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Calling the shots

After the recent release of Football Manager 2024, we put Aaryan Parasnis in the dugout and tasked him with winning the Champions League

The likes of Paul Pogba, Martin Ødegaard and Mario Götze were still listed as wonderkids when I last played a full season of Football Manager, but I was buzzing to get reacquainted with the game. The main aim was to get my head round the new Champions League format which will come into effect next season – in the real world – but is already a feature of Football Manager 2024. 

Snacks at the ready and notepad and pen beside me on the table, I kicked off. As a lifelong Barcelona fan – and ignoring my editor’s request to take Derby County to the semi-finals at least, as Brian Clough and Peter Taylor had done in 1973 – I assumed command at the Camp Nou, eager to see if I was up for the challenge of bringing Old Big Ears back to the Catalan capital after a topsy-turvy ride these past few seasons.

First impressions – the detail and nuance genuinely blew me away as if I were playing the game for the first time. No stone is left unturned; from advanced data analytics, the ability to tweak every little detail of my team’s on-field performance and training regime, to off-field complexities such as finances, dealing with the media, interpersonal relationships, scouting and more.

After setting up my formations to play Barcelona’s trademark possession-based game – but with a bit more verticality – I laid out a bunch of systems using variations of 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 to develop different styles to beat whatever type of opposition I might come across. My first season was tough – the team had absolutely no faith in me, which was fair enough considering their global reputation and my total lack of experience. 

I did, however, manage to win the league, and I would no doubt have puffed out the chest and boasted about my tactical acumen if I hadn’t been knocked out by Inter in the Champions League round of 16. This despite dominating the ball and having ten more shots than them over the two legs. 

Then came the moment I had been waiting for: a new dawn in the Champions League. It felt like a whole new world and took a bit of getting used to. The group phase, which we’re accustomed to ending in December, now runs well into January. It also features 36 clubs instead of 32, all of whom are placed in a single league table, with each team playing eight games against pre-drawn opponents. 

The likes of Paul Pogba, Martin Ødegaard and Mario Götze were still listed as wonderkids when I last played a full season of Football Manager, but I was buzzing to get reacquainted with the game. The main aim was to get my head round the new Champions League format which will come into effect next season – in the real world – but is already a feature of Football Manager 2024. 

Snacks at the ready and notepad and pen beside me on the table, I kicked off. As a lifelong Barcelona fan – and ignoring my editor’s request to take Derby County to the semi-finals at least, as Brian Clough and Peter Taylor had done in 1973 – I assumed command at the Camp Nou, eager to see if I was up for the challenge of bringing Old Big Ears back to the Catalan capital after a topsy-turvy ride these past few seasons.

First impressions – the detail and nuance genuinely blew me away as if I were playing the game for the first time. No stone is left unturned; from advanced data analytics, the ability to tweak every little detail of my team’s on-field performance and training regime, to off-field complexities such as finances, dealing with the media, interpersonal relationships, scouting and more.

After setting up my formations to play Barcelona’s trademark possession-based game – but with a bit more verticality – I laid out a bunch of systems using variations of 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 to develop different styles to beat whatever type of opposition I might come across. My first season was tough – the team had absolutely no faith in me, which was fair enough considering their global reputation and my total lack of experience. 

I did, however, manage to win the league, and I would no doubt have puffed out the chest and boasted about my tactical acumen if I hadn’t been knocked out by Inter in the Champions League round of 16. This despite dominating the ball and having ten more shots than them over the two legs. 

Then came the moment I had been waiting for: a new dawn in the Champions League. It felt like a whole new world and took a bit of getting used to. The group phase, which we’re accustomed to ending in December, now runs well into January. It also features 36 clubs instead of 32, all of whom are placed in a single league table, with each team playing eight games against pre-drawn opponents. 

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

The top eight move straight on to the round of 16. Teams who finish between spots 9-16 are drawn against those between 17-24 and play a two-legged play-off tie to determine the eight remaining places in the knockouts. From there, business resumes as usual.

Playing eight different teams early on is no easy task and it becomes even more nerve-racking if your side doesn’t finish in the top eight. During my group stage campaign, I came up against Inter, Atlético and Liverpool among others and, despite the added pressure, it was awesome having these massive battles against big clubs right from the jump. 

But it also presented an incredibly complex dynamic to manage player workloads and training schedules. I had to ferociously rotate my squads considering some of my key players, including Pedri, Gavi and new signing Vitor Roque, faced injuries leading up to the 2024/25 campaign.  

I finished fifth and then it was a case of keeping an eye out for who would come through the play-off round. The build-up was intense. Normally, you know fairly quickly who will advance from the group stage and who you might come up against next, but the intrigue with this format lasted much longer. 

