All posts by johnnycadee23

Lessons Learned From Sunday’s Clásico

Inside a Camp Nou with over 90,000 fans & to over 400 million viewers world wide, the always crucial Clásico did not disappoint. In what was an extremely competive and contested match, FC Barcelona came out with a 2-1 win over arch rivals Real Madrid to extend their lead at the top of the La Liga Table. Here are some of the take aways we can draw from the match.  

 

1- Defense for both sides is what ultimately decided who took the 3 points. 

The defense of both sides was the most important part of the game. Real Madrid’s back line had many crucial errors and an overall lack of discipline. The first mistake came early in the first half, when Sergio Ramos let Jeremy Mathieu escape from his mark and connect with a Lionel Messi cross to head home and give Barça a 1-0 lead. Then in the second goal, Ramos again commited a mistake. He allowed himself to fall back behind Pepe and the rest of the defensive line to allow Suarez to not be marked offside and latch onto a deep pass from Dani Alves. Pepe then could not accurately calculate Suarez’ run, in an attempt to get a hold of the Uruguayan’s shot, which would end up to be Barcelona’s second. Aside from this, both Pepe and Ramos were booked for unnecessary fouls from behind. Carvajal was also shown yellow for a needless tackle. Towards the end of the match, referee Mateu Lahoz seemed to almost pity the Madrid defense, as more fouls were committed by the Madrid back line that easily could have been worthy of another yellow and therefore, ejection from the match. 

Barcelona’s defense on the contrary was impeccable. Gerard Pique was an absolute rock, dismissing any danger that would come from Ronaldo and co with crucial and accurate tackles. Jeremy Mathieu also made important challenges, as well as providing the Catalan club’s first goal. Dani Alves kept Ronaldo quiet for grand part of the match and provided the assist for Barça’s second goal.   

Luis Suarez easily beats both Ramos and Pepe to put Barcelona up 2-1.

2- Karim Benzema & Luka Modrić are extremely influential. 

Benzema & Modrić were arguably Madrid’s best players on the field. The Frenchman may not have scored, but time and time again he challenged Barcelona’s back four, and easily played through the midfield when needed. Also, he gave the assist to Ronaldo’s goal. Modrić commanded the midfield, connecting well with Madrid’s other offensive weapons, as well as making key passes such as the one to Benzema to set up the Ronaldo goal. Both players looked alive throughout the match, & were a big reason Madrid completely dominated the first half. If the two players take advantage of the international break coming up, they can continue their good form and help influence Madrid’s attack force.  

 

3- La Liga is now Barcelona’s to lose. 

The outcome of this Clasico would have a huge impact on this seasons La Liga campaign. Should Madrid have won, they could have gone ahead of Barça by 2 points. Instead, they failed to take advantage of an excellent first half and let Barcelona stay in first place, now ahead by 4 points. With 10 games left in the season, Madrid will be hoping that Barcelona can slip up and lose points, with the Blaugrana having important matches later on in La Liga with Valencia, Atletico Madrid, & Real Sociedad. However, if the Catalan club can keep their composure and not let the Clasico win get to their heads, they should be able to close the season fine & end up as champions.  

Barcelona players celebrate Suarez’ goal.

4- Both sides can really challenge for the Champions League. 

Of course Real Madrid and Barcelona should always be considered candidates to win the UEFA Champions League. However, this game showed each side is extremely capable to chalenge favorites Bayern Munich to the title. Real Madrid dominated the first half, while Barcelona dominated the second. Although neither team was able to produce a full 90 minutes of good play, each side showed how dangerous they are in their respective half. If the two can play at the level they did in the 45 minutes they each claimed, it will extremely hard for any of the remaining teams to beat them.  

 

Conclusion 

It will be interesting to see how both teams finish up the season. A lot could still happen, so we’ll have to see if either one commits errors and makes the title race go on towards the very last few games. Let us know what you think in the comments below, share with friends, & follow FortOnSports on Twitter. 

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One Step Closer To Berlin 

  

After weeks of a dramatic Round of 16 stage, the UEFA Champions League quarter finals have been set. The pretenders are now seperated from contenders, leaving players, coaching staffs, as well as fans aching for April to come. 

The first leg of each tie will be held on the 14th & 15th of April, while the second will be a week later on the 21st & 22nd. Here are the matches that we will be seeing 

  • Paris St. Germain (FRA) vs FC Barcelona (SPA)
  • Atlético Madrid (SPA) vs Real Madrid (SPA)
  • FC Porto (POR) vs FC Bayern München (GER)
  • Juventus (ITA) vs AS Monaco (FRA)


We are seeing some matches with history. The Madrid Derby has always been iconic & has been more important over the last few seasons with Ateltico wanting to get out of Real’s shadow. PSG against Barcelona has been a fixture we’ve seen more recently, with neither team being able to make a real statement. Porto vs Bayern, would be a repeat of the 1987 final. 

