JOURNEYMAN (TAKE 2) – LAZIO FIRST SEASON

Club 3 – Lazio

With Lazio finishing 5th and being in the Europa League as we take over, I wanted to try and get through this season as fast as possible in the hopes of a top 4 finish to secure Champions League football. So this edition, is going to be a full season overview from our first year in charge.

Our Europa League group saw us matched up against Frankfurt of Germany, Club Brugge of Belgium and LECHIA! Our former Polish champions. A fun group and a relatively straight forward one.

12 games in and it seems very much like it could be a title winning season, yet to lose a game this season, epitomised by the 12th match against Napoli, 2-0 down at HT despite having the better of the game I was fearing the worst, an incredible fight back saw Bryan Gil come off the bench and score 2 in the 3-2 turn around. Suddenly it felt very much like this Lazio side could be special.

As we hit the halfway stage of the season at the end of January, we’ve not spent this month, with the main objective to keep hold of our current players who are performing so well. Milinkovic-Savic, Yusuf Demir and Raul Moro all received bids, from the likes of Man City, Man Utd, Porto and others. All rejected, a couple of promises here and there and I managed to keep the squad the same.

We continued our good form since the start, suffering just one defeat. That of course came against Juventus. A fully rotated side also lost to Parma in the Italian Cup First Round, a bitter disappointment but one that allows us to focus on maintaining our lead at the top of the league. With a 9 point lead at this stage, it’s feeling more and more like the chance to get a title in our first season.

Immobile sits top of the goalscoring charts with 16 in 19, while Luis Alberto sits top of the assists with 10 and second in the average assist ratings with a 7.37.

We topped our Europa League group unsurprisingly, suffering just one defeat and giving plenty of youngsters opportunity to impress and develop. The second round draw pitted us against French side Monaco. Going well in the league and Europa gives us a great chance of securing Champions League football next season. We just about managed to get through, 2-2 over the 2 legs with both our goals coming away from home giving us the advantage. Things didn’t get any easier in the quarter-finals as we met my own club, Tottenham.

4th in the Premier League, the Tottenham side is very different to real life. Kane is at PSG, Son at Man City. While it sounds like positives for us, Tottenham have certainly made some improvements in the 4 years this save has gone on. Donnarumma is in goal, while Camavinga partners Ndombele in the middle. Leon Bailey and Ukrainian Mykhaylo Mudryk occupy the flanks, with Italian forward Belotti leading the line.

Having been pretty concerned when the draw was made, Raul Moro decided to put all doubts out of my mind with the best performance I’ve seen in FM this year. 3 goals inside the first half an hour of the opening leg, Moro then scored again on the hour. Loanee Andre grabbed a 5th for us in the 75th minute, putting the game and barring some disaster, the tie to bed.

Away from home with an extremely rotated side we managed a 1-1 draw, putting us into the semi-final where we face Scottish giant Celtic. Probably an easier opponent than Tottenham, but one not to take lightly for sure.

In another frantic first leg, we run out 6-2 winners. Another spectacular home victory, one negative did come out of this one, with Raul Moro injured for 3 weeks, meaning he misses not only the second leg, but huge leg games against Juventus and Inter Milan.

 After a dominant first leg, we progress to the Europa League final, where we meet North London’s Arsenal.

During our Europa League escapades, we’ve of course been progressing nicely in the league, another defeat to Juventus (standard Italian save stuff). We still find ourselves in an excellent position to win the league, with 4 games remaining we have a 5 point lead against Juventus.

And with 2 games to go, we did it! In our first season in Serie A, we’ve brought the title to Lazio! Something I really didn’t think was possible this season to be honest, the goal was just to get into the Champions League, but with poor seasons from the typical Italian big boys, both Milan’s, Roma and Napoli all fairing pretty poorly.

We finished the season with 2 wins and end with 101 points, an unbelievable record from the side!

We made tough work of the Europa League final, we found ourselves 1-0 down to Arsenal to half-time, Emile Smith-Rowe popping up at the back post to give the Gunners the lead. Annoyingly, it came from our own undoing, we struggled all half to keep hold of the ball and often launched it aimlessly to give Arsenal some easy possession.

With 20 minutes left, Milinkovic-Savic picked up a knock, leaving us trailing by a goal and losing one of our best players. The last 20 minutes dwindled away and with the loss of key players before and during the game, it finishes 1-0 to Arsenal. A disappointing end to the season, but one that was certainly a success.

With the FM22 BETA coming soon, I’m only going to give myself the next season to finish the save. Very unlikely, but we’ve got to give it a try, right?

UP NEXT… FINAL SEASON

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