2001: An Ace Squad-yssey – Season 2, Part 6 | @cmclassicsquads

Good morning readers, and welcome to the finale of season 2 with the CM01/02 Aces. Last week we found that a new formation yielded some great results against some good teams, so let’s see if it can help in our remaining 8 games as we look to qualify for Europe…

Before we begin the match action, I should mention that there was an international break, in which Jonas Lundén won his first cap for Sweden, well done lad!

So down to business, and we kick off with a trip to 14th-placed Brescia, who we swept aside with ease 4-0 last time. We’re unchanged from the Piacenza game, and I stick with the new formation. We start well with a couple of early chances, but Said gets himself sent off on 27 minutes. The match turns, and I’m relieved to make it to half time without conceding.

We continue to plug away in the second half, but Brescia are beginning to threaten, and they get their eventual reward through Dario Hubner on 70 minutes, which ends up being the only goal of the game. The gap between us and Piacenza vanishes as they win, but we’re lucky that Atalanta lost, so we don’t lose any ground on them.

Another away trip follows, with a visit to Florence. Fiorentina are 12th, and held us to a 1-1 draw last time. Sheva, Edmundo and Amoroso are not even in the Viola squad, so Batigol leads the line on his own. We’re unchanged. Bakayoko scores early on, and despite battling back, it’s another super keeper appearance, with Zandona stopping everything that comes his way.

The frustration carries on into the second half as we spurn chance after chance and slip to a second successive defeat. You won’t be surprised to learn that Zandona was man of the match. Atalanta don’t let us off this time, and the gap is back to 4 points.

We’re at home to bottom-placed Padova next, and after back to back defeats, this is a must-win. Said is suspended, so Kerr is the anchor, and Moukoko starts in the advanced role. It’s 1-1 after quarter of an hour, and Aghahowa is injured and replaced by Lundén on 17. The hosts lead just after half an hour and we trail at half time.

I revert to 2-3-1-2-2 for the second half, with Klompe on for Kerr. The change does the trick, as Victory gets a rare goal to level the match. We’re playing better now, and I bring on Samba on 80, and he has a shot parried by the keeper straight to the feet of Tsigalko, who scores the winner.

Double trouble follows, with Aghahowa and Madeira both ruled out for a couple of weeks with a bruised shin and damaged elbow respectively.

We’re back on the road again now, and it’s Vicenza, who sit 12th in the table. They beat us 2-1 at our place, so hopefully we can return the favour. I continue with 2-3-1-2-2, with West, Samba and Lundén in for Kerr, Madeira, and Aghahowa. Vicenza are on top of us straight away, and after going close a few times, Otero gives them the lead just before half time.

They score again just after the restart, and have been all over us. Tsigalko pulls one back, but despite missing a penalty, Luiso gets his second goal late on to make it 3-1. The board say it’s a poor result, and we’re clinging onto 6th place, with Napoli just a point behind us, but we’re now 7 points adrift from 5th-placed Atalanta.

AC Milan win the Coppa Italia, after a 4-3 aggregate win over Juventus, and in other news, the board are still delighted with my performance, so the Padova win came at the right time.

Back home now, and we welcome Genoa, who are 14th, and trying to avoid the drop. Madeira and Aghahowa are back in for Samba and Lundén. I give a start to Källström in midfield, with Moukoko making way. Madeira gives us an early lead, and Källström doubles it and it’s 2-0 at the break.

Källström’s playing time has been limited this season, so he’s loving his chance, and gets his second goal not long before the hour, and it ends 3-0. Madeira was man of the match, but a special mention to Frey, who was immense, keeping out 10 shots on target. Lazio beat Atalanta, so we’re back to 4 behind them, and 3 ahead of Napoli, who drew with Inter.

Next is a trip to Roma, who I can’t believe are all but relegated, despite still possessing the likes of Cafu, Aldair, Di Biagio, Del Vecchio, Totti and Balbo. We’re unchanged from the Genoa win. After almost half an hour of knocking on the door, Madeira puts us in front, and then gets 3 more in the space of 15 minutes to give us a 4-0 half time lead.

West is injured after the restart, so Prutton is on, and N’Diaye drops to centre back. Roma pull one back halfway through the half, and N’Diaye gets his first Aces goal right at the death. Just as I’m thinking that we might have cut the gap to Atalanta to a point, up pops the shock defeat banner, they beat Milan 2-1, grrrr.

Juventus are crowned champions, so well done them, and the good news for us is that Napoli lost, so we’re now 6 points ahead of them and Piacenza, but with a far better goal difference, so we’re pretty much guaranteed 6th spot and UEFA Cup football next season!

