Short Stories

Libertine73
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November 2020

Post by Libertine73 »

Results

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We started the month with a 2-0 Europa League win over Hearts, that wasn't as comfortable as the scoreline suggests.

Second-choice goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis brought down Steven Naismith in the area, to concede a penalty. This resulted in a straight red card for a professional foul. Young third-choice keeper, Lucas Chevalier, came on for striker Timothy Weah, and saved the resulting spot-kick.

We coped well with the numerical disadvantage, and goals from striker Jonathan David and midfielder Boubakary Soumaré just before half-time, gave us a 4-0 aggregate victory, to send us into the next round.




~~~





Back to Ligue 1 action, and a narrow 2-1 win at home to Lens.

I encourage my full backs to get forward, and provide us with our width, what with my wide midfielders playing so narrowly when we're without the ball.

This worked a treat. Left back Reinildo Mandava surged forward, got to the byline, then delivered a low cross to the far post for right back Zeki Celik to fire us into a 9th minute lead.

The visitors equalised in the 20th minute, but we restored our advantage on the stroke of half-time.

Midfielder Xeka took control of a loose ball, then sent it into the opposition penalty area for striker Yusuf Yazici to head us into a 2-1 lead.

This completed the scoring in a game where we enjoyed 66% possession.




~~~





Two days later, we faced a trip to Montpellier. Low condition meant that I was forced to make eight changes to the starting line-up.

This was an even game in terms of chances, and we had 58% possession, but too many below par performances meant that we were incredibly sloppy in what was an entertaining game.

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You can see that we equalised three times. Once again, my full backs were prominent. This time it was Jérémy Pied at right back, whose low cross to the far post found left back Domagoj Bradaric for our second equaliser. Bradaric then turned provider, setting up midfielder Arton Zekaj for our third equaliser.

Defensively, we were poor though. Goalkeeper Mike Maignan received a 4 rating, and young central defender Tiago Djaló got a 5.




~~~





We got back to winning ways with a solid 1-0 victory over Lorient, with Zekaj scoring for the second successive game.

This was another game where the mid-block worked well. We won 33 tackles, and made 16 interceptions. This meant that we finished up with 59% possession.

Lorient's midfield duo were completely stifled. Quentin Boisgard played just 8 passes before being hauled off after 55 minutes, and his partner, Thomas Monconduit played just 11 passes throughout the entire game.




~~~





We then went to Danish side Midtjylland, in the next round of the Europa League. I made several changes to the starting line-up.

Central defender Adama Soumaoro gave away a 34th minute penalty, which the hosts took the lead with, but substitute Jonathan Bamba scored a superb 74th minute equaliser, to give us an important away goal to take into the second leg.




~~~





We finished the month with a solid 1-0 win at Marseille, who started the game in 3rd place.

Xeka got on the end of a well-delivered free-kick by left midfielder Jonathan Bamba, to score the only goal of the game.

Striker Jonathan David got himself sent off for the second time this season on the stroke of half-time, but the referee evened things up early in the second-half when one of Marseille's players was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

We had 53% possession, which is excellent for an away side, and we largely kept the ball away from our defensive third.

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Summary

A much better set of results, with the defeat at Montpellier being the only blot on the landscape.

I was particularly pleased with our most recent win, against a good Marseille side.

We struggle to create chances though. Like I said last month, it could be that my strikers are too deep when we regain possession, due to their defensive duties. I may free one of them up to lead the press, then the mid-block can come into play if that first line gets broken.

We're up one place to 7th, but it's looking like a two-horse race for the title.

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It feels like 3rd place is up for grabs. There are three Champions League places available, as Ligue 1 is ranked 5th in the UEFA Coefficients.

The board are grudgingly accepting of me at the moment.

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Player Focus

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I've been trying all kinds of things to improve us as an attacking unit, whilst maintaining defensive solidity. One of those things was the unusual step to make left midfielder Jonathan Bamba, the playmaker.

I did this for the win over Nîmes at the end of October. We've won four of our five Ligue 1 games since I've  done this, and Bamba has averaged ten more passes per game, compared to the previous five games.

This is a small sample size though.

Jonathan has scored one goal and provided four assists in those last five games. Only one of those goal involvements have been from open play though.

In Lille's title winning season, Bamba was the club's top assister, with set piece deliveries providing most of them.




Forthcoming Fixtures & Team News

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Five games in sixteen days coming up, including a chance to eclipse Christophe Galtier's achievement of getting Lille to the last 32 of the Europa League.

We'll be a bit light, up front though. Yusuf Yazici is out injured until the New Year, and Jonathan David starts a seven-match suspension due to his red card for violent conduct in the Marseille victory.

This will be my side for our next game, against the fantastically named, Brest.

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Re: Short Stories

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Minimum 9/12 from next 4 leages games - 3 of them in the bottom 5 teams

Europe - draws have been kind thus far - bit of pressure on next leg v Midgy's though

Mad game v Mont but lovely work otherwise

Rome wasn't built in a day but with a mad as fook chairman then a couple of bad results and he'll be getting rid of you!
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Re: Short Stories

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Redknapp69 wrote: Wed Mar 20, 2024 8:33 pm Minimum 9/12 from next 4 leages games - 3 of them in the bottom 5 teams

Europe - draws have been kind thus far - bit of pressure on next leg v Midgy's though

Mad game v Mont but lovely work otherwise

Rome wasn't built in a day but with a mad as fook chairman then a couple of bad results and he'll be getting rid of you!
In theory, this squad should be at least as good as PSG's, as the April 2021 update should reflect that Lille were battling it out with the Paris side for the title that season.

Time will tell whether this is actually the case.

I'll do well to still be in a job in April, with this chairman!
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December 2020

Post by Libertine73 »

Results

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Our opening game of the month was at home to struggling Brest. The attendance was just 24036, with the away end particularly empty.

There was little support for Brest...

We were all over Brest, enjoying 54% possession. Like an efficient bra, we contained Brest superbly, denying our opponents a single shot at our goal.

Meanwhile, young central defender, Sven Botman, was an absolute rock at the back, winning eight tackles.

We were rather wasteful in front of goal, but eventually broke the deadlock in the 78th minute, when substitute Arton Zekaj got on the end of a knockdown by striker Jonathan Ikoné, just two minutes after replacing Benjamin André.




