on the pitch, on this trip to the "heel of the boot" in Southern Italy, but the goals were wonderful. Gustafson played a lovely throughball to midfielder-turned-rightback Kingsley to roam all the way from the flank to clinically finish one in; then late on we witnessed a combination between Zortea, Piccolo and Palombi, the low cross finding the false 9 successfully. Lovely stuff, finally we play some proper champagne football!!


Serie B round 24
Cremonese 2-0 Ascoli: Rare Gustafson brace sinks Ascoli

(Gustafson 14, 62)

Well that's something you don't see every day - Samuel Gustafson scoring 2 from a midfield position. The first was a header from a deep Piccolo freekick, the second a long range missile. By then Ascoli were down to 10 men after an appalling tackle on Piccolo, that only made them even meeker as we totally dominated the match.


ZRdpiNu.jpg

It's quite strange that after a month in which we didn't concede a single goal, have extended the unbeaten run to 21 matches (!!!), and have been playing pretty good football, we're now further away from 2nd place, 4 points off. But Empoli are on a roll, with their forward Leonardo Mancuso on insane form.

I just found out about a very interesting rule though - if we finish 3rd place, but beat 4th place by 15 points or more, there's no playoffs, we get promoted automatically. Currently we've got a 10 points gap over Livorno... could we end up benefitting from this?!

Edited by noikeee

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Well technically this match was still in February
 

Serie B round 25
Venezia 3-6 Cremonese: Tactical switch works swimmingly well in Venice

(Zuculini 57, Di Mariano 77, Stanzani 88; Vignato 32, Ferreira 50, 62, 90, Piccolo 55, Kingsley 80)

Sick of not getting any performance from my AMC, I said **** it and played him as an extra striker instead (CF/S). He scored the opener and helped confuse the Venetian defence as we scored a ridiculous 6. The most ridiculous fact of all was centerback Ricardo Ferreira scoring a hat-trick of headers in set pieces, but all goals count. I'm almost okay with the 3 goals conceded and feel bad for Venezia, I've managed them in the past and quite enjoyed visiting Venice IRL as well.


9otiSmS.jpg

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March 2020 (1): Promotion race heats up
 

Serie B round 26
Cremonese 2-0 Chievo: Increased firepower releases Piccolo for brace

(Piccolo 29, 47)

We went with the 2 striker variant again, and it clearly worked again. The goals ended up coming from the usual man Piccolo on the wing, but the faux-forwards partnership clearly made a dent - the 2nd goal started from a cross from Palombi drifting wide from the left-sided CF/S role. We were dominant and although it's clear this variant is less defensively solid, still kept them mostly to long shots.


Serie B round 27
Perugia 1-1 Cremonese: Agazzi's penalty save keeps unbeaten run alive

(Fernandes 19; Parigini 44)

The first of 2 decisive matches against rivals for promotion, made for an outrageous, spectacular evening. Perugia took the lead but we still drew within the 2st half, both goals coming from diagonal chipped balls. The 2nd half was frenetic and we had plenty of chances, but in the final 15 minutes Perugia really put on the pressure and even had a penalty kick. Michael Agazzi saved, and we continue our run of 24 (!) matches unbeaten.


J3j39XB.jpg

The next match is away to Empoli!!

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March 2020 (2): Serie A dream now slightly further away


Serie B round 28
Empoli 4-2 Cremonese: Reckless approach finally backfires

(Mancuso 20, 63, La Gumina 28, Frattesi 54; Vignato 5, 37)

I had plenty of warning in the Perugia match that the 2-striker setup was defensively unstable, but I gambled playing it for this super important away match anyway. It did not go well. It was nice to see Emanuel Vignato score not once but twice, first through a low cross then flicking onto goal a loose ball in a set piece, but Empoli had fun exploiting the huge gap through our midfield and created far too many chances. We are now further away from promotion, and the unbeaten run has finally ended.


Serie B round 29
Cremonese 2-0 Livorno: Gustafson excels, now as DM

(Gustafson 38, 44)

To try to increase defensive solidity of the 2-striker setup, I pulled back Samuel Gustafson to a 2nd DM position, effectively turning the tactic almost into a flat 4-4-2 with 2 DMs. I was very surprised to witness this increase his influence over the attacking game rather than diminish it - he kept on making virtually unchecked late runs into the area, scoring the first goal like this (the 2nd was a header in a set piece). We made plenty of shots, but weren't 100% stable as Livorno had some chances on the break.
 

gpRzwjz.jpg

The defeat to Empoli put us on the back foot but they also shockingly lost to Benevento 3-0 this last week, so we still continue only 2 points away from them. It was a missed opportunity to overtake them, but this isn't over yet.

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Youth intake

 

Ezunzwb.jpg

jXxoUyp.jpgu5Ps3T0.jpg 

 

Ugh, this is pretty bad.

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Oh and this is what the new tactic looks like now.

o4D0Xdx.jpg

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Vasile Mogos turned into a pretty good AMR-A Winger in a 4-2-3-1 Wide for Bari (after Promotion) in Serie A on FM19. His Attributes aren't the greatest but he often found the net!

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Did you try a shadow striker in the amc maybe help with those late runs you want? Loving the concept and the  progress so far. Will be following 

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10 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Vasile Mogos turned into a pretty good AMR-A Winger in a 4-2-3-1 Wide for Bari (after Promotion) in Serie A on FM19. His Attributes aren't the greatest but he often found the net!

Great that it worked for you but I just can't imagine him in my system, need both my wingbacks and wingers to be pretty creative dribblers!

9 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Did you try a shadow striker in the amc maybe help with those late runs you want? Loving the concept and the  progress so far. Will be following 

Yeah and it was awful. :D I've actually had a SS with success before, this whole system was finetuned before in a throwaway mini career I had with Lyon and I had a SS doing well there (pro tip, hire Dani Olmo he's amazing), but it was on positive mentality. On the current system on attacking I just find it that he runs forward far too early and is disconnected from the match. But I like attacking because it fits well with the concept of trying to play attacking football, outscoring the opposition, the system on positive could be a bit low scoring.

Thanks man.

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Well this absolutely royally ****ing sucks

 

qxuytUT.jpg

My best signing, our best defender, who was on great form. Knee ****ed. I feel his pain as I've got the exact same injury right now.

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seaYFQN.jpg

Woah he's really got a bad case of it. :eek: Don't think I've seen this message in years of FM. Last time might've been in like, FM05. :eek:

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April 2020 (1): Winning run puts pressure on Perugia and Empoli
 

Serie B round 30
Virtus Entella 0-1 Cremonese: Ceravolo's solo goal saves awful performance

(Ceravolo 87)

I took a severely weakened side to this match as plenty of players were tired, but insisted in the 2 strikers, 2 DMs setup. We were dramatically outplayed - although the home side never quite created clear chances - and midway through the 2nd half I had to admit defeat and return to the setup with a AMC. Luck smiled on us though, Virtus Entella went too attacking in the dying minutes, and Fabio Ceravolo, a forward who's had a pretty bad season, suddenly came to life with an incredible solo run and shot from still pretty far out, to give us the win with 3 minutes to go.


Serie B round 31
Cremonese 3-1 Cosenza: Vignato rises in importance with another 2 goals

(Caracciolo 35, Vignato 46, 69; Bruccini 77)

At home I felt comfortable enough to go with the 2-striker 2-DM setup, and this freed Emanuel Vignato for his second brace of the season, after having done so against Empoli last month. By mistake I was playing him as complete forward instead of false nine but this seems to have really suited him - scored the first with a long shot and the 2nd after being released by a lovely throughball by Castagnetti. And still could've added the 3rd very late on, on a brilliant run from the right after I'd shoved him off to a wing. A rising star.


Serie B round 32
Trapani 0-3 Cremonese: Long range goals open path towards big win

(Kingsley 1, Parigini 30, Piccolo pen 50)

Reverting to the AM setup here, I knew this would diminish Vignato's influence in the game, but it was necessary given this match was away and just a few days after the previous one, players tired. I shouldn't have needed to worry. Michael Kingsley opened the scoreline with a missile from miles out within 30 seconds of play, and midway through the 2nd half Parigini had added another goal from long. Piccolo's penalty after half-time further extended our lead, and I cautiously managed the lead dropping into Positive mentality to sit on it.


WNlmMh4.jpg

We're still 3rd, but with Empoli 2 points from us and Perugia 3 points from us, everything's still wide open, plus I'm now starting to learn better all the pluses and cons from all my tactical variants, and switching between them when I believe it benefits us.

Plus there's a secondary narrative building up here - we're 13 points ahead of Juve Stabia, if we get that up to 15 points the playoffs are cancelled and the 3rd place team goes up. We're also going to play Juve Stabia soon...

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Naming tactics


If there's one thing I've learnt from @ManUtd1's crazy careers is to clear up confusion it's best to give a recognisable name to each tactical variant. No, this thread is a grapefruit-free zone, thankfully. But it's getting a bit too confusing and repetitive to write things like "the 2-striker 2-DM attacking setup" so let's just go with a homage to a few managers that the character I'm playing as, "Enrico Santoro", has supposedly been inspired by.


Champagne Guardiola: Narrow, attacking 4-2-3-1 with underlaps

yqm1bNB.jpg

The one I've been spending most of the season with - an attacking but surprisingly solid setup that just about creates enough fancy football. It's not quite Guardiola's Man City as we're a bit more frenetic, but there are similarities - the inverted wingers, underlaps on at least a flank, low crosses, and Gustafson performing a bit of a de Bruyne-esque role, do produce something vaguely similar.


