Our man at the Masters
|This is an official Hattrick Editorial originally published in 2007-12-03 14:30:00.|
This season the Hattrick Masters greet 193 participants, of which 3 former champions: beltxis, AC Ziky team and Hapoel Nahariya. Will any of these legends manage to be the first to clinch the title for the second time? Unlucky for them, they haven't been enrolled in the 2nd round just yet.
Amongst other favourites, Latvian champions SX 200 are up against the Dutch side Ruckers Utd. who have bought a team of stars especially for this edition of the Masters. The midfield hoarders MTigers from Romania have to face the very strong Bundesliga winners, Tantris Shanghai. For the smaller teams there are also some good chances to get through the 1st round, Iraqi King Akre will face Trinidad & Tobagonian Wes Side Connection and we have a Carribean derby between the champions of Jamaica and Barbados.
Some teams will have a fairly easy first round, some favourites will face an early knock-out, but after the 1st round we will be one step closer to knowing which team will write Hattrick history. To which team will live forever.
The tournament is officially underway! Some strong teams fell in the 1st round, however none of the favourites have made a costly mistake.
Romasz, the team with the highest salary, had a hard time beating the pressing visitors Liverpool Football Club (1892), but after an injury and some confusion about the lineup by the away team there was no stopping Romasz. Hapoel Nahariya's 6-2 victory might've looked like a cakewalk, but -Alberto- put up a good fight, going out with a titanic midfield. Tantris Shanghai showed guts by playing 5-2-3, their opponent MTigers, however, played a supersonic match and won 4-0. Stiinta United also played an impressive game, leaving the bewildered Belair Allstars with empty hands.
A lot of teams opted for the all offensive tactic to at least stand a chance against a bigger opponent, one of them was El Salvador's Club Atletico Santaneco Juniors. They managed to achieve the unthinkable, beating the unlucky English champions Potato Heads with a hammering 5-0.
A surprisingly close match was played in Tokyo, Kawasaki Tigers had no trouble at all dictating the play against Nöibärn, scoring goals proved to be more of a challenge. For a long time it seemed that the early 1-0 lead would prove sufficient, but a seemingly harmless shot from Nöibärn-striker Tubbing resulted in a shocking equaliser in the 76th minute. In the last minutes the pressure proved to be too big for Nöibärn, and Kawasaki Tigers managed to chip one in a few minutes before the final whistle.
The 2nd Round already has some big games in store for us: MTigers will face former HT Masters Hapoel Nahariya, an "English" derby between Oceanic champions FC Sudtirol Alto Adige and English cup winners Holy Rollers. Estonian-side Lazybones will face Nordby, a team residing in the Norwegian Tippeligaen its 8th season in a row. And can the Canadian-based Thoroughbreds put a stop to the big spender from Poland, Romasz?
The 2nd round proved to be a real war-zone, leaving 36 players injured. The roughest match was between AC AS and Erster Im Ländchen where 3 players had to be brought off in stretchers. This round also had some close matches, a total of 4 games ended in 5-4 after extra time.
Last season's winner beltxis have been defeated very early this time around, Traktorist proved to be a too strong opponent and managed to bring it on down after extra time: 2-1. MTigers were the first team to reach divine (very high) midfield this season, but it wasn’t enough to beat Hapoel Nahariya in a stunning match, the former champions left Romania with a 4-3 victory. Not all games were exciting however, the one between Saints Regia and Straikeris was one of defensive play. Both managers decided to play a 4-5-1 lineup, which resulted in only a handful of shots on goal. And if things weren’t bad enough for the home crowd, the away-team Straikeris left with a 1-0 victory.
AC Ziky team had not a care in the world after they got up 2-0 at half time against hlv86. In the 2nd half things turned around pretty rapidly, after just 17 minutes of play Hlv86 found themselves leading 3-2. How hlv86 managed to stay ahead, no one knows, but somehow they did and the unlucky AC Ziky team are out of the Masters. FC Café Ubåden are also out of the Masters, after pounding SC Buochs with a recordbreaking 13-0 in the first round, GB Rovers were too strong: 2-4.
