Last Friday, Chelsea clinched the Premier League Title with a 1-0 win against West Brom. Chelsea had been the top team for most of the year and their consistency proved too much for the other contenders. Chelsea came off of a very poor season last year where they came in tenth place, a very low spot for the quality and the history of their team. With a new coach this year they figured some things out and made a few acquisitions to recapture the Premier League Title. Most of the league has two games remaining and the rest of the top teams are battling it out for the remaining top 4 spots and the worse teams are fighting to remain in the league.
The teams that finish in the top four of the Premier League qualify for the next year’s Champions League, which is a huge honor for any club. Chelsea and Tottenham have the top two spots locked, but the other two will come down to the final day. Manchester City currently holds third and unless they lose badly and both Arsenal and Liverpool win, then they should claim the third spot. The fourth spot is a little tighter. Liverpool controls their own destiny as they are one point ahead of Arsenal. Liverpool also plays Middlesborough, who will finish second to last in the table. Arsenal has a tough match-up against Everton, so Liverpool fans should feel good about their chances. However, you never know; some crazy things have happened on the final day of the Premier League.
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We are now into the finals of the UEFA Champions League and Real Madrid and Juventus have proven they are the top two teams in Europe. On Tuesday, Juventus faced off against Monaco. Monaco came out aggressive as the had to make up the two goals they conceded in the first match, but Juventus’ stout defense held them off early. Because of Monaco’s aggressive style, they were left susceptible on defense. Juventus scored two goals in the first half, which totaled their lead to 4-0 on aggregate. Monaco got one back in the second half, but by that point Juventus had already stamped their ticket to the final.
The next day, Real Madrid came into their match against cross-town rival Atletico Madrid with a 3-0 lead. However, Atletico came out on fire and scored two goals in the first 15 minutes and a comeback seemed possible. Real Madrid was able to settle down and get a goal late in the first half. A second half comeback seemed unlikely and Real Madrid held on to win 4-2 on aggregate.
Real Madrid and Juventus will play the final on June 3rd. Many people will be highly anticipating this matchup as Juventus is known for their organized and solid defense, while Christiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid have a powerful attack. If Real Madrid win, they would be the first back-to-back champion in UEFA Champions League history and it would be their 12th title. If Juventus were to win, it would be there 3rd title and the first in 20 years.
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Chelsea defeated Manchester City 2-1 over the weekend and with that win that have a first placed almost secured. Tottenham is the only team that remains close, but only by seven points. Inconsistent play from some of the most talented teams, such as Manchester City and Liverpool, have given Chelsea a somewhat easy path to being champions. For example, Liverpool tied Bournemouth 2-2 this past weekend which is a very poor result for a team trying to win the league. Manchester City also frequently couldn’t get the job done against some of the weaker teams. Chelsea was the only team that proved they were consistently the best, which would make them a much deserve champion. However, with seven games remaining they still have to get the job done.
In the Spanish league the title race remains close between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Madrid leads Barcelona by a meager three points. They play each other in two weeks, which should be an epic match.
This coming week UEFA Champions League returns and there are some fabulous games. The most anticipated match-up might be Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, where the top German and the top Spanish team will go at it. The match I am most looking forward to is Dortmund against Monaco, because both teams have high-powered offenses. The other two matches are Juventus against Barcelona (another fantastic match-up) and Athletico Madrid against Leicester City. When looking at these eight teams, Leicester City is the most out of place, but they could surprise people this coming week.
One of the greatest comebacks I have ever witnessed occurred this past Wednesday. Paris St. Germain came into the second leg of the Round of 16 with a 4-0 lead and absolutely dominated Barcelona during that first game. I remember the commentators after the game talking about how Barcelona about how they thought this could be the end of an era of Barcelona dominance. However, there was still one more game to be played. Barcelona was in their home stadium and with three of the best strikers in the world they have the potential to score lots of goals.