Champagne Guttman: All-out-attack 4-2-4

firPCBo.jpg

The most recent creation that I've not quite managed to make it super defensively stable yet, even after puling back the RPM to make it a 2nd defensive midfielder. It is however, unquestionably, my best tactic yet if I want to go for a goal. As it's effectively a 4-2-4, I've named it after Hungarian manager Bela Guttman who had lots of success with it in the 1960s. Let's just please forget a lot of that success was with Benfica, okay?

 

Champagne Klopp: Positive, width-seeking 4-2-3-1

Cgd0vZW.jpg

An earlier version of this tactic that I tried in my throwaway career with Lyon and that's not really been used much in this career yet. It's largely the same as Champagne Guardiola except with positive mentality instead of attacking, and unashamedly using width instead of narrowness and underlaps. It makes the shadow striker much more involved, but doesn't quite get the crazy goalscoring numbers of the advanced winger as Champagne Guardiola got out of Antonio Piccolo. Nevertheless, a powerful alternative to have on the tactical arsenal - the width might be good against narrow formations which we face a lot in Italy; and the really pleasing thing about this setup is it shared goals really well between all advanced players.


Champagne Del Bosque: Positive but restrained 4-3-3

5pkPaqR.jpg

One in the development board. I need a proper close-out-the-game version of a tactic to hold on to a lead, whilst still respecting the Champagne football philosophy of, the best defence still is to attack a fair bit. Pulling the AMC to a MC position and retracting one of the wingbacks feels like a good choice, but I've not played with this one much yet.

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eubEAcS.jpg

Jesus this is just absolutely ****ing shocking.

 

ELavp0n.jpg

Look at that pace, just a few days ago he was our paciest defender that I typically played on cover duty. Was doing fantastic here in Italy as well, I'm already thinking of the "top 5 players of the season" feature for the season review and he's solid up there as 2nd or 3rd most influential player of the year. I'm not gonna press "reconsider retirement" because when he comes back from injury he's obviously gonna be all but useless, and I'd just be paying wages for no reason. But damn. Thanks for the great service, Ricardo. :( 

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jlUhLzN.jpg

It's done.
 

gPgopIu.jpg

We got some compensation money. 300K for a 4M€ player. :rolleyes:

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April (2): Key win puts us within touch of promotion
 
 
Serie B round 33
Cremonese 3-0 Spezia: Early flurry of goals seals the win
(Vignato 3, 16, Piccolo 14)
 
I can't keep ****ing quiet with tactics so I tried Champagne Guttman on positive mentality for this one. It made for a wonderful start as we were 3-0 up after 16 minutes, albeit 2 of those had come from set pieces (Piccolo scored from a direct FK again!). But as the match played out, the familiar pattern of defensive instability showed up again and quite frankly the result greatly flatters us, we were lucky not to concede even after switching to Champagne Del Bosque.
 
 
Serie B round 34
Pisa 2-1 Cremonese: Piccolo's wonderful freekick not enough to save us from defeat
(Siega 73, Marin 90; Piccolo 30)
 
Huge blow to our promotion chances, and it all looked so good when Piccolo gave us the win through yet another incredible freekick (I think it's the 4th this season). I tried to sit on the 1-0 lead on Champagne Del Bosque, however Pisa shocked us with the equaliser midway through the 2nd half, which seemed to come out of nowhere. Desperate I switched to Champagne Guttman, and this only got worse as they pounced on a counter from one of our attacking corners right into injury time. Only our 3rd league defeat of the season.
 
 
Serie B round 35
Cremonese 2-0 Juve Stabia : Precious win puts us within automatic promotion range
(Kingsley 62, Valzania 92)
 
Heading into this match we still had exactly 13 points over Juve Stabia, so we knew a win would take us over that sweet 15 points gap for automatic promotion. We really struggled at the beginning of the match though, as Champagne Guttman clearly wasn't working. I switched to Champagne Guardiola and there you go, wonderful underlapping run by rightback Michael Kingsley to make it the opener! Later substitute Luca Valzania would add a 2nd in a corner, for a hugely valuable win. The only bad news is Samuel Gustafson is injured now and won't play in the final month of the season.
 
STMXQPO.jpg
 
We caught up with Empoli, but the most important thing now is we have 16 points over Juve Stabia. If we keep that at 15 or above we're promoted. 3 matches to go!

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14 hours ago, noikeee said:

jlUhLzN.jpg

It's done.
 

gPgopIu.jpg

We got some compensation money. 300K for a 4M€ player. :rolleyes:

I'm not very good at math, but...

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Gutted to see you only got 300K! On other hand, good to see you still in the mix for the promotion :thup: 

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At least you got some money for him...