~~~





I made some changes for our next game, the visit of Danish side Midtjylland, in the 2nd leg of the round of 32 in the Europa League.

Another dominant display saw us register 59% possession, but again, there was just one goal in the game. It came from striker Jonathan David in the 54th minute, set up by Portuguese midfielder Xeka.

This was enough to send us through to the last sixteen, 2-1 on aggregate, where we'll meet Ligue 1 leaders Lyon.




~~~





Back to domestic action, we faced at tough trip to an Angers side that started the game in 5th place.

This was a scrappy game, with 56% of the action played out in the middle third of the pitch.

The superb Benjamin André gave us a 22nd minute lead, and the midfielder went on to win an impressive nine tackles.

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Sadly, we were unable to hold on, and the hosts scored a deserved, 90th minute equaliser.




~~~





We got back to winning ways, with a nice 3-1 win over, er...Nice.

Xeka took control of a loose ball, went past an opponent, then blasted a shot into the top corner to give us an 11th minute lead.

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Xeka's compatriot, Renato Sanches, then scored a similar goal to double our advantage just before half-time, before going off injured early in the second-half.

Substitute Burak Yilmaz added a third goal - from the penalty spot - after fellow striker Jonathan Ikoné was brought down in the opposition penalty area, before the visitors scored a consolation goal in the 86th minute.




~~~





We finished the month with a 1-0 victory at struggling Nantes.

We were the better side throughout the game, but it took until the 72nd minute to break the deadlock. Left midfielder Timothy Weah took control of a loose ball, skipped past a defender, then fizzed in a low shot, to score his first goal for the club.

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Summary

A good month, especially as I have eight players on the treatment table at the moment. I'm glad that we are currently on the winter break, to give them time to recover.

We're unbeaten in our last six Ligue 1 games, and since losing at PSG in the middle of October, we've picked up 23 points in our last 10 games.

This his lifted us up a couple more places to 5th.

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It'll be highly unlikely that we'll catch the top two, but I'll be pleased if we finish up grabbing that third Champions League place.

I've made a slight tactical tweak. One of the strikers now leads the press, while the other striker continues to man-mark one of the opposition midfielders - usually the more skilful opponent - along with my wide midfielders.

The opposition midfielders are seeing a little bit more of the ball as a result of this, but they're not able to make many key passes, and are often getting hauled off by their manager, early in the second-half of matches.




Key Player

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Sven Botman has far and away been our best player so far this season.

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It's fair to say that he's been one of the best defenders in the division.

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Sven is finishing games exhausted, which is why I've been resting him when we play in the Europa League.

I'll need him when we face Lyon in the last sixteen though.

If we're going to successfully challenge for 3rd place, it's vital that Sven sustains this form throughout the second half of the season.




Forthcoming Fixtures

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We host Ligue 2 side Dunkerque in the Coupe de la Ligue when we return from the winter break. We'll then have a couple of tough games against Metz and Lyon.

I won't be signing anyone in this save, as I want to have the same squad available to me that Christophe Galtier had.
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Re: Short Stories

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Not an ideal draw next in Europe

Brilliant league form

Sven on fire

Blimey - wedge of injuries - winter break indeed coming at the right time

Interesting tweak of instructions which seems to be bearing fruit for now

If it comes to it - would you prioritise Europe over league?

Great "Brest" commentary!
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Re: Short Stories

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Redknapp69 wrote: Fri Mar 22, 2024 9:10 pm Not an ideal draw next in Europe

Brilliant league form

Sven on fire

Blimey - wedge of injuries - winter break indeed coming at the right time

Interesting tweak of instructions which seems to be bearing fruit for now

If it comes to it - would you prioritise Europe over league?


Great "Brest" commentary!
Not intentionally, but Europa League games are on a Thursday evening, so will take place 4-6 days after a Ligue 1 game. This means that everyone should be suitably recovered after the league game, to enable them to play the European game and allow me to go full strength.

Fit enough players will then stay in the side for the following league game on the Sunday, but they'll probably be a few players whose condition won't be quite high enough.
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January 2021

Post by Libertine73 »

Results

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I rested several players for our opening game of 2021, a Coupe de la Ligue 3rd round tie against Ligue 2 side Dunkerque.

The visitors took the lead with the only on-target effort that they had throughout the game, before goals from right midfield Isaac Lihadji, striker Burak Yilmaz and right back Zeki Celik saw us through to the next round.




