Saturday, April 19, 2014

Decisive Clash for Lisbon Verdict: whether Madrid, Munich, or London ?

This 2013/2014 season, the Final Game of UEFA Champions League will be held in Da Luz Stadium, Lisbon, where also the home of SL Benfica. Currently, The Lisbon Verdict is still waiting for the representatives that would come from 3 famous cities in Europe: Madrid, Munich or London. Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea will have the decisive battle in Semifinal Stage of UEFA Champions League 2013/2014. Due to the drawing, Real Madrid will faces Bayern Munich meanwhile Chelsea will deal with Barcelona’s slayer, Atletico Madrid.


This article will not discuss any further about analysis and tactics but this will just enlighten the interesting facts among the clubs and managers in this Semifinal Stages. Within this stage, it is really hard and difficult to guess and to predict the result and the way the team played. Because by entering this late stage of Champions League, a lot of drama are more likely to happen than just the influence of strategy. Because somehow the interesting facts and history among them have clearer pattern to choose who will go through the stages, and who will be stayed/failed.

And Here are that several interesting facts:

1) Seeking for the Third: Carletto, Pep, or Mou?

Three out of four teams in this Semifinal stage, are currently managed by The Most Familiar Faces in Champions League recently. So then, Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho, and Pep Guardiola are The Person in Focus. All of them has undergoes bitter-sweet feeling for years in this competition. Moreover, each of them has been collecting this prominent titles for twice, alongside with The Honored Manager like Alex Ferguson, Ottmar Hitzfield, and Vicente Del Bosque. However, there is still no manager that are able to collect 3 titles in this competition, except Bob Paisley with His Liverpool 30 years ago. But this Semifinal chances, they are indeed seeking their third and raising their level up as high as Bob Paisley’s. Table below shows the winning manager of the European Cup or that known as UEFA Champions League.

Manager
Won
Years Won
Clubs Won
Bob Paisley
3
1977, 1978, 1981
Liverpool
Arigo Sacchi
2
1989, 1990
AC Milan
Ottmar Hitzfield
2
1997, 2001
Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich
Jupp Heynckes
2
1998, 2013
Real Madrid, Bayern Munich
Alex Ferguson
2
1999, 2008
Manchester United
Vicente Del Bosque
2
2000, 2002
Real Madrid
Carlo Ancelotti
2
2003, 2007
AC Milan
Jose Mourinho
2
2004, 2010
FC Porto, Internazionale Milan
Pep Guardiola
2
2009, 2011
FC Barcelona


2) Diego Simeone to join another successful debutant manager?

Robert Prosinecki with Red Star Belgrade 1991
Neither Diego Simeone nor Atletico Madrid ever won this Most Famous Trophies in Europe. And it is not surprised, if it was said that Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid is the most inexperienced manager and contestant in this Semifinal stage. But if we recall the past, this is exactly the state that was happening with: 
·         Giovanni Trappatoni – Juventus (1985),
·         Guus Hiddink – PSV Eindhoven (1988),
·         Ljupko Petrovic – Red Star Belgrade (1991), and,
·         Ottmar Hitzfield – Borussia Dortmund (1997)

Those were inexperienced managers and teams at that time that won their European Cup/UEFA Champions League for the first time. All of them turned down the most prediction, bear with every single of pressures and odds, and fought dauntlessly while facing teams with higher profiles and more experienced in this competition.  And compared to Atletico today, they all have something in common. They all have great and talented manager like what laid on Diego Simeone, with his tactical genius, igniting motivation, etc. And also, it blends beautifully with talented squad in Atletico. Diego Costa, Arda Turan, Koke, Thibaut Courtois are the backbone of the Atletico’s form this season. Another thing is Atletico is the team that knocked out Barcelona this season. And people used to say that whoever beat Barcelona they will be the winner as happened to Man United, Internazionale, and Chelsea. Within these facts, there is no surprised if Diego Simeone and Atletico were going to lift The Big Ears this season.


3) Mourinho as Semifinal Specialist

Among The Semifinalist Manager, Jose Mourinho is the only one who got more experience in this stage than the others. This semifinal is going to be Mourinho’s 8th. Meanwhile Carlo Ancelotti is going to collect his 4th, Pep Guardiola is going to have his 5th, and Diego Simeone will make his debut. And during 10 years of Mourinho’s career in the UEFA Champions League, he only failed twice to bring his team up to this stage. It shows Mourinho is really consistent manager in this competiton. However, all of those consistencies to bring his team to Semifinal, were not followed by his effectiveness to reach the Final. From last 7th semifinal, Mourinho only made twice to the Final Stage and he FAILED most of it! Table below describes Jose Mourinho in the UCL Semifinal stages.

Year
Club
Opponent
Aggregate
Status
2004
Porto
vs Deportivo La Coruna
1 – 0
Proceed to Final
2005
Chelsea
vs Liverpool
0 – 1
FAILED
2006
Chelsea
Eliminated in the First Knockout Phase
--
--
2007
Chelsea
vs Liverpool
1 – 1
(1 – 4 p)
FAILED
2009
Inter Milan
Eliminated in the First Knockout Phase
--
--
2010
Inter Milan
vs Barcelona
3 – 2
Proceed to Final
2011
Real Madrid
vs Barcelona
1 – 3
FAILED
2012
Real Madrid
vs Bayern Munich
3 – 3
(1 – 3 p)
FAILED
2013
Real Madrid
vs Borussia Dortmund
4 – 3
FAILED
2014
Chelsea
vs Atletico Madrid
???
???

