Posts tagged Europa League
The Counter Press EP 32

Josh and Vijay are back to catch up on everything in the soccer world including the international break.

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Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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The Counter Press - You Hate to See It

The Counter Press Boys are joined by Spurs fan @ryne_jones to talk about all things Premier League including Tottenham's list of transfers. We also dive into Champions League matchups along with some Serie A talk.

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Celebrate your division champs by grabbing one of the NEW shirts straight from The Barber's Chair merch store!
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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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The Counter Press EP 28

Josh and Vijay are back to talk January transfers and more!

The Counter Press ep. 12 (feat. @GuerschonLynch)
The Counter Press ep. 11

Josh Springs (@HighBiscuits) and Vijay Vemu (@VJVemu)brings their soccer podcast to the Barber's Chair Network: the Counter Press! This episode they are joined by special guest Avi Saini (@AvikarSaini) to talk about Inter Milan barely making the Champions League, Managerial changes around Europe, what we think about Zidane as a manager, and much more.

Atletico Madrid, Marseille battle in Europa League Final
The Citizen

The Citizen

It’s halfway through May which means we have arrived at cup final season. As the match days in Europe’s respective leagues wind down, we begin to get ready for some cup final fixtures. Not just domestically, but across Europe as well.

This week features the Europa League final, the little brother of the Champions League final. While it isn’t as hyped as the Champions League, the Europa League final does offer some fun matchups in recent fixtures. This year’s fixture features two teams with differing styles. It’s Atletico Madrid vs. Olympique Marseille who will clash in Lyon for the Europa League title and a spot in the Champions League next season. Let’s take a look at the two squads and what we can expect from both of them.

Olympique Marseille

It has been an OK season for French club Olympique Marseille in terms of their Ligue 1 standing, and they have a chance to get some silverware which would certainly put an exclamation point on their season. In fact, Marseille still could finish as high as 2nd in Ligue 1 pending on how the results go on the final matchday this weekend. Currently Marseille are one point away from 3rd place Lyon and 3 points away from 2nd place Monaco. If Marseille are able to get three points against Amiens on the final day, along with some help, they could jump up in the standings. This could be huge for Marseille as 2nd in Ligue 1 is automatic Champions League qualification while 3rd means you have to go through the playoff stage first.

In terms of the Europa League, Marseille had a rough beginning as they narrowly escaped the group stages. Finishing second behind RB Salzburg, Marseille were able to advance to the round of 32 thanks to a draw on the final day with the table leaders. Combine that with a draw by Turkish club Konyaspor and Marseille were through. They were then able to dispatch both Braga and Athletic Bilbao in the knockout stages pretty easily, winning both legs. But against RB Leipzig, they faced some trouble when they suffered a 1-0 first leg defeat against the upstart German club. The second leg was a much different story as Marseille put five goals past Leipzig to walk away the victors on aggregate, 5-3. Again they faced a Red Bull team in the semi-final, this time being Salzburg. After a 2-0 victory in the first leg it looked like Marseille were in cruise control but two quick goals in Salzburg for the home team changed all that. The game then headed to extra time where some controversy took place. A shot by Marseille in the 116th minute was for sure a goal kick yet the referees ruled it to be a corner, claiming it to go off a Salzburg player despite replay showing otherwise. That led to a corner which was put home by Rolando and Marseille survived a poor performance on the road.

But anyways, on to the Europa League final, which should be the only thing on the minds of Rudi Garcia and his men. This will be a tough test for the French club as they face an Atletico Madrid team who are super compact defensively. Atletico won’t give Marseille any favors in this game and Garcia’s players will have to be on their games to break them down. In terms of Marseille’s attack, it mainly runs through the duo of Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet. Thauvin has had an amazing season, scoring 26 goals for Marseille in all competitions. Payet hasn’t been as lethal in front of goals as his teammate but he has been a key set up man for OM. He has recorded 24 assists in all competitions this season with 7 of them coming in the Europa League. If OM even want a chance of winning this game, they are going to need both Thauvin and Payet to step up. They are the main chance creators and everything run throughs them. Other than that, they aren’t a lot of the guys on the pitch who will be able to create their own chances. Against a brick wall of a defense like Atletico Madrid, Marseille are going to need to be super creative and pick their spots offensively. They can’t be overly aggressive and take dumb risks, otherwise they will be picked apart by Atletico’s counter attack.

