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Career Nucleus attempts the Diego Maradona challenge [COMPLETED]

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“There would be no debate about who was the best footballer the world had ever seen - me or Pele. Everyone would say me” 

- Diego Maradona

Welcome guys to my latest adventure here on Vibe, where I will be attempting a challenge I’ve been looking at for a long time now, and I’m fairly surprised no one has attempted it. I’m speaking of course about the Diego Maradona Napoli challenge created by @danovic78 which can be found here

This first update will simply be a player reveal, followed by the transfers made and a little talk on the tactic I’m currently using in this save.

The Player

So after reading the challenge rules, it states “You must sign an Argentinian Advanced Playmaker/Striker”. I’ve always seen Maradona as a bit of a number 10 and I’d quite like to replicate that in this challenge. So the player I’ve chosen to be the new Maradona is....



Thats right, Ezequiel Barco is heading to Naples! He’s a player I’ve seen people use a lot on here and I’d quite like to see what I can do with him. He’s got really good attributes to play the role I intend on giving him, with a nice 15 in dribbling and 14 in passing and creativity being the standouts I’d say. Being just 18 he’s got plenty of time on his hands too. So now we’ve seen the player, let’s have a look at the rest of the transfers this season.





So some big names leaving the side in Mertens and Milik but that brought in a lot of extra funding that I could invest into the rest of the squad.



So obviously not a full squad overhaul, but we’ve brought some decent players in to the side, with youth obviously being a key part of the agenda. Upamecano is a must buy in any career this year and is in my top three favourite CB’s this year without doubt. Arthur is another must buy this year l, and he develops into an absolute all round tank. Amartey I’ve brought in because of his versatility, he can play in central midfield, central defence and right back. Gustavo Scarpa is another one I’ve not used this year but he’s turned into a really decent player for under £10m so I’m happy with that. Overall, some decent business made in the first window and signals our intent from the off.

The Formation

So when I first loaded up this save I wanted to make this as realistic as I possibly could, it would have been to easy to just buy an Argentinian striker and plow in the goals with him. So I decided to go with a strikerless formation. It’s a formation I’ve used previously in the strikerless season challenge created by @Foxy and it did really well for me as I amassed a decent score if I remember correctly. Credit must go to @Foxy as it was his articles about strikerless formations that really forced me to test out different variations, in the end I settled on this little number.


What I do like about this formation is the neat little passing triangles it creates between everyone. Barco will be playing as the Trequartista in the team. You can really dominate the possession side of things with this formation, but more importantly, you dominate the chances side of things as I’ll go into now. Here are a few screenshots of some matches from the first season without spoiling anything too much.


First up we have a loss! But look behind the loss and you can see we were actually fairly unlucky in this early season side against a fresh Barcelona side. We outposessed the possession masters, and created the more chances. Very unlucky to be on the losing side.




Next up is three similar games. All three games we had less possession, but the high pressure game we are playing pegs the opponent back so much that we end up creating chances by the bucketload, whilst limiting their chances to nothing. 


And then there’s this. A perfect example of this tactic at its absolute best. Bossed Roma off the park at their own place. 62% possession along with 11 shots on goal proved this formation works a treat.

Thanks for reading this first part guys, I hope you enjoyed the change of pace from my usual careers. I have! The second part of this season will be a complete first season analysis, along with how Barco got on during his first season at Naples.

Edited by NucleusNT
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Season 1

So we’ve seen the player, we’ve seen the transfers and we’ve even seen the formation. How did we get on with all of it in our first season in Naples?

Italian Cup

First Round


First up in our cup run we had a home tie against Calcio B side Frosinone, a team I’ve managed this year in my Zbigniew Boniek career..


They were no match for this Napoli side though, as we brush them aside fairly comfortably in the first round

Quarter Final


A.C Milan were our opponents in the quarter final stages, and they were no trouble for our side as we clinically finish our chances in a thumping 4-0 victory

Semi Final First Leg


Lazio away in the first leg and after taking the lead through Callejón in the 16th minute we looked on course to cruise to victory again. Diawara had other ideas as his sending off could have put us in trouble. We held on though and showed our strengths defensively to keep them at bay.

Semi Final Second Leg


The second leg was an equally cagey affair, but Adam Ounas’s goal proved enough to send us through to the final 3-1 on aggregate.



