Duruji Kvareli / Georgia – 2047 Open Thread
December 2046 / January 2047 – Odds & Ends, Transfer News.
We draw Luuk de Jong’s Everton in the Champions League knockout rounds, a rematch of the one-sided 2046 UEFA Super Cup. A very favorable draw, to say the least.
Georgia is well-represented in the European knockout rounds, with Saburtalo having drawn Premier League leaders Manchester City in the Champions League.
Dinamo Tbilisi fell out of the Champions League, but will face Bordeaux in the Europa League First Knockout Round.
In the Europa Conference League, Lokomotivi Tbilisi and Torpedo Kutaisi will battle Rijeka and Fenerbahce, respectively, after the latter fell out of the Europa League. Dila Gori has a bye into the Second Knockout Round after dominating their Group.
The awards season arrives, and we are predictably disappointed with some of the selections. Of course, we do not go home empty handed.
Stamatis has been busy, spending the last few months scouring the globe for signings with Shaw.
As previously noted, we have secured the signings of Luis Navio ($30M; Toulouse) and Joseph Bull ($10.25 million; Celtic), both of whom will join our 2nd XI upon their arrival, with Bull set to be retrained as a libero.
We’ve also secured the signing Jose Pedro Silva ($22.5M; Benfica), a full Cape Verdean international who steps immediately into our 2nd XI and will battle with and Arveladze and Navio for the 2nd centerback position in the 1st XI. At the absolute least, this transfer window sees a massive improvement in our back line — Navio replaces Jimsheleishvili and joins Kamladze in the 2nd XI for now, with Silva playing from the bench. It seems that both Navio and Silva have the potential to eventually step into the 1st XI without missing a beat.
Finally, we have secured 4 future transfers:
- Miroslav Perkovic ($800k; Dinamo), an established U19 Croatian international at the age of 16, who seems to have substantial potential.
- Steffen “Falkor” Falkenhain ($26.5M; Koln), a German U19 international who will train as a mezzala.
- Henk van Eijck ($19.5M; Lille), a Dutch U21 international who will take over as the attacking playmaker in our 2nd XI.
- Albert Grobler ($750k; SuperSport United), a South African U20 international who will take over at left inverted winger in our 2nd XI.
For the coming campaign, we reshuffle the XIs to ensure the most effective 1st XI possible, while maintaining a Georgian spine to the squad.
Hovring shifts centrally, with Sapa moving back to resume his position at mezzala. Prokhorenko drops to the bench and to lead the 2nd XI, with Gedenidze off to Malmo for the year to gain first-team experience.
Stepping in at right inverted winger? 2045 Golden Boy and World U21 POTY Tsnobiladze — his performance the last two years deserves no less.
Backfilling at right winger in the 2nd XI? None other than “the Georgian Robbie Brady,” 2046 academy graduate Vano Gogokhia. He’s also too good to languish with the U19s and U21s — in 15 matches following his promotion from the academy, he claimed 10 goals and 9 assists. Sink or swim time.
In the end, our depth chart is… Uhh… Deep. We’re also keeping an eye on a handful of promising Georgian youth, but have not moved to sign any of them.
Last year was a watershed year, with Erovnuli Liga television rights payments rising to $218 million per team. As the league continues to grow in stature — placing 2 teams into the Champions League semifinals last year — will the payments continue to rise?
Nope. Not this year. We’re “stuck” on $218 million per team. As if that’s anything to shake a stick at.
I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed.
Dinamo Tbilisi waste little time, and drop $11.25 million on Elielton and $44.5 million on Ethan Stephan — a statement of intent, certainly. These may be the most significant signings to-date by one of our domestic rivals.
February/March 2047 – Champions League, First Knockout Round.
Per usual, we learn little from our pre-season friendlies. Little that will prepare us for what awaits at Goodison Park — and, no, I’m not referring to the overwhelming stench of urine.
The Blues are in search of revenge. The sexy man’s justice.
The lads and I have something else in mind, entirely. Sapa opens his account for the campaign in the 6th minute. 1-nil to the good guys.
