Season 10, and my first crack at the Champions League

John managed to reach the Champions League by season 7 and now, 3 seasons later, I’ve got a chance to prove myself against Europe’s biggest and best. I suspect this will not go well.

Pre-season

In the three pre-seasons I’ve had at Montpellier, I’ve spent £82m, £37.5m, and now £46.5m. This year sees the least amount of players arriving. Quality over quantity, innit?

In come Sergej Milinkovic SavicOscar HiljemarkEmre CanJean-Philippe Gbamin, and Fernando Jiménez.

These are the signings that I hope will allow us to compete across the 5 tournaments in which we’re expected to perform.

  • Trophée de Champions – despite not winning anything last year, we seem to be in the French equivalent of the Charity Shield. The board don’t care about it, and neither do I
  • Coupe de la Ligue – the board want us to reach the Semi Final of the French SKOL Cup
  • Coupe de France – again, we’re expected to reach the Semi Final of this cup
  • UEFA Champions League – reaching the first Knockout Round is the expectation here. I guess this will depend a lot on the draw we get
  • Ligue 1 – qualification for the Champions League is the target.

I realise that pre-season results don’t tell you much, but I’m happy with what we manage to do in the summer of 2025. Lots of green circles in here, as we reach the first real game of the season and the Trophée de Champions tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

Unfortunately, that game sees our first defeat of the season, a 1-0 that we probably just deserved to lose.

Our first 10 league games are nothing to write home about. Our form’s patchy, and we’re a bit off the pace.

DLDWWDWLWW

During this time though, I’m paying a bit more attention to our Champions League form than the domestic league. The group draw wasn’t too bad, and we see ourselves lining up against Atlético MadridSL Benfica, and Celtic. As a Rangers fan, if nothing else, I’ve got to try and beat Celtic, haven’t I?

First up is the home leg against Benfica. It’s not a great start to my Champions League adventure, and we go down 1-0, deservedly so.

Next up, is the away tie against Celtic, and we head to Celtic Park knowing that we probably have to get something from it to progress. We’re helped by the fact that Celtic get a man sent off in the 34th minute for a shocker of a tackle and, truthfully, we only get the 2nd in the 2-0 victory in injury time. But we deserved that win.

A home game against group favourites Atlético Madrid follows. We win 2-0 in a game that we dominate, and it’s probably the best we’ve played all season. We lose 1-0 in the reverse fixture, but other results mean that we’re 2nd in the group and, with 2 games to go, qualification to the next stage is in our own hands.

Benfica are up next, and we travel to Portugal, dispatch them 3-0, and head home, dusting our shoulders.

Our final group stage game is at home to Celtic, and we comfortably beat them 4-1.

And with that, we’re through to the first Knockout Round of our first shot at the Champions League. The board are chuffed.

Now, about the domestic form…

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