~~~





Back to Ligue 1 action, we then had a tricky trip to Metz.

The hosts took a first-half lead, but my substitutes combined to give us a second-half equaliser.

Jonathan Bamba received the ball from left back Reinildo Mandava, then sent it into the area for Yusuf Yazici, who's low shot earned us a decent point.




~~~





Back to cup action, and this time we faced Ligue 2 side Niort in round of 64 of the Coupe de France.

Again, I sent out my second string players, and we took the lead in the 3rd minute when midfielder Arton Zekaj headed in a corner by right back Jérémy Pied.

The same two players combined again for our second goal. Pied surged forward, then delivered a cross into the box for Zekaj to head in his second goal of the game.

We defended well for the remainder of the game, and completed the scoring in stoppage time. Pied sent a clearance to Zekaj. The visitors had committed men forward, so this was a classic counter-attacking goal. Zekaj surged forward with the ball, unopposed. He got into the box, then finished neatly to complete his hat-trick.

This also meant a hat-trick of assists for Pied.

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~~~





Having gone eleven games unbeaten in all competitions, that run came to an end with a defeat at Reims when we returned to Ligue 1 action.

This was a scrappy game, and our mid-block prevented the visitors midfield duo of Xavier Chavalerin and Moreto Cassamá from seeing too much of the ball.

Both players were substituted in the 49th minute, as a result.

The hosts were forced to move the ball out wide, but sadly we failed to stop a surging run by Reims left back Ghislain Konan, who delivered a cross into the box for substitute El Bilal Touré to score the only goal of the game.

I was disappointed with how right back Zeki Celik failed to prevent the cross, along with goalkeeper Mike Maignan getting outjumped.

Our inability to create chances was also perplexing.




~~~





Three days later, we faced fellow Ligue 1 side Lens, in the last sixteen of the Coupe de la Ligue.

Several changes were forced upon me due to player's condition not being high enough, and the ones that came in were largely disappointing in a 1-4 defeat.

I assigned Xeka to man-mark Lens attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet, but he couldn't stop him from being the architect of this thumping.

The veteran France international provided two assists in a comfortable win for the hosts.

Zekaj scored our goal, with a well-taken long-range effort, but it was just a consolation.




Summary

We earned a decent point at Metz, that saw another brilliant display from outstanding central defender Sven Botman.

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Is it a coincidence that we suffered defeats this month, after Botman missed a couple of games through injury?

We comfortably got past Ligue 2 sides in the cup competitions, but there isn't the depth of quality in this squad to fight on four fronts.

One point from our two Ligue 1 games this month sees us drop down one place to 6th.

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A top two finish looks out of the question. 3rd place is still up for grabs, but I need to find an answer to our goalscoring problems.




Player Focus

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I may have the goalscoring solution right under my nose.

I've mostly selected Benjamin André and Xeka as my midfield duo this season. Both have been decent - especially André - but after back-to-back defeats, both will need to perform better in our next game, if they're going to prevent Arton from replacing them.




Forthcoming Fixtures & Team News

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We have a chance of reaching the last sixteen of the Coupe de France, with the visit of Ligue 2 side Troyes.

I'm hoping that we can pick up at least 10 points this month, before facing reigning champions PSG at the end of February.

This will be my side for the visit of Bordeaux.

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I'm glad to have Sven Botman back, but I also need to see big performances from his team-mates.
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Re: Short Stories

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Has Zekaj been playing CM when bagging - how to feck he scored so much?!

Couple of decent cup wins but tough tie v lens and as you say - your guys were goosed so always tough

1 point from 2 league games nowhere near ideal

Needs to be a much better month league wise next

Botman deffo a factor - he's awesome
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Re: Short Stories

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Redknapp69 wrote: Sun Mar 24, 2024 10:17 pm Has Zekaj been playing CM when bagging - how to feck he scored so much?!

Couple of decent cup wins but tough tie v lens and as you say - your guys were goosed so always tough

1 point from 2 league games nowhere near ideal

Needs to be a much better month league wise next

Botman deffo a factor - he's awesome
Yeah, Zekaj has been playing centre midfield: no arrows, but he has forward runs on.

I reckon that his aerial prowess helps, along with a pretty decent value for Off the Ball.
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February 2021

Post by Libertine73 »

Results

We started the month with a comfortable 2-0 win over mid table Bordeaux.

Midfielder Benjamin André set up striker Yusuf Yazici to give us a 39th minute lead, before André got on the scoresheet himself in the 79th minute, with goalkeeper Mike Maignan providing a rare assist.

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Benjamin put in an outstanding display, by constantly taking the game to the opposition. He completed an incredible sixteen successful dribbles, one of which involved collecting the ball from Maignan, then surging forward to score his goal.

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Incidentally, Benjamin has 'run with the ball' turned OFF in games!

The image below shows how dominant we were in this game. 65% possession, and the ball was only in our defensive third for 17% of the time.

