10/22/21   Indy 11 Final Home Game Sat 7 pm, CHS teams advance to Semi-State in Nashville Sat, Carli Lloyd’s Final Game Tues FS1, Champions League Theatrics

Indy 11 face Final home Game Sat 7 pm vs Tulsa on TV 23

Indy Eleven played one of their better games as home last weekend as they took down Louisville 1-0 behind USL Player of the Week Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr’s 5 saves.  Jordan Farr Won USL Save of the Week.  The 11 took the series title for the first time in years.  Indy Eleven will finish out its home campaign at Carroll Stadium this Saturday, Oct. 23, with the club’s annual Fan Appreciation Night contest against FC Tulsa, presented by your Central Indiana Honda Dealers. Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. ET kickoff can be secured by visiting indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100 during regular business hours, while fans who cannot make it to “The Mike” can follow the action live on MyINDY-TV 23, ESPN+, Exitos Radio 94.3 FM / exitos943.com (in Spanish.  GK – Jordan Farr, Indy Eleven: Jordan Farr recorded a five-save shutout and a -1.90 Expected Goals Differential to keep Indy in the game against Louisville City FC before a late goal earned the hosts a 1-0 victory and the season series in the LIPAFC against their biggest rivals at Michael A. Carroll Stadium.

High School –  CHS Boys & Girls Advance to Semi-States in Nashville Sat

The #3 Ranked Carmel High Girls defeated East Central 1-0 last weekend at home behind Megan Hamm’s goal to the Semi State Semi-State Finals Saturday in Seymore vs Bloomington South at 5 pm.  The Carmel Boys defeated Cathedral 3-0 at home to advance to the Semi-State Championships at 3 pm on Saturday at Seymore vs Castle.   Tickets for the games are $10 and available here.  Tickets must be purchased online as they will not be on sale at the gate.  Good luck to both Carmel teams, our former Carmel FC players and coach Shane Schmidt and Coach Frank Dixon. 

The Ole Ballcoach is desperately looking for Mexico vs USA tickets next month in Cincy – if you have a line on tickets please let me know.  1, 2, 3, 4 tickets – willing to pay over price

Champions League Theatrics

Man Champions League never ceases to deliver – when the best clubs in the world match up – the best in the world step up.  The best game of Matchday 4 was Liverpool’s thrilling 3-2 win at Atletico Madrid as Mo Salah scored a brace for Liverpool in the controversial win.  Meanwhile Man United needed the Champions League’s leading scorer Christian Renaldo’s late dramatics to cap a thrilling 3-2 comeback win over Atalanta at Old Trafford.  PSG outlasted Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig as they got some questionable PK calls to help them to a 3-2 comeback win at home.  Finally Brendan Aaronson and Salzburg outlasted Wolfsburg and US Centerback John Brooks – 3-1. 

US Ladies Tied Korea 0-0 Play again Tues Night 8 pm on FS1 – Carli Lloyd’s Last Game

Interesting so there were some really exciting moments on Thurs night as the US  failed to win on home soil for the first time as they tied South Korea 0-0 in Kansas City.  Korea is a top 20 unilike the crap teams the US ladies tend to schedule for home friendlies.  Nice to see an actual game for a change – funny when we don’t play patsy’s we look just ok.  The US had a boatload of shots but none of them really good as the Korean GK had little trouble keeping the clean sheet vs a mix of young and old for the US.  Interesting that the starters went with Morgan up front with Heath and Rapinoe on the wings – the combo while they had shots – could not muster a goal in the 1st half.  The final 30 minutes had Carli Lloyd enter along with the impressive Smith and Mallory Pugh on the wings.  Again the youngsters provided some of the finest moments but they could not provide the winner as the US tied at home for the first time in 22 games.    The ladies will have a replay on Tuesday night at 8 pm on FS1 – on Carli Lloyd’s final game in a US Jersey.  I look for her to start and score as the US will certainly return with a win on Tuesday. 

