Trees That Are Slow To Grow Bear The Best Fruit

Duruji Kvareli / Georgia – 2045 Open Thread


December 2044 / January 2045 – Odds & Ends, Initial Transfer News.

We draw Porto in the Champions League knockout rounds, a rather favorable draw.

The more interesting thing to note, however, is that Georgia will have 3 teams playing the Champions League knockout rounds, after Dinamo Tbilisi and Lokomotivi Tbilisi managed to advance from their Groups.

Saburtalo and Dinamo Batumi are the other teams left in Europe, reaching the Europa Conference League knockout rounds. Saburtalo fell out of the Europa League, and Dila Gori finished a disappointing third in their Group, level on points with Slovan Liberec.


The Crusaders were not as lucky with the World Cup qualifying draw, as we will face Gary Cahill’s England, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Latvia.

England will be the clear favorites. My sole goal is qualifying, even if we have to do it through the Second Place table.


Atle Hovring claims the Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year for the third year in a row.

Otar Jikia claims both the European Golden Boy and World U21 Footballer of the Year. While he is not our first player to win the Golden Boy, he is the first Georgian national to do so.

Finally, Hovring and Dariusz Sapa are named to the World Team of the Year — the third year running for Hovring, and second for Sapa.


The only immediate transfer news is the previously-announced arrival of Mamia Jincharadze ($3.2M; FC Koln), who arrives to play as a right wingback. I brought Jincharadze into the national team setup in 2044 — he is the future for the Crusaders, so hopefully time with our 2nd XI will begin to see him develop.

Florian Joly leaves for Rafael Leao’s Norwich to make room, with Jair Adamo also departing for Marc Jurado’s Frankfurt.

Adamo leaving means that Stoyan Gospodinov will move forward to play as a mezzala in our 2nd XI, with Giorgi Mamulashvili playing as our roaming playmaker. Giorgi is more of a hard-tackling midfielder, but he seems to have the potential for growth, which means we’ve put him on a particular training regimen to hopefully develop some playmaking ability.

We’ve also signed youngster Mamuka Sirbiladze ($3.2M) from Meshakhte, one of our affiliates. I was less than impressed by the players my scouts found last year. He looked interesting, but I wasn’t ready to lump an offer on him until virtually all of the Erovnuli Liga started chasing him. I have yet to decide if he will play as a mezzala or roaming playmaker, so for now he is retraining as a segundo volante — both to give us depth at defensive midfielder, and because this focus will help improve his defensive attributes (positioning, marking, tackling and workrate).

It’s early days, but I don’t expect much more in the way of movement this transfer window, with the only major departure being Walid Boubaker leaving for Pol Planas’ Brighton ($12.5M, plus 50 percent sell-on).


Perhaps the biggest news of the off-season? Bear with me while we establish some context.

Growth in the stature of the Georgian game had seen per-team television rights rise to $69.02 million for 2044, a modest year-on-year increase from the $66.27 million received in 2043 and 2042.

Of course, prior to 2033 there were no television rights payments, period. That year, when the first rights were negotiated ($7.16 million per team) there were only 2 fully-professional clubs in the Erovnuli Liga.

What’s the point, you ask? The television rights for 2045 will be a whopping $215 million. Per team.

My hope is that this will fuel further investment in club facilities throughout the Erovnuli Liga. The more likely result? Clubs wasting the money on foreign “talent.”


February 2045 – Duruji Kvareli Squad Review.

The annual projections are released the day before our final pre-season match — we are the heavy favorites to claim our 19th straight Erovnuli Liga title, the 1-25 odds the same as in 2043 and 2044.

However, we only place 8 players in the media’s pre-season Dream XI, though I am not impressed with the 3 non-Duruji Kvareli players.

Although I am frustrated by our libero’s lack of involvement in the final third, my attempted tweaks thus far (in a tactic testing save) have yet to fix the problem. Accordingly, our primary tactic remains PM Haaienvuist, my Nagelsmann-inspired tactic which is detailed in A Kiss With A SharkFist Is Better Than None.

We are carrying a 24-man squad heading into the 2045 campaign — with only 6 non-Georgian players (and a 7th out on loan), as we continue to focus on developing players for the Georgian national team.

Let’s take a closer look.

Goalkeepers.

Guga Iashvili remains our undisputed starting keeper. A two-time World Golven Glove winner, he is a vital member of the 1st XI for both club and country.

