2001: An Ace Squad-yssey – Part 30: Red Mist | @NTR9798

Happy Good Friday to you! and welcome back for another catch-up with Nick and the CM01/02 Aces, who have quickly put the heartbreak of last season behind them, and made a rampant start to their latest campaign. Can they keep it up?…

Things couldn’t be going much better in the league at the minute, but as you’d expect, we’ve got Juventus breathing down our necks. We do play them next in the league though, so hopefully we can double our lead over them.

The action starts in Europe, and it’s a visit from Celtic. Samba is in for the suspended Tsigalko, and he does well, opening the scoring before assisting Madeira for our second. Carol Smillie pulls one back, but she heads to the changing rooms disappointed, as it ends 2-1.

We lose N’Diaye to an early red against Juve, but put in an admirable effort with ten men and are unlucky not to win after a disallowed goal on 66 minutes. Peruzzi was out for them, which was nice, but their sub keeper was man of the match, you couldn’t write it!

It’s a lukewarm first half away at Reggiana in the cup, with no real clear-cut chances, and a second red card and penalty conceded in two matches is enough to dump us out of the Coppa Italia for another year. Gutted (not).

It’s a great first half against Milan, but we then suffer a third (yes, third) red card in three games. Luckily for us though, Milan get a red of their own a bit later, and Madeira converts the penalty to compete a rare mauling of the Rossoneri, and we hear that Torino beat Juve!

We get revenge at Ibrox on a cold Scottish midweek night, thanks to a Belarusian double from super Sergey and Maximus Tsigalkus to send us top of the group.

Verona aren’t hitting the heights of last season, but still give us a good game. It’s a quiet first half, but Tsigalko wins it just after half time. Ironically, their keeper was once keeping Marchegiani out of the Lazio team, and is of course man of the match. Juve and Inter draw!

After two red cards and a yellow, Aghahowa is now suspended for five matches, that has to be the longest ban I’ve ever seen! Hersi is banned for three matches for one red and five yellows, maybe their still angry about losing the title last season…

Madeira gets bored of scoring at the right end, so tries his luck against his own keeper to give Parma a head start. He does however atone for it in the last minute, but if he tries that again, he’ll be out the door! (I don’t really mean that).

Hersi and Aghahowa are both back in for the Rosenborg game, with Lundén and Selakovic making way. Duff man is the latest to receive his marching orders, but it’s a win, and Celtic win the Old Firm battle to send us through.

The good news just keeps on coming, as Juve lose 4-0 at home to Atalanta, which is a nice little lift just before the World Club Cup final.

So, to Tokyo we go once more. All but four of Penarol’s players are greys, but I’m counting no chickens. Duff and Hersi are suspended, so Prutton and Selakovic come in, and we stroll to victory and are world champions again!

Foggia are our game in-hand, and it’s a chance to go eleven points clear. We go 2-0 up, but somehow end up losing 3-2. Their keeper goes off injured and the sub is man of the match (surprise surprise). It’s a huge chance blown, and that result could come back to bite us.

Although I’m still fuming, we do immediately return to winning ways after a bit of a scrap against Udinese, as Tsigalko’s gets his fourth goal in three games.

The second string play out a meaningless midweek game with Celtic. The result is bad but immaterial, and we progress to face Monaco in the quarter finals.

Believe it or not, we’ve actually gone two months without a major injury, but this still isn’t ideal…

Off to Naples, and Hersi is back. The standard super keeper display ensues, and there’s a token late goal, but we hold on. Juve draw with Piacenza and slip to third, so we’re now ten points clear of second-placed Atalanta!

I really do have a habit of jinxing myself…

This game sure does have a habit of luring you into a false sense of security, and just as I’m thinking that things are going great, this happens. It’s not the end of the world, but it can’t become a regular occurrence.

Last up this week is a visit from Torino. Tsigalko really has come of age during the last season or two, and he fires in a brace to get us straight back on track after the Bari blip.

So after all of that, we’re still top just before halfway, and now have a seven-point lead over Juve. I’m still seething from the Foggia game, but to have only lost two and drawn one in almost half a season isn’t too bad. Juve always finish strongly though, so we could do with keeping hold of that lead for as long as we can.

That’s your lot for another week. There’s lots in store next week, as we play the European super cup final against Atletico Madrid, and our champions league quarter final with Monaco, while Inter, Juventus and Milan are among the pick of the league games in an episode that will make or break our season, so I’ll see you then. Ciao for now!

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