This is it. La crème de la crème. The epitome of this save. The fucking World Cup.
We've come close before, getting to the Final in 2022, but 4 years later, in Argentina, we failed, getting thrashed by Brazil on the Quarterfinals and crushing our hopes. But we come on a high point, having bossed the qualifiers, backed by a brilliant generation of footballers at their prime and preceded by the first pair of titles on this save, with the 2027 Copa América and 2029 Confederations Cup.
So, hopes were big, and I truly expected to make a mark, but expectations you know, can sometimes, come short.
I did an update at the 10th game of the qualifiers (post #42), and we were kinda hitting a tough spot, as we won only one of the last 3 games, drawing against Venezuela and Argentina and losing to Brazil. That left us 2nd on the table, a point behind leaders Uruguay.
For the lone remaining game in 2028, we beat Paraguay 2-1. Then in 2029, we took flight, beating Uruguay 4-1, Bolivia, 2-0 and Perú, 4-0. Then came the break for the Confeds Cup, and at the start of the 2029-30 season, we completed the qualifiers, beating Ecuador 2-1, Colombia, 3-0, Venezuela 2-1 and drawing with Brazil 0-0.
That brilliant run of results allowed us to dominate the table, qualifying for the World Cup with 4 games in hand. We ended up topping the table comfortably, with 42 points, 8 points above Brazil who was 2nd.
Out tactical approach was settled amidst the tough run we had at the middle of the qualifiers, shifting a few things around to maximise our players' abilities. I ended up with a binary system, with 2 tactics, a heavily favored 4-3-1-2, which will be used in most games, with a typical back 4, a deep playmaker, 2 midfield wingers, an advanced playmaker and our TM/CF tandem up front. The second tactic will be used sporadically, on second halves mostly, depending on changes, it's a 2-3-2-3, with a pair of CB's, two wingbacks and an anchorman, 2 central mids and 3 strikers.
Heading into the World Cup, we suffered a couple of tough blows, losing our two starting wingers, Guillermo Domínguez and Osvaldo Navarrete, which at a point made me think of using the 2-3-2-3, but I ended up playing their subs (who have a similar level), and going with the plan ahead. The rest of the squad is somewhat the same I've used for the past year.
Mardones, the team captain and leader, highlights the keeper section, which has been untouched for the last 4-5 years. He's a top quality keeper (labeled as Legendary Goalkeeper) and gives us security from behind. Víctor Chávez is La U's starting keeper and provides decent cover, while third choice Manuel Echeverría was formed at La U, but never lived up to his potential and after playing in Ecuador landed in Colo Colo, the dirty ole fucker.
1.- Tomás Mardones - 32 years old, Arsenal FC, 101 caps, 0 goals.
12.- Víctor Chávez - 29 years old, Universidad de Chile, 20 caps, 0 goals.
23.- Manuel Echeverría - 27 years old, Colo Colo, 1 cap, 0 goals.
Andrés Díaz and Bryan León are our starter pairing, despite neither of them being a natural at the position, our lack of CB's has forced us to play them off position, they both are physical beasts, and very quick, and despite being short, good in the air. Díaz shined for La U, before moving to Porto a few years ago, where he's been a starter ever since, while León, formed at Colo Colo, moved to River and then to Shakhtar, where he's considered a key player. Alejandro Hernández is a La U starter, who provides cover and Alejandro Troncoso, from Colo Colo serves a bit as a squad filler, as he isn't a natural CB as well.
6.- Andrés Díaz - 27 years old, Porto, 71 caps, 6 goals.
5.- Bryan León - 24 years old, Shakhtar, 34 caps, 1 goal.
13.- Alejandro Hernandez - 23 years old, Universidad de Chile, 28 caps, 1 goal.
22.- Alejandro Troncoso - 24 years old, Colo Colo, 5 caps, 0 goals.
Luis Pino and Macula will be the starters, a pairing that has been playing together since 7 years now, as they both are important La U players. Pino came in from Huachipato at 18, and has since played almost 300 league games, while the Brazilian born Mácula was formed at Gremio and arrived at 18 as well, adopting the Chilean nationality since a few years now. Yacer Suárez is the first backup, a player formed at Colo Colo, now playing in Belgrano, as he can play anywhere on the defence, bringing great versatilty, and finally, the Argentinean born Chilean from La U, Matías Burgos closes the squad.
4.- Luis Pino - 29 years old, Universidad de Chile, 87 caps, 1 goal.
3.- Macula - 29 years old, Universidad de Chile, 28 caps, 0 goals.
14.- Yacer Suarez - 26 years old, Belgrano, 25 caps, 0 goals.
