CM9798 World Cup Final: France take on Italy in the World Cup final, featuring the all important 3rd place playoff match

Hello! Welcome to the final update of the CM9798 World Cup. It’s been quite the three weeks, but I am pleased to say the tournament has been mostly a success. I’ll probably get all soppy at the end but in case you don’t make it that far – thank you for giving this whole thing the time of day. Let’s hand out some rosettes.

3rd/4th Place Playoff

I’ve never been happier to have a 3rd/4th place playoff match. A one match update would have been a much shorter affair. It also gives Gilles De Bilde the chance to win the golden boot outright. Nobody wants to share a boot. I’ll make this gag one more time then I’m done – the good thing about this year’s World Cup is that they have agreed that the two losing semi finalists will have to join host Euro 2000. It’s Holland vs Belgium everybody!

Ash Rose is in charge of Holland as you will of course know by now. They ran out of steam somewhat against a rampant host nation but won’t want to lose to neighbours Belgium. With 3rd place on the line, Ash is able to recall Michael Reiziger who served a suspension for the semi final, but has lost the services of Bergkamp who is now serving the same punishment. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is in for him.

Holland tactics

Adam Turner’s Belgium side have been a breath of fresh air, though I do have a strong feeling of hatred for him eliminating my Scotland side. Never mind. He’s opted to change it up again, moving to a 4-2-3-1 with De Bilde looking to add to the 7 goals he has already netted this tournament, including two hat-tricks in the group stages.

Belgium tactics

Oh yes it’s on video. Normal words are below.

As you’d expect this is quite an open fixture with nothing really to defend. 3rd or 4th…nobody really cares. Gilles De Bilde cares an opens the scoring. He really can fix it. Holland miss a few chances where the commentary is all “he must score” and such like but they don’t.

HT stats

As you’d expect there’s better ratings on the Belgian side. It still could all change.

HT ratings

This is basically just a warm up for the final. The final is coming I promise. Anyway, Holland rally and score twice in the space of 3 minutes, firstly Overmars equalises then with Belgium reeling Jimmy smashes in a rebound. What drama here. Michel Preud’homme is not as good as Bodart, is my assessment. It finishes 2-1. Holland are third! Get the bronze medals!

FT stats

A fairly tight game, Belgium didn’t really look in much trouble then Holland snatched it away in a great 3 minute spell.

FT ratings

Always weird when a defender from the opposition gets man of the match but that’s where we are now. A nice open game to warm us up for the final. Thanks to Ash and Adam for their participation, but now there are only two…

World Cup Final – France vs Italy

So here we are then. It all boils down to this. The tournament that started out with me buying 16 kinder eggs and conducting a draw culminates in France hosting Italy. 17 blog posts, well over 20,000 words plus two preview blogs, 16 hopeful humans have become two. It’s @90sfootball vs @fplhints!

France have spread the goals out a bit but top scorer Trezeguet is suspended. Other top scorer Papin is recalled in the only change, as the diamon is retained. Yes, diamonds are forever.

france team

@FPLhints or the Tinkerman as he has become known has meticulously plotted Italy’s route to the final. No stone has been left unturned and in Ravanelli the Chief has found the perfect partner for Roberto Baggio. Baggio has 5 assists, an impressive number, whilst Ravanelli has 7 goals and requires two here to grab a share of the golden boot. A big ask, but the stage is set. Maldini continues in defensive midfield in the absence of Tacchinardi, an issue Michael Marden flagged up in his preview, you may recall. He’s a wise man.

italy tactics

For the final time, the video is below, or you can scroll past it for the text coverage.

France come out on all cylinders in front of a buoyant home crowd. Karembeu hits the bar and it’s a surprisingly open match, but once Italy whether the storm they get a foothold in the match and it’s not long before Ravanelli is wheeling away with his shirt over his head. His 7th of the tournament puts him one behind De Bilde. Chief knows which way his bread is buttered and immediately moves to a back 5. There’s 77,000 in the stadium and most of them are French fans, but there are some worried faces as half time arrives.

HT stats

It’s a pretty even game but Italy have managed to take one of their chances.

HT ratings

Deschamps and Di Matteo doing their best to dominate the midfield and it’s always odd to see a goalscorer on less than a 7. Paddy has seen enough. Djorkaeff is on, Thuram is off. If Italy are going all out defence then France are going all out attack. It’s brave.

It’s a time to be brave. Six minutes into the second half and France are level! Djorkaeff makes an instant impact and Paddy is lauded as a managerial genius. For 3 minutes. The celebrations have barely died down when Roberto Baggio puts Italy back in front. Would you believe it? The man who missed the decisive penalty at World Cup 94 has put Italy in front in the final. You couldn’t write this.

France are trying to find a way back and Deschamps is off and Maurice is on. They are ripe for a counter attack and sure enough on 83 minutes Ravanelli gets the chance to seal it and he does, securing the golden boot in the process. France slump everywhere. Gilles De Bilde puts his head in his hands. It’s a cruel game.

FT scoreboard

This was a very enjoyable final, fairly open and thankfully not drab like the 2010 or 2014 finals which…haven’t happened yet. France fall just short of emulating their real life win, whilst Italy gain some revenge for the penalty shootout defeat they suffered in the quarter finals. It’s complicated comparing in game events to real life so I’ll stop.

FT stats

Deschamps takes man of the match for marshalling the midfield before beign sacrificed for the final 20 minutes, which isn’t surprising. Deschamps of course will lead France this summer, which wraps everything up in a neat little package.

ratings FT

@FPLhints/@CM_hints takes home the trophy – there is a trophy, it just hasn’t arrived yet. Look out on Twitter for that. But what a thoroughly enjoyable final, in some ways, everyone is a winner. But in another, more accurate way, Italy are the winners.

Final Words

I’ll sign off with a few thank you messages. There’s a lot of planning gone into this and I have to thank the 15 lads who gave up their time to pick and manage these teams, putting up with my constant badgering as I desperately tried to get this done to schedule. We have managed and you’ve made a stupid man very happy. So thank you for that.

To Tom and Michael for the brilliant preview pieces, again I am indebted to you both and on the off chance I can ever do anything for either of you please do let me know. I’m also grateful to my good friend Paul for tweeting several posts for me as I nipped off for a holiday mid-tournament, again done out of generosity which I only hope I can replicate for you one day.

Finally, to you, yes YOU reading this now. I don’t get too hung up on views and that sort of thing as you can drive yourself mad but the blog has had record numbers of views over the past 3 weeks and it’s down to all of you reading, re-tweeting, telling your friends – it goes a long way and is enormously gratifying for me as a blogger to see anybody interested in the words I spew onto this page. Thank you all.

The BBC’s World Cup 98 coverage ended with the below. I was going to mash together a load of CM9798 match footage and swap the audio onto it which would have been given me a titter for about a minute, but it would have taken several hours to create due to my drastic lack of skills. So just imagine it.

The blog is taking a break now until after the World Cup. I’ve got loads planned for the new season – guest bloggers old and new, another season (at least) with Waregem before moving on to a new save and all sorts of stuff with other versions of CM. Have a wonderful summer, enjoy the World Cup.




CM9798 World Cup – Day 16: Can hosts France book a spot in the final by defeating Holland? Will it be Italy or surprise package Belgium joining them?

Welcome to the penultimate update of the CM9798 World Cup. I’m welling up as I write this, thinking of all the great memories we’ve made over the past three weeks. On the plus side, you only have to put up with two matches in each of the remaining updates. Small mercies.

Semi-finals baby! (I promise I won’t do that again).

France vs Holland

It is one of life’s mysteries that Holland have never won a World Cup. They have a style of football named after them for goodness sake, that has to be worth something. In the other corner is France, the host nation, who have also never won the World Cup (ignore the real 98 tournament please). Only one of these great nations can advance to the final to have the chance to break that duck, but who? WHO?

@90sfootball (Paddy) has shuffled his pack. He can afford to that with the talent he has at his disposal. With that, Trezeguet, Henry and Diomede all come into the side and at this stage of the tournament they’re fresh, which is perhaps more disconcerting. They have home advantage, too.

France Tactics vs Holland

Ash Rose (Alive & Kicking) has stuck with his favoured 4-4-2 that has done so well for him. Michael Reiziger is banned and without another recognised right back, veteran Ronald Koeman is in at right back. Edgar Davids makes his first start of the tournament replacing the injured Zenden (who himself had replaced the injured Cocu) and Jaap Stam is back from suspension.

holland tactics vs france

Hey look it’s on video! Or my comments are below.



