Welcome back to November 2019 in the Three Season Challenge, this week’s update will be straight down to brass tacks looking at the remaining three games in the month: a league match at home against FC Metz, a tough trip to Paris to face PSG, and a Champions League match against Ajax. If you missed last week’s click the link below:
Let’s jump into it with our Ligue Un match against FC Metz.
Ligue Un Matchday 13:
LOSC Lille vs FC Metz at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy 10/11/2019
With the break coming up and our Starting XI at full stamina I was able to put out a full strength starting XI without worry for the future; with a couple of changes to the bench. This is a typical league match that we should get a result from (and by that I mean 3 points).
The opening 20 minutes we played really well, we held the ball well, kept possession, moved it nicely between the FC Metz midfield. We created some nice chances too, one of which lead to a corner. The corner was swung in and Osimhen met it and just nudged it into the far corner where it glanced in off the post to make it 1-0 8 minutes in. From then we carried on further just holding the ball well, FC Metz looked like they had no chance of developing anything. However, it quickly changed when quickly they built up a play which penetrated through the heart of my midfield and left Fonte turned and on the spot as Traore ran past him and played a One-Two with Diallo and took it first time on his left foot to put it past Maignan near post in the 26th minute; I thought he should do better here in all honesty. From there things didn’t change drastically as we still created more, got behind more and created more clear cut chances we just didn’t have the end product. This was punished after a series of corners, they took us on the counter down their right hand side, Centonze making mince meat of our back line before Angban found a great ball over the top putting Fonte under the firing line again. He held them up well enough and the rushing Maignan (mistake) met Diallo’s eventual shot but it rebounded to Boulaya who just had to place it past Pied who had rushed to the goal line to defend. 2-1 before the break, I felt extremely hard done by with that scoreline.
Sorry to say but unfortunately I missed the 1st half match facts and the first 20 minutes of the second half.
Second half opened up and it was a bit more back and forth, FC Metz came out playing slightly better and I found myself running into issues in the midfield as both teams struggled to find final balls in. In the 60th minute, Osimhen and Remy linked up nicely for Osimhen to grab his brace with a lovely finish to make it 2-2, I thought this could be a sign of a potential turnaround and late victory! Metz managed to start pulling my players out of position, causing me lots of issues at the back. Their attacks started to look a lot more menacing as they broke in behind. There was so much sloppy play from both teams from probably around the 70th minute, missing passes, poor dribbles, easy pick ups. Neither side could really string together some nice flow. In the 83rd minute for the first time in a long time I saw Maignan literally earn us a point wiht a save from 12 yards, however on close inspection the shot was straight at him (he just made it look good). Injury time came and I saw we had one real chance left in us, the players focused and concentrated on their passing and movement. We built up with great strength from Osimhen, Andre played a one two with Remy, through in the box on goal! Straight at the keeper who parried it away, Metz cleared their lines and the game finished at 2-2.
Frustrating game and the reality is a draw at home against FC Metz is certainly less than ideal. Especially considering how challenging the leagues are currently with top spot going to teams who perform near invincible levels of league scores. It’s two big points we’ve dropped and we see ourselves dip to 4th as Lyon don’t hesitate to take advantage of our slip.
At this point I was starting to feel that the Goalkeeper’s were rarely shining stars of the team. I thought in my case I would notice Maignan being our highest rated player but tbh I barely think myself lucky having such a good GK. He’s the 4th highest rated keeper in Ligue Un and is 3 OVR points higher than the next highest rated player in my team. I’m currently writing an article on changes I’ll be making to the sliders which will affect GK ability & shot speed. I’ll be leaving shot error as it is as the variety in shooting is a great challenge. In short if you don’t fancy viewing the article explaining more in depth about this, I’m changing GK ability to 45 and shot power to 49 (both user and the AI).
We now had an international break before our next game where we face PSG. We had two sessions of training and a number of scouting updates came back. We finished scouting France and moved that scout to Korea. We also finished scouting Saudi Arabia. I decided to recall the scout to help with any big country scouting. I’m planning to use 3 or 4 good scouts at locations and the other 3 or 2 to support scouting when necessary. Game-day arrived and we had a press conference (for now I’m carrying on using these as I worry that lower team morale will affect my performances in the matches). Then I looked at my phone and saw that Pied had text me requesting a start as he was in good form. As per usual I told him I would consider it.
