JOURNEYMAN (TAKE TWO) – SAVE FINALE

With uni starting again and FM22 on the horizon, I’ve given myself just one season to win the Champions League and complete the save. Probably silly and realistically it’s going to be another failed journeyman for me this year, but nevertheless I’ve got to give it ago. This could be a very short finale should we exit at the group stage. 

This edition will be the full final season, but primarily focused on the Champions League campaign. The main objective for me was to keep the current squad, it’s full of top players but most are wanted by the likes of Man United, Real Madrid etc. We only got a small budget in terms of a Champions League club, just £21 million. The one area I addressed with our budget was a backup striker, with Champions League taking priority, I wanted someone to play in the league games after Champions League fixtures.

I quickly identified some wonderkids, but the vast majority were far too expensive. That was until I stumbled upon Etienne Budde from Austria Vienna. The 19-year-old wonderkid has just scored 20 in 30 in his respective division and won the top scorer in Austria. With exceptional work rate and physicals, I’m confident Etienne can provide goals in the league after Champions League fixtures.

PSG loanee Andre has returned to France, I was unable to continue his loan with PSG looking to give him a chance in the first team, I was really impressed with Andre and had it not been a £70 million bid required to sign him, he’s definitely someone I would’ve looked to bring in as he was an excellent squad player.

I did make a signing from Brazil during last season, who arrived in January and I immediately loaned to Crotone to get some Serie A football under his belt. Paulo was singed for £750k and will likely take the vacant spot left by Andre. Some really nice technical and mental attributes, perhaps just the physicality is missing from his game. At just 18 Paulo is sure to improve and again will hopefully be good enough to play in the league after Champions League matches.

By some miracle on deadline day. We managed to bring Mickael Andre back on loan from PSG, despite his opening 2 appearances for PSG seeing him score twice and grab one assist. A really good option in central midfield an area we were lacking in. Impressive last year for us, hopefully he’ll add some depth to help us manage the many fixtures this year.

After an opening day victory over Inter Milan, it was Champions League draw time and oh boy has it thrown us in the deep end. As the inbox messages tells me, we’ve been handed a tough group. Bayern Munich lost the title to Dortmund, so they were our pot 2 team, along with Premier League 4th placed finishers, and my club, Tottenham. Anderlecht round off the group and must be laughing at the draw they’ve been handed. We did handily beat Tottenham last year in the Europa League, but with Premier League spending power I’m fearful this one and only Champions League attempt could be over before it’s begun.

The Champions League odds have us at 50-1 and not amongst the favourites. Looking less and less likely the save will reach the conclusion I was hoping.

Our opening encounter saw us face off against the toughest opposition in the group, German giants Bayern. A brace inside the opening 8 minutes from Yusuf Demir had me feeling a lot more positive about our Champions League campaign, that was until the 11th minute when Bayern pulled one back. Our 2 goal advantage was nearly regained as Immoblie headed home from an Alberto free-kick, only for VAR to rule it out for offside. Bayern were then awarded a penalty just before half-time which Pedro Porro dispatched for his second of the game.

Opening game: Bayern (A) – 4-3 Loss – goals from Demir x3 – a frantic game that we were comfortably beat in honestly.

Game 2: Tottenham (H) – 3-1 Win – goals from Immobile x3 – a much more comfortable game that saw us 3-0 up inside 11 minutes.

Straight after this one, we played Sassuolo and won 5-1 with a hat trick from Etienne Budde, very pleasing to see the young wonderkid do exactly what we brought him in for.

Game 3: Anderlecht (H) – 3-1 Win – Another Immobile Champions League hattrick. Bayern and Tottenham drew 0-0 so at the halfway stage this is how we sit in the group.

Game 4: Anderlecht (A) – 1-1 Draw – Immobile got us off to the perfect start, but a 90th minute equaliser steals 3 points. Bayern and Tottenham once again drew, so a result against Bayern or Tottenham in the last 2 would see us qualify.

Game 5: Bayern (H) – 3-2 Win – It’s another classic, goals from Budde, Moro and an incredible header off the bar and in from Immobile to win it after being pegged back twice

That win was enough to see us qualify meaning a win against Tottenham in the final group game will see us top the group.

Game 6: Tottenham (A) – 4-0 Loss – With Spurs needing a win to give them any hope of qualifying they came out of the blocks flying, 2-0 up inside 11 minutes left us with plenty of work to do. The score line itself hugely flatters the North London side, with an xG of 1.72 compared to our 1.37. Unfortunately for them, Bayern beat Anderlecht convincingly 4-0 meaning we finish 2nd in the group and Tottenham drop to the Europa League.

First-round knockout – Having finished 2nd we were likely going to be up against it, some serious ties were drawn in the first-round, PSG face Barcelona, Atletico v Inter, BVB v Madrid and we face Chelsea.

First-round knockout – Chelsea (H) – First leg – 2-2 Draw – After racing into a 2 goal lead within half an hour Chelsea asserted their dominance and managed to tie the game, giving them 2 crucial away goals. Truthfully, we were dominated in this one and it’s left me fearing the worst for the second leg.

First-round knockout – Chelsea (A) – Second leg – 5-2 Lose – Chelsea killed off the tie inside 24 minutes, a ruthless performance in front of goal from the Blues saw them 3-0 to the good with little we could do to prevent it. Probably the worst performance I’ve had at Lazio, coming in the most important games of the save.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Giving myself just one year to win the Champions League was always going to be a near impossible task, but with time running out for this FM and my own schedule getting too hectic, I once again have failed to complete the journeyman in this year’s FM.

Thank you all for the support and a special thank you to Adam for allowing me to post my blog at OnTheBreak!

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