Manchester City Feature -Jesse Smoot

Manchester City Feature -Jesse Smoot

The hiring of Pep Guardiola before the season brought with it much hope for a very successful year for Manchester City. High expectations are something that Pep is used to as he is one of the best coaches of all time. The  season started off just as expected when the Blues came out and won their first six matches.  The fire from the beginning of the season soon fizzled out as Man City found themselves struggling to play to their potential.  With a struggling team on the pitch came much frustration for Guardiola as he pressed to figure out what was needed from him to have success in the English Premier League.  Pep had said he made the change to the Premier league because he wanted to step out of his comfort zone to challenge himself and this season has been nothing short of a challenge for him and his club.  Even though Man City stayed near the top for most of the season their play was not nearly to the quality that was expected of them at the beginning.  

The transition to the Premier League was not an easy one for Pep, not yet anyways.  With a disappointing season resulting in a 4th place finish, no trophies, as well as almost not being eligible for the champions league next year, leaves him with much room for improvement. The loss against Arsenal in the semi-finals of the FA Cup left fans stunned by the thought of City not taking home any sort of trophy for the season.  Alongside setbacks such as the foot injury to Gabriel Jesus in late January, and a struggling goalie in the net, Pep also had to adjust his play style slightly to better fit the playstyle of the English Premier League.  The Premier League teams play a much tougher, rough tackling style of football when compared to that of teams in La Liga.

Many people expected for Peps hiring to lead to an undefeated season or other unrealistic results, however these things take time.  One man can make a huge impact on a squad but it is not just up to him, he needs the players to all buy into to what he is trying to do in order for the team to have the level of success that is expected from them and that they are capable of.  City’s players have had to make adjustments themselves to fit Guardiola’s methods of play.  These adjustments do not happen overnight, they take time and practice. When speaking about adjusting to Guardiola’s play style and this past season Vincent Kompany said “Finish strongly now and we give ourselves something to look forward to next season, because you want to be in four competitions.  Sometimes exceptional seasons are built on seasons like this.”  The future is bright for Manchester City as this season’s lack of success,  will undoubtedly be used as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and come back stronger next season.  The 2017-2018 season should be an exciting one, especially for Manchester City.



Dortmund Weekly Release Jeff Buckley

It’s an understatement to say that BVB had an eventful April.   Since April 17, Dortmund has had 2 wins 1 loss and a tie.  That 0-0 tie came Saturday in an exciting game against FC Koln.  While I describe it as exciting, many would consider it heartbreaking.  Dortmund has many shots on goal and plenty of very close opportunities to score but just couldn’t come through on any of those opportunities. 

This was the first time in 21 league matches that Dortmund was unable to score in a game.  Dortmund did get a couple of balls into the net, though these were scored while Dortmund was offside and thus did not count.  Dortmund’s defense did a pretty good job.  Koln was significantly limited in getting the ball close the Dortmund’s net.  Dortmund was full of opportunities and had many shots on net (some of them very close) but could not close the deal.

This has been the frustration of Dortmund all season, close but no cigar.  Marcel Schmelzer probably had the best game for Dortmund.  He stopped Koln’s attacks time and time again and went to his left side to push attacks.  Dortmund’s Erik Durm probably had the worst game for Dortmund.  He was able to complete only 66.7 percent of his passes.

Perhaps Dortmund was still hung over after their big win against Bayern Munich 3-2.  Whatever the case for their bad play on Saturday, Dortmund must win against Hoffenheim this coming Saturday, if they wish to stay in second place.  Most would agree that head coach Thomas Tuchel has been coaching as well as he could with an exhausted club. 

With the shock and trauma of Dortmund’s bus bombing still less than a month away, and with Marc Bartra (who was wounded in the bombing) still not able to begin playing for another month, this is the time to watch them.  This is the time when we will really see what type of grit the players on this storied club have.  To push on in a strong manner is what not just all of Dortmund’s fans are hoping for, but it is what the league is hoping for as well.  Many of the teams and their fans in Europe realize that they are really one big family and as such, must stick together through thick and thin.

A strong Dortmund is what would be nice, but the question as to why they haven’t been playing well as of late, can’t necessarily be chalked up to the bombing.  They have not been very consistent all season and they really should have won on Saturday (with all the opportunity they had).  It’s tough to find a solution to these problems, but perhaps they just need to focus a little more on the basics.  There is good news though, they have been playing well enough to reach the 2017/2018 Champions League Cup.  Though the draw with Koln was not a very interesting game, it was good enough to ensure that they would not be finishing less than 4th in the league and would thus be able to qualify.

