Friday, January 21News That Matters

Tag: UEFA Champions League (Soccer)

Premier League Buckles In Amid Covid Surge

Premier League Buckles In Amid Covid Surge

Sports
The danger of nostalgia is it tricks you into believing there is a right way for things to be, rather than just a way things were. Milk should come in bottles. Children should stare open-mouthed at a television screen, not open-mouthed at YouTube. The F.A. Cup should mean something.We should not, then, fall into that trap when asking if there are, now, too many penalties in soccer. The raw facts of the matter are straightforward: There are more penalties than there used to be. In the first decade or so of the Premier League, somewhere between 60 and 70 spot kicks were awarded each season.Since 2006, that number has been drifting in the general direction of upward: into the 80s, the 90s and then, last season, to 124. That is a significant change: There are now almost twice as many as there ...
Champions League Repeats Its Draw After a ‘Technical Problem’

Champions League Repeats Its Draw After a ‘Technical Problem’

Sports
They drew the Champions League round of 16 on Monday, and set up a mouthwatering match between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.Then they drew it again, and that match was gone.A “technical problem” meant that the Champions League was redrawn, leading to mostly new matchups — easier for some, harder for others — and shattering fans’ dreams of Paris St.-Germain vs. Manchester United.After the initial draw, fans and teams began posting on social media hyping the matchups. But in the end, only one of those games will happen. Three hours later, officials reconvened to draw the teams again.In the initial draw, Manchester United was first matched with Villarreal. But those teams had met in the group stage, so a new name was pulled, giving Villarreal a match against Manchester City instead.At t...

A Transfer Market Mystery: What’s a Player Worth?

Sports
“Identifying the fair value for the performance of a professional athlete is notoriously a difficult task and not supported by an adequate level of scientific evidence,” Boccardelli wrote in his letter. In essence, he was saying what others have said: The values that go onto club balance sheets are often fake.“We can say in a lot of cases it is a sort of fiction,” said Pippo Russo, the author of a book about the transfer market who investigated and highlighted several curious trades involving Italian teams, including some of those now being flagged by the regulators. “They need to do this because they need to have annual accounts in order.”Russo said that while “Italy has the copyright” on the plusvalenza system, he has seen the practice exported across the European soccer landscape, highl...
Cherish the Feel-Good Stories. They Won’t Last.

Cherish the Feel-Good Stories. They Won’t Last.

Sports
By Wednesday night, the humiliation was complete. In the space of 24 hours, the two teams that had for so long regarded themselves as the pinnacle of modern soccer — the greatest clubs in the world, the inevitable destinations of the game’s best and brightest, the rightful possessors of its biggest trophies — had been humbled, one after the other.First, Real Madrid had not only lost at home, it had lost at home to a team making its first appearance in the group stages of the Champions League, a team from the poorest country in Europe, a team from a place that does not, in many ways, actually exist. Carlo Ancelotti’s team now sits second in its group, three points behind Sheriff Tiraspol.They might have laughed at that in Barcelona, welcoming the chance to take a little respite from their o...
In One Moment, Messi and P.S.G. Make It All Work

In One Moment, Messi and P.S.G. Make It All Work

Sports
PARIS — Lionel Messi picked the ball up in that spot, the one that has served as the starting point for so many of his finest moments, the one that he knows so well that it might as well be his spot. It has, for 15 years, been his base camp, his happy place: a few yards inside from the right touchline, a few yards from halfway.He was standing still as he controlled it. He had been standing still for some time, by that stage. Paris St.-Germain had taken an early lead, through Idrissa Gueye, and had spent most of the rest of the game desperately trying to fend off Manchester City’s unrelenting attacks.It had maintained its advantage a little through judgment — the industry of Gueye and Ander Herrera, the obduracy of Marquinhos, the sheer, indomitable size and improbable elasticity of Gianlui...
At F.C. Barcelona, a Sensation Worse Than Sadness

