20
Aug

Sergio Ramos punches Mario Mandzukic in the face, only sees yellow

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Three months after last season’s Champions League final, Atletico and Real Madrid faced off again on Tuesday night in the first leg of the Spanish Supercopa.

In the second half, new Atletico striker and former Bayern Munich man Mario Mandzukic reintroduced himself to Sergio Ramos, charging at and landing on top of the defender after a duel in the air.

None too pleased, Ramos retaliated whilst on the ground with a clean punch to Mandzukic’s jaw, a perfectly reasonable response in MMA fighting, not so much in a football match.

We’ll see if there will be any repercussions for Ramos in the next few days. We reckon that’s worthy of just a bit more than a yellow card.

28
May

Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t celebrate Sergio Ramos’ epic goal in UCL final

Cristiano Ronaldo is the best soccer player in the world today. That’s not even up for debate at the moment.

But for all his incredible talent, Ronaldo still hasn’t learned how to appreciate someone else’s. The Champions League final provided us with the latest - and by far strongest - piece of evidence:

Judging from Ronaldo’s reaction, you would’ve thought Sergio Ramos’ dramatic equalizer in stoppage time of (again) the Champions League final was actually a meaningless goal scored in the preseason.

Come! On!

Not even a quick stroll over to the corner flag to give Ramos a pat on the back for saving his the day?

Of course, Ronaldo couldn’t wait to rip his shirt off and go into a full-body flex as if he was running for Mr. Olympia after scoring on a penalty kick in the final seconds of extra time, when Real had already put the game to bed:

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Ronaldo, you are the best. But would it kill you to not be such a blatant egomaniac?

24
May

The 2014 Champions League final: A visual timeline

The location was the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, and the occasion was the first UEFA Champions League final played between two teams from the same city: Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Thousands of fans who couldn’t score a ticket to Lisbon watched from their respective home stadiums in Madrid. And since Real’s Bernabeu and Atletico’s Vicente Calderon are located just five miles from one another, they probably could hear each others’ chants as if they were at the game:

Okay, on to the match.

It started out, well, strange. Diego Costa, Atletico’s hobbled star striker, was subbed off after just nine minutes. And no, nobody could figure out why he started in the first place.

imageThe third-fastest substitution in European Cup final history (Getty Image).

It didn’t seem to matter, at least at first. 

Diego Godin — who scored last weekend’s winner against Barcelona to clinch the La Liga title — struck again to give Atletico a 1-0 lead before halftime, profiting from Iker Casillas’ huge error:

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It would stay 1-0 for what seemed like an eternity to Real Madrid fans. The 90th minute passed, the game was in stoppage time, and Atletico could already taste their first ever Champions League triumph.

But then, with only 120 seconds left on the clock, Sergio Ramos did THIS:

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BOOM! You should probably listen to Gus Johnson’s incredible call for that goal. Pure madness:

Real were level, Atletico were denied the trophy at the death, and Casillas, the man responsible for the first goal, was easily the happiest man on the field:

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We were going to extra time, and we needed a hero.

That’s when Gareth Bale paid back every single penny from his $130 million transfer from Spurs last summer:

Gus Johnson, once again, you are the greatest.

Watch the goal again, and again… and a few more times:

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It was the first goal ever scored in extra time of a final in the Champions League era. And it wouldn’t be the last.

Suddenly in the mood, Real went on to score twice more — one being a Ronaldo penalty kick — to put the game under wraps. More importantly, this gave Ronaldo a chance to remove his shirt:

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And with that full-body flex, Real Madrid were crowned Champions of Europe:

The celebrations spilled over to the media conference room, where Carlo Ancelotti was ambushed by a pack of his rowdy players:

Of course, in Madrid the party was just getting started as well:

Though not everyone in the Spanish capital was probably in the mood:

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Ah yes, euphoria and heartbreak - the two inherent components to every final. See you next season, Champions League.

24
May

Trecker’s Travels: Spanish football takes spotlight in Lisbon

LISBON —

The winds have been blowing hard into Lisbon this week, whipping off the river Tagus and through the winding alleys of Chiado. It’s added a wrinkle to Saturday’s big match as the memories of the last big blow through here remains fresh.

This February, big hunks of the roof of the Estadio da Luz plummeted to the turf before the Lisbon derby, glass and padding shattering on the surface below. Portugal was lucky: the incident happened in advance of the game, so no one was hurt, but the debris continued to cascade down, causing some angst among UEFA officials. Happily, the damage was repaired, the game went on, and here we are.

No one expects a repeat of that here on Saturday, but it’s a bit apt considering that the winds of change are sweeping through the game.

This is Spain’s time. Regardless of who wins on Saturday night, Spain will hold four of the five major trophies in the world sport. (The final one, the Copa America, they not eligible for). Sevilla upset Benfica ten days ago in the Europa League; Spain are also the defending European and World Cup champions. A Madrid team will hold the European Cup on Saturday. The only blemish on this recent run, if you can call it that, is the national team’s second-place finish at the distinctly second-tier Confederations Cup. This moment, right here, could stand as a capstone for a remarkable era in world football, a period of dominance not seen since West Germany’s reign over world football in 1975 (Only one trophy in 1975, the now-defunct Cup Winner’s Cup, was outside of German hands).

The Spanish fans who packed the Metro this afternoon to overflowing are rightfully giddy, even if their presence has been met with some chagrin. There is no statue of Neptune here, but the fans have been clambering up anything stone in Rossio Square, with scarves and flags since the sun came up, and Real fans have simply taken over two whole plazas in a sort of Occupy Lisbon movement. You cannot walk on the platform at Marques de Pombal without tripping over a red and white flag. And good luck getting a seat at any café in Chiado as they’re all taken by guys in orange, purple or white. Benfica’s treble? Forgot by all but A Bola, the local sports paper that somewhat grudgingly gave space to the final on their cover on Saturday (Yesterday’s cover? A take-out on Jan Oblak, Benfica’s goalkeeper).

It’s a friendly crowd as well, with packs passing each other on the streets or the trams, trading cheers and tuneless songs — but without a shred of menace. Some of that is due to the historic achievement gap between these two, but some of it has to be the fact that this is Spain’s time in the sun.

How long this lasts is open to debate. Atletico have been overachievers in the extreme, low-cost Davids who have ejected a series of clubs backed by sugar daddies and petrodollars. Real Madrid and Barcelona have money to burn, but the latter is on the slide and seems to be entering a rebuilding period. And Spain, while a favorite in Brazil, are not the favorites to win the whole thing.

Fans of Spanish football should enjoy it while it lasts.

23
May

Diego Costa looks like he may start in the Champions League final after all

After pulling out of Atletico Madrid’s final La Liga match last weekend with a knee injury, it wasn’t looking good for Diego Costa heading into the Champions League final. 

Apparently, his health has taken a sharp turn in the right direction over the last six days.

His hamstring doesn’t look like it’s troubling him at all, does it?

Even more video emerged from Costa training with Atletico on Friday, and it now seems entirely possible that he could start against Real on Saturday (live on FOX at 2 p.m. ET).

That magical horse placenta is quite the miracle worker, huh?

(H/T r/soccer)

18
May

Spanish brothel promised free prostitutes if Atletico won La Liga?

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Promises are promises. Then there’s this.

Atletico Madrid capped off one of the most memorable La Liga title races in recent memory after rallying to win their first Spanish Primera Division crown in 18 years. Los Colchoneros, 100/1 underdogs before the start of the 2013-14 season, needed only a draw against defending champion Barcelona at the Camp Nou to make history.

And that’s exactly what Atletico accomplished on Saturday, and that’s where the story gets interesting.

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