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GingerbreadPooches

Career Los Culés go Strikerless - A Gingerbread Debut

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Los Culés go Strikerless - A Gingerbread Debut

Part 1 - Introduction

Wagwan Vibe! Following numerous years of lurking on these forums silently enjoying all the tales of woe and triumph in careers and challenges, as well as advice and ideas on tactics and team management, I felt it was time to break down the wall and put myself out there and give something back to the community that has provided me much entertainment. Since this is my first time posting I shall keep it brief and to the point - I am attempting to wade onto the leaderboard of the recently popular One Season Strikerless Challenge posed by Mr FuddledFox. It looks an interesting challenge and a short one season to introduce myself. 

The Team

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Not very original or back breaking I know but for this challenge I shall be using FC Barcelona. My reasons for this are that I wanted a fairly straightforward challenge in terms of league difficulty, transfer budget and player quality, and as far as I can tell no one has attempted this specific challenge with Los Culés yet. Oh and also as a Man Utd (and CR7) fan, it brought a smile to my face canning Messi and Suarez onto the transfer list hehe.

The Players

Ousmane Dembélé

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I have never used this particular Dembélé in FMM but as a prodigious talent in-game and already being at Barca I decided to go with him as my first strikerless option. Hoping his raw pace and both-footedness give him an edge.

Paul Pogba

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Another Frenchman, he has perhaps not quite played to his full potential at United since his world record transfer, some would say due to not being given enough freedom in the midfield by Mourinho, however here I shall unleash him further forward and allow him as much freedom as he wants. As a more complete player he should score some headed and long-range goals that my other two players may not be capable of.

Marco Asensio

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Signed from bitter rivals Real Madrid, this guy's attributes (stats?!) frankly stunned me when FMM18 came out as I know he had a cracking rookie season last year for Los Blancos but they seem incredibly high (especially shooting) compared to some other players that are on the same level IRL but not as gifted on the game. Shouldn't complain too much though as he is the perfect player to complete my trio and his preferred left foot and fantastic technical attributes will hopefully serve us well.

The Transfers

In

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Not many transfers in relative to transfers out as I prefer to work with a smaller squad and give everyone plenty of game time to keep squad morale up. Obviously Pogba and Asensio come in for enormous outlays as two young, top quality players to go with Dembélé in my strikerless trio. 

Since I am using a 3-4-3 strikerless formation with wingers and advanced playmakers in the flat four central midfield area, I required wide reinforcements as the squad does not contain these in abundance besides the full backs like Alba, however I deemed them too inadequate in attack and recruited Yarmolenko, Coman, Bailey and Bolasie (a strange one I know but I used him in an Everton save a couple of months ago and he tore it up). 

The Barca squad is full of technically gifted and creative central midfielders so I didn't need to acquire any from the transfer market with Iniesta, Rakitic, Denis Suarez, Roberto, Gomes, Paulinho and Alena providing sufficient cover for the MC and backup AMC positions.

Using 3 centre backs and selling Vermaelen as he is very injury prone, I brought in Manolas and Jemerson to rotate with Piqué and Umtiti at the back. I tried to sign a fifth option however a couple of the deals fell apart and eventually my attempt to sign Upamecano went through after the Spanish transfer deadline so I will have to wait until January for him to come in.

Out

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As per the rules of the challenge all the players with green striker role were sold or demoted. Nowhere near enough money was got for Messi and Suarez but I was struggling to offload them due to high wages so when PSG finally made offers for them I bit their hand off. PSG also came in for Busquets and Alba - both deemed too defensive for my tactical plans. The rest were either too old or not good enough for the squad I wanted.

And so that brings an end to my first ever career post here on Vibe. Perhaps wasn't as brief as I intended but I got sucked in - can now see how many of you enjoy this so much! I plan to write up the challenge in three parts so will probably see parts two and three as the first and second halves of the season respectively. Please feel free to comment on my choices and/or writing/update style; as a newbie any advice or feedback is very welcome. Bear with me if the updates take a few days as I am really busy with uni work at the moment (great time to start writing a career I know lol). Thanks a lot for reading and I hope you enjoy! 