We make it 2 in the 31st, Jikia slotting home after a slick build up, commencing when Tvildiani galivants into midfield, audacity personified.
With 20 minutes to play, our hosts finally push forward with conviction. They pull one back, but it is not enough. Iashvili has their measure.
We claim a 2-1 win on the night. Advantage, Duruji.
We follow up the win over Everton with a decidedly one-sided annihilation of Saburtalo in the Super Cup.
Back at the Goose for the 2nd leg, any hopes that the English were harboring for a comeback are kicked squarely in the gut in the first 10 minutes, when Hovring winds through the massed defense, firing home in the 2nd minute, followed by Sapa rounding off a nice passing progression in the 9th minute to make it 4-1 on aggregate.
A nightmare ensues for the Blues. It’s 6-nil by halftime, 8-1 on aggregate. Humiliation on the grandest stage. A 45-minute performance marred only by removal of Tsnobiladze due to a possible injury.
The draw for the quarterfinals is relevant only insofar as we need to know where we’re traveling to. I have no preference, either way. In the end, we will face Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern, who sit one point off the pace in the Bundesliga, a side we’ve eliminated the last 3 times we’ve faced them.
Domestically, we are clear favorites to claim our 21st straight Erovnuli Liga title, at 1-48 odds.
We also place 9 players in the media’s pre-season Dream XI. One notable omission? 5-time reigning Ballon d’Or winner, Atle Hovring.
Neither does the slow uptick in our season ticket sales — rising to 1,653 this year, as compared to last year’s 1,547.
Granted, that’s roughly 1 out of every 4.5 people in Kvareli. Though, when I point this out to Shaw, he just laughs. “Half a person can’t attend a football match, Boss.” Notwithstanding the conviction in his voice, I can see the uncertainty in his eyes. It’s the same look he had when I told him dogs don’t like to eat nachos.
And math was never his strong suit.
Though our attentions have been focused on the Champions League, we have managed a solid enough start to the domestic campaign.
Gogokhia made his full debut against Dila Gori, claiming an assist and becoming the club’s all-time youngest player.
While we remain unbeaten and were rampant in our first few matches, our domestic dominance is under threat. Samtredia earned a 1-1 draw through sheer grit, luck and determination. 72 hours later away to Saburtalo (who have reached the Champions League quarterfinals after last year’s run to the semifinals, which followed 2 consecutive Europa Conference League semifinal appearances), we were the ones riding our luck to a 1-nil win. Our 442-game unbeaten streak in the Erovnuli Liga is bound to fall, sooner or later.
March/April 2047 – Euros Qualifying.
What better way for Goga Tabukashvili to celebrate his 100th cap, than with a hat trick in the opening match of our qualifying campaign? Deputizing for the injured Tsnobiladze, the Duruji Kvareli youth academy graduate does us proud in a 5-1 win over Montenegro.
Against Azerbaijan in Tbilisi, Tabukashvili scores the fastest goal in Georgian national team history, putting us up 1-nil within less than 13 seconds, claiming another hat trick in the first 23rd minutes en route to a thrilling 6-3 win, a match that did not lack for elegant finishing.
6 points. That’s all that matters in the end.
April 2047 – Champions League, Quarterfinals.
Ze Germans kick off the 1st leg playing as if they have something to prove. We do not match their intensity, conceding twice in the first half. I go full Mike Bassett on them at halftime. Blind, incoherent rage.
It does little good. We staunch the bleeding, but lose the patient. It is our first loss in nearly 3 years, across all competitions.
We have a week’s rest to lick our wounds. I cannot sleep. The manner of our capitulation haunts me; how easy we made it for ze Germans.
We need a fast start, before the capacity crowd at the Goose. Villa gives it to us, breaking down the line to cross for Sapa, who flicks a header into the side netting. 1-nil on the night.
Jikia makes it 2 in the 22nd minute, off a quick counterattack. All to play for, lads.
Ze Germans grow into the match, and begin to control. Yet neither side can find the breakthrough. Extra time beckons. Tired legs cannot find a breakthrough, no matter how we press and probe.
Penalties will decide the tie.