It’s a cagey start where the highlight is Trezeguet getting booked in the first minute, which means he’ll miss the final if France get there. Bergkamp then looked like like he had given Holland the lead only to be denied by a fabulous Barthez save, but sadly that’s as good as it got for Holland. Zidane played Trezeguet through and he finished sublimely past Van der Sar to give France the lead on 28 minutes. Trezeguet then turned provider as he set up future Liverpool flop Bernard Diomede for 2-0, before Van Der Sar spilled a routine Henry effort to allow Christian Karembeu to make it 3-0. Oh my.

ht stats

None of this makes good reading for Holland. Except maybe Clarence Seedorf.

HT ratings

Can Holland salvage anything from this? They need a massive improvement. Paddy withdraws Zidane on the hour mark, clearly feeling the job is done. Holland throw on Hasselbaink to try and find a way back but with the Dutch pushing on, Trezeguet gets in to make it 4-0 and Henry rounds it off with the 5th and final goal. 5-0. The hosts are partying!

FT stats

The fact the stats are only 51% and 49% is a little misleading.

FT ratings

Bernard Diomede getting man of the match in a World Cup semi final? This is what Liverpool thought they were getting.

Final score then and the only question that remains is not “why was this played at Stade Veledrome? but rather who will join them in the final?


Italy vs Belgium

It’s been 4 years since The Divine Ponytail stepped up and blasted his penalty over the bar. Roberto Baggio has been preparing to right this wrong ever since (probably) and now he stands one game away from doing just that. Belgium meanwhile have been the surprise package of the tournament, cast in the role of Croatia from the real life tournament they find themselves on the cusp of a World Cup final. Gilles De Bilde is joint top of the golden boot chart having netted 7 times and he will hold the key to success if Belgium are to better their 4th placed finish from 1986. I mean even if they lose they could still do that. Sigh. We nearly got through a whole introduction in a serious manner there.

@FPLhints aka the Tinkerman can welcome back Christian Panucci but with Tacchinardi’s tournament over, there’s a gap to fill in defensive midfield. Paolo Maldini has been given the nod in that role, vacating his defensive position but he’s more than capable. He could play anywhere probably. He even played tennis last year, what a lad.

Italy tactics vs belgium

Belgium are managed by Adam Turner, the real hero who showed me how to make this whole thing happen. He’s worked wonders with Belgium and, much like he did against Germany, has opted to change the shape to nullify the Italian threat. It might work.

Belgium tactics vs Italy

Video! You know the rest


Belgium might have tried to park the bus but it’s more of an open top bus in the early stages, with Italy finding gaps with relative ease. Eventually, the pressure tells and Italy take the lead through Roberto Baggio, who moves a step closer to putting right the wrongs of 1994. Belgium, like a boxer on the ropes, are hanging in for the bell. They reach 45 minutes but before the referee can blow, Ravanelli makes it 2-0. His 6th of the tournament is very probably a critical blow for Belgian hopes.

HT stats

A bit one sided. We’ve seen nothing from Belgium in an attacking sense, so Adam changes things up. Grun’s off, Mpenza is on. It’s 4-4-2 diamond. It’s serious business.

HT ratings

It makes no difference. A dull second half sees Belgium manage a singular off target shot, whilst Italy hit the target a further three times but can’t increase their lead. It’s a shame for Belgium, they’ve won a lot of fans in this tournament. But the 1998 final will be a prequel of the 2006 final. Yes, that’s a thing.

ft stats

Bodart has had a wonderful tournament but even his brilliance here couldn’t save Belgium. They will have a chance to play for 3rd place – and remember, the rule this year is that the contestants of the 3rd/4th place match must co-host Euro 2000. How handy.

FT ratings

The stage is set…

WC final

That’s Wednesday 13th June to you and I. That’s also when the 3rd/4th place match will be. Making memories. See you there!

Golden Boot

The race for the golden boot is almost run:

De Bilde – 7
Ronaldo – 7
Ravanelli – 6
Rozental – 5
Shearer – 5
Bergkamp – 5


CM9798 World Cup – Day 15: Four great quarter final matches including Brazil vs France & Spain vs Italy

We started with 32 and now a little over two weeks later we are left with 8. Things are getting serious. In this post we’ll half that number again and be left with our final 4. A World Cup is considerably swifter when you get all the games done in one day.

Let’s see that last 8 draw again so we know what we are dealing with.

Last 8 Draw

Stories, stories everywhere. A real life final re-match, Holland looking for Euro 96 revenge, two titans clashing and…Scotland vs Belgium. All four games are recorded for your viewing pleasure so let’s crack straight on with that World Cup 98 final.

France vs Brazil

I guess in this alternative universe, the final hasn’t ever happened. Zidane is still waiting to really make his mark and Ronaldo hasn’t been left out of the lineup only to be reinstated. That was chaotic.

There is at least one similarity and that is the whereabouts of Ronaldo. Sadly for Brazil manager Mark Carruthers, “O FenĂ´meno” has torn his calf and will miss the rest of the tournament. Whether that equates to one game or three is about to be seen. Edmundo is in and Leonardo is back from a suspension. It’s still a strong side.

brazil tactics vs france

Paddy aka @90sfootball has sent in his teamsheet. What lovely handwriting. Honestly, that’s exceptional calligraphy.

France teamsheet

The hedline here is that Florian Maurice gets the nod to start but it’s a change of shape, with Deschamps and Vieira both starting. Whether it’ll be enough to nullify Brazil remains to be seen

France tactics vs Brazil

Here it is on video anyway, or there’s some wording below.

France have set up to contain Brazil and I guess in a way it has worked, as it’s 0-0 at half time. But it’s not for lack of trying. Barthez makes 4 decent saves and Edmundo hits the underside of the bar. France haven’t managed a shot. The Stade de France crowd are worried.

france brazil HT stats

Barthez and oddly Aldair getting the ratings praise. On we go…

france brazil ht ratings

Paddy brings on Papin for Vieira and goes back to the formation that got them this far, basically a 4-3-2-1. Angloma heads over from a corner to ironic cheers. Brazil are actually less fluid for some reason and they manage two efforts very late in the day but one of the least eventful halfs in World Cup history comes to a close. It’s 0-0. It’s sudden death

france brazil FT stats

Not much extra to report. Barthez kept France in it and has done well when called upon, but they’ve only mustered one shot in 90 minutes. At home.

france brazil FT ratings

Both sides make changes, with Elber on for Edmundo and Trezeguet replacing Maurice.

Obviously, straight from the restart France win a penalty for a handball. Zidane scores with France’s only shot on target and that’s that. Robbery!

Brazil France scoreboard


france brazil AET ratings

Barthez rightly takes man of the match. Incidentally if you watched the video and wondered why there was 3 minutes of nothing at the end, I forgot to stop the recording whilst I consoled Mark. Yes I could have edited it but here we are.

france brazil AET stats

France have sort of muddled their way to the last 4 now. They have more gears to go through. I think. But who will they face in the last 4?

Holland vs England

Some people call this the greatest England performance of the modern era. Those people did not see a 5-1 win in Germany. Either way, it lit up one of the best English summers and we did smash the tits off Holland, nobody can deny that.

Looking to stop a repeat of that is Ash Rose. You must have come to know who Ash is by now but if not I’ll just leave a series of clues. With his Simple Mind, Ash has opted for a 4-4-2 to keep his tournament Alive & Kicking. With Cocu injured, Ash has gone for the left field choice of left forward Bolo Zenden in centre midfield. It might work.

Holland formation

In the role of Terry Venables (yes I’m sticking with the Euro 96 thing) is Dan Barker. He’s played 4-3-1-2 throughout and has little reason to change. Teddy keeps his place with Owen injured.

England tactics

Video time again!

All I can assume from this is that Holland are really mad. They come flying out of the blocks and England are like rabbits in the headlights. Bergkamp makes it 1-0 after just 9 minutes, his 5th of the tournament. Overmars makes it 2 six minutes later. England have that sinking feeling. There’s a definite hole in the boat as Kluivert makes it 3-0 before the break. Bloody hell.

holland england HT stats

Those England ratings…

england holland HT ratings

Can England salvage anything from this? Even some pride? Not really. One shot on target in a drab second half. Zenden departs injured in the one piece of bad news for the Oranje

holland england FT stats

Err Franck Verlaat takes man of the match. Reiziger’s yellow means he’ll miss the semi final. All the blame seems to be on Dave Seaman. No doubt he’s still laughing about it.

holland england FT ratings

Let’s see the result confirmation.


That’s one semi-final complete, but what about the other half of the draw?

Scotland vs Belgium

There’s been a lot of conspiracy theorists (mostly Chris Darwen) who think I’ve swindled the draw by giving Scotland the easy ties. Bitterness is an awful trait. I have to admit though, the draw has really worked out for us. Don’t hate us for it, we had an average group which still needed winning and who really expected China to knock out Morocco and USA in Group B? Meanwhile Belgium have seen off Germany, among others, so this is all a big surprise for everybody.