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I love the names for the tactics, much better and straightforward than that Grape fruit PM libre nonsense that the other guys uses.

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7 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

I'm not very good at math, but...

 

4 hours ago, john1 said:

Gutted to see you only got 300K! On other hand, good to see you still in the mix for the promotion :thup: 

 

2 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

At least you got some money for him...

 

By my math, the insurance plan we had on him only covered the pinky toe of his left foot. Trust me, I passed calculus. Eventually.

 

1 hour ago, kidthekid said:

I love the names for the tactics, much better and straightforward than that Grape fruit PM libre nonsense that the other guys uses.

Yes, thanks for bigging it up @kidthekid this is exactly the kind of content we've been sorely lacking in these forums. Bitter, petty feuds between careers.

giphy.gif 

Edited by noikeee

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Serie B round 36
Cittadella 0-1 Cremonese: The freekicks master strikes once again

(Piccolo 30)

This is getting absurd. This match, we had absolutely no business winning. We only made one single shot on target all match long! It was one of our worst performances of the season, the players knackered from a long season and a cramped calendar, Gustafson injured and off the team. But that one shot on target was Antonio Piccolo scoring yet another wonderful freekick into the top corner. That's 5 by now this season I believe.

Juve Stabia drew at home, so our lead increases to 18 points. We're so, so close now:

e0nEHxD.jpg

Frosinone (H) and Benevento (A) are the 2 remaining fixtures, that's 5th and 7th so not an easy run-in.

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Serie B round 37
Cremonese 0-1 Frosinone: Lost opportunity as tired squad misses Piccolo
(Trotta 88)
 
We might come to regret this match. The players are feeling the weight of a very long season, and for this one I had to leave out our star man Antonio Piccolo and goalkeeper Michael Agazi, both fighting off minor knocks. We had more shots on target than Frosinone but didn't really create that much danger. I was desperate for a goal and switched to Champagne Guttman but that just created the opportunity for them to score one on a late counter, giving us our 4th defeat of the season.
 
K50kFvB.jpg
 
Juve Stabia won, so that's exactly 15 points we have on them. If we beat Benevento away on the final day, we're promoted (or if we match the result of Juve Stabia, or if we get a better result than Empoli and overtake them for 2nd place). But I don't trust us to do that on current form...

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This kid is actually pretty damn good

Brief interlude before the final match of the season. Remember this year's youth intake? It was so average I didn't even bother to youth tag them (ok, that was just laziness).

YhT2s4G.jpg

Look at him now. The attributes are skyrocketing, the staff gives him max potential. Could it be that we actually have a gem in our hands? 

Keep a very close eye on your youth intakes, guys. It could well be that in this version of FM the initial ratings can be MILES off the actual potential of the players. Don't just trust those stars blindly. I'm now mildly regretting releasing over half of this year's kids on a free.

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And now I'm even more confused, as I've just looked at the youth intake screenie and there's no mention of this name. He also has way too many competitive starts to have arrived here in March or February or whenever it was that the intake arrived. So he's been here all season from the beginning and I never noticed. :lol:  WTF

Edited by noikeee

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Serie B round 38
Benevento 1-2 Cremonese: Vittorio Parigini lifts Cremonese up to Serie A

(Viola pen 84; Parigini 3, 59)

It looked like our afternoon as early as minute 3, with Parigini blasting one in to the top corner from just outside the area. Benevento attacked though, and had the odd half-chance or 2, in what wasn't a very comfortable first half. But a good half-time team talk and a few adjustments helped, and after the break Parigini scored again on a Michael Kingsley cross.

The last 10 minutes were survival. We gave away a penalty kick, which they scored, and then they went for it with everything. We were lucky but kept the lead till the end. It wouldn't have mattered - Juve Stabia were drawing their match, so even if we drew our own match as well, we'd have gotten promoted on the 15-points-or-more-over-the-4th-place rule. In fact, Empoli also drew their match, so we overtook them for 2nd, and Empoli benefitted from this rule to get promoted from 3rd place instead of us - there will be no playoffs.

3pmhmBw.jpg

hhqMy7T.jpg

SuMTQUq.jpg

GhUrryg.jpg

CGewYtU.jpg

giphy.gif giphy.gif 

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2 hours ago, kidthekid said:

I love the names for the tactics, much better and straightforward than that Grape fruit PM libre nonsense that the other guys uses.

giphy.gif 

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31 minutes ago, noikeee said:

Keep a very close eye on your youth intakes, guys. It could well be that in this version of FM the initial ratings can be MILES off the actual potential of the players. Don't just trust those stars blindly. I'm now mildly regretting releasing over half of this year's kids on a free.

I've had one of these, too!  But damn...this kid's going to be good.

Congrats on the promotion!

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