None of the teams left made it out of luck. There are no push overs. Each team should take their opponent very seriously if they want to advance. We’ll take a look at each tie and provide a preview, analysis, & prediction. 


PSG vs Barcelona 

These two teams have met seven times in the Champions League for the past three years. Each one has 2 wins, 2 loses, with the other 3 games ending in draws. The more recent games between the two came in the Group Stage of this years tournament. On the 21st of October PSG defeated Barça 3-2 at home. On the 10th of December at the Camp Nou Barça beat the French champions 3-1. This will most likely be the most tightly contested tie of the four. Both are on good form and loaded with talent on their team. It will be extremely close and could go either way. 

Barcelona advances to the Semi Finals.  

 

Atlético Madrid vs Real Madrid

A repeat of last tournaments finals. Real Madrid would win it 4-1 to obtain their tenth UEFA Champions League trophy, the most in history. This season in La Liga, Atleti swept Real, beating them 2-1 at the Bernabeu & a whopping 4-0 at the Vicente Calderon. They also eliminated Madrid from the Spanish Copa Del Rey 4-2 on aggregate. Madrid also just came off an embarrassing 4-3 at home to Schalke, while Atletico advance on penalties against Bayer Leverkusen. With only 1 win in their last 4 games in all competitions Madrid’s form may be a bit worrisome. However, the Quarter Finals are still a month away, & they must find good form before then if they want to make it. Atletico once again gets the best of Ronaldo & co. 

Atlético Madrid advances to the Semi Finals. 

 

FC Porto vs FC Bayern München 

Bayern München should be considered heavy favorites for this tie. Along with Barcelona, the German Champions are ahead of the pack in terms of talent, form, and virtually everything else. Müller, Götze, Alaba, & co have been excellent in recent weeks. After thumping Shaktar Donestk 7-0 on aggregate in the Round of 16, Bayern is feeling unstoppable & should be feared by the remaining teams. FC Porto is running on very impressive form right now as well. They beat Basel 5-1 on aggregate to get to the Quarter Finals. It should be an entertaining tie, but Bayern should prove to be too much for Porto. 

Bayern München advances to the Semi Finals.

 

Juventus FC vs AS Monaco

Italian champions Juventus will come up against up and coming French side Monaco. Juve are in a run of good form, thrashing Borrusia Dortmind in their own home 3-0 & advancing 5-1 on aggregate. Monaco, was able to hold off Arsenal and advanced off 3 away goals when it ended 3-3 on aggregate. Monaco showed they are a force to be reckoned with and Juve should not overlook them, even if they have superior star talent. Monaco is not experienced enough at this stage, & even with out Paul Pogba, Juve should be able to take this one.

Juventus advances to the Semi Finals. 

 

The Quarter Finals will be very entertaining. Each team will put in their all if they want to advance. These eight teams will have roughly a month to prepare themselves. Let us know who you think will advance in the comment section bellow, share with friends, & follow FortOnSports on Twitter. 

Predicting Top Matches from Match Day 5 of the UEFA Champions League

The group stage of the UEFA Champions League is quickly coming to a close. With two match days left, it’s time to see who truly wants to reach the knockout rounds of Europe’s most prestigious club tournament. Some of Europe’s top teams have already claimed their ticket to the second round, while others are battling it out to join the party. Here’s a look at some of the top fixtures of week 5.

Manchester City vs Bayern München

The German giants have already secured a place in the knockout rounds leaving it to be an all or nothing game for Manchester. There is immense pressure on City to overcome their recent struggles on the international level. Anything less than 3 points, and City will be forced to focus their season solely on the Premier League. Bayern is currently plagued with injuries, but with City’s less than stellar form, it will even out. I believe Manchester’s European woes will continue for another year.

Bayern wins 2-0

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CSKA Moscow vs AS Roma

Another match that will decide Group E. Roma has only 4 points from 4 games just as Moscow does. Both teams will be hoping to add 3 more points and follow Bayern to the knock out phases. However, I don’t believe home field advantage will be enough for the Russians.

Roma take it 2-1

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Paris St. Germain vs AJAX Amsterdam

Although PSG is already at the top of Group F with 10 points, the French champions will hope to add 3 more points to stay in 1st ahead of Barcelona. Ajax with only 2 points is already out of contention for a place in the knockout rounds.

PSG win 3-1

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APOEL vs FC Barcelona

Standing in 2nd place of Group F with 9 points, Barcelona will be looking for a full 3 points to bump Paris down to 2nd. APOEL, (being the worst team in the group with 1 point from 4 matches) will be praying that they simply won’t get dismantled by the Spanish powerhouse. They better pray hard. Very hard.

