GLORY HUNTER – #8 – THE EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL

It’s time for our first European final, if you missed how we made it here then please click here to catch up or if you’re completely new to this series here is a link to the prologue.

To date we had a 100% record in finals having beaten Stuttgart last season in the DFB-Pokal last season however on that occasion we’d been the odds on favourite. This time the odds were much closer but we were the outsider, Real Madrid were the favourite because they were Real Madrid and winning European finals is what they do. The only difference with this final in comparison to their usual finals was that it was a Europa League final and not a Champions League one.

Anyway enough chitter chatter, lets get on with the game. We had a full strength side and our 11 were actually 1-11 (yes I’m that guy who puts his best team as 1 to 11 when they get to pick the squad numbers), Real had a full strength side to so neither side could make any excuses.

0 – Kick Off

15 – It was a cagey affair, neither side were giving anything away and neither had so far managed to muster a shot.

29Leverkusen have a throw in the left back area which is taken by Cucurella, he finds Olmo who knocks it back to Demirbay who goes direct into Belotti but Luiz Felipe gets there first and finds Kroos in the centre of the park. Kroos goes back to Casemiro who goes long but gives it away to Frimpong, its sloppy from both sides as neither side can really take hold of possession. Leverkusen then exchange a number of passes and finally start to show some composure, the ball is worked back out wide to Frimpong who drives past Alaba and plays a delicious through ball that cuts out Militão and finds Belotti. The Italian takes it in his stride, he opens up his body and slots it past the on rushing Courtois but it slides just the wrong side of the post. A big let off for Real, could that come back to haunt Leverkusen?

33 – The German side are starting to take a foot hold in the game and earn themselves a corner. Demirbay swings it in from the right hand side, it finds Tapsoba on the edge of the six yard boss who thunders a header off the crossbar and behind for a goal kick. It remains 0-0.

35 – Its a free kick to Leverkusen 30 yards out from goal in a central position. Spaniard Dani Olmo is standing over it, its a beauty heading straight for the top bin but a Courtois fingertip sends it behind for a corner. Its Demirbay to swing it in and this time Tah meets it but his header goes wide. Another chance missed but the pressures building, can Real hang on until half time?

45 – There’s not long till half time but Leverkusen just have enough time to put another corner in. This time its Olmo taking it from the left hand side, its an in swinger, Tapsoba and Lewandowski both rise for it but its the man from Burkina Faso who gets their first and nods it beyond the desperate dive from Courtois and into the top corner of the net. GOOAAALLLL!!!! BAYER LEVERKUSEN 1-0 REAL MADRID

HALF TIME

65Olmo picks up the ball on half way and drifts out towards the right, he turns back and finds Mady Camara. He goes for the ball over the top but its cut out by Militão however he gives it straight back to Demirbay who finds Lozano who has drifted inside. The Mexican takes a look up and slots a ball down the side of Luiz Felipe for Belotti to run onto, he advances into the box, picks his spot and rolls it past the helpless Courtois. GOOAAALLLL!!!! BAYER LEVERKUSEN 2-0 REAL MADRID

70 – More Leverkusen pressure results in a free kick 25 yards out from goal. Demirbay hits it but Courtois is equal to it however he can’t prevent it from going behind for a corner. Demirbay swings the corner in but this time Militão gets there first and clears the danger.

84 – Its a goal kick for Leverkusen which Dominik Livaković takes short to Tapsoba who plays it left to Cucurella. A few neat passes see the ball played to substitute Kvaratskhelia who runs with it at pace down the left hand side. Porro stays with him so he checks back and plays it inside to Cucurella who has kept his run going, he plays it across to Ângelo who has only just come on who hits it first time straight into the roof of the net from 20 yards. GOOAAALLLL!!!! BAYER LEVERKUSEN 3-0 REAL MADRID

FULL TIME

What a result and the third trophy in the challenge ticked off! I must give my players credit as we played really well on the day but Real just didn’t turn up and only mustered an xG of 0.3 goals. It was more than a fair result but not one that I’d seen coming before a ball had been kicked.

The trophy cabinet is coming along nicely, there is still a lot that I need to win but we are ahead of where we need to be in terms of time.

What a season it has been, we technically won a treble if you include the Supercup but lets be honest that isn’t a real trophy. Its a solid double that I really didn’t see coming, getting knocked out of the Champions League on the head to head rule has been an absolute blessing in disguise.

Our performances across the season hadn’t gone unnoticed and I was named manager of the year with a number of my players in the team of the year.

