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.
The most wonderful time of the year! In a bittersweet sort of way, as the season winds down, things really start to heat up. The late stages of Champions League, mixed with the week to week checking to see which teams can clinch their titles, and even the start of the MLS has been exceedingly exciting recently.
Villa had another Villa week, playing against man-down Reading on Tuesday, taking care of business with a 3-0 win, and then playing as boring of a game as possible against Norwich, and losing 3-1...I just hope we can stay in the playoff spot at this point, and hit a run of form for it, otherwise it’s Championship football again next season.
Alright, now jumping into the Champions League, the games did not disappoint. Real had Juve’s number, in Italy, and for those of you who somehow missed it, Ronaldo scored an absolute worldie. I didn’t even know it was possible to jump that high, let alone to do it and score a bicycle kick, in that fashion, in a stage like this. Only Ronaldo. It was so nice, even the Juve fans were applauding in the stands. Dybala’s red card also was a factor of Juve’s implosion and Real’s dominance, and now this tie seems like it’s out of reach for Juventus, headed into Madrid
Bayern came back from 1-0 down, to beat Sevilla in Spain, and seemingly have control heading back to Germany for the second leg.
In the CONCACAF Champions League, Toronto FC had a solid showing in Mexico against Club America and won 3-1 to take the first leg, and put themselves in a good position to advance to the final.
On to Wednesday, I’ll start with the CONCACAF Champions League again, and the MLS side, NY Red Bulls, lost this one, 1-0, but that as an away loss leg one is not the worst thing that could happen, NYRB could easily flip the script the second leg.
Back overseas to UEFA Champions League action , Barca did what was expected and handled business at home versus Roma, 4-1, and now they look to sit on the lead, and probably expand it a little bit when they head to Italy. Weird goal scorers in two own goals by Roma, Pique, and then it went normal when Suarez scored the fourth.
Over to the English battle of the quarterfinals, Liverpool still don’t lose at the Anfield. Klopp has Pep’s number as Salah and Mane bag another one each, along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who comes out of nowhere with a banger, as City get skunked by Liverpool in the first leg, 3-0. If anyone can overturn a deficit like this (other than Barca last year, yea we still remember), it’s this season’s Man City team.
The good form for Arsenal continues, as they continue to cruise through Europa League, in the chase to get that automatic spot in the Champions League for next season. They worked CSKA Moscow, 4-1, setting up an easier away reverse fixture to wrap up the tie and see them through to the semis. Great to see Lacazette return with a brace, and I love when Ramsey balls, it really was all clicking Thursday for Arsenal, although CSKA is not the biggest test they’re gonna have to face to win this tournament.
That’s because in Spain, Griezmann throws up the Fortnite L dance as Atletico Madrid blanks Sporting CP from Portugal, 2-0. If the draw works out for next round to not have it, I can really see a great Atletico-Arsenal Europa League final in the near future.
For those who don’t know, the Red Bull teams are (of course) owned by the same organization, which are Red Bull Leipzig out of Germany, and Red Bull Salzburg out of Austria. It seems like we’ll be robbed of the chance to see them both in the semis of this tournament, because while Leipzig leads slightly over Marseille, 1-0, but Salzburg is down 4-2 to Lazio. This “lower tier” European tournament still sees some excitement, I guess.
Friday, I actually did tune in to the end of the PSG match, because I saw that they were uncharacteristically down to Saint-Etienne, but in the 92’ they rescued a point and tied 1-1.
Soccer Saturday! Started my day off early, streaming the Merseyside Derby on my laptop, and the Villa game on ESPN3 on my TV, I was in for a treat!...So I thought. Villa play boring football, and lose to Norwich, to really solidify the fact that we will not hit the automatic promotion place. We play second-placed Cardiff on Tuesday, so that’ll be another good showing of where we really are, heading into the playoffs as it seems.
The Merseyside Derby was also a snooze-fest, because Everton are so bad, and Liverpool were starting the likes of Danny Ings, as Klopp looked like he was way more focused on not losing or getting hurt, and worrying about City in the Champions League again. They tie 0-0 and I fall back asleep, missing the 10 o’clock games, which there was really nothing to note anyways.
Waking up from my kind-of nap, I was sure I was going to see City clinch the Premier League title at home, with still weeks to spare. The Manchester Derby was the perfect place for this to happen. I was reassured by this as City go up 2-0 after the 30’ and going into halftime. This was probably one of the worst halves I’ve ever seen Man U play, but then the second half started. Two goals in 95 seconds for Pogba got United right back into the game to flip the script. A few free kicks in a spread out game later, and Chris Smalling gets a boot to one in the 69’ and United spoil the party and turn Manchester red for a little bit as they hang on, 3-2.
That wrapped it up for Saturday for me, there was really nothing in the MLS to catch my eye, so I didn’t tune in, just watched a few highlights.
Onto Sunday! Treated to a morning game again, but thankfully not at 7:30! This time, I got to sleep in until 9, and then saw Arsenal survive an early(ish) scare, equalize, take the lead, let Southampton equalize, and then DAT GUY WELBZ comes along and misses a sitter, which would’ve surely won the match. Lucky for him, the services kept coming, and less than 5 minutes after his blunder, he gets up at the back post and heads home the winner, but not before a crazy end of the match, which saw Stephens get a red in the 92’ for the Saints, and then Elneny sent off for Arsenal even before the ensuing free-kick, less than a minute later.
I was more focused on the Madid Derby, or “El Derbi Madrileño,” between Atletico and Real, instead of the West Ham-Chelsea match. The Madrid match ended up becoming a battle of the keepers, except for two moments of brilliance that couldn’t be stopped. Ronaldo with yet another class goal, this one not in his top five, but still a great volley nonetheless. Real couldn’t hang on to that lead very long, with Griezmann breaking through and slotting one home from close range, four minutes later. He scored this one to equalize, and once again threw up the Fortnite L dance...there’s a time and place, Antoine, there’s a time and place.
I thought Chelsea would blow West Ham out of the water, but as Chelsea’s struggle continue, I was wrong. Right as the Madrid game ended, I turned over to watch this one, and Chicharito is being subbed on, Chelsea lead 1-0. I kind of chuckle to myself but then hear the commentator say a stat about Chich and his goal-scoring record versus Chelsea (mainly back when he was with Man U, of course), and yup, he does it. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez pulls a goal back for the Hammers in the 73’ and rescues a point.
The last thing I have for the week is later on Sunday, back in the MLS, the Portland Timbers, who have done so well these last few years, still cannot find a win. They were up 2-0 all the way until the 80’, when Orlando City got a goal back, followed by another one in the 82’ to equalize! They weren’t done, Dom Dwyer shows he’s still got what it takes to score MLS goals, as he goes for a solo run in the box before smashing it home in the 87’ to complete the comeback and win 3-2.
Zlatan came off the bench after the 60’, right after Galaxy go down 2-0, and he cannot rescue them again, and Sporting Kansas City wins by that scoreline in LA.
That’s all for this week, I’m happy things picked up right where they left off after the international break, and I’m sure it’ll continue as the season comes to an end, and the World Cup nears. Let me know any comments you have, thanks for reading, it means everything to me!