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Welcome to the site mate, I'm delighted you decided to get involved! As for the update it's written like you've been here for years mate so you have nothing to worry about there! 

Best of luck with the challenge, your trio look well suited and you have a plan motion so I look forward to seeing the results! 

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Welcome to the site mate, great first post.

I will be interested to hear how your wingers get on as I haven't tested them in a strikerless formation because I worry they won't have anyone to cross to.

Good luck?

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Welcome dude!

Like already said, fantastic 1st write up!

Look forward to reading your journey.

Good luck.

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Awesome first post, was a really refreshing read! Can't wait to see how you do and a huge welcome to the website!

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Great picks, good luck with the challenge. Asensio scored some amazing goals form outside the box so it might be the one of the reasons for his high shooting.

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Los Culés go Strikerless - A Gingerbread Debut

Part 2 - First Half Season

Hi again everyone, I apologise for the long delay in posting the first half of the season, it's been a long week. Thank you very much to everyone for commenting, I appreciate the support and the warm Vibe welcome! Now with my squad in place and strikerless trio settled in and well drilled during pre-season, it was time to kick off our campaign.

The Spanish Super Cup

So of course we began the season contesting the Spanish Super Cup with El Clasico rivals Real Madrid. I was happy with my squad and how my trio played in the preseason friendlies, showing some promise for the season ahead however I was looking forward to this tie so I could better gauge the strength of the tactic I was using in terms of both winning matches (since league points and GD are part of the challenge total), as well as the performances of my three players in scoring goals and assists aplenty.

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The first leg certainly showed we were threatening enough in attack with 4 goals and a large number of shots and chances against a top team, however posed questions about our defence. Needless to say I was delighted with the start, with Asensio, Pogba and Dembélé scoring one each within the first 12 minutes to give us a 3-0 lead. Things deviated from the plan after this thought with Real hitting 3 goals in reply, Pogba missing a penalty, and Dembélé getting himself sent off and suspended for the return leg away from home.

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The second leg must have been quite a match for the neutral with Real banging in 7, tearing our defence to shreds and beating us 10-7 on aggregate in what will surely go down as the highest scoring 2-leg tie in football history? Despite this we showed promise and the scoreline was perhaps a little harsh on reflection, so with Pogba netting twice I was content that we could begin the league season as we were as scoring an abundance of goals is the main aim.

The Fixtures

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As you can see a mixed start with an opening day 6-1 triumph at the Camp Nou followed by revenge against Real as we showed better defensive resilience and earned a deserved 2-1 win away from home. Subsequent league losses at home versus Atleti and Valencia were a slight concern however we had the chances and just couldn't net them on the day so I stuck to my guns in the hope that the boys would find their feet, as they managed to do so in the Champions League group stage, handing out a 4-0 drubbing to Bayern Munich.

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Luckily this paid off as from mid-September until the close of the year we put together a string of strong performances, winning everything barring a 2-0 anomaly against Villarreal in November. Two big 7-1 wins in the Champions League were great to watch, just a shame GD in that competition doesn't count as we banged in 26 goals in the six group stage fixtures! You can also see the defensive side of things improved with Ter Stegen being solid and Manolas, Umtiti and Jemerson really earning their spots in my lineup - this should really help our league GD.

The League Table

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Sitting nicely atop of the league at new year with a cushion between ourselves and Real Madrid in second; even if they win their two games in hand we will have a 3-point lead. 54 goals scored and 15 conceded for +39 GD I'm also happy with.

The Trio

Ousmane Dembélé

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Very happy with how Ousmane has progressed, excellent technique, movement and pace especially helping him to a good ratio of 18 goals and 5 assists in 21 matches. He was out injured for a month in September/October so missed about 6 games annoyingly and had a couple of duff matches coming back from injury so could have been even better.

Paul Pogba

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Mr Pogba also looking excellent with great physicals and and technical attributes, helping himself to 14 goals and 12 assists in 22 matches. He also was injured for 3 weeks in November and missed about 5 games.

