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The World Cup Challenge

Started on 28 April 2014 by mpejkrm
Latest Reply on 17 May 2014 by mpejkrm
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Hello again FM scout. I have started a club story with FC Ararat in Armenia, and will continue to update that, but I truly enjoy managing national teams more in FM and with the World Cup rapidly approaching, I took control of a new challenge in FM. I already started this about a month ago and have it over on FM Base, so I will copy it over here and then get going again. I started off writing in the first person outlook but then changed recently to writing in article form for more realism. Thanks again for reading, and here is the challenge in a nutshell:

The challenge is to win the World Cup with every nation in the game. Yep, that's right, every nation in the game. From the top tier countries (Argentina, Spain) to the worst in the game (Bhutan, San Marino). I came up with this idea while doing the San Marino challenge. I wasn't really having a ton of fun with the Italian team, but I love managing national teams.

How I'm going to do this is simple. Each country will have its own save file so I can start each game from 2013. The only playable leagues in the game will be the English Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Serie A, and La Liga. To choose which country to play with, I am going to rotate by continent. I chose the order by pulling each country out of a Random Number Generator (each country got a number). The order is below:

I will be rotating by continent like this: Europe --> Africa --> Asia --> South America --> North America

The first five countries I will be using are Bulgaria, Chad, Oman, Chile, and US Virgin Islands.
Part I: Welcome to Bulgaria

Part I of our challenge brings us to Bulgaria, a country on the lower east part of Europe, bordered by Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey. The official language is Bulgarian and the population is just under 7 million. The capital city is Sofia, which is also the largest city with a population of just under 1,250,000 people.

(Forgot to mention that my name, Mitch Collins, will be the manager name used in this game. I will also create myself as the nationality of the team I am managing.)

Now let's take look a quick look at the squad. The Board expects us to be competitive in our only competition at the moment, the UEFA World Cup Qualifiers. We sit in fifth in Group 2 through six matches.

The rest of the schedule is not too difficult, we get Italy, Malta and Armenia at home and travel to Denmark. We should be able to beat Malta and Armenia and could give Denmark and maybe even Italy a fight. We will tune up once more before the competition with a friendly match against world power Argentina at home.

Velizar Dimitrov, while old, is our best player at the central attacking midfielder role. He fits best as a trequartista.

Georgi Milanov
is a young, talented attacking midfielder. He will play left attacking midfielder and play as an advanced playmaker.

Todor Nedelev is our starting right attacking midfielder. He can also play central attacking mid and is young. He fits best as an inside forward.
Ivelin Popov is yet another talented attacking midfielder. Since there is no room for him to start, he will be a rotation option. He is a great shadow striker.

Ventsislav Hristov
is our best striker. At 24 he has room to grow, and backup Ilian Micanski can help him out. Micanski is another good option.

Simeon Slavchev is the brightest young talent on our team. At 19, he is already set to start at central mid or defensive mid, and clubs such as Atletico, AC Milan, Dortmund, PSG, and SLB are interested in him.

Svetoslav Dyakov
is our best defensive midfielder, but he is currently injured for at least two to three months, meaning he will miss the Argentina friendly, Italy game and potentially the Denmark game. Vladimir Gadzhev is another option at DM.

Stanislav Manolev, Ivan Ivanov, Valentin Iliev, and Petar Zanev make up our back four. There is a lot of depth here so we can go a few different ways.

Nikolay Mihaylov is our starting keeper, he's a solid keeper who does his job. Vladislav Stoyanov​ will back him up, another solid option.

The tactics we will be running:

Our main tactic is a 4-5-1 Defensive. Why defensive, you ask, when the mentality is counter? Well, defensive because we push our two midfielders back to DM and the tactic is meant to help control the ball in our own third and get it in to the midfield, which is why the mentality is counter. The attacking full backs and wingers help expose space on the sides to get the ball through from the final third.
Our secondary tactic is a 4-5-1 Attack. This tactic will be used in must-win games and other games where we have a clear advantage talent wise. The idea of this tactic is that it is similar to the defensive just with the DMs moved up to central midfielders to add more attacking power. With a higher tempo, it allows the attackers to get moving and create more chances near the goal.
Our final tactic is a bit of an unorthodox one, a 4-1-2-2-1 Control. In this tactic, the idea is to control the game while still attacking. The full backs will join the attack with the strikers and midfielders. The only potential downside to this tactic is that there are no wingers - that is why we need to control the midfield and the middle of the pitch.

