Archive | May, 2014

La Liga, Final Week of the Season

16 May

Recap of Last Week: Atletico Madrid drew Malaga at home last week, which coincided with Real Madrid losing at Celta Vigo and FC Barcelona drawing at Elche. The results of those games meant that Real Madrid was officially eliminated from winning La Liga, and now- all eyes are on Camp Nou Saturday…

This Week:

FC Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

FC Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

Saturday, May 17th, 11am (CDT) Camp Nou

Why this game is intriguing: The La Liga title all comes down to this matchup between league leaders Atletico Madrid against 2nd place FC Barcelona at the Nou Camp. The only way FC Barcelona can win the La Liga crown, and win any trophy this season for that matter, is if they beat Atletico Madrid. A win for Atletico Madrid, or even a draw- would result in Atletico Madrid winning their first La Liga title since 1996. FC Barcelona has had an up and down season- but frankly their inconsistency bares little consequence when it comes down to this one matchup against a team they are all too familiar with.

Other Reasons to Watch this game: This is the title decider, so there really shouldn’t be anything else to convince you to watch this. Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes will be honored in their last home game as members of FC Barcelona. The 2 of them have been staples at the club for an entire generation, having come up through the La Mesia youth academy, and having been key figures in Barca’s 3 most recent Champions League triumphs. Atletico Madrid winning (or drawing) this game would prove once and for all that La Liga is not always a 2 horse race, and that the league top to bottom is the best soccer league in the world.

Soccahaus Prediction: 2-2 Draw. Atletico wins La Liga

 

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Championship Sunday, Game(s) of the Week

9 May

Recap: Manchester City continued their march towards winning the league with a sensational 4-0 performance over Aston Villa at the Etihad. It might have taken awhile for City to get going, with their first goal coming from Edin Dzeko in the ’64, but the goals thereafter just kept coming. City has shown great resilience all season, and this match was no different.

Game 1: 

Manchester City FC vs West Ham United

Manchester City FC vs West Ham United

Championship Sunday, May 11th, 9am (CDT), Etihad Stadium

Why This Game is Intriguing: It’s very simple for Manchester City. Beat 12th place West Ham, and the Citizens will win their 2nd Premier League title in club history, and the club’s second in just 3 seasons. Tie West Ham, then all Liverpool has to do is beat Newcastle United with a goal differential of 7- which, barring a miracle, is impossible. Should City lose to West Ham, and Liverpool beat Newcastle, then the title will belong to the Reds. Manchester City has just this 1 game to win, and win at home, and they’ll be celebrating with their fans in the Etihad and onto the streets of Manchester.

Other Reasons to Watch this Game: The last time these 2 clubs met was on October 19th, and Sergio Aguero led City with 2 goals as they beat the Hammers 3-1 in London. Aguero has been on and off injured much of the season, and did not feature in the 4-0 romp over Aston Villa. Even though Aguero’s goal against QPR just 2 years ago was the most significant City goal in Premier League history, City has proven that with the likes of Edin Dzeko- City has more than enough to get by without their best player. With an in-form Yaya Toure, City frankly has little to worry about as they face a team they likely would beat 9 times out of 10. But, Championship Sunday is known to produce some last minute drama….

 

Game 2:

Liverpool FC vs Newcastle United

Liverpool FC vs Newcastle United

Championship Sunday, May 11th, 9am (CDT), Anfield

Why This game is Intriguing: Because Liverpool can still win the title. As mentioned above, should City lose to West Ham, and Liverpool beat Newcastle, Liverpool will win the Premier League title this season, the season that celebrated the lives of the 96 lost in the Hillsborough Disaster 25 years ago. A draw or loss to Newcastle would eliminate any chance of winning the title, while a win against Newcastle combined with a City draw to West Ham would only benefit Liverpool if it were to defeat Newcastle by 7+ goals. The chances are extremely unlikely that Liverpool will win the title, but as long as there’s still a chance worth fighting for, you can bet the Reds will not give in.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Liverpool have only scored 6 goals or more just once this season, so Liverpool really really really (did I say really?) need West Ham to beat Manchester City to give the Reds any chance at all to win this title. Even if Liverpool finish 2nd, they still have plenty to be proud of. They were the beast team in the league for much of the season, while earning a bid to be back in the Champions League is definitely an accomplishment worth celebrating. They have some of the best players in the league (Suarez, Sturridge, Gerrard, Mignolet), one of the best managers in the league in Brendan Rodgers, and a tradition and winning history that is almost sure to lure some quality players to Anfield in the future.