Luka Burnadze is his capable backup for both club and country. I would like to send him off for development elsewhere, but we have no one capable of taking his place.

Defenders.

Giorgi Tvildiani is our libero, having taken over for Katchip. It was gamble to throw him straight into the side, but it has paid off in spades. He is probably the most promising Georgian player, so I really want to find a way to have him influencing the game more.

Our centerback pairing is Sergei Khasenov and Irakli Arveladze, both of whom are exceptional ball-playing defenders. They’re integral to our style of play. To say the least. Khasenov is also our vice captain.

Giorgi Gvazava is our backup libero — a retrained central midfielder, he is a solid player but doesn’t seem to have the ability to truly challenge Tvildiani.

Levan Kamladze and Davit Jimsheleishvili are our backup centerbacks, with Kamladze playing from the bench in our 1st XI. They’re both solid and dependable, with Kamladze fully capable of stepping in as-needed.

Nika Samkharadze and Oliveira are the only centerbacks of note in our youth system, with Nika off at Rennes until the summer. If Khasenov were to move on (to open a spot for Georgian talent), Samkharadze would be the one to step into our 2nd XI. Oliveira will soon become eligible for Georgia…I don’t think he’s necessarily good enough to play for the Crusaders, but he could be a decent option for the long term.

Victor Munteanu and Milan Mestrovic are our wingbacks. They’re brilliant. But…they’re not Georgian. Their backups (Giorgi Kuroshvili and Mamia Jincharazde) are not ready to take over, but I could be convinced if a big enough offer was to come in.

Omar Amisulashvili provides additional depth at centerback and left wingback…he’d see more minutes in our 2nd XI if he was taller. He has surprisingly great jumping reach, but I still don’t think I can trust him in the back line.

Finally, we’ve just signed Malkhaz “G Diddy” Gachechiladze ($7M; Torpedo Kutaisi), to join in January 2046 after spending this year on loan with Zana. Kuroshvili is a better player at left wingback right now, but Gachechiladze seems to have better potential.

I’m also painfully aware of the fact that, at the age of 30, Gia Koberidze won’t be with Georgia beyond the 2046 World Cup. We need more depth at wingback, and I see Gachechiladze as a possible solution. Meaning, we may need Munteanu to move on, to ensure that he gets minutes.

Midfielders.

At roaming playmaker, we have the brilliant American-Congolese Bienvenu Mbabu, who needs no introduction to anyone following the save. Giorgi Mamulashvili will be his primary backup this year — as noted above, he needs to develop some technical and tactical ability.

Francois Tisserand is a Georgian-Swiss dual national, and the only defensive midfielder of note in our youth system. He will spend the year on loan at Zestaponi.

Dariusz Sapa and Maxim Prokhorenko are our starting mezzalas. Sapa is an utter genius, a world-class talent and our captain. I hope to keep him as long as possible. Prokhorenko is a starter for both club and country (after he swapped allegiance ahead of the 2044 Euros).

Stoyan Gospodinov, Giorgi Aladashvili are the extremely capable backups, and can provide coverage throughout the central midfield. As noted above, we have signed Mamuka Sirbiladze — one for the future, who will spend this year playing primarily with our youth teams. Next January, Zviad Gedenidze will also join from Monaco. Meaning we have a wealth of midfield talent.

Among the U21s, Beka Kuroshvili stands out. He’s solid enough for Georgia, but has no future with the club.

Attacking Midfielders.

Leading the line, we have three-time defending Ballon d’Or winner Atle Hovring and reigning European Golden Boy Otar Jikia. Not much needs to be said — they’re practically ideal for our tactics.

Beyond their obvious talent, we have strength in depth. Giorgi Gelashvili and Irakli Tsnobiladze are the shadow strikers in our 2nd XI, with Nika Koberidze in the U19s and Stefan Carpanu out on loan.

(We also have Shota Akhaladze in the youth setup, even if I still can’t figure out why my predecessor with Georgia capped him twice.)

Final Thoughts.

Our pre-season friendlies are in the bag. Per usual, we learned little.

I am more nervous than I probably should be, due to our squad evolution over the last 2 years. And, I am desperate to reach the latter stages of the Champions League, after we crashed out last year (on the heels of appearing in the Final 4 years in a row, and 5 out of 6 years).

That being said, we are fortunate in that Porto should not prove too difficult a task, right out of the gate.

Oh, ****.

