Reasons to Watch the UEFA Champions League Final

 

Along with the Olympics and the World Cup I’d say the UEFA Champions League final is one of the most anticipated and watched sporting events in the world. My first time watching a UEFA Champions League final was in 2010. My favorite thus far was in 2012. I’m an Arsenal fan but I must admit before rooting for them I was a huge fan of Didier Drogba. If you know the history of Drogba and Arsenal then it makes no sense.

 

This year’s final should be another great one. Juventus will face Real Madrid. Both clubs are rich with history and have won plenty of trophies. I’ll point out three reasons why you should watch this match.

Reason #1: The Teams

Juventus (from Turin, Italy) was founded 119 years ago. Juve enter the final having won their domestic cup championship and league championship – Serie A – once again this season. This is their 6th straight season winning the Serie A title and 33rd overall. Juve has a total of 64 trophies in all competitions and have won the UEFA Champions League twice. Most recently in 1996. Juventus will be gunning to win a *treble* by winning on Saturday.

Real Madird (from Madrid, Spain) was founded 115 years ago. Real come into the final having won the La Liga championship. This was Real’s first league championship since 2011-2012. Los Blancos as they are sometimes called has won La Liga a record 33 times and have 84 trophies total from all competitions. Real holds the record – 11 – for most championships won in the UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid is the defending champs of the UEFA Champions League and are trying to pull off the tough feat of being back to back winners.

Reason #2: The Players

The field or pitch as it is referred to in futbol terms will be littered with World Class players.  Real Madrid will have the biggest of them all in Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is Real’s all time leading goal scorer and in the modern game is only rivaled by Lionel Messi when it comes to best player in the world. Real Madrid also has Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, and Marcelo to name few. Gareth Bale’s status for the match is still unknown.

Juventus will be led by their captain and goal keeper Gianluigi “GiGi” Buffon. Buffon at the age of 39 is still one of the best – if not the best – goal keeper in the world. Buffon has earned a swell of individual accolades and lifted many trophies in his career – including the World Cup for his country Italy – but never the UEFA Champions League trophy. Buffon is not surrounded by any slouches. Giorgio Chiellini has been a stout defensive presence for the club since 2005. Some others on the field will include Dani Alves, Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic, and Gonzalo Higuain.

Reason #3: All-Purpose Backs

Technically by the positions they play Dani Alves and Marcelo are known as “defenders”. Both players hail from the futbol rich country of Brazil. Dani a right back and Marcelo a left back. Dani is very familiar with Real Madrid being that his former club – Barcelona – is Real’s biggest rival. Both players do an excellent job of defending but it’s what they can do with the ball at their feet that sets them apart from others. Marcelo flows around the field with his black hair flowing behind. For those familiar with the game Street Fighter II think of Blanca. As for Dani you never know about his hair. He’s come out with a bunch of different styles. Like their hair, both players are expressive and emotional on the pitch and they don’t try to hide it. That emotion and expressive nature allows them to play freely and switch into deadly attacking threats. Don’t be shocked both players have an impact on the match. Check out this post The Secret by Dani Alves from the Players’ Tribune.

 

I’ve given you the reasons to watch and now for the time and channel. The match is scheduled to start at 2:45 pm Eastern Standard Time. If you’re in the USA the match can be watched on your local FOX station, Fox Deportes, Fox Sports Go, fuboTV, foxsoccer2go.com, ESPN Deportes radio, SiriusXM Channel 83 (tape at 5 on Fox Soccer Plus, tape at 8 on FS2)

*Treble* is when a club wins 3 championships in one season. The most heralded treble in club soccer occurs when a team is able to win the domestic cup and highest league championship in the country which they are from. In Juventus case that is Italy and then win the contenital trophhy (Europe and UEFA Champions League in this case).

Credit to:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cristiano_Ronaldo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gianluigi_Buffon

 

Reasons to Watch the UEFA Champions League Final

When Top 4 Ain’t Enough

The league season is over for Arsenal and all that is left is the FA Cup Final against rival and this season’s English Premier League Champion Chelsea. This is Chelsea’s third EPL Championship since I started following the League in 2009-2010. Remarkably it was a defeat to Arsenal in September that changed the course of Chelsea’s season. And in a way changed Arsenal’s too. This is the first time in 20 years that Arsenal missed out on a Top 4 finish and failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. Arsenal hasn’t won the League since “The Invincibles”  2003-2004 season.

There were many common themes throughout the season for Arsenal but the most costly was “poor defending”. It started on the opening weekend of the season and was constantly a problem in various matches. Arsenal’s defense was especially treacherous against the other “Top 6” teams in the League. The Gunners allowed 18 goals (14 in 5 defeats) against the other clubs in the Top 6 while only scoring 15. Arsenal failed to win any of their away games against the other teams in the Top 6. They also allowed the most league goals (44) amongst teams in the Top 6. So by season’s end there was no surprise the Gunner’s struggles against the top clubs continued.