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Bordeaux's midfield duo played just 38 passes between them, and only found their team-mate for 25 of those. I believe that the mid-block was a major factor in this, with wide midfielders Jonathan Ikoné and Jonathan Bamba marking those opposition centre midfielders, along with striker Yusuf Yazici, who ensured that one of them was double-marked.




~~~





Next up was the visit of fellow European places contenders, Monaco.

Central defender José Fonte smashed in his first goal of the season just before half-time, when a loose ball in the box came to him, following a corner.

We couldn't hold on to that lead though, and the visitors equalised early in the second-half.

We had 61% possession in this game, and won the shot count 9-6, but we couldn't find that winning goal.

We had to settle for the 1-1 draw.




~~~





I made several changes for the visit of Ligue 2 promotion contenders Troyes in the last thirty-two of the Coupe de France, but we defended poorly in the first-half, and found ourselves two goals behind at half-time.

Yusuf Yazici reduced the deficit in the 63rd minute, but we couldn't find what would have been a deserved equaliser.




~~~





Back to Ligue 1 action, we went to struggling Dijon, and came away with 2-0 win in what was a solid display.

Yusuf Yazici set up strike partner Jonathan David to give us a 3rd minute lead, before Yazici then won a 39th minute penalty. The Turkish international picked himself up, and converted the spot-kick to give us a 2-0 lead.

That proved to be the last piece of goal action in a game where experienced central defender José Fonte put in a commanding display.

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The Portuguese international made five tackles, and won all five of his aerial duels.

Meanwhile we enjoyed 53% possession as the away side, with the ball spending just 18% of it's time in our defensive third.




~~~





Three days later, we hosted mid table Saint-Étienne, and secured another 2-0 win in another solid display.

Striker Jonathan David held the ball up well, which gave time for his team-mates to get into attacking positions. David then delivered a low cross to the far post for right back Zeki Celik to fire us into a 24th minute lead.

The visitors took the game to us, but we contained them well. We scored a second goal in the 62nd minute, when right midfielder Luiz Araújo set up Yusuf Yazici to complete the scoring.

Once again, both of my central defenders put in a commanding display. This time, it was Sven Botman that stood out, making six tackles and winning all five of his aerial duels.

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~~~





Our final game of February saw us host reigning champions PSG.

Left midfielder Jonathan Bamba showed his big-game credentials with an outstanding display.

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Three goals ahead at half-time, with Bamba setting up the first two, then scoring a glorious third.

I urge my full backs to get forward, and right back Zeki Celik scored our fourth.

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This completed the scoring in what is surely our best result of the season.

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Bamba was outstanding, but I wouldn't mind betting that his value for Big Games is significantly higher than it is for Consistency.

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It wasn't just Bamba that stood out though, the whole team played their part in this win.

Goalkeeper Mike Maignan dealt reliably with anything that came his way, while my back four were solid. Sven Botman was particularly impressive.

In front of them, I assigned both Benjamin André and Xeka to man-mark PSG's number 10, Rafinha. They won seven tackles between them, and Rafinha was substituted after 54 minutes, having made just 14 passes, 5 of which were misplaced.

Wide men Luiz Araújo and Jonathan Bamba did their man-marking jobs on deeper central midfielders Idrissa Gueye and Ander Herrera, with Yusuf Yazici doubling up on the latter.

Yazici also got on the scoresheet, as did strike partner Jonathan David, who led our press. This prevented PSG's central defenders having the time and space to bypass the mid-block by hitting direct passes to their front men.

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Summary

It was a shame that we were eliminated from the Coupe de France, but thirteen points from a possible fifteen is an excellent return.

The thrashing of PSG was most definitely the highlight.

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Since losing the reverse fixture at PSG in the middle of October, we've played seventeen league games. Our record is W11 D4 L2.

A big improvement on our opening ten league games that saw us W4 D2 L4.

We're up two places from 6th, to 4th.

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I'm hoping that we can continue this good form, and close the gap on 3rd place Marseille, while cementing our position in the top six.




Player Focus

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Yusuf has had a particularly good month. He has started all six of our games in February, has scored five goals and provided one assist.

Out of all of the forwards at Lille, Yusuf has been by far the most prolific. Nine Ligue 1 goals from fourteen starts is a good return, and compares favourably with his team-mates.

Timothy Weah: 4 starts 0 goals
Jonathan Ikoné: 7 starts 0 goals
Burak Yilmaz : 11 starts 2 goals
Jonathan David: 17 starts 6 goals


In Lille's actual title win, Yusuf was behind Jonathan David and Burak Yilmaz in the pecking order, but was a useful squad player.

In this story, you can see that Yusuf has been much more important.

Within the confines of the default 442 formations, I've attempted to deploy Yusuf as a withdrawn striker.

These are his individual instructions.

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If the opposition play with a DMC, I will assign Yusuf to mark him. However, if our opponents use a flat midfield, I'll get Yusuf to join one of our wide midfielders in double-marking the more skilful of the two MCs.

This means that he'll be much deeper than his strike partner when we immediately win back possession, as one of my tweaks as the season has gone on,  is to instruct my target man to press with zonal marking.

I'll need Yusuf to stay fit, and in form, between now and the end of the season, if we're going to have a chance of a top three finish.