February/March 2045 – Champions League, First Knockout Round.

We coast through the first leg in Lisbon, staking a three-goal lead before allowing Porto back into the tie. Or course, a 3-1 away win should be the end of the discussion.

Back at the Goose, we take care of business on a snow-covered pitch. No frills, but a 2-nil win does the trick. We’re through to the quarterfinals, as both Lokomotivi Tbilisi and Dinamo Tbilisi bow out.

There is only one team I want to face. Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool. I’d settle for urCristiano’s Virus.

Instead, we draw Nagelsmann’s Bayern. It is not an easy draw, but ze Germans are struggling this year domestically, sitting 2nd. Very unlike them. Then again, we don’t have a particularly good record against them, other than the 2038 semifinal tie.

Our season ticket numbers continue to grow, slowly by slowly — 1,504 this year, up from 1,480 in 2044. Ticket prices now average $48 per match, or $372 for a season ticket.


March 2045 – World Cup Qualifying.

Decision time. We face the Czechs in Tbilisi, and then are away to England 72 hours later.

While I am tempted to rest players to face Gary Cahill’s men, the Czech match is a must-win. Claiming a point in London would be a “win,” but anything less than 3 points against the Czech Republic will be a disaster.

We secure a comfortable 3-nil win, even after Jikia had a penalty saved in the first half. The same XI take the pitch at Wembley. We need a big night from Iashvili in goal.

We get it. And, when Lamadze heads home an Oniani free kick in the 63rd minute to draw us level, we begin to dream. Against the run of play in the 89th minute, Tabukashvili fires home from 12 yards out, Tvildiani having set Gvazava free in the channel, before unselfish play from Gospodinov in the box leaves Tabukashvili with a simple task — hit the target.

We hold firm through 4 long minutes of injury time. A 2-1 win sees us start the qualifying campaign in the best possible way, as we reach a new record-high ranking of 37th.


April 2045 – Champions League, Quarterfinals.

Nagelsmann’s Bayern are in town for the 1st leg, and I will admit to being a little nervous. We need some kind of inspiration.

To calm our collective nerves the day before the match, Shaw serenades us with a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, backed by a full Mariachi band, only he changed it to Jalapeño, with lyrics mocking Nagelsmann’s sexual prowess. Inspired, to say the least.

We start the match well, but fall behind as ze Germans hit us in transition. Classic Bayern, that. But we punish them with 2 goals (and hit the post twice), to take a 2-1 lead into the half. Sapa strikes early in the 2nd half to continue our momentum, if only we can capitalize on it.

We find a 4th in the 88th minute, at which point Gelashvili pulls a jalapeño from his sock, chomping on it ceremoniously. Nagelsmann’s men cannot find a way back in. A massive result.

I love little more than when an opponent has to attack us, opening up the game and giving us space to attack.

If we can weather the storm and take our chances at the 112,764 capacity Hansi Flick, we’ll be back in the semifinals.

In the opening minutes, Bayern are controlling but we are creating chance after chance. Tvildiani claims a goal in the 10th minute, firing home from close range after Mbabu gets to the endline, unmolested.

Undeterred, ze Germans continue to push foward. And we continue to create chances. In the 32nd minute, we hit them on the counter, Munteanu beating Flavio at his near post. Down 6-1 on aggregate, and with only 1 away goal (to our 2), they need 6.

They manage to pull back level on the night, finishing 2-2. But we can hold our heads high, claiming redemption for our collapse last year against Liverpool.

We will face Thomas Tuchel’s Barcelona, who sit 4th in La Liga and eliminated at this stage 2 years ago.

In the other semifinal, Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool will face Merih Demiral’s Manchester United. Tasty.

And in other Georgian football news, Saburtalo defeat Dinamo Batumi on away goals to reach their second consecutive Europa Conference League semifinals.


Meanwhile, the Board insist on another round of investment further in Shaw‘s commemorative candle business, to the tune of $395 million.

We head into the semifinals confident. Unbeaten in all competitions since early April 2044. However, we will be missing Mestrovic, who was injured in our 10-1 annihilation of 10-man Lokomotivi Tbilisi.


April 2045 – Champions League, Semifinals (1st Leg).

At the Goose for the 1st leg, no words need be said. It starts slowly, but soon we’re all singing, led by Shaw in a sombrero. When we step onto the pitch, the entire home support is in full song.

