It was crunch time for me and my Treble. I’d just won the league title here in season 2020 of what is turning out to be another long Master League career. Winning the title on its own is pretty good, of course, but the Treble is where it’s all at in this game. I’ve already won a few Trebles, most recently last season. Back-to-back Trebles would be very nice indeed.
I was in the Division 1 Cup final and the European Championship final—i.e., PES’s Champions League equivalent. If the persistent rumour is true and Konami have secured the rights for the Champions League, will this competition have its ‘proper’ name in PES2009’s Master League? In other words, will this most prestigious of real-life Cup competitions find itself integrated into the often bizarre, made-up football game world of Master League?
I strongly doubt it. Somehow I can’t quite see Manchester Red pitching up against London Blue in the Champions League. Even with all the teams edited to look right, you’ve still only got four leagues. No, it just wouldn’t be right. It’d be a waste of the license. The debate is raging, but I’d bet on a standalone Champions League game using the PES engine coming out at some point in the 2008/2009 football game year.
Anyway, about those Cup finals. The ones I had to win in order to secure an historic consecutive Treble.
The Division 1 Cup final was first. It was against Basel—or FC Basel 1893, to give them their resounding full name. They were the easiest opponents I can remember having in a Cup final. I won the game at a canter, 3-0.
The European Cup final was the next and final component of the Treble. It was against Ajax—of Amsterdam, I often find myself mentally adding. I come from an era when TV and radio commentators always called them Ajax of Amsterdam. Sometime around the late 1980s they stopped doing that and started calling them simply Ajax, but for me the add-on element has hung around like an echo.
It was the first time I could remember playing Ajax (of Amsterdam) in this career. They were pretty tough, but not in a good sense. They were tough in the bad sense—in the sense that there seemed to be an underlying script at work that said “every time the human team scores, the CPU team scores.” Okay, my defending was probably suspect for some of their goals. Whatever, I won it 4-3.
And that was the Treble. I’d done it. Two in a row.
The only thing left to do was navigate my way through my remaining league fixtures without conceding too many more goals. I had another target to meet before season’s end: concede less than 20 goals. I was doing very well so far with just 14 goals against. If I could get through my last three league games without conceding more than 5 goals, it’d make it a truly remarkable season.
I’ll cut to the chase: I conceded 1 goal in each of the remaining games. I beat Sevilla 6-1 (always easy meat, them). I beat my next opponent 3-1. I drew the final game of the season 1-1. Conceding a goal in each of these games was slightly disappointing, and suspicious. I find that I am always suspicious of PES lately.
But I was comfortably under the 20-goals margin. I finished the season with 78 points. I was a massive 22 points ahead of a slightly resurgent Barcelona in second place. Valencia, after a poor season by their standards, were 4 points behind Barca. In other items of interest, Real Madrid managed to drag themselves up from mid-table to finish in 6th place. And Osasuna, my long-time nemesis, failed to win promotion back to Division 1. I won’t be seeing them until at least 2022 now. Ha.
I won 25 games, drew 3 games, and lost 2 games (boo). I scored 82 goals, and conceded just 17, giving me a final goal difference of +65.
All of which begs an obvious question: has PES2008 become too easy? My view right now is that it’s still a bit too early for me to tell. 2020 was a great season—a miracle year in so many ways. (But for those two defeats, it would have been just perfect…) It could be a one-off. If season 2021 is another season like this one, then yes, I’d say PES2008 is too easy for me. PES4 was the last PES game that I thought was a little too easy. We’ll see how PES2008 plays out after next season.