Hello and welcome to match week 7! We’ve already seen one European Super League fall flat on its face this week, but I can assure you that this one is going nowhere. We’ve got a whopping 14 matches for you this week, with Champions League and UEFA Cup action sandwiched between 2 rounds of league matches, but we kick this week off with the League Cup semi-finals…
The first match was in Spain, where Ross’ Man Utd hosted Dean’s Ajax. After playing out two goalless halves, it was David Beckham’s goal in the first period of extra time that separated the two sides. With star striker Peter Van Vossen seemingly hitting a drought, Dean even gave his least favourite striker, Patrick Kluivert, a whole 15 minutes to try and rescue the tie, but to no avail and Ross was the first manager into the final.
The 2nd semi was in Serbia (Yugoslavia in old money), with Marseille taking on Milan. With Maldini back, Dave’s mate “Baresi Bollocks” was on the bench. Dave thought he’d taken an early lead through Laudrup, but he muttered some expletives as it was chalked off, and typically Marseille took the lead less than a minute later to rub salt in the wound. Boksic then missed yet another penalty and the rest of the match was quite frankly a goal fest, with a goal almost every 10 minutes, and Zak running out 6-3 winner.
The Johan Cruyff derby was next, with Deano’s Ajax just a point ahead of Philip’s Barcelona. Barca quickly found themselves 3-0 up after half an hour, and Ajax looked to have pulled one back just before half time only for it to be ruled out after yet another commentator’s curse from me. Ajax battled back to just a goal behind early in the 2nd half, but Stoichkov and Salinas put the final nails in the Ajax coffin to win 5-2.
Next up Nathan took on Andrew in the 2nd “Der Klassiker“ of the season. Their first meeting produced 10 goals, with Andrew winning 6-4, so revenge was on Nathan’s mind. Herrlich gave Dortmund the lead to the words “get lost” from Andrew and it remained 1-0 at half time. Nathan once again resisted pressure to bring on Barry Combe, and his side added a 2nd late on through the man who is now Dortmund’s sporting director, Michael Zorc.
Matt’s Juve had been going well lately, with 3 wins from 4, and had the rarity of a fully-fit squad to choose from. The old lady led early through Di Livio, and held on to the lead for most of the match before an inspired late substitution from Dave saw Raducioiu come on to equalise, quickly followed by a strike from Costacurta. After 14 minutes, Dave said Raducioiu’s job was done, and swapped him for De Napoli, who sat in front of the back four for the remainder of the 2-1 win.
Such has been the abysmal form of my Real Madrid side, and the excellent form of Zak’s Marseille, I went into this one with my usual level of zero expectation. It was a very even match, and looked to be heading for a stalemate, but this was my lucky day, and after six long weeks without a victory, Raúl struck with 18 minutes left on the clock to finally hand me my first three points of the season. Sorry, Zak!
Rob is the latest manager to have his squad decimated through injuries, so much so that I jokingly named them “Red Cross” last week. It was a case of another week, another formation for Rob, but it didn’t take long for Ross to take the lead through Andy Cole. Cole added a second, and then Rob’s problems worsened when Nadjdoski (who’s animal nickname I can’t remember) got sent off. Nevland and Scholes both netted to make it 4-0 before Prosinecki got a late consolation.
Before the second lot of league fixtures, we have to squeeze in two European games for Zak and Philip. Zak’s Marseille held a 3-1 lead over Rapid Vienna going into the 2nd leg of their UEFA Cup tie, and they repeated the same feat to sweep aside their Austrian opponents and book a date with Udinese in the next round.
Philip scooped his second manager of the month award at the beginning of the night, and was looking to stay top of his Champions League group as he faced Steaua Bucharest. An injury crisis among his forwards meant a start for Iain Feroz, who despite having a Spanish-sounding last name, is actually a grey Scottish youngster. He did well on the right wing with a rating of 7 as Barca easily bagged another 3 points.
Dean and Rob were up next. Both managers elected to change formations, Dean went for a 4-3-1-2, and Rob tried a 4-2-3-1, with Darko “The Cobra” Pancev rejoining his attack. After an early discussion from Dean about Forward Right/Lefts being useless, Marc Overmars obviously had a point to prove and proceeded to bang in a hat trick in the first half an hour. This was followed by a Jari Litmanen goal to make it 4-0 at the break. Binic scored with 14 minutes remaining and it wouldn’t be an Ajax win without a Van Vossen goal, with “Beetlejuice” himself popping up in the last minute to make it 5-1.
Next were Nathan and Ross. Like Rob, Nathan had several injuries in his squad, with 5 of his defenders out, so he had to cobble together a back line capable of keeping Cole and Yorke at bay. It was goalless at the break, after a quiet first 45 minutes which saw just 2 shots on target. Dortmund took the lead on the hour via Kirovski, who would have been pleased to show his former employers what they’re missing. But United’s never say due attitude paid off at the end with David Beckham rescuing a point for his side.
After both suffering defeat in their opening matches, Matt and Andrew would both have been wanting to bounce straight back in this one. There were a few chances in the first half but neither team was able to break the deadlock. The second half ticked on, but the old Warhorse, Pietro Vierchowod gave Juve the lead on the hour. Bayern got a deserved equaliser 6 minutes later from Alexander Zickler, but it was immediately cancelled out by what turned out to be the winner through Gianluca Vialli.
The penultimate game of the evening saw both of our sides playing European football, Marseille and Barcelona. Barca were dealt a huge injury blow as they lost Koeman after just 2 minutes, and after drawing a blank in his last match, Rudi Völler more than made up for it by firing in a brace to put l’OM 2-0 up inside half an hour. Salinas replied to make it 2-1 at half time, and then levelled just before the hour and it remained 2-2 until the final whistle. The last time these two met in the league it was 1-1, so maybe next time we’ve got a 3-3 on the cards!
The last action of the night was myself against Dave at the Bernabeu. Going into a match off the back of a win was unfamiliar territory for me, and Christian Karembeu put us on track for a second victory of the night after a quarter of an hour. But cometh the hour, cometh another inspired substitution from Dave and that man Raducioiu was there to undo-do-do all our hard work and snatch a point for the Rossoneri late on. Dave had the lion’s share of chances, so I can’t complain too much, and I’d have taken 4 points at the beginning of the night.
So after this week’s games, Ross remains top, but there’s been a bit of movement between the other sides. I’m finally off the bottom at the expense of Rob, Philip and Matt have both moved up a place, Dean has dropped a place, and after leading not so long ago, Zak finds himself 5th! Don’t forget you can watch this week’s action by clicking here
And so ends another week, and despite the real-life rise and fall of the European Super League, our league still stands strong. See you next week!