Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Double Champion!

I was invited by Sani to join Euro Fantasy Football last month.

'Ustaz' Khalid bin Othaman had just created a special league, comprising former students of my former school. But this league was intended for my batch only (9802 – the so-called Crackerz)

I set up my best team, but was unable to update it regularly due to some problems. Once the problems had been resolved, I was back on track. I want to give my all out efforts.

By the time the tournament reached Quarter-final stage, I was lagging behind in fourth places. Atak leads the pack, with Nassoc closely followed in second place.

When Quarter-final stage laid down its curtain, I was separated by the leader of the group by a massive 80 points! With 3 games left to spare, I revamped my dropping the ineffective Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni. I stayed with my 3-4-3 I badly needed 3 Forwards to supply goals and boasting my points further.

I picked high-flying Podolski, Torres, Ronaldo and Robben. Unfortunately, Robben picked up an injury and was unable to play against Germany. I swapped Ballack with Deco, which proved to be a grave mistake. Deco fell short of expectation...while Ballack roamed forward, scoring goal and provided assists in a clearly one-sided match against Portugal.

And as usual, Ronaldo bottled it big time. I should have figured it out earlier.

I don't need extra when the opposing team scored, they would lose points. Centre backs are prone to 'tricky' situation...if they marshaled the backline well and kept the clean sheet, they would get extra points. If they missed last ditch tackles and let strikers get behind their back, they're doomed.

And I don't need expensive goalkeeper, as it would further shrink my front-line budget. Furthermore, if he leaks goals, disaster awaits my Fantasy team.

All I need was a reliable goalkeeper, a good and skillful wingback (left and right), a deadly duo of wingers, two attack-minded central midfielders (what defensive midfielders are for in Fantasy Football team?) and clinical strikers.

Strikers job is to score goals. The more the better. They need to constantly test the goalkeeper with shots. Shots on target would received extra points. The goalkeeper who saved a shot also got points. It's a win-win situation.

It was a daunting task. 80 points to overhaul was not the time the first Semi-final finished (Germany VS Turkey), I was up to third places. When Spain won against the emerging Russia, I moved up to the second spots.

But still, I was 40 points off the pace!

With Spain likely to field 4-5-1 formation due to the injury to their top goal scorer David Villa, and Germany to stick to their traditional 4-3-3, I gave a long and hard thought. After careful consideration, I changed my formation to 3-5-2.

The reason?

Spain and Germany virtually has only one striker on their starting line-up. That would be Torres and Klose respectively. Based on their current form, they won't score much. And I was extremely confident Torres would score eventually. And as Klose was badly out of form, he won't be able to have a good shot on goal, let alone scoring one.

I dropped Klose and put my faith in Torres. And I picked Podolski as another striker.

Final traditionally is a tight affair. Although strikers are the one who usually put the finishing touch, it is the work from midfield that greatly decided the outcome of the match. I packed my midfield with five players...four of them are from the Spanish team.

As in defense and goal position, I picked mostly Spanish player...with Philip Lahm as an exception. Iker Casillas was a risky option…but I selected him anyway.

I was 40 points adrift of the leader...whatever points the league leader garnered after the Final, I need to double his tally. If he get 40 points, I need to get at least 81 points. If he managed 100 points, I need at least 141 points to have any chance to win the league.

Only two teams contested in the final. The choice of players is restricted...the probability that we would ended up fielding the same 11 player on the pitch was indeed very high. It was the choice of the Captain that really matters. Captain is eligible for double point...picking the right Captain was very crucial then.

I gave the Captain's armband to Torres.

And he didn't disappoint me. He scored the winning goal. As Germany's midfield struggled to adapt to a packed Spanish midfield, Torres was able to unsettle Germany's defence with his direct run.

The result?

I got 100 points...while the group leader (Atak) only managed to collect 53 points...I eclipsed him by a mere 6 points. I was crowned European Fantasy Football champion on the final day!

Sani said he rarely logged in to check his team's progress...the reason for his dismay 6th place finish. Losers always give excuses, you know. Huhuhu.

I don't know how to describe my feeling...winning the Fantasy Football as well as watching my favourite team lifting the coveted European Cup. All I know is, sitting atop of the Fantasy League, I only see loser, loser, and loser...13 of them to be exact. Hahahaaa...~