Welcome back! Wolfsburg are Bundesliga Champions! I did not think I’d be saying that after only 3 seasons in charge. The last campaign was utterly amazing, title winners and my best season in the Challenge to date, 17 nations ticked off. Now the hard work begins, expectations are really high but if I want to continue ticking nations off in the challenge I have to start lowering my own expectations. I am down to my last 100 or so nations and that means the pool of player is shrinking and getting poorer!
Another amazing season in the German Cup, we opened with our customary hammering of a lower league side, 5-0 against Lupo Martini (sounds like a cocktail!), we then edged past Hertha Berlin and then back-to-back penalty shootout wins over Koln and Leverkusen.
Into the semis where we faced Dusseldorf and this time we nicked it in extra time.
A great run and we had made it to our 2nd final in 3 seasons, Bayern were our opponents and what a game it was! Bayern ran into a 2-0 lead but we scored just before half time to halve the deficit and levelled the tire just after the hour mark. The game then petered out and went to extra time.
This is where things went mental! The first 15 minutes were quiet but we scored in injury time to take the lead, then came the 2nd half and we hammered them, 2 Dukic goals sealed a 5-2!!! German Cup winners!
We were handed a decent draw in the group stage with AC Milan, Metz and Sevilla our opponents, we did well, winning 4 of the 6 games to go through in top spot.
Into the knockouts and in the last 16 we faced Benfica, a 2-2 draw in the first leg away from home was decent, in the home we eased to a 2-0 win.
Inter Milan were our quarter final opponents and we hammered them. 4-1 in the home leg and 2-0 in the away leg, stunning!
We then faced Newcastle in the semis and like last season they were just too good. A decent 0-0 draw in the home leg but going to St James’ Park they were amazing and beat us 4-2. Another good run though!
With the signings I’d made to keep the challenge going and a Summer of upheaval I fully expected a struggle this season but we somehow we started like a train.
We did draw a few games but overall we were incredible, the first half of the season flew by and we ended the year unbeaten, 12 wins and 5 draws! Amazing!
But then came the dip, usually our form after the Winter break is good but this time we fell apart, we started with back to back defeats and by the time February had ended we had lost 4 out of 8 games and only gained 8 points. Our title challenge had all but gone and now we were battling for a spot in the top 3.
Form did pick up in the March and the start of April but back-to-back defeats at the end of April meant we had ended the season in the 3rd place.
Overall though not bad, with the challenge becoming tougher, a huge overhaul of the squad in the Summer I expected it to be tough. I personally felt we did well to just be challenging!
Nations Ticked Off
Nation 132 – Iran
The biggest signing of the Summer, Attacking Midfielder Saleh Al-Shemmari came in from Leipzig for £57m. An amazing looking player and he started really well. A 7.7 in the 2-1 Super Cup win over Bayern and his first goal came in the 5-0 German Cup win over Lupo Martini. Over the season he played 43 times, scoring 7 and getting 17 assists.
Nation 133 – Norway
Left Winger Bryan Flabema came in from Bournemouth for £23.5m and was an instant hit, he scored in the Super Cup against Bayern and then got an 8.3 rating in the 5-0 German Cup win, he went on to play 42 times, scoring 17 goals.
Nation 134 – Slovenia
The man who won us the German Cup, Striker Sasa Dukic joined in the Summer from Maribor for £1.7m, an absolute steal. He scored and got a 7.9 in the 5-0 German Cup win, he made 37 appearances, scoring 21 goals.
Nation 135 – Montenegro
Another winger, Sead Haksabanovic joined from Everton for £4.5m, like many others he scored and got an 8.7 in the 5-0 German Cup win, he started 14 games and got 12 assists.
Nation 136 – Gambia
A £2.4m signing from Hamburg, Winger Bakary Jatta came in during the Summer and did well. he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin in October and then grabbed a 9.5 in a 4-0 win over Sevilla. He only started twice but made a whopping 37 sub appearances!!!
Nation 137 – Hungary
A late Summer signing, central defender Attila Szalai joined from Fenerbache for £10m, a big fee for an older player but he was quality. He got a 7.6 in the 5-0 Lupo Martini win and then scored in the 2-0 win over Mainz in late-November. He made 37 appearances over the season.
Nation 138 – Egypt
Probably the best Egyptian I could find, central midfielder Ahmed Farouk came in from Al-Ahly for £10.75m, he didn’t play as often but managed to score and get a 7.6 in the 3-1 win over Metz and went on to make 13 appearances.
Nation 139 – Sweden
Signed for £5m from Hertha Berlin, Winger Samih Okumus came in, he didn’t play loads but when called upon was decent. He scored and got a 7.7 in the 4-1 win over Dusseldorf and went on to make 13 appearances.
Nation 140 – UAE
When I saw this guy pop up I had to bring him in, the best UAE player available, Erik joined from Al-Jazira for £7.5m. He scored and got an 8.5 in the 3-1 win over Augsburg in December and went on to make 19 appearances.
Nation 141 – Peru
Joaquin Gomez joined from Union Berlin for £2m, a young lad who I hadn’t planned on playing this season but as the challenge was going so well he got his chance in early December and grabbed a goal and a 7.5 on his debut in a 2-2 against St Pauli. He ended the season making 17 appearances.
Nation 142 – Russia
Roman Yevgenev joined from Wolves for £7m, a solid central defender who got a 7.9 in the 5-0 German Cup win, it then took him until late-January to score a penalty in a 4-2 win over Frankfurt, over the season he made 23 appearances.
Nation 143 – El Salvador
Full back Rodrigo Landaverde came in for £10m from West Brom, a really decent looking player but it took him a while to do what was needed. He got a 7.9 rating the the 4-0 over Sevilla before he scored in the 2-2 over Leverkusen in February. He played 36 times over the season.
Nation 144 – Burundi
1 of 3 Winter signings to tick off their nation. I went a bid mad signing half decent players from smaller nations. Youssouf Ndayishimiye came in for £900k from Istanbul Basaksehir, he scored and got a 7.6 in the 2-0 win over Benfica in mid-March and over the season made 15 appearances.
Nation 145 – Antigua & Barbuda
Christopher Scott joined from Manchester City for £250k, an absolute steal for a decent looking player. He scored and got an 8.2 in the 4-2 win over Mainz in April and ended up making 11 appearances.
Nation 146 – Pakistan
And finally, right at the end, Striker Rainer Wiess, a £2.3m signing from Utrecht scored in the 2-0 win over Hamburg in early February before an 8.2 in the 4-1 over St Pauli. He made his 10th appearance in the final league game of the season.
Absolutely amazing, another 15 nations ticked off and some obscure ones at that!
I am now up to 146 ticked off out of 226. Only 80 left to go!
Another season down and one of the best challenge wise so far. Only 80 nations left to tick off but now comes the big problem! Those 80 nations are nearly all minnows. I have ticked off the whole of the top 80 nations in the world. The highest ranked nation left is Panama.
This means it is about to get very very difficult. The players now are just not good enough, there is the odd star but hardly anyone would improve this team and hardly any of them would be good enough in the Bundesliga.
So now I have to just go out and buy the best player I can find from each nation, even if they are awful and give them time to do what is required. It is going to be hit and miss whether a player does what is needed.
The good news is budgets are really good. £122m to spend on transfer and around £2.2m in wage budget per week.
Another squad rebuild is going to happen this Summer, whether the squad will be as good as it is now is a total other story!
Thanks for reading.