US Ladies Roster

GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 6), Adrianna Franch (Kansas City NWSL; 9)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (Houston Dash; 76/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 41/1), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville; 4/0), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars; 36/0), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 147/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 195/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 60/0)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 104/23), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 64/16), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 10/3), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 30/4), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 19/2)

FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath (Arsenal, ENG; 179/36), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 314/134), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 188/114), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 65/18), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 185/61), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 8/1), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 42/13)

Big Games

El Classico will be played on ESPN Sunday at 10:15 am ESPN plus of course – as Barcelona and American Sergino Dest host Real Madrid.  Over 100 million are expected to watch.  Following el Classico is the English equivalent as Liverpool will travel to Old Trafford at 11:30 am on Sunday on NBCSN to play Manchester United and Christiano Renaldo fresh of their come from behind Champions League win Wed.   Later Sunday Inter will travel to Juventus as Weston McKinney looks to help the old lady win on the road at the Italian leaders at 2:45 pm on ESPN+.   

Next Friday Tim Weah and Lille will travel to PSG to face Messi and crew at 3 pm on beIN Sport.    


Sat 10/23   (American’s in Parenthesis)

7:30 am NBCSN           Chelsea vs Norwich City (Stewart)

930 am ESPN+             Bayern Munich vs Hoffenhiem

9:30 am ESPN+            RB Liepzig (Adams) vs Furth

10 am NBCSN               Leeds vs Wolverhampton

12:30 NBC                    Brighton vs Man City 

3:30 pm TDUN             Seattle Sounders vs Sporting KC    

7 pm ESPN+ TV23        Indy II vs Tulsa

10:30 pm Univision     LA Galaxy vs Dallas

Sun 10/24  

9 am NBCSN                 West Ham vs NewCastle United

10:15 am ESPN+          Barcelona (Dest) vs Real Madrid EL CLASSICO

11:30 am Telemundo Man United vs Liverpool     

12 noon CBSSN            Roma vs Napoli  

2:45 pm CBSSN, P+ +  Inter vs Juventus (McKennie)

2:45 pm beIn Sport     Marseille vs PSG

5 pm ESPN                    Austin vs Houston

7:30 pm FS1                 Orlando City vs New England

Tues 10/26   

2:45 pm EPSN +           Chelsea vs Southampton League Cup

8 pm FS1                      USA Women (Carli Lloyd last game) vs Korea  KC

10:30 pm ESPN            LAFC vs Seattle Sounders

Weds 10/27   

2:45 pm ESPN+            Stoke City vs Brentford  League Cup

2:45 pm ESPN+            Westham vs Man City (Steffan GK) League Cup

8:30 pm FS1                 Sporting KC vs LA Galaxy MLS #2 vs #3

Thurs 10/28   

7:30 pm Paramount + Racing Louisville vs NY/NJ Gotham FC NWSL

Fri 10/29   

3 pm beIN Sport          PSG vs Lille (Weah)

Sat 10/30   

7:30 am NBCSN           Leicester City vs Arsenal

7:30 am NBCSN?         Tottenham vs Man United 

8 pm ESPN+                  Indy 11 @ Memphis  Last Game

PARAMOUNT PLUS Live TV, Soccer & Originals Starting price: $4.99/mo.
  • Features Champions League, US Men’s National Team, CONCACAF WORLD CUP Qualifying, , Serie A, Europa League Free Trial

Indy 11  

Our GK Jordan Farr Wins USL Save of the Week




USL Playoff Projections

USL Standings  


Carli Lloyd: Competitor, Winner, Legend

October USWNT friendlies – USA 0-0 South Korea: 22 game home win streak ends By Parker Cleveland S&S
U.S. Women’s National Team draws 0-0 against Korea in Carli Lloyd’s Kansas City sendoff

International Friendly: USWNT, South Korea draw 0-0 in Kansas City

Carli Lloyd Final Games Roster – The 18

Sauerbrunn: ‘Heavy’ days amid NWSL fallout

U.S. Women’s National Team Extends Home Unbeaten Streak to 61 Matches in Front of Sellout Crowd With 0-0 Draw Against Korea Republic

US Men

USMNT Viewing Guide

Jesse Marsch is the closest thing to a Real Life Ted Lasso – Grant Wahl
Top 25 players in the USMNT pool right now


Our GK Jordan Farr Wins USL Save of the Week

Navas Making Saves vs Honduras

Champions League  

 UEFA Champions League: Juventus stays perfect; Chelsea, Barcelona win
Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool final score: Three things we learned as Salah, VAR star

Barca edge past Dynamo to revive Champions League hopes at half-empty Camp Nou

Champions League: Stars shine as Messi, Salah score twice in wins

‘Too naive’ – Leipzig rue costly mistakes in PSG defeat

Man Utd aren’t finished article yet says Pogba
Ronaldo again rides to Man Utd’s Champions League rescue

