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International Soccer/Football & UEFA Champions League

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Since we had so much fun with the World Cup topic, here's a Champions League one. A tournament that features the top footballers/soccer players in the world playing for their very rich European clubs. You are also free to create national league topics as well; there is an EPL one.

 

You can also use this topic for soccer/football leagues without a topic. 

 

The 2014-15 season will be the 60th for this tournament. Qualification started July 1 going to August 27. Competition will go from mid Sept to June 2015.

 

Who are your picks? Which players do you hate/like? Which coaches? Who had the worse hair cut... etc.

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Napoli got screwed last year. They went 4-2 in the group stage and didn't advance. But they're in the playoff round for the second year in a row with another year of experience.

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My prediction is that Arsenal will stupidly fail to win their group but will advance, only to draw Barca or Bayern in the next round and go home in ignominious defeat yet again.  <sigh>

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Do they air Champions League games here in the US?

 

Fox has the rights to Champions League, so we'll at least get the knockout round matches.

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IIRC, Fox Sports airs the Champions League group stage and knockout stage matches. 

 

I'm already predicting that Real Madrid won't defend their title from last season*. Because teams do not retain the European Cup - at least not since it became the Champions League.

 

I am always curious to see how Jose Mourinho fares in this competition. He's won it twice, but he's also made four straight semi-finals the last 4 seasons but not gone beyond that. 

 

No AC Milan or Manchester United in the UCL this season is going to feel weird.

 

*And I say this as a Real Madrid fan.

Edited by Gillian Rosh

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I don't think they will repeat either. It's too hard and you have to get good matchups just to get to the semis. I'm surprised they won this time around, but they seemed to kick in to another gear over April and May.

 

Chelsea didn't quite have the personnel last time, but I think they could win it. I'd like to see Napoli advance this time too. 

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I lost interest in Champions League last year after the semis. I'm not crazy about a final being from the same country and I'm even less interested in the same city being represented in the final. Ugh. It might as well be a derby and, really, I like the Champions League because of the different clubs from different countries playing against each other. Last year was a major let down.

 

It didn't help that I can't stand Real Madrid. My teams are Barcelona and Bayern Munchen and, of the two, Bayern has my heart so, yeah, Real triumphing in an all-Madrid final... bleah.

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I lost interest in Champions League last year after the semis. I'm not crazy about a final being from the same country and I'm even less interested in the same city being represented in the final. Ugh. It might as well be a derby and, really, I like the Champions League because of the different clubs from different countries playing against each other. Last year was a major let down.

 

I like that aspect of the CL, too. The problem is that nowadays, it's usually the same handful of teams getting to the latter stages of the competition. The Reals and Bayerns and Chelseas of the world are gobbling up all the good players, so it's getting less and less likely that a surprise like an Atletico Madrid will make it much beyond the round of 16.

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Well, AM did make it past the round of 16 last year. It's not the teams' fault what the draw is. The top teams in all the leagues make moves to to deep into the CL as well as their own leagues. They all have to play 6 games to get into the round of 16. You need a full roster to get through all these matches, and you have to manage your team accordingly. 

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Well, AM did make it past the round of 16 last year. It's not the teams' fault what the draw is. The top teams in all the leagues make moves to to deep into the CL as well as their own leagues. They all have to play 6 games to get into the round of 16. You need a full roster to get through all these matches, and you have to manage your team accordingly.

 

 

Yes, but my point is that, for the most part, the semis and beyond in the CL is a pretty closed shop. To put it another way: Real Madrid has advanced to at least the semi-finals from 2011-2014. What are the odds that Atletico Madrid will make it back there in the coming season?

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Will AM be seeded this year? Because that would improve the odds. Napoli got screwed because they were in the CL then out, then back in again so they weren't seeded last year and I don't think so this year. 

 

It's a grind between CL and the regular season. You have to have good managers and the top teams pay for the best. It's not all about collecting talent because PSG chokes every year. 

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IMO, Bayern is sort of the model for how to assemble a team to go far in multiple competitions. They've essentially assembled two first XIs so they can absorb injuries, suspensions, etc. over an entire season.

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Oh yeah. That's what Chelsea is trying to do. I really only watch them and Napoli regularly, and then who ever is on in the morning, but I can see after watching 3 years how Napoli is just dying later into the season. This year after exiting the CL they totally laid over in Europa, but then with no extra games they were able to win the domestic cup. 

 

It helps if you have your own tv network to suck up all those funds too.

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Someone mentioned Bundesliga and Bayern Munich in the EPL topic. Until the demand for multiple European leagues topics is warranted, we can discuss the non-EPL ones in this topic. Most of the European leagues have a team in the group stage any way. 

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Since we're talking Bundesliga - the new season began last night with Bayern defeating Wolfsburg 2-1. As for main rivals Borussia Dortmund, they lost 0-2 to Bayer 04 Leverkeusen this afternoon. Didn't expect that. 

Edited by Gillian Rosh

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UEFA Champions League Draw is out. I can't get over how similar this is to last year's Group Stage.

 

Group A: Atlético Madrid, Juventus, Olympiakos, Malmo

Group B: Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets

Group C: Benfica, Zenit St. Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco

Group D: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray, Anderlecht

Group E: Bayern Munich, Man City, CSKA Moscow, Roma

Group F: Barcelona, PSG, Ajax, Apoel Nicosia

Group G: Chelsea, Schalke 04, Sporting, Maribor

Group H: FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao, BATE

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Matchday 1 is September 16/17

 

Damn. I'm going to be up to my neck with WWC qualifiers on the 17th. Love the CL, but given the choice between watching the men and watching the women, the women will always have a higher priority with me.

