Network Save | O Clássico Season One

‘Great eras are defined by great rivalries, this network save might be the start of something special’Said Nobody – 08/02/2019

Those that follow me on Twitter will have seen plenty about the network save that Dave & I have been playing over the last fortnight & we’ve both been genuinely surprised with the amount of interaction we’ve had. The network save was born of Dave’s relentless pestering and the pestering started back in Football Manager 2017. Myself and the late FM_Razz were deep into a River Plate / Boca Juniors network save when Dave announced that he’d take charge of Independiente and make it a 3-way-save ‘absolutely not, you don’t have the commitment for a save like this’ was the reply. It didn’t stop there and we finally let Dave into our saves and the eagle-eyed Twitch viewer would have seen the start of two more network saves that didn’t get off the ground; Portugal with Benfica, Sporting & Porto & America with NYRB…. and to be honest I can’t even remember who the other two managed it lasted that long! The failures of those saves gave Razz & I enough ammunition to never let Dave weasel his way into our network saves.

In late September 2018 we received the news that FM_Razz was no longer with us. I’d lost my compadre, my confidant, my fellow dee-jay. Dave, not wanting to let Razz’ seat at the table get cold, jumped at the opportunity ‘reckon we should do a Wolves FIFA Pro-Clubs series on YouTube’, seizing the opportunity to take over as my new gaming partner. That Wolves series hasn’t happened yet, much like most of Dave’s ideas, but we did start talking about a Football Manager network save and Portugal seemed the obvious choice (with Dave’s beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers virtually classed as Anglo-Portuguese) and we chose Benfica & Porto as the teams to manage in ‘O Clássico’.

O Clássico (“The Classic”) is the name given in football to any match between S.L. Benfica and FC Porto. Originally, the term O Clássico only referred to games disputed in the Primeira Liga, but now tends to take into account matches that take place between these two sides in other domestic competitions such as the Taça de Portugal, Taça da Liga and Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira. Despite being the two most decorated Portuguese clubs in European football with nine International titles shared between both of them, they have never faced each other in a European competition. Benfica and Porto are two of the three clubs which are labelled as the Big Three in Portugal, the other being Sporting CP.

The rivalry comes about as Lisbon and Porto are the two largest cities in Portugal, and the two clubs are two of the wealthiest, most successful and influential football teams in Portugal. The animosity between these two sides also extends from the country’s political, cultural and sporting history.

The first season in Portugal has been a lot of fun, the top three of Benfica, Porto & Sporting are miles ahead in terms of structure so it’s really about who of the top three drop the most points rather than how many wins you put together. I managed to sit pretty at the top of the table for entire season, scoring for fun whilst remaining defensibly solid. Dave, on the other hand, had a defence that leaked more than a broken fridge. His start to the campaign didn’t go to plan and he was struggling to put teams away, I stupidly gave him some tactical advice… I don’t think he lost another game to the A.I! In our first encounter I put him away comfortably and to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much of a challenge from the Maltese Magician, but as the season went on he started steamrolling teams scoring 4,5,6 goals a game and his confidence/cockiness kicked in. When it came to the reverse O Clássico fixture I foolishly overlooked his tactical nous (let’s be fair, it’s Dave) & his midfield three dominated my two & with the pace of Marega coupled with my high defensive line I got battered… 6-1. I’ll give him his due, he made a tweak to his tactic specifically for my team and he got it spot on. Never again.

We played each other again in the Taça de Portugal, a knockout cup tournament that I had used to give my second eleven some much needed, competitive playing time. I wasn’t going to change the team just because it was Dave but I made some subtle tweaks to the system to try and stop Marega’s runs behind, but it didn’t work, we lost 3-1, but we scored a vital away goal. In the second leg I tweaked the system again and stuck 3 in midfield to keep his 3 busy, it worked. Antonio Marin scored a first half brace to tie the game on aggregate but put us ahead on away goals, Dave was gutted. I went on to lift the Taça de Portugal playing that second eleven and making it a double winning season.

The league finished with the two of us occupying the top 2 positions:

Benfica: P34 W28 D5 L1 GD83 PTS 89

Porto: P34 W27 D4 L3 GD63 PTS 85

There’s so much I could talk about in this save but Dave sums it up quite nicely in his  YouTube video where he goes through the tactics, the players, the results & obviously his excuses for being a runner-up.

We’re already in to the second season & there has been plenty of action over the summer with us both doing great business, Dave went through a takeover and wasn’t sacked & I’ve cleared out the deadwood replacing them with assets that will cover the expected & welcomed player sales.

If you want to keep up to date with this save we use the #OClassicoSave hashtag on Twitter, Dave is @DaveAzzopardi & you’ll find me at @FridayNightFM.

Thanks for reading.

Joe.