I do fear for our participation from this day on though. Matt Elliott is out injured, which might not seem a big deal but he’s been a rock. Duncan Jupp is in for him. Neil Sullivan is now my undisputed number 1 because Andy Goram keeps getting injured. 1977 World Snooker champion John Spencer is banned, so Scott Booth gets the nod. He plays for Dortmund, so he must be good.

scotland tactics vs belgium

Adam Turner has done a great job with this Belgium team, he’s got the best out of what is already a decent bunch. De Bilde is sharing the golden boot with Ronaldo at the moment and seeing as he is quicker than all of my centre halves combined he’ll fancy his chances of taking an outright lead in that race.

Belgium Formation vs Scotland

The third video of the day…

De Bilde is wired and he tests Sullivan twice in the opening 10 minutes. No matter. The Belgian pressure eventually tells though as Sullivan makes an error from a corner and Oliveira smashes home. Boo. Not to worry though, minutes later Colin Hendry hits the bar and Kevin Gallacher is on hand to equalise. My celebrations are cut short by the referee, who’s decided there was a foul. Half time, Belgium lead.

scotland belgium ht stats

Belgium have been organised across the park and Scotland have been second best.

scotland belgium HT ratings

Big Dunc is on. We only have 45 minutes to sort this out so go and sort it out Dunc. We are better but not brilliant, so on 63 minutes it’s time for Gordon Durie. It’s not pretty but we’re throwing the kitchen sink at it. For the last 5 minutes we leave just one at the back and three cente forwards. Durie forces a save. Ferguson heads wide. It’s over. Belgium advance, Scotland ask Del Amitri if it is too soon to come home.

scotland belgium FT stats

Neil Sullivan takes man of the match for making 3 saves and making the mistake that lead to the goal. Football is stupid.

scotland belgium FT ratings

Well done to Belgium though, their party goes on. They will be underdogs against whoever wins the final quarter final but I don’t think that will bother them

scotland belgium scoreboard

One to go.

Spain vs Italy

Tom Reed’s Spain have made quiet progress so far. They won Group E with little fanfare then came through the toughest last 16 tie to knock out Argentina. The short times between games is starting to take effect though and Alfonso is not able to start this one, but he is on the bench.

Spain Tactics

FPLChief/CM_Hints is one of the most meticulous managers we have in the competition. He prepares for every game very thoroughly and as you’ll see in the video, he loves a tinker. He’s opted here to put Robero Baggio in the number 10 role in a slightly more conservative formation but will it work?

Italy tactics

Here it is. Remember, the Chief is meticulous and I am too lazy to edit. So…

So, this wasn’t great. Spain barely got going whilst Italy missed a lot. The ratings say it all

spain italy HT ratings


spain italy HT stats

The second half was only mildly better. Spain did at least have two shots, though neither were on target. Italy managed to work the goalkeeper, eventually, but this was always destined for extra time.

spain italy FT stats

The Tacchinardi injury caused mass re-shuffles for Italy who briefly deployed a sweeper. The ratigns are still rubbish. Except Nesta, who’s having the time of his life.

spain italy FT ratings

Extra time is sudden death. But then, a shining beacon of grey light – Ravanelli scores! It’s over. Italy will play Belgium in the last 4 and it will be hard pushed to be worse than this

italy spain scoreboard

No doubt Italy deserved the win, though it was like next goal wins in the playground during extra time. Which I guess is where Golden Goal was derived from.

spain italy AET stats

Nesta takes home man of the match for not giving Spain a sniff. They really missed the suspended Luis Enrique, truth be told. Tacchinardi’s tournament is over.

spain italy AET ratings

So there you have it. All 4 of our remaining teams will play two more matches, but nobody wants to play for 3rd.

SF draw

I’ll have those ties for you on Sunday, so until then, take it easy and remember to be back here for more fun. Bye for now!




CM9798 World Cup – Day 14: Spain vs Argentina takes centre stage plus Italy face Republic of Ireland

Welcome back! It’s hot and cold in terms of content at the moment and today is the second day of a rather warm spell. Yesterday we saw the first four last 16 ties take place, so you’ve guessed it – today we’ll see the remaining four. That’s everything from Spain vs Argentina down on the below graphic.

Last 16 draw

Admittedly, that would work better if it filled in the results as they were played. Let’s cut some corners. Who will join Brazil, France, Holland and England in the last 8? (Nailed it)

Spain vs Argentina

I’m excited for this. It’s the game of the day without doubt, in fact it’s probably the tie of the round. Tom Reed’s reward for having a fairly simple group (where he was the only human competitor) was always going to be England or Argentina and it just so happens Chris hasn’t got Argentina firing on all cylinders in the group stages. But now he’s realised Ortega is a good bet.

Tom has a strong team to choose from and was able to rotate the squad in the final group game, so he’s somewhat spoilt for choice.

Spain tactics vs Argies

Chris is missing Inter Milan pair Simeone and Zanetti to suspension so Veron is in whilst Pochettino retains his place as Chamot is shifted to right back. This is going to be a high quality game. I bet Maradona is wired.

argentina tactics vs spain

As with yesterday, all the games have been recorded but my unique brand of summary is below

Spain are out of the blocks the quicker and they take the lead thanks to the most expensive man in the game Alfonso who heads in from a corner. Solid start. It’s a bit tight with both teams cancelling each other out but Argentina finally stir shortly after the half hour. Ortega’s shot rattles the woodwork bur Parma man Crespo is on hand to turn in the rebound. 1-1, game on, half time. Game on pause.

spain argentina HT stats

Bit rough on Toni Prats. Was it really his fault?

spain argentina HT ratings

On we go then. Spain lose captain Alkorta to an injury but they are very much on top. Argentina introduce Balbo for Ortega and just seconds later they take the lead, Maradona feeds Crespo who is denied by Prats but Batistuta is there to give his side the lead. The game is wide open now, almost resembling a basketball match as both teams go looking for another goal. It’s Spain who get it though, Luis Enrique on hand to score after Roa spills a shot. Extra time it is…

spain argentina FT stats

Spain have slightly edged it but the more of this the better. Every World Cup has a dramatic game like this.

spain argentina FT ratings

Can either side find a winner or will it be penalties? Well, actually, yes. Straight away. Alfonso nips through one on one, rounds Roa and books Spain into the last 8. What a night.

spain 3 - 2 argentina

Kiko takes man of the match. I should also point out that Sergi’s tournament is over.

spain argentina AET ratings

Only one more shot in extra tine. It went in.

spain argentina AET stats

Phew. An incredible game and really all I can say is good luck to those following that.

Italy vs Eire

When did we stop calling Republic of Ireland “Eire”. It was so much easier to type Eire.

Italy are managed by @FPLHints (Or CM_Hints if you prefer a CM account) and the man we know as Chief has brought a unique brand of attacking style the likes of which Italy have rarely seen. There’s no playing for 1-0 here. 4 goal Ravanelli is banned, as is Panucci, so there’s a bit of a shuffle with Vieri the headline team news.

Italy tactics vs Eire

Rob Tait’s Eire got the miracle they needed in the last round of group games and have had more success in a 4-2-3-1. You know you’ll get 100% effort from this lot it’s just whether they can get the goals. Alan Moore is in for the banned Kennedy.

Eire tactics vs Italy

Video time!

It takes only 8 minutes for Italy to make their mark, Vieri is in behind the defence and Shay Given is slightly late on Vieri. It’s a penalty and Del Piero converts it, as you’d expect. That’s not a fear to Ireland though who take tough situations as a personal challenge. Collectively I mean. What I’m trying to say is that Roy Keane heads them level from a corner and that’s how we go into half time.

italy eire HT stats

The two captains leading by example.

italy eire HT ratings

The second half starts in a similar manner to the first. Roberto Baggio feeds Christian Vieri who dinks it over the advancing Given and Ireland have it all to do again. Can they? No, they can’t. Italy do a good job of shutting them out, shocker, and that’s that.

italy eire FT stats

Stunning display from Roberto Baggio who moves another game closer to putting right the wrongs of 94.

italy eire FT ratings

Final confirmation then:

italy eire FT scoreboard

Italy vs Spain in the last 8. Sign me up.

Belgium vs Norway

I tipped Norway as a dark horse before the tournament whilst Belgium won all three of their group games to really get people talking. This could be a breakthrough tournament for these nations. Ignore Belgium’s 4th place in 1986. This is what it’s all about.

Adam Turner has struck gold with this formation. Gilles De Bilde lead the race for the golden boot after his two hat-tricks in the group stage, but Ronaldo’s burst of 4 goals against Chile has put him in the lead. His tournament is over though and Gilles leads the line here, so you never know.