From table, it can be inferred that Mourinho always has no problems to bring his team to Semifinal. But it also the stages that always creates difficulties on him. And obviously, within this 8th chances in the Semifinal, Mourinho does not want to add his next failure in this stage. And now he has his support to come up with his desire with current Chelsea Squad that has the required quality and mentality to be the European Champion. That has been shown in Quarter Final when they turned their fate against PSG.

Lost Against Dortmund is Mourinho's 5th Failure in the UCL Semifinal


4) Real Madrid? La Decima?

1st Galacticos that failed to shine in Europe
It was 12 years ago, since the last time Real Madrid lifted The Big Ears due to beautiful acrobatic volley from Zinedine Zidane in 2002. It was the 9th title of Real Madrid in that Elite Europe Competition. Since then, they seemed disappear from that competition although they had signed high-profile player like Ronaldo (Luiz Nazario), David Beckham, Fabio Cannavaro, Robinho, Arjen Robben, v. Nistelrooy, etc to achieve their goal for La Decima. And even, they never made to Semifinal stage for several years! They were often beaten by the “second class” team like AS Monaco, Olympique Lyon, and AS Roma. But, after the landed of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 and Jose Mourinho in the following year, Real Madrid are able to find their way back to the La Decima track. Under Both Portugese era, Real Madrid found their winning mentality again and were able to reach Semifinal three times in a row, from 2011 to 2013. And now, although the Portugese Manager has left Madrid, they still have great ability laid on Carlo Ancelotti and left-squad with stronger mentality. With a great manager, terrific squad quality, and experiences in last three Semifinal stages, those could be the right requirement for Real Madrid to win the La Decima.


5) 24 years Jinx for The Holders?

AC Milan in 1990
Hard to win, Harder to retain. That’s phrase is might suitable for The Champions League Title. It is really hard to win it, but retain that title is so much harder. According to the fact, there is no team that able to retain Champions League Title after winning it since 24 years ago. AC Milan is still the team that could winning it back to back in 1989 and 1990 when the competition was still named European Cup.  Several Best Teams in the world (at that time), with bunch of incredible players were trying to retain that holy title in their hands, like:
·         AC Milan in 1995
With Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Dimetrio Albertini, Dejan Savicevic, Zvonimir Boban, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten.
·         Real Madrid in 1999
With Bodo Illgner, R. Carlos, Fernando Hierro, Pedrag Mijatovic, Clarence Seedorf, Davor Suker, Raul Gonzales, Fernando Morientes.
·         AC Milan in 2004
With Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, Rui Costa, Rivaldo, Clarence Seedorf, Ricardo Kaka, Andriy Shevchenko, Filippo Inzaghi.
·         Barcelona in 2010
With Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

And I am pretty sure that all of you that read this writing, do remember with all those extraordinary names, don’t you?

However, they all failed to retain their European title. Once they crowned the title, then they would lose it in the following years, always and always. It is an indication that this European competition is the most extremely tense and tough competition in this planet.

And currently, Bayern Munich comes up with exactly the same task with what have been given to the team ever entitled as “The Best in the World”. With their current squad quality and manager talent, they will try to retain their title. But it is a mountain to climb. They need to overcome this Semifinal Stage from Spanish Giant, Real Madrid that seeking their La Decima. Is Bayern Munich able to break the 24th Jinx for The Champions League Holders?

Year
Winners
Following Season
1989
AC Milan
Winner
1990
AC Milan
Eliminated in the Quarter Finals by Marseille
1991
Red Star Belgrade
Eliminated in the Second round Group Stage
1992
FC Barcelona
Eliminated in the Second round by CSKA Moskow
1993
Olympique Marseille
was not allowed to join competition due to match-fixing scandal
1994
AC Milan
Eliminated in the Final Stage by Ajax
1995
Ajax
Eliminated in the Final Stage by Juventus
1996
Juventus
Eliminated in the Final Stage by Borussia Dortmund
1997
Borussia Dortmund
Eliminated in the Semifinal by Real Madrid
1998
Real Madrid
Eliminated in the Quarter Final by Dynamo Kiev
1999
Manchester United
Eliminated in the Quarter Final by Real Madrid
2000
Real Madrid
Eliminated in the Semifinal by Bayern Munich
2001
Bayern Munich
Eliminated in the Quarter Final by Real Madrid
2002
Real Madrid
Eliminated in the Semifinal by Juventus
2003
AC Milan
Eliminated in the Quarter Final by Deportivo La Coruna
2004
FC Porto
Eliminated in the First Knockout round by Internazionale Milan
2005
Liverpool
Eliminated in the First Knockout round by Benfica
2006
FC Barcelona
Eliminated in the First Knockout round by Liverpool
2007
AC Milan
Eliminated in the First Knockout round by Arsenal
2008
Manchester United
Eliminated in the Final Stage by Barcelona
2009
FC Barcelona
Eliminated in the Semifinal by Internazionale
2010
Internazionale Milan
Eliminated in the Quarter Final by Schalke 04
2011
FC Barcelona
Eliminated in the Semifinal by Chelsea
2012
Chelsea FC
Eliminated in the Group Stage
2013
Bayern Munich
???

For conclusion, Lets wait and see for the Drama, Tears, and Joy in the upcoming battles for The Lisbon Verdict. 

Raul and Morientes, former Real Madrid Deadly Duo that failed to bring Champions League Hattrick in 1998, 1999, and 2000

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