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The Netherlands are looking disappointingly beatable against the Czech Republic.  I loved them during the World Cup but apparently Robben is injured and his speed is badly missed.  The Dutch seemed to be stuck in molasses during the first half and paid the price.  The Czech players are still taking it to them in the second half despite the equalizer.  On the upside, Robin Van Persie is still hot.

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Arsenal off to a terrible start. Well hopefully they can still finish 2nd in the group...and there's still Bayern Munich/Real Madrid (possibly Barca, I'm giving them a try because I'm not quite clicking with RM the way I thought I would) to root for seriously.

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Real are kind of hard to root for now, what with the selling off of key players (Alonso, Di Maria), the bad performances in the league, and the general unhingedness that comes with said bad performances.

 

OTOH, it sounds like Atletico Madrid and Olympiacos had a great game, and even Liverpool vs. Ludogorets got good - at least at the end.

 

This Bayern/Manchester City matchup is getting to be a habit. They've played some great matches the last few seasons, so I hope we get the same tomorrow.

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Whoo! Bayern for the win! I feel vindicated after their frustrating draw with Arsenal (set piece defense, guys...you had in the bag) to see City lose to my other favorite team.

 

Regarding RM's transfers, I thought Xabi Alonso's was the most shocking. I'm pretty new to soccer, but Alonso seemed like such a looming figure at the club. And then he was suddenly gone to BM. Not that I'm complaining or anything. If I decide to switch teams, at least I get to keep Xabi.

Edited by JustaPerson
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Regarding RM's transfers, I thought Xabi Alonso's was the most shocking. I'm pretty new to soccer, but Alonso seemed like such a looming figure at the club. And then he was suddenly gone to BM.

 

 

As I posted upthread, no transfer has ever made me want to cry, but Xabi Alonso leaving Real Madrid for Bayern Munich came pretty close. I adore Xabi as a player, and I think Madrid will miss him immensely this season. Seeing him in a Bayern shirt is going to weird me out for a while.

 

As for Matchday 1 of the CL, I think Bayern were very good value for their win. I was surprised to see Atletico Madrid lose to Olympiacos, but the Greek team proved last year that they're nobody's pushovers - especially when they're playing at home. 

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Well at least the club didn't push Alonso out the way they did to Di Maria; he asked to leave after the summer transfers of Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez, etc. I guess he read between the lines and asked to leave. It was probably the best choice for him in the long run; he could've ended up like Sami Khedira (regardless of his injury status) is now: warming the bench. Khedira really should have read between the lines the way others before him did (Ozil, Alonso, etc) and left instead of being benched the way he is now. 

Edited by JustaPerson
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I am, primarily because Everton's in it. They beat Vfl Wolffburg 4-1 today, which made me oh-so happy. Tottenham, on the other hand, only got a 0-0 draw against Partizan Belgrade, whose fans brought out a truly gross, anti-Semitic banner. Hope UEFA punishes them.

I'm sorry, but the current punishments for racism, homophobia, anit-Semitism, and the like are mere slaps on the wrist. UEFA really needs to start cracking down on that shit. Start taking points away for it, and it would stop.

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I'm sorry, but the current punishments for racism, homophobia, anit-Semitism, and the like are mere slaps on the wrist. UEFA really needs to start cracking down on that shit. Start taking points away for it, and it would stop.

 

 

Sadly, you're right. Forcing teams to play in empty stadiums (as CSKA Moscow had to do against Bayern today) is clearly not making a difference.

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Not really sure what happened with Bayern today, but they got the three points so I'm not too concerned if they're not firing on all cylinders during the group stage.

 

LOL to Man City drawing with Roma. Still don't like them, so it would be hilarious if they didn't even make it out of the group stage. 

Edited by JustaPerson

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I guess the big shock of this round of matches is Liverpool losing to Basel, although I'm not sure why English teams are still shocked when they get beaten by the Swiss champions. Basel has made a habit of beating Premier League teams - both in this competition and the Europa League.

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Sadly, you're right. Forcing teams to play in empty stadiums (as CSKA Moscow had to do against Bayern today) is clearly not making a difference.

 

That's why harsher measures are long overdue. I'm all for healthy rivalries and supporting your club of choice, but the racist, sexist, homophobic bullshit that these assholes display to the world is nauseating. It's time to start hitting the clubs that do not crack down on it where it hurts the most- in the standings. I'm fairly certain the owners wouldn't look the other way if it cost their teams points, and potentially future spots in Champions League, instead of fines.

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Shocked by Germany's loss to Poland though I'm proud of Szczesny for his many good saves (and there were many.) All the possession, all the chances but no goals? Germany looked almost like Arsenal out there. XD Everyone looked a bit sloppier than usual, even Muller. A rare bad game for Neuer but nothing to concerned about in the long run I'm sure.

Edited by JustaPerson

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I watched that too. Why did Germany field a B team for a Euro qualifier though? The Poland keeper played excellent. Great positioning on every shot. 

 

This is the first time I've watched qualifying. I usually tuned in for the final playoffs. 

 

Like the pro leagues, I don't have a huge fave. But I enjoy following the stories for all the teams. More so with the lesser teams than the big guns.

 

No doubt everyone in the group thought Germany would cruise through, so the fight for second place was wide open. Now that Poland took 3 big points in this match, they're in a great position, even though it's only been 2 games. 

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