Author: ernesto464

Arsene Wenger: Should I stay or should I go?

Arsene Wenger: Should I stay or should I go?

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Not only the lyrics to an 80’s rock song, it’s a question that Arsene Wenger, and many Arsenal fans, are asking.

With reports that Wenger has signed a new two-year contract, fans and pundits alike have questioned whether this is the right move for Arsenal.

There seems to be a clear division of what Arsenal fans want. There are those who want him gone as the team has failed to win much silverware and have been embarrassed time and time again in the Champions League. The division was made even clearer in their last game against West Brom when two different banners were flown. One calling for Wenger to leave and the other to stay.

Wenger took over the club in October of ’96 and transformed the club into what it is today, for better or worse. He managed the 2003-2004 Arsenal team that not only won the league, but went unbeaten. Hence the name, The Invincibles.

However, the lack of success in the league and in Europe during the last decade has made many question whether Arsene Wenger has overstayed his welcome.

Finishing fourth in the Premier League assures a team a spot in the Champions League qualifiers. “Finishing fourth” has become a punchline for Arsenal with many joking that it means the same to the team as actually winning the whole league.

With embarrassing losses in the Champions League to Bayern Munich and repeated losses to Barcelona, Arsenal have not progressed to the quarter-finals of the tournament in quite some time.

Collapse after collapse, the mental fragility of the team has been repeatedly question with many placing the blame on the manager. Lack of spending, questionable transfers, and “war chests” have left many Arsenal fans demanding a change. They are tired of seeing other teams win the league while they habitually finish first. They are tired of losing out on world-class players. What’s the point of being financially stable if money is not being spent to acquire the world’s best player?

Sir Alex Ferguson was another manager who became a legend at his club. He managed Manchester United for more than two decades. Once he left, the club went through some turmoil as the hand-picked successor, David Moyes, failed to assimilate. Louis van Gaal had better luck but his methods were outdated and did not play attractive football. Now under Jose Mourinho, the club is still trying to find its way back to its roots.

That is the worry of some Arsenal fans. Many have grown up and not known an Arsenal team without Arsene Wenger as their manager. Will a new manager be able to take Arsenal to that next step. He’s been at the club for a long time. Arguably, they have stagnated and it does appear to be time for a change.

Whatever they decide, the reactions on ArsenalFanTv will be must watch.

 

 

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Champion League draw delivers interesting match-ups

Champion League draw delivers interesting match-ups

The draw for the Champions League quarterfinals took place on Friday, March 17th. The eight teams in the draw were:

  • Atletico Madrid (Spain)
  • Barcelona (Spain)
  • Real Madrid (Spain)
  • Leicester City (England)
  • Juventus (Italy)
  • Monaco (France)
  • Bayern Munich (Germany)
  • Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Being the weakest of the bunch, everyone, except Gianluigi Buffon, wanted to draw Leicester City.

Atletico Madrid were the winners as they drew Leicester. Atletico advanced to the quarters by beating Bayer Leverkusen.

Borussia Dortmund came back from a first leg deficit to win 4-0 at home against Portuguese side, Porto. Dortmund drew Monaco who also came from behind and beat Manchester City 3-1 (6-6 agg.) advancing on away goals.

The two match-ups that will garner the most attention will be Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich and Barcelona vs Juventus. These four teams are considered heavy favorites to win the Champions League. The fact that two of these teams will not make the semi-finals means that the field opens up for an underdog team.

After having a rather accessible route to the Champions League title in 2016, Real Madrid will have to face Bundesliga leaders, Bayern Munich. The last time these two sides met was in 2014. Under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, Bayern lost the first at leg in Madrid 1-0, and lost the return leg, 4-0. Real Madrid went on to win the tournament that year as well.

Real Madrid v Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final

The narrative for this particular match is Bayern manager, Carlo Ancelotti, managed Real Madrid when they won their 10th Champions League title in 2014. His assistant manager at the time, Zinedine Zidane, is the current manager for Real Madrid. There were rumblings back then that Zidane was being groomed to eventually take over for Ancelotti. While Madrid hired Rafael Benitez after Ancelotti left, Zidane took over from Benitez halfway through the 2015-2016 season.