Bayern 2 Weekly Release – James Smith April 24th-April 30th

bayern dortmund

Game Summaries:

Bayern 3-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund shatters DFB Cup hopes

Borussia Dortmund played the game of their lives as they put together a masterful 3-2 victory to crush Bayern Munich’s dreams of winning their 19th DFB Pokal title. The matchup between these two Bundesliga powers has become quite the rivalry over the past few years. As both clubs are known for their high-powered offensive attacks, fans packed Allianz Arena on Wednesday April 26th, with hopes of seeing a shootout between these two German powers.

Dortmund’s Marco Reus put the “Black and Yellows” on the scoreboard first in the 19th minute of action. Ten minutes later, Bayern responded to the first punch as Javi Martinez placed a header right past the defense off a sweet corner kick from the seasoned veteran Xabi Alonso which put the score at an even playing field. This gave the Baverians some fire as they put together another intricate offensive sequence ending in a Mats Hummels rocket putting Bayern up 2-1 heading into intermission.

As play continued, Dortmund settled the score at 2-2 in the 69th minute as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found the back of the net off a beautiful assist from Ousmane Dembele. With the momentum in Dortmund’s favor, Bayern knew they had to turn their defense into offense and try to make a last run at the goal before the clock expired. Unfortunately, Ousmane Dembele broke free of the Bayern defense and fired a strike from deep that torched the net and gave Borussia Dortmund a 3-2 in the 74th minute. Bayern tried to scramble around a find an opening for the equalizer, but the buzzer sounded and Dortmund advanced onto the DFB Cup final vs Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bayern romps Vfl Wolfsburg 6-0 to clinch their 5th consecutive Bundesliga Title


When it comes to winning championships and adding to their legacy, Bayern Munich always strives to rise to the occasion, and Saturday was no different.  Bayern put their foot on the gas and never let up as they trashed Vfl Wolfsburg 6-0 to clinch their 27th German league title and 5th consecutive Bundesliga title. Bayern’s offense was clicking on all cylinders as they saw two goals from Robert Lewandowski and one goal a piece from David Alaba, Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich. Bayern Manager Carlo Ancelotti was ecstatic on how his club performed and felt they deserved every bit of celebration.

“This Bundesliga season has been a fantastic experience,” says Ancelotti. “The team has done a great job. We deserved this title and now it’s time to celebrate!”

Ancelotti put himself into the record books as well with his team’s victory. Ancelotti has become the first manager in history to become champion in four of the five top-flight leagues. Before joining Bayern, Ancelotti was manager for the elite clubs AC Milan, Paris St. Germain and Chelsea. Noticing Ancelotti’s winning ways, Bayern CEO Karl Rummenigge has nothing but his praise for the successful manager.

“Carlo is a fantastic, experienced coach. He’s done a great job this year, otherwise we wouldn’t have left the pitch as champions with three games to spare. We have a coach who we fully trust.”


Buzz Around the Baverians:

Coman and Thiago are here to stay

thiago and coman.jpg

Originally, Kingsley Coman’s option to stay in Bayern was slated to go until the end of April, but head officials thought otherwise. Bayern Munich has exercised their option to sign Coman and extended his time with the team until 2020.

“Kingsley Coman is a crucial player for the future of our team, so we’ve decided to exercise the option,” quotes CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “Kingsley is a promising player with great potential. We’re convinced he’ll help us in the coming years.”

Following the extension of Coman, Bayern has agreed to sign Thiago to a new deal lasting until 2021. Thiago is arguably one of the game’s best mid-fielders and it was essential that Bayern secure him to keep their future bright.

“My family and I feel at home in Munich. Everything is going well here, and I want to win a lot of trophies here with FC Bayern in the future,” says Thiago.

Next Fixture: May 6th vs SV Darmstadt 9:30 am


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Real Madrid Release (April 24-April 29) – Bridget Walsh

Real Madrid Release (April 24-April 29) – Bridget Walsh

Game Summaries:

Wednesday April 26: Deportivo vs. Real Madrid at the Riazor in La Liga

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Madrid run out handsome winners at Riazor

In a high scoring match, the Whites still have the La Liga title in sight. Real Madrid defeated Deportivo 6-2 in a dominant effort from the Whites. Madrid scored early, less than a minute into the match on a Morata goal assisted by Isco. The lead could have grown substantially throughout the first half if not for the performance of Deportivo’s Lux in goal.

