Champions Division: Fixture 2 – ML United vs FC Belgium
Starting XI: Ivarov; Valeny, Libermann, Jaric; Stein, Dodo, Espimas, Ximelez, Minanda; Hamsun, Ordaz.
Next up was FC Belgium. What a pompous bunch of assholes, I thought; a team named after a goddamn country. What would people think if we used “Parts Unknown FC” as our club’s nomenclature? It’d only throw gasoline to the fire of our ferocious rivalry between both PES and WE United, and trust me, we don’t need any…
Playing on a 5-3-2 formation, this would surely be another difficult side to crack; plus, they have a lot of tall, strong and at times also fast individuals, which is never good news for us given our only physically striking player is Libermann.
Castolo was no more; enter Hamsun. I got tired of the Brazilian. Hamsun was nevertheless a much better fit for this match, given we were up against a very strong trio of CBs.
Rightaway, I see this won’t be anything like the previous fixture. Even though we got two shots before they even tried one, both of them inoffensive, Belgium took control of the game early on and asphyxiated us at the back. Jaric, Valeny and Libermann were grasping for some understanding of the hurricane that was sweeping the defense, always failing to catch up. Unsurprisingly, Belgium had many shots on goal and quite a few clear-cut chances; fortunately, they looked uninspired for they missed them all.
That was up until the 44th minute, when a deflection of a shot saved by Ivarov hits Jaric’s leg and…it’s an own-goal. 0-1.
Before the goal, Hamsun gets injured. Castolo laughs on the bench. “Now you’ll play me, huh coach?” he says, with a mischievous smile. No way I’d play him though. At halftime, after understanding how hurt Hamsun really was, Huylens – the legendary Oranges – replaces the Norwegian on the pitch. I didn’t even ponder whether he was a sound choice – I just didn’t want to play Castolo.
Castolo put something in Hamsun's drink before the match, I just know it.
The second half brought nothing new. If anything, FC Belgium kept going at it ever more intensely, and everyone could see that the 0-2 was around the corner. After four shots in ten minutes, they do score. Jaric – once again – fails to properly header the ball and unwittingly leaves it at Emselzone’s feet, who scores the 0-2 (67′).
I had had enough. Right after the goal, I sub off Jaric for Fouque, Stein joins Libermann and Valeny in the back, and Dodo remains as the only DMF, backing up a duo of AMFs comprised of Minanda and Fouque. We desperately needed to upgrade our offense, as the midfield wasn’t working at all – but then again, the same could be said for our entire starting-11.
Time for a Hail-Mary. The play restarts, and everyone but Dodo joins the offense. Dodo kicks it long, kind of like a NFL quarterback delivering a killer pass, Valeny fails to header it but the deflection ends up in front of Libermann, who dives in and headers it for the 1-2 (68′). The Hail-Mary is our Holy Grail.
Libermann doing what ML United's strikers can't...
The Hail-Mary formation is indeed incredibly risky.
This is how it looks, right after Ivarov passes the ball to Dodo.
Look at the radar. Everyone and their mother is ready for a long ball played by The Dodo. What I usually do is kick it mercilessly and aimlessly with a touch of the Square button, and then fight for the ball in the air. That’s it. The problem is, if a ML United player doesn’t win the aerial duel, only Dodo and typically Jaric are left behind to deal with the counterattack – plus Ximelez as the DMF. It’s the All-in of football.
Back to the game. Could Libermann’s goal be the beginning of a dramatic recuperation?
Nope. FC Belgium ignored us and kept pounding our defense. They didn’t score, but neither did we, for we weren’t even able to have more than a miserable couple of (horrible) attempts on target after Libermann’s goal. Ten minutes before the end I took off a really tired Minanda for…Castolo, and switched from our 3-5-2 with two AMFs for a 3-4-3 with Castolo as a SS supporting Ordaz and Huylens. But tonight, nothing worked, and I tried everything.
A long road lies ahead of us.
ML United 1-2 FC Belgium (68′ Libermann; Jaric OG 44′, Emselzone 67′)
MoM: Espimas. An obvious choice, for he was literally the only player who wasn’t total and utter shite out there. Eleven Espimas would’ve won this match, I can tell you that: he was energetic, fearful, and competent on both sides of the pitch – basically, he looked like a pro. But when your Right Wingback is your most powerful offensive weapon, something’s just not right…
Hail-Mary strikes again. It has been our savior so far, masking our obvious offensive problems. Because of it, Libermann and Valeny are our only goal scorers so far…
Competitiveness. FC Belgium was just too much to handle for anyone not named Espimas. Defensively, offensively, physically: we weren’t at all ready for this challenge.
Defense. They were so bad they looked drunk. Jaric was particularly dreadful, with his participation on both of Belgium’s goals. Ceciu and Stremer say hi…
Offense. Hamsun brought nothing new to the table while he was operational, neither did Huylens. Who shall I play as Ordaz’s partner up front?