AF Diary #12
So, hi, if you read these for the #FM content you’re going to love this. If you read them but skip the #FM stuff you may want to hit the back button. This week, we’re going big. I’ve decided to bring you TOTAL COVERAGE of the 2034 World Cup in my FM save, which means the history of the World Cup from a future perspective, introductions to both Argentina and Spain (the two teams I’ll be playing as) and details on every game those two teams play. Until I get bantered out of it before the Quarter Finals and then dryly report that, yes, Germany won again.
For starters then; here’s the history of the World Cup. 2022 was the first World Cup to run in this save. It’s the winter World Cup that took place in Qatar. The winner was: Croatia. They beat France 2-1 in the final. Revenge! Beaten semi-finalists were Uruguay and Italy. Brazil and Germany went out in the quarter finals. Argentina and Spain both lost on penalties in the second round. That doesn’t bode well does it? England got beaten by Brazil in the second round.
2026 took place in North America. It was the first World Cup with a wider field of combatants, which resulted in some interesting teams making the knockout stages including Iran, who edged out Serbia in extra time. Argentina lost to Portugal in the second round (oh no, is this a theme? Do not be a theme). France also went out at this stage, as did Scotland, Canada and Australia. Welcome to the bigger World Cup field. The third round saw Spain beat Iran 5-0. Thanks for coming lads. Jamaica went out at this stage. They’ve been weirdly successful in this save. England BEAT GERMANY ON PENALTIES! Cameroon beat Italy. Madness at this World Cup. England also knocked out Brazil and Holland on route to a final against Portugal, who beat Spain on pens in the other semi. Did England win? Of course not. Lost to Portugal. Congrats to Portugal though. More successful since Ronaldo retired and became reserves assistant manager at Toulouse (this actually happened).
In 2030 the World Cup went to Italy and Italy themselves managed to get knocked out on penalties by Russia in the second round. My word. That will not have gone over well in Italy. Argentina made it past round two but Spain lost to Cameroon. England again knocked Brazil out and Argentina came a cropper at the hands of champions Portugal. Cameroon made the quarters before losing to France and Mexico made the semis. Portugal got to a repeat final, Holland got revenge on England but France got past both of them to win it.
Jimmy Football is a wiley veteran of International football having bossed Canada and USA prior to his move to Spain. He quit Canada after losing the final of the Gold Cup to Jamaica and quit USA after an embarrassing 7-1 defeat to Germany in the Olympics. Actually, Jimmy’s International pedigree is terrible. Spain bottled the Nation’s League as well.
GOALKEEPERS: Hector of Juve is the number one. I signed him at Juve (as Brian Hates-Liverpool) and he’s one of the best keepers in the game. Spain’s forward players are so good Hector has a **1/2 rating on the National scale. Ruben is the number two keeper. I had him at Barcelona but loaned him out the season I was there because he’s shit.
DEFENDERS: Jorge Lazaro is the right back and he played for me at Bayern. All these lads played for BHL not Jimmy Football so probably have no affinity for him whatsoever. Salvador Simarro also played for BHL, at Barca. Jose Luis, the second string left back, is so bad Barca sold him to the Villa.
MIDFIELD: Guillermo Bravo is a versatile central midfielder who played for BHL at Barca but Barca inexplicably let him join PSG on loan last season so Jimmy has one mate in the team at least. Pepe also plays for PSG. He’s the midfield anchor man so he’s liable to be important in the big games. I also have an exciting youngster called Gustavo Leon who plays for the mighty Southampton (So’ton are the second best team in England in this save).
ATTACK: Here is where Spain have a wealth of riches. Juan Francisco Perez plays for Man Utd. He’s basically the Bruno Fernandes of the 2034 Utd line up. He can play central midfield but is better unleashed as an AMC. He’s a bit of a luxury player but he can win games on his own. Moises, my tiny winger (he’s 5’2”, a pocket rocket), is a bit of a livewire. He’s 31 and reaching the end of his career but in my Barca season he was brilliant when he was fit. On the other side is Ale Rioja, a man named after two things I love to drink. He’s keeping the equally exciting Angel Botia, of Real, out of the side. Up top there is an embarrassment of riches. Oriol Cardenas played for me at Dortmund. He’s 6’6” and one hell of an impact sub. I’ve also got Asier Ramos, who tore up Ligue 1 last year. Finally Aniol Barbera is the best player I’ve ever had.
