A Sevilla Case Of Something Or Other Punwise

Today I have a 3-minute highlights reel of a BIG MATCH, which requires some scene-setting:

It is Season 4 of Career Mode with Leeds United on FIFA20.

This season I qualified for the Europa League for the first time. Started well in the group stage, but then had a couple of dodgy results. Which will happen when you’re playing a realism-modded FIFA20 on PC on World Class difficulty.

I’m still a transfer market noob in Career Mode. I still can’t shake my bad habits from Master League learned over the past decade, where wanting a player was pretty much the same as getting him. You have to prepare well in advance to get players in Career Mode, and I tend not to prepare. The most severe case of ‘mental muscle memory’ syndrome.

I have a decent First XI but barely any squad depth at all, is the outcome.

This was the Europa League group table heading into the final match:I faced Sevilla at home, knowing that I needed to beat them to qualify.

I started my session of matches knowing the Sevilla game was coming up.

I had three League matches beforehand – and lost them all, without scoring a single goal myself.

A case of my eye not being on the ball? I think so. I was indeed strategising my players’ fitness and form. Wanting the best possible First XI for the big European game, while neglecting the most important competition, the League.

This was one of those League matches: 

I truly fell apart in this match. I was half-expecting the sack, or at least a warning from the board, after this one, the chorus of boos from the home fans was so deafening.

This is my current domestic League state:Third from bottom with an uncomfrotable gap threatening to develop between us and lower-mid-table.

The transfer window is just around the corner and I WILL be using it to beef up the squad and get us out of this mess, which is all of my own making. I can play well and get results on World Class, but my concentration levels are sometimes not what they should be.

All of which set the scene nicely for me to welcome a useful Sevilla side to New Elland Road…

Here are the full highlights, about 3.5 minutes long, sadly without commentary from me as I didn’t have time in the end – but next time, I promise:

I played another League match after this and lost that one too, without scoring a goal.

So the goal I scored in the above match was my only one of the whole session.

Now I really need to focus on the League…

Wot iz goin’ on, guyz?

The Europa League. The Carabao Cup. The Premier League. All these competitions have bunched up together at the start of Season 4… I’ve played 5 matches in the Europa, 2 in the Carabao, and 13 in the Premier. I almost feel like I’ve played a full season already. Seasons in FIFA20 are true marathons. Endurance required.

My lightweight squad is being found out already. The glamour of Europe has tempted me to play with my strongest team in the Europa League for most fixtures, which weakens us for the following League matches. Here is that domestic League table currently:World Class difficulty really showing up in the goal-scoring difference from last season. I was comfortably on the positive side of the equation last season. This season, firmly in the minus.

My sacrifice in the Premier League hasn’t really reaped any palpable reward in the Europa – here is the group table with ONE match remaining (exciting setup):I play Sevilla in the final fixture, knowing that if we beat them, we qualify. That will be my match of the season so far, and looking at my League progress, perhaps this competition is my best chance of meaningful silverware. This is probably me dreaming, as I have had proper pastings on World Class so far and imagine that the bigger teams in this competition will be just like the bigger teams in the domestic league competition, i.e. bordering on the nightmarishly unplayable.

There were a couple of group matches in the Europa that would have been top of the bill in a hypothetical MOTD-style running order of video hihglights reels. And some great goals too. I was very pleased indeed with this one, a dipping volley from just inside the area:

Barbosa with the finish there, but I went on to lose that match 3-2 after leading twice, an unpardonable sloppiness that reminded me yet again of just how punishing the FIFA20 AI can be. I need to learn some game management and sit back a bit more when leading, particularly away from home, and particularly in big matches. These are tactical choices that really matter.

Barbosa was my first big signing of Season 1, as I recall. He’s one of my triumvirate of top strikers – Barbosa, Lacazette, Deulofeu – who all have great plus-points in their own ways. Arguably Barbosa is the most valuable of the three, as he seems to contribute steadily over entire seasons, rather than in short bursts like the other two.

I’m probably going to go all-out for the win in the Sevilla match. It’s at home and it’ll be a big occasion. Three up front? I’ll see.

