The premeditated pomp and choreographed farewell that John Terry bid Chelsea supporters at Stamford Bridge on Sunday stood in stark contrast to Luis Enrique’s final match at the Camp Nou. While the feel-good factor in the southwest of London as compared to the tension-riddled atmosphere at the Camp Nou could go someway towards explaining these divergent going away parties, the real variation was really only in the respective men of honor.
Losing a World Cup final in extra time is brutal and tough to come back from. Losing a Copa America final on penalties the subsequent year is a kick to the teeth. Losing yet another Copa America final the following year, to the same team and in the same manner, is practically a kill shot to any footballer’s professional hopes and dreams.
With the 2016-17 season drawing to a close around Europe’s major leagues (except Serie A, what are you guys doing?), our collective focus turns to one thing and one thing only: RELEGATION.
Forget the champions of each respective leagues. Let’s think about the sad sacks (sorry Sunderland, it was a long time coming) whose teams have fallen from the highest level of football and must now pray that their period away from the top flight is a short one.
It hasn’t exactly been rosy times for Valencia CF and their fans of late. Since qualifying for the Champions League in 2015, the club has completely gone downhill. In the last two seasons, they’ve finished mid-table in La Liga, flirted dangerously with relegation, sold their best players and have had a total of five managers: Nuno, Gary Neville, Pako Ayestaran, Cesare Prandelli and Voro. However, things may finally be changing at Valencia after three important announcements were recently made by the club.
Relegation is a blessing and a curse in itself. For the clubs, it means a substantial loss of television revenue and can hinder growth for years to come. For the best players on relegated teams, it acts as a restart. Premier League clubs sign the players who are eager to stay at the top level. We should expect to see the following players in the Premier League next season:
Hull City: Andrew Robertson, Harry Maguire, Sam Clucas
MLS has come under fire in the past for the gap between its stated goal of becoming an elite league and its current reality. Just last week, Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger noted the stark difference between the quality of play in MLS and European leagues.
If you were to ask any football fan who the best penalty stopper in the world is, their answer would probably be pretty cliche: Manuel Neuer, David De Gea, Thibaut Courtois, Hugo Lloris, etc.
The true answer might surprise everyone. It’s Valencia’s Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Alves.
Last Saturday, Alves’ penalty save on Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo was his 25th such feat since arriving in La Liga in 2007. Interesting enough, Alves has stopped three of four penalties from Ronaldo.
For the last five years, every battle between Lazio and Roma has had the same repeated sub-plot: could this be the last Derby della Capitale for Francesco Totti? Eventually, this will be true. Eventually, there will be a time when Rome’s favourite son will no longer be able to enter the fray. Already, he has been relegated to a bit part player in the derby. But, as ever with Totti, he has managed to make starting from the subs’ bench a vital part of the action.
Every club that’s had an extended run in the Premier League is a perfect example for the transitive property (If a=b and b=c, then a=c) that affects modern football:
With the news of Mexico, Canada and the United States officially announcing a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup, it seems likely that other countries will follow suit. The 48-team field will require an additional 16 games, bringing the tournament’s total to 80. Here’s a list of some countries that might look to share the responsibilities of hosting additional players, media members and fans.
#1. Uruguay and Argentina