Belgium team vs Norway

KingoftheRooks took a gamble leaving the likes of Solskjaer and Tore Andre Flo at home but they’ve made it out of a tricky group and they’re capable of beating anyone on their day. Will that day be today?

norway tactics vs belgium

Video may have killed the radio star but we’re not worried about that yet. Text is alive and well below.

Norway made the better start but found Belgium captain Bodart in great form between the sticks. Typically, Belgium were able to score with their first shot on target as future manager Marc Wilmots powered in from a knockdown to give his side a 1-0 half time lead.

belgium norway HT stats

It wasn’t necessarily deserved on the balance of play but still plenty of time for more goals.

belgium norway HT ratings

Norway had a few more big chances but poor finishing and Bodart brilliance kept it just 1-0. Norway rather blew themselves out and De Bilde was able to seal the victory with his 7th of the tournament. No fuss, but Belgium look solid all over.

belgium norway scoreboard

Norway created by far the more chances but found a goalkeeper in great form. Belgium were clinical.

belgium norway ft stats

Wilmots takes home man of the match whilst Erik Nevland made no impact whatsoever.

belgium norway FT ratings

That’s 7 of the last 8 sorted out, but who will be the final team?

Scotland vs China

Not many would have predicted this. China edged out USA and Morocco to get this far whilst Scotland topped a group at the expense of Russia and Nigeria. Oh and Jamaica. Hardly football’s top table but such is the draw, one of these nations will make a maiden quarter final. This is already further than either team have ever got, so there’s that.

Scotland are of course my team in this tournament and I’ve largely been able to stick with a settled side, but John Collins is suspended. Young Martin Lauchlan is in, purely because he has by far the highest creativity stat of my midfielders available.

Scotland tactics vs China

Somebody asked me why I don’t have Gary McAllister on pens – look, you don’t know where Uri Geller is. The obvious conclusion on that faithful day at Euro 96 is that Uri was helping England – how do you know he doesn’t just hate Gary Mc? I’m not willing to take the chance. China are the last computer controlled nation standing. Yer Ma’s up front.

China tactics vs SCotland

Last video of the day

I don’t know if you can really have a favourite here but Kevin Gallacher scores after 8 minutes to settle us down and it’s a cakewalk from there. It’s not all good news. Man of the tournament Matt Elliott gets a knock and Duncan Jupp is on in his place. He scores from a corner shortly thereafter. We are a threat on set pieces, that’s definitely our thing.

scotland china HT ratings

One of our better halves. Belgium, we’re coming for you.

scotland china HT stats

We need an early third goal and we get it. Gallacher is the main man and he’s on a hat-trick now. Hopkin adds a 4th and everything is great. Except John Spencer, who picks up a yellow card and will miss the next game. Big Dunc is readying himself.

scotland china FT ratings

Four games played and only one conceded. We’re functional if nothing else.

scotland china scoreboard

Heavy. Easy. Scotland in the last 8!

scotland china FT stats

Let’s take a look at that draw. Every team in yellow is a relief, was dreading having to give the trophy to the computer.

Last 8 Draw

Sticking with the “4 games an update” theme I’ll be back on Friday with the last 8. It’s serious business time now, unless you’re Scotland. We’re off on the piss. See you in a few days!


CM9798 World Cup – Day 13: Four last 16 ties including France vs Russia and Holland vs Romania

Day 13, unlucky for some but now that we’ve reached the knockout stages, we’ll be waving goodbye to four more teams today as we try to wittle our last 16 down. For those in need of the maths help on that, we’ll see four last 16 games today and the other four tomorrow. We’ll be focusing on the top half of the draw, but let’s take a look at that draw to remind ourselves:

Last 16 draw

The good news is, if you can call it good news, every knockout stage game is being recorded. I’ve found some free software called FlashBack Express – I don’t work for them so if you try it and it’s crap, it’s not my idea. It’s just an easy way to record your screen. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

Brazil vs Chile

Chile have been dealt a rough hand here. After their last gasp qualification, their reward is not only a clash with Brazil but only two days of rest. It makes the scheduling all the more odd, given that Group H was being pushed forward for no reason in the early rounds of group matches…gah. I’ll never understand.

Mark Carruthers, non-league mogul by day, Brazil manager by night, is only missing the suspended Leonardo. When Mauro Silva is his replacement, you’ll probably be ok. It’s a strong team that will take some beating.

brazil tactics vs chile

Chile, under the guidance of out 20 year champ Dan Williamson (@winkveron) had the world gripped by their last minute qualification. As somebody really hoping the game generates something interesting to talk about, the final minute of the final group game suited me just fine. If they can pull this one off, it’ll be the greatest miracle of all.

chile tactics vs brazil

Here it is in video form, scroll down for a slower dissection of events.

If there was one thing Chile didn’t need, it was for their already overworked goalkeeper to get injured in the first minute. His 39 year old replacement is not up to much, plus you’ve got to remember that Tapia, the original number one, broke a pelvis before a ball was kicked. We’re down to the third choice and he gets battered. Ronaldo scores a minute later before completing a first half hat-trick on 31 minutes. Oh and a fourth on 39. That’s it really. The job is done.

brazil chile HT stats

Chile couldn’t gain a foothold as Ronaldo runs riot. There’s some sorry ratings on the Chile side. Brazil on the other hand, couldn’t be happier.

brazil chile HT ratings

That is until one minute into the second half. Ronaldo is down. He looks in pain. He’s signalling to the bench. Edmundo replaces him and scores a 5th but this is like Neymar going off against Colombia (in the future, yes. Insert ‘what year is it’ gif here) but at least Sonny Anderson is here. He doesn’t score. It finishes 5-0.

brazil chile FT stats

That’s er, an odd choice of man of the match really given one player scored four goals and left on a stretcher. Nike will have a word. He’ll be back.

brazil chile FT ratings

Here’s how it finished, stats fans:

brazil chile scoreboard

Ronaldo has a torn calf and will miss the rest of the tournament. Wow.

That’s potentially good news for hosts France…or Russia.

France vs Russia

Paddy’s (or @90sfootball if your prefer) reward for topping Group B is a meeting with one of three computer managed side left in the draw. Russia lost to Jamaica last time out and drew 0-0 with Scotland. How do these things happen?

Paddy’s had the pen and paper out again

France Russia scribbles

Flattery will get you everywhere, though there is little I can do in truth. I’ll just set them up as Paddy instructs. Djorkaeff is given his chance to shine whilst Vieira is in for the suspended Deschamps.

france tactics vs russia

Russia are playing this bloody counter attack formation which is as restricting as it is dull. No wonder they couldn’t beat Jamaica or Scotland.

russia team vs france

Video time. Do enjoy.

For those who prefer the written word, I hope you are familiar with the phrase “putting lipstick on a pig.” Because this was desperate.

Not necessarily from France mind you. They had a good go but their finishing let them down whilst Russia just sat in their own half, soaking up wave after wave of French attacks. They made it to half time without having a shot but only having to actually save one of France’s efforts.

france russia HT stats

Emmanuel Petit picked up a knock and it seemed unnecessary to rest him with Benarbia available and Russia not coming out to play.

france russia HT ratings

The second half however…1 shot. ONE. If you’ve watched the video, please forgive me.

france russia FT stats

The only plus for France is that they managed to injure three of Russia’s team, plus one sub, so Russia are down to 10. With this looking awfully reminiscent of France vs Paraguay in the real life tournament, it’s time for golden goal extra time. Shout out to Valeri Karpin by the way, seemingly the pig with the lipstick if you’re following that metaphor.

france russia FT ratings

Anyway, France introduced Papin and a sense of urgency to get this shit sorted out and with a couple of shots on target the crowd stirred. The clock ticked around to 119 minutes. Trezeguet, a 63rd minute sub, latched on to the ball and slipped a pass in to Papin. He might be ageing but he knows how to finish. I’ve never been so relieved to see that flashing blue text. France are through, Laurent Blanc has an out of body experience that this has already happened in his life and Russia depart without a shot on goal. Honestly.

france russia AET stats

Good grief. Ovtchinikov got man of the match against Scotland but he gets it here for making 3 saves. What a time to be alive.

france russia AET ratings

As a neutral, I’m quite pleased to bring you France vs Brazil in the quarters.

france russia scoreboard

Phew. Two more to come and our next game is probably the hardest to call on paper.

Holland vs Romania

Romania didn’t win their group but they thrashed two teams and lost to Italy. No shame in that, they racked up 10 goals and will be a handful for any team. We all know how good the Dutch can be but we also know they are prone to a lapse every now and again, so they can’t afford that here.

