Previously on "Inter is coming": Bastardo built The Wall.
20 years a slave
I have been playing Sport Interactive's football management simulations for two decades now. In theory, if you play a game that long, nothing should surprise or captivate you anymore. Yet last Saturday night I witnessed the end of Ángel Bastardo's journey with Inter Milan and I was taken aback at how compelling this game can [still] be.
5 seasons of work culminated in an unbeaten Serie A campaign, Coppa Italia & Suppercoppa Italiana trophies and the obsession: a Champions League win at last. We did in the way I wanted to do it too: plenty of Argentines, fibra and revenge. The perfect end to FM17 all intertwined with determination, grit and plenty of luck. We'll discuss the 2026 Champions League final first, before a 3 minute tribute recaps the 'Inter is coming' series - do make sure you scroll right to the bottom so you don't miss it ;-)
Champions League 2026, Cardiff
30 May 2026
A strong run in the knockouts, defeating Real Madrid, Olympique Lyonnais and Juventus, saw us drawn against Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in the final. Notably it was a repeat of the 2023 final, which saw PSG triumph against Bastardo's Bastards.
My team pretty much picked itself, the only notable absentee was Andrei Ivan...who was coming back from a broken arm. He made the bench though.
PSG set up in a 4231 and Inter is a 433. Three of the Inter team selected had started in the 2023 Manchester final. My Argie wonderboys: Ascacíbar, Colidio & Pavón. All three were fixated on revenge, they didn't even need any of the Mongolian Bull semen I had prepared for them.
It started extremely tight, both teams looking good with the ball but only a few chances. I was fearful of the front 4 of PSG, especially Kelechi Iheanacho - whose two goals in the 2023 final broke Inter's hearts. But we kept them quiet for the first 15 minutes.
On 17 minutes, the first of a few headaches arrived into the mind of FM Grasshopper. Goalkeeper Sérgio Gomes had to go off after landing awkwardly, which meant that homegrown Alessandro Adessa (in only his second taste of First Team football with Inter) was the man to keep out PSG in a Champions League final!
'The Wall' stood firm for a further 13 minutes, until a Pablo Dybala free kick cannoned off the woodwork...to then be converted by public enemy No.1 'Iheanach-gol'. PSG 1-0 up with only their 2nd shot on target:
Things went from bad to worse on the 39th minute, when Dybala set up 25 year old €56m rated Newgen Arthur Besse who shanked it past Adessa. The Bastardo ship was sinking fast, my Newgen keeper had faced 2 shots and conceded both. This could turn nasty:
So, 2 nil down with a novice goalkeeper...anyone but a fool would feel that the dream was over. I kept faith in the players and told them to buck their ideas up. We would wait until 60 minutes with the 433 system and then try the bastard La Plata style 4141. No Bastardo team ever goes down without a fight, we can always guarantee a few kicks at least!
15 minutes dragged on and we couldn't function against PSG's 4231, we switched it to 4141 on 65 minutes...making a huge gamble by taking 31 goal Cristian Pavón off, in favour of Federico Dimarco (a natural left back!). He dropped back to LM as a Wide Midfielder on Defend as did Marcus Coco to RM as a Winger on Attack. My beloved Santiago dropped to DM to stifle Besse out of the game. With added protection, we gave Fabinho the license to roam forward as a Central Midfielder on Attack. After all, the 4141 needed to help lone wolf Colidio as best it could. The mentality: Attack. The instruction: Get further forward and fuck shit up.
I never expected the switch to work so quickly. Dimarco's first contribution was a one two with Björn Marinov...before crossing low to Fabinho. An Inter goal and a way back into the match on 67 minutes.
Then the mother of all turning points arrived 5 minutes later...the rampaging Fabinho brought down by €90m PSG signing José Magalhães. It was a professional foul, Bastardo was seen on camera spouting all kinds of filth at the 4th official, it was a clear opportunity for Inter to equalise.
PSG retreated deeper, whilst keeping two CMs in the centre. They were 4221 Wide. It was time to revisit the 'Engine Room': DLP, CM and B2B. Be patient with the ball, roam and push for the goal to take us into extra time. We waited another 14 minutes to find a hero, then he came: 35 year old Alessandro Florenzi. His 7th free kick goal of the season, shadowing Antonio Candreva and Alexis Sánchez who went before him. I am adamant it's an FM17 hack: get a 35 year old+ and get him to take your free kicks.
It was 2-2 [finally], we faced Extra time...or did we? Nope, we left Attacking on..."strike whilst the iron is hot"...and Bastardo's Bastards were hot. On 88 mins, Grasshopper HQ went into pandemonium...Fabinho scoring to put Inter ahead:
No game is complete without a Colidio goal. On 90+2 Facundo scored his 126th Inter goal...to confirm Inter Milan as the 2026 Champions League winners. Hammering in a Florenzi free kick, which had beaten PSG's Gerónimo Rulli, just not the post. Ángel Bastardo walked onto the pitch a ghost after Half Time, but he walked out a Holy Spirit at the final whistle.
The ecstasy of Bastardo
So goals on 86', 88' and 90+2' minutes to win a Champions League trophy is the stuff of dreams, everything else before it pales into insignificance. Better than Mancini?...Yes. Mourinho?...Yes. Herrera?..Quite possibly. But it's important to remember just how special this 5 year stint in Milano has been in its entirety. Last year for FM16, I wrote a season by season re-cap...but this year I always had in mind to finish with a piece of music (in fact, this has been in draft for a few weeks now).
The score comes from Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western: 'The Good, The Bad, The Ugly' and is composed by Italian Ennio Morricone. 'The ecstasy of gold' pretty much sums up Bastardo at Inter: a lust for the shiny trophies. I love the way the track winds down at key points, only to pick up again and become even more epic in symphony. I think it fits perfectly too, a great start to life at Inter...only to hit a slight dip...before a final success in the 11th hour. I apologies in advance, mobile devices may only be able to view in the below embedded video (not the source URL). All due to Ennio's copyright claim, sorry!
Please take your headphones and sit somewhere quiet for 3 minutes, 24 seconds and just enjoy the beauty of this track (mixed in with a little bit of Football Manager content of course). Ángel Bastardo will return in a couple of days as part of the Epilogue to 'Inter is coming' too (Wednesday 0730 UK time to be precise), from then I officially go 'cold turkey' from the game.
But if the last 20 years are anything to go by, I'll be back.
Thanks for listening, reading and watching :-)