Despite what you may think - there’s a world of football outside Aston Villa. Jake’s here to find his voice, air his thoughts and have a glance of the goings on outside of Villa Park.
What a week. What. A. Week. Over 48 hours later, and I cannot stop watching highlights, interviews, fan cam videos and listening to “Don’t Look Back in Anger” on repeat, anything I can get my hands on from the Villa-Wolves match. 4-1 over the league leaders to close the gap to 7 points from them, 4 to second for auto-promotion, the last 10 games of this season are going to be something to keep an eye on for sure. It feels good to be a Villan for the first time in a while!
Alright - now that I’m done buzzing about the Championship, I’ll jump right into the Champions League. Liverpool endured an ever-so-rare boring game to advance to the quarters, and PSG just couldn’t seem to get anything going against Real, who cruised to yet another quarter-final round. They’re in search of their third straight CL title, which is literally unheard of. Back-to-back was crazy enough, but if this squad pulls off 3 straight, under Zidane, in a ‘poor year’? I don’t even know anymore.
Manchester City lost-but-won on Wednesday, losing at home on the day, but still comfortably advancing, as they hope for their version of a treble, now with the EFL Cup and almost basically the the Premier League title all but locked up. Down in London, Spurs did the unthinkable! Wait, nope my bad they blew it at home. Up 1-0 and actually seemingly dominating the first hour of the game, when the 60’ hit, a switch must’ve flipped for last year’s runner-up, Juventus. Dybala was quiet most of the game, but when you need a guy like him to show up, he does. There’s a reason Messi is so keen on him. 5 minutes later, Club Higuain does what Argentina Higuain can’t seem to do, and takes the lead on the day and aggregate to send Juve past Spurs, 2-1 on the day, 4-3 aggregate. Seems Jack Wilshire was right... (if you know, you know).
In the CONCACAF Champions League (for North America instead of Europe), there was a very rare sweep by the three MLS teams over the Liga MX sides. Only leg one, so we’ll see if a MLS team can win this CL for the 3rd time ever, first since LA Galaxy in 2000.
Take another step down from UEFA CL, to the Europa League, Arsenal got the job done at Milan in the first leg, getting 2 crucial away goals, but maybe more crucially, they balled and seemed to hop out of the funk they were in. Shockingly, Dortmund couldn’t get business done at home against the Polish Red Bull team out of Salzburg, losing the first leg 2-1, making the away fixture that much harder.
Onto the weekend! Starting a great Saturday off with some coffee at 7:30, and taking back everything I said last week about Liverpool’s defensive problems seemingly fixed, as Marcus Rashford proved his worth once again, as he tore up the outside of Liverpool’s defense. Yes, Virgil is a solid addition at the back and has been helping, but there is no way you can try to consistently win games with Lovren, Robertson, and Alexander-Arnold along side of him! You’re gonna have to figure that one out Klopp. Rashford’s brace, with Lukaku running rampant on Lovren, win 2-1, with their only real lapse being Bailly’s own goal/kinda injury. Man U nudge themselves a little further into second place, ending the weekend 5 points clear of Liverpool and 4 of Spurs.
In between games/not really wanting to watch Newcastle-Southampton that was on TV here for some reason, I got to witness the annihilation of Hamburg at the hands of the German Giants, Bayern. After seeing 20ish minutes of this horror film, I tuned back into England matches again, there really wasn’t much to note from the Premier league that you can’t tell from looking at the scoreboard (still, not what I’m here to do for you all, I’m not a scoreboard).
A weird day in Spain as reports of Ramos having to leave the game for a second because he went full infant and couldn’t control his bowels, and Messi misses his own game because of the birth of his third child (Felicidades, G.O.A.T). Barca wins 2-0, with Suarez and Countinho netting early goals, and Real win 2-1 with Ronaldo scoring the 88’ winner.