The match started with Luis Suarez scoring in the third minute and you could feel that this comeback might be possible. Barcelona got a second one off an own goal late in the first half. Then, in the first 3 minutes of the second half Barcelona got awarded a penalty kick which Lionel Messi converted. At this point, the aggregate score was 4-3 and PSG was crumbling. However, PSG stayed with their attacking style and were rewarded with a goal 20 minutes later. The game stayed stagnant for a while and it appeared that PSG was going to come out on top, but in the 88th minute Neymar scored a free kick to bring the lead within one. Three minutes later Barcelona were rewarded their second penalty of the game and Neymar converted it. Then, in the final minute of the game, Sergi Roberto scored to finish off one of the greatest comebacks in sports.
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The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 began on Tuesday and going into it there looked to be some great contests. The one I was excited to see was Barcelona and Paris St Germain (PSG) as both sides have many superstars. However, the match turned out to be heavily one sided and surprisingly not in Barcelona’s favor. PSG ended up defeating Barcelona 4-0. PSG completely out played Barcelona and were able to score some great goals. PSG seemed to be the much more athletic and energetic team and Bareclona had no success in going forward. It has been 10 years since Barcelona has lost in the Round of 16 and no team has ever come back from a 4-0 deficit in the second match.
The other game I was excited for was Bayern Munich against Arsenal. Arsenal have lost in the Round of 16 for six years straight now and they got a very unlucky draw to play the German champions. It was close in the first half as both teams scored and the game was pretty even. However, in the second half, Bayern scored three goals within ten minutes to take a 4-1 lead. They then scored one more in the closing minutes to make it 5-1. It looks like it will be seven straight for Arsenal and there are now talks of their coach being on the hot seat.
There were two other games that were played. Benfica from Portugal was able to upset Dortmund from Germany 1-0 and Real Madrid got the job done against Napoli as they won 3-1.
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Arsenal, who can never seem to break out of their fourth place position, fell to Chelsea this past Saturday. It was a chance for Arsenal to gain some ground, but Chelsea dominated them in a 3-1 win. It was set to be a 3-0 shutout, but Olivier Giroud was able to nick in a goal during stoppage time. Chelsea now is nine points ahead in the table and with three months to go, they look like the favorite.
This upcoming week the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League starts. It is the first of two games these teams will play in the Rounds of 16. All the match ups are really good as these are supposed to be the 16 best teams in Europe. The most star studded match is Barcelona against Paris St Germain (PSG). Even with the amount of talent PSG has they have never done well in the Champions League and now they get a very unlucky draw. Lionel Messi and Barcelona came up short of the final last year, so they are motivated to get back to the championship.
Leicester City managed to get into the Round of 16 and with their poor play in the Premier League, they can salvage there season in the Champions League. They play Sevilla on Tuesday.
In the English Premier League Liverpool plays Tottenham in a very important game for both sides. Both teams have looked like contenders to Chelsea recently and whoever can walk away with a win in this one will get into second place.
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It has been a really entertaining English Premier League season so far. One of the things that has made it so great is that there is a lot of parody among the top teams. No one seems to be able to gain an edge on anybody else, because the matches between them are so tight. Chelsea is the only team that separated themselves and that is because of their stellar play in the 2016 part of the season. Right now second place through fifth place are separated by only 2 points!
Liverpool had a chance to gain some ground on Chelsea as they played them at home this past Saturday. Liverpool dominated at the beginning, but Chelsea scored a free kick in the 25th minute to take the lead. Chelsea were able to catch Liverpool off guard after the penalty, because Liverpool’s goalkeeper was trying to set up the wall as Chelea’s David Luiz took the shot. Liverpool maintained possession of the ball and continued to press for a goal. They finally got it in the 56th minute when Georginio Wijnaldum headed the ball in off a cross. The game ended 1-1. Liverpool couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity and therefore Chelsea maintains their gap on the rest of the teams.
Chelsea has another tough challenge this week as Arsenal will try to gain some ground on the league leaders this Saturday. Also on Saturday, another high profile match up to look out for is Juventus v Inter Milan in the Italian league.
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The English Premier League has a different scheduling than many of the other leagues, so they didn’t play the matches that I mentioned in my previous post. Those games will be this weekend. Sunday has two excellent matches as Manchester City plays Everton and Manchester United faces off against Liverpool.
Taking a look at some of the other big European leagues, the Italian league is really competitive with the top 6 teams are within 10 points. Juventus is still the top team, but Napoli, Lazio, and Roma are keeping close.
In the German league Bayern Munich remains dominant, but only holds a three point lead over RB Lerpzig. Leipzig was moved up from the second division last year and their performance has been incredible. A very similar story to Leicester City last year, but it hasn’t received much publicity. Borussia Dortmund is usually the team that gives Bayern Munich a run for their money, but they are 12 points behind in 6th place. In the United States the German league is becoming an interest because many of the young American players are choosing to playing there. Players including Christian Pulisic, John Brooks, and Julian Green were given opportunities in Germany with help from the connections that the old U.S coach, Jurgen Klinsmen, had. He was recently fired after the last United States World Cup qualifier, so it will be interesting to see if young American players will be going to Germany to play.
The German league is currently on a month break right now and will continue not this, but next weekend.
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Hello everyone and Happy New Year,
The English Premier title race got a little bit closer this week as Chelsea, who for the longest time seemed invincible, lost for the first time in the English Premier League since September. Tottenham defeated them on Wednesday, 2-0, which brought Chelsea’s lead down to just five points. Liverpool tied this weekend and failed to get the win to get even closer to Chelsea. Arsenal also lost the opportunity to gain some ground as they tied Bournemouth in a 3-3 thriller. Arsenal went down three goals, but scored three more to come back and tie. Manchester City and Manchester United both got the win this weekend, which helped them both stay strong in the title race.
There is a nine point difference between sixth and seventh plate, which shows a big separation in the league’s best and worse teams. This weekend there are some good matches that could shake up the table. Manchester United plays Liverpool, Manchester City plays Everton, and struggling Leicester City plays Chelsea. Last year’s champion, who I talked so much about last year, are currently fifteenth place. Many predicted that they would drop off a little, but not too many people thought they would be so far in the bottom ten.
Over in Spain, Real Madrid is leading the table with Barcelona and Sevilla close behind. In the past few years, Atletico Madrid has kept with Barcelona and Real Madrid, but now they find themselves in sixth place. The teams are still close together, so I foresee them turning it around.
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The Sounders won their first ever MLS Cup in a penalty kick thriller against Toronto this past Saturday. I find that sports championships, especially soccer, tend to be not to be the most fluid and technical games. This was the case in the MLS Cup final. It was an extremely physical and testy match and both teams had trouble to produce many quality attacks. The Sounders went the whole game without a shot on goal and Toronto’s chances were few and far between. The defining moment of the game came in the first half of extra time when Toronto striker Jozy Altidore headed a floated ball to the top corner of the goal. Th shot looked as though it would get past the goal line, but Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei reached back with an extended left arm to fling the ball out with his fingers. Without that save, Toronto would have raised the trophy.
After 30 minutes of overtime, they went to penalty kicks. Stefan Frei came up with another big save and the Sounders were clinical on their penalties. As a fan, I was ecstatic that they won the MLS Cup after a turbulent season, but a part of me wanted the Sounders to show off how fantastic they had been playing recently. The Sounders put on a defensive show, but people who aren’t soccer fans that tuned in to the match won’t appreciate that side of game and would hope for more offense. Nonetheless, it feels good to be able to say the Sounders are MLS Cup champions.
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Finally Sounders fans will see their team in the MLS Cup final. It is not as frustrating as the Chicago Cubs 100+ year drought, but fans do feel they deserve this after many disappointing playoff runs. Around mid-season it looked like it would be the first time the Sounders would miss the playoffs, but now they could be crowned the MLS champions. They will have to go through Toronto, who arguably have the most talent of any team in the MLS. They are lead by last year’s MVP, Sebastian Giovinco, and two United States veterans Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.
In Toronto’s last two games they showed weakness in their defense. They allowed five goals in two games against Montreal. However, their prolific offense overcomes any struggles they show on defense. Altidore and Giovinco are two of the best strikers in the league, and containing them will be tough for the Sounders. Sounders have showing incredible balance of attacking proficiency and stout defense throughout these playoffs. They have scored in each one of their games and have only conceded more than one goal once. I predict a 2-1 win, in which rookie Jordan Morris scores a late goal to win the match.
(Original Sounders jersey. I’ve been waiting for this match a long time)
Over in the English Premier League it is all about Chelsea. Chelsea have been in great form for the past two months and no one seems to be able to stop them. They play seventh place West Brom Sunday, which could pose a threat to Chelsea. Also, Manchester United plays Tottenham in an important match for both teams to not fall too far behind the top 4.
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Hello soccer fans,
The Seattle Sounders went to Colorado this past week to seal the Western Conference title and a spot in the MLS Cup. Jordan Morris scored the lone goal as Sounders won the series 3-1. It is the first time in the Sounders’ seven year history that they have made it this far, but it was also arguably their worst regular season performance. It looked bleak for the Sounders half way through the season as they were on the bottom of the conference, their head coach, Sigi Schmidt had been fired, and they lost Clint Dempsey, one of their best players. However, after all of this happened, they started to win more. The addition of Uruguayan midfielder, Nicolas Lodeiro, has been imperative to their success and Jordan Morris started fulfilling some of his potential late in the season. As a Sounders’ fan it has been a really unique season, but these past few months have been a lot of fun to watch.
On the other side, Toronto FC had an epic battle against Montreal that ended with Toronto scoring in overtime to win the series. Seattle and Toronto will play in Toronto next Saturday for the MLS Cup.
There are a couple of great games this weekend. Barcelona and Real Madrid play this Saturday, which is always a star-studded match up. No two other teams in the world have the talent that these two teams have. Also on Saturday, red hot Chelsea plays a solid Manchester City team in game that could shake up the top of the table.
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After an international break, the MLS playoffs returned last Tuesday. In the Eastern Conference two Canadian teams, Montreal and Toronto, faced off. Montreal jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes and added another early in the second half. However, Toronto surged back scoring two late goals to make their second game more compelling.
On the same day, the Sounders faced the Colorado Rapids in their first match of the two game series. Colorado jumped out to a quick lead, but the Sounders scored just five minutes later. It was Jordan Morris’ first goal of the playoffs and Sounders fans were happy to see him come back strong after a hamstring injury. Early in the second half, Sounders’ Nicolas Lodeiro drew and scored a penalty kick. Lodeiro was tripped from behind 12 yards and their was little ambiguity about the foul.
This Sunday Sounders play Colorado in Denver to decide who goes to the MLS championship. Sounders have the 2-1 lead, but because Colorado has one away goal they hold the tiebreaker going into the game. Montreal and Toronto play next Wednesday.
Over in the EPL, Chelsea remains hot as they defeated a strong Tottenham side to keep their top place in the table. Chelsea is currently on a seven game win streak, but have a huge match against third place Manchester City this Saturday.
No big surprises in the UEFA Champions League this week, but last year’s miraculous EPL champions, Leicester City, advanced to the round of 16. The first time in the club’s history.
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It has been all about World Cup qualifiers this past week and the United States did poorly. In their first game they played Mexico in Ohio where they have had a history of victories. Mexico definitely looked the better side, but the United States kept it tied 1-1 until the 88th minute where Mexico scored off a corner to take the win. A couple of days later the U.S team traveled to San Jose to play Costa Rica. The result was not good as Costa Rica showed complete domination over the U.S in a 4-0 win.
The U.S hasn’t had much to take away in their two opening games, but the thing to keep in mind is that Mexico and Costa Rica are probably the two best opponents in the group. Three teams move on to the World Cup, so the U.S still has a great chance to move on.
The EPL comes back this week and the best matchup is definitely Arsenal v Manchester United. Historically it has been one of the most competitive matches and this year both teams have quality players again. Tottenham has a tough match against a offensively potent West Brom team.
Don’t forget that on Tuesday the Sounders have a huge match against Colorado Rapids to see who gets the advantage in the first leg of the conference finals. That is for the western conference finals. Over in the eastern conference finals, Toronto FC will play Montreal in a all Canadian match.
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