Marco Asensio

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Finally our resident spaniard Marco Asensio managed 17 goals and 11 assists in 28 matches; no injuries to speak of thankfully, however he did hit a rough patch at one point and then when Pogba got injured a positional shift saw him score successive hattricks which was great to see. After just a few months his attributes page looks absolutely world class and in fact very strongly resembles a certain Argentinian's whom we sold at the start of the season.........

The Numbers

League points: 45

GD: +39

Goals: 49

Assists: 28

Total: 161

So there we have it, at the half season stage we have 161 points which looking at the current leaderboard I am very happy with and the way we are playing am confident we can post a strong total come the season's end.

Notes

For the first half of the season I was playing Dembélé as AMCL, Pogba as AMC, and Asensio as AMCR since I wanted Asensio 'cutting in' from the relative right hand side onto his strong left foot, and Pogba in the middle as I thought his extra strength and aerial ability may come more in handy in the middle of the three where he could knock down balls for the other two and create space and also potentially score from some crosses in the central positions. However as I previously mentioned when Pogba got injured I moved Asensio into the middle and Dembélé onto the right hand side so that I could play Carles Alena at AMCL (my thinking was being left footed and of lower quality compared to my other backup midfield options he would leave the shooting to Marco and Ousmane) which worked very well so when he came back Pogba took up station on the left of the three. This appeared to help with goals I guess because the middle player tended to shoot the most and Asensio had the highest shooting attribute so managed to find the net more than when Pogba was there. 

Secondly, with regards to @FuddledFox's comment about the use of wingers, the wingers seemed to do pretty well overall (some better than others) in providing assists for my strikerless trio and not taking too many goals away from them. I will post screenshots of their stats in the final update but I think because of the sheer numbers in midfield that the strikerless formation created (7!!), they all seemed to move forward as one, overwhelming the opposition and so when the wingers were in the attacking positions of the pitch to cross, there were usually enough bodies along with them for there to be someone to get on the end of the crosses. Also with three shadow strikers looking to make forward runs they played quite a few passes between opposition full back and centre backs. I'm no expert so here I am just thinking out loud and maybe I am wrong about the reasons but as far as I can tell wingers seemed to work pretty effectively.

Thank you very much for reading if you have made it this far and hopefully the final update should be posted more promptly than this one was! Pooches out.

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2 minutes ago, GingerbreadPooches said:

I'm no expert so here I am just thinking out loud and maybe I am wrong about the reasons but as far as I can tell wingers seemed to work pretty effectively.

If it works it works;) 

Good start(y)

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15 minutes ago, FuddledFox said:

If it works it works

If only this conclusion was acceptable to use in my dissertation ?

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Los Culés go Strikerless - A Gingerbread Debut

Part 3 - Second Half Season

Afternoon all, the time has come for me to wrap up this one season challenge where I attempt to get as many goals and assists with Ousmane Dembélé, Paul Pogba and Marco Asensio playing in a strikerless formation as I possibly can.

The Cups

So since there are no points awarded for progress in cup competitions these were less of a priority for me compared to the league where points and GD may be important, but I still wanted to get as far as possible purely to give DAP (not the best sounding football acronym) as many opportunities as possible to register on the scoresheet.

The Champions League

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After a 1-1 first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano we absolutely crushed Atletico in the CL quarter-final second leg at the Nou Camp in probably my most enjoyable result of the season. 5 goals between Asensio and Pogba along with a handful of assists, and André Gomes also netting himself a tidy brace. Gomes was a slightly frustrating player to have around though as he scored quite a few goals throughout the season that may have taken away from my trio's tally slightly, and didn't provide many assists.

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Heartbreak in the final as we miss out to Juventus on penalties with Umtiti missing the decisive spot-kick after 16 successful pens in a row. Can't be too disheartened though as we played well and could have won on another day, plus it was an extra 2 points onto my score!

