A Belgian Story: Part 27 – The 2006 World Cup | @verbist_philip

Good morning! For the past 27 weeks Philip has built a Belgian side, brick by brick, with the 2006 World Cup in mind. It all boils down to this. A nation waits…

Hallo allemaal!

Welcome to the final chapter of our road to the 2006 WC. I am sure you remember our ultimate goal. That was to qualify Belgium using only Belgian regens and do better than Belgium’s real-life performance in 2018 where they got 3rd place. We used my hometown team Beveren to attract the regens, mature them and get them ready for June 2006. 10 domestic trophies later, I believe we are as ready as we can be. We got the top regens and they all became good players with international experience.

Who are the star players of the team?

Let’s start with Alex Abeels, regen of Luc Nilis. Valued at 8M he is the team’s most expensive player. This season was his best season so far and allowed him to pass the mark Van Den Eede set a few years ago on total goals scored.

The 2nd most expensive player is Hendrik Goosens, regen of Enzo Scifo. I didn’t expect him to be one of the 3 star players, but it’s not a big surprise either as he has a great potential. He reached that potential despite playing on the wing back position, which isn’t the easiest to get high ratings.

A big surprise is Roberto Bistrussu, regen of Piet Verschelde, as the 3rd star player. He has an average ability/potential and he has hardly played the past 2 seasons. Yet he is still worth 3M. A prolific goal scorer he certainly is and during the World Cup he can be a powerful weapon coming off the bench.

Before we start our WC preparation, I am giving an honourable mention to Appels, regen of Georges Grun. We got him already as of season 2 and he has been a defensive force since his arrival. It’s no surprise he played most games of all our regens.

These are the 22 lads we’re taking to England. Nasden (Lemoine) is still injured, but we will recover him beginning of June.

Most important question before we kick it off, is what tactic we will use. So far we have always used the “23122-direct” formation and that got us 10 trophies. However, if we truly want to compete at the World Cup, I believe we’ll have to step out of our comfort zone.

In the Champions League Manager 9798 I am using @9798Nikolai’s “Narrow 23122-direct” formation with a sweeping goal keeper and that’s actually going quite well. So why don’t we try that during the World Cup?

Is Van Meir (Preud’homme) a “sweeping kinda goalkeeper”? His rushing out stat is on the higher side, but you don’t win anything if you’re not bold!

We play 2 friendlies before we take the Eurostar to St Pancras International station. First opponent is Qatar. What do you expect when you play Qatar? Plenty of attempts? Check. Plenty of goals? Check. No goal against? That would have been nice, but who cares if you score 6 yourself.

It took them a few weeks, but finally Beveren announces their new manager and it is a familiar face: Johan Boskamp. He was Beveren’s head coach from 1989 to 1992 and is now returning to the Freethiel. In real-life he did the same in 2009. He was sacked after just a few months, so let’s hope he makes a bit longer in here. He definitely has the players to be successful!

Will Cyprus be a more worthy opponent to test our new formation? They should be on paper, but they don’t get further than 1 shot on goal. We travel to England after 2 easy wins.

You still remember who we play in the Group Stage? We start against Wales, then we take on Germany and we finish playing current European Champions Portugal.

Welcome back Nasden (Lemoine), we missed you!

Host nation England win their opening match and in our group there is immediately a surprise: Portugal upsets Germany.

They day after our tournament starts against Wales. It seems Ryan Giggs’s star has faded. Of all Welsh players I fear Felgate, regen of Neville Southall, the most. He played a few seasons for Lierse, so we know how difficult he is to beat.

We start the match well and Cannaerts (Emmers) gives us the lead after only 6 minutes. They put us under quite some pressure after that goal, but Van Meir (Preud’homme) demonstrates his excellent form. Halfway through the second half Bistrussu (Verschelde) secures the win.

