Midweek Musings: Handicapping the EPL run-in

While the English Premier League title title and relegation battle have all been sorted out and won, the top-four battle is still wide open. Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Everton all battle to earn that crucial spot in next season’s Uefa Champions League, and if not, a spot in the Uefa Europa League. Only one of the sides will not be competing for a European trophy next season, while one will have the sometimes aggravating spot in the Europa League. So, here is an analysis of the final run-in for the teams competing for a spot in Europe:

Current table
Only one Champions League spot has been taken (Manchester United took first place), with Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, and Everton still competing for the final three spots. Manchester City currently sit in second, Chelsea in third, Arsenal in fourth, Tottenham in fifth, and Everton sit in sixth. Continue reading


Arjen Robben urges Bayern to keep cool ahead of Champions League final

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben has urged his side to keep cool ahead of their Wembley Champions League final date with rivals Borussia Dortmund.  The Dutchman also expressed his excitement at reaching the final for the third time in four years after Bayern’s 3-0 thumping over Barcelona in the semifinal second leg.  Bayern, who recently re-claimed the Bundesliga title, will play fierce rivals Borussia Dortmund in the first ever all-German final on May 25th, which will be a mouthwatering fixture.

Bayern proved themselves to currently be the best club in Europe by thrashing Barcelona 4-0 in Munich in the first leg of their semifinal.  Amazingly, Bayern nearly repeated the feat in the intimidating Nou Camp in the second leg, winning 3-0.  Robben scored once in both legs, and played a key part in both of Bayern’s historic wins.  The twenty-nine-year-old has urged his side to keep cool ahead of the final, which will be the clubs third in four years, although they disappointingly lost in all three of them. Continue reading

MOTD- Barcelona 0-3 Bayern Munich

Marc Barta goes to ground after being tripped by Mario Mandzukic, an image that sums up Barca's night

Marc Barta goes to ground after being tripped by Mario Mandzukic, an image that sums up Barca’s night

Bayern Munich have reached the Champions League final for the third time in four years, where they will meet Borussia Dortmund in the first ever all-German final.  Barca, who were surprisingly without Lionel Messi, struggled to use the wings throughout the game, partly resulting in Bayern’s 3-0 win.  Although Messi played over the weekend against Athletic Bilbao in a non-important La Liga match, the Argentine was rested for the semifinal, which will surely cause headlines.  Barcelona were also suffering from multiple injury and suspension set-backs, with Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets among those who could not play.  Bayern thrashed the Spanish side 7-0 on aggregate after their 4-0 win in the first leg, and 3-0 on the night.

Both sides started the match rather poorly, with bad touches and passes marring the match.  Bayern were the first to come out of the early daze, and the German side almost went up in the thirteenth minute when Tomas Muller laid the ball off to Bastian Schweinsteiger at the halfway line.  Schweinsteiger curled a ball above the Barca defense to the run of Arjen Robben down the right, but right as the winger was about to pull the trigger in the box, Gerard Pigue marvelously recovered after being caught out, and dispossessed Robben.  Bayern again Continue reading

MOTD- Real Madrid 2-0 Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund players celebrate the win, which seals them a spot in the Champions League finals

Dortmund players celebrate the loss, which seals them a spot in the Champions League final

Despite Real Madrid scoring two late goals to make life difficult for Borussia Dortmund, the German side have reached the finals of the Champions League for only the second time with a 2-0 win over Madrid.  Although Madrid managed not to lose their third Champions League match in a row, Cristiano Ronaldo also failed to become the first player to score in seven consecutive Champions League matches.

Madrid started the match very brightly, and Gonzalo Higuain almost put Jose Mourinho’s side up within four minutes when Luka Modric’s poor touch on the right fell to Mesut Ozil, who thread an inch-perfect ball to Higuain from the edge of the box.  Higuain’s first touch gave him space on the right side of the box, but his second touch was poor, allowing an oncoming Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller to kick away his low shot.  In the thirteenth minute Dortmund almost took the lead after a long ball found a completely unmarked Robert Lewandowski (who scored four goals in the first leg) in the Madrid box.  Lewandowski chested the ball down before acrobatically slamming a volley into the ground from eight yards out, which bounced up into the arms of Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez.  Seconds later Madrid almost went up when Angel Di Maria’s lobbed long-ball from the right found Ronaldo in the center of the box.  Much like Lewandowski, Ronaldo chested down, and at full stretch, volleyed it at Weidenfeller, and it bounced away off the chest of the the German’s chest with out Weidenfeller knowing too much about it.

The hectic and breathless beginning to the match continued, when a lovely flick from Higuain put Ozil in on goal down the right.  Ozil took the ball into the box, but instead of going to the far post or laying it off for Ronaldo, dragged his shot inches wide of the near post.  Continue reading

MOTD- Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Real Madrid

Robert Lewandowski taps home the firs of his four goals

Robert Lewandowski taps home the firs of his four goals

Borussia Dortmund have stunningly beaten Real Madrid 4-1 in the Champions League semifinal first leg, with Roberto Lewandowski’s four goals probably sending Dortmund to the finals.  Dortmund started the match very dominant and brightly, with Jurgen Klopp’s side almost taking the lead in the seventh minute when Sven Bender dispossessed Sami Khedira.  Marco Reus took hold of the loose ball inside his own half, and took the ball all the way into Real’s box, beating two Real defenders, before shooting a low shot through the legs of Pepe, which Real goalkeeper Diego Lopez amazingly just managed to tip wide.  Seconds later Dortmund took the lead, when Mario Götze received to ball down the left flank, before curling a cross to the far post.  Robert Lewandowski got in between Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, and tapped the ball past Lopez into the back of the net. Continue reading

MOTD- Bayern Munich 4-0 Barcelona

Bayern deservedly crush Barca 4-0, with the German side seemingly grabbing a spot in the Champions League finals

Bayern deservedly crush Barca 4-0, with the German side seemingly grabbing a spot in the Champions League finals

Bayern Munich notched an historic and well-deserved 4-0 victory over Barcelona in their Champions League semifinal first leg, with Barcelona’s gamble to play a half-fit Lionel Messi backfiring on the Blaugrana. Although Barca had much of the possession in the early stages of the match, Bayern looked more dangerous than their Spanish opponents, who despite the possession could not create any chances. Bayern’s first chance of the match came in the second minute when Javi Martinez’s cute back-flick to Arjen Robben gave him space to shoot, but the Dutch winger’s scuffed shot from the right side of the box was kicked away by Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes. Continue reading

MOTD preview- Bayern Munich vs Barcelona

Barcelona are set to travel to Munich to take on newly crowned German Champions Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal tie, with the two powerhouses both looking to gain an advantage in the first leg.  While the news of Lionel Messi being declared fit to play is a huge boost for the Blaugrana, they will have a though time against Munich, who have only lost to Barca one in the clubs last six meetings.  There have been two draws in the last six meetings between the clubs, while Bayern have amazingly been victorious in three of the meetings.  Although not doing well in this fixture, Barca have been on an eight match unbeaten run on German soil stretching back to 2001.  Continue reading