But as always, when I’m celebrating some good news, some bad is not far behind, and I lose my centre back pairing for the last 2 matches.

Next are Inter. they’re currently 4th, but need the win to cement it. Our only changes are Okoronkwo and Klompe in for West and Hofland. Madeira loves early goals, and he smashes in a free kick to give us the lead on 3 minutes, and Tsigalko doubles the lead 3 minutes later. There’s only ever one outcome when Ronaldo is clean through, and he makes it 2-1. We have a goal ruled out on half an hour, but Madeira scores in the same minute to make it 3-1 at the break.

The second half is a bit closer, with just a goal a piece, as Tsigalko and Ronaldo get their second goals on 52 and 87. The score ended up looking quite close, but we had 14/25 shots on target, and without Pagliuca, who had a rating of 9, it could have been considerably more than 4 for us. The board say very good result, and It’s now Inter who are 2 points ahead of us, after Atalanta overtook them, so we need to beat Parma and hope the Nerazzuri lose to Fiorentina.

Said suffers a horrific injury in training, and will be out for 8 months. I didn’t see the incident (as Arsene Wenger would say), but the players told me it wasn’t pretty.

So we’ll go straight to the Parma game. We are guaranteed UEFA Cup football next season, but it will still be nice to finish 5th, so we’ll be taking this match seriously. Parma are at full-strength, and we’re unchanged from the Inter match. It’s goalless at half time after a few chances either way, and our makeshift centre back pairing is holding up well so far.

Källström gets us off and running just shy of the hour with his 3rd goal in 4 games, but then Frey gets sent off and gives away a penalty. Chiotis is on for Tsigalko, but can’t save Jesper Blomqvist’s spot kick. Blomqvist then scores another dead ball goal with a free kick, and Bigica finishes us off with 20 minutes to go. Although frustrating, the defeat is irrelevant as Inter beat Fiorentina.

So here’s confirmation of the final table. We finish 6th, and qualify for the UEFA Cup, and that combined with reaching the semis of the cup is a successful first season in Serie A I’d say. It’s also comforting to know that we were the only team to beat Juventus.

At the bottom end, two of the three sides that got promoted with us last season are relegated, with only Genoa surviving the drop. It’s also sad to see Roma and Sampdoria go down, but I’m sure they’ll both be back. Torino, Bari, Fidelis Andria, and Reggiana are all promoted from Serie B.

We’re awarded £4.6m for finishing 6th, most of which the board will spend on some new seats for the stadium no doubt.

A quick round up of all the winners from the loaded leagues… Man Utd won the premier league, but lost the FA Cup final to West Ham, and Blackburn beat Newcastle to lift the league cup. Barcelona won La Liga, and Deportivo beat Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey final. Barca also won the champions league after beating Man Utd, and Bologna did Italy proud by beating Dortmund to win the UEFA Cup.

Here’s a look at the end of season stats, starting with the average ratings. Madeira was our top performer, and he and Aghahowa were in the top 12 in the league.

Madeira was ours and the league’s top scorer, a great season from the fictional Portuguese front man. Tsigalko didn’t have as good a year, but he played further back the pitch in a few games when we played the 3-6-1 formation. Samba did ok, and will hopefully keep improving, and there was a nice supply from the wingers and central midfielders.

Madeira was also the most selfless, with 12 assists, closely followed by Tsigalko and Selakovic.

It’s that man at the top again, with the most man of the match awards, and he was 4th in the league list.

Victory had by far and away the worst disciplinary record, not just in our team, but in the league as well, although his aggression stat is only 11.

Despite all those goals, assists and great average ratings, Madeira is still yet to receive a call-up to the Portuguese national squad, what does he have to do?!

A quick check on how our loan stars did. Bakircioglü was the top performer, and seeing that no one has made the central midfield position their own, he could play a more prominent role next season.

A quick comparison of the values now.

Values at start of season
Values at end of season

There were 3 players who’s value remained the same, 11 saw an increase, and 14 a loss. The biggest rises were Aghahowa, who gained £1.5m, Madeira with £1.3m, and Samba with £925k, and the biggest losses were West with £1.7m, Källström with £1.4m, and Bakircioglü with £1m.

So that wraps up season 2. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it. I’ll be back next week with a brand new blog, so be sure to tune in for that one!, and in have I got news for you fashion, I’ll leave you with the following three bits of news…

Chelsea submit an £850k bid for Prutton, which I reject, Arsenal sack Arsene Wenger and replace him with Kevin Keegan, and Juventus decide that George Donis is the man to take them forward, and splash £3.2m to Sporting Lisbon to secure his services. See you next time!

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