SeasonTen.EpisodeFour | Dernière ligne droite
Welcome back to my Football Manager 2020 blog with Stade Rennais. If you missed my previous post, you can catch up with everything that happened, here:
Another fantastic run this season saw us clearing the way of anyone who stood in front of us. We were winning games, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets. It had all become a little inevitable. Could we keep this up?
Here’s how we got on.
February 2029 – May 2029
When we left things in January we were on an incredible run of games without conceding. We were setting league records, Steam records. You name it if there was a defensive record we were breaking it.
That carried on for another couple of games, a 6-0 victory over Lens was followed up by a 2-0 win over Sochaux in the Coupe de France quarter-final. Then reality hit home, against who else but PSG. A 2-0 loss brought us back down to earth. We followed that up with a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund and all of a sudden things were not looking so great.
It was a short-lived downturn as we went on to win the next five matches scoring 15 and conceding zero goals, including a 2-0 Coupe de France semi-final victory over Nice and a 3-0 Champions League first knockout round victory in the return leg against Dortmund.
A 2-2 draw against Marseille was the only blip in an otherwise perfect March. What was to come, however, was the month of Lyon.
Obviously the Champions League was our priority, but we also had a cup final and a league match against them. The first Champions League match was a comfortable 2-1 victory but not good enough to make me feel secure in the result. Wonderkid Nacev, who you’ll remember we signed for a record €76M then injured himself for six weeks, putting him out for the rest of the season. Absolutely gutted as his 14 goals and 3 assists were really driving us forwards.
We put 6 past Amiens without reply before we faced Lyon again. Nei, our left-back was sent off after 14 minutes and I feared the worst. We were 1-0 down shortly after and going out on away goals down to 10 men. A quick-fire double secured out advantage, but Lyon quickly pulled level. We managed to hold on to secure a semi-final match against Manchester United.
We then lost Savvas Nikolaou for nearly the rest of the season. Our monster of a centre back, with 20 jumping reach would be a huge loss as the fixtures pile up. Nice up next before the doubleheader against Lyon in two matches that could define our season, considering PSG just won’t give up and still sit 5 points behind us, despite us achieving 101 goal difference after 32 games with just 8 goals conceded in the league.
Nice were no problem, and if you followed the above you will have seen that we won both games against Lyon to claim another Coupe de France title! Our fourth in four years.
Incredibly, the league still wasn’t secured. I mean we were 10 clear despite PSG having a game in hand but with those numbers, you’d expect to have the league wrapped up. It’s a sign of just how strong PSG are.
Either side of the 2-0 victory over Monaco was a 4-1 aggregate victory over Manchester United to book our place in the Champions League final. Our second in two years. A chance to avenge last season. Unfortunately, we face Abdullah Avci and Manchester City.
We finally had the league secured! In the final three matches, we scored 10 without reply against Metz, Sochaux and Strasbourg. More impressively, we came through them relatively unscathed.
The final league table is pretty impressive. So much so that I hadn’t really banked on my league template needing three digits for goal difference and goals scored.
The Champions League Final
This year’s Champions League final was played at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. The significance of this will become apparent soon.
I had a full squad available with just one injury to Chernyavskiy who was happy to take an injection to get him through the game. I would have been surprised if he hadn’t.
The opening 10 minutes saw us pepper the Manchester City goal with 4 shots. With 80% of the ball, we were the team to take the initiative. I expected this to be honest with Abdullah Avci, the City manager having a more patient, non-pressing style. With a preference to encourage his teams to work the ball into the box, the only tactical change for us was to make our defence more narrow to try to stifle their attacks through the middle.
On 14 minutes we got our deserved goal. Wing-Back Nei with a Rabona cross for Nacev to head home. It didn’t last. A couple of minutes later City were level. A cross from out wide met by the ex-PSG striker Ayinde. So much for working the ball through the middle.
Despite numerous attempts, we couldn’t get the advantage back. Flashbacks of last seasons loss on penalties still haunt me. Being the better side counts for nothing if you don’t score the goals. The rest of the half was all us but not it finished level.
The second half started just as it finished. We continued to create chance after chance. Hossam had the ball in the net on 51 minutes, but yet again, the obligatory offside goal. I cannot remember the last match where we didn’t have a goal ruled out for offside.
On 53 minutes those we did score and this time, Baumgärtel with a peach of a volley into the top corner and in off the post. Ederson had no chance!
Manchester City came fighting back and Ayinde had a few quality chances but Rivas, as he has been all season, was spectacular. The minutes ticked away, there were to be no more goals.
We had done it.
Stade Rennais have won the Champions League.
The fans of Stade Rennais will be nursing hangovers tomorrow after the team, lead by Oliver Jensen, brought home the UEFA Champions League. What a journey.
The FIFA World Club Cup has now appeared in the fixture list with matches starting in June. I don’t know what this is, or what it means for the blog but I’ll need to figure out what this is and whether we want to play on.
As this season finishes, I’ll have another post out summarising this incredible season and journey. I don’t know what to do about the Club World Cup as I had planned on stepping away from Rennes if we ever won the Champions League as I would like to finish on a high. I need to think about our next move.
Thanks for following along with my save this year!
As always, you can get in touch with me in the comments below, via twitter @fmfutbolmanager, or my slack channel #fmFutbolManager — if you’re not a part of the Football Manager Slack community, then you can join here!
Until next time, à tout à l’heure.