Real Madrid’s other goals came from Isco, Vázquez, Casemiro, and two from Rodríguez. In a postgame interview, Isco stated that “it was a well-rounded game and the score line reflects that.”

Saturday April 29: Real Madrid vs. Valencia at the Santiago Bernabéu in La Liga

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No let-up from Real Madrid in quest for La Liga crown

With just four matches remaining in La Liga competition, Real Madrid came out with a strong performance against Valencia, winning 2-1 and clinching three points toward the La Liga crown.

The goals were scored by Cristiano Ronaldo on a header and Marcelo in the 87th minute to secure the win. By scoring in this match, Real Madrid has netted at least one goal in their last 58 matches.

Player News:


Isco’s 10 goals in La Liga

Isco’s goal against Deportivo set his new season high for goals in La Liga competition at 10. His previous mark of nine goals was set in his 2012-2013 season while he was playing for Málaga. This achievement places Isco at third goalscorer in the competition behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Morata.

James makes it five Real Madrid doubles

In Real Madrid’s 2-1 victory over Deportivo, James RodrÍguez scored twice marking his fifth double. The last time James had a double was in the first leg of the Copa del Rey against Sevilla. Overall in his career at the Club, James has doubled five times, three in La Liga and two in the Copa del Rey.

Marcelo, the foreign-born player with the most La Liga wins for Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s victory over Valencia marked the 212th win for Marcelo in La Liga competition. This game was also special for Marcelo because he netted the winning goal for the Whites. This mark also surpasses his compatriot Roberto Carlos as the foreign-born player with the most La Liga wins, even over teammates Cristiano Ronaldo, Di Stéfano, and Pepe.

Other Relevant Team Related News:

Julia Roberts’ El Clásico experience

Check out this video from Julia Roberts’ visit to the Santiago Bernabéu during El Clásico, Real Madrid’s matchup with Barcelona. The Hollywood star received her own Real Madrid jersey, interacted with various players, and more.

Upcoming Matches:

Tuesday May 2: Real Madrid vs. Atlético de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu in First Leg of Champions League Semi-Final

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Saturday May 6: Granada vs. Real Madrid at the Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes in La Liga

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FC Barcelona Weekly Release (April 22 – April 29) – Tyler Lake

FC Barcelona Weekly Release (April 22 – April 29) – Tyler Lake

Game Summaries

Sunday April 23: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabéu in La Liga

Real Madrid hosted FC Barcelona, a matchup known as the El Clasico. This rivalry has been dated back for over 100 years with Real Madrid having the most wins overall. It was available to watch on beIN Sports, a tv channel that is not available to all networks. In the previous match, Real Madrid and Barcelona drew 1-1. Casemiro opened the goal scoring in the 29th minute off a rebound from the post for an easy slot into the back of the net. Shortly after, Lionel Messi would score in the 32nd minute to tie the game at 1-1. The game would go into halftime tied with each team creating chances. It wouldn’t be until the 73rd minute when Ivan Rakitic strikes a powerful curling ball around Real Madrid’s goalkeeper. Momentum was building for Barcelona and they were exposing Real Madrid’s defense. Sergio Ramos is shown a red card in the 77th minute on a reckless found on Lionel Messi. After the red card, Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez was subbed on for the remaining time. He would score in the 85th minute to tie the game up at 2-2 and Real Madrid started to show life even though they were down a man. The match would receive 2 extra minutes of play. Lionel Messi would score in the 92nd minute to seal the El Clasico win over Real Madrid. That goal would be Messi’s 500th goal for the club team, an historical mark. FC Barcelona is now tied in the La Liga standings with Real Madrid with a few games left in the league. It was one of the best performances between the two clubs in a while and it may be one of the greatest of all time.

Wednesday April 26: Barcelona vs Osasuna at Camp Nou in La Liga

Lionel Messi wasted no time scoring his 501st goal for FC Barcelona in the 12 minute. It started from a turnover he recovered and chipped the goalkeeper. Ivan Rakitic sent a well-placed cross from a powerful volley from inside of the box to Andre Gomes to give Barcelona a 2-0. Osasuna’s Roberto Torres brought faith when he score a stunning free kick in the 48th minute, still Barcelona would 2-1. Andre Gomes would restore a two-goal lead scoring 9 minutes after Torres’s goal. In the 61st minute, Lionel Messi scored his second goal of the match from a strike from 20 yards out. Paco Alcacer scored two minutes after Messi’s goal which would give Barcelona a comfortable 5-1 lead. Tensions rose in the 67 minute when Denis Suarez was fouled in the edge of the box. Barcelona was awarded a penalty kick and Masherano, who hasn’t scored since 2010, was given the chance. He took advantage and score to extend the lead to 6-1. Paco Alcacer ended the game with his second goal and giving helping Barcelona win 7-1 against Osasuna. FC Barcelona is still tied with Real Madrid atop of La Liga.