Ligue Un Matchday 14:
Paris Saint-Germain vs LOSC Lille at the Le Parc des Princes 22/11/2019
I put out a near full strength starting XI. In my head I was planning on bringing certain key players off, especially if things were looking bleak, in the hopes that they would recover in time for the Ajax game. Renato Sanches was carrying a bit of fatigue from internationals so I rested him and played Xeka. Xeka is adequate and would mean Sanches was available for Ajax. Weah was in excellent form, his ability to play out on the left meant I let him play ahead of Bamba as Bamba was only in good form. Celik was also rested due to Pied’s request by text. I was aiming to take Osimhen off in the 2nd half so he could start against Ajax and then judge who else needed to rest.
PSG played well from the start, Weah put in a cheeky body check on Verratti giving away a free kick which lead to a corner. The corner went short and Ikone managed to nick it, he sprinted up the pitch with options around him, it fell to Andre who picked up Osimhen sprinting past the back line, he kept his pace got 1 on 1 and managed to slot it away nicely for an early 1-0 lead! My time on the ball was very short lived as their midfield could pass it around at ease. Ultimately this lead to more chances for them and they built up beautifully, a quick turn by Gueye put Andre on his arse, he then gave a pass to Cavani, who laid it off to Icardi first time, he quickly returned it and Cavani showed great strength to nullify Fonte as he smashed it near post past Maignan to equalise. Following that there was some back and forth, saves from keepers from both sides. Passing sequences that would be snubbed out. One attack down my right hand side was due to be cleared however it came off one of my other defenders, bobbled around, we failed to clear it, it fell to Mbappe who saw Icardi free 12 yards out, a short pass and one touch then shoot meant they took the lead 2-1 in the 34th minute. Half-time arrived and I felt that we were still in it, the scoreline was fair in my view but we could still steal a point later on.
Came out at halftime and felt instantly something was up with my players. Passing runs weren’t coming together nicely, the shape of the back line was consistently being pulled apart. I wasn’t sure what to do to counteract this. Enough pressure eventually lead to attacks from PSG, Maignan and Gabriel both did well at times and it was nice to see Maignan be involved in the game for a change. We found ourself playing counterattack football which isn’t my favourite style, as you can find out if you fail your counter and are countered back you’re really left in a bad way. This is what happened around the 56th minute, a weak pass from Osimhen was cut out and PSG built up from it quickly. Cavani held up Gabriel well as Icardi made a free run past, he flicked the ball on Gabriel tried to cover but Icardi was gone, brought it into the box and smashed it past Maignan to create a 2 goal lead. In the 71st minute they were breaking down my right hand side (an avenue that was explored often). Gabriel covered as they moved into the box, he blocked the cross but it bounced in the box Icardi ran onto it and found Mbappe in the middle 6 yards out who tapped it into the bottom corner making it 4.
After that thumping we drop to 5th in the league as Monaco move above us with a win; Lyon are in third and are 5 points clear of us. We need to start performing, we’ve had 2 draws and a loss in our last three games which explains why we’re tumbling down the table. Pied still thanked me for letting him play while he was in good form.
I am noticing that my fullbacks really are avenues of attack for a lot of my opposition. Bradaric is often found out of position as was Pied against PSG then. This creates space that either has to be filled by a CB which opens my centre up (really not good) or if I keep the CB central gives them a huge opportunity to push my defensive line back, bring up numbers of their own and create some really dangerous opportunities. Maybe I need to look at implementing some instructions for my fullbacks.
We had 4 days to recover now before the Ajax game, we also had a training session to complete. I then saw an email from BSC Young Boys who were interested in taking Droehnle on loan for the rest of the season. Excellent!
