La Dea: 2023/24 Andata

I feel like I come to this point in my saves quite regularly – it’s at a big risk of going quite stale and lifeless.

Last season’s Champions League final came as a bit of a surprise to me and, to be brutally honest, I’m not sure it’s something I will see again in this save. My luck in Coppa Italia is stinking but I do hold out some hope that over a 38 game Serie A season I can compete with the big boys. £81m for Pau Torres feels like it could be our Virgil van Dijk signing…


LATE SUMMER TRANSFERS

Just before the window closed I brought in two final signings. Sticking to my rules, they were signings for the future. Federico Oliva at £4.1m from Atlético Madrid B feels like a shrewd piece of business and the American attacker could move into the senior set up before long. Fernando Demba is a player I discovered by chance at Angolan club 1 de Agosto and for the relatively minimal fee of £750k I thought he was worth a shot.


RESULTS

Let’s begin with the drama of the Champions League. It began with a laboured 1-0 win at home to Standard Liège before back to back away defeats to Atlético Madrid and Dynamo Kyiv. Things looks like they were on the turn as we blew Kyiv away 5-1 at home before finishing the group off with consecutive 0-1 defeats.

Incredibly, we managed to qualify for the knockout stages with just 6 points on the board! This was thanks to Dynamo Kyiv’s final day win over Standard Liège which allowed us to take 2nd place courtesy of our head to head record over Dynamo and goal difference over Liège.

On to Serie A! We begin the league in terrible fashion with a 0-1 loss at home to Lazio, a game in which we created next to nothing. We bounced back well by stringing three consecutive wins in the following games which included young left wing back Yankuba Janneh’s first goal for the club. Despite taking the lead twice against AC Milan we succumbed to a huge 5-3 defeat to tail off our opening five games.

Over October and November we managed to pick up maximum points from five of our seven games. Most notably this period of games included a 4-0 destruction of Roma and another first ever goal, this time for academy graduate Walter Galante.

December was such a mixed month. We began by bossing Juve away thanks to our South American duo of Brenner and Thiago Almada. We couldn’t match Inter next, it felt pivotal as Inter were quickly becoming the top contenders for the Serie A title. Yet again we bounced back, putting Udinese away thanks to three early goals.

January start with a bang! Our first league victory over Cagliari in four seasons. Following that up we destroyed Parma away from home. Then the disaster came – consecutive defeats against mid-table Bologna and a Spezia who were confounding expectations in 6th place.

We wrap up the Andata in 4th place. We’re just 2 points off second but at 8 points behind Inter in top spot there’s a very real feeling that any idea of a title challenge may well be gone for this season.

The Coppa Italia was a disaster for us this season. Parma were no match in the first round but being matched with Juventus in the Quarter Final was always going to be a big ask. Having taken them to extra time following a 0-0 draw in 90 minutes we were hopeful of penalties. Adam Hlozek’s 100th minute goal gave us the lead but we fell apart in a 9 minute period as Juve turned the game around to send us packing.


JANUARY MOVES

I made three signings in January. Again, I looked to the future as French starlet Aaron Ntella Samba came in for £3.7m from AS Monaco and Simon Bertelsen joined for £29k from FC København in another coup for our Scandinavian scouting team

The next signing was one of jumping the gun slightly. Pedro Porro is under offer from several clubs and in a moment of impulse I made the decision to bring in an experienced replacement in Alessandro Florenzi.

A few days still remain of the January transfer window – is there a chance for a few more BIG moves? Very much so…


IS THIS A GOOD SEASON?

Honestly, I can’t even give a good answer to that. I’ve pretty much written off a title challenge already. Coppa Italia has gone from us. We now have Manchester City in the first knockout round of the Champions League – we all know what way that is going!

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