Saturday April 29: Barcelona vs. Espanyol at RCDE Stadium in La Liga

Barcelona would welcome back Neymar from a 3 match ban received last month. In the first half, the game was physical with both side committing fouls and players arguing. Barcelona started the game off slow but slowly started to regain possession and move the ball around. There wasn’t many chances for both sides and the first half ended goalless. Moments after the second half start, Luis Suarez scored from a bad pass from an Espanyol defender. Ivan Rakitic scored a dagger from a ball from Lionel Messi which gave Barcelona a sold 2-0 lead. Luis Suarez sealed the game scoring the 3rd goal for Barcelona. Barcelona’s 3-0 win keeps them alive in the title race.

Player News

Neymar returned to play for Barcelona in return for the club’s matchup against Espanyol on April 29th following his 3 match ban. Barcelona has been heavily dependent on Lionel Messi in the past few games in Neymar’s absence.

Barcelona captain, Andres Iniesta, missed the Catalan derby against Espanyol on Saturday with a groin injury. The team has not determined when they expect Iniesta to return. He has been facing a variety of injury problems all season. A calf injury set him out a couple weeks earlier this year and also sustaining a injury to the knee in October. He has started in 10 La Liga games to date this season, making Luis Enrique managing his playing time.

A Week Ahead

Saturday, May 6: Barcelona vs Villarreal at Camp Nou in La Liga


After Ronaldo and Messi: What’s next?

After Ronaldo and Messi: What’s next?

After Ronaldo and Messi: What’s next?- A look at the El Clasico, the Champions League, and the dominant league in Europe after the departure of the two stars.

The stage is set. Your team is in a battle for the top of the table. In your way stands the other team with the same exact objective. On each side, a superb, once in a generation-type player is begging for the opportunity to be the hero and bring a miracle to their fans on a grand stage. This is the scene of this past weekend’s El Clasico. Real Madrid and Barcelona faced off with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on each side.

Now think, what does this rivalry look like without Ronaldo and Messi? This is a question that is being highly discussed at the moment by experts, analysts, and fans alike. It is also a situation that is going to be the reality sooner or later (probably sooner considering these players are 32 and 29 years old, respectively). Where do Real Madrid and Barcelona go next? How do you replace once in a generation type players?

The simple answer to that last question is: you don’t.

These players are considered “once in a generation” for a reason, you can not assume there will be another like them anytime soon. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have created a rivalry between the two of them that is not likely to be matched. Since 2008, no other player has won a Ballon d’Or or FIFA Player of the Year Award (although these awards were merged for six of the past nine years). Ronaldo first won the prestigious award in 2008, then Messi won for four consecutive years from 2009-2012. Ronaldo then took back the award from 2013-2014. Once again, Messi regained the title in 2015, and finally, the most recent Ballon d’Or went back to Ronaldo. There is rarely any conversation about a third candidate, but rather just which of these two, it will go to in any particular year.

imgres.jpg(Pictured: Ronaldo and Messi playing for Madrid and Barca)

     These awards are not given out lightly. Every single award was earned and achieved based on tangible accomplishments by these two, and for good reason. For example, in that same nine-year span in which they won all those Ballon d’Or’s, “both have averaged more than a goal per league game, and between them have won six out of nine Champions Leagues (including Ronaldo’s victory with Manchester United in 2008).” After the two of them, according to an ESPN article by Simon Kuper on a similar subject, the next-best players lag far behind. Kuper pointed out that if you “compare them with the next-best forwards of our time: Luis Suarez averaged over a goal a game in just one of his seven seasons in top-class leagues. Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed it once in 13.” This just proves, even more, the point that they are in a league of their own. Not even the next-best players can be compared to their elevated level of play.

