Greetings and welcome to Day two of the 2020 CM Cup. Things got off to an entertaining start yesterday as Group A served up ten goals in two games before Group B got underway with five of their own. We’ll see the second game in Group B shortly before moving on to Group C, where we’ll find out if Holland have what it takes to match their 1988 heroics.
Yesterday, we saw defending champion Ross Bell’s Belgium just about see off Russia. Now it’s the turn of Finland and Denmark.
Denmark vs Finland
Such is Denmark’s strength in depth in CM9798 I make them the favourites for this group. Manager Dave Mathieson has suffered a blow though as Michael Laudrup has broken an arm in training and will miss the group stages. Tomasson is also missing here but should make it back for the 2nd or 3rd game.
MK had the difficult task of picking 23 Finland players. There are barely 50 in the database so it wasn’t much of a dilemma. He’s opted for this diamond 442 and I’m sure it’ll be fine.
It really might be fine. Litmanen scores after just three minutes. That joy is soon extinguished when CM legend Miklos Molnar equalises before putting his side ahead just after half time. It’s a battering but as is often the way, when one side don’t take their chances the other profits. Future Charlton star Jonathan Johansson equalises against the run of play and a famous point is on the cards…only for Molnar to secure his hat-trick. It’s a cruel game.
Mind you, it would have been more cruel on Denmark had they not won. Peter Schmeichel is meant to be good as well!
That leaves Denmark and Belgium is a very strong position after the first round of games but the two meet each other next so something has to give.
Let’s move on to Group C now.
Austria vs Romania
This is an intriguing group because you’ve got one very strong side and three where there’s really not much between them. I say that, but Austria (managed by Tom Reed) have a fairly uninspiring squad. We like Marcus Purk and we know Ralph Hasenhuttl manages Southampton but will they be a decent forward line? At least they’re in safe hands with Michael Konsel in goal.
Our own Liavinco has been entertaining us for weeks with the A-Z challenge but now he has to get a tune out of this Romania side. To be fair, they’re pretty good going forwards, it’s just defensively they have issues. Daniel Prodan is injured too, which won’t help.
Romania get a penalty after just five minutes and when Hagi converts you wonder if they’ll cement their status as second favourites in this group. But Austria won’t have it and centre half Streiter heads in from a corner. The much loved Marcus Purk makes it 2-1 before half time and it’s been turned on it’s head. Craioveanu restores parity but would you believe it, Hasenhuttl wins it and no doubt does some over the top fist pumps which aren’t at all annoying.
This was like two teams in the playground. Relentless attacking football.
A bit odd that Streiter would get man of the match but it makes a change from it being a goalkeeper!
Good luck to Holland and Ukraine following that.
Holland vs Ukraine
Ash has rather boldly opted for two left backs in his back three. It’s quite progressive though and Frank De Boer played centre half a lot anyway. Who knows, it might work.
Ross J has pulled no punches. This team isn’t pretty and the plan is to get the ball to the front two at all costs.
It’s relentless Orange pressure but some woeful finishing means Ukraine make it to half time at 0-0. Shevchenko and Rebrov have managed a few speculative efforts but nothing on target. It’s more of the same in the second half but with the Dutch running out of ideas, Rebrov heads in from a free kick to break the deadlock. Despite wave after wave of Dutch pressure there’s no goal to follow and we have a major upset on our hands!
Ash will be wondering how he lost this one. Ruthless efficiency from Ukraine though.
It leaves the group looking a little upside down from I expected but that is what makes football great. I think.
Only two days in and already the drama is high. Tomorrow, England will enter the fray in Group D whilst the Republic of Ireland also get their campaign underway. See you then!