Liverpool defeat 10-man Atletico in five-goal thriller as Salah delivers 

Back to the future as Salah spearheads Liverpool’s revival

Romelu Lukaku injury update, Timo Werner news from Thomas Tuchel

Man City crush Brugge to re-energise Champions League push

Villarreal beat Young Boys to end long Champions League drought

Haller hits sixth Champions League goal as Ajax thrash Dortmund


 El Clasico preview: Everything you need to know about Barcelona vs. Real Madrid  1dSam Marsden, Alex Kirkland
Barcelona, Real Madrid combine present and future in Clasico of fallen giants

Barcelona, Real Madrid and El Clasico: The people who made it the biggest match in soccer
NBC’s ‘Premier League Mornings Live’ will be live at Coliseum this weekend

Can Man United ruin Liverpool’s unbeaten record? 

English Premier League betting preview: Can Manchester United beat Liverpool at home?
Steve Bruce leaves Newcastle by ‘mutual consent’ after takeover

Premier League player Power Rankings

Mendi Saves Chelsea vs Brentford


Red Bulls, MLS Youth Programs Producing Stars and New Revenues
Orlando Pride owner Mark Wilf pledges commitment to change amid NWSL upheaval
Alex Morgan: Investment must coincide with biennial World Cup plan

International Friendly: USWNT, South Korea draw 0-0 in Kansas City

Alex Azzi

Thu, October 21, 2021, 11:03 PMThe opportunities were there, but the goals were not.On Thursday night in Kansas City, the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) and South Korea played to a 1-1 draw. It marked the third game in the USWNT’s post-Olympic victory tour and the penultimate game of Carli Lloyd‘s USWNT career.The U.S. controlled the game, outshooting South Korea 19-8 and maintaining possession for nearly two-thirds of the game.South Korean goalie Yoon Young-Geul had an excellent showing, which included multiple clutch saves in the dying minutes of the match.“Today she was their best player,” U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “It was good for us that we created those opportunities. If it takes something like the saves she had in the game, so be it. That’s all we can do.”The draw snapped a 22-match home soil win streak for the U.S. The Americans were one win away from matching the longest home streak in team history, set from April 1993 to February 1996. They are still unbeaten in their last 61 matches at home, which includes 55 wins and six draws.

One drought also nearly came to an end in Kansas City. In the 46th minute, Becky Sauerbrunn came close to scoring the first goal of her USWNT career. Currently at 196 caps, Sauerbrunn is nearing the USWNT record for most caps without scoring. (The current record, 202, is held by goalkeeper Hope Solo.)

U.S. Women’s National Team draws 0-0 against Korea in Carli Lloyd’s Kansas City sendoff

U.S. Women’s National Team draws 0-0 against Korea in Carli Lloyd’s Kansas City sendoff

Shaun Goodwin

Thu, October 21, 2021, 10:27 PM

Diving to her right, A.D. Franch pushed away a screaming half-volley toward the bottom corner of her goal. The shot initially deflected, she sprang back up and cradled the bobbling ball.The Kansas City chapter of the American Outlaws roared approval from the north stand of Children’s Mercy Park — territory usually occupied by Sporting KC’s supporters’ section, the Cauldron.For the American Outlaws, the avid supporters group that follows the U.S. national soccer teams to matches around the country, it was a chance to cheer their keeper’s save — for Franch, her first official save in her first hometown start for the U.S. Women’s National Team.- Franch, who hails from Salina, Kansas, and plays for the KC NWSL club, earned the start and drew cheers throughout her performance as the USWNT tied the Korea Republic 0-0 Thursday night.“KC showed up as I expected them to, and hopefully that continues for the women’s game and KC WoSo right now,” Franch said. “That’s what we want in this city as we’re continuing to try to get a (World Cup) bid here in the city. I think it’s important to recognize that the fans are here and this city is something special to play for and I’m excited to be here to do that.”The tie extended a 61-game unbeaten home streak for the U.S.Franch made just the one save, in the 35th minute on a shot by Sel-Gi Jang, but it was the only one required of her. Korea never mounted much of an attack on the American goal.The game also marked a special first for USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski, who directed a national team game in his hometown of Kansas City for the first time.“I feel like anywhere I turned, I knew someone,” Andonovski said. “It was good and I’m glad I put up a good show. I just wish that we paid this wonderful crowd back with a good win, but I promise next time we come back here we’ll score a few goals.”The final score was no doubt closer than he would’ve liked against an opponent ranked 18th in the world. But a USWNT starting front line that featured such U.S. heroes as Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan was unable to break down the stout Korean defense.“These are the type of opponents and games that we’re looking forward to playing because they create different challenges and multiple challenges throughout the game,” Andonovski said. “It will take the best of us to solve the challenges and overcome them.”Most of the Americans’ pressure on Korea’ came from the U.S. midfield, especially from Lindsey Horan, who was honored for making her 100th national team appearance before the game.. At one point she sent a 20-yard curler off the left post; six minutes later her close-range header was saved by goalkeeper Young-Guel Yoon.Both Heath and Rapinoe were replaced at halftime by the USWNT “new guard” of Sophia Smith and Mallory Pugh. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Morgan, too, was subbed out in favor of Carli Lloyd, who played in her penultimate game for the U.S. She has announced that she’ll retire at season’s end.

