The Champions League is down to the final 4 – after the first legs – it looks like Juventus and Real Madrid are on their way to the Finals. Yes Real still must go to Atletico but with a 3-0 lead – it looks good for the Madradista’s returning to the finals looking for the back to back. For Juve – the old lady and the old Goalkeeper Gigi Buffon came thru again as they continued their shutout streak (since mid-November in Champions League) with 6 great saves and a 2-0 win at Monaco behind 2 Higuain goals off of Dani Alves passes. Return legs are Tues – Juventus hosting Monaco at 2:45 on Fox Sports 1 and Wed same time and channel for Atletico vs Real Madrid and Renaldo.
Huge congrats to all the volunteers at Carmel FC who helped the Challenge Cup and President’s Cup games go off without a hitch this past weekend at River Road Fields despite some interesting and very wet conditions. Congrats to those teams advancing.
Tues –May 9 Champions League
2:45 pm FoxSport1 Juventus vs Monaco (2-0)
Weds May 10 –Champions League
2:45 pm FoxSport1 Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid (0-3)
Thur –May 11 Europa League
3:05 pm FoxSport1 Man U vs Celta Vigo (1-0)
3:05 pm FoxSport2 Lyon vs Ajax (0-2)
Friday, May 12
3 pm NBCSN West Brom vs Chelsea
Sat, May 13
7:30 am NBCSN Man City vs Leicester City
9:30 am FOX RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich
9:30 am Fox Sport1 Dortmund vs Ausburg
10 am NBC live Sunderland vs Swansea (relegation)
12:30 pm NBCSN Stoke City vs Arsenal (US Cameron)
7:30 pm Myindy TV Miami vs Indy 11
9 pm ESPN Chicago vs Seattle Sounders
Sun, May 14
9:15 am NBCSN West Ham vs Liverpool
11 am NBCSN Tottenham vs Man United
2 pm beIN Sport Las Palmas vs Barcelona
4 pm ESPN Portland Timbers vs Atlanta United
6 pm Fox sport 1 NY Red Bulls vs LA Galaxy
8 pm Fox Sport 1 Dallas vs NYCFC
Monday, May 15
3 pm NBCSN Chelsea vs Watford
Tues, May 16
3 pm NBCSN Man City vs West Brom
2:45 pm NBC live Arsenal vs Sunderland
Thursday, May 18
2:45 pm NBCSN Leicester City vs Tottenham
Marcelo and Dani Alves continue to redefine the Fullback Role Gab Marcoti – ESPNFC
Gianluigi Buffon still Juventus’ rock after 100 Champions League games
Gianluigi Buffon celebrated his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance for Juventus on Wednesday with a clean sheet in a victory in the first leg of the semifinal round against Monaco.Buffon became only the second Italian player to reach the century mark for one club after Paolo Maldini, who did so in 2007 and finished with 109 appearances for AC Milan.Coach Leonardo Jardim praised Buffon’s effort in the 2-0 victory, saying that the goalkeeper “pulled off two or three incredible saves” that moved the club closer to their ninth appearance in the final.Juventus, who are unbeaten in 11 Champions League games this season, have not conceded a goal since the group stage — a run of 621 minutes, the fifth-longest streak in the history of the competition.The last player to score against Buffon in a Champions League game was Sevilla’s Nicolas Pareja, who did so in the ninth minute of a 3-1 victory for Juventus on Nov. 22.Until Wednesday, Juventus had never kept six consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League. They now have a goal difference of plus-17, the best of any club in the competition, and have only allowed two goals, tied for the fewest in the tournament despite having played five more games.The last club to keep a clean sheet in each of their first five knockout-round games was Arsenal, who did so over their first six games in 2005-06 before losing to Barcelona in the final.Monaco failed to score for the first time in 30 home games this season and only the fourth time in 58 games in all competitions. They entered Wednesday undefeated at home this season in the Champions League and had outscored their opponents 11-3 in their last home four games in the competition.
Buffon’s #UCL wish: ‘I have always wanted to win it’
Monday 8 May 2017 by Paolo Menicucci in Turin
Ready to make his 150th UEFA club competiton appearance in the semi-final decider, Gianluigi Buffon recalled past near misses, and said what it would mean to finally win the UEFA Champions League.
