How’d Your Team Do This Week?
Did You See These Highlights? Kanye West only makes highlights, FYI.
Yoshito Okubo became the all-time top scorer in the J League with this header.
Liga MX? Yes. Carlos Cisneros balling out? Yes please.
Newcastle United may not do many noteworthy things in the Prem these days, but that won’t stop Andros Townsend from ripping shots for the thrill of it.
Shinji Kagawa keeping it cheeky in BVB’s hard-fought 2-2 draw versus Schalke.
Russian League, Apodi. ’nuff said.
Hell of a set corner piece (maybe?) from Bournemouth this past Saturday.
I was so looking forward to this week’s quarterfinal clashes. Comparable to my first-time roller blading, I knew it had to be good. There was no other outcome. But unlike my experiences with shredding gnar, this past week held only empty promises. Hundreds of millions of Euros tossed around for supercharged, star-studded lineups; are they too much of a good thing? Where’s the actual chemistry?
Take, for example, PSG v. Man City. Granted, PSG doesn’t usually face competition, but still how can both of these all-star teams produce such a sloppy snore-fest? I know it’s Zlatan, but come on, Joe Hart! When your combined starting lineups equate to over 500 million Euros, there’s no excuse. Oh, PSG bought you for 50 mil and you’re out of leg 2 in 12 seconds? Get real, David Luis.
What about Real Madrid absolutely shitting the bed against a surprisingly strong Wolfsburg side. Get over yourself, Marcelo. I don’t know, maybe you had a different experience because your team won or something. Maybe I overhyped in my head. Who knows? But I was disappointed with that.
Barcelona 2-1 Atletico Madrid
Here’s the game I would like to acknowledge in a slightly more positive light. High drama and quality play? Yes please. Atleti came out swinging at Camp Nou, making their presence known and applying the pressure immediately. Despite some Barcelona responses and a few decent offensive efforts, Madrid would strike first through their love Fernando Torres. He may have Abby Wambach’s hair stylist and scoring ability, but hopefully not her drinking habits :0!
Cheap shot comments aside, great way to open scoring in the 24th minute. As we all hoped, this game quickly took a turn for the chippy. Soon after, Torres collected the first yellow of the game with an unnecessary play on Neymar. A few minutes would go by and
Koke would collect the second booking, followed by a foolish and untimely Torres yellow/red combo meal. Down to 10 men, you knew it spelled trouble for the visitors. Atletico would reach half up 1-0 and generally look stronger and more lively than the boys of Barcelona. Defense sharp as per usual with homies like Diego Godin in back.
The second half held a much different story. Barcelona heavy on the offensive, they were producing chance after chance, with defensive efforts keeping Atleti alive. Mmmmm, you hungry Luis? Unfortunately for Filipe Luis, Suarez was only hungry for goals and not the contents of his nose. Suarez would proceed to take over the second half scoring a pair of goals for Barca. First, a scrappy goal in the 62nd, followed by a monstrous header in the 73rd. Clinching the first leg at home was massive for Barca, but you have to respect a strong 10-man stand from Madrid. And also question just how much sway the name Barcelona carries. Over twice as many yellows to the visitors and Suarez hacking everyone in sight, I wonder.
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Liverpool
Two of my favorite teams to watch. Klopp’s former against Klopp’s current, I couldn’t have asked for a better draw. Despite an outstanding offensive performance and general control of possession by host BVB, Jurgen Klopp’s new homies were strong against Germany’s current second best. Liverpool’s strikes were not constant, but they were effective. Divock Origi opened scoring in the 36th minute with a very nice finish. Only to have his efforts canceled out by defensive aerial expert Mats Hummels, who went untouched to equalize. One of the few defensive breakdowns by Liverpool throughout an otherwise impressive stand, but certainly a costly one. I cannot wait for the second leg at Anfield.
What a fun-filled week of English Premiership. Leicester City has punched their ticket to the Champions League next year and come one step closer to that BPL title. In the midst of that, N’Golo Kante absolutely tore up the midfield, while Jamie Vardy nabbed himself a brace. That guy can hustle! Tottenham is right behind them after a 3-0 trouncing of Manchester United (all goals within about seven minutes of one another). We’ll discuss Arsenal and West Ham below, because that game was tight. Liverpool trashed Stoke City, while Jefferson Montero and Swansea put Chelsea down, which I’m always thrilled to (Swan)see.
Poor Fabio :/ Sorry about the relegation, Sunderland.
West Ham United 3-3 Arsenal
Arsenal opened up the game with a very strong first half. Goals from both Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez gave the visiting Gunners a 2-0 lead after Manuel Lanzini’s would-be opener was turned down by an offside call. But this incident was a not-so-subtle omen for what Andy Carroll would make happen. A 2-0 deficit to Arsenal is hardly something you want, but Andy Carroll doesn’t really care about situations like that, as he went on to put up three unanswered goals. First a powerful header, then a sensational volley to end the half tied 2-2. He would pick right back up where he left off in the second half to complete his hat-trick with another great header. To think the man nearly got himself sent off in the opening minutes! His efforts would, unfortunately, amount to one measly point with an unlikely Laurent Koscielny finish later in the second. This tie effectively removes Arsenal from the title race, but you have to appreciate the heart these two teams showed out there. Isn’t trying your best sort of important regardless of result? Please don’t ask my parents that question.
AC Milan 1-2 Juventus
AC Milan came out with all the heat in this heavy hitter match up. Gianluigi Buffon had no choice but to make himself large (also useful for bear attacks), as he often does. Denying a fantastic Mario Balotelli free kick with just centimeters to spare, the legendary goalkeeper was Juve’s primary medium of not getting worked by Milan. He could only do so much though, and eventually Alex would put the hosts up 1-0 with a header with all the zip on it. This would prove to be more than enough to wake the Serie A leaders up as Mario Mandžukić schemed his way in with Alvaro Morata.
The other Gianluigi (Donnarumma) on the other end of the age spectrum (only 17) had himself a performance as well. I don’t think I would be able to stop Paul Pogba at age 17, but boy did he try. Unfortunately, the young GK could not keep Juve’s fancy-haired Frenchman from finally clinching the match in the 64th minute with a choppy little finish. But only after Balotelli slapped the ball in. It was a wild one, but Juve remains on top. A Higuain-less Napoli remains close, but has a few tough fixtures ahead. The next weeks will certainly decide the fate of the Serie A’s #1 and #2.
Barcelona LOST at Real Sociedad, as they have many times in the recent past. And I love it. Makes these final weeks all the more interesting in Spain.