2017/18 Pre-season fixtures

Following our promotion to the Premier League, I arrange some high-profile friendlies against strong teams to try and prepare the team for football at the highest level. We start off by travelling to… Tiverton Town. They’re our feeder club and I traditionally start my pre-season there, giving 22 players 45 minutes of football. We win 4-0 as I move players around into less familiar positions and try out tactics, including the W-M for the last 15 minutes. It’s not a massive victory, but I’m satisfied that the players get a gentle run-out.

The difficulty increases quickly, with our next game away at Paris Saint-Germain. It’s a game that we don’t play particularly well in and lose 3-1. We don’t help our cause by scoring an own goal for their opener.

We leave France and return to England for a game against Yeovil Town. It’s a thumping 7-0 victory for us, although we run away with the game in the last 15 minutes. I bring on Federico Cenci as a left winger with 15 minutes to go and he scores an 11 minute hat-trick and claims Man of the Match with a 9.5 rating. His first touch of the game isn’t bad either.

We leave England and travel to Germany to take on Dortmund. It’s an exciting game that’s 2-2 going into stoppage time. A well-worked free kick routine gives them the lead and they hold out for a victory courtesy of a double save.

We return to England for two home friendlies. The first is against Santos and the second is against Sturm Graz. We win both games 1-0 with solid performances. Gennaro Riccardi strains his thigh in the victory over Sturm Graz and will be out for 2 weeks, making him unlikely to be in the starting line-up on the opening day.

Saturday 5th August. In real life, Exeter City begin their League 2 campaign at home to Cambridge United. In Football Manger, we travel across the channel again, this time to play at the Amsterdam ArenA. We’re taking on former European champions Ajax. A poor first half sees us 1-0 down. I fire the troops up at half time and we win 2-1 with Bradley Johnson slicing their defence open time and time again with through balls. It’s his first pre-season game after being away on international duty.

Saturday 12th August. In real life, Exeter City travel to Swindon Town for a League 2 fixture. In Football Manager, our final pre-season game sees us return to St. James Park as we host Atletico Madrid. It’s a televised friendly and we put on a performance for the cameras, coming away with a good 2-0 victory.

It’s been a good pre-season for us and I’d arranged some tough fixtures to prepare us for the step up. Although we lost a couple of games, performances were encouraging. The only exception was the PSG game, where they were much the better side. Ultimately, pre-season counts for nothing and hopefully we can carry the good performances and results across to our Premier League campaign.

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Paris Saint Germain 0-0 Real Madrid

The clash between the top two teams in Group A ended in a goalless draw, with few chances throughout. Both sides seemed happy to take a point from the game, with neither side applying any prolonged periods of pressure throughout. The game promised much, but delivered little. Neither side appeared to want to take any risks and look to win the game, preferring to hope for a mistake from the opposing defence. With both teams on six points coming into the game and all but certain to qualify, it is surprising that they did not look to establish a commanding lead in the group, especially PSG who were at home. It was the worst game I have seen in the Champions League for quite a long time.