Michael. H looks into an action packed footie weekend
Here is this weekend’s slate of soccer games with TV information (all times ET):
- Championship Playoff Final: Hull City v Sheffield Wednesday; Wimbley Stadium, London (beIN Sports, Saturday, 11am)
- UEFA Champions League Final: Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid; Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan (FOX, Saturday, 1:45pm)
- International Friendly: USA v Bolivia; Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City (Fox Sports 1, Saturday, 7pm)
- Liga MX Clausura Final: Monterrey v Pachuca; Estadio BBVA Bancomer, Guadalupe (Univision, Sunday, 8:30pm)
UEFA Champions League Final
This year’s iteration of the biggest soccer game in the world as long as it’s not a World Cup year will be played by two teams from the same Spanish city. The Madrid Derby is always a raucous affair and, even though the final is being played in Italy, this should be even more drama-filled as the two teams compete for the highest prize in club soccer (plus the whole big brother, little brother thing). Adding to the drama are the rumblings that Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid’s current manager and club legend as a player, may get the boot if his side loses to Atleti. This makes absolutely no sense, but nothing much does in the insane world of European soccer.
Check out this interesting piece by Elliott Turner on Fernando Torres, one of Atletico Madrid’s most worshiped stars, who returned from spells in England and Italy to help lead his boyhood club to the mountain top. Added fuel for the fire: These two met in the 2014 Champions League Final with Real winning 4-1 in extra time. Atleti have been runners-up twice; Real have won the thing ten times (most ever).
Championship Playoff Final
Dubbed the “richest game in football,” the winner of the playoff receives promotion to the English Premier League, which is akin to hitting a large-sized Mega Millions jackpot. Various factors go into determining how much a club will receive upon promotion, but Hull City and Sheff Wednesday stand to be awarded, according to Sky Sports (I converted pounds to dollars because I am a genius), between $161 million to $250 million.
Hull City have been a Premier League team with regularity since 2008. They spent this past season in the Championship, seeking to climb back up to the top-flight with a win tomorrow. Sheffield Wednesday (best club name in England) was in the Premiership from 1999-2000, but have not been back since. It’s safe to say that both sets of supporters will be losing their tea-and-strumpet loving minds.
Liga MX Clausura Final
The domestic Mexican soccer league is a good league. Level of play and average talent have been higher than MLS for the last 15 years, but I think that has changed recently. Anyway, in Liga MX, the final is decided by a two-game series that uses aggregate scoring (whoever has the most total goals from both games wins). Pachuca won the first leg 1-0, leaving Monterrey with a lot of work to do on Sunday.
Why should you care about this game? Each team has a USMNT defender within its ranks. Edgar Castillo, who was just called in to the US Copa America squad due to an injury to Timmy Chandler, gets regular playing time for Monterrey – although he didn’t play in the first leg. One of Pachuca’s starting center back is Omar Gonzalez, who was probably the worst snub handed out by Jurgen Klinsmann when the 23 for Copa America were revealed. Just to clarify: a large, experienced center back, with a lot of USMNT minutes under his belt, and who is a key player for a team trying to win a league title, was passed over for Michael Orozco, who hasn’t done anything of note for a soccer team ever, probably (3 games for Tijuana this year).
USA v Bolivia (Bonus Preferred Lineup)
Bolivia have an OK soccer team, but they are still a South American soccer team (meaning it won’t be a walk in the park). The USMNT are looking to ride the victory wave into Kansas City. A bright second half against a good Ecuador team on Thursday – featuring a lot of young talent – have USA fans feeling hopeful. But there is always the change that Klinsmann will don a blindfold and throw darts at the wall to pick his starting lineup, leaving us with Beckerman starting somehow.
With only two days between games, look for a lot of changes. I really want to see Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic, and Bobby Wood to start together. And I REALLY want Michael Bradley in the role he occupied in the second half against Ecuador: deep-lying playmaker. All us fans can really do is hope and wish. Jurgen is about to catch these hands.
More likely due to resting players:
Enjoy all the soccer.FOLLOW THE OPEN FIELD