Now…now is our chance. Sapa will take our 4th. Ever composed, he finds the side netting. Frapolli is equally composed, however, finding the back of the net to bring ze Germans back level.
Gospodinov steps forward. And sends Flavio the wrong way. 4-3…all of the pressure is now on Michel. He places it juts beyond Iashvili‘s reach. 4-4.
Into sudden death we go.
Julian Amrell strikes his penalty high and hard to Flavio’s right, easily nestling into the net. Again, the pressure is on ze Germans, with Roth to take… Iashvili is his equal, flying to the right to deny him!
For the fourth time in a row, we send Bayern crashing out of Europe. A tie we did not deserve to win, by any measure other than cold, hard nerves of steel.
Gennaro Gattuso’s Betis await in the semifinals, after the Andalusians eliminated Saburtalo 4-2 on aggregate.
April 2047 – Champions League, Semifinal (1st Leg).
Shaw and Gattuso share a moment in the tunnel, before kickoff. No words are spoken. Nor is eye contact made. Yet, in an exchange of grunts, nods, shrugs and simplistic hand gestures, they seem to have an entire conversation.
The early stages at the Benito Villamarin are all Duruji Kvareli, and we take a 1-nil lead in the 22nd minute as Hovring flicks a cross to Jikia at the back post. We continue to control, but need to find another. VAR chalks off a Tsnobiladze goal in the 33rd that was vintage Ibrahimovic, karate kick and all.
But what VAR taketh away, it also giveth…in the 43rd minute, VAR awards a penalty after Jikia is shoved down in the box. Only for Rivera to save it. A nightmare for Tvildiani, after hitting the post against Bayern.
We cannot find the breakthrough until the 71st minute, when Villa finds Prokhorenko rising at the back post to nod home. The tie is far from over at 2-nil, but at least we can begin to breath a little easier. VAR calls back yet another goal in the 84th — this time, after Tsnobiladze hustled the ball over the line following a chaotic goalmouth scramble.
2-nil is where it ends. A big win on the road. Betis will have to chase the match back in Kvareli.
May 2047 – Champions League, Semifinals (2nd Leg).
With a 2-goal advantage in our favor, we know that Betis will have to do what every Gattuso side loathes more than anything. Attack. Leave themselves exposed at the back.
It is incumbent upon us to exploit that exposure. If we can take our chances early, the tie will be over.
We earn a penalty in the 18th minute, with Tvildiani eager to step forward and break his jinx. This time, he buries it, going to the same side as the prior two penalties. A confident lad, he has always been.
We press our advantage and enter the half up 3 on the night. The floodgates open wide in the second half, uncharacteristically so for a Gattuso-led club.
The final tally, after VAR chalks off 2 of our goals, is 6-nil. 8-nil on aggregate.
I later come across Shaw consoling Gattuso in a hallway, deep within the bowels of the Goose. Again, no words are spoken. No eye contact is made. A handful of ambiguous grunts.
And a single, solitary tear falling from the Italian’s eye.
We head into the Champions League final having narrowly maintained our unbeaten streak in the Erovnuli Liga, with the 2nd XI securing a 1-nil win against Champions League quarterfinalist Saburtalo thanks to an 83rd minute penalty a mere 72 hours before kickoff in Rome. Madness.
It is a sign of how far Georgian football has come. In addition to multi-million dollar transfer drama, the results are beginning to show on the pitch. Saburtalo‘s exploits in Europe over the last 5 years are well-known. And, this year, Dinamo Tbilisi reached the Europa League semifinals, with Lokomotivi Tbilisi losing the Europa Conference League final to Leicester.
What this means is that we can no longer take to the pitch in domestic competition, comfortable in the assurance that we will prevail. Further, our coefficient is set to rise at the end of the current European campaign — to 4th, regardless of the result against Manchester United. Beat them and…well. We’ll see.
The times are changing. For the better.
June 2047 – Champions League, Final.
It all comes down to 90 minutes. Despite all that we have accomplished, we enter the match as underdogs.
It is outrageous. But it is is nothing less than what we’re used to. Disrespect.
The lesson is and always has been that nothing will be given to us. We must take it.