A few days later we face Germany. We are discussing tactics when my assistant, former head coach Georges Leekens, enters the room. He has some good news: the regens of Kopke & Matthaus are injured and will not play. And what does their attack look like, Georges? He didn’t see anybody with “tor instinct” like Klinsmann or Voller. That’s our chance lads! The lads pick up the message and we degrade them to the level of Qatar and Cyprus!

Portugal beat Wales and we both secure our spot in the Second Round after just 2 matches. We could not have wished for a better start!

In our last Group Stage match we battle Portugal for first place. We are the better team, but have to settle for a draw. No worries lads, it’s more than good enough to finish as group winners. Germany recover from our spanking and leave Wales point-less.

As we wait for the Second Round draw, we take a look at the other group standings.There are no real surprises, except for Group A. There it seems the world has turned upside down!

The draw offers a few interesting battles. With Scotland as our next opponent we cannot complain too much.

I shouldn’t underestimate them though. I count 4 of the Partick Thistle wonderkids. And there is also a link to Belgium: Hogarth is the number 1 goalie of Standard for several years now. And did you also notice the regen of McCall is called McCall *grins*?

We start furiously and after 12 minutes Abeels (Nilis) converts our dominance into a lead. Unlike Wales, Scotland is not able to put us under pressure and all in all we advance rather easily to the Quarter Final.

Where are England, France and Portugal you ask? For them it all ended in the Second Phase. This is what the Quarter Final draw looks like. We travel to Elland Road to face Japan.

Japan has a few decent players, but in all honesty they shouldn’t be too much of a hurdle. Peiremans (Kiekens) is still sleeping and gets surprised by the quick and agile Japanese attackers: 1-0 after 8 minutes. But after that our one-team show begins. We’re not too efficient though and only manage to score twice. But who cares? Similar to Belgium’s actual performance in 2018, we’re advancing to the Semi Finals!

Our next destination? Old Trafford for a match-up against Sweden.

The stakes are high and the first half is a stalemate. We’re approaching half time when Abeels (Nilis) suddenly finds Nasden (Lemoine) in the box. He stays calm and opens the score: 1-0! We fail to double the lead and slowly but surely Sweden takes control of the match in search of the equaliser. Van Meir (Preud’homme) makes one great save after the other until he gets beaten in the 84th minute: Stenberg (Mats Magnusson regen) sends the match into overtime. We are not able to turn the tide, on the contrary. Stenberg marks again and sends Sweden to the Final. Disappointed the lads walk from the field. You have given it your very best lads, unfortunately Sweden was the better team.

Italy beats the USA and joins Sweden in the Final.

C’mon lads, let’s give our utmost one last time! Are we allowing the US of A to take third place? I don’t think so! The US of A however fight for every ball, every inch and prove they are a worthy opponent. In an excellent second half we manage to turn things around and beat them 2-1! THIRD PLACE!!

In a rather boring final Sweden surprises Italy and become the 2006 World Cup Winner!! What an unexpected winner they are. In all my previous saves I have seen Denmark and even Norway taking the title, but never before Sweden. Once again the CM9798 game engine proves to be an excellent scenario writer.

Speaking of scenarios, I had some many different ones in my mind, but I never considered getting the SAME result would be a scenario as well. But somehow that’s what we did. Similar to Belgium’s actual performance in 2018, we reached third place and lost in the semi final to the future World Cup winner. When the Belgian team came back home from Russia, there was a huge celebration. The lads deserve nothing less. They came 6 minutes short of a World Cup final, but they have done an outstanding job. Now it’s time to PARTY!

And with that I close the blog for now. I hope you liked the story and that you enjoyed reading the updates Saturday after Saturday. I am starting a new professional challenge as of June, so I am going to take a break from blogging for a few months. But I am enjoying this save so much that I cannot just quit it. How will we continue? I have no clue yet and I will let you decide how we continue this save.

I want to finish by giving a BIG thank you to Dave for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger and share my story.

Enjoy your Saturday & your weekend. Tot binnenkort!!

My thanks to Philip for being consistently brilliant over the past 27 weeks. Good luck in your new job and hopefully we’ll see you back in the blogging hot seat in the new season!

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