Diego Simeone ‘convinced’ Atletico can pull off Real miracle

Atletico Madrid’s Argentinian coach Diego Simeone (L) gestures on the sideline with Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane in background during the UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg football match Real Madrid CF vs Club Atletico de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on May 2, 2017. (AFP/Gerard Julien)

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes overturning a 3-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg deficit against Real Madrid would be “impossible” for others, but not for his side.

Simeone’s men must pull off a remarkable comeback in Wednesday’s second leg to avoid being dumped out of the Champions League for a fourth straight season by their cross-city rivals.

“On Wednesday we have a very difficult game. For some impossible, but not for us,” said Simeone after Atletico secured a top-four finish in La Liga for a fifth straight season with a 1-0 win over Eibar on Saturday.

“I’ve told the players it is very difficult, that we are facing the best team in the world, who score goals in every game, but that it is possible.

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“I am convinced of it. If I wasn’t I wouldn’t say it. If we are united and understand that it is a semi-final at home we have a chance.”

Wednesday’s clash is likely to be the final European game at Atletico’s Vicente Calderon as they move to the new 67,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano next season.

Atletico were given a rousing reception throughout at the Calderon on Saturday despite the disappointment of their 3-0 first-leg capitulation to Real in midweek.

And Saul Niguez’s winner 21 minutes from time ensured they now need just one more point from their final two games to guarantee third place in La Liga ahead of Sevilla and avoid a Champions League qualifier in August.

“They have been nearly six marvellous years. The fans are grateful and the players continue to give their all, to fight and raise themselves after they’ve been knocked down,” added Simeone, who took over as coach in 2011.

“We had big difficulties at the start of the season and situations that meant we lost our consistency that this team has always had.

“With two games to go we are in a strong position and we hope to be able to finish it off in the next game.”

Source – TheJakartaPost

Juventus 3-0 Barcelona: Turin giants stun Barca

Barcelona need another Nou Camp miracle if they are to reach the Champions League semi-finals after a crushing 3-0 loss to Juventus in Turin.

Paulo Dybala struck twice in a stunning first half and Giorgio Chiellini added a rare third after the break as the hosts claimed a commanding advantage ahead of next week’s second leg.

Dismal Barcelona’s only hope is to repeat their feat of the previous round, when they recovered from a 4-0 first-leg loss to Paris St Germain by beating the French side 6-1 at home.

But on the evidence of Tuesday night a second comeback looks highly unlikely after Juventus dominated proceedings with the help of Dybala’s brilliant first-half brace.

The home side hared out from the first whistle and had their first chance after less than three minutes when Gonzalo Higuain wasted a good chance in front of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Luis Enrique’s men, smarting from a domestic defeat to Malaga at the weekend, looked clueless over how to deal with their opponents’ attacking threat and they fell behind with just seven minutes on the clock.

The superb Juan Cuadrado found Dybala on the right side of the box and the striker curled an excellent left-foot shot past the helpless keeper.

Barcelona responded well and could have grabbed an equaliser after 20 minutes when Lionel Messi threaded the ball to Andres Iniesta whose low shot was well saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

Moments later, Juventus surged down the left flank and Mario Mandzukic crossed for the unmarked Dybala, who fired his second of the game past ter Stegen to put the Italians 2-0 up.

Messi had an effort ruled out for offside on the half-hour before Juventus came close to increasing their lead when Cuadrado pulled back for Miralem Pjanic who blazed over the bar.

Barcelona started the second half in much better fashion with Messi rolling an effort inches wide of the upright and Buffon just beating Luis Suarez to an Ivan Rakitic through-ball.

Higuain rolled a weak effort at ter Stegen before Chiellini made it 3-0 after 55 minutes, out-jumping Javier Mascherano to head home only the second Champions League goal of his career.

Knowing a precious away goal could still help turn the tie in their favour, Barcelona began to press with Suarez trickling a fine chance wide then Neymar seeing an effort blocked by the busy Chiellini in the box.

Barcelona’s mis-firing mega-stars endured more frustration in the final quarter of an hour, Suarez mis-controlling after a pass across the six-yard box by Neymar, then Messi mis-judging a fine chance from a corner.

Marshalled by a towering performance by Brazilian Alex Santos, the Juventus defence held out and Messi’s last chance to reduce the deficit came to an end when he spun a free-kick into the Italians’ wall.

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Barcelona creates football miracle

Football may witness the most entertaining game ever as Barcelona welcome Paris Saint-German (PSG) to the Nou Camp on Wednesday for the second leg of the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 showdown. 

The Catalan have a four-goal deficit to overturn from the first leg, a feat that has never been achieved by any team in the history of the competition.

However, if there is a team that can achieve the impossible its Barcelona, especially, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar in their fold.

The MSN can create football’s biggest miracle on a night the attention of the global football audience will be glued to the 22 players on the pitch inside a supercharged atmosphere.

Valentine Blues

Barcelona defeated Alaves 6-0 away from home in La Liga before the Champions League game against Paris Saint-German where they were tagged favourites.

But they were shocked by a smooth PSG side on Valentine’s Day and Luis Enrique’s men were handed one of their biggest defeats in the first leg of a two-legged tie.

Angel di Maria grabbed a brace while Edinson Cavani and Julian Draxler added the other in a comprehensive 4-0 drubbing. The win came with relative ease as the French champions outplayed Barcelona and the scoreline could’ve been worst.

MSN on a mission

On normal circumstances, it is game over after a 4-0 first leg win but with Messi, Suarez, and Neymar in their monstrous best, football fans across the globe can expect a miracle performed by these three wise men.

“There is a dispute to settle. We will do everything to show another image and show people the real Barcelona,” Suarez told France Football.

“It will be difficult to reverse the situation, but not impossible. If a team can overcome such a score, it is Barca. We have the qualities and the character to get out of this complicated situation.”

Barcelona have won all four fixtures after that grueling defeat against PSG, scoring 15 goals and conceding just four in the process with the MSN responsible for nine of the goals.

The huge plus for out-going Enrique going into this fixture is the return to form of the trio but more importantly Messi and he showed just why he has picked up five Ballon D’Or titles with a brilliant solo goal in the 5-0 win against Celta Vigo at the weekend.

Match verdict

Paris Saint-German are a fantastic side and Cavani seems to have rediscovered his best form since Zlatan Ibrahimovic left for Manchester United.

The addition of Julian Draxler has helped bring out the best in Di Maria while Marco Verratti is an absolute gem in the holding midfield role.

Nevertheless, it won’t be an easy game for the French champions as Barcelona will come at them with everything in their arsenal and getting an early goal could open the game to a wonderful spectacle. But a PSG goal will kill off Barcelona’s drive. The game is for Paris SaSaint-Germano lose now but with the MSN on their game, never rule the Spanish champions out.