Forthcoming Fixtures & Team News

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We have three winnable Ligue 1 games coming up, but beating league leaders Lyon over two legs in the last sixteen of the Europa League will be a big ask.

We're unchanged for the first leg.

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Re: Short Stories

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• Interesting analysis of Bordeaux game
• Cracking effort v Monaco
• Christ – awful cup result
• Back to back clean sheet wins – nice
• Fecking hell – WHATA RESULT AND PERFORMANCE v PSG!
• Belter of a league month!
• Lyon over 2 legs will be tough
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Re: Short Stories

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Redknapp69 wrote: Tue Mar 26, 2024 9:12 pm • Interesting analysis of Bordeaux game
• Cracking effort v Monaco
• Christ – awful cup result
• Back to back clean sheet wins – nice
• Fecking hell – WHATA RESULT AND PERFORMANCE v PSG!
• Belter of a league month!
• Lyon over 2 legs will be tough
This is proving to be a tough short challenge, but that win over PSG is making it worthwhile.
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March 2021

Post by Libertine73 »

Results

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Coming off the back of that 4-0 spanking of reigning champions PSG at the end of last month, I was hopeful of getting a win against Ligue 1 leaders Lyon in the first leg of the round of sixteen of the Europa League.

Sadly, this wasn't to be the case.

The visitors shaded a goalless first-half, but we then had left midfielder Jonathan Bamba sent off for a professional foul, early in the second-half.

Our opponents made the extra man count, and scored twice midway through the second-half to take a commanding lead into the second leg.

Meanwhile, this result has created a fair bit of unhappiness throughout the club.

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~~~





Back to Ligue 1 action, we then suffered a 1-2 defeat at mid table Strasbourg.

The hosts took the lead just before half-time, then Jonathan Bamba set up striker Jonathan David for a 61st minute equaliser.

We didn't defend well in this game, and losing our best player - central defender Sven Botman - to injury in the first-half, was probably a pivotal moment.

Our opponents went back in front in the 74th minute, and held on for the win.




~~~





I didn't want us to go out of the Europa League without a fight, so I sent my strongest available side out for the second leg at Lyon.

We were outclassed by an excellent side though, with the hosts scoring twice in the second-half, to inflict a 0-4 aggregate defeat upon us.




~~~





We then hosted bottom side Nîmes on our return to Ligue 1 action.

We got off to a good start, with midfielder Xeka setting up striker Yusuf Yazici to give us a 12th minute lead.

Our joy was short-lived though, as Xeka was sent off nine minutes later for a professional foul.

The visitors made their extra man count, by equalising just before half-time.

The second-half was very much a stalemate, with neither side able to get a foothold in the game, so we had to settle for a 1-1 draw.



~~~





We at least finished the month on a high, with a nice 3-0 victory at mid table Lens.

The hosts deployed Dmitri Payet behind the front two in the 532 attacking formation, so I got midfielders Benjamin André and Arton Zekaj to double-mark him.

Our opponents forced Mike Maignan to make an important save midway through the first-half, before Jonathan Bamba's corner was flicked on by Jonathan David, for right midfielder Luiz Araújo to smash us into a 37th minute lead.

Lens had a couple of good chances to grab a deserved equaliser just before half-time, but Maignan made another couple of good saves.

Having survived that, we started the second-half well. Yusuf Yazici missed a good opportunity not long after the restart, before a great move involving both of my full backs, Zeki Celik and Reinildo Mandava, meant that we doubled our advantage in the 61st minute, with the latter setting up the former, with a ball to the far post after a surging run down the left.

The hosts forced Maignan into a couple more saves, before we killed the game off in the 81st minute.

Zekaj won a free-kick in a dangerous position, then Yazici provided an excellent delivery into the box for Zekaj to head us into a 3-0 lead, which completed the scoring.


Man of the Match: Zeki Celik

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Both of my full backs did well today. Our opponent's wingbacks were only able to create one chance between them, with Celik and Mandava winning a combined ten tackles.

When we were in possession, we were able to outnumber Lens in wide areas. Jonathan Bamba and Luiz Araújo saw plenty of the ball, and Celik and Mandava both got forward well for our second goal.




Summary

Not a great month, with three successive defeats.

I can't have too many complaints about being beaten so comfortably by Lyon. They really do have a very good side.

We were a bit unlucky to lose to Strasbourg, but the scoreline probably flattered us against Lens, to balance things out.

Going down to ten men against Nîmes was a bit of a blow, as they were there for the taking.

We're going to need to go on a very good run in our final eight games, if we're going to have any chance of securing a top three finish.

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Lyon have only dropped twelve points all season. I'll be surprised if they're not champions by the end of May.




Player Focus

With star defender Sven Botman getting injured this month, young Portuguese central defender Tiago Djaló has come in and put in some solid displays.

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Tiago won eight tackles in the second defeat against Lyon, then won seven tackles in the next game against Nîmes. He then won four tackles in the victory over Lens.

A fine young player who will surely get called into the Portugal U21 squad soon.




Forthcoming Fixtures

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We could do with beating Montpellier and Lorient, ahead of the visit of Marseille in what could well be a Champions League place six-pointer. We'll then face another game against Lyon.
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Re: Short Stories

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How long Botman out for?

Always tough v Lyon but 4-0 feels ugly overall

Mixed stuff in league and some internal wranglings rear thier head
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Re: Short Stories

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Redknapp69 wrote: Fri Mar 29, 2024 10:17 pm How long Botman out for?

Always tough v Lyon but 4-0 feels ugly overall

Mixed stuff in league and some internal wranglings rear thier head
Yeah, we just couldn't pull off a similar performance against Lyon, to the one against PSG last month.

Botman will be back for the Montpellier game.
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April 2021

Post by Libertine73 »

Results

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We started the month with a demoralising 0-2 defeat at home to mid table Montpellier.

Despite us enjoying 61% possession and keeping two of our opponent's midfield trio quiet, we failed to defend well when we forced Montpellier out wide. Left back Reinildo Mandava failed to prevent a cross from right wingback Arnaud Souquet, and the visitors took a 31st minute lead after goalkeeper Mike Maignan failed to hold onto a header by Andy Delort.

Delort doubled his side's lead five minutes later, when midfielder Téji Savanier got away from one of our markers, got past right back Zeki Celik too easily for my liking, then delivered a cross into the box for Delort to outjump Sven Botman, and head Montpellier into a two-goal lead.

We were booed off at half-time, having not registered a single shot at goal.

The second-half was much better, after I made a quadruple substitution in the 63rd minute. We created enough chances to deserve something from the game, but the visitors gave us a lesson in individual solid defending.