On Monaco …
I’ll let you into a little secret. Around the 30-minute mark of their match away to Manchester City, I sent a message to one of our directors, saying: “Hey, this lot could make it to the final; they’re really strong!” That shows you how much respect we have for them. They play positive, energetic football and they’re a sparkling, physical side with quality players and a lot of experience. We know that if we want to get another shot at winning the Champions League, we have to overcome an obstacle that’ll be at least as tricky as Barcelona in footballing terms.
On feeling his age at 39 …
Monaco’s Kylian Mbappé was born in December 1998. I had already played at the World Cup in France by then! That’s the nice thing about having such a long career: meeting kids who weren’t even born when you already had a chunk of your career under your belt.I was thinking the other day that I’ve managed to span almost three generations. When I started playing, you still had guys born in the end of the ’50s and the ’60s –and I’ll finish with guys born in the 2000s. It’s a huge span of time! It’s nice knowing that I’m playing with the future Messis, Cristiano Ronaldos and Neymars, because in ten years, after I have been retired for a while, they will be confirmed superstars and I’ll remember facing them at the dawn of their careers.
On making up for past final losses …
There’s definitely a desire to make up for losing the final in Berlin [to Barcelona in 2015], but I also have to make amends for Manchester in 2003 [when Juventus lost to AC Milan on penalties], so going back through the years my motivation is a lot deeper.In 2015, we lost it at a moment when Barcelona were on the ropes. We let in a goal almost on the counterattack: Messi hammered a shot on goal, I diverted it and Suárez scored.Losing on penalties in 2003 was very painful, but since I was only 25, I was fairly calm because I was convinced I’d win many more! That’s the exuberance of youth. I was so close to winning it on that occasion; they missed three penalties in that final – I saved two of them. Strange things happen. It wasn’t meant to be and we weren’t good enough. In sport and life, those who deserve it more probably end up getting their rewards.After the return leg against Barcelona this season I was very happy, of course, but I did not celebrate too much, because I know that after a certain point you either win the trophy or get disappointed. And since I have been disappointed so many times, I want to get the victory before allowing myself to celebrate!
On what it would mean to finally lift the trophy …
It would mean a lot for me. It would be the greatest joy of my career, together with the  World Cup, because it would almost be a reward – the end of a very difficult road paved by bravery, stubbornness and hard work. I have always wanted to win it and I have always been convinced that I can do it together with my team, the fans, my colleagues. That would be great – we can talk about it later if it happens!
Juventus appear Cardiff-bound but don’t rule out Monaco just yet
Ahead of Juventus and Monaco’s Champions league semifinal second leg, Julien Laurens and James Horncastle have been chatting again.The Italian side lead 2-0 on aggregate after a commanding display in the teams’ opening game but, as Julien says to begin; it’s not over yet…
So James, my friend,
You didn’t think you would get rid of me so easily, did you? No, I am still here, just like Monaco! And Juventus should be careful not to write them off before the second leg, as many people — including you! — are doing. This tie is not over just yet. Juve were so “Juve” last week, efficient with Gonzalo Higuain and solid with Gianlugi Buffon; nothing new there. But there is still hope for Monaco, who found a way to create big chances in the first leg, and unsettle the Juve defence.
This time, playing away from home will even be better for them. They are so good on the counter, as we saw at Manchester City (despite their defeat), at Dortmund and also at Wembley against Tottenham. Leonardo Jardim and his players have learnt from the first leg; they won’t make the same mistakes and they will not give up. They really believe they can come back in this tie. They have already scored over 150 goals this season in all competitions and so naturally fancy themselves to add two more — at least — to that tally.
Julien, I’m glad you brought up Buffon, mon cher,
I still find it baffling how reluctant people are to consider him the undisputed world No. 1. Maybe it’s because he’s 39 and, after a while, people want to see a new champion. But if Juventus have kept a club record six consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League this season and are currently 621 minutes and counting without conceding a goal, it’s down in no small part to their inspirational captain.
OK, Paulo Dybala stole the headlines against Barcelona and it was Higuain and Dani Alves’ turn against Monaco. But, in each of those games, Buffon came up big. People are quick to forget how he denied Andres Iniesta when the score was 1-0 in Turin or, last week, Kylian Mbappe at 0-0, Radamel Falcao at 1-0 and Valerie Germain at 2-0. Buffon had to pull off five saves at the Stade Louis II, which is the most he’s had to make in this competition since the group stages of last season. No wonder La Stampa celebrated his Mani d’oro — “golden hands.” “He’s still the best goalkeeper in the world,” Juventus manager Max Allegri said after the first leg; Buffon ttranscends his position. On the flight back to Turin, one of his teammates was overheard saying: “He’s our Cristiano Ronaldo.” And even if Monaco do get past him, Jules, do you really see them winning at the J Stadium, where Juve have lost only once in Europe? Need I remind you that was more than four years ago.
