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Romanian FM 2012 Story: Giants Don’t Bleed

Hello friends and welcome to a brand new episode of my Football Manager 2012 story! As you know my Viitorul Constanta have reached the group stage of the Champions League again but being seeded fourth the draw didn’t favour us much and we had to face Real Madrid, FC Porto and CSKA Moscow in Group B. Last season we snatched eight points in the group stage and after looking at the names of our opponents I guess a similar performance this season seemed quite unlikely. But we had to try…

The bookmakers were quite pessimistic regarding our chances of making an impact in the Champions League and I can’t blame them, this club is nobody in Europe. At least for the moment that is…

Now let’s move on to the juicy stuff, the six Champions League group matches! We started with a trip to Portugal

FC Porto vs Viitorul (Champions League Group B)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Lubomir Cerny, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Mory Kante – Christian Kaufmann, Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler – Zezinho, Manoel, Daniel Mazzoni

I was pleased to see that Hulk was unavailable for the game but Porto still had some serious threats on the pitch: Tim Matavz upfront and Joao Moutinho in midfield. We had an absence as well, Rastislav Benko was suspended. Porto started the game well, as expected, and they dominated the opening 15 minutes. We defended very well though and there were no clear cut chances for the Portuguese giants. Moreover, we could have scored against the run of play on 21 minutes when Manoel hit the crossbar on a free kick. Porto continued their domination and came close to scoring on 36 minutes but luckily they squandered a huge chance. We found a bit more courage towards the end of the firs half and we created a big chance of our own four minutes before the break, a fine move brought the ball to Kaufmann inside the penalty area but he totally blew the finish.

Porto sent in striker Vaclav Kadlec at the break and they started pushing with a bit more impetus. However, we managed to keep things relatively quiet and the home side had to resort to shots from distance. One of those could have done damage on 62 minutes but fortunately Kadlec‘s effort bounced clear off the bar. The pressure was mounting but we held our ground well and nearly clinched the upset on the stroke of full time: Daniel Mazzoni ran clear on a counter attack but a defender stopped him just outside the penalty area. It was a foul and that defender was sent off but I surely would have preferred a goal… Anyway, it was a very good result, 0-0 at FC Porto! In the other match of the group Real Madrid demolished CSKA Moscow 5-0 at Santiago Bernabeu

Match Highlights (goals plus clear chances):click here to watch

Viitorul vs Real Madrid (Champions League Group B)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Lubomir Cerny, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Mory Kante – Christian Kaufmann, Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Daniel Mazzoni

Real Madrid came to Romania with all their huge stars, Cristiano Ronaldo included. Their lone striker was Seydou Doumbia but the trio behind him looked quite scary: Coentrao, Özil and Ronaldo… We had just one absence, midfielder Joaozinho was injured. The first 1o minutes of the game were very quiet, I was quite surprised to see Real Madrid waiting for us to attack them. Their choice backfired on 11 minutes when we struck on a free kick: Manoel bent in the cross and centre back Georgica Dicu headed home! The visitors tried to strike back immediately but their attacking rage was punished five minutes later when we caught them on a counter attack: Daniel Mazzoni did the work, squared it for Rastislav Benko who slotted home! 2-0! Real Madrid reacted with even more fury and they nearly pulled one back on 26 minutes but goalkeeper Hernan Prestia pulled off a huge save to keep us two goals ahead. And then we struck again, this time on a flowing team move: Kaufmann passed through for Manoel inside the penalty area, the Brazilian weaved round Casillas and bagged it! We were leading mighty Real Madrid 3-0! The crowd was roaring and so was I! :) The Spaniards pulled one back three minutes before the break though, it was a deserved goal I guess.

The Real Madrid coach decided to change tactics at the break and moved Ronaldo alongside Doumbia in attack but they were helpless as my lads defended very well and even kept possession for large chunks of the second half. It was over, we had just killed a giant! The other Group B match saw Porto beating CSKA Moscow away 2-1.

Match Highlights (goals plus clear chances):click here to watch

Viitorul vs CSKA Moscow (Champions League Group B)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Lubomir Cerny, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Mory Kante – Christian Kaufmann, Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler – Zezinho, Manoel, Daniel Mazzoni

The home game against the Russian team was the decisive one in my view, we had to win it in order to secure the third place and maybe keep hopes alive for a second place finish. We had three absences though, all due to injuries: Joaozinho, Nenad Grumic and Rastislav Benko. CSKA had two stars in their team: goalkeeper Akinfeev and striker Vagner Love. The first half was utterly boring, both teams were playing quite badly. But luckily we found an unique moment of inspiration on 36 minute when a nice flowing move saw the ball travelling from Zezhinho to Mazzoni and then to Manoel who went round the keeper and placed the ball into the back of the net.

We seemed in control after the break and we could have sealed the three points on 69 minutes when substitute Roman Benes was denied by Akinfeev. The game seemed to crawl towards a happy ending for us but CSKA nearly spoiled our celebrations on 85 minutes when they squandered a huge chance with my defence totally asleep. They had another chance three minutes later but our goalie rescued us on that occasion with a huge save. We held out for the win but it was a rather scrappy one. In the other match the battle of the giants saw Porto losing 1-0 at home to Real Madrid.

Match Highlights (goals plus clear chances):click here to watch

I was shocked to see that we were top of the table at the halfway mark of the group matches! The third spot was almost secured at that point but I was justly hoping for more, especially after watching my lads in action against Real Madrid. The two giants in our group were hurt as we got points from both of them, we just had to deliver the fatal blow.

CSKA Moscow vs Viitorul (Champions League Group B)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Lubomir Cerny, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Mory Kante – Drazen Tokic, Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler – Zezinho, Manoel, Daniel Mazzoni

But first we had to secure that third spot and we needed a draw at CSKA to make sure of it. We had two absences in midfield, Joaozinho and Christian Kaufmann, both injured. I was expecting a tough match and that was surely the case as the home side came very close 13 minutes into the match when a great shot from Vagner Love cannoned off the crossbar. We managed to cool things off after that and had our own chance on 34 minutes when Mazzoni was denied by the goalkeeper. The deadlock was broken two minutes later and it was our fault, an error in midfield paved the way for a goal from Vagner Love. Luckily it didn’t take us long to react and Daniel Mazzoni made it all square after just four minutes when he finished a beautiful run with a powerful shot.

The second half was quite tough for me as CSKA started pushing forward in numbers and could have taken the lead again on 64 minutes when they threw away a very big chance. Then my lads finally regained some composure but we could only manage to hang on to that one point. The third place was secured at that point, mission accomplished. The other group match saw Real Madrid being held to a goalless draw at home by FC Porto so we were still leading the group on 8 points, one point ahead Real Madrid and three points ahead of Porto.

Match Highlights (goals plus clear chances):click here to watch

Viitorul vs FC Porto (Champions League Group B)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Ali Amara, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Mory Kante – Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler, Roman Benes – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Daniel Mazzoni

A win against Porto would have ensured a second place finish for us, that was all I could think about before the game. However, we had to face Hulk this time and that wasn’t good news… In fact, Porto started the game very well and dominated the match quite clearly for a while. We defended pretty well though but that was only until the 21st minute when we were rescued by the upright on a huge chance for Porto. Sadly our luck ran out just one minute later as Porto deservedly scored the opener. Things were not going well at all, Porto were all over us and we were saved by the post once again on the half hour mark. We started attacking with more conviction in the last 15 minutes before the break but our attempts were easily handled by the Portuguese side.

Porto regained control of the match after the break and stabbed another one in right on the hour mark. We reacted just seven minutes later when Manoel wrapped up a fine team move and we seemed back into the contest. In fact, we came close again just one minute later, an even bigger chance was created but this time Manoel hit the post, then the ball bounced into the path of Mazzoni who wasted a glorious opportunity. Porto tightened things at the back after that big chance and despite our best efforts the score board remained unchanged. CSKA Moscow vs Real Madrid ended goalless so we had a nasty situation in the group before the last match: Viitorul, Porto and Real all tied on 8 points!

Match Highlights (goals plus clear chances):click here to watch

Real Madrid vs Viitorul (Champions League Group B)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Lubomir Cerny, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Mory Kante – Christian Kaufmann, Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Zezinho

We needed to leave Santiago Bernabeu unbeaten in order to reach the first knockout stage of the Champions League, that seemed quite unlikely but we were willing to fight for that slim chance. We found ourselves under pressure right away, I was expecting that, but my lads held firm for quite some time. That was until the 41st minute when Ronaldo headed one home…

We tried to do a bit more than defend after the break but Real Madrid were pretty much in control of the match. However, we managed to do what the big teams do time and again: we struck on our very first chance of the match on the hour mark when Kante played a great pass for Winkler who fired it straight into the back of the net! Our joy was short-lived though as Real Madrid got back in front just four minutes later thanks to a great goal. I changed the tactic to the attacking version but that didn’t change anything, Real Madrid held out for the win. They were just too good for us on that day…

Match Highlights (goals plus clear chances):click here to watch

Porto defeated CSKA 2-0 in the other match so we ended up third again… That’s not bad at all, I know that, but I was hoping for a lot more after the first three matches. We have hurt the giants then but they seem to have patched up the wounds quickly and then crushed us when it mattered the most.