The other match-up pins Barcelona against Juventus. This will be rematch of the 2014-2015 Champions League final where Barcelona won 3-1 and completed their treble-winning season. Barcelona come off a historic comeback against PSG while Juventus had a fairly easy time getting past Porto.

Former Barcelona right-back, Dani Alves, will be facing his old team. It’s a match-up he wanted to avoid.

When asked if he wanted to face Barcelona, he said, “If I have to play Barca, I’d prefer it be in the final.”

The rest of Barcelona’s season will be an interesting one considering manager Luis Enrique is a lame duck manager. He announced that he would not be renewing his contract and will leave Barcelona at the end of the season. Barcelona will be without key mid-fielder, Sergio Busquets, for the first game in Turin.

It should be an entertaining quarter-finals for fans and neutrals alike. While the games featuring the heavyweights will garner the most attention, the other two games have their own narratives in place.

Will Leicester continue its resurgence under Craig Shakespeare? Will Monaco be able to outscore Dortmund?

The first leg will take place on April  11th and 12th with the return leg taking place on the 18th and 19th.

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USSF’s new rule makes it mandatory to stnad for the national anthem

USSF’s new rule makes it mandatory to stnad for the national anthem

In response to Megan Rapinoe kneeling during the national anthem, the US Soccer Federation (USSF) passed a rule that will now obligate anyone playing for a US National team to stand for the national anthem.

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The new policy was passed on February 9th by the federation’s board of directors. It was first made public via Twitter by Stuart Holden, a former US national team player. Holden also mentioned that Sunil Gulati, president of the USSF, that penalties on those who violate the new rule will handled on a case-by- case basis.

Needless to say, the new policy has divided opinions.

During a recent broadcast, Fox analyst and former US national team player, Alexi Lalas, was clear in his support for the new rule. He believes that the USFF has the right to force, more or less, players representing the country to stand for the anthem.

Lalas went off to say, “So damn right, I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna put my hand over my heart and I am going to sing. And I believe that all U.S. national team players should be required to do that. Because, just because we live in the land of the free, doesn’t mean that we are free to do anything that we want.”

Rapinoe, who had previously been reprimanded by the federation for kneeling, said that she will respect the federation’s new policy.

She said, “It is an honor to represent the USA and all that we stand for. To be able to pull on the red, white and blue to play a game that I love. I will respect the new bylaw the leadership at USSF has put forward. That said, I believe we should always value the use of our voice and platform to fight for equality of every kind.”

Some see this new ruling as a way to keep politics out of the sport while others see it as a way that ensures the national anthem and all that it entails will be respected. Yet others view it as a way to stamp out protests or criticisms towards certain institutions like the government or police who have been in the headlines for killing or excessive force towards minorities. They also see it as a violation of First Amendment rights but that’s another issue entirely.

The US Soccer Federation is the first professional league to explicitly enact this type of policy. While other demonstrations have occurred in different sports leagues, they have yet to enact any rule that would deter its players from carrying out these protests.

I think this is a cheap marketing gimmick to get the league some attention. Despite being around since 1993 , it still ranks towards the bottom in terms of viewership by the American public. The rule may attracts “patriots” who normally would not watch soccer.

The new rule has received praise and criticism from players and fans alike. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what sort of punishment is handed out if and when someone violates the rule.

Barcelona pull off a comeback for the ages

Barcelona pull off a comeback for the ages

 

“Gol gol gol gol gol gol……! T’estimo Sergi…! T’estimo Sergi…! T’estimo Sergi…!! T’estimo Sergi Roberto!!!”

In one of the greatest comebacks in sports, Barcelona defeated Paris St Germain (PSG) 6 -1 (6-5 aggregate) on a raucous Tuesday night at the Camp Nou. Barcelona now advance to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

After capitulating in the first leg in Paris, Barcelona threw caution to the wind and defeated PSG, 6-5, with Sergi Roberto scoring the clincher in the 95th minute off an immaculate chipped pass from Neymar.

