Oh dear. I’ve finished season 2014 and it all went pretty badly wrong in the closing stages. This was supposed to be the season where I either won the Treble, or at least ended up with something to show for my efforts.
But I got knocked out of the Champions League at the pre-qualifying group stage and crashed out of the D1 Cup. I was doing okay in the League, snapping at Valencia’s heels. I was confident I could win the title at least this season. And I was doing great in the WEFA Masters Cup—the Euro consolation prize—where I met Marseille in the semi-final. I was regularly playing and beating Barca and Real Madrid in the league. So Marseille in Europe should be no trouble, right? Right?
First of all I was intrigued to see the formation that the CPU was using: a weird variant on the 4-3-3, a kind of 4-2-1-3 that I don’t recall seeing the CPU use before. Those two CMFs look to be too close together. The sole AMF will have his work cut out. The burden on the three forwards (two SS and a CF) is proportionally greater than in my (relatively) more sedate 4-3-3 formation.
I thought I was going to exploit Marseille’s strange formation to the full after a first leg at their ground that finished 1-2 to me. A win, and two away goals: I couldn’t help but regard the tie as effectively over. The second leg would have to be an utter disaster for me to go out now. The final here I come…
But no. Marseille turned me over 1-3 at my place, winning the semi-final 3-4 on aggregate. It was pretty pathetic. I have no idea what went wrong, really. I just seemed to be overwhelmed by frantic, fast, lethal, attacking CPU play, and none of my many raids forward came to anything.
Disappointed (this is now my eighth season without any kind of Cup win), I turned my attention back to the league. With four games to go I was a point behind Valencia, who I played next.
It was a tough, tough game. Both sides had chances. The very best chances fell to me, but it was one of those games where the woodwork and a super-goalie conspired to shut me out. 0-0 it finished, then, without any change at the top of the table. I had to win all my remaining games and hope Valencia slipped up. I was sure Valencia would at least draw one of their remaining games. My goal difference was superior. All I had to do was win all three games, and I could still do it.
I won my next game, then played Real Madrid. As I’ve mentioned once or twice, I’ve had a pretty good time against them in this division. Imagine my extreme chagrin, then, to go 0-1 down straight from their kickoff. I equalised. Real scored again. I equalised again. Real scored again. That’s how it went, all the way to the final whistle, with the final score 4-4.
Did I not like that. Not only was it an utterly stupid old-FIFA-style scoreline of the kind that I always hate to see in PES (thankfully not so much in the PSP/PS2 version of PES2008), but it let Valencia grab a three-point lead going into the final fixture. I now had to win and hope Valencia lost.
I didn’t win my last game. I lost it, pretty dismally—Osasuna beat me 2-1. I was trying too hard. But in the end it wouldn’t have mattered, as Valencia won their last game and took the Division 1 Championship by a whopping 6 points—the biggest gap there’s been between 1st and 2nd all season. I was, and am, displeased with myself.
So I end season 2014 completely empty-handed. It’s getting annoying. The only thing I’ve won in PES2008 so far (on PSP/PS2) is the Division 2 title, way back when. Nothing else. At least it means I still have everything left to play for. The hunger is still there, spurring me on. Roll on season 2015. Finishing second this season means I’ll go straight into the full WEFA Championship tournament—none of that pesky pre-qualifying nonsense. I’ll have a normal start to the season with just one game per week. As ever the Treble is the target and this time I think I’m really going to do it.