We were entered into the Europa League knockout stage draw again and… we got Fenerbahce! That’s the team that knocked us out last season on penalties, it’s our chance to get revenge and I hope we’ll pull it off. If we do we’ll meet either Besiktas or Sporting in the last sixteen.

We do have a domestic competition going, just in case you forgot… Well, that isn’t much of a challenge for us at the moment simply because no team in the Romanian League seems capable of beating us. We have recorded four draws but those were mainly because of some complacency and bad luck.

Despite our unbeaten run the advantage at the top of the table is just five points before the winter break but I’m not worried, I’m almost sure that we’ll win another title.

The Romanian Cup was fun until now, we scored and conceded quite a few goals but we made it to the semi finals where we’ll face Second Division team FC Brasov. They are the typical yo-yo team, one season up in the top flight and next season back down in the second…

The player stats look better than ever at the halfway point of the season with only five lads below the magical 7.00 average rating. Those of you with eagle eyes might notice that one player is missing, that’s backup striker Olexyi Romanchuk. He got sold for 1 million pounds along with a few other fringe players from the reserves for a total of around 3 to 4 million pounds.

That money helped our finaces reach the best balance yet, almost 10 million pounds. I have around 3 million to spend on new players during the winter break, maybe even more if the board will decide to help out, so I guess I’ll be bringing in one or two good players if possible.

That’s all for now boys and girls, I hope you have enjoyed reading about our battles against Europe’s best teams. I’m looking forward to your reactions and suggestions, as always.

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CsAtlantis
Guest

That was a great start in your first three games Johnny, just too bad that you only got 1 point from your last three matches, slaying Real Madrid 3-1 at home was definitely a highlight though, and you are still in the Europa League, looking forward to see who you buy

Tyler
Guest

Wow, tough break in the group stage. A massive win against Real Madrid, but the Moscow games really did decide your fate (which I think you said would be the defining factor). Still, it was an incredibly good showing, and perhaps with a luckier draw you’ll go through next time! Hope you do well in the knockout stages, there’s still plenty of opportunities this season to improve you reputation!

Tyler
Guest

Ah, I didn’t read that correctly, you only dropped two points to Moscow. Still, it was a great showing.

vaibhavc
Guest
vaibhavc

What an effort in the Champions League, you did really good. I think the win against RM could be the highlight of the season.

Malhar Bhadbhade
Guest

hey Johnny,
first of all, a massive congratulations on the home result against real madrid! that just goes to show that you’re not far away from mixing it with the best in Europe. i know it must have hurt to not make the knock-out rounds after the start you had, but the performances are definitely improving and the only way is up! there were no doubts about the league or the cup either..and it was obvious to me that you would continue to dominate that unless there is an apocalypse and the world comes to an end…or for some reason, you decide on purpose not to win :D anyway, (i asked Darren for this too), if you have the time, could you please post screenshots of one or two of the best regens in the world on your save? i get very curious about how the regens are turning out in other peoples games..thanks a lot. cheers!

Darren Smith
Admin

Thanks Malhar, nobody is really dominating Europe but all the top English teams have class regens and I think this kid form Arsenal is my favorite. http://www.footballmanagerstory.com/wp-content/uploads/imgs/2012/02/best-regen.png

Malhar Bhadbhade
Guest

thanks a lot Darren for that…that kid is amazing!!! one of the best attacking mids i’ve ever seen!

Sears
Member

Despite not qualifying from you’re Champions League group, you’re team made some excellent improvements. The win versus Real Madrid proves you’re boys are a match for any team when they play to their full ability. Fenerbahce will be a stern test, but I think you can knock them out. You’ve a fantastic squad at you’re disposal, but I can’t help but worry. I mean, nearly all of you’re players are wanted? Have some began to get unhappy or tell you that they would like to leave for a bigger club? All in all, you’ve done brilliant so far. Best of luck for the reminder of the campaign!

saltwater
Guest
saltwater

Johnny you really had me hanging onto my seat during the Champions League matches, if you managed to beat CSKA on matchday four than I reckon you guys qualify. It was always going to be impossible to get something from the Bernebeu, although I must say magnificent win against them first time round. And as always the domestic League is yours to lose.

On a completely unrelated topic, where is Stromson?

joelance
Guest
joelance

That was incredible, i mean then result against Madrid. You qualified for the Europa league quite easily which is a good sign, i guess. And you’re right i forgot about your domestic league. :) I can tell most people just read your European battle and the rest is just bla bla bla and we won the league again. All the best in the Europa league.

Woody
Guest
Woody

so unlucky to go out in the champions league
you should be able to get your revenge over fenerbache in the europa league judging ny your other european results
anyway well done and good luck

Darren Smith
Admin

So unlucky in Europe Johnny, I honestly thought you had finished second but so unfortunate to miss out. I reckon this year has seen your biggest step forward to be honest and with one or two more signings you should be able to challenge properly…I think you may even hold a little confidence in this years Europa league so good luck.