He has 100 caps, 101 goals. When I was at Barca he won games on his own. He’s got just about everything and he never passes. You give him the ball, it’s probably a goal.
The Team Report is a thing of beauty as long as you focus on midfield and attack. Spain are going to outscore just about everyone. The defence is fine but looks dire thanks to how good the strikers are. The best defender is ***. Barbera and Ramos are ****1/2.
Unlike Jimmy, Brian is an Argentina man, through and through. He took Argentina’s U23 side to the Olympics in 2024 and came back to manage to senior team after the last World Cup. He’s been there four years and has won the Copa America and Confederation’s Cup. Plus Argentina mullered Brazil 3-0 in the Superclasico.
GOALKEEPERS: Carlos Denis is the PSG keeper so that’s one of Jimmy’s players. The other important keeper is Cristian Morales who was Jimmy’s keeper at Anderlecht. Are my International managers at the wrong sides? It feels that way the more I talk about it.
DEFENDERS: Guido Ratto Chiofalo was a central defender Jimmy signed at Anderlecht and signed him again for Dortmund. He’s the best left back in the squad despite being a giant and I’ll be playing him at centre back. The rest of the defenders are old and I picked them based on the familiarity of having had them for the past four years. Ariel Prieto can play just about anywhere so he’s permanently on the bench.
MIDFIELD: I had Thiago Almada is a key player in this midfield until recently when his form went off a cliff and all his attributes died because he’s 32. Replacing him has been…tricky. I’ve opted for a guy called Tiago Garcia. Did I use friendlies to see how he’d fit in to my system? Of course not. I just saw him and thought; he’ll fucking do. I’ve also replaced my injured left winger with a guy called Ariel Goldberg. I didn’t actually notice the starting player was out until a week before I had to name my squad so there isn’t really a back up option here. On the right wing is Rodolfo Zuculini aka The Zuck. A man I love. At Ajax I signed him because there was a desperate need for a right winger and he won the cup final on his own. He literally beat three players and curled the ball into the top hand corner in the 93rd minute. I love him. I took him to Dortmund and he spent half the season out of form but we can forget that. My most reliable player is Gonzalo Diaz but he’s now 33 years old and is easily tired.
ATTACK: Favio Troiani is Chelsea’s centre forward but don’t hold that against him. He’s been consistent and reliable and his goals saw Argentina win a couple of tournaments. I’ve also brought Norberto Rey, Benfica’s star player, and then realised I had no depth in any attacking positions and added in Gonzalo Videla, who can play anywhere up top, and Diego Gojmerac. Diego is 26, in his prime, plays for Schalke and scored 3 goals for them last season. That’s not a typo. Three. In the Bundesliga, in a team that finished second in the league. He was insanely good until he got signed by Arsenal and it’s all been downhill since then.
The Team Report reveals a slightly more balanced starting eleven with some decent defenders including full back Maxi Kirk, who recently converted to being Argentinian because he’d not been capped by Denmark at age 29. What the fuck happened there Denmark?
THE GROUP STAGE
Argentina 3 Costa Rica 0
Sweet, off to a winning start. Costa Rica offered very little and Argentina coasted by thanks to two from Troiani and a third from winger Ariel Goldberg. Who’s next? Tiago Garcia played here and was…not great. It took him about 70 minutes to find a killer ball and spent most of the game aimlessly shooting. I notice he’d under BID at the moment. Tottenham are after him…for £2.8M. I may have brought a lemon with me.
Argentina 0 Austria 0
So, I benched the entire starting eleven, knowing we’d already qualified because Costa Rica are rubbish. During the game we were level and it showed up top of the group. Hey, no need to change it up here. It ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Then when the groups showed afterwards Austria had won a coin toss or some shit because they were top and Argentina were second. Pfft, what’s the worst that can happen? Spoiler: it’s not good.
Spain 6 Burkina Faso 0
You know how I mentioned how good Aniol Barbera was? Oh wait, holy shit, his name is an anagram of A Lion Barbera. That’s awesome. Anyway, the dude scored four goals here and was completely unplayable. I know it’s only Burkina Faso but that’s what he can do against anyone. Angel Botia scored and so did Mini Moises, my teeny-tiny winger.
Spain 1 Australia 0
Wary of a similar outcome to that bullshit Argentina result I fielded a full strength starting eleven. The Lion scored again. My Babs! That’s five so far. He’s getting the golden boot. That was seven minutes in and they sat on the lead for the rest of the game because they can do that.