15.- Matías Burgos - 24 years old, Universidad de Chile, 2 caps, 0 goals.
The starting deep playmaker will be Francisco Berisic, who after playing for several seasons at La U, moved on to Porto, where he's teammates with Díaz. The #10 will be Luis Muñoz, who's still at La U, despite of his brilliance. Backing them up are Enrique Opazo, who filled in for Berisic when he left La U and the transition went seemingly, and Maxi Medina, another La U player, who has been an alternative to the starting 11 for several seasons now.
2.- Francisco Berisic - 22 years old, Porto, 27 caps, 1 goal.
7.- Luis Muñoz - 27 years old, Universidad de Chile, 57 caps, 2 goals.
17.- Enrique Opazo - 22 years old, Universidad de Chile, 4 caps, 0 goals.
20.- Maxi Medina - 21 years old, Universidad de Chile, 3 caps, 0 goals.
With the losses of Domínguez and Navarrete, this area seems a bit flaky, but the players right behind them are quite at a similar level and we'll manage just fine. Alan Calderón is a player formed at Colo Colo, who moved to Newell's, playing in Argentina for 6 years now, while the left winger will be Juan Vilches, who is considered the supersub at La U. Backing them up will be Alberto Díaz, a former La U player, now at Galatasaray and Marcos Leiva, a spanish born Chilean, who plays at Levante.
8.- Alan Calderón - 27 years old, Boca Juniors, 36 caps, 9 goals.
11.- Juan Vilches - 24 years old, Universidad de Chile, 15 caps, 1 goal.
21.- Alberto Díaz - 28 years old, Galatasaray, 3 caps, 0 goals.
19.- Marcos Leiva - 26 years old, Levante, 8 caps, 1 goal.
Finally, our striking team, highlighted by our best player Felipe "The Beard" Carrasco, who for the third straight season scored 70+ goals for La U, netting 75 times in 44 games, truly amazing. His partner will be Kevin Retamales, who also plays alongside him at La U, despite being a bit injury riddled as of late. In the bench, Oscar Burgos is a gem waiting for Carrasco to leave to take his post, the 20 year old is the youngest of the squad, and closing out the team César Silva is known for scoring 4 goals in a single game at the Confeds Cup.
10.- Felipe Carrasco - 23 years old, Universidad de Chile, 36 caps, 31 goals.
9.- Kevin Retamales - 24 years old, Universidad de Chile, 40 caps, 23 goals.
18.- Oscar Burgos - 20 years old, Universidad de Chile, 7 caps, 5 goals.
16.- César Silva - 23 years old, Universidad Católica, 5 caps, 5 goals.
2030 Spain World Cup
As 1st placed team in the FIFA Rankings, we obviously were 1st seeds and landed in a very decent group, with Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan. I was fairly confident of bossing the group, and then face the problem, as the next group, included Germany and Argentina.
- Group Phase Game 1 - June 17th, 2030 - Nuevo Mestalla, Valencia - Japan vs. Chile
We started off, facing the Japanese, the weakest team in the group, so I expected a big win, and the team complied, completely outplaying the Samurais. A quick brace by Felipe Carrasco put us 2-0 up by '22, and just before halftime Kevin Retamales added his own. In the second half, Carrasco scored another brace, to seal the final win.
Result: Japan 0 - Chile 5 (Carrasco '14, '22, 48, '51, Retamales '42)
Starting 11: Mardones; Pino, An.Díaz, León ('45 Hernández), Macula; Calderón ('45 Al.Díaz), Berisic ('45 Opazo), Vilches; Muñoz; Carrasco, Retamales.
- Group Phase Game 2 - June 22nd, 2030 - Martínez Valero, Elche - Chile vs. Ivory Coast
With 3 points on the bag, I fiddled with playing a mixed side against the Africans, but in the end I decided against it, as I feared the Elephants more than the Greeks. Playing with the same starting 11, we dominated the Ivorians, albeit not as much as we did against the Japanese. But we decided the game equally quick, as Calderón scored by '14 and Retamales added a brace at '28 and '36. With the game secured, I let off the pressure and lowered the tempo, letting the players rest a bit. We conceded a late goal that settled the score for us.
Result: Chile 3 - Ivory Coast 1 (Calderón '14, Retamales '28, '36)
Starting 11: Mardones; Pino, An.Díaz ('45 Hernández), León, Macula ('45 M.Burgos); Calderón, Berisic ('45 Opazo), Vilches; Muñoz; Carrasco, Retamales.
