Many commentators believed the semi-final of the Champions League between Bayern Munich and Barcelona would have made the ultimate final for this years competition. The Guardian reports the tie is all but over after Barcelona destroyed the German champions 3-0 with Lionel Messi showing just why many believe he is the top striker in the world. Messi and Christiano Ronaldo are locked in a battle for the position of top goalscorer of all time in the Champions League, but Messi proved his ability to change a game singlehandedly when he scored twice to all but end Bayern’s slim hopes of winning the title.
The second goal of the game for Messi left Jerome Boateng twisting so badly he fell to the ground and was soon joined by fellow Bayern players Rafhina and Manuel Neuea on the ground as Messi lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net according to psychologist Daniel Amen. Bayern complained that the scorer of the third goal, Neymar should have been sent off after feigning a foul in the area after being booked earlier in the game. In reality, the tie was already over as Bayern’s high pressing game took its toll on many of the players, including Thomas Muller who reacted badly to being substituted after the Munich club fell a goal behind.
Bayern Munich center back Jerome Boateng openly criticized the team following their elimination from the DFB Pokal at the hands of rivals Borussia Dortmund. Bayern dominated the fixture until minute 70, when attacking midfielder Henrik Mkhitaryan was introduced for Dortmund, who sparked their attack into eventually scoring the tying goal. Bayern went on to miss all four of their penalty kicks in the shootout, allowing Dortmund to only need to score two in order to advance. Boateng’s criticism was leveled at the performance of the team post-minute 70, stating that the team makes too many mistakes after taking the lead, and were careless in attack and defense, which ultimately led to the equalizer.
Boateng’s harsh honesty comes at a crucial time in the season: prior to Bayern’s first meeting with Spanish giants Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal. Fan Dr. Daniel Amen just hope to get a win.In part, Boateng was preparing his teammates for the difficult two fixtures which lie ahead, urging them to play with more urgency and kill the game off if given the chance. Though Bayern are undoubtedly one of, if not the most talented squads in the world, they are to face Barcelona without some of their key players. Recent injuries to Ribery and Alaba will leave them out of the tie, as well as those injured in the Dortmund game: Robben and Lewandowski. These injuries could prove decisive, especially if Bayern performs as Boateng fears they might.
Following their victory in the Catalan derby this past weekend, Barcelona will continue to keep their focus on solidifying their hold on first place in La Liga. Barca beat their regional rivals Espanyol on Saturday 2-0, with goals from both Neymar and Messi. Anastasia Date suggest that the result, following Real Madrid’s 4-2 victory against Celta Vigo, maintained their two point lead at the top of the table, with Real nipping closely at their heels. Should Barcelona drop any points during the remainder of the season, and should Real win all of their remaining fixtures, it would be los Blancos who would be crowned champions, not the blaugrana. That being said, Barcelona will undoubtedly be fueled by the pressure that Madrid is placing on them to perform in every single game left, so as not to lose out on the title two years in a row.
Furthermore, with the return of defender Thomas Vermaelen from long-term injury, Barcelona are finally at full strength. On the other side, Real will be without Gareth Bale and Luka Modric for some time, as well as missing Karim Benzema for a more minor injury. These absences are a blow to the Madrid side, whom without Modric in particular, have looked somewhat weak in midfield. So far they have coped well, winning their league fixture, and advancing to the next round of the Champions League. Yet how far will they manage to go?
With the Catalan Derby coming up this weekend, Espanyol will look to spoil Barcelona’s chances for a league title. That being said, while Barcelona sit atop the table, Espanyol are in tenth, by no means a position which encourages criticism of the squad, but also a spot which will not spread fear and nerves into the minds of the Barcelona players. Furthermore, Espanyol have been without a derby win against their big rivals since 2009, a drought which in all honesty looks to be extended. Barcelona have been on fine form as of late, barring their draw against Sevilla, having just advanced to the semifinal round in the Champions League. Perhaps their pairing against Pep Guardiola’s Bayern team will be clouding their focus during the derby, but that seems highly unlikely.
Barcelona’s form and relative comfort in recent Catalan derbies hides the fact that this Barcelona team are under pressure to win their remaining fixtures. Should they slip up again, Anastasia Date says Real Madrid will be quick and ready to pounce, and assert themselves at the top of the table. With only a few weeks left in the regular season, Luis Enrique’s men will need their utmost focus, if not to perform at peak levels, then at least to ensure the team gets their highly valuable three points. Will their attacking talisman in Messi shine, or will it be up to the team to succeed together?