A few days after facing Roma in the league away and comfortably winning 5-0 (screenshot in the OP). Our confidence was sky high going into this cup final against them, but just like every cup final in FMM the game always finds a way to make things a little bit tougher. Ezequiel Barco did produce the winner though in a rather drab affair. Our first major trophy of the career.

Serie A


A maiden league victory in the first year, and to be honest we absolutely deserved it. 16 points clear of our nearest rivals Juventus and amassing 100 points for the season is a great start. Our defence was solid as a rock throughout, conceding just 20 goals across the year. League title in the bag.

Champions League




Club Brugge were no match for us in the playoff round, and we comfortably see ourselves into the group stages 5-0 on aggregate.

Group Stages


Barcelona aside, we had a rather straightforward group stage. The single loss coming against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in match day 1, we never looked back and won our next five to top the group.

Last 16



Porto were favourites heading into the tie. Our three away goals in the first leg soon put that theory to bed, and we finished the job in the home leg to send us to the quarter final stages.

Quarter Final

When Real Madrid’s name came out the hat, I was sure our Champions League campaign would come crashing down with a bang in the quarters.


And after they came away with a 1-1 draw and a crucial away goal in the first leg, my confidence was even lower. How could we go to the Bernabeu and get a result against the machine that is Madrid?!


Well we did. We found ourselves 2-0 up after 7 minutes and never looked back. Karim Benzema threatened a comeback but Dani Ceballos had other ideas and got himself sent off in the first half, as we just waited the game out. 

Semi Final


Manchester City would meet us in the semi finals. They were a team hungry for European glory, and Raheem Sterling’s injury time equaliser set up a very tense second leg back in Naples. Could this be our year?


It could very well be. A cagey 1-1 draw in the second leg sees us through on the away goals rule. No heroics from Sterling this time as his season was ended in injury.


26th May 2018, Napoli would face Barcelona in the European Cup final. The two sides were no strangers this season, having met twice in the group stages and had a win apiece to their name. How would both teams fair on neutral ground?

The first half went with Barcelona playing keep ball and just waiting for the perfect moment to strike a dagger in to Napoli’s heart. The moment never came, as the resolute defending of Koulibaly and Upamecano kept the Italians in the tie. Goalless at half time. The second half started just like the first, with Barcelona creating the better chances. A free kick on the edge of the Barcelona box in the 52nd minute however, had Ezequiel Barco licking his lips...






And he buried it into the top corner! Some heroic defending from then on, and Napoli were European Champions!

Ezequiel Barco


Developing really nicely, he can only get better. How did he fare in the Trequartista role?


Really well. 35 goals and 19 assists from the young man in his opening season is a fine return. Was 23 league goals enough to bag him the top scorer award though?


Surprisingly it was. Another objective chalked off. Great stuff. 

Challenge Objectives 

League Titles - 1/2

Italian Cups - 1/1

Suppacoppa - 0/1

Champions League - 1/1

Top scorer in a league season - 1/1

Goals Scored - 35/115

A great first season then. We managed to chalk off a few of the objectives, including the champions league title in our first season which is phenomenal. 

Thanks for reading guys, and I hope you join me for season 2!


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18 minutes ago, Rob2017 said:

Great going and wonderful write-up.

Just gotta add: Scarpa is frickin’ awesome this year.

Thank you mate! He’s really good, never used him before either so it’s nice to use a different player

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                               Season 2





Some big money coming in this year. Bear in mind the three biggest movers, Rog, Allan & Ounas were shipped in January. They had become outcasts in the squad and I had no choice but to move them on. This allowed me to bring in some new faces to support the rest of the squad.



So let’s start things off with Richarlison. He came in January as a replacement for Adam Ounas, and he immediately took his place on the right side of our attack. Pickford came in the summer to be our new number one, replacing Pepe Reina in the process. Will Hughes came in January to replace the hole that Allan left in the midfield options. Henrichs was a summer buy to replace Hysaj and immediately becomes our first choice right wingback. Dimarco is a young Italian left back, and would only be used sparingly as he continues his development, and finally Jan Vertonghen was transfer listed and a real bargain for £6.5m pounds. At only 32 years of age he could still do a job at CB for us.

European Super Cup


Arsenal were the opponents in the super cup, and were simply outclassed in a comfortable 2-0 victory.



Always a tough game against a strong Roma side, but Barco’s solitary goal proves enough to chalk off this off the challenge objectives.