Barcelona had a near impossible task. No one had ever come back from a 4-0 defeat in the first leg to advance to the next round.

Things looked up when Barcelona scored in the third minute off a Luis Suarez header. They would score again in the 40th minute after a Kurzawa own goal. Barcelona went into the half leading 2-0. The remontada looked well on its way.

PSG, after playing very defensive the first 45 minutes, decided to look for a decisive away goal that would kill the game. Manager, Unai Emery, introduced Angel Di Maria for Lucas Moura to try to catch Barcelona on the counter.

Barcelona would wind up getting their third goal via a Messi penalty after Neymar was taken down by Thomas Meunier. It looked like Barcelona was going to pull it off.

However, it would be off a set piece that PSG would score. An unmarked Edinson Cavani rifled one past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in the 62nd minute. Suddenly it was 3-1 and Barcelona needed three goals to advance.

The atmosphere in the stadium changed and so did the attitude in the players. PSG would have two one-on-ones versus the keeper to seal the game but Ter Stegen would save Cavani’s shot and Di Maria would shoot his shot wide. It was the 88th minute and everyone was waiting for the full-time whistle.

Neymar would be fouled by Di Maria just outside the box and he would go on to score a magnificent free-kick. It was 4-1 Barcelona but it was nothing more that a consolation goal.

The fourth official displayed that there would five minutes of added time to the match. At the 91st minute, there would be a foul on Luis Suarez and a penalty for Barcelona. Neymar, who played a great game took. the penalty.

With four minutes, left there was a chill of excitement at the Camp Nou. Once again, the comeback was on and people were on the edge of their seats. There was a foul on the goalie in the 94th minute and it Barcelona’s final chance. Neymar would send a cross into the box and the sub, Sergi Roberto, would cement himself in blaugrana history.

Pure pandemonium. Sergi Robero cemented the greatest comeback in Champions League history. It was a moment that all Barcelona fans will never forget. The comeback was celebrated by fans and neutrals alike. The analysts and journalists at the Camp Nou were not immune and also celebrated.

Visca Barca! Visca Catalunya!

Brazilian-side sign goalie convicted of killing ex-girlfriend

Brazilian-side sign goalie convicted of killing ex-girlfriend

 

Third division side, Boa Esporte, made headlines after they agreed to sign former Flamengo goalkeeper, Bruno Fernandes das Dores de Souza.

Unsurprisingly, the signing has come under a lot of scrutiny considering Bruno’s past.

In 2013, Bruno was convicted of ordering the kidnapping and subsequent murder of his ex-girlfriend, Eliza Samudio. She was killed after she requested that Bruno pay child support for their infant son.

The details of the case stunned the people of Brazil as it was discovered that not only had Bruno planned the kidnapping and murder of Eliza, but had her remains fed to dogs. Her body was never recovered.

Bruno was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 22 years in jail. However, after only serving a couple of years, he was recently released based on a legal technicality, pending an appeal on his conviction.

Boa Esporte, wasted little time in making his signing official.

News of the signing was met with outrage with Boa Esporte’s main sponsor, Gois and Silva, withdrawing their sponsorship. Three other backers have also rescinded their support. However, this has not deterred the club from continuing with the signing.

Boa Esporte’s press release stated, “The club reiterates its position that it is in favor of social reintegration and that Bruno the goalkeeper deserves a new opportunity as a professional. The club has no link to personal actions by Bruno or his past.”

Bruno believes he deserves a second chance and hopes to play for the Brazilian national team.

He said, “”Dreaming is never too much. Bruno is alive because of his dreams. Once I dreamed about returning here, and now I have the opportunity.”

The bigger issue here is what kind of message does this send to the people, particularly the women, of Brazil?

That there were fans outside the stadium happy with Bruno’s signing is disappointing.

With women worldwide marching for equality and respect, Bruno’s signing is another example that if you’re a professional athlete, past transgressions will be overlooked if you’re good at what you do.