Barcelona crushes APOEL 4-0

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Shalke 04 vs Chelsea

Chelsea is running on some very impressive form. With Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, almost anything is possible for The Blues. However, Shalke is not a team who should be overlooked, especially in Germany. It will be a hard fought match between the two.

It will end in a 2-2 draw.

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Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

A match up that has become very familiar the past few seasons. With Galatasaray and Anderlecht already out of the race for a spot in the Round of 16, it’s up to Dortmund and Arsenal to see who goes forward in 1st and 2nd place. Arsenal will want to make up for a loss to Manchester United in the Premier League, while Dortmund will want to stay ahead of Arsenal in 1st. It will be a tough one for Dortmund, especially after losing Marcos Reus to injury but I think they can pull it off.

BVB edges Arsenal 2-1

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Ludogorets vs Liverpool

It has not been a happy few weeks for Liverpool. On a run of poor form, Steven Gerrard and Co. will hope to make amends and stay alive in the completion. Ludogorets is no pushover though, as they already showed at Anfield. Home field advantage will make them more dangerous this time around.

Liverpool’s bad form continues as they draw 1-1

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Atletico Madrid vs Olympiakos

Olympiakos will be pushing for the win and to move even with Madrid on 9 points. However, Diego Simeone’s side will want to keep their spot at the top of Group A. Olympiakos will have to bring nothing less than 100% if they hope to win in the Spanish Capital.

Atletico takes it 2-0

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FC Basel vs Real Madrid

What more can be said about defending champions Real Madrid? They are firing on all cylinders and continue to tear teams apart. Already qualified for the next round, Los Blancos will more than likely sit out some of their stars, but they have enough depth to still make Basel cringe even at home.

Madrid easily wins 3-0.

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Why Manuel Neuer Should Win The Ballon D’Or over Messi and Ronaldo

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The FIFA Balon D’OR is arguably the most prestigious individual award a player can win, awarded to the best player that year had to offer. Zinedine Zidane, Ricardo Kaka, Ronaldinho, Luis Figo, the list of legendary footballers who have won this award goes on and on. January is soon approaching, and another winner must be named.

Each year, a list of 23 players is chosen as a shortlist for the award, and is eventually narrowed down to a final 3.

Here is this years list of 23 contenders:

Gareth Bale, Wales, Real Madrid
Karim Benzema, France, Real Madrid
Diego Costa, Spain, Chelsea
Thibaut Courtois, Belgium, Chelsea
Angel Di Maria, Argentina, Manchester United
Mario Gotze, Germany, Bayern Munich
Eden Hazard, Belgium, Chelsea
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden, Paris Saint-Germain
Andres Iniesta, Spain, Barcelona
Toni Kroos, Germany, Real Madrid
Philipp Lahm, Germany, Bayern Munich
Javier Mascherano, Argentina, Barcelona
Lionel Messi, Argentina, Barcelona
Thomas Muller, Germany, Bayern Munich
Manuel Neuer, Germany, Bayern Munich
Neymar, Brazil, Barcelona
Paul Pogba, France, Juventus
Sergio Ramos, Spain, Real Madrid
Arjen Robben, Netherlands, Bayern Munich
James Rodriguez, Colombia, Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, Real Madrid
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany, Bayern Munich
Yaya Toure, Ivory Coast, Manchester City

Of these 23 fine footballers, there are 3 who stand out. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Manuel Neuer. It is extremely probable that these 3 men will end up as the final 3 to win the prestigious award. However, German Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is the man who should be taking the prize home this time around.

 

“The Ballon d’Or tends to go to a player who has performed exceptionally well at the World Cup, someone who won it, so this year it should be for a Germany player. It was always that way until 2010 when Leo Messi won despite having a fairly average World Cup, so nothing is for certain.”

These were the words of UEFA president Michel Platini, and he has a very solid point. If anyone should win the Ballon D’Or, it must be someone who was part of the Germany Squad that won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. You might ask then, why not Thomas Müller, top scorer for the German side at the World Cup & winner of the Silver Ball along with Silver Boot? Or Mario Götze, who was the one that scored the winning goal to give Germany it’s fourth world championship. Although Müller is a huge part of the German National Team, and made a good impact at this years competition, he was not as decisive in the later stages of the tournament. Götze did win Germany the whole thing, but otherwise struggled and barely played prior to the final. That leaves Manuel Neuer, who could truly challenge Ronaldo and Messi to win the award.

