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World Cup 2022!

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Welcome my friends! I forgot to mention in my last update that it was the summer of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. If you will remember two updates ago I mentioned qualifying for the World Cup with England. Well, now I am leading them to hopefully their second ever World Cup triumph! The last World Cup I went to, Russia 2018, I was the manager of Brazil and ended up getting knocked out in the first knockout round by eventual champions Mexico. Hopefully this time I can do a little better.

First, let’s take a look at the team’s form leading up to the tournament:

So these were my friendlies right before the World Cup with the squad that will ultimately represent England. Chile are the only one of these teams that is participating in the World Cup. The loss against Israel was a little fluky so I am not too worried since I have a strong team, although we are currently ranked 14th in the World =P The media think we have a shot as well:

Wow, quite a strong field!

Luckily for us, the group stage shouldn’t be so bad. We were drawn in Group G with:

I am only really worried about Holland. They are a rank below us, however.

So here is my squad in particular order:

GK: Joe Hart(Manchester City), Andrew Yeo (Manchester United), and Brett Doran (Aston Villa)

DR: Bobby Wright (Arsenal) and Chris Smalling (Manchester United)

DC: Billy Marsh (Liverpool), Carl Jackman (Liverpool), Ciaran Sawyer (Arsenal), and Phil Jones (Manchester United)(C)

DL: Leighton Conchie (Liverpool) and Sean Lambert (Manchester United)

DM: Sean Pearce (Free Agent) and Jack Rodwell (Everton)

MC: Ross Barkley (Everton) and Jordan Henderson (Tottenham)

AMR: Daryl Hornby (Everton) and Lee Rooney (Chelsea)

AMC: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) and Jordan Parker (A.C. Milan)

AML: Rowan Bestford (Manchester City) and Manuel Lodi (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

ST: Olly Kenney (Arsenal) and Ashley Ahmed (Tottenham)

A word about my formation, England do not have wingbacks so they will be fullbacks with wingback duties.

So now on to the matches! Our opener was against the toughest team in our group: The Netherlands:

Oof! That was an inauspicious way to kick things off. The Netherlands were the better team but they didn’t outplay us off the pitch. They were simply far more incisive. Things started terribly when we gave away a penalty at 8 minutes. It was a little soft if you ask me. Sawyer was judged to have unfairly held a Dutch player from moving forward but luckily they botched the ensuing penalty. It didn’t matter, though, because the same player, Otto, converted a freekick at the 29th minute. 4 minutes later it looked like we were going to equalize when Kenney tore through the Dutch defense and was one on one with their keeper. He ripped a shot but the keeper was close enough that he managed to swat it away in brilliant fashion. 10 minutes later the Dutch scored their second from a header off a cross. Our next best chance came at 60′ when Bestford was cutting inside. He launched a laser only to have it cruelly thud off the woodwork for a goal kick. At 73′ the Dutch sealed the match when they caught us on the break. It was a 2 vs 1 situation and they passed past my last defender and passed it again to strand Yeo. Not a pleasing start to this campaign! That loss left us in last place in our group as Guatemala beat Colombia 2 – 1.

Our next match was against second place Guatemala who were ranked 41st:

This was a complete walk-over. The team barely broke a sweat and it was nice to see Kenney and our captain Phil Jones score. After this game we were in second as the Netherlands could only muster a 1 – 1 tie with Colombia.

And then came our final group stage match against Colombia who ranked 40th:

Not quite the same level of domination as over Guatemala  but we were controlling the ball and space on the field really well. The Netherlands won their last game as well, beating Guatemala 2 – 1. Here is the final table:

Here’s how the other groups panned out:

We have some major upsets here. In group A there is Qatar ranked 118th, the lowest team, topping the entire group. Group C is the group of death. The upset here is Argentina, one of the favorites, finishing at the bottom. But in a group where everyone is in the top 10 (Senegal is 8th) such things happen. Group F and H were also groups of death. In F it was a toss-up between Portugal and the Ivory Coast while in Group H, Greece who were ranked lowest at 13th stormed past the others who are all in the top 10. Most notably, number 1 France went home so early.

For our first knock-out round we got to face one of the easier teams in Greece. We still have to watch out, though, because they have one of my star players, Thasis Bargan.

Well, Bargan was taken out pretty early and Greece could never really muster too much. It was a comfortable win.

England 3-1 Greece – Match Highlights

For the quarter-finals we had the great fortune to be drawn against number 6 Italy. I think you guys will remember what happened in real life when they squared off this past Sunday . . .

OH MY GOD!!! We absolutely wreaked havoc across the pitch! Italy could hardly contain us particularly Wilshere and Kenney. The two of them linked up to give Wilshere 3 assists and 4 goals for Kenney (7 in total). We could have had maybe 2 more but wasn’t that a way to pull off an upset! Just compare our average ratings! You can’t =P

Italy 1-6 England – Match Highlights

For our semi-final match we are facing Turkey. They are tricky opposition and we have to stay on our guard.

Well not quite as dominant as the last two games but still pretty dominant. I think part of the issue was that I had the team go defensive a little too early. This meant Kenney, who is the tournament’s top scorer right now with 8 goals, will miss the next match because he picked up a second yellow card here. I will be without my main attacker for the World Cup finals. OH MY GOD I’VE LED ENGLAND TO THE WORLD CUP FINALS!!! For the second time in English history. Hopefully we can hoist it but that means we have to beat:

The Netherlands

That is certainly going to be tough. We have to beat the team that thrashed us earlier. They also have two of my top Valencia players: van Osch and Visscher. The media believe we are slim favorite to win the match.

Well, let’s see how we fared:

Sadly, I couldn’t lead England to glory. The Netherlands get to raise the trophy for the first time in their history. As you can see, the game was fairly even. The Netherlands were the better team earlier in the match and that led to their first goal. Their second goal was the result of terrible marking from the normally peerless Marsh who misjudged the way the ball was thumped to Otto; probably the best striker in the tournament apart from Kenney, who was regrettably suspended due to me becoming defensive too quickly in the last match. The team responded to create a good goal, however. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and no matter what I threw at them, the Dutch were resolute and lucky and got to take the trophy over us. England remain world beater only once.

For those curious how the tournament panned out overall:

And lastly, the awards we won:

So that is it from me. I am proud of the team and proud of the way they played. Though we couldn’t win the tournament, it was a fun run. I think I will extend the European Challenge to include winning the Confederations Cup, European Cup, and World Cup. That should probably keep me busy till FM 2013 comes out! As always, please leave me your comments and feedback.

P.S. I think I will change the BBM in the center of the pitch to simply a CM. It worked well when I did that during this tournament.

P.P.S. I will likely leave England so I can lead a different country to glory since Darren already did this earlier in the year. Perhaps an African country since they have yet to have a winner from the continent. Senegal are 8th after all . . .


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