One such lapse came against Ireland last time out. Holland still topped the group and it would have taken a remarkable set of results for them not to, but it was still an alarming result. Ash Rose, 90s connoisseur and host of Alive & Kicking 90s Podcast, has kept a cool head through all this playing a no frills 4-4-2 and letting Bergkamp and Kluivert do the talking. Bogarde is in for the banned Stam, who you may remember did a whoops against Ireland.

Holland Tactics vs Romania

Romania are managed by @CorinthiandHead who you may recall is MK who blogged his Brighton save for me last year. He’s struck gold with this formation that has freed Hagi and generally caused utter carnage. Except against Italy.

Romania tactics vs Holland

I’m on a roll with the videos, though as ever I’ve written stuff below.

It’s a decent game, both sides not holding back which is a ruddy relief after the Russia debacle. It’s Romania who take the lead though, Prodan being left unmarked from a free kick to strike just after the half hour. It’s tight and it sets up the second half nicely.

holland romania ht stats

Cocu’s at Man Utd so his injury is probably a greater deal than I give it credit for. Aaron Winter is on, he’s barely been involved.

holland romania HT ratings

Holland keep plugging away but Romania are still looking for that killer second goal. Bergkamp hits the post, Ilie misses a wonderful chance from a rebound. Ash throws Hasselbaink on with 5 minutes to go and there’s just Blind at the back. It’s stoppage time and just when you think you’ve seen it all, Kluivert feeds Bergkamp who scores and forces extra time. MK can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. The Dutch look chilled.

holland romania ft stats

There’s barely a cigarette paper between these two though the timing of the goal will be a kick in the tits for MK. An urgent reshuffle from Ash to stop Holland playing quite so many up front

holland romania FT ratings

Straight after the restart, Papura stops Hasselbaink’s march towards goal with his hand. Penalty and a red card. Kluivert converts and this is over very abruptly. Wow.

holland romania scoreboard

I think I’ve played this too much or I’m overtired, as I felt genuine sympathy for MK. Follow him @CorinthianHead to cheer him up. Ridiculous scenes but Holland go through to the last 8.

holland romania AET ratings

I guess they probably edged it on stats but it’s a cruel way to lose. Golden goal is not missed.

holland romania stats AET

Who will the Dutch face?

England vs Japan

Dan Barker’s reward for England getting the better of Argentina in the group stage is a meeting with Japan, leaving Argentina to battle Spain tomorrow. Dan will fancy his chances here of setting up a memorable Euro 96 re-match. More of the same from Dan, with McManaman back in the fold after his ban. Michael Owen is injured (shocker).

England tactics vs Japan

It is refreshing for a computer team to play 4-4-2 rather than that silly counter attack bollocks. Remember, most of Japan’s squad is made up of fictional players.

Japan tactics vs England

Last video of the day…

It was going quite serenely for Dan and the expectant English, no doubt singing Vindaloo. Shearer gave his side the lead but the easy win never followed – it never does with England – and Japan took control of the tie and deservedly equalised just before half time.

england japan HT stats

Is a shock on the cards? Is it even a shock?

england japan HT ratings

Paul Scholes has no time for this. He puts England ahead and it proves to be the winner. England are in the last 8 – let the hyperbole commence.

England Japan Scoreboard

Just about deserved in the end but both shots on target were the only goals. Work to be done I think.

England Japan FT stats

At least Teddy proved to be an able replacement for Owen. England will hope Shearer and Sheringham can put Holland to the sword as they did in Euro 96.

England Japan FT ratings

With that, this mega update comes to an end. The problem is 2 games wouldn’t be enough so it’s 4 games I’m afraid. I’ll be back tomorrow with the next 4, including Spain vs Argentina and Italy vs Republic of Ireland. I’m off to prepare Scotland to face China. Bye for now!


CM9798 World Cup – Day 12: Dramatic end to group stages but will Germany survive judgment day?

If you missed day 11, you can catch up here

We’ve made it. The 12th and final day of the group stages is probably our most dramatic yet, with both groups in the balance and a shock looks on the cards – yep, Scotland might make it to the knockouts! We’ll face Nigeria to see if we can make the dream a reality, but the big story is in group H. All four teams are in the mix and Germany need a result against Belgium to avoid being our biggest casualty so far. More on that later, Scotland and Nigeria are cast in the role of warmup act today.

Group G

I’ve spent so much time with Scotland recently on this blog I guess it was inevitable I would get them in the World Cup. I’ve grown to tolerate them. A draw here will see us through but then it’d be a clash with France, and a probable exit. Top of the group means a date with China, which I’d rather fancy us to win. Even Scotland. Let’s go for broke.

scotland tactics vs nigeria

Nigeria were unlucky against Russia and thrashed Jamaica. They’ll go on the attack here and I live in fear of Ikpeba. Nigeria do need to win though, they can’t rely on Russia losing to Jamaica as it’s just not going to happen.

nigeria tactics vs scotland

A big game needs big coverage. Failing that, here’s a Youtube video. Usual text is below it.

Former World Snooker Champ John Spencer (I’ll use that joke forever if needs be) has not eactly fired so far in this tournament but I’ll always be grateful for him opening the scoring on 11 minutes. It’s a fairly tight first half aside from that. The two goalkeepers in this match have a combined age of over 70, so I didn’t expect a 0-0.

nigeria scotland HT stats

We’ve been filthy. John Collins will miss any next round game we have. Big Vic has been poor for Nigeria.

Nigeria scotland HT ratings

The second half starts with Goram cutting his hand and I decide to sub him. Neil Sullivan will be ok…I hope. The chaos factor that is Big Dunc arrives on 63 minutes and it takes him three minutes to make his mark, flicking on for Gallacher and then tucking in the rebound when the Blackburn man hits the post. Great days. Sullivan pulls off a quadruple save but Kanu reduces the arrears a few mintues later. But just as we’re getting squeaky bums, Spencer snookers Nigeria by adding a third after Rufai denied Ferguson. We’re through.

nigeria 1 - 3 scotland

We perhaps didnt’t deserve it but as the old proverb goes, some teams have John Spencer and some don’t.

nigeria scotland FT stats

Matt Elliott, never leave me.

nigeria scotland FT ratings

Sadly that is it for Nigeria, but to keep everything in line, here’s Russia vs Jamaica.

russia 0 - 1 jamaica

Wut. I didn’t see that coming. Turns out a draw would have been enough for Nigeria. Sorry Matt. The top scorers in the group are heading home.

table 3 games

Russia will play France next, so it’s not all fun and games.

Last group!

Group H

Group H 2 games

As a neutral looking for a good story to write about, this group ticks many boxes. All four teams can qualify, and yes Chile need a miracle but any multi-horse race is welcome here.

We’ll start with Germany vs Belgium. Germany need a win but there’s a mind boggling scenario where they could win 1-0 and still go out. It’s one of those types of groups where if I could play both game simultaneously I would. I mean I could even pretend I did but that doesn’t fit with the format but whatever. Belgium will take a point to guarantee qualification and top spot.

Ross has his boy Hassler back. To celebrate, he’s had the pen and paper out.

Germany vs Belgium scribbles

This? I think?

Germany tactics vs belgium

Adam decides to park the bus a bit, adding a sweeper and a holding midfielder. Two up front though, so it’s not a total shithouse job.

belgium tactics vs germany

Two TV games in one post, what days. Text below.

If people weren’t taking Belgium seriously as a contender maybe they will now. We asked the question last time of Gilles De Bilde. Can he fix it? Yes he can. He gave his side a 34th minute lead which left Germany needing to summon a performance they haven’t seemed likely to produce all tournament. It was a pretty close half, really, but De Bilde’s goal put a different complexion on it.

germany belgium HT stats

A big half time team talk needed from Herr Bell, which no doubt the Sun or some other rag will run as it’s headline if the worst happens here.

germany belgium HT ratings

Germany did have a go, I’ll give them that. But Belgium are like a robot. They’re programmed to score goals and win. There’s something quite…German about them. De Bilde adds a second to kill off German hopes and then rattles in a free kick in the 85th minute to complete a hat-trick. That’s his second of the tournament, puttinh him ahead in the golden boot race and putting Germany on the brink.

germany belgium FT stats

Score a hat trick, give man of the match to the left back. Might take some explaining.

germany belgium FT ratings

In real life the German side went past it’s sell by date in a heavy defeat to Croatia, there were shades of that here. Poor Ross.

germany 0 - 3 belgium

A 3-0 defeat for Germany means that Mexico will qualify with a draw. Remarkably, it opens the door for Chile, who now just need to win by 2 clear goals. As ever, Dan sticks with 3-4-3, looking for goals.

chile tactics vs mexico

Mexico are feeling quite frisky. Hungry for goals.

mexico tactics vs chile

Let me just say, I wish I had recorded this. Mexico scored after just a minute, good old Carlos Hastings. Not to worry though, Seb Rozental equalised just two minutes later. Back in the balance. Zamorano plundered one in on 29 minutes, a reet thunderbastard that gave Chile a sniff of qualification. Rozental added two more before half time, completing a remarkable hat-trick and giving Chile a 4-1 lead. Bloody hell.

mexico chile HT stats

Basically, Rozental has played mint and everyone else hasn’t. He’s on the verge of being a national hero.

