Welcome back! Let’s dive straight in.
We fucking did it, we won the league!
I mean, what can I say? Where do I start?
We began the league with a thirteen-match unbeaten run. September was an especially hard but successful month with four matches against top-8 clubs, Lazio (2-1), Inter (2-1), Atalanta (0-0), and Juventus (3-1). Milan handed us our first loss (1-3) on match-day 14. We bounced back a ten-match unbeaten run between mid-December to mid-February. We had some fun matches in that winning run – Cagliari (6-2), Bologna (4-0), Fiorentina (4-1), and probably my favorite match of the season, against Lazio (3-3).
The second loss of the season was at the hands of Juventus (1-2). Four wins on the bounce followed, including a win against Napoli (3-0). Benevento handed us our third loss (1-2) of the season, they’ve been a pain in the ass. Two matches later we lost our fourth and final match against Roma (1-3). After that there was no looking back, we finished the season with a six-match winning run and we were able to get revenge against Milan (4-0).
As you can see, we scored the most goals and had the third-best defense in the league. Lorenzo Lucca and Alfredo Donnarumma dominated their opponents combining for 45 goals and 10 assists. We scored 3+ goals in 19 matches (eleven 3-goal-matches, seven 4-goal-matches, one 5-goal-match, and one 6-goal-match). We kept sixteen clean sheets throughout the season, which was rewarded by having the back five (GK and defenders) all named in the team-of-the-year.
This season was truly a group effort. We played a total of 31 players through the season due to injuries and fatigue. We had the third-lowest wage in the league at £19.4 p/a, as well as the second-lowest transfer expenditure with a net of +£37.42m. We also had the youngest team in the league at 22 y/o, with youngsters Ljubiša Dragićević and Lorenzo Carrara having their breakout season and won over their respective starting spots, renewing their contracts is a priority.
Here are the results from August through December and January through May.
Coppa Italia & Champions League
For the second year in a row, we were knocked out of the Coppa Italia in the Quarterfinals. Last season it was Atalanta, this time it was Milan’s turn. Unlike last season, I actually tried to field the strongest eleven. We were up 2-0 after goals from Jeong & Nesta. Then in the 68th minute after Brahim Diaz found the back of the net to give Milan momentum to find the equalizer through Ismaël Bennacer tying the match in the 90+2 to take it to extra time. It was a close match but in the 117th minute, Alvaro Morata slotted a header past Titas Krapikas. We go again next season.
In the Champions League, we were drawn against Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, and Real Madrid. I was confident that we could beat Celtic to push for the Europa League. After six matches played we were able to finish second in our group to qualify for the first knockout round. As predicted, we beat Celtic (3-1) in both matches, tied (2-2) & beat (0-1) Dortmund, and lastly, we tied (0-0) & lost (2-0) against Madrid.
In the first knockout round, we would face Atletico Madrid. We put ourselves ahead at home in the 23rd minute after Alfredo Donnarumma snuck a shot between two of Atletico’s defenders. Thomas Lemar returned the favor in the 88th minute to finish the match (1-1). In the return leg, we struck first from a corner by our towering forward, Lorenzo Lucca. We shit the bed in the 69th minute when Lorenzo Bernasconi got himself sent off. Yannick Carrasco would tie the match in the 88th minute (AGAIN?!) taking the match to extra time. Carrasco would go on to score his second goal of the match in the 114th minute to knockout us out.
Player of the Year
Our Italian giant had another superb season. He scored a total of 29 goals and 5 assists from 41 matches to average a 7.60 rating. He was not able to match his numbers from last season. Ben Brereton Díaz leaving could have affected his performance, as they had formed a great partnership upfront. He also dropped his conversion rate from 14.6% to 9.60.
January Transfer Window
I’ve been scouting Juan Pablo Leone (Chilean/Italian) and Facundo Maldonado (Chilean/Spanish) since the summer transfer deadline day. It’s hard to find Chilean players with dual European citizenship. I decided to pull the trigger on both in January as we needed more reinforcements due to injuries and due to the fact that most of our first-team-ready players are out on loan. Maldonado (£500k) joins from Defense y Justícia (Arg) and Juan Leone (£1.4m) joins from Banfield (Arg).
In terms of outgoing, left-back Bruno Martella joins Lugano (£105k) as his role decreased to impact sub and Francesco Toffanin wanted more playing time so he joins Genoa (£2.1m).
We had another great intake. Although it’s not as great as last year’s “golden generation.” We did have a few standout players. Cream of the crop is Uzbek/Swedish towering striker Rustam Jumayev, he is already valued between £18k-£9.4m. We also had couple of midfielders, defenders and another decent goalkeeper.
We had fourteen players under the age of 23 playing in the first team (see the last post for screenshots). These youngsters were able to step up when needed. We need to keep a hold of these players this summer as we’re bound to lose some of the older starting players. As mentioned above, Ljubiša Dragićević and Lorenzo Carrara had a solid first season in the first team. They also were featured in NxG, Carrara landing in the 3rd place and Dragićević in 11th.
U18s & U20s
We’ve had the best youth coaches in the country for the last two season and has truly paid off. The U20s team didn’t not win their respective league, they did win the Primavera Super Coppa, Viareggio Cup Coppa Carnevale beating Partizan (2-0) and the UEFA Youth League beating Celtic (1-0). The U18s team swept through all of their competitions.
We gave debuts to a few players: LB – Tommaso Bernardi (17 y/o), Striker – Nicola Luparini (17 y/o), DM – Dalibor Verbič (17 y/o), CM – Romano Conti (16 y/o), CM – Martin Hovarth (17 y/o), GK – Billy Thomas (16 y.o), and Striker – Rustam Jumayev (16 y/o).
Finances & Infrastructure
Finances – We were able to double our overall balance to £168m after selling £70m worth of players and £20m for winning the league.
Facilities – No news on the new stadium, I’ve come to believe that it won’t ever happen. Our youth facilities are now “State of the Arts” and we’ve also invested £4.9m to upgrade our training facilities.
Next season will be more of the same, focusing on promoting more youth players, waving good bye to longstanding first-team players and hopefully another Serie A title.
Here are three of my favorite goals from the season, enjoy!
Thank you once again for stopping by, until next time!