The decision to take Rapinoe and Heath out of the game was pre-planned, Andonovski said. Heath was coming off a weekend game with her club team, Arsenal, while Rapinoe is still working her way back from an injury.Smith added an exciting dimension to the U.S. front line with an aggressive and attack-minded edge.“She’s a lot more offensive-minded and more direct with her runs, and more specific with her runs, and we’ve seen that ever since she came in,” Andonovski said.While Andonovski treated the game as more than just a retirement tour for Lloyd, many among the sellout crowd of 18,467 came to see Lloyd play here one last time. That much was evident in the roar that arose when she entered the game and every time she touched the ball near the Korea box.

The 39-year-old forward had an excellent chance in the 76th minute, but it was saved by Yoon.The USWNT’s second-half trio of attackers — Smith and Pugh, in particular — looked more creative than their first-half predecessors. But they were no more successful in manufacturing a winning goal for the KC crowd.“Our final product was poor and I think we could have done better,” Horan said. “My header was crap. But still, credit to her (Yoon, the Korea Republic keeper).“I kind of look at our team and think that there were some final passes that we could have gotten on the end on, but she did a great job today.”The USWNT can make amends Tuesday against Korea in St. Paul, Minnesota. That game will be Lloyd’s 316th and final game for her country.

USMNT weekend viewing guide: major matchups

el Classico is a headliner and we have American matchups throughout Europe

By jcksnftsn  Oct 22, 2021, 8:33am PDT It’s a fantastically full weekend with matchups around Europe that include Americans going head to head, or making appearances in major European clashes such as Inter Milan v Juventus and Barcelona meeting Real Madrid in the latest edition of El Clasico. Let’s jump straight to Saturday which is when the action begins.


RB Leipzig v Greuther Furth – 9:30a on ESPN+

Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig will look to bounce back from a painful loss to PSG in mid-week Champions League play when they face Julian Green and a Greuther Furth team that looks destined for relegation.After giving up an early goal to Kylian Mbappe, Leipzig had pulled back and taken a 2-1 lead in Paris and looked on track for what could have been a signature with for Jesse Marsch’s club. However, they would see it slip away when Tyler Adams misplayed a ball while under pressure (possibly being fouled) and had it land right at the feet of Mbappe who would feed Messi for the tying goal. Minutes later PSG would take the lead on a Messi penalty.Things should be significantly easier for Leipzig this weekend as they face a Furth side with one draw and seven losses in their first eight matches. Obviously they don’t want to completely overlook them as dropped points to a team of that level would be devastating to a Leipzig currently tied for eighth place and hoping to compete for a top of the table position but this matchup might be an opportunity to rest some players who have already seen a high number of minutes across multiple competitions this season.

Julian Green has struggled to make an impact for Greuther Furth in their Bundesliga campaign and the club has seen any hopes of avoiding relegation slip away as quickly as imaginable. Green is still looking for his first goal contribution on the season and has just over 100’ in the teams past four matches, having failed to make it off the bench in two of those contests.