Mexico Chile HT

Mexico weren’t going to lie down though. Well they did for about half an hour but it was just an act. Espinosa got one back on 74 before sub Goodridge made it 4-3 on 81 minutes. Uh oh. That would be enough to send Mexico through by a goal. Goodridge then scored again, but as Dan slumped over the hoardings like Kevin Keegan at Anfield, the linesman’s flag meant it remained 4-3. Still in the balance. Chile threw on Vega as an attacking midfielder for a centre half and, with the very last kick of a sensational match, Vega slipped Salas in behind the defence and the Lazio man sealed a 5-3 win and Chile’s spot in the last 16. WHY DID I NOT RECORD THIS?

mexico 3 - 5 chile

Bloody hell. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

mexico chile stats

Fold the cup. I can’t believe what I just witnessed.

mexico 3 - 5 chile ratings

Remarkable confirmation then that Belgium and Chile advance. Germany and Mexico are both eliminated on goals scored.

3 games

All out attack always win. Well, I say that. It’s Brazil next and such is the stupid scheduling, it’s in two days.

Here’s the last 16 draw:

Last 16 draw

So then, who is your winner now? 13 humans out of 16 make it through, I like those odds.

I’ll be back on Tuesday with the first FOUR of those games, with the next four to follow on Wednesday. The quarter finals will be next Friday and the semi-finals a week today, leaving the CM9798 World Cup final to be Wednesday 13th June. Phew. See you in a few days, thanks for reading.

CM9798 World Cup – Day 11: Romania look to join Italy in last 16; Spain need draw to secure top spot

Well look who it is. Thanks for heading back to our little World Cup, we’re reached the penultimate day of group matches and we’re just 4 teams shy of knowing our last 16. Strictly speaking we know Spain are one of those 16 so they’ll go looking for the point they need to lock down top spot and a clash with Argentina, whilst Italy and Romania will be looking to secure their places in the last 16. Let’s Spain first.

Group E

table 2 games

With Spain guaranteed to be in the hat for the last 16, Tom has taken this opportunity to rotate the squad. There’s enough talent in this Spain side to say it isn’t really a second eleven, just 11 who didn’t make the starting lineup. First or second it’s Argentina or England in the next round, which isn’t great news but what can you do?

Spain tactics vs Cameroon

Cameroon are in the mathematical miracle camp so to celebrate, it’s everyone behind the ball. How silly.

cameroon tactics vs spain

Whatever Cameroon want to do, it doesn’t work. I mean, it sort of does, for 22 minutes, then three goals in 7 minutes mean it is party time in Spain and time to pack your bags if you’re Cameroon. Morientes, Pizzi and Raul with the goals – like I said, not bad for a “second team.” Cameroon don’t manage a single shot.

spain cameroon ht stats

Solid ratings for Tom and the boys. Do you rest the second string? Probably not.

spain cameroon HT ratings

Pizzi makes it 4 straight after half time, the sort of punctuality that will later land him the Saudi Arabia job for the 2018 World Cup. Captain Solozabal then gets sent off for a ludicrous tackle which ends today’s fun. Cameroon also have a man sent off at the death for a deliberate handball.

spain cameroon scoreboard

Easy times for Spain then, they’ll top the group. Morientes takes man of the match.

spain cameroon FT ratings

Some stats for the fun of it

spain cameroon FT stats

Japan and Sweden were going head to head to determine who would join Spain. Japan only needed a draw but they won a filthy game and will advance to face England.

sweden 0 - 2 japan

That final table

group E final

Spain become the third team to advance with a 100% record and as they are on the other side of the draw to the other 2, they’re coming up on the inside as a favourite to win the tournament. Whisper it quietly, Spain still frighten easily in the 90s.

Group F

Group F 2 games

Over in Group F, we have the ridiculous situation where two teams have yet to score but could still go through. Paraguay can, technically, quality with a big win over Italy but that seems less likely. Romania vs Yugoslavia is the focus of my attention here, so much so it is our featured game.

@CorinthianHead (MK) sticks with the tried and trusted formation that thrashed Paraguay but was less good against the mighty Italy. Watch that Hagi go.

romania tactics vs yugoslavia

Yugoslavia frustrated Italy with a 0-0 draw what feels like months ago but was at worst a week ago, then drew 0-0 with Paraguay. Go on lads, play something more adventurous. No?

yugoslavia tactics vs romania

Not even Savo Milosevic. Here’s the game in video, text below as ever.

I do like the way Romania play, they get the best out of Hagi in this formation and that can only be a good thing. It all goes wrong for Yugoslavia pretty early on, main man Hagi is tripped by the keeper Milojevic and with the red card out, it’s time for Sasa Ilic of Charlton. Hagi beats him from the spot before adding a second before half time. Golden boot? Golden hair? Surely there’s no way back for Yugoslavia from here?

yugo romania ht stats

Can Yugoslavia even score a goal this tournament? You’d say probably not now.

yugo romania HT ratings

The second half starts with Dan Petrescu of all people making it 3-0. It’s a lot more acceptable when he isn’t megging Dave Seaman. It’s a procession from there, but Sabin Ilie scores in injury time – he’s scored in every game, stats fans.

yugo romania scoreboard

Petrescu takes man of the match, which seems an odd choice but it’s not my award.

yugo 0 - 4 romania ratings

No shots, no goals for Yugoslavia. Pathetic.

yugo romania ft stats

So with Romania sealing their place in the last 16, all that remains to be seen is if it will be 1st or 2nd. Italy and Paraguay, anyone?

@FPLHints/CM_Hints has got Italy playing more exuberantly than usual and the beating they gave Romania should not be underestimated. A point will be enough for a last 16 spot but they don’t know the Romania result at this time (please, let’s keep the illusion alive) and the prize for finishing 1st is Republic of Ireland in the last 16. 2nd will face Holland. You decide.

italy tactics vs paraguay

Paraguay have packed the midfield. Italy are light in that area so it’s not the worst tactic, I suppose.

paraguay tactics vs italy

It’s quite a slow start but Italy get better as the half goes on and soon are in full control. Tacchinardi scores from a corner before Ravanelli adds a second to make it a comfortable half time lead.

italy paraguay HT stats

Paraguay’s keeper – not Chilavert remember – has kept it respectable. They’ve offered very little going forwards, unlike Italy who have made plenty of chances.

italy paraguay HT ratings

The second half is borderline cruelty. Italy just keep coming, with Ravanelli adding a 3rd shortly after half time. He’s also looking for the golden boot. Some players are given a rest but Di Matteo makes it 4 and Vieri arrives from the bench to add a 5th in injury time. A good old fashioned rout.

italy paraguay FT stats

Pretty final, really. Man of the match for Ravanelli but the only blot on his copybook is that he will be banned for the last 16 tie after collecting a second yellow of the tournament.

italy paraguay FT ratings

Let’s see that in it’s purist form:

italy 5 - 0 paraguay

This is a strange looking group. Two teams didn’t score, one finished with a -10 goal difference but there’s no doubting who the two best teams were here. Italy vs Eire and Holland vs Romania in the last 16.

group F final

Here’s the final results just…because really. It’s some nice closure for these groups.

day 3 summary

We’ll be back tomorrow with the final two groups, which includes a key clash between Scotland and Nigeria as well as the wonderful climax to Group H which really is the group of death. All 4 teams can qualify there, so let’s just see what happens. Bye for now.


CM9798 World Cup – Day 10: Republic of Ireland chase miracle qualification, England vs Australia in the football ashes

If you’ve missed Day 9, you can catch up here

Day 10 already? Where does the time go. If you’ve stuck with us so far, you’ve read over 10,000 words of retro Championship Manager. Nobody is more grateful for that than me, so thank you. With just 4 of our last 16 decided though, it’s not time to stop yet. We’re barely half way!