A few points I’d like to make about our performance this season are:

  • Goals have come from all over the pitch taking the burden off the centre forwards
  • Tapsoba and Tah is one of the best central defensive partnerships I’ve ever had on Football Manager, they have been absolutely superb and seem to get better each season
  • A special shout out to Jeremie Frimpong, he has been class every season at right back and this year managed a 7.60 average rating
  • Belotti may have not scored as many as last year but in the big games he always turns up
  • My new signings have pretty much all been a success, I may have gone a bit wild last summer but its fully been justified

To conclude this season lets take a check in around Europe to see what has gone on in the other big leagues.

Man City won the Premier League again but this time with Jurgen Klopp in charge, Ruud Gullit’s Chelsea came 2nd and won the FA Cup. Steven Gerrard got Liverpool back in the Champions League finishing 3rd. Southampton were the big overachievers finishing 5th whereas the big underachievers were Spurs down in 10th. Bielsa was sacked by Levy and replaced with Mancini in March. Elsewhere Deschamps was fired at Old Trafford with Luis Enrqiue taking over the poisoned chalice becoming the third new United boss in this save.

In France PSG made it a back to back double which won’t come as a surprise to anyone. Frank Lampard was sacked as Lyon boss and replaced by Molde manager Erling Moe. The big shock was Marseille finishing in lowly 12th, their manager Ronald Koeman was sacked and replaced by Sochaux manager Omar Daf.

AC Milan became the third different winner of the Serie A title during this save and made it a double by beating city rivals Inter in the Coppa Italia final. Juventus appointed Zidane as their new manager after Allegri moved to AC last summer. With Mancini moving to Spurs, Napoli needed a new boss and went for Matías Almeyda who had been at San Jose Earthquakes. Antonio Conte was sacked again, Lazio opted to make former player Alessandro Nesta his replacement.

Barcelona retained their La Liga crown but Nagelsmann’s Atlético side beat them in the Copa Del Rey final. Barcelona also made the Champions League final but Dortmund beat them, making amends for losing out on the title to me.

Having won all there is to win in Germany I now have a decision make. Do I move on or do I stay and try and win the Champions League with Leverkusen? Its a simple one for me, I feel I’ve done what I came to do in Germany, you have to keep moving in this challenge and now is the time to do it. The issue is where? The biggest job available is Frankfurt but they’re in the league I’ve just won!

I decided to resign in hope that it would cause a managerial reshuffle creating a new position for me to apply for. Whilst waiting for this to occur I had games at Euro 2024 to watch in order to keep me busy which was being held in Germany. There were no shocks in the group stages, all of the big boys making it safely through. The lack of upsets was a common trend as in the second round the only nation who had a realistic chance of winning it to exit were Italy but they were beaten by world champions Belgium so it wasn’t a real surprise. Into the quarters and things were starting to hot up. Belgium beat Portugal on penalties, Germany did the same to France, Spain beat Ireland 1-0 and finally England beat Holland 2-1. In the semis Belgium and Germany played out a thriller, it finished 3-3 but the hosts got 2 in extra time to go through 5-3. Could England beat Spain and set up a final against the old foe? Yes they could, they smashed them 4-1, Rashford and Kane both netting a brace. Now you’ll remember I wasn’t happy that Marco Silva was appointed England manager over me, I must now hold my hands up and apologise, he only went and guided England to their first tournament win since 1966, a 2-1 win with goals from Sterling and Abraham getting the job done.

A number of managers were sacked following the tournament but it was the France job I wanted, the problem was it was Deschamps that they wanted and it was Deschamps that they got. Wales wanted me to replace Rob Page but I politely declined, then Poland sacked their manager David Moyes however I also turned that one down. I feel FM have been very mean to Moyesy, he is doing a fantastic job in real life but on this save he’s been sacked twice for doing a dismal job both times, underestimated!

With no international job secured I was back looking for a club one and thankfully my managerial reshuffle tactic worked! Just 8 days after the Euros final I had a new job. Leverkusen pinched a manager from a foreign league and I applied for the vacancy they had left and was successful in my application. I’ll reveal the club in the next post where I’ll be evaluating their squad and running through my initial transfers. In the meantime let me know where you think I’m going and here is a clue to help you – The club I am moving to are mentioned in the end of season review a few paragraphs up, as is the manager who has moved to Leverkusen that I am replacing.

Thanks for reading,

The Last Throw.

One thought on “GLORY HUNTER – #8 – THE EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL

  1. Pingback: GLORY HUNTER – #9 – ATLÉTICO DE MADRID | On the Break

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