The Sevilla match is an opportunity for something. I’ve been mulling over producing some proper video content for the blog. I don’t mean me wearing a baseball cap and keeping it real in the corner of the screen, asking the viewer ‘what’s up’, and screaming about things all the time. I mean something more considered such as proper meaningful TV-style highlights of key matches, perhaps with an audio-only voice commentary from myself. I may use this key Sevilla match as the inaugural effort. Depends if I get time, because time is what video editing takes.

Finally, it has happened to me

They said I was crazy.

They said it was a waste of a corner.

They said it would never work.

They said I would be better off working out a ‘normal’ routine, and maximising my percentile chances of netting a goal via graphs and pie charts and the like.

They sent me videos of Pep Guardiola scoffing at the idea that any football player should shoot from more than two yards out.

They said…

They said that THIS could never happen:

It happened at approximately 18.30 last night, Bank Holiday Monday (for what that’s worth).

They probably heard my yell of delight next door. Which is small revenge for all the shrieking and howling that their children have been doing all through lockdown, but god bless them, the cheeky little freckled urchins.

The player was Ward, who is my Youth promotee from Season 1 who is on his way to becoming not just a) my most important player because of the way he opens up the wing and creates chances (he has 99 for Agility and Acceleration), but b) one of my greatest players in football gaming ever. I’m focusing on Training him up in shooting as it remains one of his weak points.

I caught this volley sweet as a nut.

Timing is everything in FIFA shooting, and my timing was perfect here, for once. All the hundreds of miscued attempts at this have taught me well. You cannot really store up your shots in advance, as you can in PES (most notoriously in the case of PES2017’s heading, where you could press Shoot several whole seconds in advance of the ball arriving on your player’s bonce, and the game would kindly remember it for you).

As can be seen this goal made the score 2-2. I had been 2-0 down in this match. The excitement of this goal knocked me out of my stride and I went on to concede a sloppy late goal and lose the match 3-2. But it didn’t matter. I had got what I came for. I’ve been trying to score this goal from Day 1 on FIFA20.

As a postscript, here is the first goal I scored in that match, when it was 2-0.

Zlatanovic with a finesse-clipped long-ranger. This is an arguably ‘better’ goal than Ward’s corner volley (I don’t think it is, but it arguably is):

Need I say that FIFA20 is the springtime gift that keeps on giving?


Curb Your FIFA20 Modded PC Career Mode Transfer Negotiations Enthusiasm

The remainder of pre-Season 4’s August transfer window came – and went.

I continued my track record of being Shit-Hot At Negotations. Take this lower-division journeyman squad-filler who was on £5000 a week at his current club, and I offered him a deadline day £15,000 a week with a £100,000 signing bonus:

So, as expected, my squad for the first half of Season 4 is still the one I’d haphazardly scratched together in the last post.

A decent First XI, but that’s as far as the quality goes. FIFA20 piles on the fixtures and inflicts significant stamina penalties, so this is going to be a challenging 4 months to the January window (when I will beef up this squad).

I can report that playing with this lightweight squad is a compelling, fascinating, rewarding experience. I’m only ‘performing’ these concerns about their strengths and my regret about not getting a quality last-gasp signing in August. My squad’s strength, and lack of, is perfectly suited to the exact kind of football game experience I want to have, and am having, with FIFA20. It’ll almost be a shame to change things by getting newer, better players. (I know what that logically suggests, and I am thinking about it. An informal transfer freeze. As it stands, FIFA20 more or less imposes a transfer freeze anyway with those incredibly demanding and temperamental players and agents.)

Regular commenter and FIFAFX maestro Paul was kind of enough to supply another couple of Leeds Utd kits, both modelled on classic designs.

Home:And Away:Here is the League table after 5 matches:

This is on World Class, now, remember. Every match is superb. I mean, they already were superb on Professional. But now on World Class, my eyes are opened. They’re superber.

I have played the opening match of my Europa League group stage, vs Olympiacos. Here is the full match, which at least has 5 goals in it, most of them in the first half – note the curious amount of space the game seems to afford me. World Class is not predictable. You can find the gaps and exploit them. Olympiacos did seem surprisingly lightweight in this match.

And for those who are not keen to watch a full match (which will be nearly everyone), here is a 90-seconds-long Miscellany from the opening matches of the season – including both my goals in a wonderful 2-1 victory away to Man City: