Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid Legend is Leaving?

With everything that has happened it will be very difficult for Sergio Ramos to stay at Real Madrid. Sergio is a symbol of this club. He has nothing to prove. But so many things are being said about him.

It’s really hard to know what to make of any statements or rumors during the transfer period.  A lot of it could just be agents and people blowing smoke in order to leverage a better deal for their client.  But sometimes there might be smoke because there is an actual fire.

But the fact that it is public that Sergio Ramos is unhappy with the negotiations is ridiculous.  He’s been an integral part of Real Madrid’s defense for years and the foundation of it for the past couple years ever since they moved him from left back to the central position.

Real is known for constantly changing its lineup and going out and always looking for the next big star. But Ramos is still in his prime, still a star and it would be impossible to replace him.  He’s the consistency in the back that every team needs and craves.

Oh, and has Real already forgotten that it has only been a year since he did this?


Pay him the money. All of it if needed.

Can Juventus Stop The Alien? Messi To Descend To Berlin For Epic Final

Messi is an alien, that dedicates himself to playing with humans. The only hope is that this Saturday he will be from earth, like the rest of us

~ Gianluigi Buffon

Messi, Messi, Messi. It’s been the longest week ever. In the U.S., there is a massive media build up prior to the Superbowl where players are subjected to every conceivable question about their lives, their teammates, and the game. This week, the rest of the world focuses on a bigger game. A better game. A beautiful game. The 2015 Champions League Final. Despite the subplots (Suarez bit Chiellini, Suarez racist remarks toward Evra) and plots (Argentines all over the field) within plots (Midfield Masters in Final Games: Xavi v. Pirlo), most of the questions are some version of “How are you going to stop Messi?”

Can they stop Messi? Allegri thinks so. “I hope that tomorrow [Messi] is stoppable,” he said. “We have been thinking about him. Also about [Luis] Suarez and Neymar. We have to play well, and know that this will not end 0-0. We will have to score at least one goal.” So they’ll play on the counter. I think we knew that.

Giorgio Chiellini is out. Does that change things? Paolo Bandini doesn’t think so. He argues that in the Guardian that it might even help some. Andrea Barzagli will take Chiellini’s place.

Barzagli, though, is a more technically accomplished defender. At the start of this week, before the present injury scenario had unfolded, Buffon was invited by to go through Juventus’s players one by one, listing their individual qualities. He described Chiellini as “our strong man”, saying the player’s great weapon was brute force. Barzagli was simply “an exceptional defender. Certainly among the best three or four in the world.”

This choice of words was revealing. Chiellini and Barzagli are very different players, and the former’s absence will certainly cost Juventus a degree of physicality in defence. But how much will that matter on Saturday? Is aggression an especially useful tool for containing Messi and company, or is the real challenge simply to keep up with Barcelona’s movements in the first place?

The debate over how to slow down the Argentinian has raged all week on the peninsula. Great defenders past and present have been sought for their views on how he may be contained.

Alessandro Nesta enjoyed some brilliant duels with Messi late in his career, and was at the heart of a Milan defence that kept a clean sheet against Barcelona at San Siro in March 2012. Even then, however, the rossoneri did ship seven goals in three other meetings that season. “Against Messi a bit of luck is essential,” conceded Nesta in one interview this week. “I kicked him a few times, too.”

Michael Cox over at ESPN outlines the way to make it happen by saying that six opponents have stopped the Neymar, Messi, Suarez combo. Here are his three keys to stopping the big three.

The positioning of the backline is probably Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri’s most important decision. Juve simply can’t play too high up the pitch, because the pace of Barcelona’s attackers will destroy them. But dropping needlessly deep isn’t a viable strategy either, because the Spanish champions’ dominance will eventually break them down.

Juve must also remain disciplined in midfield. While they will start with a diamond midfield on paper, it’s likely that quartet will flatten into a more conventional midfield four with Arturo Vidal dropping in alongside Andrea Pirlo, and Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba covering wider areas.

Last, but not least, Juventus need a huge performance from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who has never faced Messi before.

In the end, it seems that most people are predicting a Barcelona victory. They’re simply too good.

