Started this save a few weeks ago and it's been pretty enjoyable. Trying to crack the top 4 in Serie A is more difficult than I thought.
First season went OK-ish. Ended up finishing 6th in the league to secure Europa League football at least for the following season, although I was 8 point behind 5th place Fiorentina. Juventus predictably won the league losing only one game, a comfortable 11 points ahead of 2nd placed Napoli. In terms of the domestic cup, the TIM Cup, I got knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Napoli. Arch-rivals Inter Milan went on to win the competition.
My Europa League season was fun. Group stage was fairly straight forward as I was drawn alongside FC Basel, FC Midtylland and Krasnodar. I only managed 2nd place in the group though with 12 points behind Basel who finished top with 15. This left me with a fairly tricky 1st KO round tie against Real Betis. Managed to win the home-tie 1-0 with a goal from Krzysztof Piatek and then getting a 1-1 draw away from home.
Second KO round gave me another trip to Spain against Villarreal. First tie was away and ended up in a barnstorming 0-0 draw before I dispatched of them 2-1 at the San Siro, thankfully Suso bagging the winner in the last ten minutes as it looked as though we were heading out on away goals.
The quarter-final pitted us against Serie A rivals Juventus. As soon as we were drawn against them, I accepted my fate that this is as far as we would go. The first game was a trip to Turin, so at least we'd have home advantage for the second tie. In the end, it was a fairly even game in which we actually dominated possession ending with 57%, although the scoreline was 2-0 to Juventus thanks to goals from Khedira and Dybala. This left us needing some sort of miracle back at the San Siro - and low and behold, we got one. We had twice the amounts of attempts on goal whilst the possession this time around was even. However three first half goals from Biglia x2 and Kessie secure our passage to the semi-finals and dispatching of the runaway Serie A leaders and left Cristiano Ronaldo crying down the tunnel.
Semi-final time and it pits us against our league rivals for a European place in Lazio. The first game takes place in Rome and we started well, going 1-0 after just 5 minutes with Lucas Biglia scoring a delightful free-kick, however the lead wasn't to last long as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic equalised with ten minutes to spare in the first half. The second half was rather uneventful as I decided to stick with what I had and it worked out. 1-1 heading into the second leg with an away goal in our pocket. In the second leg, Lazio simply didn't turn up and we ended up with a routine 1-0 win through a scrappy Tiemoue Bakayoko goal.
Onto Baku and the Europa League final, there was a potential for a Milan derby, however Inter lost to Leverkusen so we were robbed of such a spectacle. The final itself was fairly flat, and the game ended up 0-0 after 90 minutes with Leverkusen dominating proceedings, we couldn't get going. Two minutes into extra-time and Samu Castillejo concedes a penalty, getting himself a second yellow card in the process - that's a two week fine, thank you very much. Charles Aranguiz scores the subsequent penalty before Wendell added a second a matter of minutes later and it was game over. 2-0 to Leverkusen. A nice run to the final but it wasn't meant to be.
Now, summer business in well and truly upon us. There was some dead weight I needed to shift, as well as cash-in on some interest for a couple of top players which left my summer dealings looking like this:
Transfers in: Franck Kessie (Atlanta, £18m), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina, £33m (£49.5m)), Rekeem Harper (WBA, £7.75m (£12m)), Svetozar Markovic (FK Partizan, £2.5m), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy, £2.3m), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax £15m, £27m)), Justin Kluivert (AS Roma, £15m).
Transfers out: Diego Laxalt (Real Sociedad, £6.5m), Alessio Romanogli (Manchester United, £58m (£63m)), Gustavo Gomez (Atlanta, £4m).
Yes, I brought back King Zlatan on a two-year deal.
My main concern in the previous season was a) we weren't scoring enough goals, b) didn't have strong enough options in the attacking areas and c) didn't have many younger defenders coming through. So I solved all those issues in the transfer market leaving me with a fairly strong squad.
GK: Donnarumma / Plizzari
DR: Conti / Calabria
DL: Rodriguez / Strinic
DC: Caldara / Markovic
DC: Milenkovic / Musacchio
DM: Bennacer / Biglia
MC: Kessie / Bonaventura / Harper
MC: Paqueta / Calhanoglu
AMR: Suso / Ziyech
AML: Castillejo / Kluivert
FC: Silva / Piatek / Ibrahimovic