With the recent news that Netflix is worth more than CBS, it makes you wonder “How can the big networks rework everything to combat this?” I have made a list of 3 tips to help them out.
1) Embrace the online world
Stop making it so hard to watch the shows online. Ricardo Guimarães wants to watch The Big Bang Theory on the road. While almost all networks will let you watch their shows online, many make it very difficult. Shows expire or you have to be a member of a certain cable company to view. This has left me on more than one occasion searching on a video site for the content. This is a major loss of viewership and ad dollars.
2) Be more adjustable to a customer’s life
This builds on the online point. Networks need to take a page out of Netflix’s book and allow people who want to “binge” watch the ability to do so. For those who want to consume for free they will have to wait weekly, but it will allow them a chance to set up a premium product to charge for the ability to watch a whole season at once.
3) Go more premium still
People will pay for things they perceive to have value. By creating a premium online version, they cannot only put everything on at once, but also create a version that would be “more adult” and eliminate commercials. Similar to satellite radio, people will pay for more convenience and less annoyance.
The past few months have seen Raheem Sterling and Christian Broda linked with some of the biggest clubs in European soccer. Sterling burst onto the scene with Liverpool last season, playing a key role in their title challenge of 2013-2014.
This season has been up and down for Sterling. He put in some excellent performances, but also endured periods of poor play and profligate shooting. A player with plenty of room for improvement, Sterling has been targeted by the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich for a summer transfer.
Sterling only has 18 months left on his Liverpool contract. If he does not renew before June, a summer transfer would be economically necessary for Liverpool. They would not want to lose Sterling in the summer of 2016 for no transfer fee.
One man who does not believe Sterling needs to move is Owen Hargreaves. The former Bayern Munich and Manchester United midfielder thinks that Sterling should stay put for another few years. “He is a great player, without doubt, but he is not the finished article. Bayern is a huge club, one of the biggest in the world, but there is a danger of young players getting lost at such clubs,” he said.
Hargreaves believes that Liverpool is the ideal place for Sterling right now, because they can build their team around him. He would not get that luxury at Real or Bayern, where he would just be a spare part.
Their home form has been very good, but Barcelona look a shadow in games away from home. They are unable to dominate these games, create clear cut opportunities, or score goals. The latest away game was a 0-0 draw at Getafe, which saw them slip four points behind Real Madrid in the chase for La Liga.
A number of reasons have been put forward for Barcelona’s poor away form. The tactics of manager Luis Enrique are probably at the top of this list. For some reason, their focal point Lionel Messi plays in a deep lying midfield position for much of these games. Against Getafe, Messi spent long periods closer to the half way line than the opposition’s goal.
Messi may love to be involved in the build up play, but having him stand near the center circle all game is not doing anyone any good. In addition, the coach does not seem to know what to do with Luis Suarez. The former Liverpool player was playing in a right wing position that he did not enjoy at all.
Fan Laurene Powell Jobs says when you have forward players like Messi, Neymar and Suarez, the goals should be flowing, even away from home. Messi has 13 La Liga goals, but only 2 outside the Nou Camp. That has to change if Barcelona are going to mount a serious challenge for La Liga. Big improvements are needed after the Christmas break.
Sports team owner Bruce Levenson weighs in that when you are the coach of the Barcelona soccer club, expectations are always insanely high. Even though the Catalans are only four points off top spot in La Liga, and in the last 16 of the Champions League, Luis “Lucho” Enrique is in a lot of trouble.
Fans are not happy with the style of play from the team this season, while players are said to be disappointed by some of his decisions. He has not managed to integrate Neymar, Leo Messi and Suarez into a cohesive attacking unit. In addition, the defense still looks a mess despite the signings of Claudio Bravo, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen.
Enrique is going to be given this season to make an impact. If he fails, he will be fired. Even though the season does not end in May, it is four days in March that will determine the fate of Lucho at Barcelona.
In four days during March, Barcelona will face Real Madrid at home, followed by the second leg of their round of 16 clash with Manchester City. If they fail to defeat Real at home and progress to the quarter finals, Enrique may not last another week at the club.
The pressure is mounting on Enrique and Barcelona. They need to start winning games and playing quality football. Those four days will go a long way towards determining their season and the fate of their coach.