TheZiggy
Guest

Given the group you found yourself in, I think you can be immensely proud of the effort the lads put in. Beating Real Madrid was a brilliant result, showing that the team has improved. The great thing is, you gave yourself a crack at being able to qualify for the Champions League Knockout stages. Hopefully you can get revenge over Fenerbahce this time in the Europa League knockouts.

Excellent form in the league, and it’s quite amazing that you’re not a bit further ahead. The title defence looks like it shouldn’t be a problem for you.

Dan Ireland
Guest

Hey johnny so unlucky in the champions league you got so close to the second spot but it slipped away! But hey thats football for ya ;) anyway been wondering how long are you gonna stay in romania for or are you gonna end the story when you win the champions league? Anyway great story :)

Laxeyman
Guest
Laxeyman

Good season so far Johnny, you’re by far and away the best side in Romania, as the league table shows :) Unlucky in the CL, I thought after 3 games that you were going through, but I’m backing you to go along way in the Europa League. Good luck!

Kevin
Member

Hi Johnny
Thanks for the breath-taking ride through you Champions League campaign. When I saw you beat Madrid at home I thought this was the year for you but sadly those two away games robbed you of moving on. As you probably will win another domestic title again there’s always next season. Good luck in the Europa League where this time I feel you will do much better.

Tegar Triemanudigdo
Guest

Ah man! Such a shame that you didn’t manage to get qualified to next round of the Champions League, but at least you managed to defeat Real Madrid and you still have Europa League in your pocket, so best of luck there!

P.S: When I checked your team and saw almost all of them had been wanted by random club, I was wondered if you’ll keep them all or sold one or two of them.

Martin - F.M.J.S
Guest

So unlucky Johnny, you did so well in all the CL games, if only you could have got all 3 points against Moscow away but a very good effort. I am sure next season you will make it to the first round knockout stages of the CL. Also the league is looking good for another title :). Keep up the good work and good luck with the rest of the season.

David Faithfull
Guest
David Faithfull

Great post Johnny so unlucky in the CL seeing as you managed to beat Real Madrid!! Hopefully in the Europa League you can get the all important win over your rivals and reach Europa Glory!!

Bhargav
Member

My eyes popped out when I saw that you beat Real. Incredible achievement. Obviously it would have been great to progress, but you keep getting handed really unfortunate draws. Best of luck in the Europa League — that should help you stabilize your finances firmly in the black.

Neil Birkitt
Guest

awesome stuff. Surely European progress cannot be far away.

Luke Foley
Guest

Unlucky Johnny very impressive win against R.Madrid.
I love this story and the longevity it has, i would love to think of something similar for my own fm12 career.
hopefully you will have a decent run in the europa league and boost those coefficients abit so you stop being drawn in groups of death!!!

Lye
Guest

I really thought you would have made it to the first knockout round this time based on the first three games. That’s a very impressive win over Real Madrid and next season should see your team progress regardless of the opposition you have.

Calin
Guest

Congrats, Johnny! You had an amazing campaign, again, in the Champions League and the first three games seemed like an unbelievable dream. I am still sad that you couldn’t make it to the next stage in the Champions League, but UEFA is better than nothing and after this year’s display in CL, I really have faith that you can go a lot farther.

In the league it’s good to see that you do your job as you’re supposed to and you continue to dominate in Romania, which is exactly what you should be doing and keep trying in Europe.

Davy Doyle
Guest

Well done Johnny lad, unlucky in europe, heres to winning the europa league!

tom
Guest
tom

Great stuff!…Am really enjoying this story…

Quick question…are you planning to do anymore tactical posts? Really loved Darrens Stoke and Arsenal ones…and your one on Barcelona…just wondering if u had any plans to do anymore?

Like id love to have an idea of how to replicate Man Utds play…with there industry and pressuring from wide…always looking for tht next goal…

Or the narrow style of play Ac Milan adopted recently against Arsenal…with only width coming from full backs…

I have ideas on how to implement these…but i really enjoy reading ur posts on the theories behind the tactics…i like to use it as a template and tweak to my own need…

Anyway keep up the awesome work…really enjoy this site!

Ana Garcia
Member

Sorry for the late response. :)

Am so devastated for you! Having seen where you were after three games I felt sure you would progress to the last 16 especially after beating Real Madrid.

Again you are very unlucky and I can sympathise with that, I guess finishing third will still be good for a club of your stature and you are making good progress every year.

Best of luck against Fenerbache have my fingers crossed that you can exact a bit of revenge, so good luck!! :)

Freddie
Guest
Freddie

Almost there… Hope the EURO cup goes well! :)

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