Group C

Group C 2 games

So it comes down to this. Strictly speaking, all four teams can qualify here. Which also means all four can be eliminated, but that would involve Eire beating Holland by three goals and Colombia beating South Africa. I mean it’s unlikely but not impossible. Holland vs Ireland will see Ash (ALIVE AND KICKING) go up against Rob Tait (WROTE BLOGS FOR ME) and it’s on a knife edge. The Dutch have barely had to get out of 2nd gear – a lazier blogger would make a quip and a schmoke and a pancake, but we are above that here. Ash stays with his tried and tested formation, the Bergkamp/Kluivert partnership has done the business so far.

holland tactics vs Eire

Rob’s Ireland improved significantly since the switch to 4-2-3-1, although they also got Roy Keane back which would help any team. Sean Devine gets the nod ahead of Niall Quinn but expect Quinn to be introduced later on for plan B if things aren’t going to plan. Put them under pressure!

Ireland tactics vs holland

A big game means big audience – remarkably, I remembered to press record. You can view the action below or scroll down for a more retro feel.

Nobody does pressure like the Irish. It’s like they wait for the chips to be down before bringing out their best performances. Right from the off they are at the Dutch. Harrying, pressing and getting it in the box. Van der Sar can’t cope and he fumbles a cross and Keith O’Neill does the rest. Dreamland! Well, sort of. The reality is that Ireland need to win by more than Colombia beat South Africa by, assuming they do. With that in mind, Bergkamp equalises. Can the Irish come again in the second half?

holland ireland HT stats

Philip Cocu is at Man Utd incidentally. He’s having the time of his life.

ireland holland HT ratings

Eire can’t be kept down and still they launch the ball in the general direction of Van der Sar’s goal. Another ball over the top and Stam’s in trouble, he sticks out a hand and he’s off. Holland reorganise but they are still at 6s and 7s from the restart and a corner ends in Devine scoring the most important goal of his life. It’s a helter skelter finish but Ireland win – incredibly – but will it be enough? It’s actually a result that secures Holland’s passage into the last 16, as Ireland can’t overhaul their goal difference.

holland eire scoreboard

You would have to say, it is fully deserved. How Holland are ahead on percentages I’m not really sure.

holland FT stats

Bergkamp takes man of the match. The ratings are surprisingly high on the Dutch side given how it turned out but nevermind. Will it matter?

holland eire FT


south africa 0 - 0 colombia

That means Ireland go through in second place and both our lads survive. I was fearign the worst there, I’ll be honest.

Group C Final

Incredible. Any goal for Colombia would have been interesting, they’d have gone through on head to head presumably. Nevermind. They will face teams from Group F, which we’ll worry about tomorrow.

Group D

table 2 games

England and Argentina played out a bit of a bore draw which was meant to lead to them gallantly thrashing Australia and Tunisia. England did their bit, they beat Tunisia 5-0. Argentina though, my word. They struggled past Australia 1-0, with an ageing Maradona pulling the strings with minimal skill. With England more or less through, we’ll save their Ashes clash for later. Let’s focus on Argentina vs Tunisia for now.

Chris Darwen, or Ronnie Dog Media if you prefer, is a cornerstone of the FM Community. At times though I wonder if he ever played CM9798, though to be fair he’s done the right thing and focused on the newer games and made several successful projects out of it whilst I am stuck in the past. The problem he has here is that second in this group are likely to play Spain in the last 16, which is a stinker of a draw. He needs to match England’s 5-0 here, really.

Argentina tactics vs tunisia

Tunisia stick with the 5-3-2 despite it being less than good against England

tunisia tactics vs argentina

It’s on TV! Or scroll down for text. You know the gist by now…

Oh, Chris. What is happening here. Argentina find themselves 2-0 down after 7 minutes. Goodness me. The response from Argentina predictably comes but Tunisia don’t care. They’ve got more than what they came for and Boumnijel forgets he’s at West Ham and makes save after save. That is until the 44th minute, when Redondo finally beats him. It’s looking like Argentina vs Spain…

argentina tunisia HT stats

Once again Tunisia showed their plans by subbing two players immediately after taking the lead. Who’s in charge, Pardew?

argentina tunisia HT ratings

The Argentine onslaught continues and eventually Batistuta equalises. The winner doesn’t follow. Darwen’s head will be on a stick in Buenos Aires.

argentina tunisia scoreboard

Pochettino is happy enough. Must have a decent transfer budget afterall.

argentina tunisia FT ratings

The second half was actually remarkably tranquil. My my.

argentina tunisia FT stats

So England will just need a point to claim top spot.

Dan Barker, who is your man if you are a Man Utd fan and like the past (and present), is without the suspended McManaman and has taken the piss by bringing in Jamie Redknapp. Matt Le Tissier remains unamused.

england tactics vs australia

It’s a good game for Alan Shearer to make a move towards the golden boot with another two goals, both headers, as England stroll to a 2-0 half time lead. I, er, forgot, again, to take half time screenshots so here are the stats at 60 minutes…just after Australia pulled one back.

england australia HT stats

The two sides only manage a couple of shots each in the closing stages and there’s no change to the score. England through as group winners, the football ashes are coming home (disclaimer: this is not a thing)

england australia FT stats

Sol Campbell gets man of the match despite Shearer’s heroics. Redknapp makes me eat my words by being as good as anybody on the pitch. All coming up Millhouse for Dan.

england australia FT ratings


england australia scoreboard

That leaves the group like this:

Group D final

We’ll see the end results of Group E tomorrow but as I said earlier, it will almost certainly be Spain who top that group which is bad news for Argentina. Still, they can only improve.

summary game 3

That’s it for today then, a rare good day for the UK & Ireland as both live to fight another day. We’ll find out their opponents tomorrow when Groups E & F are finalised. That means you’ll see Italy and Spain play games to top the group and Romania bidding to join them in the last 16. Bye for now!

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CM9798 World Cup – Day 9: Denmark and Norway battle for qualification; Brazil & France also in action

Missed yesterday’s action? Catch up here

Well we’ve made it. Not to the final, that would be ridiculous, but to the point where things get really spicy. The time where we start sending teams home with a World Cup goody bag. It won’t be Brazil or France, who we’ll see complete their group fixtures today. But one of Denmark or Norway will be leaving us. Without further unnecessary words, let’s get Group A sorted out.

Group A

We’ll sort Brazil out first, because we’ve done a slight disservice to their opponents. Saudi Arabia could qualify with a big win coupled with a draw in Denmark vs Norway, and Mark Carruthers has given them a sniff by rotating heavily. Mind you, all 23 of the Brazil squad would get in Saudi Arabia’s team so don’t read too much into it. Romario is one of 10 changes with only Leonardo surviving.

Brazil tactics vs Saudi

Even the most positive of Saudi Arabia fans would realise they are in the Shitrit here. They haven’t performed badly in the tournament so far but this would be one of the great all time World Cup shocks if they were to win here.

saudi tactics vs brazil

These Brazil players want to make an impression to try and get a place in the 11 for the last 16. Romario scores after 11 minutes and Elber adds a second just minutes later. It’s 3-0 on 15 minutes when Antonio Carlos heads in a corner. Lads, I think Saudi Arabia are going home. The brilliantly named A Klinger pulls one back just before half time, but surely it is too late?

brazil saudi HT ratings

Poor Taffarel. Quite one sided on the old stats

brazil saudi HT stats

The second half is dull. Denilson and Elber are withdrawn to protect them from further punishment with yellow cards to their names, but both sides know their jobs are done. Although there are a few speculative efforts from both teams, it stays 3-1. Jobs done, 3 wins out of 3 for Brazil. Saudi Arabia will leave France with 1 point.

brazil saudi scoreboard

That is a lot of shots!

brazil saudi FT stats

The Saudi Arabia goalkeeper takes man of the match, which seems a bit of a sympathy vote.

brazil saudi FT ratings

So as expected, it’ll come down to Norway against Denmark. Norway need a point, Denmark need all 3. It’s recorded, you’ll have to forgive some long pauses whilst the lads told me what they wanted to do with their subs.

Of course if you’re not watching, I’m still here with some whimsy. Ross has switched his Denmark side to a 5-3-2 in a bid to be more solid, I think this was his Mike Bassett moment

Denmark tactics vs Norway

KingoftheRooks has stuck with the same system throughout but with Haaland and Svindal Larsen out suspended, Tore Pedersen and Runar Berg are tasked with filling their boots.

norway tactics vs denmark

Norway are up for this. Denmark have to repel attack after attack which means Schmeichel is getting redder and redder. The pressure tells and Olsen is able to give Norway the lead. Denmark offer very little. Big half time talk needed from Mr Jacobs.

denmark norway HT stats

6 for just about everyone more or less summarises Denmark’s tournament to date. Norway have made chances without even playing that well, which has got to be a concern.

denmark norway HT ratings

It makes little difference. Norway continue to press and push for that 2nd goal. Time is running out for Denmark but then – with 15 minutes to go – salvation! Helveg puts sub Soren Andersen in on goal and although his shot is saved, the rebound falls to Helveg himself to blast home a leveller. 15 minutes will decide the fate of Group A!