Other notes:

  • A potential matchup in the EPL will have to be put on hold as injury will keep Christian Pulisic out of Chelsea’s match with Norwich City and Josh Sargent. The clubs face off at 7:30a on NBCSN.
  • It’s an American matchup in Spain that can be seen on ESPN2 as Yunus Musah and Valencia face Matthew Hoppe’s Mallorca. Musah saw 15’ off the bench last weekend against Barcelona after starting the previous two matches for Valencia. However, the potential matchup could be ruined by Hoppe’s failure to appear, he has not seen the field in the past month and was not included in last weekends squad. The matchup will take place at 8a Saturday morning.
  • Zack Steffen received his first EPL start with Manchester City last weekend and looked solid in the teams 2-0 win over Burnley. However, Ederson was available for the clubs midweek thumping of Club Brugge and will resume his role barring injury. Man City face Brighton and Hove Albion at 12:30p on NBC.
  • The Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City face off in a battle for the Western Conference. Currently Kansas City trail by six points but they have a game in hand so a head to head win over Seattle would give them the opportunity to pull even. The match will be at 2:30p on Univision and TUDN.
  • The LA Galaxy and FC Dallas meet at 10p on Univision and TUDN so get on board the night train.

Streaming overseas:

  • John Brooks and Wolfsburg will look to get back on track when they face Freiburg at 9:30a on ESPN+. Wolfsburg have lost three straight Bundesliga matches and fell midweek to RB Salzburg in Champions League play as well.
  • Chris Richards will have a change to make a first hand impression with his parent club when Hoffenheim face Bayern Munich at 9:30a on EPSN+.
  • Giovanni Reyna remains out amid concerns that he may be out through the November international window as well. Borussia Dortmund face Arminia Bielefeld at 9:30a on ESPN+.
  • Matt Miazga and Deportivo Alaves face Cadiz at 10:!5a on ESPN+. Miazga has started the last three matches for Alaves.
  • Gianlucca Busio and Venezia have pulled themselves up to 15th place on five points from their last three matches and now face fourteenth place Sassuolo. The club is still just two points out of the relegation zone but if they are able to build on this strong run they will be in good position.
  • Fightin’ Joe Scally and Borussia Monchengladbach face Hertha Berlin at 12:30p on ESPN+. After a slow start to the season Gladbach have pulled themselves up to 10th place and solidly middle of the table.
  • Timothy Weah and Lille take on Brest at 3p on Fanatiz USA and beIN Sports. Lille lost last weekend to Clermont Foot and are still trying to find their bearings in their campaign to defend last seasons title.

MLS Mashup (all games on ESPN+):


Barcelona v Real Madrid – 10:15a on ESPN+

It’s an El Clasico matchup between Barcelona and Real Madrid and everybody is asking one question: does Sergino Dest have a new position? The American right back has been starting on the wing for Barcelona, most recently in their 1-0 Champions League victory over Dynamo Kiev though he did shift back to his more traditional RB role midway through the game. Dest also started at RW last weekend in the teams 3-1 win over Valencia and picked up an assist on the final goal.

Barcelona come into their first meeting of the season with Real Madrid five points out of first place and two points behind a cluster of teams that are currently in second including Real and Atletico. The matchup has not been kind to Barcelona recently, they are looking for their first head-to-head win since 2019 and have lost three straight.

Other notes:

  • Bryan Reynolds finally made the field for Roma but it was in a 6-1 Europa Conference League play thumping at the hands of Bodo/Glimt and he has not sniffed the field regularly in league play so it seems unlikely we will see him Sunday when Roma face Napoli at Noon on CBSSN.
  • Weston McKennie looks to continue his solid form as Juventus face Inter Milan at 2:45p on CBSSN.
  • Daryl Dike and Orlando City SC close out the weekend against Matt Turner and the New England Revolution at 7:30p on FS1.

Streaming overseas:

  • Nicolas Gioachinni at Montpellier face Monaco at 11a on Fanatiz USA and beIN Sports.
  • Timothy Chandler has suddenly started three straight matches for Eintracht Frankfurt who face Bochum at 1:30p on ESPN+.
  • Konrad de la Fuente and Olympique Marseille will get a shot at PSG at 2:45p on Fanatiz USA and beIN Sports. Marseille currently sit in third place, although already 10 points back of league leading PSG.

Champions League talking points: Liverpool make a statement; Barcelona, Real Madrid win ahead of Clasico

Oct 21, 2021ESPN

Matchday 3 of the Champions League group stage has been and gone, and there is plenty to discuss, from important wins for Barcelona and Real Madrid ahead of El Clasico, to an epic Manchester United comeback and struggles for several German teams.