She broke your throne, and she cut your hair…
And from your lips she drew the Jalapeño

We are ready. It’s a nervy, well-balanced affair. Hovring smashes the post in the 37th — close to breaking the deadlock. Sapa fires just wide in first-half injury time. Again, close.

These are the balls we’ve been burying throughout the European campaign thus far.

Scoreless at the half. Something has to give.

Finally, it does. We are keeping the Spaniards penned in their defensive third, unable to release the pressure. They clear, but only as far as Khasenov, who hits a 45-yard diagonal Hollywood ball on a dime, finding Sapa in stride. He tucks it into the corner. 1-nil.

Barcelona push forward. We bend, but we do not break…unless you count our break on the counter in the 93rd minute, Sapa making the defender commit before springing substitute Tsnobiladze free on goal. He hammers it. 2-nil. From start to finish, the counterattack goes from box to box in 7 seconds. Clinical.

It was not our finest hour. It did not need to be.

We stand 90 minutes from a final in the Big Smoke.


May 2045 – Champions League, Semifinals (2nd Leg).

At one point in time, the Camp Nou was intimidating. But the ol’ girl is showing her age.

A relic of a bygone era. Whereas we represent the future. Or so we like to tell ourselves, in the moments leading up to kickoff.

As in the quarterfinals, our opponent will have to push forward to drag themselves back into the tie. If we can take our chances, we will book our tickets for London. If not, we will be left licking our wounds, having lost from a position of control.

Shaw spends the first few minutes shouting Star Wars prequel quotes at Tuchel, much to the latter’s befuddlement.

Shaw’s Jedi robes are what sold the moment.

Jikia strikes in the 11th minute, a thunderbolt from the Gods, even if Val should have done better. The Catalans are falling apart.

Young Jincharidze — continuing to deputize for the injured Mestrovic — is caught in possession in the 30th minute, as we build through the relentless Catalan high press. Yet they waste the chance that was handed to them on a platter. Needing 4 goals, our hosts cannot afford to be so wasteful.

Minutes later, both Sapa and Jikia go close — Val denying the former with a world-class save, Jikia a hair offside moments later.

We have every reason for confidence at the half. Tvildiani goes close in the 46th minute, almost straight from the kickoff, followed by Barcelona clearing one off the line from Sapa. They’re hanging on by a thread for a few minutes, but regain their composure — even if they cannot truly threaten our goal.

On the hour mark, we begin to think about personnel changes. Kuroshvili replaces the tiring Munteanu, while Gospodinov is on for Prokhorenko. Far from looking to shore up our defense, I want to ensure that we can threaten in transition as the Catalans’ desperation grows.

In the 64th minute, we again build out from the back through the Catalan high press, tearing them to pieces and going vertical at precisely the right moment — with Jikia executing the coup d’grace, setting Hovring free behind the lines, where he delicately chips it over the onrushing Val. 2-nil on the night. 4-nil on aggregate. Composed, exquisite football, with 7 Georgian nationals on the pitch.

Tsnobiladze replaces Hovring, as Barcelona’s relentless thrusts forward are rewarded with a goal in the 73rd. A consolation prize, at best.

Minutes later, Iashvili goes vertical to a streaking Tsnobiladze, who is hacked down from behind by Padovano, when clear on goal. A second yellow, when it could have been a straight red. Barcelona are reduced to 10-men.

At the final whistle, 8 Georgian footballers stand on the pitch. Prokhorenko, the 9th to feature on the night, joins them in a raucous celebration as I shake Kyei’s hand. The future is looking bright.

We return to the Champions League final after a two-year absence. Our opponents?

Gerrard’s Liverpool, who defeat Demiral’s United, 2-nil on aggregate. A rematch of both the 2042 Final and an opportunity to avenge our humiliating exit at the quarterfinal stage last year.

We have not lost a match since. We had best be prepared.

For his part, Gerrard is on the verge of the sack, as Liverpool sit a disappointing 6th in the Premier League with 2 matches to play. If he cannot right the ship, the Final may be his only chance to save his job.

I have to admit, the thought of issuing the snide **** a pink slip would be fitting revenge.


May 2045 – Champions League, Final.

The night has finally arrived. Gerrard’s Liverpool are narrow favorites — a phenomenon we’re used to, at this point.

Mestrovic does not win his race for full fitness, after suffering a setback 2 weeks ago in training. He will be on the bench, but the likelihood of him playing is slim. Jincharadze will deputize for him again — another big night for the 18 year-old Georgian international.

