What a group we have here. Argentina and Italy meeting at this stage is good news for the neutral but bad news for Ivory Coast and Poland. Jakob (Poland) is the only returning participant in this group, we have three debutants competing here and I’m looking forward to seeing if either of the underdogs can upset the big lads. Shall we?
Italy vs Ivory Coast
Welcome Shales, or PES_DNA as you might know him. He might be a CM Cup debutant but he’s no stranger to CM9798, as can be seen by his team setup:
Managing Ivory Coast is Gary or RetroFootballNetwork as you likely will know him. Another debutant but with many years of CM experience. He’s got an awfully tough task of trying to get this Ivory Coast side to upset the two giants of the game. 4-2-3-1 is a solid choice, in my view.
IVORY COAST LEAD. Tiehi, probably not pronounced Teehee bt that’s what we’ll go with, gives the Ivorians a shock lead. Unfortunately for Gary, it just angers Shales’ Italians who score six. A late rally from the underdogs miraculously makes it 6-4 but other than potentially saving his goal difference, it does little for Gary.
Obviously in a 10 goal thriller, a goalkeeper gets man of the match.
He only let in 4 of 9 on target…
A great start for Italy then, can Argentina follow suit?
Poland vs Argentina
Jakob has a tough job on his hands here. The players aren’t bad but there’s a lot of 0s in the stats and abilities, so planning is largely out the window. Still, this 3-5-2-1 didn’t just fall together I’m sure.
Stu’s opted for 4-3-1-2. With this selection of players it should give them enough freedom to thrive.
It ends up going as you might expect. Although Jakob is left cursing when Citko blazes a penalty over the bar, an act that’s bad enough but Batistuta goes down the other end and opens the scoring. From there it unravels slowly for Poland, Ortega doubling the lead after half time before Veron and Sensini add the icing and the cherry.
Batigol takes home the champers.
Comprehensive as the scoreline suggests. No underdog story here yet.
Now…the big one.
Argentina vs Italy
Lopez is in for Borrelli but it’s the same basic gist for Stu.
Unchanged for Shales.
After just four minutes Di Matteo picks up a red card for elbowing Veron in the head. You just can’t do that these days. It oddly seems to spur his team mates on, with both full backs scoring before Chiesa makes it 3-0. Remarkable really. Lopez avenges the injury Ortega picks up with a glimmer of hope but Chiesa gets his second after the break to settle this. Italy’s 10th goal of the tournament there.
Obviously Sensini takes man of the match.
So, Italy scored with every shot they managed to hit the target with. Food for thought for everybody involved.
And now something completely different.
Ivory Coast vs Poland
Gary needs a win here so has opted for an extra striker and a back 3. Samassi Abou will help.
More of the same for Jakob.
What is going on here. Miss Dynamite Tiehi opens the scoring but Rudy equalises with a message to you. Dembinski restores Poland’s lead but that man Abou levels it up. Dembinski looks to have won it but Bakayoko snatches a late draw. A point helps neither team, really.
Six yellows for Jakob!
37 shots from these two cruiserweights but it’s a draw on the scorecards.
So with one round of games to go, Shales’ Italy have qualified. Ivory Coast can qualify with a win over Argentina whilst Poland need a draw here and a handsome win for themselves.
Ivory Coast vs Argentina
Gary sticks with 3-2-3-2.
Ortega is out injured so Simeone is in. Veron plays as a 10.
Batigol settles those Argetine nerves but Maguy levels. Crespo’s double puts one foot in the last 16 and Simeone settles it. Abou gets his third of the tournament but it’s all in vain.
Gary went no keeper at half time. It was desperate and ultimately fruitless.
Comfortable in the end for the Argentines
This game is basically a dead rubber, with Italy finishing top unless they lose by 3 goals here.
Poland vs Italy
Bit of an adjustment this time by Jakob.
Play on, says Shales.
Chiesa scores a quick double and Poland go down to 10. The deadest of rubbers.
27 shots. 7 on target. Absolutely nothing from Poland.
So in the end the form book wasn’t upset but Gary leaves as the people’s champion having seen 22 goals in his 3 games. Italy and Argentina advance to the last 16
Group D tomorrow will see France, Romania, Denmark and South Africa take the stage, though I am hearing there are some issues in the French camp. More on that tomorrow.