On the day of the game, half an hour before the kickoff, in the visitor's locker room at the Bernabéu stadium, Twain stood in the middle of the spacious locker room. "Does anyone here think Real Madrid is invincible?"
Everyone shook their heads.
"That's right. They just lost to Barcelona, and lost miserably," Twain said sternly. "So, we have nothing to be afraid of from Real Madrid."
Ribéry stood up and said with a look of confusion, "Boss, we didn't say we were afraid."
Laughter broke out in the locker room. Someone even whistled gleefully.
Twain gave Ribéry a glare. The French kid had just ruined the stern atmosphere he had tried to set up. He cleared his throat to conceal his embarrassment. But the laughter in the locker room did not stop for a while. So he kept quiet and waited for the boys to stop laughing.
As their laughter subsided, Twain continued to speak. "Alright, had enough laughter, boys?"
There was another burst of laughter.
"You'll be sorry later!" Twain pointed at them, "Seriously, our opponents might have encountered a lot of trouble recently, but a lean camel is still bigger than a horse. We can't take them lightly. After all, this is their home ground, and Real Madrid always plays very well at home. We should be careful in dealing with them. Real Madrid is in a bit of a mess internally, but some of them are able to change the game based on their own strength. We have to pay special attention to those players."
Twain turned around and wrote down a name on the tactical board: Zidane.
"This guy is Real Madrid's midfield core. He has to be closely marked. As long as he can't play fully, the Real Madrid offense will be partially paralyzed."
All of the Forest players looked serious. They definitely knew how formidable the team captain of the French national team, number 5, was.
"So, we have to assign someone to specifically mark him." Twain pretended to search in the crowd, but everyone knew who he would name. Pepe and Piqué, who sat next to George Wood on both sides, moved sideways accordingly.
"Well… George." Twain pointed to Wood, "You're going to mark Zidane in this game. He's number 5 in Real Madrid. Try your best to entangle him no matter what."
Wood nodded. "Okay."
Twain took a look at Wood, who answered simply and did not say anything else. He shifted the subject to another person.
"Ronaldo." Twain wrote another name. "He has put on more weight than he did when he was in Barcelona, but he's still the most menacing striker on the planet. Do not give him space to shoot. All the defenders, you can mark and defend against him. His current build makes him less nimble than before, so you have to seize on that point. Pay close attention to his positioning and watch out for the long balls from Real Madrid's backfield."
The players on the defensive line nodded at the same time.
"As for Beckham... Be careful of his place kicks and try not to give Real Madrid a chance to take free kicks in dangerous zones. Remember how we lost the game in the first round. Don't be deceived by his polished looks. He's really powerful, a real genius."
"And then we have Raúl..."
The players listened attentively. Twain covered almost all the eleven players in Real Madrid's starting lineup. Even the goalkeeper, Casillas, was not spared.
He really had done a lot of homework for this game. Hard work would always pay off. Twain believed in that.
The preparation time before the game went by quickly. When Twain had introduced all of the Real Madrid players in one shot, it was time for the team to go out and play.
"Does anyone have any questions?" Twain raised his hand. "Of course, even if there is any problem, it's too late to put it forward, guys."
The players laughed. "No, Chief!"
"Good, I hope you guys really don't have any. I don't want to pile details on you like our points in the group, rankings, advancement, and so on. You just need to know one thing." Twain paused to look at everyone and raised his arm. "Just win the game. Win and win again! And we'll be able to charge our way out of this damn group! So, your job is very simple, and that's to f**king-"
"Win the game!!" Everyone stood up and hollered.
Twain's hand swung down with force.
"Fantastic, let's go out!"
"Welcome to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium! Welcome to the hallowed grounds of football!"
"This is the UEFA Champions League Group D game, to be played by the home team, Real Madrid, against England's Nottingham Forest!"
"…ESPN coming to you live from Santiago Bernabéu stadium!"
The Real Madrid flags unfurled in the stands and the fans held up high posters of the superstar footballers accompanied by the live broadcast of Real Madrid's anthem, "Hala Madrid" (Let's go, Madrid).
Twain looked around the towering stands, "It's really lively."
Kerslake stood next to him. "The Nottingham Forest people like this stadium very much."
Twain glanced back at him. "Because we won the Champions League for the second time here?"
His assistant manager nodded, "Bernabéu has brought us only good memories."
"What are you implying, David?" Twain laughed.
"We'll only find out after the match." Kerslake shrugged.
"Are you nervous, David?"
"It's just a group stage game. What's there to be nervous about?"
"Well said. Too bad our players don't seem to be nervous at all, otherwise I would have let you say that to them just now."
They shifted their gaze from the stands to the field.
The players from both teams shook hands in a file and then gathered together for the media to take photographs.
The red Nottingham Forest team, together with the white Real Madrid, the sparkling flashes from the stands, the billowing flags, the noisy clamor… Before his transmigration, he could only have had a taste of this experience in the FM game and watched such scenes on the television. Now it had truly appeared before Twain's eyes.
And those stars whom he had used to look up to, like Zidane, Raúl, Ronaldo, Beckham, Roberto Carlos…
He thought of the tours that this team of "Galácticos" had done in China for two years in a row. That crazy scene was still vivid in his mind. He suddenly snorted.
There is no such thing as an invincible fleet in this world. I'm going to take you down today!