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Darren – Ultimate European Challenge, AC Milan Aug-Nov 13/14

Hi guys, welcome back to my FM 2011 Ultimate European Challenge story. The aim is to win a title and domestic trophy in England, Germany, France, Italy and Spain as well as winning the Champions League twice with any club. My progress has been swift so far and the last post showed how AC Milan prepared during pre-season 13/14. I am very hopeful of another successful season, hopefully ending with the Serie A title. Today’s post will show you how I managed during a difficult three month period. It’s the start of a long season and my second year in charge in the Rossineri. Lets get straight down to business and see what happened in the league.

Serie A results, August-November

A fantastic start indeed. We only dropped two points away from home to Parma and managed some very impressive wins. The highlights of these came against three top class sides, all away from home. My first difficult game was away to Roma where Silva, Pirlo and Vella showed their class as they guided AC to a 3-0 victory. I was also extremely impressed with my players performance away to Palermo. Alexis Sanchez showed there is more than pace to his game, after scoring twice and guiding us to another 3-0 win. The third performance that caught my eye was away from home again to Udinese. Milan’s lethal counter attack led to a 4-1 thrashing as Kadlec staked his claim for first team football as a substitute. From these three games I could only pick one to show you, so here is my favourite performance from Serie A.

Top notch performance – Palermo 0-3 AC Milan, Serie A

I set my side out using a 4-5-1 and standard strategy during this game. While I used the usual very slow tempo and very narrow width, the defensive line was moved forward to slightly high. Alexis Sanchez scored two very similar goals, the first a long range effort, the second a darting run followed by another long range finish. Witsel made it a hat trick of screamers with an outstanding effort.

While Witsel has shown some glimpses of talent I am not entirely sure he’s been used to his full potential. Add to this that fact that Defour is struggling and I think the two need switching around. Witsel will be tried as a supporting midfielder and Defour as the advanced playmaker from now on.

A fantastic run of form sees my side top of Serie A by three points and still with a game in hand. I have already played some tough sides away from home, but it seems to be the home fixtures we’re struggling in. Lets just put that down to complacency and hope for bigger margins sometime soon. Inter Milan and Juventus look very strong this season, Huntelaar has scored 15 goals already for Juve.

Champions League results and group

As Wazz pointed out in my last post, this group is by no means easy. However, I have a good track record against Real Madrid and Leverkusen. I had the tactics in mind to beat both sides at home and my players duly delivered two great results. The 3-2 victory over Leverkusen was very touch and go, but I did field my weaker squad. The 4-5-1 with standard strategy paid dividends. The same tactic was used against Real Madrid but with a counter strategy. The Spanish side couldn’t cope when we countered and that provided a memorable victory too. This was proceeded and followed by my weaker players overcoming Romanian side Steaua. They are my wife’s favourite side, so I had the laptop on an angle so she couldn’t see the results. ;)

Top notch performance – AC Milan 3-1 Real Madrid, Champions League

Like I said the 4-5-1 with a counter strategy was used here. I opted for counter rather than standard because Real have a solid defence. Therefore drawing them onto me would offer better opportunities to attack. I kept the width as very narrow and tempo as very slow, however I did change the defensive line to slightly high. This is because Real Madrid have the most creative players in the world, although their fast, a deep defensive line wouldn’t help. They could just get closer to goal and pass their way through or score from outside the area. Where as a slightly high defensive line would leave my attacking players with less work to do and stop Real’s attacks from the source (there midfield.) As you can see this worked like a gem and Real Madrid couldn’t handle my attacking players.

While Pato won man of the match and looked the best player for his two goals and one assist, I was most impressed with Vella. His off the ball movement and commitment was refreshing to see. The winger tracked back to stop Ozil and created all kind of problems with his dribbling and passing. This victory set us up nicely in the group for our crunch tie away from home to Leverkusen.

I have all but qualified from my group now, but crave top spot. This should provide an easier route to the quarter-final stage and keep my sides momentum going. Leverkusen and Real Madrid are yet to play their game in hand. To be honest I would rather see Leverkusen win, this would see Real Madrid eliminated and my last game will be the top spot decider either way.

