Chelsea FC have won their fifth EPL Championship.
Way to go Blues!
For the fourth time in the last ten years, Chelsea F.C. are champions of the English Premier League. The Blues got it done today against Palace, thanks to a goal from Eden Hazard. They earned all three points with a 1-0 victory, putting them at 83, where no one can catch them. Congrats to the boys from Stamford Bridge, 2014-2015 EPL Champions!
If you are a club in the English Premier League, there are only two ways to qualify for the prestigious Champions League competition, finish in the top four of the EPL or hold the cup. After finishing sixth, the Blues had only one avenue left, win it all. Tonight they succeed in doing just that. And as cup holders, they will be returning next year.
Just a short month ago things looked fairly bleak at Stamford Bridge. Their coach had been sacked, they had lost any chance of a league title and were just barely still in contention for one of the qualifying positions. Their worst season in a decade was about to produce zero hardware and a bounty of doubts about the team’s direction. Yet, after an improbable romp through London, Barcelona and Bavaria, Chelsea are now holders of both the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup.
You are the premier European Club of 2012. Congratulations Blues!
Updated 4-26-11: The initial enthusiasm expressed below was somewhat muted by the scoreless games that followed, but against West Ham, Torres finally showed what the non-believers have been waiting for. Number nine took about that many minutes to put his stamp on this match. He scored his first goal in blue, made a lovely assist on another and almost a third as he laced a cross past the defenders swarming on him. His goal came on a brilliant turn, after losing his pace to a puddle on the soaked pitch, he turned and hit the net corner beyond the helpless keeper. He was roundly mobbed by his teammates, and just as importantly, sealed a victory that keeps Chelsea’s slim hopes alive. Well done Fernando.
On Sunday, millions of fans across America will be watching the Superbowl, but the only football game I’m interested in will be taking place in jolly ‘ol England.
With their recent acquisition of Fernando Torres, Chelsea is ready to make a run for the Champions League trophy, as well as a hopeful defense of their EPL crown. With Man U and Arsenal both failing to garner three points in their latest fixtures, a huge opportunity has presented itself, making this an even bigger game than normal. With Torres making his debut for the Blues against his former team, it’s a must see.
So, as millions gather to drink beer and root for teams they really don’t care about, I will be in my black away jersey cheering on my favorite footballers. Go Chelsea!
Spain has garnered its first World Cup Championship, defeating the Netherlands 1-0. La Furia Roja became the first team to lose its opening game and still go on to claim the cup. They victimized each of their last four opponents with late goals leading to 1-0 results.
South Africa 2010 will be remembered for many reasons. Here are a few of them:
Spain’s first World Cup Championship.
Germany’s surprising surge and the early exit for both Italy and France.
Donovan’s late goal to produce the U.S.A.’s first top place finish in World Cup group play.
The Dutch losing in the final … again.
The what ifs of Essien for Ghana and Ballack for Germany, two premier midfielders (both out with injuries) that could have pushed their teams even deeper into the tournament.
I enjoyed the tournament immensely and can’t wait for 2014.
The field of thirty-two has now been trimmed to eight and three of my magnificent five are still alive. Brazil, Argentina and Spain have all pushed forward with attacks that well … push forward.
Brazil will face my lone remaining danger team, the Netherlands. My other two dark horses, Portugal and France, are gone. France exited without threatening anyone, or anything, except their own national pride. Portugal had a good run, making it through the group of death, but bowed out to Spain. Their 1-0 loss reveals the hazard of deferring to your superstar. One bad game and you’re done.
Another team that deserves mention is Japan. With Africa hosting, Europe and South America dominant on the field and the U.S. winning their group, Asia was an afterthought in the field of sixteen. Japan nearly changed that. They came one errant penalty kick away from breaking into the quarterfinals. Honda was a revelation, reaffirming one of my greatest attractions to this eclectic event which commences every forty-eight months, the chance to see brilliance from a relatively unheralded player. His assist in the final group match was at least as impressive as any goal.
