Tag Archives: Juventus FC

Real Madrid CF – 2016-17 Champions League Winners

Congratulations on Real Madrid CF for winning this year’s trophy and their unprecedented 12th title.  This final was never really in doubt for Los Merengues and manager Zinedine Zidane has a lot of credit to take for this victory and for clinching La Liga title that preceded this triumph.

Even though Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace and is now in pole position to win a fifth Ballon d’Or, let’s remember that the appointment of “Zizou” as the manager of Real Madrid CF in January 2016 has changed a lot of things.  At the time, under Rafael Benitez, Los Blancos, despite not having a bad record, lost a few games such a 4-0 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu against arch-rivals, FC Barcelona.

President Fiorentino Perez, never shy of “pulling the trigger” when it comes time to making a manager’s change, decided to give the keys to the man who was coaching Real Madrid B team at the time.  The results since that then have been nothing short but spectacular.  Los Blancos made a run to win La Liga title up until the end of the last season, only to witness FC Barcelona win at the end.  They’ve also reached the Champions League final and beat Atlético de Madrid on penalty kicks for their 11th Champions League triumph.  This season, they’ve won La Liga (for the first time since 2012, under José Mourinho) and became the first team ever to repeat as Champions League winners.  A double.

Can Real Madrid achieve the same amount of success next and for years to come?  We shall see.  Until today, with Zinedine Zidane at the helm, it has been all business for La Casa Blanca.

Stay tuned…

2016-17 Champions League Final – Real Madrid CF vs. Juventus FC

Ahh, the Champions League final!

An event difficult to miss, especially when two giants of European, if not, World football collide for the most prestigious prize in club football, the UEFA Champions League.  Both clubs have been impressive leading up to the final.

Juventus FC on pace for their first possible triple (having already secured Serie A and la Coppa d’Italia) have eliminated FC Porto, FC Barcelona and AS Monaco FC en route to Cardiff, Wales.  Real Madrid CF has had to deal with SSC Napoli in the Round of 16, then FC Bayern Munich and derby rivals Atlético Madrid.

For Los Blancos, it will be a chance to make history as being the first club to win back-to-back Champions League titles since the introduction of this format in 1992.  For reasons difficult to explain, no team has ever been able to repeat as champions.  As for I Bianconeri, it will be a chance to finally lift the trophy after failing to win it in 2003 vs. AC Milan and 2015 vs. FC Barcelona.  We have to go back in 1996 and their success on penalty kicks versus titleholders Ajax Amsterdam to witness The Old Lady winning the title.

It is a 50/50 final.  Despite the tremendous amount of talent and money Real Madrid has at its diposal, la Juve has been able to inject more funds and more quality players to their side in the past few years.  The recent additions of Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Miralem Pjanic, Dani Alves, Mario Mandzukic etc. have made this team more dangerous than ever.  And after beating Real Madrid, two years ago, to reach the final of this same competition, the confidence level will be high for the Italians.

Prediction – Juventus FC ends its 21 year drought and complete their treble by winning 2-1.

Ballon d’Or/Golden Ball 2017 – Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo

The season has come to an end in the Spanish League and Real Madrid CF have won the championship in front of their arch-nemesis FC Barcelona.  Los Blancos held a three point advantage and were able to hold on to it until the very last game of the season.

Furthermore, Real Madrid will play, for the second year in a row, the final of the Champions League, against Juventus FC this time.  Since the introduction to the Champions League format in 1992, no club has been able to repeat as champions.  History is not on Los Merengues side on this one.

Meanwhile in Barcelona, Los Blaugranas have won the Spanish Cup (la Copa del Rey) by beating Alaves 3-1 thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. and Paco Alcacer.  It provided the near perfect farewell to manager Luis Enrique who will leave the club this summer.  His replacement is supposed to be officially named soon and the current manager of Athletic Bilbao is the favourite to take on the job.