Squad stats

Surprisingly my right back Schwaab is top for average ratings with 7.5. The strength of my defence is shown by 3 further defenders appearing in the top seven. Sanchez seems to have settled quickly with 6 goals and 5 assists, but I am expecting more consistency from the winger as he settles in. Kadlec has done well from the bench with six goals where as Paloschi has failed to impress with just two. My two new Belgian midfielders need time  to settle as displayed by recent performances, but Ronaldinho is still refusing to show signs of age with 4 assists.

December-February fixtures

The next post will be based on December to February. Our first four games are all away from home and this could see an end to my unbeaten run. I think the League table should take shape after January and hopefully AC Milan will still be top.

Well that concludes today’s update. I hope you all enjoyed the read and I look forward to your comments. As always thanks for stopping by.

If you want to join us all in the Ultimate European Challenge, please follow the link and read the rules. Its very simple and should get us all into different cultures and styles of Football.

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Davewig1980
Davewig1980
10 years ago

very impressive start to the season Darren! Bit odd to drop points to Parma who are one of the weaker teams in Serie A though? Looks like you could well be on course for a treble!

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  Davewig1980

Thanks Dave, it has been a good start. The Parma loss was just a sign of complacency really, unfortionately its creeping in to the game a little more now and frustrating me at times.

Wazz
Wazz
10 years ago

Well done Darren! It’s weird looking at Paloschi’s stats like that. He should score more. Pato is great though. He can dribble really well. Sanchez never fail to impress me in my save games and seems like he’s doing really well for you too.
Nice one beating Real, I really hate them in FM. You’re doing really well Darren and you can continue this form, I’m sure.. CONSISTENCY! :D
Good luck!

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  Wazz

Hey Wazz, you’re correct about Paloschi. He should score more but at least Pato and Sanchez are pulling their weight. :) I am hopeful of the title, but any further cups will depend on my form later down the line.

Laxeyman
Laxeyman
10 years ago

Brilliant start Darren, you are without question the best team in Italy and you’ll win the league, I’m sure. Hopefully you can stay top of your group in the Champions League and then you can certainly win it with the talent at your disposal. Good luck!

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  Laxeyman

Thanks Laxeyman, I do think we have the best players in the league and hopefully complacency won’t let us down. The Champions League will be my biggest battle I think.

Sears
10 years ago

Good start mate! You’ll have no trouble winning the title and hopefully you can go all the way in Europe!

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  Sears

Thanks Sears, the title should be OK, but Europe maybe a little more tricky.

warren
10 years ago

Well done Darren

The squad that you have developed should be more than enough to win you another league title and Im sure with a bit of luck you can also add the Champo League as well.

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  warren

Hi Warren, I hope you’re right about the title. We have a good side and deserve to win more trophies. Luck will definitely play its part in the Champions League.

Johnny Karp
10 years ago

The league seems to be very competitive this year, both Juventus and Inter seem pretty strong. I guess you’ll have some fierce derbies against them, best of luck for those games!

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Karp

Hey Johnny, the League is very tight but I can see that as a positive. All the teams around me will lose eventually and hopefully I will be left standing. :)

Birdy
10 years ago

Hey Darren

Awesome work mate, good luck in the Champions league if you can beat Real you can beat Leverkusen :D
I reckon you will win the league quite easily if this form can continue good luck mate

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  Birdy

Thanks Birdy, the Real win was great and I think we’ll finish top of our group. Hopefully I can gain an easy route to the final that way :)

kevin
kevin
10 years ago

Hi Darren
Excellent start to the campaign and you are doing really well in the CL too. Pato looks to be in great form with 9 goals from 11 appearances. Well done!

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  kevin

Thanks Kevin, Pato is a great player but misses some really easy chances. The up side is he’s unstoppable in the big games. :)

Lye
Lye
10 years ago

Hi Darren,

You are having fun in Serie A, you will surely win another title. The players are playing well and just imagine you have cross the tough hurdles. The games upcoming will be easier and the gap between you and the rest of the team will be widen.It will be another great season. Good luck.

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  Lye

Thanks Lye, I am fairly confident of a title victory but Europe could be a real challenge. Hopefully my side will maintain the momentum.

Sayam Khan
Sayam Khan
10 years ago

Will be interesting to see how you do vs Juventus and Inter. Alexis sanchez always seems to do well for you. Good luck!

Darren Smith
10 years ago
Reply to  Sayam Khan

Thanks Sayam, Juve and Inter are both great but Im finding the tougher games get a better performance. Its complacency my side struggle with. Sanchez is my fav winger on FM…he never lets me down :)

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