Champions Once Again

Tonight is the night for the ageless San Antonio Spurs to become champions once again. It will be their fifth NBA title in 15 years if they are going to beat the one-man operation Miami Heat inside the doorstep of the AT&T Center. The Spurs maybe or perhaps having a psychological advantage in tonight’s Game 5 with back to back blowouts in Games 3 and 4, right at Miami’s own backyard. And although San Antonio dominated the Heat on its home court yet the playoff history is against my beloved Spurs as they only won one, three in a row, of its three previous playoffs opponents. While the Heat is also relying on last season’s soul-crushing Game 6 win against the Spurs with only less than 30 seconds left in regulation.

Miami, on the other hand, must also need to work a miraculous comeback in order to win the series and become only a few teams to make threepeat, since NO teams in the NBA Finals has come back from a 3-1 deficit and win the championship series. And to make matters worse for Miami, they need three straight victories also of their own and two of those games will be in San Antonio starting tonight’s Game 5.

As for the Spurs, despite their aging Big 3 (Duncan, Manu, Parker) they still continued their fluid offensive confidence at the same time limiting Miami’s offensive firepower or perhaps Miami’s knees are aging too? My say is that, the Spurs never cared too much who scores the most but as long as the team scores, that is all enough for them. In fact, the team’s balanced scoring is evidence enough of their fluid ball movement of who gets the high percentage shot and that everybody is involved. So a win tonight will make Tim Duncan the first player to win titles in three decades and will be a sweet victory in avenging last season’s heartbreaking NBA Finals loss.

Image from basketwallpapers.com


The Quest for La Decima is Over

I was lucky when the finals of the Champions League fell on the day that I am off from work so I have the luxury of watching the full match without interruption. But sad to say, it never happened and it was already in the second half when I finally able to watch. As the game slated to start late in the evening (1945 GMT), I thought I won’t be bothered anymore with calls for stand-by from work as I am about to finish my 24-hr on stand-by duty. And since it is hard to predict when an emergency would come out, so does the outcome of the Champions League finals at the packed Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.

So Real Madrid’s quest for La Decima is over at last and they finally sealed the most awaited and record 10th European Cup trophy, the fourth since being renamed to UEFA Champions League in 1992. As if the twists and turns of the season didn’t stop at the final day of league match-up as it carries to the finals of Europe’s football club game. Atletico Madrid were on the verge and are just moments away (2 minutes) from securing their first Champions League accolade in second attempt, only to be denied with a late equalizer from an unlikely (no more) source of goal, Sergio Ramos, that push the game into extra time. The hero from the semi-final win against Bayern does it again with a powerful, well timed header into the far corner that left Courtois helpless.

And it turns out to be a case of history repeating itself when Bayern Munich, in 1974, scored late in extra time after a goalless 90 minutes and forced a replay after it ended 1-1 draw. Two days later, Bayern won 4-0. This was again a cruel end to Atletico’s incredible season as they set to complete a rare double as they already won La Liga a week earlier. Perhaps, it is a near resemblance as Real Madrid came from behind to equalize with only two minutes remaining in injury time. Then Bale, the world record signing from Tottenham, heads home what could be the winner at the far post after a rebound from Di Maria’s shot was blocked before Marcelo drilled a low shot that ended Atletico’s chance for any possible comeback. And Ronaldo made no mistake to clinch La Decima from the spot, re-write the record books again and extended the most goals scored in a single Champions League season to 17 goals.

In the end, it is undeniable that Sergio Ramos’ goal in the third minute of injury time was the platform to go on and secure success in extra time. And Real Madrid’s ruthless pursuit of success has come to an end though it took 12 long years for the elusive La Decima to finally arrive at the expense of city rivals Atletico with an emphatic 4-1 winning margin and I believe it will become one of the greatest Champions League match as it is the first final between two clubs from the same city.

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Facts Ahead of Champions League Finals

When Real Madrid destroyed reigning champions Bayern Munich convincingly, many believe that Madrid are going to be proclaimed champions of Europe once again and for the 10th time. The hugely impressive 4-0 win at Alliance Arena was even truly convincing. And no other than the Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the game with a very clever free kick just outside the penalty area. Though it was simple but very brilliant, I would say, as he cleverly took a low shot under the wall as they jump to supposedly block the shot.