Ha, I love Buffon too, James!
And I agree with you that he is the undisputed No. 1. The Champions League is the only thing that is missing from his trophy cabinet and unfortunately for him, he will have to wait at least another year to win it, because Monaco will win in Turin and go through. After all, this is a season in which Barcelona produced the remontada of all remontadas against Paris Saint-Germain; there is another twist to come and it will happen on Tuesday. If any team is capable of a great comeback, it is Monaco!This time, Jardim will get his tactics right. Benjamin Mendy will be back, while. Falcao and Mbappe want their revenge over Buffon and will take their chances. The Monegasques will continue to create chances and bring craziness, pace and intensity to the game, everything that Juve will not want. They will want to slow the game down and control it but Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and Co. will be unstoppable. Monaco have a rendezvous with destiny and they won’t miss it.
Jules, tu es fou! Crazy, I tell you.
You do know that only two teams have overturned a first-leg defeat at home in the Champions League knockout rounds? One was Louis van Gaal’s Ajax against Panathinaikos in 1996 — let’s just pause for a moment to reminisce about Jari Litmanen. OK, done — and the other was Inter against Bayern Munich back in 2011, AKA when Inter used to get into the Champions League.Granted, Monaco have been breathtaking on the road this season.They scored twice at Villarreal and Spurs and three times at Man City and Dortmund; beads of sweat are forming on my brow just thinking about it! But then I remember that this Juventus team has reached half-time in 12 games this season without even allowing a single shot on goal. What really struck me in Monaco was how confident, assured and unflappable Juve looked. They seemed completely at ease, which is perhaps the biggest measure of how far Allegri has brought them on from the days of Antonio Conte.Perhaps by dint of not being associated with a buzzword style like gegenpressing or tiki-taka, Allegri does not receive the acclaim he richly deserves. He is a masterful tactician, has great instincts, has managed a transition to enable young players to come through and turned Juventus into so much more than a team with a great defence. No one saw 3-4-2-1 coming last week and, watching the game back, Juventus changed system five times in the game. Allegri kept Jardim guessing and I’m not sure he’ll have the answers on Tuesday!
Come now, James!
As an educated man, you know what R. D. Laing (who died in France, not far from Monaco, by the way) used to say: “Insanity: a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world.” It has been a crazy season in a crazy world and Monaco beating Juve on Tuesday, however hard it might seem, would be a perfect addition to the story!And I am glad you brought up the Ajax ’96 team because, in many ways, this Monaco side is similar to that of LVG back them, boasting youth, talent, belief and insouciance. I am convinced that, before being dismantled like Ajax were, Monaco will make it all the way to the top. Just like Ajax did.Focus on the league, Jules; leave Europe to the Old Lady.Allegri rested eight players for this game, while. Jardim only rotated Mbappe and Tiemoue Bakayoko. A big part of that is to do with depth, but I think it also shows Monaco’s intentions. A first league title since 2000 is within touching distance and, regardless of how this project started, that’s a remarkable achievement. Jardim said he wouldn’t swap winning the league for one night in Turin. Ligue 1 is returning to the Principality but the Champions League is en route to Turin via Cardiff.James and Julien will return after Tuesday’s game to react to the tie’s conclusion.