We asked Rob Dawson, Alex Kirkland and Derek Rae to answer some big questions.

What caught your attention on Matchday 3?

Dawson: Liverpool‘s 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid was fantastic entertainment and put a dent in the argument that the Champions League group stages are dull. To go to the champions of Spain and win was a huge statement from Liverpool and they should be considered one of the favourites to lift the trophy.Kirkland: There were other eye-catching results for Spanish teams — Real Madrid’s 5-0 demolition of Shakhtar, Villarreal‘s 4-1 win at Young Boys — but yes, it’s hard to avoid Atletico’s perplexing loss to Liverpool. What do you make of a game where Atletico were dreadful for 20 minutes, unplayable for a long spell after that, and finally undone by a red card and a penalty? It was simultaneously encouraging and disappointing, and it feels like we’re still no closer to finding out exactly what they’re capable of this season.

Rae: As someone who focuses heavily on the Bundesliga, this was a bitterly disappointing midweek for German clubs. (Thank goodness for Bayern Munich, whose opener in the 4-0 win at Benfica from man-of-the-match Leroy Sane evoked Arjen Robben memories.)

I expected a hard game for Dortmund at Ajax, but could not have foreseen such an emphatic 4-0 clobbering. Meanwhile, Leipzig had good phases in the 3-2 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain, but they were undone by individual mistakes from which Tyler Adams and Mohamed Simakan must learn. Wolfsburg under Mark van Bommel are just a mess; after being outplayed by a youthful, vibrant Salzburg for a 3-1 defeat, they have gone seven without a win in all competitions.

Real Madrid and Barcelona won; which of the two gives you more optimism?

Kirkland: In terms of being Champions League contenders: neither. Madrid are stronger right now, but they’re still way off the likes of Bayern, Man City, Chelsea or Liverpool. The defence is significantly weaker without Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, and Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t feel like a coach for a rebuild.

Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona, meanwhile, are a zombie team: lurching on with a coach who should have been sacked by now, and would have been if an affordable replacement had been available. Barca’s kids are very exciting, but it’s much too soon to hope they can bring European success in the short term.

Rae: In the short term, Madrid have the greater upside. The squad is more seasoned and deeper, while the attack, with Karim Benzema playing some of his best football for years, is better than what Barca can muster. Meanwhile, Vinicius Jr.’s development is fascinating to watch and there is just a firmer base about Real.

But Barcelona might be a very different proposition in the coming years. The shoots of recovery are visible, especially with teenagers GaviPedri and a fit-again Ansu Fati. Barca are behind their rivals in most areas, but the La Masia academy represents the club’s biggest source of hope.

Dawson: Both are teams in transition but Real Madrid seem to be dealing with it far better than Barcelona. In Benzema they have got one of the best strikers in the world and they have the benefit of Ancelotti, who has seen it all before. This is not a vintage Madrid side by any stretch but they will fancy their chances of being in the hunt for trophies at the end of the season. Barcelona, meanwhile, look like they’re in survival mode and Koeman will be lucky to survive the season, never mind lift any silverware.

What do you think about technology use in the Champions League?

Rae: I do not see a huge difference regarding VAR use and that is probably not a surprise, given the leagues I cover most closely — Bundesliga and LaLiga — do not deviate much, if at all, from UEFA standards. England may be different.

What I would say is that hand signals after VAR decisions could do with work from some UEFA refs. For example, Romania’s Ovidiu Hategan managed to fool many a commentator and fan on the first disallowed Bayern goal against Benfica by apparently pointing to the centre spot. His signal for second disallowed goal was not significantly clearer!

Dawson: The implementation of VAR in the Premier League was bumpy to say the least but, in general, it has been a lot smoother this season. Purely from a spectator’s view, it has not seemed as streamlined in the Champions League this season. Fans don’t like delays to a game which should be free-flowing and the quicker VAR decisions are reached, the better for everyone.

Kirkland: There’s been endless VAR talk in Spain recently, with frustration over Kylian Mbappe‘s winning goal for France in the UEFA Nations League final. There was frustration here too at the role VAR played on Tuesday in denying Atletico a penalty and chance for an equaliser for Diogo Jota‘s challenge on Jose Maria Gimenez and how long the decision took, regardless of the merits. Overall though, the way VAR is used in Europe feels faster, more transparent and less intrusive than it does in LaLiga.