Eventually, Benfica came through as my round of 16 opponents, and despite a scrappy goalless draw in the first leg, I reached the quarter-finals with a 2-0 win. Chelsea were my next victims before my Barça side eventually fell to Manchester City in the semis. Turns out Pep Guardiola’s tactical approach works for, not against him.

Even so, I’ve got scarily engrossed in the game. And as I plot City’s downfall, it might be hard to stop moonlighting as a football manager just yet…

We’ve got two copies of FM24 to give away. Click here to enter.

The likes of Paul Pogba, Martin Ødegaard and Mario Götze were still listed as wonderkids when I last played a full season of Football Manager, but I was buzzing to get reacquainted with the game. The main aim was to get my head round the new Champions League format which will come into effect next season – in the real world – but is already a feature of Football Manager 2024. 

Snacks at the ready and notepad and pen beside me on the table, I kicked off. As a lifelong Barcelona fan – and ignoring my editor’s request to take Derby County to the semi-finals at least, as Brian Clough and Peter Taylor had done in 1973 – I assumed command at the Camp Nou, eager to see if I was up for the challenge of bringing Old Big Ears back to the Catalan capital after a topsy-turvy ride these past few seasons.

First impressions – the detail and nuance genuinely blew me away as if I were playing the game for the first time. No stone is left unturned; from advanced data analytics, the ability to tweak every little detail of my team’s on-field performance and training regime, to off-field complexities such as finances, dealing with the media, interpersonal relationships, scouting and more.

After setting up my formations to play Barcelona’s trademark possession-based game – but with a bit more verticality – I laid out a bunch of systems using variations of 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 to develop different styles to beat whatever type of opposition I might come across. My first season was tough – the team had absolutely no faith in me, which was fair enough considering their global reputation and my total lack of experience. 

I did, however, manage to win the league, and I would no doubt have puffed out the chest and boasted about my tactical acumen if I hadn’t been knocked out by Inter in the Champions League round of 16. This despite dominating the ball and having ten more shots than them over the two legs. 

Then came the moment I had been waiting for: a new dawn in the Champions League. It felt like a whole new world and took a bit of getting used to. The group phase, which we’re accustomed to ending in December, now runs well into January. It also features 36 clubs instead of 32, all of whom are placed in a single league table, with each team playing eight games against pre-drawn opponents. 

Calling the shots
esports

Calling the shots

After the recent release of Football Manager 2024, we put Aaryan Parasnis in the dugout and tasked him with winning the Champions League

The likes of Paul Pogba, Martin Ødegaard and Mario Götze were still listed as wonderkids when I last played a full season of Football Manager, but I was buzzing to get reacquainted with the game. The main aim was to get my head round the new Champions League format which will come into effect next season – in the real world – but is already a feature of Football Manager 2024. 

Snacks at the ready and notepad and pen beside me on the table, I kicked off. As a lifelong Barcelona fan – and ignoring my editor’s request to take Derby County to the semi-finals at least, as Brian Clough and Peter Taylor had done in 1973 – I assumed command at the Camp Nou, eager to see if I was up for the challenge of bringing Old Big Ears back to the Catalan capital after a topsy-turvy ride these past few seasons.

First impressions – the detail and nuance genuinely blew me away as if I were playing the game for the first time. No stone is left unturned; from advanced data analytics, the ability to tweak every little detail of my team’s on-field performance and training regime, to off-field complexities such as finances, dealing with the media, interpersonal relationships, scouting and more.

After setting up my formations to play Barcelona’s trademark possession-based game – but with a bit more verticality – I laid out a bunch of systems using variations of 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 to develop different styles to beat whatever type of opposition I might come across. My first season was tough – the team had absolutely no faith in me, which was fair enough considering their global reputation and my total lack of experience. 

I did, however, manage to win the league, and I would no doubt have puffed out the chest and boasted about my tactical acumen if I hadn’t been knocked out by Inter in the Champions League round of 16. This despite dominating the ball and having ten more shots than them over the two legs. 

Then came the moment I had been waiting for: a new dawn in the Champions League. It felt like a whole new world and took a bit of getting used to. The group phase, which we’re accustomed to ending in December, now runs well into January. It also features 36 clubs instead of 32, all of whom are placed in a single league table, with each team playing eight games against pre-drawn opponents. 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

The likes of Paul Pogba, Martin Ødegaard and Mario Götze were still listed as wonderkids when I last played a full season of Football Manager, but I was buzzing to get reacquainted with the game. The main aim was to get my head round the new Champions League format which will come into effect next season – in the real world – but is already a feature of Football Manager 2024. 