Marcelo, Dani Alves continue to redefine full-back role for Real, Juve
Maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe there is no deeper tactical significance. Maybe they aren’t a dying breed but rather a one-off. Maybe they’re just two hugely gifted Brazilian full-backs who interpret the game in their own unique way. The fact that, for many years, they were teammates with the Selecao and rivals on the pitch is just another wrinkle.I honestly don’t know. I just find Marcelo and Dani Alves hugely compelling. And the fact that within the space of 26 hours, each played a key role in helping Real Madrid and Juventus take a giant step towards the Champions League final, is as good an excuse as any to write about them and their role in the game.The headlines went to the two outstanding natural goalscorers they play with — Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain — and that’s more than understandable. But the way they played underscores the fact that even though next month Marcelo turns 29 and Dani Alves 33, they represent a certain type of modern full-back, one that is frankly exceedingly rare.For a start, let’s get one thing clear. In 2017, full-back is not a defensive position. In most games regardless of the league, full-backs regularly rank in the top three or four in terms of touches on the ball. We may think in terms of 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 but the fact is when teams get the ball, the central defenders sit back, often with a holding midfielder, and one or both full-backs are way up the pitch, out on the wing.For top teams, that 4-3-3 becomes a 2-3-5 (or 3-2-5, if the defensive midfielder slips between the central defenders) when in possession. And even on a more conservative team, where only one full-back attacks at a time and the defence shifts across, the 4-3-3 becomes a 3-3-4. If you don’t notice this when you watch a game on TV, watch one in person. And if you can’t, check out heat maps and average positions.That part isn’t new. It used to be pretty simple (and in recreational football, it still is). Your left-back was whatever left-footed defender you could find and while he didn’t need to be particularly skillful, he needed to be left-footed because it’s easier to defender balls from that flank when you’re left-footed.Your right-back was usually the either the third-best centre-back on your team, which meant he was unlikely to be particularly gifted on the ball, or would be a guy with the skill set of a central defender who happened to be a little short. Gary Neville was perhaps one of the last great right-backs in this mold: Sir Alex Ferguson famously said he would have been the perfect centre-back had he been a few inches taller. (It’s not a knock on Neville, by the way — he was an exceptional footballer and what he lacked in attacking technique, he more than made up for through intelligence and work ethic.)That began to change in the late 1950s and 1960s with the emergence of the first great attacking full-backs. And for the last 10-15 years, everybody’s full-backs (at least on the better teams) have known how to attack and spend tons of time up the pitch. The difference is that the vast majority are basically adjunct old-school wingers. They pound the flank, up and down, providing width and putting in crosses. This became especially important as wingers increasingly became wide forwards, attacking midfielders or second-striker types who were encouraged to come inside at every opportunity.Here’s the thing about Marcelo and Dani Alves, though. They can do that part of the game. They can run and beat opponents and provide service to the middle (with a back-heel no less, if necessary). But they’re also devastating when they come into the middle and when they do that, they turn into legitimate attacking midfielders, No. 10s willing and able to play one-twos, pick out passes or shoot on goal. There’s a creative element and a passing quality to their game that we ordinarily associate with midfielders. This creates overloads and mismatches galore, wreaking havoc in the opposition.Juve boss Max Allegri was glowing when he lauded Alves after the Monaco game. “Did you see him? Did you see his assists? That’s what a central playmaker does…” That’s why he leaped at the opportunity to sign him as a free agent over the summer even though it meant committing a lot of cash to a guy who will be 35 when his contract expires.Zinedine Zidane — possibly because his bar is set way higher given his own playing career — wasn’t quite as effusive. But he has said in no uncertain terms that Marcelo is one of the pillars of his team. And against the sort of massed defences that Real often face, his ability to go central and help Luka Modric and Toni Kroos with playmaking duties is invaluable not least because it allows Zidane to carry Casemiro, whose attacking contribution is far more limited.Does it come at a price? Sure. Neither is an exceptional one-on-one defender. And, yes, when you spend so much time up the pitch, you leave space behind you. In most games, it matters little because their teams have so much of the ball and their teammates adjust and compensate. When they do screw up, it often looks bad.There’s also a question of durability perhaps because of their style of play. Dani Alves has not started more than 29 league games in a season since 2011 and Marcelo, who is five years younger, has done it just twice. But it’s a price worth paying.That skill is exceedingly rare even among the best full-backs in Europe. Think of the top full-backs in the world and, with a few exceptions (Bayern’s duo of David Alaba and Phillip Lahm come to mind) the vast majority are essentially up-and-down types. They don’t have that additional dimension these two offer.You wonder whether Dani Alves and Marcelo, had they been born and come through the ranks somewhere other than Brazil, would simply have been pushed to play as attacking midfielders or wingers (which, incidentally, Dani Alves did early in his career). And conversely, you wonder whether a promising attacking midfielder might not consider a career change to the flank (provided he has the requisite athleticism) rather than entering the crowded market for “No. 10s.”Time and again they’ve shown their value by interpreting what is still a fundamentally unglamorous role in their own way. And proving themselves to be not just indispensable but genuine difference-makers too.Gabriele Marcotti is a Senior Writer for ESPN FC