Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Europa League Final

Tonight I watched the Europa League Final in a bar in Monrovia, amid massive rain, which made it difficult to listen to the commentary, but at least it was possible to watch the match and drink beer.
Manchester United were not likeable as they played on their far superior experience against an Ajax Amsterdam side of charming youngsters who were surely up past their bedtime. Ajax hardly had a shot on goal as their naive attack crashed against Mourinho's defensive wall, in what was a bit of a disappointing final, as it never seemed Manchester United's victory was in any doubt whatsoever.
Manchester United are now in the Champions League next season why they, and Mourinho, can add another European title to their stack.
And in Monrovia, the rain continued.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Early and coming Champions

Seasons are ending all around Europe, and we can already see some of the titles being handed out!
With a 0-1 victory over West Bromwich Albions Chelsea mathematically became champions of the Premier League with still three games to go before the end of the season. This cements Chelsea's amazing season, which few saw coming I think: a disastrous last season which led to the hiring of Antonio Conte as manager, and he has stabilized the team, that plays excellent football. One has to wonder whether the absence of European football may as well have been an advantage, as they were able to focus entirely on the Premier League.
In Germany Bayern Munich has won the Bundesliga again and as expected by many. That said, it is a disappointing season, as they did not win the DFB Cup and were eliminated in the Champions League. Bayern Munich is set to go through changes next season, so it remains to be seen how they will do.
In Italy Juventus is only a victory away from taking the title, while in France Monaco are on the brink of taking a title that seems to have belonged in Paris since 2013, and this also cements their extraordinary season where they won themselves a lot of friends in the CL!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The finalists

Although Atletico Madrid gave Real Madrid (and fans hope for a good game) a scare in the first quarter of last nights' Champions League semifinal second leg, the result was never in doubt: although behind 2-0, when Real Madrid settled into the match they showed their quality and after Isco's goal, their place in the final was never really in doubt. And for any major threats, Keylor Navas was solid in goal.
Real Madrid can go all the way, although they will have to play their best against a Juventus side that did not need to make much of an effort to win 2-1 against Monaco at home. Juventus will be playing their ninth final against Real Madrid's record 15th. But Real Madrid have only lost three finals, while Juventus has been defeated 6 of their eight finals, their last victory coming in 1996 against Ajax Amsterdam (and they had earlier eliminated Real Madrid in the quarterfinals). Real Madrid are the defending champions and could become the first team to re-take the title in the 21st Century (and since the inception of the Champions League format).
No matter what happens, this Champions League season has been one of the best ever, and both of these teams deserve to be in a final that is set to be match of the year in 2018! History will be made!
Countdown for June 3rd has started!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Juventus to challenge the title

It all points to it being a fantastic Champions League final. After Real Madrid made fun of Atletico Madrid with a great display, Juventus showed at least as much quality when defeating AS Monaco 0-2 in Monaco. Monaco are a young side that has won many friends in the tournament and for its young players there are surely great years ahead. But Juventus' combination of quality and experience were simply too much for Monaco, who may have attacked optimistically and with skills, but were punished by any mistake to such as degree that Gonzalo Higuain ended up scoring both Juventus goals! (always poor in finals, one can almost not expect him to do anything there if they reach that far).
If any team can defeat Real Madrid it is Juventus. If any team can defeat Juventus, it is Real Madrid.
Of course, there is still a second leg for both semi-finals, but if the final is not Real Madrid-Juventus it will be an enormous surprise!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Real Madrid still champion

It is not with delight that I say that a team that I dislike is the best, but after seeing Real Madrid take out Atletico Madrid 3-0, on three goals by a Cristiano Ronaldo on fire, I can barely see that any team can threaten them from retaking the Champions League title.
Of course a lot of things can happen in football, and both Monaco and Juventus are quality sides, but last nights' display must be among the best I have seen from Real Madrid. And it was not just against any side: it was against Atletico Madrid, a side that has had a good take on Real Madrid, and is notoriously organized and difficult to play against. But Real Madrid made it look easy.
One thing I could not help but think about is Zinedine Zidane: all attention goes to so many other managers in Europe, but no attention seems to be going to Zidane's managing qualities, which are proving to be truly outstanding as he is managing one of the most difficult clubs in the world!
If they end up taking the title again, Zinedine Zidane should be the stars above them all in Real Madrid!

Monday, May 01, 2017

Brøndby-Sønderjyske

It had been long time since I had watched a Danish league match until yesterday when I watched Brøndby play Søderjyske in the Danish league. None have a chance of winning the league, although it seems Brøndby is set for second spot. That said, neither side seemed that committed to the match: both teams are organized and physically strong, but having not watched Danish football for a while I could not help but notice the general lack of technical skills: very slow ball control and poor kicking technique was what characterized the match, in particular among the two goalkeepers, where Søderjyske goalie Lukas Fernandes cost a goal when he totally misplaced a kick. Frederik Rønnow from Sønderjyske, a player I had never heard about, will nevertheless always be remembered when I saw him make one of the biggest misses ever: in a totally open goal, goalkeeper away, he managed to miss the goal....
The match ended 1-1.