I will start by saying that right now, during this strange time of lockdown and isolation, that FIFA 20 (modded on PC) is as good as it gets, it is everything I could want from a career mode based football video game.
I really am enjoying my CM that much, and with good justification, everything that was always missing from PES is here in abundance, and a lot more, matches matter, boy they matter, every decision matters, tactics matter, rash signings matter, scouting matters, every pass, chance on goal, they all matter.

During my last session on the game I had a small period of 3 matches where I felt nervous, tense, and afterwards, physically drained, because they were high stakes matches, that mattered.
Firstly, I’ll set a little background here, lets take a look at the current Premier league table:

League Table

As it stands, after that litle run of games we are sat in 3rd position, just 5 points off the leaders Man City, but with a game in hand, and one point behind Chelsea, with 8 matches left to play.
Before that run of matches, we were top, with Chelsea second, then we played Chelsea in a top of the table clash, at home, a bright sunny early spring day, with the commentators mentioning how important this match was in the title chase, with graphics popping up highlighting each teams key players, and special mentions to the prolific goalscorers, and also a nod towards Brewster who had failed to score in his previous 5 matches, the scene was set, it was a big game, and it felt a big game.

I opted to change my formation and tactics for this match, which I rarely ever do, but one plus of the PC mod is that it gives you the option to see the oppositions teamsheet and thus, formation, why on earth EA dont let you do this in vanilla is unknown, but I could see they were playing a formation that could over run my 4-1-2-1-2 (4-3-3) in midfield, so I switched to an attacking 4-5-1 to attempt to nullify Chelsea’s midfield dominance, and it largely worked.
We was able to suffocate their creative midfield players and hit on the counter with our pace up top, and went 1-0 up around the half hour mark, it was only due to a poor defensive error, that let them grab an equaliser with a rebound shot 10 mins later that saw us go in at the break level.

The whole second half was a chess match, back and forth, probing, prodding, each team cautious not to leave themselves exposed, but plenty of chances as stamina wore low and mistakes started to occurr, it finished 1-1, honours even in a very tense and tight match.

Crowd Shot

Next up was Chelsea again, this time in the Quarter-final of the FA Cup, just 3 days later, I probably should have rested a few key players but chose to field a full strength side, this time going with our usual 4-1-2-1-2 (4-3-3) style, and in another gripping, tug of war match, we went 1-0 up, only for Chelsea to level again just before half time.
The tie went into extra time, and in the 118th minute, Brewster broke through, and latched on to a through ball and utilised his pace to dink a chipped shot over the onrushing Kepa, as can be seen in the goals video at the end, its the last goal in the comp, to secure a 2-1 win and a place in the FA Cup Semi-final.

FA Cup semi fixture Next game, mid-lower side Southampton, again at home, and again just 3 days later, a few switches needed due to player fatigue, and in a game where we peppered their goal, we just couldn’t score, a deflection and rebound to a waiting CF allowed the saints to snatch an unexpected 1-0 win, and dent our title hopes, this brings us back to present day and now being in 3rd place as shown in the league table pic above.

Everything about that run of matches was so ultra realistic it was amazing, I have never felt that range of anxiety, excitement and emotions in a football game before,  the tactics all mattering, the team selections, the style of football played, the commentary adding to the massive game atmosphere, crowd roars when tackles went in, eruption when we scored, boos ringing aorund the ground when they had the ball, and this is all included in the PC mod, there are over 250 new unique crowd chants, songs, whistles jeers, boos, etc, it adds so much depth and immersion to the game.

In the January window, we managed to sign Nicola Pepé and long sought-after LWB Vinagre to pre-contract agreements by careful pre-scouting, I also went back in and nabbed Chirivella from Liverpool after initially overlooking him, they will join us in the summer, and we made one outright signing, a backup CB, Foyth, from Spurs, 26yrs old and rated 84.

Free signings

The next post will detail the end of season run-in and hopefully, a title chase, until then, a few goals from various matches since Christmas.