Atletico Madrid

It’s been an interesting year for Atleti. Like Manchester United, finishing second in one of Europe’s biggest football leagues is quite an achievement. But given the point gap and how Barcelona ran away with La Liga, it almost doesn’t feel like an accomplishment at all. But once again they have a chance to do something which has slipped through their hands twice before, winning a European cup trophy.

This will be Atletico’s fifth European final since 2009-10 and hopefully for them, it won’t end in heartbreak. While the Europa League trophy doesn’t hold the same bearing as a Champions League one, it's still a good ending to the season for an Atletico Madrid team who are seeing their prime players fade out of the limelight. We are seeing a new wave of Atletico players come through the ranks and play minutes for Diego Simeone’s squad as players like Juanfran, Gabi, and others will slowly be moved out. For sentiment sake, it would be nice to see a group who has gone through watching Real Madrid snatch the trophy from their hands twice to get to lift one after all they have been through.

With La Liga basically settled, this is all Atletico Madrid have to play for. They entered the Europa League in the round of 32 after crashing out in the Champions League group stage. Simeone’s squad suffered defeats against Chelsea, Roma, and even drew with last place Qarabag FC. It certainly was the group of death in the Champions League and Atletico Madrid just didn’t seem up to the task.

But things turned around in the Europa League thanks to some fortunate draws. They cruised past the likes of Lokomotiv Moscow and Kobenhavn before facing against Sporting. It was a shaky tie as Sporting pegged a goal back from Atletico to make it 2-1 in the second leg. But in typical Atletico fashion they bunkered down and finished it off. Then came the semi-final against Arsenal. It was a tough away leg at the Emirates thanks to an early red card. After nearly 50 minutes of Atletico resistance, Arsenal broke through with a goal and it felt as if Atletico were setting themselves up for a comeback in the second leg. But then came a huge slice of luck as a ball off the face of Laurent Koscielny landed right in front of Antoine Griezmann who slotted it into the top right corner. It gave Atletico their away goal and flipped the tie on its head. In the home leg, it was a typical Atletico Madrid game until a through ball send Diego Costa through and he didn’t miss. In what was Arsene Wenger’s final European game at Arsenal, Diego Simeone got the best of him as Atletico advanced to another final.

For Atletico, expect them to approach this the same way they have in finals before. Sit back and absorb pressure but aren’t afraid to counter attack. As typical with most French/Ligue 1 teams, Marseille’s back line is shaky. The likes of Griezmann and Costa could take advantage of it and strike on the counter attack. Gabi and company will be tasked with keeping Payet and Thauvin out of the danger areas. If they are able to that and stymie Marseille, then Griezmann and Costa can do work. In all honesty, those two are the only ones who pose and constant attacking threat for Atletico and if they don’t produce, neither do Atletico. But they’ve been so good it’s rarely been the case.

Prediction:

This game is going to produce very few chances and Atletico strike quickly but only to have Marseille square it all up right before halftime. Then either Costa or Griezmann are sent in via a ball by Koke or Saul, get past the Marseille defenders and fire it past Steve Mandanda for the second goal. It turns out to be the game winning goal for Atletico who then close up shop and see out the victory. Simeone and his group finally get to lift up their first European trophy in six years.

2-1 Atletico Madrid

Europa League preview

Even with the Champions League underway, we thought it was some time to appreciate some of the fixtures in this year’s Europa League. There are some quality clubs in this years competition as the likes of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, and Arsenal are all competing this week. Even RB Leipzig, who were at a time second in the Bundesliga, are in action this week. Let’s take a look at the three most intriguing fixtures taking place in the UEL this week.

AC Milan vs. Arsenal
TV: Fox Sports 2
Where is the fixture: San Siro in Milan, Italy

Andy Hooper/Daily Mail

Andy Hooper/Daily Mail

This is a battle of two historic clubs who find themselves in another season of disappointing results. Both Arsenal and Milan are relatively low (by their standards) in their respective domestic league tables. Arsene Wenger’s club sits firmly 6th in the Premier League table but are coming into this match on a 4 game winning streak which included two 3-0 beatings by Manchester City and stunning losses to Brighton and Swedish club Ostersands in the second leg of their previous Europa League tie. The Gunners look completely broken and are playing like a team who is desperate for anything positive to happen. With the Gunners firmly positioned in the middle of the table with the madness of them crashing out of the FA and League Cup, this is their final go around to grab a trophy this year.