Snacks at the ready and notepad and pen beside me on the table, I kicked off. As a lifelong Barcelona fan – and ignoring my editor’s request to take Derby County to the semi-finals at least, as Brian Clough and Peter Taylor had done in 1973 – I assumed command at the Camp Nou, eager to see if I was up for the challenge of bringing Old Big Ears back to the Catalan capital after a topsy-turvy ride these past few seasons.

First impressions – the detail and nuance genuinely blew me away as if I were playing the game for the first time. No stone is left unturned; from advanced data analytics, the ability to tweak every little detail of my team’s on-field performance and training regime, to off-field complexities such as finances, dealing with the media, interpersonal relationships, scouting and more.

After setting up my formations to play Barcelona’s trademark possession-based game – but with a bit more verticality – I laid out a bunch of systems using variations of 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 to develop different styles to beat whatever type of opposition I might come across. My first season was tough – the team had absolutely no faith in me, which was fair enough considering their global reputation and my total lack of experience. 

I did, however, manage to win the league, and I would no doubt have puffed out the chest and boasted about my tactical acumen if I hadn’t been knocked out by Inter in the Champions League round of 16. This despite dominating the ball and having ten more shots than them over the two legs. 

Then came the moment I had been waiting for: a new dawn in the Champions League. It felt like a whole new world and took a bit of getting used to. The group phase, which we’re accustomed to ending in December, now runs well into January. It also features 36 clubs instead of 32, all of whom are placed in a single league table, with each team playing eight games against pre-drawn opponents. 

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

The top eight move straight on to the round of 16. Teams who finish between spots 9-16 are drawn against those between 17-24 and play a two-legged play-off tie to determine the eight remaining places in the knockouts. From there, business resumes as usual.

Playing eight different teams early on is no easy task and it becomes even more nerve-racking if your side doesn’t finish in the top eight. During my group stage campaign, I came up against Inter, Atlético and Liverpool among others and, despite the added pressure, it was awesome having these massive battles against big clubs right from the jump. 

But it also presented an incredibly complex dynamic to manage player workloads and training schedules. I had to ferociously rotate my squads considering some of my key players, including Pedri, Gavi and new signing Vitor Roque, faced injuries leading up to the 2024/25 campaign.  

I finished fifth and then it was a case of keeping an eye out for who would come through the play-off round. The build-up was intense. Normally, you know fairly quickly who will advance from the group stage and who you might come up against next, but the intrigue with this format lasted much longer. 

Eventually, Benfica came through as my round of 16 opponents, and despite a scrappy goalless draw in the first leg, I reached the quarter-finals with a 2-0 win. Chelsea were my next victims before my Barça side eventually fell to Manchester City in the semis. Turns out Pep Guardiola’s tactical approach works for, not against him.

Even so, I’ve got scarily engrossed in the game. And as I plot City’s downfall, it might be hard to stop moonlighting as a football manager just yet…

We’ve got two copies of FM24 to give away. Click here to enter.

The likes of Paul Pogba, Martin Ødegaard and Mario Götze were still listed as wonderkids when I last played a full season of Football Manager, but I was buzzing to get reacquainted with the game. The main aim was to get my head round the new Champions League format which will come into effect next season – in the real world – but is already a feature of Football Manager 2024. 

Snacks at the ready and notepad and pen beside me on the table, I kicked off. As a lifelong Barcelona fan – and ignoring my editor’s request to take Derby County to the semi-finals at least, as Brian Clough and Peter Taylor had done in 1973 – I assumed command at the Camp Nou, eager to see if I was up for the challenge of bringing Old Big Ears back to the Catalan capital after a topsy-turvy ride these past few seasons.

First impressions – the detail and nuance genuinely blew me away as if I were playing the game for the first time. No stone is left unturned; from advanced data analytics, the ability to tweak every little detail of my team’s on-field performance and training regime, to off-field complexities such as finances, dealing with the media, interpersonal relationships, scouting and more.

After setting up my formations to play Barcelona’s trademark possession-based game – but with a bit more verticality – I laid out a bunch of systems using variations of 4-3-3 and a 4-2-3-1 to develop different styles to beat whatever type of opposition I might come across. My first season was tough – the team had absolutely no faith in me, which was fair enough considering their global reputation and my total lack of experience. 

I did, however, manage to win the league, and I would no doubt have puffed out the chest and boasted about my tactical acumen if I hadn’t been knocked out by Inter in the Champions League round of 16. This despite dominating the ball and having ten more shots than them over the two legs. 

Then came the moment I had been waiting for: a new dawn in the Champions League. It felt like a whole new world and took a bit of getting used to. The group phase, which we’re accustomed to ending in December, now runs well into January. It also features 36 clubs instead of 32, all of whom are placed in a single league table, with each team playing eight games against pre-drawn opponents. 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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