Monday, December 10, 2007

Arturo Lupoli for Italy (v Czech Republic), 8 July 2018

I'm excited today as I have done something I have only ever done twice before in eleven years of playing the Championship Manager series; I have won the World Cup.

After years as manager of AC Milan including two Champions League titles, I was invited to take over the reins of the Italian national side. Consecutive 3-0 friendly wins put the side in good form for the tournament, and then I sprung a surprise by selecting an uncapped keeper for the opening match.

The form in the group stage was poor - a 0-0 draw against Spain was followed by a narrow 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia. A draw was enough in the final game and a 0-0 stalemate with the Ivory Coast secured qualification.

A confident 3-1 win over a talented French side and a straightforward 3-1 victory over the Uruguayans led to a semi-final showdown with Colombia. The first half was a cat and mouse affair and the sides went in 0-0 at the interval. However, a change in attacking focus and a team growing in belief brushed aside the South Americans in the second half recording a one-sided 4-0 victory with two goals from Antonino Lazzari.

The other semi-final saw the Czech Republic beat England on penalties (art imitating life) and so an all European final would decide the fate of the 2018 World Cup. I stuck with my trusted "first choice" eleven that had served me so well.

1. Paolo Ferri (Messina)
2. Antonio Barbieri (AC Milan)
3. Gaetano Oliva (Juventus) - captain
4. Guiseppe Palermo (Juventus)
5. Guiseppe Maffei (Manchester City)
6. Matteo Messina (Arsenal)
7. Paolo Milani (Middlesbrough)
8. Antonino Lazzari (Atalanta)
9. Michele Catalano (Arsenal)
10. Massimiliano Bruno (Brescia)
11. Arturo Lupoli (Newcastle Utd)

18. Christian Corvino (Lazio) for 7. Milani
19. Davide Catalano (Juventus) for 10. Bruno
20. Gennaro Franceschini (Atalanta) for 11. Lupoli

For an hour, it was a close affair with Italy slightly on top. On 63 minutes, Arturo Lupoli ran onto Catalano's excellent through ball, rounded Petr Cech and put Italy ahead. In an attempt to close out a win, I threw on three subs with ten minutes to go, but an injury time from Czech winger Petr Zavadil sent the tie into extra time. Neither side could find a winner and 1-1 was how it ended.

A nail-biting penalty shootout saw both teams score their first effort, before an amazing seven consecutive misses. It was left to Arsenal midfielder Michele Catalano to sidefoot an effort past Cech and to secure a 2-1 shootout win for the Italians, and a fifth World title.

The Italian FA were quick and lavish in their praise for me, as I joined the hall of fame of legendary Italian managers. And all that with only one of my "own" Milan players and half a starting eleven playing their football in the Premier League. That how it's going to be in a decade, you think....?


ian said...

In 2006, Italy was one of only two nations whose entire World Cup squad played in their own country.

SwissToni said...

That, my friend, is the greatest game in the world. I still haven't won the world cup, for reference, although double European Championship winning (2004 and 2008, I think) Italian legend Swiss Antonio came close in 2006, narrowly losing to a domninant Brazil side.

You won the world cup without Robson Ponte? Amazing!


adem said...

I'm a Football Manager man myself now ever since Sport Interactive and Eidos split. I stuck behind the guys who did the programming and so don't play the brand Championship Manager anymore although I like to think Football Manager is the real successor to those games I started playing in 1993.

I've just started playing the 2008 version and have started at the bottom with MK Dons, so I think it'll be a while before I get the top job.

I have to admit that when I've been international manager I've always abused my position and given quite a few caps to my own players, so well doen for winnign the World Cup with only one of your own players in it.

LB said...

Adem - for reference, I did the same and stuck with the database of Football Manager rather than the brand of Championship Manager.

(I have capped England players recently who are clearly nowhere near good enough, incidentally. You have to, don't cha?)

weenie said...

Lol, well done. I've avoided being sucked into Football Manager games cos I know I would just get totally and sadly addicted. Better off without it but I can still appreciate others' achievements!

weenie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SwissToni said...

"(I have capped England players recently who are clearly nowhere near good enough, incidentally. You have to, don't cha?)"

Judging by the actions of recent England football managers in the real world, this is all too true.


JJ said...

Fabio Capello has just 9 days, 13 hours and 11 minutes left to learn English for his first meeting with the England squad! Pledge your support now and help Fabio Capello learn English!