What was truly surprising is that Sergio Ramos stayed on the pitch without a booking or wasn’t sent off in a very high profile match. But I tell you this, that’s not all there is because the first two crucial goals of Real Madrid came from a very unlikely player and that’s no other than Ramos again. Then the history books were re-written again as CRon scored his 15th Champions League goal that sent a shocking note to the home side as they are already down 0-3 in just 34 minutes yet.

So here are some interesting facts ahead of the Champions League finals between Real Madrid and city rivals Atletico Madrid on 25 May in Lisbon.

  • Real Madrid were beaten 1-2 in last season’s Copa del Rey finals right at the Santiago Bernabeu.
  • Real were beaten again 0-1 at the Bernabeu again in La Liga this season.
  • Then a 2-2 draw at the Vicente Calderon in the return fixture.
  • It will be Atleti’s first Champions League finals in 40 years.
  • It will be the 17th time that two teams from the same country met in European finals.
  • It will be the second time for an all Spanish final in the Champions League.
  • But it’s the first time in European Cup competition that features team from the same city.

And many believe that Atletico Madrid will continue to defy the odds and could cause yet another upset. However, let’s not forget also that Real Madrid convincingly knocked out Atletico in the final four in Copa del Rey this season. The 5-0 aggregate is quite huge and I don’t know how different that is in La Liga competition. So see you in Lisbon.

Image from redgunners/fanshare.


Real Madrid Hopes for Treble

Real Madrid’s hopes for treble were all but over and practically dropped out of La Liga title race as well.

Los Blancos visited Valladolid, third from bottom, in last night’s game hoping to close the gap from Atletico and overtake arch rivals Barcelona in second place but a late header from the home team spoils Sergio Ramos’ scoring ability recently. And at first, I thought he will be the one who will rescue the sluggish Real Madrid yet they could only manage a 1-1 draw. That was also compounded when Ballon d’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo, was forced to leave the game in what appears to be an injury with only less than 10 minutes after kick-off.

The draw leaves Real Madrid four points behind city rivals, Atletico Madrid, and one point below Barcelona with only two games left in the season. With that, although mathematically, Real Madrid are still on the race and still have the chance to take home La Liga title yet it is a very slim hope to hold on knowing how Atletico Madrid moved up in the leaderboard and how they have played this season. In fact, they are also in the verge of achieving unprecedented double titles this season as they also face Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League finals in less than three weeks from now.

What used to be a monopoly La Liga title race between Real Madrid and Barcelona is now a three horse race going into the last game of the season. Real Madrid must win their remaining two matches and both Atleti and Barca will slip-up again in their respective games this coming Sunday. But a win will eventually end Real Madrid’s hope for treble and a slim chance in La Liga title. Perhaps, the grueling league and continental schedules may be attributed to either the physical and mental fatigue of the players.

Image from RealMadrid.com


Reclaiming Premier League Title

The twists and turns of the Premiere League title race won’t end until the last match of the season in the coming weekend. What used to be a three-team title chase is now a clear battle between Liverpool and Manchester City when Chelsea suffered a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge last Sunday. While Liverpool on the other hand, surrendered a 3-0 lead the following day to draw 3-3 with Crystal Palace leaving their pursuit of the Premier League title in tatters. And it is no longer in the hands of Liverpool if Manchester City wins tonight in Etihad Stadium and the odds of upset is not on the side of Aston Villa as well.

With the recent slip-up, City is on the brink of the championships and a win tonight will be a huge step towards reclaiming the Barclay’s Premier League title. Although it is not an absolute guarantee for Manchester City since there’s still one game left to play heading into the final day of the season on Sunday. A win tonight for the Blues means a must win for Liverpool in order for them to take home the title and hoping for Man City defeat against West Ham. Man City only need just a point in their final game to claim the trophy even with a Liverpool win as the former holds an enormous superior goal difference.

Update:

I came home after work to watch Real Madrid’s frustrating 1-1 draw but felt a little relief as Manchester City did not waste the opportunity given to them when they beat Aston Villa 4-0 on a rainy night. Man City has now 90 minutes remaining to secure a second title in three years and they only need a point against West Ham. The Blues have now scored 100 goals in a league season for the first time since 2001.

Image from wikipedia.