Friday, March 16, 2018

UEFA Champions League quarterfinals draw

Exciting times in football! The quarterfinals following the draw today are as follows:
  • FC Barcelona-Roma: The Italians managed to squeeze past Shakhtar Donetsk and are facing mighty Messi, who defeated Chelsea in the previous round scoring his impressive goal number 100 in the CL. The Catalans are surely the favourites, and Roma can play almost without the pressure of expectations.
  • Sevilla-Bayern Munich: One could argue that this will be Sevilla's first real test after the defeated a very poor Manchester United in Old Trafford. United were so poor one can only be happy not to see them facing Bayern Munich, who took out Besiktas with ease, winning 5-0 and 1-3 in both matched. The Germans are favourites, but one has to wonder if there is more in Sevilla, who after years of success in the Europa League, may now be looking for CL success.
  • Real Madrid-Juventus: A repeat of last year's final, when Real Madrid trounced Juventus. Real Madrid have only this title to play for this year, while Juventus are not looking as strong as they were last year. That said, this is an unpredictable match: while Real Madrid are favourites, Juventus showed with their comeback against Tottenham that they will always be a team to be reckoned with.
  • Liverpool-Manchester City: This should be a great match as it features two of the most attacking and entertaining teams of the moment. Add the local rivalry and the high profile managers of the clubs, and this is a must-see match with an unpredictable outcome. Both sides have been outstanding in the CL, easily getting past their last-16 opponents. In the Premier League, Manchester City is leading, and that may make them slight favourites, but they have already lost to Liverpool in the league.
We are eagerly awaiting for April to arrive!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

MLS-Liga MX semifinals

As expected, America defeated Tauro, and will be facing Toronto FC in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. In the meantime, the other semifinal did not go well for the MLS side Seattle Sounders, who went out squarely to defend their 1-0 lead from the first match against Chivas Guadalajara. It was not nice to watch, but seemed to be working until five minutes into the second half when Oswaldo Alanis brought Chivas ahead. The US side had no response against their American counterparts who just continued attacking, and ended up winning a not too wide 3-0 victory. The 3-0 goal by the young Jose de Jesus Godinez muts be mentioned as an outstanding heal-goal.
Chivas will face New York Red Bulls, who are probably slight favourities, but should not lean back and defend as lazily as Seattle Sounders did.  I have not been impressed about Seattle who, if they really intend to be a big side, should be able to do better against a Chivas side that is in deep crisis in the Mexican league.
The final of the CONCACAF Champions league could potentially be an MLS-Liga MX final or a purely MLS final. Or, perhaps most interestingly, would be a Superclasico final between America and Chivas!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

MLS-Liga MX 2-0

The first of four Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals were decided today, and they were two matches between MLS sides New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC, and Liga MX sides Tijuana and Tigres UANL, respectively.
New York Red Bulls had a 0-2 away advantage after a hard-fought and lucky away win. Tijuana attacked from the start, and even went ahead 0-1, but the New Yorkers were unforgiving in the counter-attack and won 3-1, taking the first semifinal spot for MLS. Toronto were 2-1 ahead before going to "El Volcan" in Nueva Leon. Toronto defended their lead, but were strong in counter-attack as Tigres pushed more and more. In the end Tigres won 3-2, but this was not enough, and Toronto are in the semifinals, second MLS team.
Tomorrow Seattle Sounders, holding a 1-0 lead, are likely to become the third MLS team against a Chivas Guadalajara side that is playing awful. This will mean that there are three MLS sides in the semifinals, and one Mexican, as America are likely to progress from their 4-0 lead against Tauro, from Panama.
America are surely a strong side, but after having watched the MLS sides, I would put money on this being the first year that MLS shows that it is better than the Mexican League.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trying to get a ticket for the World Cup

I did not get a ticket for Russia. I had applied for two matches, and it was a no. It is in fact more depressing than I thought it would be. This is my last chance to go to a World Cup, and it will not turn out. I am thinking of cancelling my summer vacations; vacations at all...

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Juventus rises

After Juventus disappointing 2-2 at home to Tottenham in the first leg, most people were expecting Tottenham, who were undefeated in the CL, to put the last nail in the ageing Juvnetus side. And after first half it surely looked they were on the way to the quarterfinals as a splendid Son Heung Min brought them ahead 1-0. Tottenham were the best team in the first half, but the experience of Juventus players and the intelligence of Massimiliano Allegri proved too much for Tottenham.
Allegri introduced Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner to give more power on the flanks, where Tottenham had shown some weakness. And this changed the match. Shortly after the players were introduced, Gonzalo Higuain first made it 1-1, and Paolo Dybala made it 1-2. Even though Tottenham attacked heroically, Juventus were just too experienced, with a splendid veteran Giorgio Chiellini taking everything in central defense.
Another example that in football experience and intelligence counts most.
This was the first match Tottenham lost in this seasons' CL, which must make it so much more bitter for the English side. Nevertheless, no neutral football fan can be disappointed that Juventus are in the quarterfinals.