We start on the front foot, but it is Liverpool who have the first clear chance of the match, Seymour heading off the bar in the 10th minute. We manage to clear, but should be down.

Moments later, Liverpool break in transition after an Mbabu turnover — Seymour again strikes the post, and we again clear. This cannot continue.

Liverpool continue to control, and in the 24th minute they win a free kick just outside of our box. Seymour (who else) smashes one into the wall, Liverpool recovering possession before a sliding interception from Sapa breaks their rhythm, the ball falling to Hovring just outside of our box. The 24 year-old, 3-time Ballon d’Or winner takes off at pace, claiming the ball on the bounce and driving forward, Jikia to his left. One of the two centerbacks moves to cover Hovring’s strike partner, while the other backpedals furiously, leaving a gap between them. Hovring’s pace takes him into the gap and beyond the defense before the centerbacks realize their error. He fires home.

1-nil in our favor, following an epic gallop through the heart of the Liverpool defense. A lead we may not deserve. But one we hold, nevertheless.

In the 40th minute, Liverpool break after we enjoy a period of sustained presence in their defensive third, only for Painter to come close — a powerful effort tipped by Iashvili onto the post. We clear the ensuing corner, continuing to live dangerously.

We have every reason to be pleased at the half. We have not played well, but maintain our 1-goal lead. Mbabu is tiring rapidly — he will likely need to be replaced before long. We adjust our tactics, modestly.

However, the center cannot hold. In the 62nd, we fail to clear a corner and Painter makes us pay. Gospodinov and Aladashvili enter the fray, for Prokhorenko and Mbabu. Again, we tweak and adjust our tactics.

Gelashvili replaces the exhausted Sapa in the 77th minute. We’ve slowly begun to turn the tide since conceding, denying Liverpool any meaningful look at goal and Gospodinov nearly claiming a goal at the other end. Hovring is denied from close range, moments later.

The match could fall in either direction. In the 88th minute, Jikia fires narrowly wide from close range.

So close. As the clock ticks down, it looks like extra time. Hovring nearly catches the keeper in no-man’s land in the 94th minute, chipping just over the bar. He wishes he had that one back, undoubtedly.

Extra time it is. Khuroshvili replaces Munteanu, meaning we will enter the final 30 minutes with 9 Georgians on the pitch, the withdrawn Prokhorenko being our 10th. Khuroshvili has pace to spare, but is a less complete footballer. My hope is that he can provide us with an extra gear in transition.

Yet, after Jincharadze and Gelashvili combine on the right flank, it is Khuroshvili who nearly gives us the lead in the 93rd, firing inches wide.

In the 102nd minute, Liverpool are looking purposeful for the first time in ages, probing our defense. Tvildiani makes a crucial interception in the box and immediately finds Hovring in stride, approaching the halfway line with Jikia charging into space on his left.

This time, Liverpool‘s right-sided centerback steps towards Hoving, who immediately finds Jikia in space…even if the covering centerback prevents him from charging straight on goal…the angle is too oblique. Another wasted opportunity.

Both sides are practically dead on their feet. But 15 minutes remain. All to play for, lest we tempt the Gods of Fate in a shootout. For our part, we would rather win the match outright.

Iashvili saves well from Seymour in the 108th. A big moment.

Yet an even bigger moment arrives, less than two minutes later.

Tvildiani intercepts in our defensive third, and immediately finds Hovring looking to counter, taking possession at the center-circle. He is cruelly hacked down from behind. A professional foul if ever there was one. A straight red.

With Liverpool reduced to 10 men, this is our chance. We adjust our tactics slightly — more aggressive positioning, as a whole, and more aggressive in the final third. Let’s take the match to them.

An incisive run from Jikia unlocks the Liverpool defense in the 112th, but he drags the shot just wide. Shaw cannot bear to watch.

Our aggression nearly catches us out — Liverpool nearly taking the lead after Fernandez is played through, only to be denied by Iashvili. There are a mere 4 minutes to play, plus injury time.

But we cannot make our chances count.

It will be the lottery of penalties.

Hovring will take our first kick. Like John Terry in Moscow, he screws his penalty wide, missing the target entirely. Diego Oliver, our former libero, steps forward…and misses, the other way. Stealth Duruji, no doubt.

