You knew Pep Guardiola was a perfectionist. But did you know he beats himself up when his innocuous 10-yard passes back into the field of play – as a coach – go awry? Because he does. During Bayern’s Champions League opener against Manchester City, Pep tried pushing this pass back to his players after it dribbled out of bounds to his feet, and he sprayed it wide. He wasn’t happy. This is undoubtedly the sole reason he’s the greatest coach in world history.
If you hadn’t noticed, and you probably hadn’t, the Champions League quietly snuck into view while the World Cup captured the world’s attention. These preliminary rounds are all about minnows making moderate gains before being smashed by the bigger players on the European scene. But this stage invariably produces some fun stories, and they don’t get much more fun than this one.
Andorran side FC Santa Coloma trailed Armenian club Banants 3-2 on aggregate in the second leg on the road as the game pushed deep into stoppage time. With its last attack of the game, Santa Coloma boomed a free kick into the box, and keeper Eloy Casals, who’d pushed up for the final attack, happened to find the ball at his feet. He powered home the rebound to give Santa Coloma the dramatic 94th-minute winner.
Next up for Santa Coloma in the third round of qualifying is Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv, the winningest club in Israel. Don’t think I’m beyond my bounds by saying Go Fightin’ FC Santa Coloma’s.
Never before in the history of the Champions League had two teams from the same city contested the final. Until this year.
Atletico Madrid overturned a one goal deficit after old chum Fernando Torres opened the scoring for Chelsea, scoring three unanswered to setup the May 24 final against friendly rivals Real Madrid. Lisbon, Portugal will host this year’s final, and it should be a doozy.
Quite the year it’s been for Atletico, which could win both La Liga (they are currently first in Spain) and the Champions League. Their appearance in the final will be the first since 1974.
Who saw this coming?
Earlier this season, Bayern Munich looked unstoppable in both the Bundesliga and Champions League. So to see the Champions League holders pummeled 4-0 at home on Tuesday at the hands of Real Madrid was something of a shock.
Sergio Ramos! scored twice, as did Ronaldo (can’t wait to see him against the USMNT), as Real Madrid advanced to the final for the first time since 2002.
Check out the highlights to see how it unfolded.
Can anyone beat this? We’re down to four Champions League sides now, with Chelsea-Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid-Bayern left to duke it out for CL supremacy. Fun stuff.
But Did You Know: The fastest Champions League goal of all time belongs to Roy Makaay, who scored for Bayern (!) against Real Madrid (!!) in 10 seconds (!!!) on March 7, 2007. Let’s hope (maybe?) for a repeat in the semis. Wait. Are we supposed to root for one of these teams? Sounds dangerous. On second thought, let’s not do that.
In four words, that Makaay goal was…
So, uh, Jose Mourinho, eh?
Two years ago, Chelsea somehow got past Napoli in the Champions League after losing 3-1 away in the first leg. The second leg came back to Stamford Bridge and Chelsea smashed a defensive Napoli 4-1 to streak into the semis. They got the winner from this Branislav Ivanovic goal you see here. Hysterics. A month later Chelsea won the Champions League.
This goal defies physics, but then that’s Hulk. Can someone remind me why he plays in Russia again?
Chelsea hosts Galatasaray today in the Champions League. In advance of the game, somebody gave a lion, apparently called Aslan after the Chronicles of Narnia(!), a Chelsea jersey. Predictably it tears at it for awhile before realizing it’s cloth and, you know, lions don’t eat cloth.
This comes on the heels of two Chelsea fans being stabbed in Istanbul as well as this guy who responded to Chelsea fans on Twitter with a little love nod. With a gun.
When Arjen Robben pulls on that tight jersey, which wraps around his body like cellophane, you’re guaranteed two things every time: he cuts inside to his left and he hits the deck easily. Both things happened on Tuesday.
Bayern coasted past Arsenal in a 1-1 result Tuesday that wasn’t nearly indicative of Bayern’s dominance. Arsenal chased the game all night and only salvaged a cosmetic 1-1 draw once the tie was already in the bank.
But this here is something Arsenal can take back to London. Lukasz Fabby Handsky (that’s it, right?) pushes away a penalty take and then knocks it off the line before it has a chance to spin inside. Cosmic justice? We’ll go with that.
This figure speaks for itself.
Arsenal completed just 150 passes tonight. Toni Kroos completed 144 all on his own. pic.twitter.com/oiGFm42rL0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 19, 2014
The mitigating factors here bring this back to life, somewhat. Kroos of course was not operating in a closed system. He had help. With Robben bombing down the right, Thiago providing calm, assured assistance and his back line upright as it gets, Kroos’ support system was (and is consistently) the best in the world at present.