What is the best Champions League goal you have seen live?

Dawson: Nothing will top the drama of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s winner against Bayern Munich in the 1999 final but the atmosphere inside Old Trafford after Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winner in injury time against Villarreal on Sept. 29 was a moment to make the hairs on your neck stand up. Fans have been locked out of stadiums for too long because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a lot of pent up emotion seemed to come flooding out when Ronaldo’s shot hit the net.

Kirkland: So many to choose from. Gabriel Batistuta’s rocket for Fiorentina at Wembley in October 1999 was special and Thierry Henry’s solo run at the Bernabeu in 2006 is hard to beat, given the circumstances. The other that has always stuck in my mind was Lionel Messi‘s first against Arsenal in March 2011. What he did — scooping the ball over hapless goalkeeper Manuel Almunia before finishing — was so good that you couldn’t tell what he’d done in real time. (The replays on the big screens at Camp Nou were greeted by awed ‘oooohs’ from the crowd).

Rae: I was not in Glasgow for Zinedine Zidane’s masterpiece in the 2002 final, so will go for a final goal I did see in the flesh. It is a strange one in some ways but I picked it because Messi says it is one of his all-time favourites and that is good enough for me.

The image of it stays in my mind to this day: With Barcelona 1-0 up in the 2009 final against Manchester United in Rome, Xavi’s superb ball was whipped in from the right and the 5-foot-7 superstar, then 22, jumped as high as I have ever seen him jump, before flinging himself at the ball, which looped over the helpless Edwin van der

In battle over biennial World Cups, FIFA isn’t the villain you think it is

Henry Bushnell Wed, October 20, 2021, 10:34 PM

Let’s begin with the obvious. FIFA, as full of it as ever, with customary disregard for women’s soccer, has launched a ruthless campaign to increase the frequency of World Cups. Its origins, supposedly, are a Saudi Arabian proposal, which led to a “feasibility study,” which has been dreadfully opaque. It’s clear, though, that no matter the feasibility, FIFA has decided that biennial World Cups would be desirable.So it enlisted soccer legends to shill for a plan woefully short on detail. They met resistance every step of the way, from players and FIFPro, the global players’ union; from managers and massive clubs; from many in the women’s game, who feel their World Cups would be overshadowed; and most of all, from the European soccer governing body, UEFA.UEFA, in a statement last week, blasted the plans yet again, saying they would “damage all forms of football, devalue the [World Cup] itself, disadvantage fans financially and stunt the development of women’s and youth football around the world.” It cited player health. It said that “any perceived attraction is shallow.” More tan a dozen European nations have reportedly considered splitting with FIFA, or boycotting the World Cup, if FIFA tries to force the changes through.Fans and Western media have largely sided with the Europeans, framing this intensifying fight as good vs. evil, as nobility vs. FIFA greed. And they have a point. The chief motive here is money. FIFA rakes in billions from the men’s World Cup. Playing it twice as often might devalue it long-term, but would immediately boost FIFA’s bottom line.This fight, though, is not good vs. evil. It’s a battle for control. It’s a global organization that represents the interests of global soccer vs. a European organization that represents the interests of European soccer. And the Europeans are winning. They’re tightening their grip on power. The biennial World Cup is FIFA’s desperate attempt to wrest some back.

FIFA vs. UEFA, greed vs. more greed

FIFA and UEFA are driven by a singular force. Each wants to organize games and tournaments between the world’s most popular soccer players. They want to sell sponsorships and broadcast rights to those games, and distribute profits among their members, who use the handouts to buy or develop more popular soccer players, whom FIFA or UEFA will eventually monetize too.And for a while now, UEFA has done this more often and more profitably than FIFA has. The global governing body reported $5.7 billion in revenue from 2015-2018. The European governing body, over that same period, made roughly $14.3 billion.UEFA is winning because its premier competition, the Champions League, runs annually, four times as frequently as FIFA’s. And because, although the entire world supplies the Champions League, only European clubs and associations benefit from it. All the best players from Asia, Africa and the Americas play for a handful of elite Western European teams. So the biggest companies from Asia, Africa and the Americas want to sponsor those teams, their games and the tournaments they contest.So the money flows, and the Europeans consolidate their power. Argentina, Senegal and South Korea develop players. European leagues, European clubs and European soccer federations (via UEFA) profit off those players. They turn profits into infrastructure that ensures future profits for themselves. Club owners — American billionaires, Russian oligarchs, Arab sheiks — pocket cash or goodwill along the way. The pattern, which reinforces itself, is backward at best, colonialist at worst, and the organization best positioned to disrupt it is … FIFA.