Time for the moment of the day. As I’m beginning to start my Saint Patrick’s Day festivities, yes I know its a week early, but in college everything that’s a celebration is done both on the day, and throughout the week. Getting to the point, It’s Villa time. 12:30pm, I don’t have to find a bootleg stream off of reddit or Facebook, the game is on ESPN3, so life is good. LIFE GETS BETTER! Uncle Al, Albert Adomah scraps one home early, to take a short-lived lead. Second half we came out booming, winning 4-1, and really kick-starting the race for promotion as the season nears its end.
The rest of Saturday in the soccer world did not really happen to me, I missed all of the MLS games while I was out and and about, but after looking at the scores, even though I support DC United over here, I love seeing LAFC start 2-0-0 over 2 solid teams to start their campaign. This certainly looks good for the future of the MLS, especially with Beckham’s Miami team coming in soon.
Now, Sunday... Sunday’s are so back. Soccer all day now with the MLS in the afternoon/evening too! Only weird thing was waking up Sunday morning with the games an hour later because of this social construct we call time, and like 1/8 of the world (us) changing their clocks at a different date, I really don’t get it. So, 9:30am instead of 8:30, I wake up Sunday, and get to see Arsenal carry their Europa League form to the weekend and skunk Watford, still keeping Wenger in. Not sure how that’s gonna go if they keep having more away fans than home fans at games (clearly exaggerating but it looked like it). Miki and Auba linked up for one, and Miki got one of his own, maybe it’s time they clicked and hit their old Dortmund-esque form. Let’s see how this goes for the Gooners.
An early scare from Bournemouth saw Spurs run rampant in the second half, winning comfortably in the end, basically walking the time out of the game, 4-1.
We saw emotional scenes in Italy as Fiorentina won their first game back since the passing of Astori, with them taking a very appropriate break in the match after the 13’, in honor of him wearing kit #13. The pre-match scenes were also something wonderful with the upper deck spelling out “Davide”, banners and posters all over the place, the biggest one reading, “Ciao Captain.” Also all of the Fiorentina players wore #13 shirts during the warm-ups, and the goal-scorer, Vitor Hugo, held up a t-shirt with Astori’s picture on it when he celebrated his goal. If this day doesn’t describe the sport, I don’t know what to tell you.
Over to Germany, yet again Pulisic to Batshuayi is the story. Twice this game, Frankfurt equalized and less than 3 minutes later, the Bat(s)-Man scores to re-take the lead. First was in the 77’ to take the 2-1 lead, and then after Frankfurt scored in the 91’ for what was seemingly gonna snatch crucial points away from Dortmund, Michy nets the 94’ winner. Could this potentially permanent move be great for both parties? Dortmund does seem to fit him and he clearly comes clutch for them when they need.
In MLS, DC United takes on the no-longer new kid on the block, Atlanta United. ATL couldn’t seem to get DC’s number last season, losing and scoring multiple own goals in the process, but the first 80-ish minutes was all ATL at home, in front of their record-setting 72,000+ crowd. Talk about good news for the MLS, a consistent 70k fanbase is definitely going to get them the numbers needed to keep growing. Atlanta wins the MLS battle of the “United’s” and wins 4-1.
NYCFC withstands a late push from LA Galaxy, winning 2-1 with David Villa on the scoresheet again, surprise surprise. Ashley Cole once again with disciplinary issues in the MLS, it seems like every time I check a scoresheet, “Cole—Red Card” is there, and I have no idea how a player who used to be that class, can struggle so hard!!
That really wraps it up for the past week/weekend, and as I’m writing this while waiting for test grades to come back, I’m also keeping an eye to see if the phrase “Can they do it on a cold rainy night in Stoke” rings true as soon to be crowned champions,. Being realistic, I didn’t see any potential upsets, just sort of another team on the Citizen’s path to an early clinching of the title. I was right, it only took 10’ for City to score a City goal, counter-attack, to a low cross slotted home, easy from David Silva. Barely more than 20% of possession for Stoke at halftime, Silva comes out in the second half and scores early just as the first, and City do, in fact, cruise to yet another win and prove that they can do it on a rainy night in Stoke.
Thanks for checking back and reading again, as always feel free to contact through email, comments, Twitter, whatever! Just trying to get better here!