Real, Atletico Madrid renew Champions League hostilities

The UEFA football Champion's league draw semifinals is displayed on a screen in Nyon on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2017
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Real, Atletico Madrid renew Champions League hostilities

NYON, Switzerland: Holders Real Madrid face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinals as the city rivals do battle once more and French surprise-package Monaco take on Juventus, following the draw on Friday.
The all-Madrid showdown is a rerun of the 2014 and 2016 finals in Europe’s top club competition, with a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Real victorious on both occasions in cagey affairs that they failed to settle after 90 minutes each time.
Real — aiming to become the first team to retain the Champions League — will host Atletico at the Santiago Bernabeu on May 2 and a free-scoring Monaco side brimming with some of Europe’s hottest young talents are home to a defensively brilliant Juventus on May 3, with the second legs the following week.
Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno said: “We know each other very well, this is the fourth time we meet Atletico in the Champions League but it will not be a final this time.
“Every detail will count and we will have to be very careful, they defend very well and have high-quality players who know how to take advantage of mistakes,” he told BeINSports.
Going into the draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland all four teams were making the usual noises: there is nothing to choose between any of them, they said publicly.
But the 39-year-old Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon broke ranks, saying that he would prefer to avoid a wily Atletico side because they are out of the La Liga title race so can rest players for Europe.
Buffon, one of the best goalkeepers of all time but who has never won the Champions League, got his wish in missing out on Diego Simeone’s side, who would dearly love to get one over Real and Ronaldo this time on Europe’s biggest stage.
But instead he must face teenage striking sensation Kylian Mbappe, 18, and a rejuvenated Radamel Falcao.
Pavel Nedved, the former midfielder who is now an ambassador for Juventus, told BeINSports of the Monaco match-up: “It’s 50-50. They have very young players who are under no pressure, who can play without fear.
“That is their strength, their asset.”
Vadim Vasilyev, the French side’s vice president, said they would be motivated by the bitter memories of being turfed out of the competition by the Italians in 2015 in the quarterfinals.
“It will be a matter of revenge, clearly,” he said. “We’re better than two years ago, no doubt about it.”
French league leaders Monaco are the outsiders but they have already claimed victims in Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals and Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur before that.
The French side — Buffon labelled them “feisty” — are full of attacking vim and have hit a staggering 141 goals in all competitions this season.
Real Madrid, for whom Ronaldo hit a hat-trick as they saw off Bayern Munich in the quarters, are favorites with British bookmakers.
But Juventus were hugely impressive in beating Barcelona 3-0 in the first leg and then holding the Spanish champions to a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou on Wednesday in a defensive masterclass.
Beaten Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has tipped Italian champions Juventus to lift the trophy they last won in 1996 and they will be favorites against Monaco, especially because the second leg will be in Turin.
“Over the two legs they were better than us so they deserve to go through to the semifinals. I think they can win the Champions League this season,” the Spanish international said after Buffon shut out Lionel Messi and Barcelona over 180 minutes of football.
The final is in Cardiff on June 3.


Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

Updated 25 June 2018
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Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

  • The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament
  • The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal

KAZAN: Radamel Falcao, Yerry Mina and Juan Cuadrado scored as stylish Colombia boosted their World Cup last 16 hopes with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday.
In a match destined to see the loser sent home after the group stages, Colombia overcame a nervous start against Adam Nawalka’s men to move up to third place in Group H, one point behind Japan and Senegal.
The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament.
“I’m very sorry and very sad about the result, but tomorrow’s another day and we have to come to terms with things,” said Poland coach Adam Nawalka.
“Our players did their best until the end of the game. We lost to a very strong team and this is something we have to accept.
“I extend my congratulations to Colombia.”
The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal, who drew 2-2 with Japan earlier in the day.
Colombia’s march to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago came thanks to James Rodriguez’s six-goal tally for Los Cafeteros.
And days after a troublesome calf injury restricted him to a half-hour cameo role as 10-man Colombia stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Japan, the Bayern Munich midfielder was back to his best.
Starting alongside Juan Quintero and Cuadrado on the right, Colombia’s ultra-offensive starting line-up was a forewarning.
After riding a tense start that forced Mina and then Wilmar Barrios to react quickly to thwart early threats from Robert Lewandowski, Colombia eventually got into their stride.
Cuadrado was wasteful on several occasions when finding space deep on the right flank.
The Juventus winger’s trickery would eventually pay dividends, but it was Falcao — who has dreamed all his life of scoring a World Cup goal — who turned on the style, dancing through the Polish defense to win the corner that led to Colombia’s opener.
Rodriguez’s short corner eventually found Quintero, whose smart through ball back to Rodriguez gave him time and space to curl a perfect left-footed cross that Mina rose to header powerfully past Szczesny on 40 minutes.
Colombia resumed in positive fashion, Cuadrado holding up well to set up Falcao for a first-time drive that sailed over Szczesny’s crossbar.
A Colombia counter saw Falcao’s drive from the edge of the area deflected out for a corner.
Nawalka replaced Dawid Kownacki with the more experienced Kamil Grosicki and the switch almost paid dividends.
Only the bravery of goalkeeper David Ospina saved Colombia from conceding what looked like the equalizer when he rushed out to block from Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker did well to get a shot away from a long ball from midfield.
Poland threatened again, but when Lewandowski got his head to a cross into the area he was marked by both Mina and Davinson Sanchez.
Colombia, however, were not to be denied.
When right-back Sanitago Arias found Quintero, the midfielder sliced Poland’s defense apart with a low pass that found Falcao on the run before he beat Szczesny down low with the outside of his right boot.
Five minutes later, Rodriguez produced arguably the assist of the night, drawing several Polish players on the left flank before somehow finding Cuadrado on the run with a superb cross-field pass that the pacey winger tucked away.