As for individual statistics and awards, Lionel Messi has won the European Golden Shoe for this season.  Cristiano Ronaldo is very far away in the standings.  It is the fourth time (equaling the record of the Portuguese international) that La Pulga has won this award.  Luis Suarez was the winner last season.

As for the Ballon d’Or/Golden Ball France Football is concerned, here is a look at the statistics and trophies won by Messi and Ronaldo so far from January 1st to May 28th, 2017 (in bold, the player with the advantage):

Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo
Games 33 28
Goals 32 27
Assists 8 6
Trophies 2
(Copa del Rey, European Golden Shoe)
1
(La Liga)

Football – In 2017

Another year, another busy schedule for football in general, especially at the international level with the Africa Cup of Nations which occurs every two years and will take place in Gabon (from January 14 to February 5, 2017) and the FIFA Confederations Cup (in the summer) which features the winner of each continental cup and the World Cup. This year, the tournament will host:

Russia (2018 World Cup host country)
Germany
(2014 World Cup)
Portugal (2016 European Championship)
Chile (2015 Copa America)
Cameroon (2017 Africa Cup of Nations)
Mexico (2015 Gold Cup)
Australia (2015 Asian Cup)
New Zealand (2016 Oceania Football Confederation )

Eight teams, four groups and “a curse”. Yes, since its creation in 1991, no country which has won this tournament has been able to repeat the following year by raising the World Cup as champions. A little bit like the new format of Champions League introduced in 1992 where no club has been able to repeat as back-to-back winners. Will the country of Russia be where the “curse” is going to end? I doubt it, but we never know, the Chicago Cubs, baseball infamous team ended their so-called “Curse of the Goat) this year after 108 years of waiting by winning the Major League Baseball World Series, so there is hope.

At club level, the different leagues are still dominated, in most parts, by the usual suspects:
FC Bayern Munich is dominating, albeit not as easily as expected the German Bundesliga.
Juventus FC is still on top of Italian Serie A.
Paris Saint-Germain is third, after winning four consecutive French Ligue 1 titles.
Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona are respectively first and second of Spain’s LaLiga Santander.
And Chelsea FC has a strong lead in the Barclays Premier League in Britain.

The UEFA Champions League will be interesting as well. The round of 16 offers already mouthwatering encounters such as:

FC Bayern Munich vs. Arsenal FC
FC Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Real Madrid CF vs. SSC Napoli
AS Monaco vs. Manchester City FC

Another great year of football ahead. Stay tuned.

Champions League Curse – Can FC Barcelona break it in 2016?

This is the question that the football world will be asking as we move towards the Champions League final held in Milan, this May. Since the introduction of the current format in 1992, replacing the former European Cup, not a single club has been able to repeat (winning the trophy twice a in a row). While it was not uncommon to see this feat done in the past with teams winning two, three, four and even five times like Real Madrid, it has been somewhat of a different scenario now. All have tried, all have failed.

AC Milan won the trophy in 1994 against F.C.Barcelona 4-0 and then lost against Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 the following year.

The same fate happened to Ajax who lost in 1996 against Juventus FC on penalty kicks in the 1996 final.

Juventus FC also tasted the same medecine with defeats in the 1997 final against Borussia Dortmund 3-1 and the following year vs. Real Madrid 1-0. The German champions were eliminated in the semifinals in 1998 against the Spanish giants.

Real Madrid won in 1998, 2000 and 2002, therefore never being able to do it back-to-back.

AC Milan won the trophy in 2003 an 2007 while losing in the 2005 memorable final against Liverpool on penalty kicks in Istanbul.

FC Barcelona proves to be another example by being crowned champions in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015. They were always winners in the final, but could not reach it a second time in a row.

Bayern Munich won the Champions League in 2001 against Valencia and in 2013 against Borussia Dortmund but suffered defeats in the 1999, 2010 and 2012 finals.

All of the above just goes to show how difficult it has been for clubs, even the greatest and most talented ones, to achieve success year and after year. No one has succeeded so far. Can FC Barcelona, led by Messi, Neymar and Suarez, do it this year? The answer in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned…