Hello folks and welcome to Australia for the 2022 World Cup! That’s right, after taking Vauxhall Motors through their most successful season in Football Manager 2011 it was time to take care of Argentina and try to push them to a memorable World Cup tournament. As you know I have already won the Copa America and the Confederations Cup with Argentina but those tournaments are nothing compared to the World Cup, the Holy Grail for any football player or manager!
I was not very optimistic before the tournament to be honest and that is because I couldn’t count on most of the big Argentinian stars that you know today: Messi is too old and slow now, Aguero is in a similar situation, while Di Maria is just an average player. My shortlist of possible call-ups featured 51 players before the World Cup but 15 of those 51 were just prospects for the future (players that could be called up in a year or two) and five others had long term injuries. So I was left with 31 players to choose from for a 23-man squad, I guess it’s good that I didn’t have too many difficult choices to make…
Despite my pessimism the bookmakers seemed to think that we had what it takes to win the tournament, we were joint-favourites with Italy, France and Spain! The Argentinian FA was not so demanding though, their expectation was to reach the semi finals.
As you remember my new Bulldozer tactic has won me the Confederations Cup with Argentina and also a clean sweep of silverware with the Motormen last season so you might expect me to use the same tactic for the World Cup. Well, I decided to use a different tactic and that tactic is… Darren’s Manchelona! Let me explain why, there were three main reasons:
1. I felt I needed a more balanced tactic for a big tournament like the World Cup, I would have chosen the Bulldozer if I had the players that I have at Vauxhall but the Argentinian national side is, believe it or not, weaker than my Vauxhall squad!
2. The most good Argentinian players in 2022 are central midfielders so I thought it would make sense to make use of that wealth of talent by using a tactic with three central midfielders.
3. I had promised Darren that I would test the Manchelona sooner or later and, unfortunately, I never did.
And there’s another reason, an unofficial one: I wanted to blame Darren for an eventual poor tournament! :) Just kidding, obviously :)
So, I chose the Manchelona tactic for the World Cup, now here is the 23-man squad: (click on the names to view the player profiles)
As you can notice there are four Vauxhall players in the squad but only three of them are really important: Fernandez, Velasco and Cuello while Godoy is a reliable backup in defence. I had a friendly against Turkey 10 days before the first group match and I was beginning to worry as we only managed to get a goalless draw out of that match! The team played well though and the players proved their worth in the opening group match as we thrashed Ghana 5-0! Velasco scored the opener inside the first minute of play and then it was all downhill, Velasco was the man of the match but Vauxhall striker Cuello also got his name on the score sheet. (Click here to watch the highlights.)
The second group match was against Greece, a team that had lost the opening match 1-0 to Mexico. Well, this one wasn’t as easy as the game against Ghana but that was all because of bad luck, the team played even better but the Greeks scored two lucky goals and kept the match in balance for a while. My lads were too good though and we won the game 5-2 thanks to another vintage performance from Cuello. (Click here to watch the highlights.)
We only needed a draw against Mexico to finish top of the group and that’s what we got although we would have deserved much more. We hit the woodwork no less than four times during that game and if you add some clumsy defending to that you can understand why the game ended 2-2. It didn’t matter too much though, I had rested a few key players and we were prepared for the next round. (Click here to watch the highlights.)
Ghana qualified from second spot and that is quite strange considering that they were the weakest team in the group from what I have seen in the game against them. Anyway, we were through and that was the most important thing for the nation.
We were not going to have an easy opponent in the second round, we were going to face Holland! That was because the Dutch had a very tough group and they finished second behind Germany… I wished we had played New Zealand, they were by far the weakest team to make the second round…
Argentina vs Holland (World Cup 2nd Rnd)
Venue: Adelaide Oval
Starting line up: Gonzalo Maidana – Sergio Garcia, Fabio Ortiz, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernando Pereyra – Marcos Fernandez, Gustavo Iglesias, Ismael Fischer – Leandro Velasco, Juan Pablo Yavar – Lucas Cuello
Team Talk: For the fans!
The first half was totally under our control, the Dutch players rarely managed to come out of their own half. They were doing a great job in defence though, we only had a few shots on target but nothing special until half time.
Half time score: 0-0
Half time team talk: For the fans!
Half time substitutions: Claudio Vicente for Velasco
The domination continued after the break and we managed to create the first clear cut chance after five minutes when a fine move released substitute Vicente inside the penalty area but his shot was somehow parried by the goalkeeper. We continued to add more and more pressure on the Dutch defence but they were hanging in there, the game was heading towards extra time… I was quite frustrated to play an extra half hour and risk losing a match that we had dominated so clearly but fortunately we found the decisive goal in the first minute of stoppage time: the Dutch defence finally made a mistake and Cuello slotted home from inside the penalty area! Get in!
Full time team talk: Well done!
Man of the match: Lucas Cuello
Flop of the match: Leandro Velasco
Hoping for an easy opponent in the quarter finals… Yeah, right… We got France, the number 1 team in the FIFA rankings!
I could go on about the French side’s strength all day but I’ll say just one name instead: Yaya Sanogo… However, we had beaten the Frenchies 3-1 to lift the Confederations Cup last summer so I was quietly hoping to do that again… Did we do it? Go to the next page to find out!
Go to the next page to read the rest of the story.
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