Argentina vs. Germany
Oh for fuck’s sake. This is why you finish the group out properly people. This could be it. BHL gone for good if Argentina can’t best Germany. How good can Germany be anyway? I bet they’re not even ranked top ten.
Oh. Well fucksticks. At least if Argentina win there’s an easy game afterwards right? Brazil? Bollocks.
Germany’s line-up is interesting. Back four and keeper are all from Bayern so they should play well together. Both wingers play for Man City, who are currently the best team in world football and the centre forward, Fuchs, has already got five in this World Cup and plays for Real Madrid. Bollocks.
71 minutes. Goalless. I make a double substitution. Rey and Videla on for the wingers and we go to a forward triangle. Two minutes later a Rey corner is headed in by Videla. I am a tactical mastermind! 1-0. Germany out. It doesn’t get any easier. Argentina vs. Brazil in the third round.
In other second round business Holland lose to Colombia. If you saw that world rankings screen earlier you may remember Holland were ranked at #2. We should get a proper top end shakeup after this tournament. Then more drama; Portugal are ousted by Algeria on penalties! Scotland are through. They beat USA 2-1. Some of these results open up the draw somewhat. Should Argentina make it past Brazil they’ll face Romania or Algeria.
Spain vs. Ivory Coast
Spain have the much easier draw but the same issues are there for them regarding tournaments. Whoever you play is probably going to be tired for the next game. I now have to balance the squad for the remainder of the tournament and hope for the best. International tournaments don’t work in Football Manager!
This was far more comfortable. 4-1 Spain. Pepe, the defensive midfielder, got all restless and kept charging into the area. He scored two. Guillermo Bravo scored an absolute worldy. A curling effort from 30 yards that has a chance at being goal of the tournament. Bravo already champion of my heart. And of course Barbera got one. Babs has six already. He is A Lion. Amazingly he’s not top scorer at the tournament because Italy are flat track bullies and their striker, a 21 year old named Giuseppe Gritti, has eight.
Spain go on to face Uruguay. The full draw:
Jamaica vs. Austria
Colombia vs. Italy
Scotland vs. France
Belgium vs. Ukraine
Argentina vs. Brazil
Romania vs. Algeria
Switzerland vs. Croatia
Spain vs. Uruguay
As you can see from the draw Spain and Argentina are on course to meet in the semi-finals if all goes according to plan.
Argentina vs. Brazil
Brazil have a history with Argentina. BHL has been there four years so they’ve played each other a fair bit. There was that one memorable 3-0 Superclasico win but most of the games have been tight and tense. In Ayrton they have one of the finest central midfielders in the game. He also plays at Man City. Wellington is a winger for Real Madrid and the last time we played Brazil he was a nightmare.
21 seconds. That’s how long it took Wellington to score. 21 seconds to ruin Argentina’s World Cup. A minute later and centre back Agustin Milozzi heads in a corner! 1-1. Fuck you, Wellington! This game is a marked contrast to Germany, where Argentina got outplayed but got through anyway. Against Brazil the sexy football comes out. A Troiani effort hits the bar. A Zuculini shot ricochets off the post. 64% possession and we’re defending deep so there’s no chance of the counter.
Then it all starts to go wrong. Gonzalo Diaz off with a torn hamstring and his replacement, the hot-headed Juan Ignacio Dominguez, sees red for the second bookable offence. A game that was there to be won is snatched away. To add insult to injury they score from the resultant free kick. But wait…he’s offside! It doesn’t count. It goes to extra time. Are penalties the solution? I banged on about not wanting extra time in the tournament because all the players get knackered but what other solution is there here?
113 minutes. On comes supersub Videla. Oh my god, he’s through on goal! It’s saved. It’s penalties then and Videla is the only good penalty taker we’ve got. Our second best penalty taker is Maxi Kirk with 11 pens. Zuck has 11 pens. Everyone else is under 10. Chiofalo, the lanky centre back, is our #4 pen. He’s the first of three central defenders stepping up. Traditionally such excellent penalty takers in major tournaments.
First pen: Ewandro Felipe hits it straight at the keeper. Videla scores!
Second pen: Jose Mario, Brazil’s centre forward, and he’s hit the bar! Kirk scores!
Third pen: Wellington gets Brazil off the mark. The Zuck scores!
Fourth pen: Ferreria Gomes scores. Chiofalo can win it for Argentina. Straight at the keeper. He literally caught the fucking thing.
Fifth pen: Ilgner. It’s saved! ARGENTINA WIN!