Denmark didn’t manage another shot. Norway get the point they need and they’ll be in the last 16 draw later in the week.

denmark norway FT stats

Schmeichel gets man of the match, one of the few Danes to come out of this with any credit

denmark norway FT ratings

Final confirmation then:

denmark norway scoreboard

The final standings for this group:

Group A final

We were always going to lose one from this group but with just one goal scored, Ross can have few complaints. I’m sure Ross will be back with a new blog later in the year. For now though, he’s on the plane home. Now, to Group B…

Group B

Group 2 games

Hosts France have made serene progress so far, and with qualification in the bag the China match is a chance to rotate the squad. Yes, a China win would be a problem, but is that likely? The, er, teamsheet is in. Paddy doesn’t have 200k+ followes for no reason.

france china scribbles

Quite. I took that to be this:

france team vs china

Viera didn’t recover from injury, which I had errantly predicted so Deschamps retains his place in front of the back 4.

China have parked the bus. I was going to make a wall joke but I’m not sure where we stand politically with that. Most of these plays are fake but I applaud them putting Jin in the middle. Jin is important.

china tactics vs france

The French have struggled at times with the expectation of the home fans. I base that on very little, it’s just text commentary. But China take a 4th minute lead from a set piece that France don’t deal with. No matter, eventually France find their feet and captain Deschamps equalises. Trezeguet puts France in front 3 minutes later and it’s panic over. What a strange half of football.

france china HT stats

China made a sub after scoring, presumably to put even more men behind the ball, then made another sub after going behind. That’s reactive management.

france china HT ratings

So you’d think France went on to win easily from here, yes? Well, not quite. Kurniawan only went and equalised on 69 minutes, which would secure China a place in the last 16. How historic. Trezeguet ruined that 3 minutes from time with his second which won the game for France and left China sweating over the USA result.

It was actually all France, China were just a lot more ruthless.

france china stats

Just an odd game all round. China’s goalkeeper gets man of the match. Leboeuf seems to be getting the blame for China’s surprising competitiveness

france china ratings

Confirmation then as France finally get to play at the Stade de France

france china scoreboard

What it does mean is that if the USA thrash Morocco they can steal a spot in the last 16.

They didn’t.

USA Morocco

Ooh how handy, all the days results on one page.


Final standings then, as France and China make it through to the last 16. They’ll play the qualifiers from Group G (Scotland’s group!) and let me give you this exclusive: I really hope I win Group G. I don’t want to play France but I reckon we could beat China.

Group B final

So the hosts are safely through and they’ve matched Brazil’s 100% record. They’re on a collision course for a quarter final meeting, despite Platini’s protests.

Back tomorrow with Groups C & D, where we’ll see Ireland face Holland, with Eire needing a victory and a South African favour to go through, whilst England and Argentina will look to look to secure their places in the last 16. See you there!


CM9798 World Cup – Day 8: Italy and Romania clash in Group F whilst Scotland look to break qualification curse

Catch up with Day 7 here

We’ve nearly seen every nation twice now and most groups are hanging in the balance. Today we focus on those two remaining groups who have only taken to the French turf once, so fans of Group F & G, you’re really in for a treat.

Group F

Italy have so many attacking options it was somehwat of a surprise when they only drew 0-0 with Yugoslavia. They dominated the game though and manager @FPLHints has written it off as “one of those things.” He was right to do it. It does however mean this match with Romania is vital, as a defeat could leave the Italians feeling more than a little blue. Get it?

It’s still an attacking lineup with Porrini in for the suspended Ferrara. Winning is everything!

Italy team vs Romania

Romania under MK (@CorinthianHead Twitter fans) got off to a fine start, putting 5 past Paraguay and setting themselves up nicely for this crunch clash. A draw would probably do, but you wouldn’t change a system that just won 5-0. Dumitrescu is in for the injured Galca.

romania team vs italy

It’s always a decent game when two human managers go head to head but the luck that desserted them in the first game was not at play here. Italy’s swashbuckling attacking play saw them rewarded with a 24th minute lead as Ravanelli slotted home. Romania had the odd chance but this was Italy’s day and Del Piero doubled the lead just before the half time whistle.

italy romania HT stats

As you’d expect, Italy’s players have done quite well. Romania…less so.

italy romania HT ratings

Can MK give the hairdryer treatment? Is their a Romanian equivalent? Well, Ravanelli scored again on 49 minutes and that should have settled that. However, in the same minute, Porrini got sent off a delibrate handball denying a goalscoring opportunity. Let;s think about that for a minute. Presumably from the kick off, Italy ended up being so exposed at the back their centre half was in enough trouble to stick out a hand and deny a goalscoring opportunity. Great.

italy reshuffle

Anyway, Italy were able to shut up shop and Romania eventually got one back on 82 minutes as Ilie scored his second of the tournament. Not a lot happened after that. An important win for Italy and the Chief!

Italy Romania scoreboard

Romania had more territory in the 2nd half with a man advantage but the damage was done in that lacklustre first half

italy romania FT stats

The Romania goalkeeper gets man of the match, which seems a bit stupid given what has gone before.

italy romania FT ratings

Yugoslavia and Paraguay finished 0-0 which leaves it in Romania’s hands at least. They’ll just need to draw to go through unless Paraguay are going to overturn an 8 goal swing by really sticking it to Italy. I don’t think they will.

Group F 2 games

So it looks good for our Group F lads, but it’s a little less rosy in Group G

Group G

Whilst I was quite happy with Scotland’s 3-0 win over Jamaica, I can’t help but feel a little concerned by Nigeria’s loss to Russia. The group is opposite B in the draw which means the runners up will play France…but Scotland should just be pleased to escape the group. To do that, we need to get a result here. Russia won’t be easy.

Same team. No messing about here.

scotland tactics vs russia

Russia show us a remarkable amount of respect by playing that bloody counter attack formation

russia tactics vs scotland

I’ve remembered to record! Here we are, or the screens are below

A win for Scotland would be incredible. They’ve never seen a knockout game – imagine that – so to do it with a game to spare would be ridiculous. But my how we have the bit between our teeth, peppering the Russian goal only to find a goalkeeper in inspired form. Basically, he saved our 4 shots on target.

russia scotland HT stats

Matt Elliott is having the World Cup of his life, maybe I’ll put him up front like Leicester did in the good old days

russia scotland HT ratings

Second half and it’s more of the same. Russia manage only one further effort despite my back line lacking pace and youth whilst we continue to probe only to find  Ovtchnikov in the form of his life. Big Dunc is thrown on and it makes little difference, though he comes away with a decent rating. 0-0 it finishes, which is a better result for Russia than it is for us. Especially when you consider that we absolutely battered them.

russia scotland FT stas

All hail Colin Hendry, apparently. Obviously their keeper is the real hero.

russia scotland FT ratings

It means Nigeria can really put themselves back in the mix if they complete the expected victory over Jamaica. This is ideal for Nigeria, as they probably won’t have to do a lot of defending here.

Nigeria tactics vs jamaica

Jamaica have parked the bus again. It worked so well against Scotland. Marcus Gayle probably won’t be able to sort it out on his own.

jamaica tactics vs nigeria

It’s a battering. Ikpeba scores after 3 minutes and it’s a sign of things to come. Oruma and Garba add another two in the space of 60 seconds midway through the half and that’s that, but Nigeria will want more. Scotland only managed 3 in 90 minutes against this lot and goal difference might yet be a factor.

I, er, forgot to get the half time stats and ratings. I have regrets. Not to worry though, Ikpeba makes it 4 on 59 minutes and finally Mutiu adds a 5th on 86. Okocha gets the perfect 10 but as you’d expect, everybody in a green shirt played their part. Jamaica were crap, except Korma Dudu.

nigeria jamaica FT ratings

Nigeria racked up 31 efforts yet less than 50% of them hit the target. I knew he shouldn’t have left Ekoku out of the 16.

nigeria FT stats

Confirmation then of this mighty rampage.

nigeria jamaica scoreboard

Group G is looking pretty interesting. It looks likely we’ll lose one of the human players, whether it be me or Matt will be decided by the final game shootout.

Group G 2 games to go

Russia have Jamaica so they’ll almost certainly win. There is of course the added bonus of winning the group meaning you’ll probably avoid France, but I think in Scotland’s case this is why the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers” came to light. Jamaica are eliminated.

Everybody has played twice now, so who is your money on? We’ll be back tomorrow with the final games from Groups A & B, which includes the Scandanavian judgment day clash between Norway and Denmark whilst Brazil and France are also in action. See you there.