Club World Cup

Semi Final :-


The Aussie side couldn’t get started, as Barco nets in the opening minute to kick start an easy 3-1 victory to send us to the final.

Final :-


Chivas were the opponents, but they were humbled 4-0 to the delight of the Napoli fans and their manager.

Italian Cup

First Round :-


Sassuolo had the huge task of taking on the holders in the first round. We showed no mercy as we brush their 10 men aside 3-0 to progress to the quarter final stage.

Quarter Final :-

An away tie at Sampdoria awaited us, Barco Scored in the 3rd minute and they had no reply as Scarpa finished things off in a 2-0 victory to send us to the semi finals.


Semi Final First Leg :-

Torino would meet us in the semi final, we were home in the first leg and had one foot in the final after the performance we put in.


Semi Final Second Leg :-

Then we finished the job in the away tie to progress to the final for the second year running, could we defend our title?


Final :-

Lazio would meet us in the final, and were simply no match as we retained our crown in a 2-0 victory.




A second league victory, Juventus pushed us close going into January but ran out of steam as we ended up 17 points clear in the end. That’s the final trophy objective chalked off. We simply need the goals from Barco now to wrap up the challenge.

Champions League

Could we defend our European crown and cap off a clean sweep of trophies in just our second season?

Group Stages :-


Well we weren’t messing about. 6 from 6 in the group stages made us a viable contender after being last seasons surprise package.

Last 16 :-



A repeat of last seasons final, this one was played over two legs and the sending off in each leg proved decisive as we storm through 6-2 on aggregate and seal our spot in the quarter finals.

Quarter Final :-

A tense game at Old Trafford, but we get the crucial away goal we needed, and were unlucky not to win.8AAE518A-CB9B-4EC4-9128-15CB9CF2E70E.thumb.png.93ae726139e40a49f11fa1cb6f0df6b8.png

The home tie was a little more comfortable, as we come from behind to win 2-1 and 3-2 on aggregate. Another semi final, could we possibly win it again?


Semi Final

This time it was the other Manchester side, and they put up more of a fight. They stormed to a two goal lead, but José Callejón pulled one back before Bernardo Silva popped up to put them 3-1 up going into the second leg. Would put away goal prove crucial?60A0FB49-68D6-4ABB-A42F-0E6442B2DEB1.thumb.png.85293b0bf8ac5aeb6cbe494736935801.png

It certainly did! What’s turnaround in Naples. Never count us out. Gustavo Scarpa’s brace after Barco’s opener proved enough as we hold our ground to win 3-0 and send us to our second successive European final. Surely not again?8FA0B315-46F7-419E-8666-979F185CE966.thumb.png.4b9e5fff502670cc86a220690e0eda6d.png

Final :-

Another English side was the obstacle. Arsenal, their second European final of the modern era after their loss to Barcelona in 2006. Could they redeem themselves? Or would history be repeating itself? 25 minutes in and ‘Allan’ (yes our former player) heads in a Mesut Ozil corner. 1-0 to the Arsenal. Three minutes later and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang makes it two with a cool finish into the bottom right corner from Jack Wilshere’s threaded through ball. 2-0 Arsenal and that’s how the half ended. A mountain to climb for Napoli in the second half, would anyone step up? 68 minutes on the clock and Marek Hamsik dances through the Arsenal defence, beating 4 players he nestles the ball into the bottom corner. Game on! Could we muster up anything else?!.....








No!! Simply couldn’t bury our chances, and Arsenal are European champions. Heartbreaking!

Ezequiel Barco


So our modern day Maradona is developing at a rapid rate. With a nice 18 in dribbling, passing and stamina meaning he can dance through any defence all day long.



He really fancies himself as a bit of a Maradona too, disrupting training twice in the space of two weeks. As long as he stays off the Charlie like his predecessor I’m not overly fussed!

How did he get on this season?


A better season. 39 goals and 22 assists in 42 games is a great season from the young man, and if he keeps up these performances he can disrupt training as many times as he likes!

Challenge Objectives

2/2 League titles

1/1 (+1) Italian Cups

1/1 Suppacoppa

1/1 Champions League

1/1 Top score in a league campaign

74 / 115 Goals

So 41 Goals is the target, if he continues his rise like he did this season it should be attainable in the coming season.

Again , thanks for reading guys. I hope you’ll join me in season 3!