What FIFA posits, essentially, is that players developed by Argentina, Senegal and South Korea — or by Guatemala, Tanzania and Oman — should play more often in competitions organized by a governing body that represents those countries. And FIFA, for all its corruption, sleaziness and incompetence, still does that. It shares its revenue with all 211 member associations. Yes, it pays president Gianni Infantino and other privileged executives millions of dollars, and constantly undermines its own credibility. But it does funnel revenue from World Cups to Sri Lanka, and Uganda, and Dominica, funding soccer in countries where the resources of Western European life do not exist.Many of those countries crave a biennial World Cup because if FIFA’s revenue soars, theirs will too. FIFA’s solidarity payments are their main source of income, their youth players’ main source of opportunity. One-hundred sixty-six of them supported the “feasibility study.” If all or most of them were to vote in favor of the biennial plan at a special congress or the regularly scheduled FIFA Congress on March 31, the plan would become reality.European media have rued FIFA’s democratic structure, rightly pointing out that it gives no say to players. They’ve whined that it gives as much say to a country that wins World Cups as it does to one that will never sniff a prestigious tournament. But the latter isn’t inferior by choice. Many developing countries adore soccer. They simply struggle to build professional leagues or competitive national teams because countless decks have been stacked against them. Historical forces have diverted resources elsewhere. And now, a European-centric soccer system has left them behind.What UEFA posits is that the powerful men who rule that system should remain powerful. That the system produces entertaining soccer as is. That fans enjoy it, and players tolerate it, and money keeps rolling in. That the status quo is fine, and preferable to FIFA’s flawed plan.And in some ways, UEFA is right. Much of the pushback is legitimate. FIFA’s initial focus on the men’s game and neglect for the women’s game has, in some eyes, left the biennial concept doomed from the start.But UEFA’s mission here isn’t altruistic. It isn’t a soccer savior fighting a corrupt villain. It’s a four-letter acronym representing an establishment and fighting on behalf of its own members’ interests. You know, just like FIFA so often is.

Why the biennial World Cup battle will end in compromise

FIFA’s problem is that it can’t make this argument because the argument frames players as products rather than humans, and feeds suspicions that the fuel behind the plan is financial. Instead, FIFA has relied on empty logic and pleas about “the future of football,” because without more regular World Cups, apparently, according to Infantino, “football is risking to lose its appeal” among Gen Z. It also attempted to attach the biennial World Cup proposal to a rejiggering of the international match calendar, which is necessary and rational but mostly unrelated.The arguments were easy to rebut. And European powerbrokers have, relentlessly. Even the International Olympic Committee joined the resistance last weekend. This week, with the narrative largely controlled by European media, FIFA’s resolve began wavering. Rather than push for a vote in December, Infantino announced Wednesday that FIFA would hold a virtual “global summit” on Dec. 20 and “try to reach a consensus.”A consensus, of course, will never form around a biennial World Cup. CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, has also opposed the plan. And while it could technically be voted into bylaw without any European or South American support, the Europeans and South Americans could just as easily jump ship, arrange their own lucrative tournament, and detonate the World Cup’s appeal.All of which is why Infantino’s words at a 45-minute news conference Wednesday hinted at eventual compromise. “I’m here to unite,” he said, after acknowledging vehement criticism. “I’m not here to divide.”The path to common ground could be rocky. Collisions along the way could be explosive. They often are when two powerful, self-interested bodies clash. The result could be a global nations league, or a second, diluted quadrennial competition. UEFA’s power, though, which in some ways outweighs FIFA’s, should prevent a true biennial World Cup from materializing.That isn’t cause for celebration. It isn’t a win for the everyman over the powerful elite. In fact, if you squint, you could see it as the opposite. You could see FIFA, despite its sinful past and seedy present, as a voice of the voiceless, fighting to reclaim the world’s game on behalf of the world.“They all must be listened to,” Infantino said Wednesday of his 211 member associations. “And my role is exactly to listen to everyone, to listen to every side, to give a voice to those who are never heard.”

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