When it comes to the heart-stopping, heartfelt and hilarious moments we love about soccer, we tend to focus on what unfolds on the pitch. It follows logic that a substitution -- an activity occurring on the periphery -- would not warrant much more attention than the obligatory clap that comes with one player's exit, another's entrance and some extra time tacked on to the end of the match.
In anticipation of Sunday night’s Liga MX final second leg at Estadio Chivas, we spoke with Jose Maria Aldrete Gonzalez, Facility and Turf Manager for the building and a member of the Sports Turf Managers Association.
Originally employed as an architect during the construction of the stadium, which opened in 2010, Aldrete has continued in his new role since that time, including overseeing the transition from an artificial playing surface to natural grass at the behest of Johan Cruyff in 2012.
With the 2016-17 Premier League season in the books, we wanted to take a deep dive into how each team performed based on its payroll.
The final table reflected the spending gap between the top six teams and the rest. In fact, the eight teams that spent over $100 million in wages this season all finished in the top 8 of the table.
Although that might seem entirely too predictable, there was significant performance variance among those teams. Also, ninth place Bournemouth had one of the lowest payrolls, suggesting that they found some good players at a discount.
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.