- Group Phase Game 3 - June 27th, 2030 - Estadio de Madrid, Madrid - Chile vs. Greece
Qualified for the knockouts, and with first placed semi secure, I rested 10 starters, only leaving Tomás Mardones in. We struggled at times, as clearly, our second unit isn't as talented as our starters. We played a decent first half, but couldn't manage to score, and the Greeks had a pair of dangerous chances that Mardones repelled. In the second half, we got an early goal via Maxi Medina, and then pushed the team back and held on to the result, as even the draw would mean we got in as 1st placed. In the end, Mardones shined stopping the Greeks and we won tightly, but preserved the ever-so-important stamina for our starters.
Result: Chile 1 - Greece 0 (Medina '51)
Starting 11: Mardones; Suarez, Hernández, Contreras, M.Burgos; Al.Díaz, Opazo, Leiva; Medina; O.Burgos, Silva.
With 9 points, we qualified comfortably as 1st placed. Surprisingly, Germany fucked up at the last game, and relinquished their second place to Romania, truly a lucky break for us.
A few shocks there, huh? Brazil, Germany and France out is something never seen before.
- Second Round - July 1st, 2030 - Riazor, A Coruña - Chile vs. Romania
Getting off the hook of a questionable draw, was really amazing, as facing Romania is far easier than facing Germany or Agentina, but hey, the Romanians did beat the Germans on their last group game. Anyway, we were the better team on the game, and again scored a couple of early goals to settle the rhythm of the game, via Retamales at 9 and Calderón at 19. We then let off the accelerator a bit and controlled the game, which allowed the Romanians to get closer to Mardones' goal, but nothing happened. In the second half, Carrasco woke up from his 2 game scoring hiatus, getting himself his 5th goal of the tournament.
Result: Chile 3 - Romania 0 (Retamales '9, Calderón '19, Carrasco '70)
Starting 11: Mardones; Pino, An.Díaz ('45 Hernández), León, Macula; Calderón, Berisic ('45 Opazo), Vilches; Muñoz ('45 Medina); Carrasco, Retamales.
In the Quarterfinals, we faced our first true test of the tournament, as the English would be our rivals. They had the world's best striker, Neil Brock (yes, SI employee and game developer Neil Brock), but fatigue was more of an issue to them, as they played extra time against Turkey in their previous game.
- Quarter-Finals - July 6th, 2030 - Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid - Chile vs. England
We needed to be great, and make no mistakes, as Brock is a world class talent, who'll score on you with barely any chance he gets. We started off great, as has been a trend on this World Cup, and Carrasco put us ahead at '15, and we made, holding on to the lead, a number one priority. We managed to do it, and the first half ended 1-0. But a lapse in concentration, beginning the second half, allowed Brock to equalise the game at '48. Fortunately for us, Carrasco managed to get another goal in at '60, but again, another mistake allowed them to equalise at '63.
The remaining 25 minutes of the game, ended up being two exhausted teams, fighting to prevent the inevitable extra time. But, when time ran out, and in our only corner after the English goal, Neil Brock botched a header and put it in his own goal, to get us into the World Cup Semifinals!
Result: Chile 3 - England 2 (Carrasco '15, '60, Brock o.g. '90+1)
Starting 11: Mardones; Pino, An.Díaz ('68 Hernández), León, Macula ('45 Suárez); Calderón, Berisic ('68 Opazo), Vilches; Muñoz; Carrasco, Retamales.
We'd face the Russians in the Semifinals, as they defeated the Netherlands in their Quarterfinals fixture. Again, we lucked out, but a WC semifinal is always, a tough affair.
- Semifinals - July 10th, 2030 - Camp Nou, Barcelona - Russia vs. Chile
At last, we returned to Camp Nou, after conquering that Confederations Cup last season. And we were looking to get into the World Cup Final, so yeah, big games in Camp Nou.
Russia is a strong side, with a few big names, but mostly made of domestic players. We were missing Bryan León, who was suspended and Alejandro Hernández was too tired to be considered, so I went with Alejandro Troncoso. For the first time, we didn't score early, and by '25 the Russians took the lead after a bad bounce ended up in our goal. Fortunately, Felipe Carrasco equalised quickly, at '36 and things calmed down. We started off the second half trying to get ahead, but again, a mistake by our defence, left Bobrov alone in the box and he scored the go-ahead goal. We pushed forward, leaving spaces behind, and struggled with a few counter attacks, but eventually found the tying goal at '86, via Alberto Díaz. The goal envigored our team, and I asked that they put a bit more of effort, and Felipe Carrasco scored by '90, after a brilliant play by Burgos, putting the ball in the top-right corner and turning the game over, getting us into our second World Cup Final.
