22 December 2022
After 24 goals & 14 assists in the 2021/22 Double winning season, Antonio Candreva was rewarded with a 12 month contract extension. The ink was still dry on the paperwork as he rolled back the years once again with a goal and an assist, helping Ángel Bastardo to a third domestic trophy: the Supercoppa Italiana (Inter 3-0 Bologna).
Featuring in 9 out of the 10 pre-season games (contributing 4 goals and 3 assists), Antonio was ready for his 19th season in professional football. But disaster struck with just 6 minutes remaining in our final pre-season game (Vs Spanish 3rd Division side Zamora), Candreva was ruled out with a broken foot. Not career ending, but the next four months would see Candreva battle back to full fitness.
But sometimes in life when one door closes, another opens. As is the case with newly acquired widemen, Andrei Ivan & Cristian Pavón, who have lit up Inter's 2022/23 season so far. Never has the attacking play under Ángel Bastardo been so good. It's time for a mid-season recap...
Ivan & Pavón
In the early months of the 2022/23 season, the attacking trio Pavón-Colidio-Ivan have weighed in with 28 goals and 18 assists. We set up with a Striker as a Complete Forward on Support, an AML as Inside Forward and a AMR Winger both on Attack duty. The approaches therefore leads to asymmetric combinations between left & right and a degree of variety in the attacks the AI has to defend over the course of 90 mins.
I identified last time out that Cristian Pavón (a €26m signing) was the primary attacking transfer target for 2022/23...but the Candreva injury forced my hand once again. Andrei Ivan joined on a season long loan (with a view to a permanent deal of €15m) from PSG:
The link up between both Pavón (Number 15) & Ivan (Number 18), despite being on opposite sides of the pitch 'on paper', has been delightful. Here are a few goals:
I have set the crossing Team Instruction to 'Mixed Crosses', in order to add variety and spontaneity to our attack. But what enhances the setup is Ivan's PPMs combined with his Attributes & Role/Duty:
- Runs With Ball Down The Right (Good for a Winger)
- Knocks Ball Past Opponent (Good for those with great Acceleration)
- Avoids Using Weaker Foot (Encourages direct wing play)
We also have Pavón, suited to the Inside Forward role. The role instructs him to Dribble More, Cut Inside and Get Further Forward. All suiting to his makeup in FM17:
So we have Ivan running down the right flank, direct in his play and looking to get past his man. We also have Colidio being a nuisance and moving well off the ball...but it's Pavón's surging runs to the far post, which grab the headlines. He's Inter's top scorer with 11 goals in all competitions!
An additional benefit of these two wingers is the ability I have to switch things and keep the AI second guessing itself. So when I see Pavón as the IF OR Ivan as the Winger struggling, I can switch the two players (they are both Natural in either AML/AMR slots). Furthermore, it causes the AI to adapt their own Player Instructions and re-think man marking/pressing strategies. Providing my boys with an immediate opportunity to take advantage.
Serie A 2022/23
So with the above in mind, we've had an incredible start to the Serie A season - where we look to defend our 2021/22 Scudetto. 15 wins, 2 draws and 0 losses...we're top of the Serie A with an 8 point cushion:
Our run is so good at the moment, that Bastardo's bastards are on a 23 match unbeaten stretch. I think our best league goal has to be Facu Colidigol's solo run Vs Chievo. It's vindication for me professing my love for him during one of my early FM17 posts, where as an 18 year old he was doing some great things in my 2018 Estudiantes team. But perhaps never quite this filthy:
Champions League 2022/23
Three games without a win saw Inter in last place of Group G at the mid-point of the Champions League Group Stages. Yet we recovered, with big wins home and away...phew:
We finished 2nd in the group, meaning a date with Portugual's best team: Benfica - who topped a group with Bayern after beating them home and away. Bastardo needs to be cautious, but those sclintating performances mean that Benfica should also be wary. The highlight of the European goals has to be when N'Golo Kanté put through Cristian Pavón Vs Villarreal in a 3-0 home win. A simply breathtaking goal:
"En unión y libertad"
This took a while, but for all the FM Grasshopper stat fans out there: during Inter's illustrious 109 year history, they've fielded an incredible 44 players of Argentine nationality* (this figure includes 'Oriundi' - players who represented another International team in place of Argentina, think Mauro Camoranesi or more recently Gabriel Paletta & Dani Osvaldo). Inter's historical relationship with Argentina is so great the figure of 44 actually represents 15% of all 'Argentinos' to have played in Serie A (291 players)**, far greater than the likes of Juventus (7%) and cross city rivals AC Milan (5%).
*Inter's website excludes some Argentine loan players but does include Hernan Paolo Dellafiore, Marcello Pagani & Sixto Raimundo Peralta, who despite wearing the Inter shirt, never played a minute of Serie A. They also class some Oriundi to their adopted nation e.g. Dani Osvaldo shown as Italian.
**Definite figures are rather sketchy due to the Oriundi, especially during in the 1930-50s, but I am reasonably happy with the Inter figure of 44...and an overall figure bordering 300 for Argentinos in Serie A.
It's therefore only fitting that Argentine Ángel Bastardo continues to maintain the legacy between Argentina and Inter Milan. We have 4 current players (all signed by Bastardo) in the Selección Argentina (taking Inter's now virtual total to 48): Santiago Ascacíbar, Facundo Colidio, Andrés Cubas & Cristian Pavón.
But behind the scenes I have started to build something special:
Annoyingly I lost Inter legend Esteban Cambiasso, who left for the manager's post at Mallorca in La Liga. Esteban (or Cuchu as he is known) was always destined to be Bastardo's No.2 in a few years. Opportunity missed. Nevertheless, it's a dynasty I am building here and the Inter Board have finally accepted a request to look for a foreign affiliate club. Please make it a club from Argentina!
For now, it's time to get back to playing this save and finish the 2022/23 season. In the meantime, if you need to find me...I mingle on Twitter (@FM_Grasshopper) and in my Slack* channel: #fmgrasshopper.
*What's Slack? See below tweet from FM Samo...
...and thanks for reading, FM Grasshopper :-)