- April 02, 2016
2nd April 2016.
Luis Suarez has enjoyed nothing but success since making the move from Liverpool to Barcelona ahead of the 2014/15 season. In his first campaign with Barca, Suarez won the treble and was a finalist for UEFA's Best Player in Europe Award. He also got to play alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in what many have called one of the best front threes in football history. This season, meanwhile, the Uruguayan striker is duking it out with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to be the La Liga's top scorer-all while hoping for a second treble in a row for Barcelona.
With all of this success, it would be easy for Suarez to call his time in the Spanish La Liga the highlight of his career. Yet, in
- April 01, 2016
1st April 2016. By Karl Matchett.
Third in La Liga, not among the front-runners for the UEFA Champions League and dismissed from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player-all told, 2015-16 won't go down as one of the more memorable campaigns in Real Madrid's history.
The issues have been vast and varied throughout the season, from the bungled transfer deadline day approach for David de Gea, through to hiring and firing Rafa Benitez, appointing a rookie boss in Zinedine Zidane and with a whole host of issues on the playing squad side of the club.
One final chance-other than an unexpected path to the final and win in Europe-for redemption for the season comes in the shape of El Clasico this weekend, and an opportunity for some of Real Madrid's big players who have underperformed this term to suggest they still have a lot to offer going forward. If they can cope with and defeat Barcelona
- March 22, 2016
22nd March 2016
On March 18th, the UEFA officially announced the draw for the Champions League quarterfinal round. For the most part, the matchups for the next round of Europe's most prestigious soccer tournament look to have clear favorites. However, as we saw from the semifinals-where Bayern Munich of all teams had to win their second leg match in extra time-there is no such thing as a sure thing in this ultra-competitive tournament.
The lineup for the quarterfinals shows beyond a doubt that the La Liga is the strongest league in European football right now. The Spanish top-flight accounts for three of the eight quarterfinal spots, with FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid all earning spots. Two Bundesliga teams are also in the mix (Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg), while England, France, and Portugal grabbed one slot apiece (for Manchester City, Paris
- March 21, 2016
In terms of UEFA coefficient rankings (and judging by the last few Champions League and Europa League tournaments), the Spanish La Liga is the best football league in Europe. The English Premier League, meanwhile, is incredibly wealthy and is consistently cited as the most fiercely competitive division in all of soccer. While these two leagues boast plenty of virtues, though, there is one key superlative they do not have: the top stadium attendance in Europe.
Germany's Impressive Numbers
Indeed, on February 25th, the German Bundesliga announced its spectator figures for the first half of the 2015/16 campaign. According to the report, a grand total of 6,478,680 soccer fans came out to see the 153 Bundesliga games that took place between August and December 2015. That number figures out to a per-match average of 42,344 spectators-not only the highest tally of any league in Europe but also the highest of any football
- March 18, 2016
By Karl Matchett.
The last eight are known, the first run of would-be challengers have fallen by the wayside and the early favourites...well, they remain the favourites.
An intense and enthralling round of 16 knockout stage in the UEFA Champions League saw the likes of Arsenal and Juventus exit, but few others who evoked any real excitement or entertained hopes of going far in the competition. What we're left with is those who have a genuine chance of lifting the trophy: holders Barcelona, domestic rivals Atletico Madrid, money project Paris Saint-Germain and comeback kings from Wednesday, Bayern Munich.
And, of course, Real Madrid.
They are outside of the initial group of four. Not because they don't have as good players, not because the club isn't big enough or capable of success, but because
- March 12, 2016
There aren't many soccer squads in history-let alone right now, this season-that can stand shoulder to shoulder with FC Barcelona's unbreakable front three. The football club struck gold last season when Luis Enrique put Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez on the field together. Despite early reports that Enrique and Messi were having spats in practice, Enrique managed to teach his three stars how to play off one another to be better together than they could ever be separately. And considering just how good Messi, Neymar, and Suarez are separately, that statement is quite a feat.
Remarkably, if there is one offensive lineup in the world that can challenge Barca's Messi-Suarez-Neymar triage, that trio is also playing in the Spanish La Liga right now. Real Madrid have a dynamic trio of their own: Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, and Cristiano Ronaldo, all as capable of orchestrating incredible football feats as their Barcelona counterparts. The question is this: can
- March 09, 2016
By Karl Matchett.
Into the last eight of the UEFA Champions League went Real Madrid on Tuesday night as they beat AS Roma 2-0, 4-0 on aggregate, with goalkeeper Keylor Navas making several saves along the way to ensure he still hasn't conceded a single goal in Europe this season.
The result and the progression were impressive in isolation, but the fact of the match mirrored that of Real Madrid's recent displays all round: open and susceptible to conceding chances defensively and reliant on a clinical attack to outscore the opposition.
Over the past two fixtures, Zinedine Zidane has attempted to redress the balance of the
- March 07, 2016
Right now, Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, and arguably even West Ham United are all battling to clinch one of the English Premier League's top four spots. As in previous years, the top four clubs in the division this season will qualify for the Champions League-with the top three earning entry into the group stage and the fourth-place club heading into the final play-off round.
The race for these four slots is even more intense this year, given the fact that last year's EPL champion-Chelsea FC-has very little chance of qualifying for the Champions League. As such, clubs that haven't traditionally qualified for Europe's most prestigious tournament in the past-Leicester, Tottenham, and West Ham are getting ever close to breaking the cycle in 2016.
But what if England didn't get four spots in the Champions League? Recent rumors have suggested that the Premier League could, at some point in the not-too-distant future, be
- February 29, 2016
The first week of round of 16 fixtures for the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League delivered mostly small advantages. Wolfsburg edged out Gent 3-2, Paris Saint Germain beat Chelsea 2-1, and Benfica took a 1-0 advantage of Zenit Saint Petersburg. Of those advantages, only Wolfsburg's seems highly unlikely to fall in the second leg of the round. Gent lost at home, which means that Wolfsburg both took the lead in the aggregate and picked up three away goals for their trouble. Chelsea and Zenit, however, both lost in away games, and the Blues even picked up an away goal, meaning that neither football club can be totally counted out of the Champions League tournament at this point.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, feel like the safest of bets to advance to the quarterfinals. The Vikings beat Italy's AS Roma 2-0 in their first round of 16 leg, and they did it at Roma's
- February 17, 2016
By Karl Matchett.
Zinedine Zidane has had a relatively straight-forward early path in top-tier management with Real Madrid, with five games against bottom-half or mid-table La Liga sides yielding four wins and a draw before his first big test, a 4-2 win over Athletic Club last weekend.Â
Now the Frenchman moves into even bigger territory: the UEFA Champions League and a first leg tie against AS Roma. The Wednesday night fixture will give Zidane a spotlight on the front lines of world football such as he has yet to experience; even those nights spent in the competition as an assistant saw him only reflecting the full glare which shone on then-boss Carlo Ancelotti. There was always a shadow for Zizou to stand in-now the focus is all on him.
So far, so good, but so far it has been 12