Some experts argue that even without Ronaldo and Messi, Real Madrid and Barcelona would still be the two strongest teams in the Champions League. This may be true for the immediate future following the retirement of the two superstars. However, this dominance can not last forever. All things come to an end, just as Spain is dominant at the moment, there was a time when “Italian clubs, even Dutch clubs, dominated Europe.” Just as the Roman Empire fell, the empire of Spanish football dominance is likely to steadily decline after the departure of Messi and Ronaldo. This could have implications on the El Clasico rivalry.

In an interview discussing the probability to La Liga’s Champions League dominance coming to an end after the departure of Messi and Ronaldo, Stewart Robson commented on the fact that the Premier League is just not up to the level of the Spanish clubs. He stated that “at the moment you look at the Premier League and only Leicester got through to the quarterfinals; Manchester City weren’t good enough, Arsenal weren’t good enough, and Chelsea didn’t qualify last year.” He then went on to make the claim that even if Messi was hurt for most of the next season and Ronaldo retired, Madrid and Barcelona would still be the best in Europe. In the same interview Craig Burley pointed out that dominance is cyclical, and while the Spanish teams would obviously be slightly weakened without the likes of their stars, that Barcelona and Real Madrid “still have the clout to go out and buy their top players” and will continue to dominate at this point, since the Premier League is currently struggling.

However, the Kuper article that was mentioned before suggested that this continued trend of La Liga dominance and Premier League struggle will not last. Money is the largest factor contributing to a good club, and Real Madrid and Barcelona certainly have the money, but so do other teams. As can be seen in the following graphic, Manchester United lead the way with revenues of €689 million in 2015-16. These leading numbers came in a down year for the club on the field, where they “exited the lucrative Champions League after the group stage.” While “Barca and Madrid lead global soccer in commercial deals… once Messi, Ronaldo and Spain’s golden generation fade, these clubs will be less appealing to sponsors.” This should be worrying for the Spanish side since Premier League teams are already making strides to close the talent gap. Manchester United paid a “world-record fee of $116 million for Paul Pogba” in an attempt to prepare for the future where they could have the best active player in the world.

0406_socclassico_1296x1000.png(Pictured: Chart of revenues of the top 3 teams from 1996-2016)

     With all that being said, Real Madrid and Barcelona are still the best teams in Europe at the moment. Even in the future, if the Premier League takes over as the most dominant league in European football, the Spanish clubs will continue to have a presence. Even though the rivalry that is Messi versus Ronaldo will soon end, the El Clasico rivalry will continue. The two teams have met 266 times in history, and the rivalry has become much more than a game. With each team having historically successful teams, political oppositions of the cities, and incredibly identifiable players, this rivalry is one that has stood the test of time and will continue to be one of the most engaging rivalries in international soccer. In the latest installment on April 23, “an early estimation for the global audience tuning into to Sunday’s game was 650 million who tuned into the Bernabeu action in more than 185 countries.” With numbers like these, it is hard to expect a drastic decline because of one or two players departing, even if they are the best in the world. These clubs each have a fierce fan base, with a growing following in countries, such as the United States, that are new to the international football scene. If these clubs can continue to grow their following while they are in this “prime” era, they will no doubt continue to have an enormous, dedicated fan base that will continue to grow and support each of these clubs.



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In story image credit:

Arsenal 2 Release (4/21- 4/28) – Nick White

Arsenal 2 Release (4/21- 4/28) – Nick White

Game Updates:

April 23- Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1

Alexis Sanchez the hero in the FA Cup semifinal game on April 23 2017. The come from behind win sends Arsenal to the FA Cup final next month.

April 26- Arsenal 1 Leicester City

Arsenal picked up a somewhat lucky but majorly important win on Wednesday. As Nacho Monreal’s late shot was going nowhere near the goal but a deflection from Robert Huth and Arsenal’s slender top four hopes are alive and kicking. A dour affair looked destined for a point a piece before the Emirates erupted as Kasper Schmeichel was beaten. The win puts Arsenal sixth, just three points behind Manchester United in fifth and four behind Manchester City before the pair go head-to-head on Thursday night.

Player Updates:

April 25- Arsène Wenger followed his pre-match press conference on Tuesday by sitting down with newspaper reporters and Alexis was top of the agenda.
The boss said he was hopeful and confident that Alexis would agree a new deal with us. Even if he doesn’t, the manager would rather keep Alexis for the final year of his contract than sell him and especially not to a Premier League rival. So Wenger appears fairly confident that the gunners will be able to hold on to their superstar for at least a little longer.


April 30th vs Tottenham Hotspur