Having missed his opportunities during the match itself, Jikia makes no mistake here, sending the keeper the wrong way to give us a temporary advantage…which is quickly erased, as Seymour fires into the top corner, Iashvili close but not close enough.

As the tension mounts, Gospodinov cooly fires home. Ice in his veins. Yet, Penman, too has nerves of steel, slotting his penalty into the side netting, just beyond Iashvili‘s reach.

Level on 2 goals apiece, Gelashvili steps forward to take our 4th penalty. And, again, Kocak is flying in the wrong direction as the ball nestles firmly into the back of the net. Atmodimedjo goes for pure power, to draw Liverpool level once again.

Tvildiani will take our 5th and final kick…yet Kocak stands tall and denies his powerful effort.

Fernandez can win it all for Liverpool…and he does, firing past Iashvili who once again goes the right way, but cannot reach the well-taken penalty.

Cruel does not even begin to describe the moment. I am, of course, biased. But what fun is football if you are a neutral? The rank, petty tribalism is half the fun, isn’t it?

And there’s no way that I can forgive Gerrard the petty smirk he flashed me after the trophy presentation. The snide ****.

In the end, we fielded 10 Georgians, 4 of whom took penalties. I am not one to claim a moral victory of any kind — no, we will leave that to the braying masses. It is, however, an unmistakable sign of progress in our efforts.


In the aftermath, Hovring is named the Golden Boot winner and Best Midfielder, with Jikia claiming the Best Goal of the tournament. Iashvili is named to the Best XI, with no less than 8 Liverpool players. Shameful on the part of UEFA, yet again.


June 2045 – European Review.

The Champions League is rather thoroughly documented above, as Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool mounted a successful title defense, defeating us on penalties.

In the Europa League, Sami Kheidera’s Leicester defeated Aleksandre Rekhviashvili’s Athletic Bilbao, 1-nil. There is no question that Rekviashvili, my predecessor with the Georgians, has far exceed my expectations when he took the Basque job. (With various Georgian managers and coaches spreading out across the active leagues, I am actively searching for players coming through at those clubs with a Georgian second nationality.)

In the Europa Conference League, Guiseppe Rizzo’s Bologna has a first name, and it’s not M-I-K-E-L, as they defeat Arteta’s West Ham, 3-1. (Also of note was Saburtalo‘s 2nd straight semifinal appearance.)

In the active leagues, urCristiano’s Real Madrid won their 6th title in 7 years; Wim De Decker’s Arsenal claimed the Premier League title, only their 2nd in the post-Wenger years; Killian Mbape’s PSG won the Ligue 1 title on the final matchday, after Josip Brekalo’s Monaco drew away to Weston McKennie’s Lille; Dejan Stankovic’s Inter won their first Serie A title after Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus lost at home to Eric Garcia’s SPAL on the final matchday; and, Isco’s Dortmund won the Bundesliga, the first time since 2023/24 that Bayern has not done Bayern things.

(Interestingly enough, Duruji Kvareli’s on-loan Carpanu claimed the Ligue 1 Most Promising Player award, having finished second-top goalscorer in the campaign with 20. If we were not focused on Georgian players… But, we are. So, he’s not.)


The Erovnuli Liga finally moves up to 6th in the UEFA competition rankings, leapfrogging Portugal. We continue to narrow the gap substantially with France and Italy in the nation club coefficients table, although it will likely take another 2-3 years to truly challenge them.

Duruji Kvareli remain 1st in the club coefficients table, as our Georgian brothers also rise.  Reputation-wise, we remain 5th, beneath Gerrard’s Liverpool, urCristiano’s Real Madrid, Nagelsmann’s Bayern and Thomas Tuchel’s Barcelona.


June 2045 – World Cup Qualifying.

A qualifying double-header against Hungary will be our first competitive matches on the docket after Champions League final. We deploy a strong XI in both matches, claiming a 4-nil win in Budapest and a 3-1 win in Tbilisi, to give us a commanding lead atop the Group.

That lead may be illusory, due to England’s focus on the Nations League finals, but we are racking up the points with a young squad. There will be no complaining from our end.


June/July 2045 – World Club Cup.

Though it is little more than a series of glorified friendlies, the World Club Cup is a chance to square off against non-European club sides — a chance we relish, especially since we’ve drawn San Lorenzo and Mamelodi Sundowns.

Before the tournament kicks off, however, we complete our first signing of the summer — Georgian U21 international Guram Grigalashvili ($5.5M, Dinamo Batumi), who will retrain to play as a right wingback.