I’m sad that Gonzalo Diaz, one of the players that’s been on this four year journey with Brian Hates-Liverpool, won’t get to see it through. His torn hamstring means, at 33 years old, that his International career is most likely over. He’ll never play in a World Cup again. I’m less sad because a) he’s not a real person and b) I bet he was having a few cervezas to celebrate doing Brazil, safe in the knowledge there’s no hangovers when your career is over.
Spain vs. Uruguay
Uruguay field an actual player; Rodrigo Bentancur, alongside Federico Valverde! The latter was at Milan when the game started but went on to lengthy spells with Monaco and Real Sociedad. Bentancur left Juventus for Real Madrid and recently joined Boca Juniors after 346 league games at Real. He’s 37. I’m hoping their midfield, rich in experience, is a bit sluggish. Left back is Claudio Chocho, who played at Anderlecht and indeed is still there. Striker Ismael Garay has been at Brighton, a decent side usually, for five years.
7 minutes in and Aniol Barbera strikes! He’s so good. 37 minutes and a long ball over the top exposes our defence and Garay is there. 1-1. It’s Uruguay’s first shot on target. Moises, the tiny fella, goes off with a calf problem but in first half stoppage time Leonardo Hernandez fires home. 2-1 Spain. 56 minutes and useless Villa left back Jose Luis boots a long clearance over their back line and Barbera is there again. 3-1. Babs kills it off. It finishes 3-1. Uruguay had one shot. Spain hit the woodwork three times.
Jamaica vs. Italy
France vs. Ukraine
Argentina vs. Romania
Spain vs. Switzerland
Argentina vs. Romania
This is the first knock out game Argentina have been in where they have been the favourites. Romania are arguably the weakest of the quarter finalists with their best player being one Francisc Dulhaz of Stoke City. He has really good technique but if Argentina can isolate him up front there’s a solid chance of winning quite easily. Which is handy because there’s a huge gap in central midfield where Argentina are missing the injured Diaz and suspended Dominguez. The Zuck is looking a bit tired so Gonzalo Videla, he of the dramatic sub goal antics, comes in on the right of attack.
10 minutes in and Troiani scores from right back Ybares’ cross. He is a proper menace in the box. I’m rather surprised he scored with his head here though as he’s not great in the air. 20 minutes gone and a goal from the other side; left back Flores crosses and Troiani heads in another! “Now that’s football” reads the text at the bottom of the screen. It’s literally headball but I feel you. They coast through the rest of the game and win 2-0. Ah, a drama free quarter final. Beautiful.
Elsewhere Italy brush aside Jamaica, who are actually a lot better than you’d expect, and despite by and large dominating the game needed an own goal and a late second from Sacre Sangare to go through. France beat Ukraine comfortably as well with goals from Doumouya, another Man City player, and Gamiette who plays for Bayern. His first name is Willys. Willys! Plural!
Spain vs. Switzerland
Switzerland have two players who are genuinely fantastic. Gael Lefevre, who I’ve played against several times in Germany and Spain. He’s currently at a very good Celta Vigo team. He’s a rock solid central defender, although every time Barca played against him he could not contain Barbera. The other is Pablo Hauenstein, who is a brilliant central midfield player currently at Amiens, who are one of the best teams in France. They don’t possess a massive goal threat although striker Adonis (!) Berisha scored for Stuttgart against my Bayern side last season. Switzerland have won every knock out game on penalties (Mexico and Croatia, both good scalps) and even lost to the USA in the group stage.
3 minutes and Ale Rioja scores a beauty from outside the box. I love Ale! I love Rioja! Let’s have a drink. 10 minutes in and Guillermo Bravo smashes in a second from the edge of the box. I hope wherever I go in club football I can get him on loan. Spain coast through the rest of the game and win 2-0. All the quarter finals were skewed in favour of one team and they all finished 2-0.
France 3 Italy 1 AET
All I really wanted was extra time to weaken the winners and make life easier in the final. I got that. Italy were up against it here after my former Juve right back Pino Pallechi got himself sent off. France wonderkid Fabrice Chaureau scored and it looked to be over until a late Roncalli equalizer from a fumbled set piece. France scored twice in extra time. Another for Chauveau and a game killer from Benoit Charpentier. Killian Mbappe played in this game!