Result: Russia 2 - Chile 3 (Carrasco '36, '90, Al.Díaz '86)
Starting 11: Mardones; Pino, An.Díaz ('45 Hernández), Troncoso, Macula ('45 Suárez); Calderón, Berisic, Vilches; Muñoz; Carrasco, Retamales ('45 Burgos).
Whew! What a game lads. I genuinely screamed, out of my lungs, when I saw Carrasco get the ball in the area, and he scored. Now, for the final test, Italy, as they beat Argentina and awaited us in the Final.
- Final - July 14th, 2030 - Camp Nou, Barcelona - Italy vs. Chile
A year after we won our first non continental tournament, and just 96 hours removed from the tense comeback win over the Russians, Camp Nou hosted our team again.
Italy boasted a world class team, led by Enrico Fortina, a brilliant forward from Juventus (Fortina, Brock and Carrasco might be the 3 best strikers in the world). Fatigue, obviously was an issue, with only 2 starters over 90%, and several below 85%. We also lost two key players, Andrés Díaz and Francisco Berisic on yellow cards, but Italy was two men short as well, with a key CB and their RW out.
The game started out badly, I must say, as Hernández held onto a shirt after a corner at the start of the game and the ref gave a penalty, that Fortina converted into goal at '7. The Italians had us against the ropes for a good 20 minutes, but then, we managed to get a bit forward, and the ref gave us a penalty at '35, sending off Massimo Berardi, one of Italy's CB's. Retamales stepped up, but missed the shot. Instead of hurting us, we managed to get strength from it, and pushed forward a 10-men Italy that really looked bad. We hit the woodwork 3 times, and their keeper saved a couple of big shots, and still, we were down. But Bryan León took a big header on a corner, and equalised at '65
The game, then went on to extra time, and things were absolutely horrendous for a while, with two wore down sides, fighting to try and move. Just as the second ET started, Hernández was sent-off, and the game was 10-10. We secured the backside and got the game to the penalties...
They had the first shot, and Zappasodi scored, then Carrasco equalised for us, 1-1
Fortina put them ahead, and Calderón kept things tied, 2-2.
Mardones stopped Cristante's shot, and Retamales kept his cool, forgetting the miss in the 90 minutes, putting us ahead, 2-3
Landucci put his shot on orbit, which meant... That Enrique Opazo, the young Universidad de Chile player, had the responsibility, and he scored the shot, granting Chile our first World Cup!!!!
Result: Italy 1 - Chile 1 a.e.t. (León '65) Penalties: 2-4 (Carrasco, Calderón, Retamales, Opazo, no misses).
Starting 11: Mardones; Pino, An.Díaz ('45 Hernández), Troncoso, Macula ('45 Suárez); Calderón, Berisic, Vilches; Muñoz; Carrasco, Retamales ('45 Burgos).
An amazing run, with a lot of good breaks, but a ton of football as well. Last minute goals, surprises and penalty shootouts, a rollercoaster of a tournament.
Felipe Carrasco was chosen as the Golden Ball, and Golden Shoe, with 9 goals in 6 games. We had 8 players in the Dream Team, with 4 starters, Andrés Díaz, Luis Muñoz, Kevin Retamales and Carrasco, with 4 as subs, Mardones, León, Calderón and Vilches (4 of those current La U players).
Golden Ball: 1.- Felipe Carrasco (Chile), 2.- Igor Pecheritsa (Russia), 3.- Carlos Romero (Spain).
Golden Shoe: 1.- Felipe Carrasco (Chile, 9 goals), 2.- Sergey Bobrov (Russia, 7 goals), 3.- Neil Brock (England, 6 goals).
Best GK: 1.- Sebastián Alustiza (Argentina).
Best Young Player: 1.- Davy Bakker (Netherlands).
Dream Team: Alustiza (Argentina); Clement (Netherlands), Díaz (Chile), D'Antoni (Italy), Zacarías (Argentina); Romero (Spain), Gould (England), Muñoz (Chile), Pecheritsa (Russia); Carrasco, Retamales (Chile). Subs: Mardones, León, Calderón, Vilches (Chile), Brock (England), Acciaresi (Argentina), Corral, Aguirre (Spain), Nolé, Landucci, Fortina, Bologna (Italy).
Behind The Scenes
- Not much left to do in this save, as getting the World Cup was the final test.
- We did it brilliantly, and I really want to see Carrasco's career flourish, I might holiday into the future.
- I'll still play at least one more semester, as I've got the Libertadores Semifinals with La U, to try and go for the 8th, and then, if I do it, try to conquer the Club World Cup.
- Don't know if I'll resign the NT, I might do it.
Be sure to click all the spoiler buttons, they're five (5) in total.