Record versus the Top 6 (Arsenal finish) : W- 2 D- 3 L- 5

Premier League Standings (Top 6 Final Standings)

Team                    MP         W            D             L              GF          GA          GD          PTS

Chelsea               38           30           3              5              85           33           52           93          

Tottenham         38           26           8              4              86           26           60           86 

Man. City             38           23           9              6              80           39           41           78

Liverpool             38           22           10           6              78           42           36           76

Arsenal                 38           23           6              9              77           44           33           75

Man Utd              38           18           15           5              54           29           25           69

*MP – Matches Played, W – Wins (3 points for wins), D – Draws (1 point for draws), L – Losses (0 points for losses), GF- Goals For, GA – Goals Allowed, GD – Goal Differential, PTS – Points

 

The struggle against in the Top 6 was enough to wreck the season but Arsenal took it a step further and dropped points against teams in the middle to bottom third of the league standings. I often listen to the Men In Blazers Podcast and on many occasions one of the co-host – Michael Davies – always talks about how Arsenal fared against teams in the lower half of the table(standings). In recent years Arsenal has been seen as a club that only showed up against weaker opponents. Until this season that was one thing Arsenal could hang their hats on during League play. As you see above, Arsenal finished 18 points behind this season’s champion. Below I singled out 7 matches versus teams outside of the Top 6 (in the final standings) where Arsenal dropped points. The Gunners were only able to get 3 of the possible 21 points available.

Leicester City 0-0 (a)

Middlesbrough 0-0 (h)

Everton 2-1 (a)

Bournemouth 3-3 (a)

Watford 2-1 (h)

West Bromwich Albion 3-1 (a)

Crystal Palace 3-0 (a)

These matches occurred at different points in the season and there are too many ifs, ands, and buts to consider to  say “what if?” But it was unacceptable for the manager Arsene Wenger – in a recent interview –  to blame other clubs when Arsenal only have themselves to blame for how this season played out. Now all that is left is the FA Cup Final which will be followed by a bunch of questions that need to be answered quickly. Arsenal fans can only hope that they take care of those matters better than they handled the season.

Today’s post was inspired by Rick Ross’s song Sixteen

 

Table and stats courtesy of

https://www.google.com/#q=english+premier+league+table&spf=1495559620978

The Arsenal App on Android and iOS

 

 

When Top 4 Ain’t Enough

The Barclays Premier League – A Quarter of the Way

We’re a bit over the quarter mark in the Barclays (English) Premier League season with all teams having played 10 matches. There have been quite a few surprises thus far with some clubs being where we expected them to be while others aren’t – looks in the direction of last season’s champs Chelsea – where we expected them to be. There have been some stunning performances from players like Jaime Vardy of Leicester City who currently leads the league in goals scored (10). Also there is Dimitri Payet – 5 goals and 3 assists – for West Ham United who started the season off with a dazzling performance at Arsenal. The familiar names in the league like Sergio Aguero and Alexis Sanchez have had moments of brilliance while struggling with fitness. Aguero is currently out with a hamstring injury suffered while on International duty with Argentina. Petr Cech has proven to be exactly what Arsenal has needed so far this season defensively with his solid goalkeeping and presence. Also, the promoted teams – Watford, Bournemouth, and Norwich City – are all outside of the “relegation zone”.

First off, let me give a brief overview of how the EPL is set up. There are 20 teams; the league consists of a 38-match season (playing each opponent home and away). There is no playoff – so at seasons end – the team with the most points wins the league. A team earns 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss. There is no extra-time i.e. overtime to decide a winner. A match consists of two 45-minute halves. Additional time may be added onto the end of each half to account for delays such as injuries or substitutions. This is what the table currently looks like. If two teams have the same number of points, goal differential is the first tiebreaker. Thus Manchester City currently is top of the league over Arsenal. The cool thing about foreign futbol leagues is “relegation”. Relegation occurs when a club finishes in the bottom 3 of the table. It would be like the Philadelphia 76ers getting sent to the D-League. It adds to the drama both at the top and bottom.

Now to the season thus far, I already mentioned the top two teams Manchester City and Arsenal. Both currently have 22 points and 7-1-2 records (Wins-Draws-Losses). The next two in line are West Ham United and Manchester United. Both clubs have 20 points and 6-2-2 records. West Ham has the slight edge with a goal differential of +2 over Man U. West Ham is yet to walk away without points in their first 5 away matches. The Hammers started the season with a win at Arsenal (2-0) and also have wins at Liverpool (3-0) and Manchester City (2-1). Manchester City has the longest winning streak of the season at 5 games won. Arsenal currently holds two active winning streaks – longest home winning streak 3 and the longest active winning streak at 4 games in a row.

The defending champions Chelsea find themselves in the 15th spot. They have a measly 11 points and a whole heap of problems. Players find themselves out of form or in the manager’s doghouse. The manager squabbled with the fan favorite and former team doctor Eva Carneiro. Manager Jose Mourinho appears to be going through his customary 3rd year swoon. The club is struggling to score goals, stop goals, and play an attractive brand of futbol. Many don’t believe Chelsea will continue to be THIS BAD but they’ll need to find some juice starting this weekend. Could The Chosen One be added to the list of fired managers?

Speaking of fired managers, Tim Sherwood was fired after Aston Villa lost their 6th match in a row. They’re currently at the bottom of the table with 4 points and a 1-1-8 record and have a 9 match winless streak. Above them in the 18th and 19th spots are rivals Sunderland and Newcastle United. Both teams have the same record and 6 points but Sunderland holds the edge with a +2 goal difference after thumping Newcastle 3-0 on Sunday.

There are still 28 matches left to be played so the table will no doubt look different by the time we hit the half way mark. Some teams will move up while others will move down or stay put. I hope the remainder of the season is exciting and full of surprises.

Stats via:

http://www.espnfc.us/barclays-premier-league/23/index

http://www.squawka.com/players/petr-cech/stats#performance-score#arsenal-%28current%29#english-barclays-premier-league#8#season-2015/2016#165#all-matches#1-10#by-match

The Barclays Premier League – A Quarter of the Way