It’s been a troubling year for AC Milan as well. They are currently 7th in the Serie A table, tied on points with Sampdoria for 6th. With them being 7 points behind rivals Inter for 5th and 6 points ahead of Atalanta in 8th, Milan are stuck in the table and it’s likely to stay that way. However, it doesn’t mean they don’t any other trophies to play for. In their most recent fixture they advanced to the Coppa Italia final after beating Lazio 5-4 on penalties. With both legs being disappointing 0-0 draws, the only way to decide it was a penalty shootout. After Marchi missed a penalty with the score being 4-4, Alessio Romagnoli stepped up and fired a penalty past Strakosha to send Milan to the final against Juventus. But now they have a test at home against Arsenal.

With Pierre Emerick Aubamayeng cup tied, he will be unavailable in this match. This handicaps Arsenal even more and they will likely rely on Alexandre Lacazette to be their striker. The former Lyon danger man has been moved out to the wing with Auba coming in. Not only has he been playing out of position but he’s dealing with a severe lack of confidence in front of goal. Arsenal will need to serve him some A+ chances for him to put one into the net of AC Milan.

The pressure on Wenger mounts with each passing game. It’s been a disastorous season for the Gunners and it could get worse in Milan. As bad as Milan has been in Serie A, they should be favorites in this tie and it helps that the first leg is in the San Siro.

Prediction: 2-0 Milan

 

Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao
TV: Fox Sports Plus
Where: Stade Velodrome in Marseille, France

It’s been a turbulent season for Athletic Bilbao. They’ve lost some important players like Aymeric Laporte and it’s shown in their La Liga form. Right now Bilbao sit 14th, that’s right 14th, in Spain’s top division.  In their last two La Liga games, Bilbao drew Valencia 1-1 and were beat 2-0 by Sevilla. They are now 13 points behind 5th place Sevilla so barring a near perfect final months of the season + some help on the side, winning the Europa League is the only way Athletic can get back into Europe next season.

It was a tricky situation in their Round of 32 tie against Spartak Moscow. Bilbao escaped with a 4-3 win on aggregate despite losing the second leg 2-1. They will have to be much better against a Marseille team which likes to get up and down the pitch in a hurry.

The French team, who are 3rd in Ligue 1 at the moment, are in desperate need of a good game. Marseille have gone 4 games without a win which has included two back to back 3-0 beatings by league leaders PSG. In their most recent Ligue 1 match, they drew Nantes 1-1 in a game where they had 22 shots but only 4 on target along with 80% possession. It was a match they should have won. Like Bilbao, they advanced in their Round of 32 tie despite losing the second leg. Thanks to a 3-0 first leg win against Braga, they were able to get away with a 1-0 loss in the second leg.

Both teams are coming in with struggles in their domestic leagues with Marseille’s being more recent. But this will be a fun game. Especially from the French team’s side. They have scored 57 goals in Ligue 1, which is more than double of Bilbao’s total in La Liga. Look for Athletic to try and absorb the pressure while trying to strike on the counter.

Prediction: 2-1 Marseille

 

Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
TV: N/A
Where: Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain

AFP

AFP

This matchup features the favorites of the favorites to win the Europa League against the leaders in the Russian Premier League.

Atletico Madrid are no doubt the best team in the Europa League and after crashing out in the Champions League group stage, they are ready to put the embarrassment behind them. Diego Simeone’s team will be revved to go tomorrow and will be looking to suffocate the game from the get-go. They are currently second in La Liga but saw their six game winning streak snapped against league leaders Barcelona in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss. Had they gotten the three points, Atletico Madrid could have putten some real pressure on the Blaugranes but thanks to a Leo Messi free kick, which he put into the top right corner, Barcelona are up 8 points on Atletico. They have to be able to put the loss behind them as they keep striving towards a Europa League title.

Meanwhile, Lokomotiv Moscow have built themselves a comfortable lead at the top of the Russian Premier League. They are seven points ahead of second place FC Krasnador. They had their four game domestic winning streak snapped with a 0-0 draw against Spartak on Sunday. But they are cruising in the league right now. Meanwhile, their Round of 32 tie against OG Nice was interesting. They were down 2-1 in the first leg when a red card sent their French opponents to 10 men. After that Lokomotiv scored 2 goals in the final 21 minutes to nab a crucial 1st leg win with the added bonus of away goals. They sealed off the tie in the second leg when Ignor Denisov scored in the 30th minute to make it 4-2 on aggregate. The 1-0 saw them to the Round of 16 but they will be facing a very tough squad.

The Russian league leaders played well in their last away leg but this isn’t Nice. They will be going up against one of the toughest teams in Europe and it’s going to take a massive performance from the away side to make this a competitive tie.

Prediction: 3-0 Atletico Madrid