To dispel any question of divided loyalties on the night, Shaw has shaved the Duruji Kvareli crest into his hair. His back hair, which he has “grown out” specifically for tonight. It is as disturbing as it is epic.
The only question now is which team will show up. The Duruji Kvareli that struggled to connect passes against Bayern, or the Duruji Kvareli that annihilated Everton and Betis? 90 minutes pays for all, lads.
The early minutes are all one-way traffic. In our favor. Yet, we will go home empty-handed if we do not capitalize on these chances. The crowd can feel it, singing loudly to the tune of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana.
In the 15th minute, we send them into dreamland with a beautiful passing move, spearheaded by Tvildiani from deep — bringing the ball out of the back, distributing, collecting, changing the point of attack — and finished off by Jikia. 1-nil. This is the stuff, lads.
In the 27th minute, we double our lead thanks to Giorgi “the Human Trebuchet” Aladashvili, who heaves one to the back stick, finding Sapa rising to nod home from close range after the United keeper misjudged the flight of the ball.
At the half-hour mark, United are in danger of being overrun. We cannot let them back into the game now, lads. Shaw is in the touchline, shouting “finish them!” while giving an impromptu, shirtless kickboxing display. Minutes later, to Shaw‘s delight, Amrell whips a corner to the near post, which meets Arveladze crashing into traffic, hammering it home past the stranded keeper. 3-nil.
The scoreline is utterly deserved. The despair clear on the faces of the United supporters (who have turned on Shaw) and technical team.
At the half, there is not much to say. Nil-nil, lads. Don’t take your foot off the gas. It isn’t over until Shawzy’s girlfriend sings.
The lads take the message to heart, and it is all United can do in the opening stages of the 2nd half to keep us from finding our 4th. In the 67th minute, we need to ring the changes.
Prokhorenko replaces Aladashvili, who sits on a yellow. We cannot risk being reduced to 10 men. Jincharadze on for Villa, to continue to stretch United.
With 15 minutes to play, Hovring is replaced by Gospodinov. United have yet to claim a shot on goal. Still, we dare not dream of the final whistle.
In the 80th minute, we gift United a goal. To their credit, Bygdevoll got to the endline and put in a dangerous ball. Tvildiani deflects it in. 3-1. Shaw casually notes that United still don’t have a shot on goal. Read the room, Luke. Not the time.
Moments later, a long throw from Khasenov sees Tvildiani shoved down in the box. VAR confirms. Penalty. Tvildiani will take it, as is his due. He slots it home, to make it 4-1, celebrating like a man possessed. As is his due.
But we are not done yet. In the 87th minute, Tvildiani claims another — heading home from another Khasenov long throw. 5-1. United are humiliated. Shaw casually notes that Tvildiani technically has a hat trick. This time, at least, he has read the room.
In the 93rd minute, Sapa claims his brace, as a cross slips through to him at the back post, to casually tap home. That’s six.
The final whistle blows. We have retained our Champions League title, in the most glorious possible fashion.
Ever eloquent, Shaw saves the final word for the post-match press conference.
“I haven’t seen a game that one-sided since the latest leaked Kardashian sex tape.“
Read the room, Luke.
For once, the end-of-campaign awards do not feel like a snub.
Five players are named to the Champions League Dream XI — Iashvili, Arveladze, Tvildiani, Prokhorenko and Sapa. And, Iashvili and Khasenov are named Goalkeeper and Defender of the Year, with Arveladze, Tvildiani and Sapa also receiving votes.
Most importantly, our win in the Champions League final pushes Georgia’s coefficient up .500, meaning that when all is said and done, Georgia will be 2nd in the nations coefficient table for 2047/48, leapfrogging Germany, Spain, Italy and France.
June 2047 – Nations League.
In the afterglow of our Champions League victory, we have little time to celebrate. Spain are waiting for us in Nantes, with a friendly against Lithuania on the horizon regardless of how the Nations League pans out.
4th ranked Spain are naturally favored. Yet, we took them to the limit, only to have a 92nd-minute Tabukashvili winner called back by VAR. Spain turned the screws in extra time, winning and converting a penalty to claim their spot in the final. 3-2 (aet) is nothing to be disappointed with.
The meaningless third-place match pits us against against Thierry Henry’s France, after they lost 1-nil to Tomas Esteves’ Portugal. We are overmatched, in every measurable respect. Yet we hang on. Through 20 minutes. 30. 60.
But we aren’t just hanging on for dear life. Occasionally, we threaten. It isn’t until the 83rd minute that France find a breakthrough, and that only comes when we’re stretched thin, having committed players forward when in possession…which is how they claim a 2nd, deep into injury time. 2-nil is a fair scoreline on the night, even if we foolishly harbored hopes of something more.
June 2047 – European Review.
The Champions League is rather thoroughly documented above, as we claimed our 2nd straight title, the 4th in 8 years. Also notable was Saburtalo’s run to the quarterfinals, following up on their semifinal appearance in 2045/46.
In the Europa League, Ricardo Orsolini’s Hoffenheim defeated Mario Hermoso’s Roma, 3-nil. Of course, Hoffenheim only reached the final by defeating Dinamo Tbilisi in extra time, at the semifinal stage.
In the active leagues, urCristiano’s Real Madrid won their 8th title in 9 years; Merih Demiral’s Manchester United reclaimed the Premier League title; Jaroslav Plasil’s Monaco won the Ligue 1 title, their first in 15 years; Kylian Mbappe’s Inter won their fifth Serie A title in 6 years; and, Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern did Bayern things in Germany.
It is the third big year in a row for Georgian clubs. Last year, I thought we were poised to overhaul France and perhaps Italy in the coefficients table…but instead we’ve done one better. Well, two better, actually, as we narrowly climb above Germany and Spain to sit 2nd in the coefficients table. Which means that, going forward, we gain an additional Champions League place, with all 4 qualifiers entering at the Group Stage.
In terms of reputation, the Erovnuli Liga rises above the Portuguese Liga NOS to sit 6th.
Of course, Duruji Kvareli continues to be the most reputable club in the world and sit atop the club coefficients table. Meanwhlie, other Georgian clubs continue to rise up the coefficient table, even if their reputations are lagging behind.
We decide to hold the quarterly recruitment meeting at the Kvareli Waffle House, which recently opened to great fanfare. I arrive early to ensure that an adequate supply of crayons has been set out at Shaw’s place at the table.
Predictably, Shaw is annoyed upon arrival, scoffing at their presence. “What do they think I am, a child?!”
But within minutes, he’s begun to diligently color the picture on the back of the menu, tongue sticking out of the side of his mouth as he concentrates. (He knows better than to attempt the word jumble.)
Which gives the adults time to talk about our forthcoming youth academy class, which may only have one player worthy of consideration.
That is, until breakfast arrives and Shaw’s reverie is broken.
I sigh internally and turn to find Shaw jabbing his finger in the direction of the tower of pancakes on his plate, which has inexplicably drawn his ire.
He just grunts, gesturing like a drunken marionette, tears welling up in his eyes.
I raise an eyebrow, determined not to indulge him.
Existential pain wracks his face, as he gestures more specifically at his plate, which appears to have an errant raisin sitting on it. “Boss, you know how I feel about raisins!”
I cannot help but roll my eyes.
He scoffs. “Don’t make that face, Boss. Raisins are nothing but failed grapes. They taste of — and infect you with — their failure! It’s science!”
I sigh, turning back to Stamatis, who had been discussing a young Georgian midfielder he likes the look of.
As the waitress comes over, responding to Shaw’s increasingly-frantic requests for assistance with his breakfast, I slip her an extra large tip, mouthing words of thanks.
Hopefully we can distract Shaw before he demands a cup of maple syrup for dessert. With free refills, naturally.
In the end, we only move for 1 player — Saba “the Hut” Jabua, a Georgian-French dual national who came through with Lille‘s youth academy. Our scouts think Saba has potential, and with that pace I can’t deny that he’s an intriguing prospect. Besides, $8.5 million is nothing given our finances, even if I don’t know exactly where we will put him when he arrives in March 2048.
On the pitch, the lads took out their Nations League frustration against Lithuania in a meaningless friendly (a 5-nil win) and curb-stomped our way through the domestic summer calendar.