Champions League Group Stage Matchday 5:
LOSC Lille vs Ajax at the Stade Pierre Mauroy 26/11/2019
This game will determine how strong a side we need to put out against Chelsea in the next. Looking at the table it’s hard for us not to go through but still mathematically possible. A win here would prevent that and would guarantee us winning our group. A draw would mean we could theoretically drop out if Chelsea beat Valencia and us and then Ajax were to beat Valencia. A loss and I’d be looking to secure a win against Chelsea to prevent any upsets.
The side I put out was composed of a mix of Starting XI players and 2nd string players. Osimhen and Postolachi up top, Yazici and Samba out wide. Sanches and Andre in the middle with the two young CB’s Djalo and Agouzoul behind them. Then we had Reinildo and Celik out wide in defence with the ever present Maignan between the sticks
Opening 10 minutes I felt quite comfortable with, we were passing fluidly and quickly, creating a few chances (nothing of real note though or with no end product to show). Ajax hardly saw the ball, until their turn to attack came, building up down my left hand side, I kept a solid line, attempted to make an interception but missed and it fell to Tadic who now had space, lined up a shot on the edge of the box and pitched it perfectly into the far top corner to give Ajax first blood 1-0. Bamba was making good gains on the left hand side, following a corner however it was Renato Sanches who lead the way down that side, Osimhen was given the ball around halfway, paused while Sanches made his run as Osimhen held up the defence and gave it, Sanches ran to the back and into the box whereby Osimhen had caught up to him unmarked in the centre and pushed it past the Ajax keeper to level the score.
Overall I was pleased with how we’d played and knew that a draw here wouldn’t be end of the world. However we came out of the blocks miles ahead of Ajax. We connected attacks together extremely well, if it wasn’t for some poor in box decision making we could have grabbed a couple more early on. In the end it was the counter off a corner (again) which lead to Reinildo doing a full length sprint and finding Osimhen who had an identical setup to his first and he didn’t miss the second either, a brace for him and 2-1 the score. The game began to level out, teams going back and forth but not threatening either goal. We built up and Postolachi held the back line as Yazici ran through, over the top ball found Yazici, Veltman tried to clear it but it just deflected off him into Osimhen. The ball went skyward over the keeper and looped into the top corner and Veltman couldn’t recover it. 3-1, hatrick for Osimhen and that’s 7 goals in the Champions League for our star striker, very impressive! We continued attacking but again more issues just on the final product. Around the 85th minute Ajax were pressing high on us forcing us to pass back to Maignan, he booted it clear but it fell direct to Van de Beek who quickly hurtled it into our third. Played it back and forth with Ziyech, to Danilo who laid up Van de Beek who took it first time and it zoomed past Maignan in the 86th minute and it was 3-2 and a possible momentum shift in play here in the last few minutes! However, we contained any attacks following that and didn’t try to push our players forward too much and we held out for the 3-2 win.
After doing the double over Ajax now we had secured 1st spot in the Champions League group stages! Effectively completing my personal objective for this year and the board’s objective; just awaiting confirmation after our game vs Chelsea. We’ll also land some juicy prize money too which will help our financial objective. In the next update I will be looking through at our fellow French sides and how they are faring as we enter the last week. For now, we could breathe easy and play a fully relaxed side vs Chelsea which will help me with league fatigue.
Looking back on the last few games we had and I realised I’ve come to rely on Osimhen far too much. In the last three matches we’ve scored 6 goals and all of them have come from Osimhen. Come January he could have some keen interest, hopefully his triple valuation price tag will be too steep for others to pay. Here’s hoping he doesn’t request to leave if we continue to drop points in the league!
We had a few days left of November, Swedish side BK Hacken contacted me about loaning A. Zeka for the rest of the season, I was happy to see him get some game time and so let them get talking. My scout from Italy had finished and so I transferred him over the Belgium. I’m aiming to complete the Central European countries next.
As far as November goes that’s all we’ve got. Join us next week as we jump into December, hopefully we can turn our league form around and at least get back into the top 4 by the half way point. Otherwise 2020 will be a challenge.
For next week’s installment please either subscribe to my blog so that you’ll receive a notification on any posts I make, or once it’s posted there will be a link below directly to that page. Otherwise it should be available around 18:00 GMT.