~~~





I made a few changes for our next game - a trip to struggling Lorient - but we suffered a 0-1 defeat.

Our performance was a lot better than our previous game. We won the shot count 10-3, and the ball spent a lot less time in our defensive third than the opposition's.

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Lorient keeper Esteban Salles made a string of great saves to frustrate us, and the hosts scored the only goal of the game in the 39th minute, with Zeki Celik being beaten far too easily again, for my liking.




~~~





I made further changes for the visit of 3rd place Marseille.

The fans became impatient after a while, and were chanting for my dismissal. However, we silenced them in the 36th minute. Reinildo Mandava made a surging run down the left, then fed left midfielder Jonathan Bamba. The Frenchman then delivered a cross to the near post for striker Jonathan Ikoné to head us into a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the season.

Three minutes later, Ikoné won a penalty, then picked himself up to convert the spot-kick and send us in with a 2-0 lead at half-time.

We kept the ball well throughout the game, enjoying 62% possession, and an outstanding display by Ikoné saw him complete ten successful dribbles along with his two goals, to earn him the Man of the Match award.

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Summary

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The board are behind me for now, but it's a good job that this is only a one-season story, as I think that I'll be sacked at the end of the season if we don't remain in the top six.

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We've been frustratingly inconsistent this season. It wasn't that long ago that we spanked PSG 4-0. Our recent victory over 3rd place Marseille means that we've done the double over the side from the south.




Other News

Struggling Lens got a surprise win over Lyon, to win the Coupe de la Ligue. Franck Haise's side eliminated us from this competition at the last sixteen stage.

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However, Lyon have three more chances of glory this season. They're only a point behind PSG in the Ligue 1 title race, and have two games in hand.

They'll also face Angers in the Coupe de France Final, and Roma in the Europa League Final.




Forthcoming Fixtures & Team News

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I'm hoping that Lyon will be knackered when we play them, as the Coupe de France Final is just two days before. No doubt that I'll need to utilise my squad afterwards though, as we play struggling Dijon two days later.

We'll hopefully pick up as many points as we can this month. 3rd place is a big ask now, but Marseille do have to go to PSG.

This will be my side for the trip to Brest.

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Re: Short Stories

Post by Redknapp69 »

Jeez - 2 tough defeats there but at least finished this update with a win

Board on verge of making you insecure I reckon

Why dont they want Fonte at the club?

Ikone should be doing better than his stats
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Re: Short Stories

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Redknapp69 wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 12:14 am Jeez - 2 tough defeats there but at least finished this update with a win

Board on verge of making you insecure I reckon

Why dont they want Fonte at the club?

Ikone should be doing better than his stats
Fonte has publicly thrown shade at his team-mates when we've lost. I stripped him of the captaincy as a result.

I've struggled to get the best out of Ikoné. If I weren't restricting myself to 442, I'd be either playing him behind the front two, or as an inverted winger.
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May 2021

Post by Libertine73 »

Results

We started the month with a nice 3-1 win at Brest.

Striker Jonathan Ikoné fed midfielder Xeka, who went past two opponents and gave us a 31st minute lead with a superb effort.

Seven minutes later Ikoné collected a long ball by left back Domagoj Bradaric, went past an opponent, then got into the box and drove us into a 2-0 lead.

The hosts pulled one back in the 72nd minute, but substitute Burak Yilmaz delivered a free-kick into the box for midfielder Arton Zekaj to head us into a 3-1 lead, which completed the scoring.




~~~





We then hosted Lyon, and we had goalkeeper Mike Maignan to thank for earning a point in a 1-1 draw.

The hosts took a deserved 17th minute lead, but right midfielder Isaac Lihadji collected a long diagonal pass from left back Domagoj Bradaric, went past two opponents, then struck a wonderful effort into the top corner, to give us an equaliser that was well against the run of play.