Cristiano Ronaldo is favored by many to win a 2nd Consecutive Ballon D’Or, which would also be the 3rd of his career. This past season Ronaldo flourished for his club Real Madrid, scoring 31 goals in 31 La Liga games, as well as breaking records, one by scoring 17 goals in 11 games in the UEFA Champions League. Ronaldo played an important role in helping the Spanish Giants finally win “La Decima” or 10th UEFA Champions League in its history as well as capturing the Spanish Copa Del Rey. Ronaldo seemed unstoppable as he scored goal after goal to help Real have a very successful season. However, it wouldn’t be all smiles for Ronaldo by the time the World Cup came around. Portugal had been drawn into what many called “The Group of Death” along with Germany, Ghana, and the United States. Ronaldo had little to no impact in helping his country, as they fell 3-0 to Germany, drew 2-2 with the Americans, and narrowly beat Ghana 2-1. These results would not be enough, as in those 3 games Ronaldo only managed to score 1 goal, and the Portuguese crashed out of the tournament, failing to advance out of the Group Stage.

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Lionel Messi, still considered by many to be the best player in the world, and even of all time, is also a favorite to win the Ballon D’Or, which would be his 5th. In the 2013-2014 season Messi bagged 28 goals in 31 La Liga appearances, beaten only by Ronaldo. Although he produced dominant numbers for his team Barcelona, the Catalan and Spanish Club did not have a very good season. They lost the La Liga campaign to Atletico Madrid, who would also knock them out of the UEFA Champions League in the Quarter-Finals. They also lost in the Final of the Spanish Copa Del Rey to arch rivals Real Madrid. However, Messi would turn a poor club season around at the 2014 World Cup. Argentina were drawn into a fairly easy group deemed “The Group Of Life” along with Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovia, and Iran. Argentina were favored to win 1st place in the group and advance easily. They did just that, beating all 3 and advancing from the group with 9 out of 9 points. Messi played an important role in helping Argentina then reach the final, beating Switzerland in the Round of 16, Belgium in the Quarter-Finals, and the Netherlands in the Semi-Finals. He scored 4 goals in 7 matches and picked up the Tournaments Best Player Award, although his country would fall 1-0 to Germany in the final, a game in which Messi made almost no impact and missed the few chances he got that could have won Argentina their 3rd World Championship.

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Manuel Neuer, the Germany and Bayern Munich captain is considered by many the best goalkeeper the game has to offer right now. It shouldn’t be wondered why, as the young keeper has won the German Bundeliga, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, FIFA World Cup, as well as many other competitions all by the age of 28. He has truly won it all and has played a vital role for his team in gaining these accomplishments. In the 2013-2014 season Neuer collected 15 clean sheets and 72 saves in 31 Bundesliga matches, helping them win their 24th Bundesliga Title in record time when they defeated Hertha BSC on the 27th match day of the 34 in a season. They would also win the DFB-Pokal, beating rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the final. Although Neur and Co would fall to Real Madrid in the Semi-Finals of the UEFA Champions League, he would play a huge role in helping his country win the 2014 World Cup. Drawn also into the Group Of Death, Germany would face Ronaldo’s Portugal, Ghana, and the United States. They destroyed Portugal 3-0, drew Ghana 2-2, and beat the Americans 1-0. They would go on to defeat Algeria in the Round of 16, France in the Quarter-Finals, and World Cup hosts Brazil in the Semi-Finals. After defeating Argentina in the final, Neuer was awarded the Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament award, keeping 4 clean sheets in 7 matches.

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Currently the 2014-2015 season is underway. Cristiano Ronaldo has so far netted 18 goals in 10 La Liga matches, while Messi has just 7 in 11. Over in the Bundesliga Neuer has 8 clean sheets and 23 saves, also in 11 matches. Although all 3 continue to perform at an elite level, Manuel Neuer is the rightful owner to the upcoming FIFA Ballon D’Or, for both his great success at Club and Country level, as well as his extremely consisted level of play he’s exhibited the past year, and through out his whole career. He has revolutionized how goalkeeping is played. The dream keeper of any defense, the kind who doesn’t need to be asked to come out of his goal. He’s very decisive and hardly ever misjudges plays the opposition may throw at him, especially in important and clutch moments. A huge example was his punch-clearance against Gonzalo Higuain when they both collided while racing towards a ball in the World Cup final. If Neuer had reacted even a split second later he could have been given a red card with a possible penalty in favor of Argentina.

The number of clear goalscoring opportunities Neuer terminates before they even have a chance to truly start are incredible. No current day keeper can run off his line with the decisive effect and precision that Neuer has. None can accurately throw a ball well past the middle of the pitch. Too often is the brilliance of defensive players overlooked by the fancy plays and goals of attacking players. However, there is the old saying “Offense wins you games, defense wins you championships.” That is exactly what the world class Neuer does. He is the backbone of the championship winning formula Bayern and the German Nation Team have put together. It is time that these defensive masterminds earn the recognition they deserve, and none of them deserve it more than Manuel Neuer.

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