So first month in charge of the squad and there are injuries galore. Here are a list of the players that will miss the upcoming friendly against Argentina with their injury and recovery time:
  • Ivan Ivanov (Broken Leg, 7-8 months)
  • Petar Zanev (Damaged foot, 2-3 weeks) (Game-time decision)
  • Yordan Minev (Sprained Ankle, 3-5 weeks)
  • Zhivko Milanov (Torn Groin Muscle, 7 weeks-2 months)
  • Svetoslav Dyakov (Dislocated shoulder 5-7 weeks)
  • Vadislav Stoyanov (Broken finger, 6-7 weeks) (sustained injury in August)
  • Georgia Milanov (Sports hernia, 4-5 weeks) (sustained injury in August)
That's seven important players that will miss the match with injury and at least one, maybe two more that will miss the next set of World Cup Qualifier games in early September.

Team Transfers
  • Our promising young midfielder Simeon Slavchev moved from Litex to Spain, moving to Atletico Madrid, and he was loaned right back to Litex for the season.
  • Svetoslav Dyakov (who is currently injured) moved to Holland, going from Ludogorets to PSV.
  • Stanislav Manolev moved to Sporting (POR) on a free transfer, inking a $16.5K p/w deal.
We fell nineteen spots to 72nd in the World Rankings despite playing zero games since the last rankings. It's not a huge deal, but hopefully we can move up some spots with a good result against Argentina.
Matchday: Argentina v Bulgaria
Terrible pre-game news, right before the game, we learned that Edisson Jordanov, a young midfielder called up as a backup due to injuries, has suffered a torn hamstring and will miss 3-4 months. As a 20 year old he has lots of time for the squad but this will set us back.

Running the base 4-5-1 defend in this game against a talented Argentina attack. In fact, their attack is so talented that they have multiple world class players on the bench. The defense is talented too and we will need to play together as a unit if we want to score and defend.

What a wonderful result! A nil-nil draw against the No. 2 country in the world, while missing multiple of our star players injured. This is a huge step in the right direction. We were shaky throughout most of the first half but got some key stops in goal and really turned it on in the second half. In the end, we managed a very close possession split and got just one fewer goal on target. Was Argentina coasting and not really playing full strength? Maybe. Regardless, this is a big starting point on our journey to international stardom.

NEXT MATCHDAY: 6/9/2013 v Italy
Matchday: Italy v Bulgaria
Left back Petar Zanev is back for this one, everyone else still out injured.

Match odds: Bulgaria 7-1; Draw 3-1, Italy 1-3 (Favorite)

"Italy will continue their recent impressive form by beating Bulgaria today. You never know quite which Bulgaria are going to turn up at home and I can't see that changing for this game." - Volkan Yildiz,

Running the base 4-5-1 defend once again against another talented offensive unit. Italy is running a compressed 4-3-1-2 with no wingers, so we will need to control the flanks of the pitch if we want to win this game. Italy's defense is also very talented so it will be tough to get through them. However, our defense has shown it can be sturdy (i.e. the game against Argentina).

MAN TO WATCH (ITALY): ST Mario Balotelli



Disappointing, but expected loss to Italy. We played well though, winning in possession and scoring a nice early goal. Two goals right out of each half from Italy definitely hurt, and their penalty in the 78th minute was a really poor decision by the ref, if I must say so myself. We just need to move on and prepare for our next upcoming match.

NEXT MATCHDAY: 10/9/2013 v Denmark
Matchday: Bulgaria v Denmark
No new notes about the team since the last match. Same squad as last time out.

Match odds: Denmark 4-6 (Favorite); Draw 9-4; Bulgaria 7-2

"I fancy Denmark to win this one. Denmark's home form hasn't been the best of late but Bulgaria haven't been playing well recently either." - Casper Kaalund, The Danish Football Review

Running the same 4-5-1 defend as usual due to another strong opponent but changed the squad around a tad to keep the boys fresh. Bandalovski is in at right back for Manolev, Terziev is in for Alexsandrov at right central defender, and Micanski is in for Hristov at striker. Denmark doesn't have a terrific squad but they have some some talent attacking and defensive.

MAN TO WATCH (DENMARK): AMC Christian Eriksen


Another game, another poor penalty decision by the ref. Admittedly, we played much worse this game then we did against Italy, but I believe the aggravating penalty decisions have hurt our team's confidence. We got on the board early, then allowed two quick goals (including the penalty) and that really let us down. The poor results before I took the job basically eliminates us from any chance of World Cup qualification, but we need to keep working hard in the final two matches v Malta and Armenia, two teams I believe we can beat.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Lasse Schone, Denmark

NEXT MATCHDAY: 11/10/2013 v Malta
I'm just going to go out and say this has to be impossible? Who knows? ;) I hope you prove me wrong! :P
Love the detail, keep it up!
Matchday: Malta v Bulgaria
We stayed at 72nd in the latest World Rankings. Not too surprising considering the two disappointing 1-3 losses we've had since the last rankings.