Lyon won the shot count 11-3, so deserved to win, but several saves from Maignan thwarted them.




~~~





Two days later we hosted struggling Dijon.

After an even first-half, we took control in the second-half, with the only goal of the game coming from striker Yusuf Yazici who headed in a 53rd minute cross by left midfielder Timothy Weah.




~~~





Three days later we hosted mid table Angers.

Arton Zekaj delivered a ball into the box for striker Jonathan David to head us into a 49th minute lead, but the visitors scored a deserved 79th minute equaliser, to earn a point.




~~~





Our final game of the season was a disappointing 0-2 defeat at Rennes.

Both of our opponent's goals came as a result of my wide midfielders Isaac Lihadji and Timothy Weah failing to track the players that they were supposed to be man-marking.

We performed poorly, with the hosts winning the shot count 12-4.

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End of Season Ligue 1 Table

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Eight points from our final five games means that we have to settle for a 6th place finish. This means that Lille have at least qualified for next season's Europa League, but is a long way off of where the club actually finished in 2011.

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Meanwhile, Lyon have had a tremendous season, considering that they only finished 4th in real life, and made no significant changes to their squad in the January transfer window.

As well as winning the Ligue 1 title, they put the disappointment of losing the Coupe de la Ligue Final to Lens behind them, by winning the Coupe de France and the Europa League.

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Summary of the Season

My aim of this story was to emulate Christophe Galtier's achievement of winning the Ligue 1 title in 2021. The restrictions that I placed upon myself was to stick to the preloaded 442 formations, and to attempt to set the team up tactically with a mid-block.

A 6th place finish means that I've fallen considerably short.

So where did it go wrong?

Lille were one of the better sides defensively under me, but nowhere near as good as they were under Galtier in real life.

We had a very disappointing goalscoring record.

I've speculated as to why this is.

Placing man-marking duties on my wide midfielders and one of my strikers (both, initially) meant that they got dragged into deep, central areas. This may or may not have affected their ability to get into dangerous positions when we immediately won back possession. Left midfielder Jonathan Bamba didn't provide as many assists that I expected, but on the other hand, striker Yusuf Yazici didn't do too badly for goals.

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Maybe if I'd used a different formation, along with my more familiar zonal-marking, hard-tackling, pressing tactics we might have done better, but this is purely speculation.

As the season progressed, I figured that Lyon must have a much better squad than you'd expect from a side that finished 4th in real life.

Once the season finished, I went on CM Scout to compare Lille's squad to PSG's and Lyon's. This isn't necessarily a definitive measure, but I focused on the Current Ability of three squads.

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I'm not surprised that PSG have the best squad. It's no surprise that they achieved well in excess of 90 points, but I was surprised that there's little between the quality of Lille's squad and Lyon's.

Their manager has done a fantastic job.

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Conclusion

I think that the jury is still out on whether a mid-block tactical approach can work, especially in a 442 formation with no arrows or wib wob.

It could be that I set it up wrongly, especially with regards player instructions from an attacking perspective, though defensively, I was pleased with how we often nullified the  opposition central midfielders.

Standout results were clearly the 4-0 win over PSG, along with doing the double over Marseille, while our best player was Sven Botman.

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The young Dutchman faded a bit at the end of the season, he probably played too many games, but he was one of the best defenders in Ligue 1.

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Sven was clearly our best player. You'll see from the images below that no-one else at the club really came close to his level.

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Next Update

This will be a new short story, but with the same April 2021 data update as this story, and starting at the beginning of July 2020, like this one.

It will be with a British club, but I'll be keeping an eye on how Lille perform under a CPU controlled Christophe Galtier.
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Re: Short Stories

Post by Redknapp69 »

• The end to the season encapsulates your time if we are being honest – mixed results all over the shop and lacking consistency
• European spot isn’t to be sniffed at though
• Lyon – amazing effort fair play – what a season!
• Tough to put finger on why things didn’t click – prob a mix of things really
• Tactical knowledge on Rudi Garcia!
• An enjoyable tale as ever!
• Look forward to the next one – have you already played it or going from scratch?
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Re: Short Stories

Post by Libertine73 »

Redknapp69 wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 9:41 pm • The end to the season encapsulates your time if we are being honest – mixed results all over the shop and lacking consistency
• European spot isn’t to be sniffed at though
• Lyon – amazing effort fair play – what a season!
• Tough to put finger on why things didn’t click – prob a mix of things really
• Tactical knowledge on Rudi Garcia!
• An enjoyable tale as ever!
Look forward to the next one – have you already played it or going from scratch?

I started it a few days ago. I'm in November now, so just over a third of the way through the season.

I'll post up the intro today or tomorrow.
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Re: Short Stories

Post by DeBierkoning »

As promised, here I am again in the front row to enjoy another one of your stories! In fact, many more of your stories... :)
It's a pity you couldn't repeat Galtier's exploits at the helm of Lille. Although you made the mid-block idea as realistic as possible, your players' average raitings (apart from a few exceptions) make me think they were not in a position to perform to the best of their ability. Do you think it was more of a problem of tactical restrictions or players in your squad?

