Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Liverpool Frustrated in Champions League Final

Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final as the Premier League side was unable to get on the scoresheet despite firing 26 shots at the Real Madrid net and putting nine of them on target. Thibaut Courtois was the Man of the Match for the Spanish champions as the former Chelsea keeper’s nine saves included two of the spectacular variety at the expense of Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. The nine saves were a record for a Champions League final. The only goal of the game came in the first half when Trent Alexander-Arnold lost track of Vinicius Junior who easily tapped in the pinpointed pass of Federico Valverde for the Real Madrid goal.

Alexander-Arnold was a force going forward for the Reds, but the unmarked Vinicius Junior made the Liverpool defender pay the price for his wanderings. Karim Benzema was later ruled offside on a controversial negation of a goal which would have doubled Real Madrid’s lead. Frustrated Liverpool dominated the balance of play. Goalkeeper Alisson faced only two shots on target, one of which was the Vinicius winner. Liverpool failed to score in regular or extra time in any of its three cup finals this season, defeating Chelsea on penalty kicks in both the Carabao and FA Cup finals. The Reds’ quest for more titles failed on successive weekends as Manchester City secured the Premier League crown by a single point and Real Madrid continued its magical run to a record 14th Champions League title. Los Blancos defeated Premier League teams Chelsea, Manchester City, and Liverpool, in addition to French league champion PSG during this year’s title run. Real Madrid Manager Carlo Ancelotti became the first manager to win the coveted title four times. Remarkably, Ancelotti was managing a poor Everton squad just one year ago. Saturday’s frustration for Liverpool fans began even before a ball was kicked as logistical issues outside the stadium led to a delayed match start, dangerous crowd conditions and teargassing of supporters by local Paris police. A formal investigation of the chaos has been launched. 

Nottingham Forest Joins Premier League Next Season

Nottingham Forest will play in the Premier League next season for the first time in 23 years after the club defeated Huddersfield 1-0 on Sunday in the Championship playoff. Nottingham Forest thus joins Fulham and Bournemouth in earning promotion to England’s highest division, replacing relegated Burnley, Watford and Norwich.

The high financial stakes of Sunday’s matchup, with lucrative promotion on the line, led to a tense, unartistic match decided by a Huddersfield own goal in the first half. The means, however, mattered little compared to the end achieved by a Nottingham Forest squad which was bottom of the division when Manager Steve Cooper assumed the reins in September. Cooper guided the club to a fourth-place finish in the table, an FA Cup quarterfinal appearance and now promotion to the Premier League. 


A bad weekend for Liverpool fans got worse with reports after the Champions League loss that Sadio Mane had informed teammates that he would be leaving the Merseyside club this summer. The reported destination of choice for Mane is Bayern Munich where Robert Lewandowski has been vocal in his own desire to leave for Barcelona. Mane has been integral to Liverpool’s success the past few years, but the club should be assured of Mohamed Salah’s presence for at least one more year and transfer additions Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota provide other attack options to cushion the blow of losing the prolific Senegalese forward. Mane’s departure and overall flagging goal production during the late stage of the season, however, may have Liverpool looking for a fresh face in the transfer window to spruce up their front line.

Ralf Rangnick will not be continuing in any capacity with Manchester United. The interim coach of this past season was to have assumed a consultancy role, but it has now been revealed that he will discontinue any ties with the club. Rangnick had indicated weeks ago that he would be heading the Austrian national team while incongruously juggling the Manchester United consulting gig. Red Devil Manager Eric ten Hag, however, seems not to have been a fan of Rangnick crowding his space and Manchester United fans will be pleased to see an end to the failed Rangnick experiment. 


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