The Spanish Cup

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This final we managed to win fairly comfortably despite a couple of scares in the second half with that man Gomes popping up again, plus another goal each for Marco and the Pog.

The Fixtures

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The second half of the season wasn't as plain sailing as the first half with a few dodgy results, but even in these matches we usually picked up a couple of points for my trio and played decently so no tragedies that saw me fumbling to overhaul how we played. In his attempt at this challenge @Ashez alluded to possible 'rubber-banding' on this game which may have potentially happened here with some bad results around March time against teams we would be expected to beat fairly comfortably, but thankfully this didn't happen extensively so I couldn't say for sure if this occurred or not based on this particular save. Besides this I am happy overall with how Jan-May went for my team and hopefully sets us up well to post a good score on the leaderboard......

The League Table

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Another league win for Barca as we win La Liga pretty comfortably in the end with too many draws being the downfall for our Madrid rivals. 90 points and a goal difference of +70 puts us on 160 points for the challenge pre-player totals. So without further ado, how did my chosen three get on?

The Trio

Ousmane Dembélé

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Ousmane really has come along very nicely in terms of his attributes over the course of the season boasting some very nice numbers in some key areas for goalscoring as a shadow striker, helping him to 35 goals and 12 assists for the season. He had a couple of injuries during the season but nothing major and although his goalscoring was not as consistent as the others, he did earn himself a few big hauls, scoring 4 goals twice and another couple of hat-tricks. Overall I enjoyed using Dembélé in this challenge.

Paul Pogba

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Another tasty looking page for Paul Pogba here, he was very consistent throughout the season and turned up for the big games which I hope he begins to do more in real life. This was the first time I have used Pogba in a more attacking role as due to his overall ability I tend to deploy him in central midfield, however based on this season I definitely would recommend playing him as an attacking midfielder. 35 goals for him also plus 23 assists to help out his teammates.

Marco Asensio

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What can I say except that I have nothing but plaudits for this guy in-game. In just one season he has developed into arguably the best player in world football with some incredible attributes and a quality and consistency that belies his tender years. These performances have definitely won over the Los Culés fans after buying him from arch nemesis Real Madrid and earned him several individual accolades including the Best Player in Europe award. 39 goals and 27 assists were more than I expected at the start of the year and I am thrilled with how Asensio has done.

The Numbers

League points: 90

GD: +70

Goals: 109

Assists: 62

Total: 331

I am very chuffed with that total and although is not enough to post a new high score for the challenge I thoroughly enjoyed playing this season and writing it up and I hope those of you that have followed have got something out of it too.

Notes

Sicknote Iniesta

He has been a cracking player for Barca down the years and despite his advancing years he still had great attributes at the beginning of this save so I was looking forward to using him to provide for my strikerless trio. Unfortunately he was stricken with injury after injury and could only manage 11 appearances all season. Time to move to the MLS Andrés?

Super Suarez

No, not that one as he was cast away right at the beginning of the save. Here I must give a special mention to Denis Suarez who played superbly all season, ably providing from central midfield as well as scoring some crucial goals as a shadow striker when used to replace Ousmane, Paul or Marco when they needed a rest. His attributes developed very nicely for an advanced playmaker and he finished the season with 19 goals and 14 assists despite being rotated a lot. Had he been a first choice shadow striker could he have done even better than Dembélé I wonder?

Supporting Cast

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Here are some of the stats for the supporting players used this season and as you can see assists were spread pretty evenly between the central midfield advanced playmakers and the wingers. Sergi Roberto and Yannick Bolasie particularly deserve mentions for their creativity without taking many goals away from my trio.

And that is that! Thank you very much for reading my first ever career here on Vibe, I thoroughly enjoyed both the challenge and the write-ups and will definitely post another soon. On the back of this I was considering turning it into a strikerless triple threat but the update the other day pretty much quashed any chance of that happening as the tactics I used are nowhere near as effective now. There are a couple of challenges I am considering so will have to see what takes my fancy. Thank you again and Pooches out.

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Solid score there. All three players were very even with there scoring and assisting.

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