Argentina vs. Spain
This has never happened to me before. I’ve never been in this position, where I’m effectively playing myself for a spot in the World Cup final. I have played multiple World Cups before in this game though and I’m very aware of how difficult they can be for player fatigue. I may have even complained to the company that International tournaments are bad and need fixing. This is my opportunity to give myself a little advantage. This never happens! So both teams will not field their best players and therefore keep them fresh for the final against France. Is this cheating? It probably is and it’s one of the reasons why I’m dropping down to one manager. Scenarios like this shouldn’t occur. The game engine finds plenty of ways to screw you in major International tournaments though so I’m taking every break I can.
I have no idea if you can manage two teams at once. As it turns out; you can. There are two separate icons on the top left of the screen. You can click from one to the other.
54 seconds gone and it’s Gonzalo Videla! The man who put Germany out scores early doors and I’ve got Argentina set up to defend a lead. The rest of the first half is scrappy. Argentina doing the dirty work well. Perez goes off injured and Spain are forced to bring on their superstar; Aniol Barbera. The game continues to be scrappy and it’s Argentina’s shithouse style that stops Spain from playing. Brian Hates-Liverpool’s Argentina are in the World Cup final! 1-0
Argentina vs. France
The starting eleven look pretty fresh, with everyone over 90% fitness. Everyone who played last game is around 80-85% so the second team gambit paid off. France make some unique selections in their starting eleven. Yohann Evenno, PSG’s pacy winger, plays at right back. Astier, one of PSG’s centre backs who rarely plays, starts. Killian Mbappe plays up top! The dangers of Willys Gamiette and especially Fabrice Chauveau are there though. Don’t take this team lightly. Fitness wise their extra time antics have come in handy. Gamiette is at 78%. Charpentier at 76%. Chevalier, the roaming left back, at 79%. Only one of their outfield ten is 90% fit. We have the edge there.
From the “opposition” screen to the game France decide to make a bunch of changes. William Camara comes in up front. Hubert replaces Gamiette. Doumouya comes in. The fitness advantage is no longer as clear as it was. To do so France have sacrificed a lot of talented players.
I’m going to talk tactics here, just to show I do actually do it. France were tired after a long semi final so I opted to play keep ball, having Argentina play a lot of short passes at a low tempo. I was tempted to play at a high tempo to try and knacker them out but all those changes made me want to control the ball. Troiani feeds off early crosses and that’s been very successful for Argentina so we’re sticking with that. Defensively I’m sitting deep. This is potentially an issue with inviting them on but I don’t think they have the players to break this team down and I welcome the chance to get some space in behind them. Alright, let’s do this.
45 minutes. An entirely quiet game with plenty of Argentina shithousery to break up play (in press conferences I get accused of playing dirty football). It’s going perfectly and left back Flores hits an early cross to the far post and Rodolfo Zuculini, “The Zuck”, who won me a cup final at Ajax, ghosts in to finish. 1-0 Argentina! My half time team talk warns against complacency and they are laser focused.
76 minutes. This game has gone perfectly. Virtually no highlights, for either team, and shit we’ve conceded. It’s a set piece and somehow Gonzalo Ybares manages to scramble the ball into his own net. Bollocks. I’m not panicking though because I know they have no fresh players on their bench. If they bring someone on they will be already tired. I still have an advantage there.
90 minutes. 1-1. We’re going to extra time. First changes made as Dominguez, who’s managed to not get himself send off, and Cataldi come off to be replaced by Franco Maidana and Ariel Prieto, who can play anywhere, in midfield. Freshen it up. France bring on Willys Gamiette in the hopes of winning it late. They’ve already made all their substitutions, I’ve got two spare.
95 minutes. Gamiette goes off injured! They’re down to ten! Attack!
105 minutes. Penalty! We’ve got a penalty. Chiofalo, my giant central defender, is pushed and Troiani dispatches the penalty. 2-1. Back to defensive. Just hold on.
108 minutes. France are pouring forward and Ybares makes amends for the own goal by bombing down the flank and swinging an early cross to the far post and this time it’s Ariel Goldberg coming onto it! 3-1. It’s over!
Brian Hates-Liverpool has won the World Cup. Four years at Argentina pay off. They weren’t the best team at this World Cup. Not by a long shot but holy shit did they ever play the kind of disruptive shithouse football that wins tournaments. I am so proud.
I’ll sign off here as I have an open top bus ride around Buenos Aires to plan but next time out Brian Hates-Liverpool will need to find a new club and Jimmy Football will step aside as a manager. I can’t retire Brian. He’s won the fucking World Cup.
Questions then; is this too much? Would you like to see more of this going forward?