2001: An Ace Squad-yssey – Season 3: Part 2 | @cmclassicsquads

Friday is here! Which means Nick is on hand to ease you into the weekend with the 01/02 lads.

Hello once again, and welcome back to Italy for another catch-up with the CM01/02 Aces. Last week we went on our pre-season tour, and struggled against Brescia in the 2nd round of the Cup, where we managed to scrape a draw to earn a replay. So let’s see what lies in wait this week…

We begin with a trip to Florence. The Viola’s attacking options are ridiculous, so much so that Edmundo, Amoroso and Shevchenko can’t even get in the 16! It’s a stalemate at the break after an uneventful 1st half. N’Diaye’s red card is the turning point as former gunner Stefan Schwarz puts the hosts ahead, but Madeira’s goal and a very late save from Frey secure us a point.

Alberto Zaccheroni’s Parma are next. They beat us 3-1 on the final day of last season, so payback is on the agenda. There’s an early injury to N’Diaye before goals are traded to make it 1-1 at half time. It’s looking like another draw until the exact same scenario from the Fiorentina game plays out, with Madeira scoring late and Frey producing 3 point-blank saves, but this time it’s 3 points.

The attendance of 32,796 is apparently a new club record, but I think that might be broken a few more times yet. N’Diaye is out for a couple of weeks with a calf strain.

Rounding off our trio of tough opening games are Lazio. We have a few 1st half chances but Marchegiani keeps them out. The 2nd half brings much more action and we lead via Madeira’s 3rd goal in as many games, but Boksic cancels it out. West heads in from a corner to regain our lead, but 2 goals in 2 minutes from Neset and Boksic condemn us to defeat in a game where we were the better side. How dare we look like beating Lazio!

So with 4 points from a possible 9 in the bag, it’s time for our European debut, a home tie with Armenian side Ararat. It takes us almost a quarter of an hour to get going but Källström opens the scoring and his 2nd, along with goals from Selakovic and Madeira make it 4-0 at half time. Tsigalko gets his 1st goal of the season straight after the restart to make it 5, and although I’m seething to concede 2 late away goals, it’s still a good enough result.

Back to the league, and we host a Bologna side who are 3rd in the table. We boss the 1st half but can’t find a way past Francesco Antonioni, who is typically having the game of his life. We continue to press in the 2nd half and have a late penalty shout denied, but somehow it ends goalless. Antonioli was unsurprisingly man of the match. I think the Italian researcher for this game must have had a soft spot for their native goalkeepers.

It’s another record attendance, this time of 33,060.

João Paiva joins Logrones to secure his 3rd Spanish loan move in 3 seasons. Surely he must have bought a holiday home over there by now.

Time now for some unfinished business with Brescia. It’s a Coppa Italia 3rd round replay after the first game ended 3-3. You know it’s going to be a good day when we score our 1st clean through chance, as Tsigalko gives us an early lead and our Swedish duo chip in to make it 3-0 at half time. Madeira’s 5th goal in 6 games and an own goal complete an emphatic win and into the next round we go.

We’ll face Fiorentina next. Hopefully we can do better against them in the cup than we did in the league game.

High-flying Torino are next to visit in the league. They’re 2nd in the table and their summer signings included Roberto Muzzi and Jordi Cruyff. Tsigalko gets us off the mark for the 2nd game running and we lead at the break. Kerr makes it 2 just before the hour before Källström nets his 5th goal in all competitions and Tsigalko rounds off a 4-0 win in the last minute. Aghahowa is going to have a job getting back in the team.

We end this week in Armenia for the 2nd leg against Ararat. It’s an explosive 1st half, and we go 2-0 down before a rare brace from Jamie Victory levels proceedings. We take command of the match in the 2nd half with a 2nd goal in 2 games for Kerr and Tsigalko’s 4th in 3 games. There’s a late reply from the hosts but it’s £250k in the bank and a place in the next round of the draw.

Our compatriots Inter were the biggest casualties of the round, losing to 1860 Munich on away goals. We draw Shakhtyor Donetsk, which I’m not displeased at.

There are a few little pieces of news before we finish… The board are delighted with my performance, Brian Little confirms that he has a thing for teams who play in claret and blue as he takes the Burnley job, and Alberto Zaccheroni is sacked by Parma after just a single win and a draw in 6 games. Claudio Ranieri was incidentally sacked by Valencia not long ago, so we could see the Tinkerman return to Serie A very soon.

So we end this week in 8th place in the league. It might not look too impressive, but we have played 3 of the top sides and have a game in hand on 4 of the 7 teams above us, so it’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things. We’re also through our 1st matches in the cup and Europe, so it could be worse.

That’s your lot for this week, see you next time for more of the same!

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