Speaking of goals, I would have to say the Tevez blast from outside the box was my favorite so far.
The Final Eight as I see it.
Uruguay vs. Ghana: Although Uruguay won their group they could be considered the underdog when facing Ghana. Ghana’s strength is their strength, especially in midfield, and they will own the crowd. A victory by either team will place them in the semifinals as the clear Cinderella of 2010.
Brazil vs. Netherlands: The best matchup of the quarterfinals, the winner has an inside track to the championship. The Dutch are playing magnificent team ball and a victory would erase many past disappointments for the orange. Brazil has been dominant and would love to be defending the cup when they host in four years. If they play Ghana in the semifinals it will be a rematch from the knockout stage of 2006. It will also be a showcase for the two best holding midfields in the tournament (even with Essien out for Ghana).
Argentina vs. Germany: Another great matchup between traditional powers. Germany has done well so far, despite their youth. The underwhelming performance put on against them by England was a gift they should not expect to be repeated by Argentina. Tevez and Messi present a level of talent they have not yet seen in the tournament.
Paraguay vs. Spain: Once again, Spain finds itself at the doorstep, but if they wish to break through, they best not look past this fixture to the winner of Argentina/Germany. Paraguay’s defense will be less stout than Portugal, but their counter attacks will be more potent.
There are several scenarios remaining for the final, including an all South American or all European match. Africa could crown its first ever champion. The Netherlands or Spain could erase their perpetual also-ran status. No matter what happens, one thing is certain. Four tasty games are on the menu.
Round one is over and we’ve learned a few things. The five on my short list were not impressive.
Of the teams I highlighted, Argentina was the only one that was never threatened. Brazil won too, but only after falling behind. England and Italy managed draws, and in a flop that would put Ronaldo to shame, Spain lost to the Swiss. The much touted Spaniards drop to the bottom of group H and have to be a bit nervous. In a Samson-esque move, Torres cut his hair. After today’s woeful performance, he might be looking into extensions. Speaking of losses, Italy will be without their number one keeper indefinitely.
On a brighter note, the U.S. played well and the Danes looked good, even in a loss to one of my “dangerous” teams, the Netherlands. Now it’s on to the second games, where the elite squads should begin to assert themselves while the surprise sides just hope to hang on.
Yes, I admit it, I love soccer. And there is no better time for a fan of the beautiful game than the World Cup Championship. Every four years, the soccer world descends on a pre-ordained host nation. The world’s best players competing in the world’s best tournament for over a month. It’s soccer nerd nirvana.
Who will be crowned this year? Brazil, Italy,England? Contenders are numerous, but as talented as the field is, I think the eventual champion will emerge from the following group of just five elite squads: Brazil, Italy, Spain, England and Argentina.
Brazil: More World Cup titles than any other nation. Need I say more?
Italy: Defending champs, a very talented and cohesive squad. Their roster is 100% filled with Serie A players.
England: Most aficionados reading this post just busted out laughing. England’s national team has broken more hearts than any British group since the Beatles. Their ability to disappoint is legendary. Nonetheless, Rooney is healthy at last and their back four are solid with Ferdinand, Terry and Cole.
Spain: The Spaniards are also notorious for falling short on the world stage, but Torres is a special talent and Fabregas is a crafty dealer. This team feels similar to the French squad of four years ago.
Argentina: The only team besides Brazil to win a World Cup away from their home continent, Argentina has talent and bravado to spare in Tevez and Messi.
Dangerous teams to watch …
Portugal: The best team no one is talking about. Ronaldo has the ability to take over any game.
The Netherlands: Another team getting little press, but I guarantee, no one wants to play them.
France: Still loaded with talent, but do they have the will, now that Z.Z. is gone?
Sentimental favorite: Denmark. While most casual fans I know will be pulling for the U.S. (and I will too), I will also be rooting for the Danes. They represent part of my heritage and I’m proud of them for getting to South Africa while their big, bad neighbors from across the Baltic are at home washing their shin guards.
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