The experiment you tried is fascinating, do you think you will try it again later?

For the next story I venture that you will try to repeat the exploits of Stevie G at the helm of Rangers FC, breaking the Bhoys' hegemony in the league and aiming to go further in Europe. :lol:
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Re: Short Stories

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DeBierkoning wrote: Wed Apr 03, 2024 11:10 am As promised, here I am again in the front row to enjoy another one of your stories! In fact, many more of your stories... :)
It's a pity you couldn't repeat Galtier's exploits at the helm of Lille. Although you made the mid-block idea as realistic as possible, your players' average raitings (apart from a few exceptions) make me think they were not in a position to perform to the best of their ability. Do you think it was more of a problem of tactical restrictions or players in your squad?

The experiment you tried is fascinating, do you think you will try it again later?

For the next story I venture that you will try to repeat the exploits of Stevie G at the helm of Rangers FC, breaking the Bhoys' hegemony in the league and aiming to go further in Europe. :lol:
The mid-block worked up to a point. There were many games where the opposition's full backs saw more of the ball than their central midfielders, so the tactic worked in the sense that we successfully forced them to move the ball into wide areas.

We were reasonable defensively, but I'd have liked to have seen my full backs win more tackles.

We had plenty of possession in games as well. The opposition central midfielders often misplaced passes when they did get the ball. However, we didn't do enough with it. Yusuf Yazici was probably our most successful attacking player, but I think that Jonathans Ikoné, Bamba and David could have done more. Burak Yilmaz also did much better in real life.

The defensive work they had to do may have hindered them, but I'm not sure. It may or may not have helped if I'd given them free roles.

I will definitely try it again in the future, but not in this next save, which you've correctly predicted will be a homage to Steven Gerrard!
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New Short Story

Post by Libertine73 »

Steven Gerrard: Actually A Good Manager?





Introduction

This one-season story will focus on Steven Gerrard's Scottish Premiership title-winning campaign at Rangers in 2020-21.

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Aston Villa fans may well be laughing at this story title, and with good reason. Gerrard took over from Dean Smith in November 2021, after Villa had lost five consecutive Premier League games.

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Gerrard had a decent start to life at Villa Park, winning eight of his first sixteen Premier League games, but the slump in form started before the end of that season, and continued into the start of the following season.

Gerrard was sacked in October 2022. His time at Aston Villa wasn't a disaster, but things have clearly improved since the arrival of Unai Emery.

Back to Rangers, it's worth me reminding you a little bit of what went on in the years leading up to Steven Gerrard's appointment at Ibrox in the summer of 2018.

After winning the Scottish Premiership in 2011, Rangers finished as runners-up to Celtic in 2012. That summer, Rangers were relegated to the fourth tier of the Scottish league system due to financial irregularities.

Back-to-back promotions saw Rangers in the Scottish Championship in 2014, but it was another two years before the club returned to the Scottish Premiership. Whilst they'd been away, Celtic had effectively turned the Scottish Premiership into a one-club league, adding four more titles to make it five in a row.

Rangers might have been back in the top flight, but they could only manage 3rd place finishes in the next two seasons. Aberdeen were runners-up in 2017 and again in 2018, with Celtic cementing their dominance by adding two more titles, to make it seven in a row.

That summer, Rangers appointed former Liverpool and England legend, Steven Gerrard, as their new manager. A bold appointment, considering that this was Gerrard's first senior managerial job. How would he handle the expectations of 50000+ Rangers fans at Ibrox, desperate for a return to former glory?

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Pretty well, all things considered.

Rangers achieved 2nd place finishes in Gerrard's first two seasons in charge, but couldn't prevent Celtic making it eight, and then nine Scottish Premiership titles in a row.

It was going to take something special for Rangers to overhaul a Celtic side that had got so used to winning. This is exactly what we saw in 2020-21.

Rangers won their first Scottish Premiership title for ten years, and did it with ruthless efficiency.

They remained unbeaten in the league for the entire season, winning 32 of their 38 games. Gerrard's side won each of their 19 home games, were the top scorers with 92 goals, and had the meanest defence, conceding just 13.

Achieving 102 points, Rangers finished 25 points clear of 2nd place Celtic, who's 77 points was only 3 less than they had won the title with the previous season.

Rangers also reached the last sixteen of the Europa League, but were eliminated by Slavia Prague.




My Aim

To win the Scottish Premiership in this one-season story. Like Gerrard, I want to remain unbeaten in the league, finish as top goalscorers, and have the meanest defence.

I also want to reach (at least) the last sixteen of the Europa League.




My Approach

I can't sign anyone. If there's an injury crisis, I can recall players that are out on loan though.

Tactically, Gerrard didn't do anything groundbreaking. He tended to use the 433/4231 formations, with inverted wingers and attacking full backs.

I'll look to do the same.




Meanwhile...

I'll be providing updates about what is going on in Ligue 1.

I'm using the same data update (April 2021) as my previous story as the manager of Lille, and I want to see how the CPU controlled Christophe Galtier's Lille side get on, and whether Lyon can repeat their success of winning the Ligue 1/Coupe de France/Europa League treble.




Next Update

A summary of our preseason, along with the lowdown on one of the key players in the club's actual 2021 triumph.
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Re: Short Stories

Post by Redknapp69 »

Lovely stuff - guwon Stevie G!
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