Transfer rumors are swirling — however, for once there is some measure of truth to them. We have not made it publicly known, but Shaw and I are resolved to entertain offers for Mbabu, Munteanu and Mestrovic. All 3 are in our 1st XI, but they are the next, natural departures as we focus our player development efforts on the 2046 and 2050 World Cups. (That being said, Sapa, Khasenov and Hovring are untouchable, in my mind.)

The news coming from the Academy (which Shaw is seeking to have dubbed the “Shawberto Carlos“) is promising:

I know better than to hold my breath, but this is very promising, indeed.


For all of their moxie, the Argentinians prove little obstacle in our first match in Holland — we claim a 3-nil win at a canter. Against Sundowns, we rotate the squad in anticipation of a challenge in the next round. The lads do not let us down, claiming four goals in the first 11 minutes to put the game out of reach — the final result, an emphatic 10-nil win.

Our reward? A quarterfinal draw against Gerrard’s Liverpool, on 48 hours rest. It’s a good thing we rotated the squad.

Shaw spends much of the off-day between matches filing his front teeth down to sharp points — “in case we need to scrap, Boss. You know how those dippers can be.”

I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that. But, truth be told, a part of me really wants to see Shaw, wild-eyed with rage, biting and snapping at Gerrard’s lifeless cor…

We are ruthless, striking early in each half to set the tone en route to a 4-1 win. It does not satiate our thirst for revenge (or Shaw’s, for blood). But if will have to suffice for now.

After we draw Wim De Decker’s Arsenal in the semifinals, Shaw agrees to go to the dentist to “fix” his teeth, recognizing that unbridled violence will not be the order of the day. He returns several hours later with a solid-gold “pimp grill,” which Hovring promptly mocks as dentures. Shaw tries to go in two-footed on the Norwegian to put him in his place, but Atle is too nimble. All is soon forgotten, though, when someone starts quoting Tuco Salamanca, and Shaw can’t help but engage. (He has nothing if not the attention span of a goldfish.)

It is not as impressive a display. Yet, a 2-1 win over the reigning English champions on night when we can’t seem to get out of first gear isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

We face Tuchel’s Barcelona in the final — a rematch of this year’s Champions League semifinal. We are in scintillating form, smashing 4 past the hapless Catalans, whose only consolation is that tt could have much, much worse.

2045 Club World Cup: Overview | Knockout Rounds


July 2045.

The summer fixture congestion of the summer is something to behold — 9 matches in July, instead of our usual low-key club schedule.

Off the pitch, the transfer hounds were well-fed, with the departures of Munteanu ($52M, Monaco), Carpanu ($20M, Bordeaux), Mbabu ($68M, West Ham) and Mestrovic ($31M, Inter), plus a 50-percent of next-sale clause on each.

We are left with a 22-man squad, 19 of which are Georgian nationals. 9 of whom are still teenagers, with no one over the age of 25.

Our remaining foreigners — Sapa, Khasenov and Hovring — are unique, special players. They will have a home at the Goose as long as they want to be here.

Hi, Atle Hovring!

While the 2046 World Cup is just around the corner, our eyes are primarily focused on the 2050 World Cup — a point at which our current youngsters will be in their prime, ready to take on the world…perhaps with a few other brilliant young players, who are not even on our radar yet.


August 2045.

The Champions League draw throws up a mouth-watering tie with Merih Demiral’s Manchester United.

We are in rare form. Arguably the best club in the world, as the two-time defending Club World Cup champions, and top-ranked European team in terms of the coefficients. Yet, still, we must put up with this nonsense.

Harms the game? Harms..?!

Seeing as how we’ve won 184 straight Erovnuli Liga matches, and are unbeaten in 391…I think Irakli can do one.


September 2045.

With the return of Champions League football, we have high hopes. We exceed expectations with a 5-nil annihilation of Porto, followed by a 6-nil win over 10-man Dinamo.

The youth intake is not quite as promising as we had hoped, so perhaps it is good that Tella is retiring at the end of the year. Demanding that he develop world-class players is a big ask…but he successor will be tasked with nothing less.

Vazha Surmanidze, Vladimer Samkharadze, Giorgi Grigalashvili, Akaki Gorgodze and Mikheil Barikhashvili are the most promising players — it may take some time before we know what that really means, though.


September/October 2045 – World Cup Qualifying.