In truth, in a single game, anything can happen, but the discipline, focus, and determination required to beat Barcelona is very difficult to maintain. There’s a physical and mental discipline required to beat this team. Juventus is a veteran side and might just be able to do it, but I don’t see it.

Barcelona 3 – 1 Juventus


Photo credit: Payayita on Flickr rights reserved under Creative Commons

Morata Takes Juve Back To Where It Deserves To Be

Juve is now where it deserves to be.

~ Alvaro Morata

The kid from Madrid puts a dagger into the heart of his former club and sends Juventus back to the Champions League final. Real played well but wasted too many chances. The fans are blaming Gareth Bale, who had the best chances but couldn’t put them away. This year’s Real Madrid never quite seemed to have enough to beat the best teams. They were never fully fit and never quite ready. Watching a player from their Youth Academy end their dream of the 11th Champions League title was difficult for a club with such high expectations. Now, the manager who brought their team the long awaited 10th title may have to fall on his sword and leave the club.

Juventus on the other hand feel that they are a team of destiny. “It seemed like destiny, but it really did go the way we hoped,” said Gianluigi Buffon.  The team played with a sense of destiny. It’s a group of veterans, also-rans, and rejects who were are not quite done winning. The starting 11 average age is

Buffon (37) ; Lichtsteiner (31), Bonucci (28), Chiellini (30), Evra (33); Pirlo (35); Marchisio (29), Pogba (22); Vidal (27); Tevez (31), Morata (22).

Average age is 30 years old, which is like 50 in soccer years. So the old men from the Old Lady take down the Galacticos.

Pep and Bayern Play Barca’s Way and Lose Their Way

You can only beat Barcelona when you take the ball away from them. When they have the ball they are too strong.

~ Pep Guardiola, 12 May 2015

Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola is vastly different from the Jupp Heynckes team that won the Champions League Final in 2013. Just two years ago, Bayern was thrashing Barcelona. It was a different Barcelona that lacked the strength provided by Luis Suarez. It was the aging, creaky Barcelona that Xavi and Iniesta still led. Pep was already gone. Now, Barcelona looks unstoppable. They are as good as the best team Pep assembled. So the question is whether or not Pep should try to re-create a German version of his greatest Barcelona teams or create something different, that’s maybe better.

This particular Bayern showed a lot of courage and heart in the return leg. They were dynamic, pressing, and creative, but still were exposed defensively by arguably the best front three ever assembled. Pep’s Bayern pressed and did an admirable job of keeping possession, and, despite winning the match, lost the tie and are now out of the Champions League.

After last night, if Bayern Munich is going to try to become Bavarian Barcelona, it’s time to rebuild. Personally, I think they should look to build on the strength they already have. Pep’s going to get it right. It will be interesting to see where he and Bayern land.

Can Juventus Really Beat Real Madrid? Pirlo Says The Message Is Clear

We sent the message that we are here, we want this final and we’ll fight to the end in Madrid too.

Andrea Pirlo, 5 May 2015

Start taking them seriously. This is not a fluke. It’s not luck. It’s a well coached team with talented players who want to win.

Juventus just beat Real Madrid and will take a 2-1 lead to the Bernebeu. Juve’s manager, Massimiliano Allegri has overachieved this season in the Champions League. Domestically they dominated, but no one thought they’d make noise in Europe. He doesn’t see his team as an underdog playing with nothing to lose. He sees his team as a contender and he was right. It’s been hard to take Italian teams seriously in the Champions League because they haven’t made much noise (maybe we’ll be saying the same thing about English teams soon?), but Juventus are back and playing to win.

Real Madrid fans have to be a bit worried at this point about going out to Juventus. Real are the current title holders and a return trip to the final would be a major accomplishment considering the injuries and struggles that Real have had this year. Despite that, there are rumblings that Ancelotti will lose his job if he doesn’t get his team past Juventus. If that’s the case, expectations are too high at Real Madrid. The bare minimum seems to be win the league these days. Ancelotti can point to the Decima that he brought to Madrid and wonder why that’s not enough if they fail to beat Juventus.

The good news for Real is the away goal. That puts this tie on good terms as they simply need a single goal at home and a clean sheet to get to the Final.