FM Experiment | European Super League | Part 2: Elevation League Title Battle

In Part 1 of our latest FM Experiment series of FM23, we introduced you to the intriguing format of the custom European Super League database and took control of Vélez Sarsfield, who are at the very bottom of this mammoth new format.

The 44-game Pepsi Elevation League we find ourselves in is pretty relentless. But, as alluded to in Part 1, the finances in the database are pretty decent. We sold a few players ahead of the season, which took the bank balance from around £2m to just over £8m. But prize money for wins (£1.5m) and draws (£500k) has increased that to £19.1m at the start of October 2022.

I didn’t show the tactic we were using last time, but we have settled on a fairly simple 4-3-1-2, which is one of my favourite tactics from FM22, due to a lack of depth in wide areas and to try and get the most out of young starlet Endrick.

Can Vélez push for promotion?

Another £1.5m was added as midfielder Franco Díaz earned a 1-0 win over fellow promotion hopefuls Groningen then the strikeforce of Endrick and Walter Bou (which is a great name) earned a 2-2 at Brondby. That teed up an 8-game unbeaten streak against mid-table sides before welcoming 2nd-place Rosario Central and manager Carlos Tevez to town. Bou’s 23rd-minute strike was enough for a 1-0 win in a poor game that saw just 2 shots on target in 90 minutes, which sent Vélez 4th in the league and 6 points off the top with a game in hand.

The run continued by hammering Sporting Cristal 4-0 led by a goal and 2 assists by Díaz, but a 10-game unbeaten streak ended with a 1-0 loss at Lanús. We responded with a couple of draws then our biggest win so far as Endrick got a brace and Bou a hat-trick in a 6-1 win at Penarol. That took us into a brief Christmas break in 4th, just 5 points off leaders Tolima with a game in hand and Endrick still leading the goalscoring charts with 21 goals and Díaz topping the assists chart with 10.

Title race on the cards?

We hit the top of the league for the first time with wins over struggling Molde, Lech Poznan and Heerenveen. A 10-game unbeaten streak ended with a 2-0 loss at Salernitana followed by a slightly disappointing draw at Ecuadorian side Barcelona. But a 2-0 win over Hartberg moved us within touching distance of promotion with eight games remaining.

Our hopes took a hit as Bou was ruled out for three months with a hip injury. But luckily Endrick kept us going with a brace to down St. Gallen 3-0, which took us one point away from promotion. And we did exactly that with a 1-1 draw at Universidad Católica to seal promotion to the Coca-Cola Rest of the World tier. But could we take the title race to leaders Bochum in the final six games?

We started well, beating Empoli 2-1 with goals by Endrick and attacking midfielder Lucas Janson, while Bochum lost at home to Marítimo. That took us level with a game in hand. A big game followed at 3rd-place Millonarios and we slipped to a 1-0 defeat while Bochum beat Slovan Bratislava 3-2, leaving us three points back with a worse goal difference.

We eased past bottom of the league Tirol 3-1 but a 3-2 loss at Ceará dropped us out of title contention. But young striker Santiago Castro nicked a 1-0 win over Newell’s before we wrapped up the season with a disappointing 3-0 loss at Tolima, which dropped us down to fourth place. Endrick dropped to second-highest scorer with an impressive 30 in 38, only bettered by Toulouse’s Dallinga scoring 34 in 44. While Díaz finished with 14 assists, only bettered by Empoli’s Bajrami’s 15.

Endrick was, however, Vélez top scorer by miles, scoring 30 in 38, followed by Bou getting 16 in 35 and Díaz 10 in 43 along with a club-high 14 assists. Bou and left-back Francisco Ortega got 8 assists but there wasn’t too much else to shout about!

But the more important fact was that we bagged £100m for gaining promotion! And we could need that money for the step up in class next season. However, the board have only given us £11m to work with in the summer – which was actually less than we had halfway through last season even though I haven’t bought anyone!

Understanding the promotion and relegation carnage in this database!

24 teams ended up getting promoted from the Elevation League, which is more than half of the league! All the tiers above see teams from all the different regions or leagues go into overall playoffs but some of the promotion and relegation activity is pretty baffling.

Up in the actual Super League, Real Madrid won League One but then lost in the quarter-final of the playoffs to Roma. Liverpool won League Two, Arsenal won League Three and Barcelona won League Four. And PSG, who were runners-up in League Four, went on to beat Arsenal in the Final. Valencia were one of 16 teams relegated

In the RoW leagues, Flamengo, Palmeiras, River Plate and Independiente went up from South America, three teams went up from Asia but only two teams went up from Africa, Europe, Oceania and North America.

Trabzonspor were surprise winners of Next Level Four, while Genoa and Sassuolo were promoted ahead of Everton and Brighton. Wolves won League Three and four teams were promoted with them in Espanyol, Olympiakos, Osasuna and Brentford. Leeds won League Two and were joined in promotion by Palace, Anderlecht and Torino. While Braga won League One and Getafe, Vigo and Krasnodar were promoted, but five teams got relegated! All very confusing!

Can we rebuild for a first season up in the Rest of the World tier? And how will Vélez get on at the next level? Join us next Wednesday to find out!

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