Seven challenges to try on Football Manager 2020 after Sports Interactive make it free to play

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With the reality of self isolation and working from home starting to settle in, what better way to spend your time than playing Football Manager after Sports Interactive made it free for a limited period?

Of course we can all get drawn into trying to make our own team the best in the world, but sometimes emotion and loyalty to the current players can get in the way, so here’s a look at some interesting teams and challenges to take on:

Benfica – Break the curse of Bela Guttmann:

Plenty of fans will know Benfica as one of the best teams in Portugal, but the curse placed on them by their former manager Bela Guttmann is a fascinating one. The story goes that he asked for a pay rise in 1962 which was promptly turned down, so when he left he placed a curse on the club saying they would never win a European title again. Since then they’ve lost seven straight finals, and even Eusebio praying by his grave couldn’t lift it. You’ll have one of the greatest youth academies in the world and a solid team in need of a great striker. Dominating Portugal should be easy, but European success might be a tough one.

The curse of Bela Guttmann may never be broken

Panathinaikos – Clear the debt and topple Olympiakos

Panathinaikos used to be a staple of the Champions League and regulars in the title race, but huge debts have started to build up and the squad isn’t exactly dripping in quality. You do have some good youth facilities and a solid defence, but unless you can produce some magic in the transfer market then former Man United prospect Kiko Macheda will be your main source of goals. There are some good teams in the division, so you’ll need to find a way to sell your best players and keep things ticking over, so it could be a tough challenge to crack.

Macheda’s career never really took off

Deportivo La Coruna – Challenge for La Liga and the Champions League again

Former La Liga champions and Champions League semi-finalists, things haven’t exactly gone well for Depor in recent years. They’ve become a yo-yo side and are actually in danger of going down to the third tier this season. Despite that, they actually have a strong squad with some very talented players, so returning to La Liga should be easy. The big problems will come when trying to challenge in the top flight again, the club have a lot of debt so there won’t be much money to spend, while there’s not a huge tradition of bringing younger players through either.

Can you bring the glory years back to La Coruna?

Montpellier – Win Ligue 1 again

You go into the season with a strong squad, but anything more than challenging for Europe would be a big achievement. Back in 2012 they managed to upset PSG to win the title with a squad filled with youngsters and players like John Utaka who proved they could make a huge contribution. Things will be much tougher now that PSG have their superstar squad so it will take a momentous effort, while Montpellier don’t tend to spend a lot of money in the transfer market. You will have an old FM favourite in Argentine goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli and former Wigan flop Andy Delort is a formidable striker, but you will need to produce something special here.

Giroud was a key member of the 2012 Ligue 1 winning side

St Johnstone – Break Celtic’s dominance

This version of the game really shows the difference between the top clubs and everyone else, so it might be difficult to even take a point of Celtic or Rangers to begin with. The Saints are in interesting prospect because they’ve overachieved for years – you don’t have a great fan base or even a great rival to begin with, but that can change if you start to see success. They’ve also started to benefit from a lot of younger players coming through – Jason Kerr, Zander Clark, Liam Gordon, Ali McCann, Callum Hendry and Chris Kane are all important members of the team, while you’ll also need to get the best from the returning fan favourite Stevie May. There’s money in the bank and a lot of scope to build. Winning the league might be tough, but a return to big Europa League wins over the likes of Rosenborg and Luzern could be possible.

Can you get the best out of Stevie May and become a hero in Perth?

Arsenal – Bring the invincible era back

This should be fairly attainable with some smart recruitment, but can you succeed where Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery failed? You will start with some high earners getting older and a poor defence, but there’s plenty of young talent to bring through. There’s not a lot of money to spend so you might need to risk a huge turnaround in the squad to begin with, while it might be beneficial to find a way to get the best out of Nicolas Pepe too. This might take a while to achieve, but it should be possible if you can avoid the mistakes of signing over-rated players who are injury prone like the real Arsenal have.

The original Invincibles

Torino – Topple Juventus and become the biggest club in Turin

This could be the toughest one yet, as simply winning a game against Juve would be an achievement to begin with, never mind trying to become the dominant team in the city. There are some interesting pieces to build around here, Andrea Belotti is an exceptional striker capable of getting 20+ goals a season, Tomas Rincon will patrol the midfield and scare the opposition while the pace of former Chelsea youth player Ola Aina can give you an attacking outlet from full back. You also start in the Europa League so that might be your most likely way into the Champions League if you can go on a good run there, but it would also help if Juve fail to replace Cristiano Ronaldo after a few seasons too.

You might have to wait for Cristiano to retire first