With only one qualifier away to Latvia in September, we needed to secure all 3 points to keep the pressure on England. We manage a 6-1 win, to keep us on track for qualification, followed by a dire, sterile draw against Kosovo in a friendly.

Which set up a critical international break for October — six points clear, facing a trip to Prague, followed by a qualification six-pointer against England in Tbilisi.

Knowing that all 3 points are a “must” in Prague, we start our 1st XI. Prokhorenko sets us on the path with a powerful finish in the 13th minute, and doubles our lead in the 28th. It is enough for all 3 points — 2-nil, putting us on the verge of qualification after Gary Cahill’s England drop points against Hungary.

If we can secure a result against the English, we are through as Group winners.

If.

We do not make any changes to the XI, even though Tvildiani is still dragging from the Czech match.

A massive night, although I still can’t figure out why the GFF insisted on hosting the match at Dinamo Tbilisi’s stadium when two of the stands are undergoing renovation. Not shady at all, that.

Neither side can break through in the first half. We’ve both come close, but not close enough. Jikia smashes the post in the 52nd…closer, still.

We ring the changes on the hour mark, inserting Aladashvili who is a human trebuchet…minutes later, he launches a salvo into the box, and Gvazava is taken down. A stone-cold penalty. Jikia buries it. At 1-nil with less than 30 minutes to play, China 2046 is in our sights.

Mere minutes later, Aladashvili curls a free kick into the mixer…handball! Another penalty! The mind games are endless, but Jikia calmly fires into the other corner, to double our advantage. Aladashvili is pulling all the strings tonight.

Hernandez pulls one back in the 90th minute, but it is too little, too late. Another historic 2-1 win over England — who are not only humiliated, they are in danger of missing out on qualification.

Our passage to China is booked, lads. Savor it.


October 2045.

Two rough draws against Merih Demiral’s Manchester United, who sit bottom of the Group. Frustration, at both The Goose and Old Trafford. But we are another step closer to the knockout rounds. That is all that matters.


November 2045 – World Cup Qualifying.

We start slow in our final match against Latvia, but finish strong — a 5-1 win, to complete an “invincible” qualifying campaign. While others face a final round of qualifying, we entertain the imperialist Americans in Tbilisi, and show them the backside of our hand with a 3-1 win — a win in which Mbabu was pulling strings for the opposition, but to little ultimate effect.

As skewed as the FIFA rankings are, the Imperialists sit 15th. No small feat to knock them off, even if only for the reputational value of the result.

England win their final matches and catch a bit of luck, qualifying for China 2046 by the skin of their teeth through the Second Place Table.


December 2045 – Season Review.

We finish the season in good form, swatting aside the pretenders of Dinamo Tbilisi in the Davit Kipiani Cup, as well as Porto and Dinamo in the Champions Leauge, en route to a undefeated campaign in all competitions, our only “loss” being the heart-wrenching penalty-shootout loss to 10-man Liverpool.

While we dropped points against Torpedo Kutaisi in the league, it followed a run of 191 straight wins over more than 5 years, and our 401-match unbeaten streak remains intact. Both are Erovnuli Liga records. And, we saw a modest year-on-year improvement with 151 goals scored and only 13 conceded, as compared to 135 and 18 in 2044.

In other words, while we have continued to excise foreign players from the 1st XI and squad, our competitiveness has not dropped in the manner we feared. Other than the Liverpool shootout loss, we have not lost a match since April 2044 — a run of 101 matches unbeaten in all competitions, 11 shy of our existing club record.

Also of note — for the first time, we have 2 players in contention for the Ballon d’OrAtle Hovring and Dariusz Sapa. We still await the first Georgian nominee, of course.

Goals for 2046:  Make a run in the Champions League knockout rounds and World Cup.

Squad | Erovnuli Liga | Transfers

Finances | Income | Expenditure

God leaned over to the Devil, drew him close and declared, “those who will drink three glasses of chacha may be on my side. After that, they are yours.”

If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused, the basic concept behind Duruji Subsequent ThreadSave is explained here.  Just need to catch up? Each installment in Levan “Goose” Akhobadze’s attempt to take over the football world, starting from the Georgian Regional Leagues, can be accessed through the Duruji Subsequent ThreadSave Archive.

You can also join Seattle Red on his dedicated DtG discord channel, to discuss any and all things related to his saves, tactics and anything else under the sun.


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