Lazybones seemed to have chosen their team name carefully, against Nordby the players started very lazily and conceded 4 goals before half time. Only in the last 10 minutes did they pick up the pace and scored 3 goals, creating a nerve-wrecking injury time. It didn’t come to extra time, because Nordby held up and won 4-3.
The 3rd round draws 2 nation-clashes already. The Norwegian forces Nordby and Trondheim Thunder, and the surprising Angolese teams AC LUANDA and AC AS have to face each other. But just like any round, some big games are coming up aswell: Belarussian champions FC Boars will meet Croatian cupwinners VIva LuDež in an Eastern European clash. Hapoel Nahariya has a tough draw once again, they must face Latvian FK Pirates this time, and Portuguese cup winner Teamaço has to visit the impressive Ukrainian champions FC Granit.
The 3rd round saw the fall of the last former champion that was still in the Masters, Hapoel Nahariya. FK Pirates did a good job in deregulating Nahariya’s play and managed to beat them in their own stadium with 2-1. The first penalty-decider in this seasons' Masters also occurred this round, FC Boars was on the lucky side here, they beat VIva LuDež after being dominated the entire 2nd half.
Iraqi King Akre is slowly but surely getting better. In the first rounds they were hardly impressive, now they managed to beat Club Atletico Santaneco Juniors with an inspiring 8-2. The Luandese derby between AC LUANDA and AC AS showed the meaning of soul, these 2 squads with relatively low funds were going all out, and only in the 88th minute did the homeside AC LUANDA score the winning 2-1 goal in this thriller. The victory didn't come without a cost, 2 players from AC LUANDA will be injured for a considerate time due to horribly misplaced tackles made by the AC AS players.
Another thriller was being played in Belgium, spiroezie and Schlappekickerhausen both scored 4 goals in regular time, in which especially spiroezie played very strong. In extra time it was spiroezie who scored the golden goal, putting a 5-4 result on the scoreboard. The other golden goal decider was between Sport Latita and FC Sudtirol Alto Adige, Sport Latita showed some fierce counters but it was FC Sudtirol Alto Adige who managed to score the golden goal: 1-2.
The 4th round, with only 32 teams left, has some serious games coming up. The Belgian and Ukranian cup winners spiroezie and Traktorist will very likely create a great match. A western European clash between German Boca JBA and Belgian FC GOUDENPLOEG, FC Boars from Belarus will visit Poland to face Romasz, and the only African team still in, AC LUANDA has a decent shot at beating their Japanese opponents united min.
We’re almost halfway, smaller teams are slowly but surely getting knocked out and teams are pulling out the big guns. spiroezie and Traktorist played the, arguably, best game so far. spiroezie lead almost the entire game, but won only 2-1 in this close match. This wasn’t a game for the leftbacks, all goals came from an attack on the right.
Romasz managed to win with 3-1 again, the 3rd time this tournament. This time, FC Boars was on the losing end. Sini Zverove may have put themselves in a favourites position after their incredible 7-2 victory over Deportivo Flecha. Vienna Warlords had a great track record so far, they scored 18 and conceded just 1 goal. Opponent Alderwood Chiefs couldn’t show these numbers, but they probably won’t mind that much after a sound 4-1 victory.
FK Pirates managed to kick out another high profile team, Kawasaki Tigers put up a good match. But FK Pirates showed great stamina, just like last round, and scored twice in the last minutes of the game, resulting in a 4-2 win for the Pirates.
The 5th round will be with teams from all around the world, no nation has 2 teams left. North America's last hope, Alderwood Chiefs, will face FK Pirates in Latvia, and South America's last contender Camiseta Blanqirroja will go to Portugal and play Fon Utd FC. As for the big games, FC Granit can take a Ukranian revenge against Belgian spiroezie, and Sini Zverove from Bulgaria gets Kastelin from France as visitors.