As things ramp up for the start of the European campaign, optimism abounds.
August 2047 – UEFA Super Cup.
The first big test of the new European campaign is against Riccardo Orsolini’s Hoffenheim in Belgrade. I’ve promised the lads another trip to the famed Itchy Kitty…but only if we win. The Cockpit Lounge is for winners.
Unfortunately, we approach the match with an urgency equivalent to the lack of importance attributed to the match. We have several beautiful passages of play — yet, after VAR denies us two goals due to marginal offsides calls, there is no meaning in the match.
Ze Germans are equally unimpressive, meaning that the match remains scoreless, to be decided by penalties. Iashvili proves himself a hero once against, saving their 2nd penalty to secure a win, as all five of our takers finish theirs with ease.
It wasn’t pretty. It didn’t need to be. We need to make room in the trophy cabinet at the Goose.
The Champions League draw is less than kind this year, as we will face Nicolo Barella Hertha Berlin, Steven Gerrard’s Atletico, and Ajax. And everyone wants to take down the 2-time defending champions. The target is very much painted on our backs — even the betting companies put us down as 5th favorites. Easy money, lads.
Before the Group Stage can begin in earnest, though, the Crusaders face a tricky away trip to St. Petersburg and host Scotland with the resumption of Euro qualifying. Fortunately, we come to play against both sides, claiming a 3-nil win over the Russians and a 4-2 win in Tbilisi to keep us on course for qualification.
The veneer of invincibility continues to bend without breaking, as our 2nd XI draws away to Torpedo Kutaisi after the international break. One of these days, it will end. But, for now, our unbeaten streak in the Erovnuli Liga has reached 466 games, stretching back nearly 13 years.
Just like in the 2046/47 European campaign, we start off slow — a scoreless draw in Madrid, which prompts the club to reimburse our traveling supporters for all expenses incurred. We can afford it, and its only fair given how dire the match was.
Our youth academy graduating class is roughly as talented as expected. The coaches rate Hacı Nəcəfov and Roman Vardanidze as the most promising prospects, but neither looks to have the necessary quality, at first glance.
More dropped points in the Erovnuli Liga. With 4 draws, even if we win our remaining matches we will finish the campaign with our lowest point total since 2031. Far from a sign of weakness, it is a reflection of how far our domestic rivals have come even as we claim our 21st straight title against Saburtalo. Ze Germans also manage a draw in Berlin, after we smashed Ajax, 4-1.
It isn’t good enough. That much is clear.
Now, we just need to finish the campaign in style.
Can we finish the Euro qualifying campaign, with 8 wins from 8? Does the Pope **** in the woods?!
We brush aside the Russians, 2-1, and then claim a 3-nil win at Hampden. That’s 8 from 8. We are the only nation to finish the campaign without dropping points, and finish with the highest goal difference.
It doesn’t count for anything other than style points. But we all know that Shaw is doing nothing if not keeping track of those.
We get few style points, sadly, back with Duruji Kvareli. A labored 1-nil win over Hertha is followed by a 5-1 annhilation of Atletico…which feels good, if only because it erases the memory of our narrow wins in the Erovnuli Liga. We are all but certain to finish the campaign with our lowest points total, fewest goals scored, and smallest goal difference in 16 years.
While I understand that this is a function of the Erovnuli Liga’s ever-increasing quality, which has recently kicked into overdrive, that doesn’t mean that I have to like it. Or accept it.
December 2047 – Season Review.
In all honestly, there is no good reason for disappointment. With wins in our final 3 matches, Duruji Kvareli claimed a clean sweep of all competitions, losing only 1 match all year notwithstanding the tactical adjustments we made to emphasize the play of our libero. The Georgians lost 2, to Spain and France.
So why do I feel so empty? Adrift?
Have we nothing left to prove?
The players signed last year will arrive after the holidays. An infusion of talent and youthful optimism. Big decisions will need to be made regarding the squad.
Goals for 2048: Defend our Champions League title. Make a run at the 2048 Euros, while identifying the squad for the 2050 World Cup.
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.