Edited by NucleusNT
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Great going mate. ‘Stays off the Charlie...’ 😭😭😭

I have had Barco in pretty much every save in this version and I’ve never had him once have the attitude problems you’ve had. You must be soft 😉

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                                    Season 3





Real Madrid came in for Koulibaly and he wanted to go, so I allowed it, even though it was a real shame to let him leave. Ghoulam wanted out too, he wasn’t so hard to let go. That left us needing a new starting LB and CB heading into the new season.



A major coup. Daniele Rugani makes the switch from Turin to Naples, a move that didn’t go down well with the Juventus fans. Kieran Tierney also comes in from Bournemouth, one of the best left backs in this years game. Jesus Vallejo was an emergency loan signing in January due to injury.


Lazio were the opponents in the super cup this season as last seasons cup finalists. Ezequiel Barco kicked off his campaign with a hatrick and an assist to signal his intent this season.


Italian Cup

First Round

A home tie against Genoa awaited us in the first round. We ran to a comfortable 3-0 win to seal our spot in the quarter finals.


Quarter Final

Inter Milan would visit in the quarters. We were first and second in the league heading into this match and it was expected to be a close run affair. It wasn’t, as we end up 3-0 victors and seal our spot in the semi finals once more.


Semi Final

Juventus would be the next hurdle, and a 2-1 victory in the first leg in Turin gave us a huge confidence boost.


They were never going to beat us at home, and we seal the deal in a 2-0 win.



Roma were the only hurdle from us and a third consecutive Italian cup win. We’d had a hell of a run this year, and faced some big teams in the competition. The lads produced a great performance though, and clinch it with a 4-0 win.



Could we make it a hatrick if league wins too? 

Of course we could, and we go unbeaten to put the cherry on top. What a season so far.


Champions League

Group Stages

A tough group this year, but we fend off the competition and seal top spot once again.EC582C94-2392-403D-975A-1116FB0B54E0.thumb.png.663e4e677bcd7343121eef8ce0b11650.png

Last 16

Anderlecht would unfortunately meet us in the next round and we demolish them 9-0 on aggregate. Quarter finals here we come!



Quarter Final

Bayern Munich, a tough team to beat. We sneak a 1-0 victory in the home leg and were quietly confident.


But heartbreak in the second leg. They scored the one needed to take it into extra time and then went on to score twice more and send us crashing out! 


Ezequiel Barco


A great player, i wish I didn’t inherit the one with the attitude problem however as I think he could look a lot better if he’d just put his head down and work hard.

It didn’t put off some of the sharks however, as they soon started circling


Most importantly, how many goals did he score this season?


Well he managed 35 in Serie A alone. Surely he managed at least 6 in the other competitions?


Of course he did. 47 goals and 20 assists for the season and that gives him a total of 121 goals to complete this challenge. Cracking stuff!

Challenge Objectives

2/2  (+1) League titles 

1/1 (+2) Italian Cups 

1/1 (+1) Suppacoppa 

1/1 Champions League 

1/1 (+1) Top score in a league campaign 

 115/ 115 (+6) Goals


Manager Profile


A decent looking profile after only 3 seasons at the helm.


My three year tenure has come to an end, they did offer me a 100 trillion dollars to sign an extension but I’d rather put my feet up. I’ve got an Olympic event to worry about!

Thanks again guys for following this short career of mine. I’ve really enjoyed this career, especially after slugging for goals in 1k’s and triple threats for so long. This was a nice change of scenery. @danovic78 can you add this to the leaderboard please. A cracking challenge to play! Thank you

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Seriously do you play this game one handed whilst you change nappies cause you really crack through the seasons!!!

Great score mate😀

I had almost wondered if you carry on and would try a strikerless 1kc using Barco at Napoli but I guess its not to be😕 

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2 minutes ago, Foxy said:

Seriously do you play this game one handed whilst you change nappies cause you really crack through the seasons!!!

Great score mate😀

I had almost wondered if you carry on and would try a strikerless 1kc using Barco at Napoli but I guess its not to be😕 

😂😂 Thats what the wife’s there for! No in all honesty I had the first couple of seasons played out a few days ago.

Oh god no! No more 1k’s from me this year!

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6 minutes ago, NucleusNT said:

Thats what the wife’s there for

I take it she doesn't look on Vibe otherwise you are going to be on nappy duties for a month with comments like that😂 

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My wife tends to do the nappies too. Best arrangement all-round.

Cracking career mate, combining both individual success with team accomplishments. Great stuff.

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