Soccahaus PredictionS: Manchester City 3, West Ham 1. Liverpool 4, Newcastle 1. Manchester City wins the Premier League title.

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Fulham vs Crystal Palace, Cardiff vs Chelsea, Norwich vs Arsenal. Because this is the last time you’ll see Fulham, Cardiff, and the Canaries in the Premier League for at least a year, and probably longer.

La Liga, 2nd to last week of the season

5 May

Recap: Atletico loses! Their 0-2 defeat to Levante was their first loss since losing to Osasuna on February 23rd, but since Barcelona (draw vs Getafe) and Real Madrid (draw vs Valencia) failed to capitalize- Atletico Madrid still controls their own destiny. Beat Malaga at home, and then beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp on the final weekend, and Atletico Madrid will bring the La Liga crown back to the Vicente Calderon for the first time since 1996.

This Week:

Atletico Madrid vs Malaga CF

Atletico Madrid vs Malaga CF

Saturday, TBD Vicente Calderon

Why This Game is Intriguing: Atletico cannot afford to drop points in this game, not after coming so far already, and how their debacle last weekend turned out to not be so bad after Real and Barca also faltered as well. Atletico cannot expect to be so lucky again, not with Real Madrid playing Celta Vigo and FC Barcelona playing Elche, 2 teams that the Spanish giants should handle easily. Malaga has had an incredibly inconsistent season, as they find themselves in 13th place with 11 wins, 8 draws, and 17 losses with a -8 goal differential. Malaga is not what they were last year, especially now that their startlet Isco plays for Real Madrid- but avoiding relegation is a positive sign down in Andalusia.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Atletico has 3 games left on its schedule: This game against Malaga, a game against FC Barcelona at the Nou Camp, and then of course, the game for Europe’s grandest prize of them all, the UEFA Champions League Final against local rivals Real Madrid in Lisbon. Atletico’s defense, led by Gabi, Miranda, and Juanfran will be counted upon, as they have been magnificent all season long. Atletico can win the double here, although they face a tough uphill battle in the Champions League Final. Diego Simeone has done a wondrous job for the club he truly loves and once played for. Are we witnessing the peak of Atletico de Madrid Club de Futbol here? Or is this only the beginning?

Soccahaus Prediction: Atletico 3, Malaga 1

Other Games this week worth Watching: Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid, Elche vs FC Barcelona

English Premier League, Week before Championship Sunday Game of the Week

5 May

Recap: Manchester City managed to hang onto a win at Goodison Park against Everton. Edin Dzeko provided 2 goals as City recaptured the Premier League lead, albeit on goal differential, over Liverpool. Manchester City controls their own destiny. Wins at home to Aston Villa and West Ham United will give Manchester City its second Premier League title in its history, and its second Premier League title in the last 3 years.

This Week: 

Manchester City FC vs Aston Villa FC

Manchester City FC vs Aston Villa FC

Wednesday, May 7th, 1:45pm (CDT) Etihad Stadium

Why This game is Intriguing: Because Manchester City just needs to win this game, and at home against West Ham on Championship Sunday to once again win the Premier League. Despite City’s shortcomings this season, particularly against Liverpool and Chelsea, they have managed to overcome injuries while still scoring more goals than any other club in the Premier League. A concern for Manchester City heading into this final stretch here is Sergio Aguero’s health. He picked up a knock shortly after scoring his goal against Everton, and it’s becoming a disturbing trend with him- can Aguero sustain health and strength for an entire season? Even if Aguero is forced to miss these last 2 games, City has more than enough talent, particularly against Aston Villa and West Ham, to still win the league even without their best player.

Other Reasons to Watch This Game: Aston Villa’s season has been just short of disastrous- While they surely won’t be relegated, their 10 wins, 8 draws, 18 losses and -18 goal differential is nothing for fans to be excited about, other than of course remaining in top flight. Sure, the injury bug has slammed them pretty hard too with the likes of Christian Benteke, their main goal scoring threat, out for much of the season, but Aston Villa, a storied club- should expect much better. Aston Villa actually beat Manchester City during their first encounter this season in late September at Villa Park, so perhaps they have some confidence heading into this match. Gabriel Agbonlahor is Aston Villa’s best player going forward, so keep an eye on him in this match.

Soccahaus Prediction: Manchester City 3, Aston Villa 0

Other Games This Week Worth Watching: Manchester United vs Hull City, Sunderland vs West Brom, Crystal Palace vs Liverpool