Ivelin Popov and Nikolay Bodurov, both key players, will miss the two matches with injury, a pretty serious blow for the squad. Svetoslav Dyakov and Emil Garagov were both called up to replace them. Slavchev is also suspended for the Malta match due to too many yellow cards. Georgi Milanov will miss the Malta match due to a dead leg, but will be back in time for Armenia.

Match odds: Bulgaria 1-6 (Favorite); Draw 5-1; Malta 10-1

"Malta's away form has been woeful recently. Home win." - Zhivko Kostov, The Bulgarian Football Review

Going with the 4-5-1 attack today against a much weaker Malta side. This is the tactic we will normally run against much easier sides. A few subs are in due to the injuries/suspension but mostly the normal side we have out there. I'm feeling a pretty easy win for us.

MAN TO WATCH (MALTA): AMC Martin Deyanov


First win as manager of Bulgaria, and what a win it was. Should have ended 9-0 if not for Malta's very late salvo in the 90th minute (that was followed up with a red in extra time). Micanski stole the show with a tremendous DOUBLE hat trick and has certainly earned himself a permanent spot at the striker position. Even against a lower opponent, this was a marvelous performance, but the fouls need to be cut down a bit.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ilian Micanski, Bulgaria

NEXT MATCHDAY: 15/10/2013 v Armenia
Matchday: Armenia v Bulgaria
No team news to report since the last match.


Match odds: Bulgaria 5-4 (Favorite); Draw 11-5; Armenia 7-4

"A draw is on the cards in this game as I can see Bulgaria and Armenia cancelling each other out." - Zhokar Tanev, The Bulgarian Football Review

Again running the base 4-5-1 defend. Armenia aren't a fantastic side, but we are about level and this is the formation we run in games like that. As we have guaranteed fifth place in our group as well this game doesn't really mean much.

MAN TO WATCH (ARMENIA): GK Nikolay Mihaylov
MAN TO WATCH (BULGARIA): MC Henrikh Mkhitaryan


We really didn't deserve to win this game as we got out possessed by Armenia and got a bit of a lucky bounce on our goal. But either way we got more shots and finished up our World Cup Qualifiers on a high note.

The final group table:
Our next international competition will be the 2016 European Championship qualifiers which will be drawn on 9th February 2014.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Emil Gargarov, Bulgaria

NEXT MATCHDAY: 15/11/2013 v Chile
Friendlies Recap
We have improved to 63rd in the latest World Rankings. If we keep winning, we will keep moving up, pretty simple. Other than that, no major team news to report.


v Chile

Good win over a very tough Chile side that has one of the top players in the world in Arturo Vidal. We were able to neutralize his play-making efforts and win in the final third to secure victory. Micanski continued his incredible run of form, netting two more goals and assisting a third.
v Liechtenstein

Unfortunately before this match our starting keeper Nikolay Mihaylov who has performed very well for us suffered a facial injury, however due to the quality of opponent I was not too worried and plugged capable backup Vladislav Stoyanov in. We also had two more minor injuries to Ivelin Popov and Svetoslav Dyakov, but as outfield players we had suitable replacements available.

Another good result. Went with the alternative 4-1-2-2-1 control tactic and it worked well, admittedly this is a very weak Liechtenstein squad that we probably should not have even conceded too but we scored and played well overall. There are reasons to be happy about this performance. Micanski won't stop scoring with two more goals, now he is at 13 goals in 13 caps.

So the next international period will be the UEFA European Championship 2016 qualifiers (however I expect some friendlies to be played before then). While the European Championship is not our main goal, it would be nice to qualify and make a deep run as it would give the players some battle tested experience for the next World Cup qualification campaign.
January Transfer Window

Not a lot of transfer news from the first team but some moves from around the lower squads. 17 year old intriguing centre back prospect Stefan Velkov moved to Girondins Bordeaux for 2.6 million pounds ($4.3 million USD).
Euro 2016 Qualifiers Draw

We've been seeded fourth in the draw. The nations seeded first include Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, England, Russia, Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, and Spain.

And Bulgaria has been drawn into ...
Group H. Containing, Denmark, Georgia, Ireland, and Italy.

Oh boy! Drawn with Italy and Denmark again, two teams we struggled against the World Cup Qualifiers. This should be fun. Ireland is not an easy task either - they are a very talented squad. Not to mention Georgia is no pushover either. This is a tough group. Group matches begin 9 September. We'll face Denmark at home, visit Italy, and face Georgia at home to finish 2014. Our 2015 schedule looks as so:
  • 27/3/15: Ireland (A)
  • 12/6/15: Denmark (A)
  • 4/9/15: Italy (H)
  • 8/9/15: Georgia (A)
  • 9/10/15: Ireland (H)
This is a difficult group, but we are a talented squad and I believe we have the ability to qualify. Let's take a look at the other groups in the competition.
Group A

Belgium should not have any trouble in this group. Romania is likely to be their only challenger. They shouldn't have too much of an issue.

Group B

Croatia and Czech Republic look to be the clear favorites in this group. Don't count out Hungary for a surprise, though, they are a good side.

Group C

Fierce rivals Russia and Ukraine will battle it out for this group. Slovakia could also surprise some as they have a good squad.

Group D

Germany and Greece are the favorites in this group, but watch out for Finland and maybe even Israel as potential challengers.

Group E

Switzerland should take care of this group with ease. Turkey and Norway are solid sides but they aren't able to compete for the group title.

Group F

Portugal and Bosnia are the favorites here. Wales and Northern Ireland are decent sides that might have a chance to surprise.

Group G

Spain should have little trouble with this group. Austria, Sweden, and Slovenia are good sides but none will seriously compete with Spain.

Group I
Shouldn't be too difficult of a group for Netherlands to come out on top of, although Serbia and Macedonia aren't bad sides.

Group J

England got a good draw here. Scotland and Poland are good sides but England should have enough firepower to pull away.
Friendlies Recap
We are now up to 60th in the World Rankings, so hopefully we keep on winning and keep on moving up spots.

Good work by the squad to come back following the two early goals but definitely should have picked up the victory in this game. We had more shots and possession but failed to convert.

First heavy defeat for me as manager of Bulgaria. We had 13 shots on target but also fouled too much and didn't do a good job on possession. Ecuador was able to equalize on a lot of easy chances and one of our goals was quite lucky. Not a good showing here.

Our next game before the Euro Qualifiers start is a home friendly against Norway on 5/9/14. Four days later we will begin our Euro Qualifiers campaign by welcoming Denmark to Vasil Leveski.

Italy defeat Uruguay in a thrilling final in extra time, with Alessandro Matri striking in the 113th minute! It's Italy's fifth of all time, tying Brazil for the most wins ever. It's also their first since 2006 in Germany. Surprise of the tournament was probably Bosnia & Herzegovina reaching the quarterfinal by beating the Netherlands in the first knockout round.

Tournament Awards

adidasGolden Ball: Daniel Sturridge, England (5 apps, 5 goals, 1 assist)
Yashin Award (Best Goalkeeper): Gianluigi Buffon, Italy (6 apps, 3 conceded, 3 clean sheets)
adidasGolden Shoe: Fernando Llorente, Spain (5 apps, 6 goals, 1 assist)
Best Young Player: Marco Verratti, Italy (4 apps, 2 goals)

Summer 2014 Transfer Window Wrap-Up
Bulgaria Transfers

  • GK Georgia Kitanov from Cherno more to Dortmund for $4.1M. Loaned back to Cherno more for the season
  • Young LB Miki Orachev bought by Real Madrid for $4.8M from Levski. Loaned to Inter Milan.
  • DM Ivaylo Chochev bought by Metalist for $1.6M from CSKA (Sofia)
  • AM Todor Nedelev sold to HSV from Mainz for $16.5M
  • DC Alexandre Barthe sold to Rubin from Ludogrets for $1.7M
  • AM Spas Delev moves from Las Palmas to Real Betis for $500K
  • DC Georgi Terziev moves from Ludogrets to Gladbach for $2M
World Transfers

  • CM Alessandro Florenzi sold to PSG from Roma for $48M
  • DM John Obi Mikel sold to PSG from Chelsea for $48M
  • Man City buys a trio of players, AM Lorenzo Insigne from Napoli for $33M, AM Hatem Ben Arfa from Newcastle for $32M, and CM Koke from Atletico for $31M
  • ST Mario Mandzukic moves from Bayern Munich to Chelsea for $27M
  • Young defender Doria moves from Botafago to PSG for $24.5M
  • AM Alexis Sanchez sold to Chelsea from Barcelona for $49M
  • ST Wilfried Bony sold to Arsenal from Swansea for $40M
  • ST Romelu Lukaku sold to Real Madrid from Chelsea for $39M
  • ST Christian Benteke sold to Bayern Munich from Aston Villa for $32M
  • DC David Luiz moves to PSG from Chelsea for $33.5M

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