At F.C. Barcelona, a Sensation Worse Than Sadness

Sports
They would have expected anger. As Barcelona’s players chased shadows on Tuesday night, as Bayern Munich toyed with them and teased them and tore through them, time and time again, they would almost have been waiting for the fury to come, for the Camp Nou to bare its teeth.That is the way it has always been, after all. Barcelona has never been an easy crowd. The club has long worried that it is, in fact, a theater crowd: sitting there, quietly, demanding to be entertained, quick to make its displeasure known if not just the result, but also the performance, is not up to scratch.There were plenty of points on Tuesday night when the crowd might have turned. After the second goal, perhaps. After yet another uninterrupted Bayern attack. After it became clear there was no way back, not in 90 mi...
When a Champions League Fairy Tale Is Disputed Territory

When a Champions League Fairy Tale Is Disputed Territory

Sports
Edmund Addo sank into child’s pose in the middle of the field, his forehead touching the turf, his arms outstretched in front of him, a gesture of supplication and thanks. About 60 yards away, euphoria had overwhelmed his teammate Giorgos Athanasiadis, his legs buckling as two colleagues tried to help him to stand. Their coach, Yuriy Vernydub, danced on the touchline.They were all relatively recent arrivals to Sheriff Tiraspol: Addo, a Ghanaian midfielder, and the Greek goalkeeper Athanasiadis had joined this summer; Vernydub predated them only by a year. Still, though, they knew what this meant to their team, which had been waiting for this moment for two decades.And they knew what it meant to them. They had upended their lives to move to a country that does not technically exist, to play...
How to Watch the Champions League Final: Time, Streaming and Location

How to Watch the Champions League Final: Time, Streaming and Location

Sports
Chelsea and Manchester City, two deep-pocketed titans of England’s Premier League, will play for the biggest prize in European soccer on Saturday when they meet in the Champions League final in Porto, Portugal.Chelsea, a serial collector of titles and trophies since 2003, has won the competition once before, in 2012. Manchester City, a club that only in the last decade emerged from the long shadow of its more famous (and much more decorated) neighbor, Manchester United, is playing in the final for the first time.That unfamiliarity may bring some nerves, and some intrigue. But new faces or old, everyone will head into the final with eyes wide open about the stakes.“If you win, you’re a hero,” Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne said this week. “If you lose, you’re almost a failure.”W...
Pep Guardiola and the Ones That Got Away

Pep Guardiola and the Ones That Got Away

Sports
Alex Ferguson could, when the mood took him, be gracious in defeat. Often, that was when he was at his most ruminative, his most considered, his most obliging in his praise of an opponent. In all his years at Manchester United, though, he was never quite so effusive as he was deep inside Wembley Stadium exactly a decade ago.The Barcelona team that had just beaten his United side in the Champions League final — for the second time in three years — was the best he had ever faced, Ferguson said. He had been “mesmerized” by the patterns painted by Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Lionel Messi and the rest. Barcelona ranked, without question, as the best team in Europe. “No one,” Ferguson said, “has given us a hiding like that.”His paean was interrupted only by one brief note of warning. Pep Gua...
Champions League Final: The Rich Get Richer

Champions League Final: The Rich Get Richer

Sports
The shadows are drawing in across Europe.Inter Milan must shed millions of dollars from its salary bill. One or more of its brightest lights will have to be sold. Antonio Conte, the coach who only a few weeks ago ended the club’s decade-long wait for an Italian championship, does not intend to stick around to see his title-winning team broken up.Barcelona, a billion dollars in debt, must build a squad to meet its princely ambitions on a pauper’s budget. The club’s wish list does not extend much beyond the giveaway aisle: Sergio Agüero, Georginio Wijnaldum, Eric García and Memphis Depay are all out of contract, all available for nothing, a cut-price cavalry.Juventus must strip back in order to retool. Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez, knows his fans crave a Galáctico but also that ...